This round paired me against the tournament leader and no1 seed Trefor – a player I have known for many years having previously shared a hometown and both having played for various clubs in the local league. Being of similar strength we have shared plenty of battles over the board.
This game had an extra sense of rivalry – Trefor had recently visited to pick up a DGT board from me and took the opportunity to browse my chess library – diligently noting the opening books in my collection. We both assumed we would be playing the following week and joked about what we might play, trying to throw each other off the scent.
I think in this sense it was a draw – I correctly predicted he would try the Milner-Barry gambit in the French, although he surprised me with an early deviation.
Following my disaster in last week’s round, where I let slip an overwhelming advantage of both time and position, I was extra focused for this game, knowing it was a must win already to keep in contention with the R1 winners, some of whom are unlikely to drop points.
My opponent played 1.e4 allowing me to come out swinging with the French, that most cowardly of openings. Unbeknown to him, it’s one of the very few openings I know fairly well and despite it not being the only thing I’ve been known to offer against the King’s pawn, I must have at least a few hundred correspondence games in the French structures, from both sides.
Thankfully, my opponent didn’t wimp out with an exchange variation, like so many club players and indeed LiChess members do against me in blitz!
We had an Advance variation with 6.Be2 and I followed the 7…Nh6 line given by Berg in his GM Repertoire series published by Quality Chess. I remember a few details about the main options for White and how to deal with them, but the one thing I could recall clearly, is that my opponent’s plan of Na3 – c2 is actually dubious in this line, despite being good in many other French systems. 
Following the opening inaccuracy my opponent, perhaps a little out of book, made another couple of errors, allowing me to pick up a few pawns. The rest, as the cliche goes, was a matter of technique.