|You are not dreaming - this really happened!|
The stage was set and the tension in the air was palpable. Would this be a triumph along the lines of the impossible return of Buffalo Springfield?
Or, dare we dream, on a par with the unbelievable comeback of Sprinter Sacre to win the Champion Chase for a second time in 2016?
Regrettably the answer was to be no in both cases! The rustiness was evident as Bernard fell under a vicious kingside attack from Ken Mycock. Temporarily Bernard was a rook up, but a piece had to be returned, and with some pawns for the exchange, Black soon won the ending. Now we just have to hope that Bernard's return does not follow the same path as Bjorn Borg, who after an 8 year break, returned to tennis and lost 12 matches in a row before retiring a second time!
Still, sad as Bernard's loss was, the rest of the team did the business to clinch a 2.5-1.5 win over Shirley A and so secure a third place finish in the league. I finished first after a strange game against Jonathan Dale. He played some very provocative moves in the opening, and I was duly provoked to sacrifice a piece completely unsoundly. He didn't take the piece immediately but instead attacked my queen, but I could ignore this and save my piece in the process. I won a pawn, but Black had some play for this when he made a terrible oversight and lost a piece. Then an exchange. Then a few more pawns. After 15 rather unnecessary moves he resigned.
Andrew then put us two up with a hard fought win on Board 1 against Phil Purcell. After a Slav of some variety White had powerful centre pawns, but Black had two passed pawns on b4 and a5. White launched what looked like a strong attack on the Black king, but Andrew defended well and somewhere along the line simply took a piece to win the game.
Meanwhile Mike had completely outplayed Gordon Christie with Black to reach a winning position, but then went wrong and ended up in an opposite bishop ending a pawn up. There was an unedifying period of completely meaningless shuffling of the kings and bishops in a position that was so drawn I would have fancied my chances of holding it against Stockfish. About two moves short of coming into 50 move rule territory, Mike finally agreed to the draw and the match was won.
So a happy ending to the season, even if Bernard's "Impossible Dream" return proved to be just that!