Kenilworth safely made it through to yet another LDCL Open KO Cup Final last night, with a 3-2 Semi-Final win over Shirley. And for once we managed it without too many alarms. Both teams were slightly under-strength, but our squad depth was the decisive factor.
It was a strange game, with four boards over before 9.30, and the playing room emptying with indecent haste to leave the Club Organiser in solitary splendour trying, very unsuccessfully, to hold a desperate position on Board 1. Fortunately, this was Shirley's only success, whereas we managed two.
The games on Boards 2 and 5 did not last long. First, Andy B recognised that his opening strategy against Keith Ingram was getting nowhere and offered a swiftly accepted draw. Regrettably, a rather uninspiring effort with the white pieces from our man. Ben's game on Board 5 against Gordon Christie was much more exciting, although lasting fewer moves. I'm pretty sure the already infamous dodgy line of the dodgy opening featured again, and the position was very imbalanced when the draw was agreed. Black (Ben) had no centre pawns, while White's occupied e4 and d4 in classical style. White also had an open g file to work with, but Ben's pieces were developed on good squares and were ready to hop into any holes if the White pawns advanced, while the White king was slightly vulnerable. It could have been an interesting struggle, but maybe both players wanted to get home to watch something on TV?
Then the match quickly moved decisively in our favour. Phil struck first with a big win over Dave Thomas. Phil jumped in on c7 with a rook, attacking a Black bishop on b7 and a Black queen on d7. Surprisingly Dave just let the bishop go, when he could have limited his losses to a pawn by playing Qd8, and then capturing an undefended White bishop on a5 when Phil took the b7 bishop. After this oversight, the game concluded rapidly.
And there was an even more comprehensive conclusion on Board 3 shortly afterwards, when Andrew P had the joy of playing the move Qb2 mate against Jonathan Dale, at the end of a massive attack against White's king which had castled on the queenside. This looked like a very dynamic and energetic game by Andrew. I only wish I could have followed suit, but much later my travails against Phil Purcell ended in defeat, and Shirley had their only win of the evening.
And so we are into the final again, where we will play Olton on Tuesday, May 7th. Having beaten them in our recent successes in both 2014 and 2017, they may well feel they are due a case of third time lucky. Let's try and make it a hat trick for us instead!