Horsham 1 scored a narrow victory over Lewes in the semi-final of the Mid-Sussex League Knockout competition. Under the handicapping system, Horsham’s 138 point grading advantage meant that they had to win 4.5 – 1.5 to progress.
The match started well, with Ian Comley scoring a decisive win over Keith Osborne on board 5. Then things became tighter, as not all the games seemed to be heading for the desired result.
My game against Barry Maufe on board 1 was next to finish; he transposed into a dubious sideline of the Sicilian, but I managed to get a strong positional grip on the position, before smashing open the kingside to secure victory.
Of the other games, Dix Roberts looked to have ended up in a drawn endgame against Daniel Brooks on board 2, but was grinding on in hope of securing a win. Gary Marsh was a pawn up on board 3 against Matthew Britnell, but there was still work to do. John Marshall was in a decidedly dodgy endgame against Michael Slot on board 4, while Julie Denning’s position on board 6 was gradually going downhill.
When Julie was forced to concede defeat against Andrew Mayer, it looked like the match would be lost under the handicapping system; indeed, John Cannon said as much to me! However, things then turned around. Dix managed to grind out a win, Gary worked his way to victory, and John managed to escape. The stage is now set for a re-run of last year’s final, against St.Francis & Haywards Heath.
I give my game against Barry Maufe below. It is, I think, illustrative of the fact that in Sicilian Dragon positions, Black’s problems can be as much positional as tactical; here, the weakness of d5 proved to be a real issue.