Reivers v Leam Lane Comets

This match took place at Leam Lane on Tuesday April 2nd, with the following line-up:
1. John Marsh (150) v Peter Crichton (137)
2. Bob Forsythe (138) v Phil Taylor (126)
3. Alan Young (144) v Bruce Reed (121)
4. Dave Stewardson (130) v Steve Larkin (107)
5. Colin McGarty (93) v Dave Foster jr (82)
This was a full-strength Comets team, indeed the team which has seen them win 11 of their 12 matches and left them unchallenged at the top of division 2, so even strengthened by the inclusion of Peter Crichton, the Reivers were always going to find this a tough match.
First to finish was board 4, where Steve’s opponent was on eight and a half points from his previous ten league games. He seemed very familiar with Steve’s Benko gambit, rattling off the opening moves. However, the game evolved in most unBenko-like fashion, with black exerting huge pressure not on the queenside but down the f file. To stave off a potentially devastating attack, Dave had to swap queen and knight for two rooks, but Steve kept the pressure up and Dave resigned when on the brink of losing a further knight. 0-1 to us after just 40 minutes!
Phil was next to finish. As usual he had prepared carefully for this match and everything went according to plan for the first 14 moves. On move 15 he lost his c pawn, then blundered a bishop a little later and resigned when a knight was about to go the same way. 1-1.
On board 5, Dave accepted a grandmaster draw after just 18 moves, with the position dead level and no obvious way for either player to get at the other’s castled king. 1.5-1.5.
Much later Peter, on top board, had a very slight positional advantage in an otherwise even game, but it was far from clear how that advantage, in the shape of a passed pawn, might be pressed home. When his opponent engineered a passed pawn of his own, Peter quite rightly accepted the offer of a draw and so lived up to his newly-coined title as “The Stopper”. 2-2
Which left the match hanging on Bruce’s game. For a long time it looked as though he could hold the draw, as he built a fortress around his castled king to withstand the pressure applied by doubled rooks down the f file as well as the black queen on a dangerous diagonal. The decisive moment came when Bruce moved his queen in a bid to open up the game, only to see black’s knight fork rook and king. A series of forced exchanges followed which left black with two linked, passed pawns which could not be stopped. 3-2
So the match was lost but we had certainly given the Comets a run for their money, in a display which bodes well for the Reivers’ final three games.

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