After all these years, I have finally hit upon the perfect means of preparing for a tough weekend of chess. It seems the secret is to fly to America and back, wreck your body clock and do no chess work whatsoever. Having fully tested what I am going to dub "the Ben routine," I can truly vouch for its efficacy. At least if my experience at the 4NCL is anything to go by. I managed to beat a 175 in 24 moves on the Saturday (albeit it is possible he was following the same regime, just less effectively if his play was anything to go by...) I followed up with another win on the Sunday.
So what's the catch I hear you ask? Sadly it transpires that it is not always possible to follow this magical routine before you sit down at the board. So what chance did I really have last night? They say that chess does not so much forge character as reveal it and I fear this is so. Having not claimed a win against Bernard last week when his phone rang, I allowed Nathan Manley a draw yesterday when he was down to four seconds on his clock. There were extenuating circumstances of course. I was a Rook down (as I had been since Nathan's time had stood at seven minutes.) I had nearly been mated (and thought a mate was inevitable at one point) and the complications I somehow created had completed shredded my own nerves. Earlier draw offers had been turned down and I had inexplicably also missed a win(!) The two hours for which I had stood better before blundering seemed like a very long time ago. The draw secured us a draw in the match, which was a key point for us to get. I would certainly have bitten Nathan's hand off a few minutes earlier. The fact that the 10.2 rule is not quite what I thought it was probably another factor in my decision...
As Neil Staples aptly put it afterwards - "neither of you deserved to win that one." A fair summary I feel. Some of the discussion in the Banbury camp was on the lively side. Gary's cheering words to Nathan that he should have played faster were not necessarily what Nathan wanted to hear at that precise moment. Nathan's observation to Gary as to how Gary tended to win most of his points was also somewhat challenging.
I'm sure Dave will do the full write up. We're certainly very close to winning the league now. So, all that remains is for me to help a few old ladies across the road before visiting the local animal sanctuary. They say that virtue is its own reward, but I am not so sure. I still have my principles, but a true chess player would surely rather have the points?!! I feel genuinely torn. But what I would say is that if you run short of time or your phone rings when playing me in the future - do not count on further generosity!
Albeit - if it's me in that position I'm surely owed! :)
So just enough time for me to hop on a plane before tonight's game!