Mercia started the new year with a solid win against a moderate South Birmingham side. Jon H’s position on three looked blocked from the start and an early draw was agreed. John P went a whole pawn up early on but had a Rook trapped in the corner by his own Knight. Some deft footwork by his opponent won a piece and John lost in the end game. Mike S on five was a B for N up but the N was handily placed in the middle and nothing could shift it. A draw was the only option. On six Barry S had a very blocked position but a great N in then centre. His opponent missed a fork late on and Mercia gladly took the point. Andrew M on top went pawns then a R up early in the game and converted easily. Lee was two pawns up at one stage then just one in the end game. Perhaps another 100 moves and more time and he would have also converted. However, a draw was enough for the full points so the match was ended 3½-2½ but could have been more. Next up Rushall away next Monday where a draw would be a good result. Link to tables is here.