University vs. Durham City Friendly Match
Tonight, I played in a friendly match for Durham University vs. the City chess club. The City put out a very strong team, with all 6 of their players rated above ECF 150. As soon as I saw the list of their ratings, I knew we were in for a tough fight! As captain, I also had to pick a line-up, which was difficult as I didn't really know how good most of our players that had turned up were!
Round 1: I elected to put myself on Board 3 to start with, and see how it went, since I was going to be playing a strong player anyway. I was up against Douglas Smith, rated 173 (2034 converting to FIDE) and had White. Time control was fairly quick at 30 minutes a side.
I thought this was a pretty nice game from my side for 30 minutes, some nice tactical points and overall a satisfying strategic effort as well. Apart from this game, we scored 5 losses, making the first round 5-1 to City.
Round 2: Not so good! I shuffled the team a bit and moved myself up to Board 1, where I was facing Ken Neat of ECF 196 (=2218 FIDE) When I looked up his rating on the ECF, I noticed he had been above 200 for some small periods of time in the past, although his grade was recovering at the moment after a dip. So basically, a Master-level player, and the last time he lost a game was in March.
I wasn't expecting much, but being completely out of book on Move 4 with Black against a 200 player probably isn't the best idea. I dug in a bit, but honestly didn't play a good game in a structure that I was not comfortable with at all. Nevertheless I managed to prevent him from knocking me out spectacularly, even if the result was never in doubt - I have never been so outplayed in an OTB game before.
Not my finest game by any stretch. In my very limited OTB experience, the first game I play in a day has normally been my best.
A guy called Alex (from Russia!) on our Board 2 managed to take down his opponent after what looked like the blundering of a rook, so we avoided getting whitewashed again; nevertheless, the 5-1 scoreline was again appropriate, City taking the friendly 10-2 on aggregate.
Everyone did enjoy the games, however, and a rematch will hopefully be in order! I don't get much chance to play OTB chess at present (this will all change as soon as I can afford to drive!) so it was a great evening. Congrats to City on their win!