Reivers v Newcastle University

This match was played at Bar Loco in Newcastle on Tuesday Feb 26th, with the following line-up:
1. Lateefah Messam-Sparks (c160) v Phil Taylor (126)
2. Gerry Pfeffer (u) v Bruce Reed (121)
3. Viet Nguyen Hoang (u) v Malcolm Reid (110)
4. Chng Cheng Jie (u) v Steve Larkin (107)
5. Default v Damian Rudge (u)
It was a great shame that Damian, who was all geared up for his first ever Northumbria League game and who kindly drove us to the venue and back, never got a game, despite the assurances I had been given in advance by the university captain. So we needed two wins against a team of uncertain strength (apart from top board, that is) in order to win the match.
First to finish was Steve, whose opponent allowed him to go marauding with his queen, picking up pawns and pieces, only to despatch said queen with a neat check. Back to the drawing-board! Fortunately, Steve was able to return the compliment a few moves later, trapping white’s queen in front of his king with a rook check. When the dust settled, Steve was a bishop and pawn to the good, but white retained a dangerously active rook and knight pair and it was only once these had gone that it was possible for Steve to relax and start to force a passed pawn home. When it was clear this could not be stopped, white resigned on move 50. Phew! 0-2
Malcolm’s game was a real rollercoaster. He went the exchange down, then won a piece for pawns, then threw away a potentially winning position with a careless knight move – everyone heard his “Oh no!” – and finally succumbed when a pawn down and in desperate time trouble. His opponent was absolutely delighted to win and duly had his photo taken alongside a smiling Malcolm! 1-2
Next up was Phil, whose careful pre-match preparation went out of the window when Lateefah failed to cooperate from move 2! Nonetheless, he put up an excellent fight, with the game going to more than fifty moves, during which Phil’s position gradually became more and more squeezed and finally hopeless. 2-2
Which left it to Bruce to determine the outcome of the match. His opponent was clearly very experienced and no decisive advantage emerged on either side until well into the endgame, when Bruce went the exchange down (rook for bishop). However, white’s pieces were more active, with Bruce doing his best to close the position down. His offer of a draw was declined and, as the final seconds ran out, white had a small but decisive advantage, so it was no injustice for Bruce to lose narrowly on time. Nonetheless, his was a sterling effort against a tough opponent. 3-2
So the Reivers (perhaps we should call ourselves the Philanthropists?) provided the University with their first win of the season. For us, it was our fourth 3-2 defeat (though we have also had two 3-2 wins). If only all of us, captain included, could avoid those costly mistakes, we might now be sitting nearer the top than the bottom of the table!

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