Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Two Ronny Rosenthals in One Match!!

Not that obscure a title for me, but I guess it might need some explaining for the younger members of the club.....

So when we managed two misses of such proportions in last night's match against Warwick University A, you'll understand why it was so galling to end up as 2.5-1.5 losers. The match was there for the taking, and we blew it. Indeed, this was the weakest Warwick Uni A side we've encountered for several seasons, with their monstrously strong Board 1, Dimitar Daskalov (228!), backed up by 3 x 150 players - a far  cry from the juggernauts we have been crushed by in recent years.

I was the first to finish on Board 1, and was responsible for the first Ronny Rosenthal moment of the evening. After resolutely neutralising my super-strong opponent's attempts to complicate the game,  he let his guard drop for a moment and I flashed out a Qxh6+ pawn grab, when Kxh6 would have been answered by Nxf7+ and Nxd6 (Black queen!), leaving me two pawns up in an overwhelming position. He didn't take the queen, but instead allowed me to make an immediately winning knight sac on g6 … except that I didn't win. I couldn't find the right sequence of moves, which should have won back the piece leaving me 3 pawns up, and instead had to settle for perpetual check. So what would normally have been an excellent result, turned out to be a massive missed opportunity.

Mike drew almost immediately afterwards on Board 2, after a tense struggle where he was seemingly perpetually on the verge of making a breakthrough against a very draughty White king, but was never able to get in the killing blow. But if that was a half point lost, Ben's draw on Board 3 against his female opponent from Turkey felt like a half point gained, as he had a very ropey looking position from the opening, which hardly got much better all the way into the ending. Resolute defence kept the material balance, though, and when he was finally able to bring his king over to the queenside to shore up his vulnerable b2 pawn, the draw was agreed.

And so to Dave, just back from New York, and hopefully full of American get up and go! Unfortunately not. His opponent seemed to play the opening rather well, as in typical Catalan style, Dave just couldn't get his light squared bishop into the game satisfactorily. After some time I looked back and it had become a rook and knight ending where Kenilworth were 2 pawns down. Our only hope was that Dave was a couple of minutes up on the clock with play well into the final 10 minutes. But in trying to capitalise on his time edge, Dave blundered his knight and was totally lost. His opponent then gave a seemingly killing check which drove Dave's king to h6 right into the path of the white g and  pawns which were set to give forced mate.  Except that the Black king - for one crucial move - was in stalemate. Rook takes pawn check would have been an instant draw if the rook was captured, and if it wasn't White's extra piece was going to fall off with a stone cold drawn rook and pawn ending - especially given White's time situation. But instead it was Ronny Rosenthal moment number two, the fleeting opportunity passed, and the game and the match were lost.

That Ronny's got a lot to answer for! Not least that KCC are now bottom of Division 1 with no points from two matches. Its a hard life in Division 1.

But better news from Division 2 where our youthful B team scored their first point of the season with a 2-2 draw against Coventry D. Heroes on the night were the mighty Jude and Coventry League debutant Algis. Well done chaps!

And news has also reached me of another Cup success for the club in the Leamington League competitions. After our ground-breaking win in the U-120 tournament last week, this time round we have progressed through to the semi-final of the U-700 Cup after a nail biting 2.5-2.5 draw against Shirley went our way on board elimination. In this respect, Ben's win on Board 2 counted for more than Shirley's win on Board 3. Special mention also to Jude (yet again!) for his draw against 126 rated Jon Asbury, and Bernard for finally getting on the scorecard in his comeback campaign. The first win cannot be far away!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes......

…….. 24 little hours etc etc.

On Monday the A team was in Leamington League action away at Shirley, and came away with a  thumping 3.5-0.5 win. Andrew finished first by virtually forcing Keith Ingram to make a piece sacrifice on g6 which resulted in immediate perpetual check. Keith didn't need a second invitation and so Andrew was on his way home for an early night with a half point in the bag. Then the wins started coming in. First Mike D crashed through against Frank Jimenez's Maginot Line defensive strategy, via a knight sac to get his pieces flooding into the passive White position, and soon after Joshua's extra pawn and bishop v knight saw him comfortably home against Jonathan Dale in an ending. I wrapped up the evening by beating Phil Purcell in an interesting game where I ended up with 3 extra pawns - which he decided was about 3 too many.

So it was with confidence sky high that two of those players set off for our Coventry League season opener against Rugby the next night. Regrettably that confidence was somewhat misplaced. With Dave swanning around in New York, and Carl also somewhere in the States, seemingly keeping the global economy going single handedly, Rod stepped into the breach to supplement our normal team. He held an interesting game with Black against Simon Turner on board 4, and Ben also drew, after appearing to be making the running, on 3 against Jonathan Cox.  Mike then followed with another draw against Bob Wildig, leaving me to decide the match against Rugby's newcomer Paul Colburn on Board 1. Regrettably I was not up to the task, and after being equal or slightly worse the whole game, I gave the match away by failing to hold a difficult rook and knight v rook and bishop endgame, even though the draw was within reach until very near the end. So a loss by the minimum margin of 2.5-1.5, and a disappointing start to the season.

Meanwhile, on the same night at the Abbey Club our B team was making its debut in Division 2 of the Coventry League against a very strong Nuneaton B team, which was 75% comprised of regular Division 1 players. While our team's grey beards (literally in one case!) Roy and Stuart went down on the top boards, our two juniors, Will and Jude, distinguished themselves with fighting draws on Boards 3 and 4. Will's draw against 148-graded Bob Buckler was especially impressive. Not every league match will be this tough, for sure!

And while I'm wrapping up the week's results, mention must be made of the U-120 Cup team which scored a 2.5-1.5 win over Leamington - our first win in this competition for many a year! Jude and Matt scored wins and together with Tony's draw saw us through to a semi-final against either Daventry or Stratford 2 in the New Year. Well done team, and especially well done Jude, on becoming possibly/probably Kenilworth's youngest ever match winner!!