I always seem to be a week or more behind with updates to my actvities here. Over the weekend of 28-29 July I took part in two chess matches for Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club. In each case I played Black on the bottom board and won my game, though not without making it difficult for myself.
The Saturday match was played in Hove. We travelled by train as a group, although our sixth player failed to turn up, apparently having gone to Warrior Square station instead of Hastings. It was a sunny day, so the walk from the station to the venue, the Bridge Club in Third Avenue, was pleasant. The return journey was not so good since most of us had to stand as far as Eastbourne. In my game I let my opponent have my king's pawn for free, but decided that having my knight on d4 against his backward d-pawn was sufficient compensation. In the end it came down to my having free pawns on each side of the board that I could push towards promotion.
The Sunday match, where I was on board 9, was played in Hastings against the Greater London Chess Club. After a poor start I managed to equalise the position, where the pawns were ranged right across the board in a fixed barrier, and offered a draw which was declined. The only way forward I could see was to execute a knight's tour of seven or so moves to get my knght across the barrier. Meanwhile my opponent tried a knight sacrifice to break through on the king's side. At one point he had two rooks and queen on the h-file while I had the same on the g-file. Fortunately I weathered the attack and, after exchange of queens, broke through and he fell into a relatively easy checkmate.
I've been trying to understand the ECF grading system. It's a puzzle to me why two of my junior opponents are shown as having lower grades than I was given to believe they had when I played them. My grade has gone down from 85 to 79. To improve it seems I need to avoid losing in the third round of tournaments to lower graded players, when I'm tired after hard games against higher graded players.