If you squint your eyes these days, it is difficult to tell Atticus 3 and Atticus 4 apart, which is to say that once again we were missing key players, and with l’arme secrete struck down by flu on the morning of the match, had to borrow another player from Jim’s team to achieve a full turnout. 

Mean, mode or median, we were once again up against it, as was always likely this season even if we had all our listed players available.  Yet if there is a spirit I would aspire to for this team, it would be that we relish a fight, and tonight it was so!

Atticus 3
127 3.0 : 3.0 Aigburth 2 132
1
Lambert, John F
145
0.5-0.5
Pearcey, David F
149
2
Banerjee, Sanjoy K
129
1-0
McNamara, AM (Tony)
150
3
Wadsworth, Mark S
125
0.5-0.5
Pimblett, Anthony J
144
4
Wiseman, Jim K
122
0-1
Gerrard, Steven E
140
5
Webb, Tom EC
121
0-1
Kane, Sean
131
6
Burge, Steve J
121
1-0
Capstick, Paul
80

Having failed in the basic etiquette of captaincy last time around, namely missing two of my players games in their entirety, I was determined to make up for it this time by ‘playing a simul’ and keeping a regular eye on proceeding on all boards, and was rewarded with some classy performances. 

First to finish was Mark Wadsworth, whose opponent played the unconventional 6.Nb3 in a Lasker-Pelikan instead of the usual 6.Ndb5 (Sveshnikov), and failed thereafter to reassert control, although at one point appearing to have a spatial advantage.  A good start from our super-sub, who kindly stepped in despite work commitments. 

Next to finish was Jim, who had the white side of a Pirc and had seemed at least on equal terms throughout, heading into a B+4P v N+4P endgame, but a late lapse and a couple of hours good work was sadly undone. 

Yet scores were level again almost immediately, as Steve continued his unbeaten start for our team this season with an efficient display in what I gather was a King’s Gambit, although to give credit to his opponent, it was the one board where a heavy rating advantage lay in our favour, though this was not apparent in the way black expedited his task. 

John responded to Dave Pearcey’s Bird’s Opening by challenging white from the get-go, and although white looked at one stage to have more space, black was compact and a further half-point was secured (albeit at the third time of asking!). 

The most eye-catching game of the night for me, however, came on Board 5, were I was curious how Tom would fare in accepting Sean Kane’s Smith-Morra Gambit.  After years of taking the pawn, I had recently eschewed doing so after a painful defeat at the hands of the same player, and watched as an interested bystander and Tom gave what appeared to be a masterclass in how to neutralise white’s threats.  Yet the SMG is death by a thousand cuts, and just when the worst of the storm seemed to have been weathered, the material balance appears to morph to Sean’s advantage, and a principled effort came to an unfortunate end. 

Which left the sac-fest on Board 2 as the last remaining action.  Tony played an intriguing variant of the Hyper-Accelerated Dragon and smuggled and inveigled his way into a superior position before pushing the envelope just that bit too far.  Once the material imbalance settled, 2R+N proved to be stronger than Her Majesty’s lone hand, and the spoils were shared.

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