This headline has been all over the news as it's a quote supposedly from baseball player Yogi Berra who has died. It's got nothing to do with what follows, but at least I've got your attention.
I wanted to field a strong team in this match as I expected Chorlton to have a minimum grade of 140. Unfortunately some of out stronger players were unavailable; only Paul was stronger than their weakest player. My fears were correct but my conclusion was proved wrong,
Tony struggled against Graham Phythian and was invited to the bar long before it opened. I found myself two pawns down and feeling grim, not knowing that the position was equal. I regained one pawn and then created a very promising position which I threw away when I thought I was in time trouble, completely forgetting I had twenty minutes quickplay to come. My mind was playing tricks all night. On my right Jeff was up against Dave Kierman, who was on Board 5 despite being the highest graded Chorlton player. Jeff had an excellent win playing a Budapest gambit which Dave Kierman declined. This gave Jeff a lead in development and Dave had his kingside pieces locked on their home squares. Jeff polished the game off nicely in just twenty moves.
David drew quite early, Paul Horwell had played a traditional Queen's pawn opening with a defensive set-up. Paul had also won quite quickly so the match was level. Chris and Alan were still playing, and one point would see us through to the second round on board count. Chris won a piece and converted comfortably. It turned out Glenn had recently shown him a variation in his beloved English which he was able to use to advantage.
So with a win in the bag only Alan was still playing. If you've not met Alan, he has recently joined the club after retiring and moving to Strines. As he hasn't played much chess since (I think) school days we weren't sure how to estimate his grade. His performance in this game shows that our current estimate of 120 is low. He went into a long endgame with Ian Brusby with both players having rook, opposite coloured bishop and five pawns. All ten pawns were frozen on the colour of the opposing bishop. However Ian had a passed pawn on a2 which was tying down both rooks. He eventually got frustrated at Alan's defence and exchanged his valuable pawn to free up the game. He then managed to get his bishop behind the white pawns and it looked like he would win. Alan however had seen an opportunity to get his rook behind the black king and force a repetition. 4-3. As well as his excellent play, his calm manner against an opponent who was agitated and noisy was impressive.
The second round beckons with some strong teams ahead. Who knows? I've been wrong before.
I'll finish with another quote from Yogi Beera; "If you see a fork in the road, take it!" Best not to think about that when you're playing chess.