A tough match was expected last night against the 2018-2019 MCA Champions, Hoylake. The match did not disappoint.
I report in reverse board order.
Board 7: Martin Blasczyk v Bahkti Vasiev
Martin played actively in his Kings Indian set-up. Martin won a pawn but it was isolated and while he always had an edge when pieces were exchanged a draw was agreed.
Board 6: John Lambert v Mike Stoddart.
John played F4, E4 and D4 against Mike's Pirc which left the dark squares weakened. John lost a pawn but attacked on the King-side. However pieces were exchanged limiting the attack and a combination saw John drop a bishop and Hoylake had the win.
Board 5:  Nick Martin v E.H. Taylor.
It is good to see the return of Ed after almost ten years away from League chess.
Ed played the Trompovsky exchange and had some space but Nick had the strong bishop. Nick sacced a pawn for good counterplay and when Ed offerred the draw it was accepted.
Board 4: Jim McCarthy v Mike Smith.
Jim played the English against Mike who also plays the English when White. Though Mike seemed to have good piece play he had a weak D-pawn and lacked space. Jim gradually increased the pressure which led to an ending with Jim 2 pawns up and with the bishop against knight. Jim duly pushed his pawns and Mike resigned. This was another fine and controlled victory by Jim against a dangerous opponent.
Board 3.: Dave James v Mike Stone
Mike played his usual and dangerous C3 line against Dave's Sicilian. Dave gained the 2 bishops with Mike having strong centralised pieces. I thought Dave had a slight edge but Mike played a strong knight move equalising and offered the draw which was agreed.
Board 2: Charlie Kennaugh v Tom Carroll saw Charlie win a pawn and though Tom tried to defend resiliently Charlie played the ending so calmly and precisely that Tom could only wait as Charlie pushed his Queenside pawns. This was a great game to watch and this win levelled the match with two games to go.
Board 1: John Redmond v Dave Tebb.
John and Dave have had some epic tussles over the last few years and this was no exception. This was the last game to finish and Atticus were 3:5-2:5 up guaranteeing at least a draw in the match.
The game had been a Tarrasch type system from a Nimzo opening and John obtained good piece play. However Dave won John's A-pawn and all three results were still possible.
As time elapsed John kept creating  threats against Dave's king and obtained serious counterplay with his strong bishop. John sacced the exchange but won it straight back gaining 2 pawns in the process leading to a Queen and Rook ending and John with 56 seconds left to Dave's 1 minute 17 seconds. When John moved his rook despite being in check Dave gained another 2 minutes as queens came off. It was so tense that Dave repeatedly knocked pieces over when moving but John remained calm and was clearly winning when Dave overlooked a back-rank mate with both having seconds on the clock. A fantastic conclusion demonstrating the benefit of counterplay when an opponent is short on time.
Hence Atticus 1 had a convincing 4:5 - 2:5 victory against strong opponents. Report Nick Martin

Atticus 1
173 4.5 : 2.5 Hoylake 1 170
Redmond, John P
Tebb, David J
Kennaugh, Charles W
Carroll, Thomas
James, David J
Stone, Mike
McCarthy, Jim P
Smith, Mike
Martin, Nicholas E
Taylor, Edward H
Lambert, John F
Stoddart, Mike
Blasczyk, Martin
Vasiev, Bahkti

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