A 3-1 home win over a strong Solihull A team last night, took us (temporarily?) clear of the chasing pack at the top of Division 1, and ensured we ended the first half of the season unbeaten. Olton trail by 2 points with a match in hand, and Banbury are 4 points back with 2 matches in hand.
Andrew P was first to finish, drawing on the Black side of a London System (yawn) against Tony Sadler on Board 3. White had an open h file, but could eventually find nothing better than to castle kingside himself. Andrew went the other way (definitely not a comment on his sexuality, by the way) but any prospect of excitement from opposite castled kings was summarily ended when our man, quite uncharacteristically, offered a draw.
Andy B, making one of his infrequent starts on Board 2, was next to finish with a draw against Andrew McCumiskey. (Lot of Andrews around last night, weren't there?!) He freshened up his trusty Reti/English set-up with a very early f4, but Black seemed to defend pretty well, and an interesting rook lift from f8-f5-h5 got considerable counterplay against the White king. But our Andy neutralised the threats and an interesting encounter ended with honours even.
Then almost simultaneously, the remaining two games finished - with Kenilworth victories in each game. Mike D beat Ray Carpenter on Board 4 after a seemingly exemplary game with White in a Catalanesque position where Black was very passive, and struggled to solve the eternal problem of his light squared bishop. Mike amassed his forces in the centre, threw in a kingside pawn thrust and eventually broke through with d5 to win material - 2 rooks to be precise in the final position!
And I beat Mike Surtees on Board 1, to thankfully stop my losing streak at 3. He unleashed his patent opening I e4 c5 2 Nh3 (well he is from Manchester - see Joshua's recent article!) but I reacted surprisingly well, especially as I wasn't prepared for it, and was better until White was eventually able to unravel his position and get some very dangerous kingside play going. However, in a very complicated position he then wrongly sacrificed a piece, but after I also made a big mistake, he delayed giving a queen check for one fatal move and instead of having a perpetual I was able to defend my king. With both of us short of time, White then blundered into mate to bring the game to a swift end.
On which happy note, may I wish a Merry Christmas to all our readers, and give advance notice that the Traditional KCC Xmas Quiz (running non-stop since 2017) will be appearing on the website in a couple of days, promising hours and hours of mental fun over the festive period! I bet you can hardly wait!!