Nov 22, 2023

Luton b 2.5 - 2.5 Bedford D. Luton B draw their match in a closely fought battle against Bedford Hothouse Flowers..

Tuesday 21st of November 2023, a dark midweek evening after work (and for the visiting side, school) at the University of Bedfordshire. Perfect English chess club conditions. Luton B is the team in which we're giving new players a chance at Over-The-Board matches, but this evening, we're fielding experienced players. Then Bedford B team turn up with three junior players on their squad and with Bedford's history of junior players going on to be come Masters and Grandmasters, we have no idea what we've let ourselves in for.

At board 1, the University of Bedfordshire's strongest alumnus student is up against the Ramsey Dairi, this year's England U12 chess champion. If I wasn't playing, I'd really liked to have observed this game.

On board 2, it's Marek against James Grimditch. Just before the match, Marek was complaining about St Mary's Church next building have what appears to be an hour long of bell ringing and asked if I could ask them to stop.

Board 3 was Aleksandar against George Griffiths, the player I was hoping to be my opponent, because I looked up all the George Griffiths on to see what openings he played. It probably wasn't the same George Griffiths, so maybe just as well, especially having read about his successes on the excellent Bedford chess club website.

Board 4 was me against Oliver Delbowski, aged 13 who could easily have been a friend of my 14 year old son. I never know quite how to react when sat opposite a junior, because as George Orwell wrote, “Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults, in a child’s eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below.” We broke the ice by getting some cool water at the fountain.

Board 5 was Des back to league matches, at classical time controls, which suit him better, but like me, he's playing another Bedford junior, Madhadi Rishik and we just don't know what to expect.

Concentrating my own game, meant that when I wandered around looking at other boards, I wasn't able to take anything in.

First to finish was Aleksandar, who lost with the Black pieces, after the pawn wall protecting his King was broken down. I'm not sure if there was compensation, but at the end of the evening after the match, he and Octavian were engaged in an animated analysis with Samir observing and giving sage advice.

Luton B 0 - 1 Bedford D

Next was my game, which should have been a nice clinical win for Oliver, who outplayed me in the opening and middle game, leaving me the exchange down as White against a Sicilian Sveshnikov. I managed to regain the exhange in an endgame and at one point, thought I might win, but we both miscalculated and I breathed a sigh of relief and accepted the offer of a draw.

Luton B 0.5 -1.5 Bedford D

The match continued for a time, but then Des resigned thinking his Bishop and two pawns v Rook and two pawns couldn't prevent mate. After the match, the four of us,who stayed behind to pack up, weren't convinced but then went through the position and eventually conceded Des was probably right.

Luton B 0.5 - 2.5 Bedford D

Luton B are up against it now and have to win the remaining two games to avoid an outright defeat. I wasn't able to observe quite how it was done, but well done to Marek, who pulled back a valuable point and won his game playing White.

Luton B 1.5 - 2.5 Bedford D

Final game was all on Octavian, against a formidable opponent, in an endgame in which he had a couple of pawns for a Knight. It looked a difficult ending, needing more skill and accuracy that I have, but Octavian knew he was going to win and duly delivered.

Luton B 2.5 - 2.5 Bedford D

After the visitors had left, Aleksandar, Octavian, Samir and I stayed on, playing through each other's games (see picture). I have to say, for me, this is the best part of being in a team and playing in league matches. The camaraderie, the analysis and debate over the board. No engines, no online games, just chess players in our local club.

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