Today, anyway - yesterday, not so much!
I was pitched in at the deep end in Round 2 when England 2 got paired against England 1. While two of my team mates secured excellent draws with the White pieces against GMs Speelman and Hebden, England 1 were simply too strong on the boards where they had White. I was well beaten by Jim Plaskett on Board 2. After my opening went slightly wrong I tried to liberate my position with a tactical pawn break, but not for the first time my calculation contained a hole, and the GM went straight for it, winning an exchange and then cleverly giving it back almost immediately to nullify my activity. He planted a monster bishop on e5 and I simply ran out of time trying to find a way to neutralise his passed a pawn while also defending my very vulnerable king.
Andy also contrived to lose (even more quickly than me) against the splendidly named Swede, Bengt Hammar. As Andy's team are still marooned in the annexe, at least I was spared having to witness any of his debacle.
Which leads us on to our reluctant hero Bernard, who followed up his highly creditable opening draw with another against a near-2000 rated German in Round 2. Regrettably it didn't do his team any good, and England 4 remained on nil points. Which is where they stayed today, as an implosion in Round 3 saw them transform a winning match position into a third consecutive loss, this time against Finnish opposition. But our man maintained his 50% record by ……… being rested. Consequently he was very happy at being allowed a late breakfast and a leisurely morning, while Andy and I put ourselves through the mill. As we will have to do every day, since neither of our teams has a reserve!
But sometimes the effort is rewarded, and Andy chalked up his first win by despatching his German opponent, though apparently not without some inevitable alarms and travails. England 2 (over-65s) duly chalked up a 3-1 win, and my team, England 2 (over-50s) did exactly the same against Liechtenstein. My game was rather dubious in the opening, but once I got into the middle game I started to outplay my opponent as a strong passed d pawn and control of the e-file saw Black pushed back into an untidy and unstable heap. It was only a matter of time before something fell off and a d7 pawn fork of rook and queen eventually did the business.
So it was three happy campers who took the tram up to the old town for a leisurely lunch. Only one KCC player drank beer - can you possibly guess who?!
Bernard has another day off tomorrow, as his hapless bunch have the bye - doubtless another late breakfast beckons in the morning - which is guaranteed to send them shooting up the table come Wednesday's round, when our man is scheduled to play on Board 2. Whereas Andy and I have tough opposition to worry about tomorrow - me against a strong German team from Ulm, and Andy against mighty Switzerland. It will be a big day in both the over-50 and over-65 sections tomorrow, as England 1 have been drawn against the top seeds (USA and Russia, respectively) for a couple of mouth-watering showdowns. But probably England 1 v Croatia 1 on Wednesday is even more important!
While I have been writing this report up, Bernard and Andy, for reasons known only to themselves, have signed up for a 9 round Blitz tournament, and should have finished round 1 by now. Lucky them - only 8 more to go! I almost got talked into playing, but came to my senses just in time. I have not seen who has entered this event, but with a Euro250 first prize, I expect a few penurious GMs will be looking to supplement their modest incomes. Consequently I am predicting scores of 3.5/9 for Andy and 2.5/9 for Bernard. I hope I've underestimated their Blitz prowess - but only time will tell. I guess it will be my job to rebuild their egos (and maybe their ELOs) after what I expect to be an inevitable pummelling. Just another area of responsibility for the Club Organiser!