Bangor vs NICS

NICS traipsed down to Groomsport for their final match of the season; missing the strong-man and President as well, the travellers fully expected to get a drubbing at the hands of a Bangor team who left it a bit late to get their act together. Well my-o-my it didn't quite turn out that way.
Bangor vs NICS

Bangor vs NICS

Clearly reckoning that his team were not under much of a threat - after all there was some inside knowledge of the NICS team with 4 of their 5 having played for Bangor teams in the past - captain Alan McConnell stepped down from board 1 to give more of his players a decent run out. Even at that, the Bangor boards still out rated the majority of the NICS players.

First game to finish was Board 3: Drew Ferguson against Ken Browne. After  passive play from both there were few opportunities to make any headway with any advances thwarted immediately. With the centre already blocked, White attempted to break through on the Q-side but soon enough defences blocked that too. Reckoning neither side could break the impasse, a draw was agreed.

Board 5: Pete Storey writing upOn bottom board Pete Storey played Craig Kelly. After an injudicious move, Pete lost an exchange. Craig later claimed inspiration from mentor Eddie Whiteside and he certainly took his opportunity to take charge of the game. He rapidly advanced a central pawn to promotion and now with overwhelming material superiority demolished his opponent.

NICS top board Mark Newman opened against Paul McLoughlin. Paul had several opportunities to swap some of the minor pieces but lucky for Mark, he didn't. So Mark was fortunate to get his Knights working against Paul's King and managed to win one of the King's defending Pawns which in turn led to an elegant attack with a pawn push. Paul was unable to bring his pieces to the King quick enough to defend. Three boards down and the match was even.

Alan Burns defended on board 2 against Walter Wilson. Things were looking dangerous for Alan; both Kings castled K-side but all Blacks pawns had gone with a pair of Knights shielding their King trembling in the corner. In contrast, Walter's King sheltered behind a trio of pawns and he had gotten both his Rooks onto the e-file ably supported by his Queen. The blood letting began starting with an exchange of Queens. As the remaining pieces faced-off against each other, pawns disappeared almost as collateral damage. Amazingly Alan not only survived the onslaught but somehow ended up with a Knight & Rook advantage against a solitary Rook, not a pawn in sight. After considerable manoeuvring and perhaps succumbing to time pressure, Walter let his Rook get trapped behind his King to lose the game.

Board 2: Walter Wilson vs Alan BurnsThis gave NICS a game advantage with one board still in play: Adrian Donford-Smith defending against Owen Wilson. The game was reduced to two blocks of pawns and a smattering of minor pieces. It looked as if Black's advanced central pawns had been stopped just in time. Adrian tried to push on the g-file succeeding in dropping a pawn instead. But this must have been the turning point, he now had a tempo advantage and with White's Bishop on the wrong side of the advancing pawns Adrian was able to push a pawn home. Owen could do nothing but resign.

An excellent result for NICS but sadly not really affecting their league position. Nor did it affect Bangor's position either. Both teams are destined for a couple of return matches in Division 2.

On the sidelines it was good to see Mike McKimm and Mark Seidman back playing again. And we hear Bangor stalwart Gary Johnston should be back playing again soon too. Perhaps Bangor will be able to field a second team pretty soon as well.

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