Round 7 (Final Round)
All was set up for a Grandstand finish, and an even number of players turned up as the supporting act. A couple of games required players to be re-paired (no puns, please), resulting in one repeat match:
Thus Alex set about looking for revenge against Eric, winning a Pawn early and setting up his own deep in Black’s Queen-side à la Jallal. Eric made it complicated, however. Stole a Bishop onto h3 piercing, (IIRC), fianchettoed King-side pawns. Alex underestimated the later Q intrusion on the seventh rank and Mate followed.
Alexei and Bob played a tight, tidy game with no obvious chances for either side, and the drawn result didn’t surprise me. James and Brian also drew and I wondered if suddenly the club had learned how to play like adults. Meantime, however, Sam and Jim both pursued the normal path, gaining material hand-over-fist from Rob and Keiran; both games ending with wins for White.
That left the “Grandstand Finale”.
Craig, alone on 5 points, faced reigning Champion Danny (4.5). Two others on 4.5 faced off, Robert and Chris; whilst Graeme had the apparently "good" draw of facing Matt with only 4 points… but Matt's games had included a very tight one against Chris Yapp, and a win over Bob Innes. And again he put up a major fight, now against the tournament’s top seed. Material was equal until late on. Graeme got pressure on a central isolated pawn, and efforts to hold it weakened Black’s King position which crumbled when the pawn eventually fell.
Chris would have “preferred” to face Craig, leaving the possibility of a play-off in his own hands. Against Robert, things were again very even. Suddenly, I looked and Robert seemed a piece up for a pawn… but I'd left down my specs. Black just had a small Bishop in amongst about 40 pawns in a busy same-coloured-B and Pawn endgame. Probably even, but Robert had the trickier pawn structure. And, of course, less time. Chris forced (?) the entry of his King on one flank, and Richard’s Bishop had to shuffle back and forth to defend two pawn targets. This seemed to hold it… but opportunities appeared and Chris snatched a pawn on the other wing, just as Robert’s “flag fell”.
In the ideal world, this would leave Chris and Graeme holding their respective breaths for the result of the Top Board. However. When I got up to look at the games after my first 15min match with Richard, Danny was already in trouble. I assume the two pawns he appeared down were sacrificed (he needed to win), but Craig seemed to have tied things up nicely and there was no obvious compensation. As I finished my second match, they were shaking hands and re-setting the board. Craig stood at the side, watching Graeme v Matt. He “admitted” he had won, and soon went off home to shoosht the bairn.
No fanfares, no celebrations, but, leaving us to pick up the pieces, he walked out the door as the new Polytechnic Club Champion.
(barring appeals by me or Alex…)
Final round results and standings in further blog.