Our 5th team recently turned out a superb performance in Division 3 of the Sussex Chess League, winning 4.5 to 0.5 against Horsham 5, on Friday 15 December 2023.
Peter Holdstock played black on board 1. His opponent was Thomas Williams, who played the English. After a quiet opening, with no surprises in the first 15 moves, the game was even. Black set up a string of pawns on the black squares which proved difficult for White to penetrate. Slowly Black gained control of the centre of the board and White became boxed in. Black gained a rook and pawn for a knight and, after exchanging the queens, was able to increase pressure and bring the game to a successful conclusion on move 34.
On board 2, Zeb Taylor played White against a strong player. Zeb sacrificed a pawn in the Giuoco Piano, Greco Attack for a better position. He quickly forced his opponent to weaken their kingside which he managed to exploit and win in just 17 moves! An excellent result for one of our strongest juniors.
Robert Smart had a very good game on board 3, featuring attacks from both sides. He was a pawn up, but gifted it back, ending with equal material of rook, opposite bishops, and 4 pawns, resulting in a draw.
Bob Hopkins started with the English opening on board 4. By move 13 both sides were fully developed and there had been just one exchange, c-pawn for d-pawn. At this point, White had a slightly stronger pawn structure. Pushing the f-pawn resulted in a flurry of exchanges, ending up with two strong dark square pawn chains, h2-e5 and a3-b4. Black’s dark square bishop was in a bind and, instead of dropping it back to safety, he sacrificed it for a pawn.
Black then moved his knight on a long odyssey towards a mate with his queen but neglected to take full account of what White was doing. Being a rook vs bishop up, White wanted to swap pieces, but through “odyssey blindness” black blundered, and further exchanges left a material advantage. Black resolutely refused to swap queens until, after mopping up some pawns, White forced the exchange and Black resigned.
This match was an excellent result for the team leading up to the Christmas break, and we look forward to seeing them continue to compete in 2024.