A dramatic claim I know, but what other explanation can there be for the A team's experience in our first match of the season away against Banbury A last night? All four games drawn - its obvious to me that when players of this strength (?) face off, its impossible for there to be a decisive outcome to any game. We just see everything; there are not even any slight errors; and certainly not any blunders!
And in fact, the writing was on the wall from the moment the team sheets were exchanged, and (I subsequently discovered) the two sides had exactly the same average grade. And when I say exactly, I mean exactly!
The first half point of the season was chalked up by the seldom-seen (except at curries and booze-ups) Andy after an interesting struggle against Carl Portman on Board 2. I was rather annoyed, as I thought Andy was clearly better with his bishops raking across the board and the white king looking rather draughty. Shows how much I know, though, as our man assured me afterwards that he was worse and glad to get out with a half point!
The return of Joshua to the Leamington League promises to generate some interesting chess - but it seems as though he used up too much of his creative juices last week in checkmating Bernard in the B v C team match, as here his best efforts to stir up a battle were resolutely defused by Neil Staples. Eventually the potential weakness of Josh's IQP were such that he felt he had to liquidate into an obviously drawn position.
Still, two draws with Black can't be all bad but in fact the omens were not that favourable, as Andrew seemed to be having a bit of an off day on Board 3 (maybe because he's become so used to the rarified atmosphere on Board 1 in recent seasons?) Arran Gundry snaffled a pawn with a fairly obvious cheapo, and the few times I went to check on progress, the material count was still not in our favour. But then I became rather fixated with my own game, and I lost track of Andrew's. Things must have happened, though, because I then heard him decline a draw offer. Either he was wildly optimistic or the pendulum had swung in our direction. Whatever, the potential of a precious victory didn't last long, because in two shakes of a lamb's tail, the third draw of the evening had been agreed.
Which normally would have been curtains for us, as I was in play against James Jackson on Board 1. Fortunately, though, I had made the game sufficiently turgid that he felt forced to sac a pawn to liven things up. He got a great knight established on c5 which dominated my rather pitiful bishop on c2, which was hemmed in by my collection of pawns all on white squares. Still, I had control of the open b file and we seemed to be on the verge of repeating moves, when at the last minute he deviated and on we went. It came down to queen and bishop v queen and knight, but I still had my extra pawn. As we both came under time pressure I took my chance to open up the Black kingside, and just in time my bishop liberated itself onto the h3-c8 diagonal and helped me force perpetual check. And for the record, I was still a pawn up!
So our hopes for a 100% season didn't even survive match one, but on the bright side we won't be scoring 0% either. Which for a glass half empty man like me, is a success in itself!