Tuesday, 7 January 2020

The Battle of Kenilworth - Another Skirmish Breaks Out

The new decade began with the second A team v B team match of the season, and just as with the first encounter, it was very difficult to tell the difference between the teams for much of the night! In the end the score was - again - 2.5-1.5 to the A team, but there was hardly a sheet of paper between the sides, even though the A team was, miracle of miracles, at full strength.

A new decade begins! Kenilworth B (left) prepare to take on Kenilworth A (right). From top: Mike v Andy B; Ben v Mark; Andy W v Joshua; Jude v David P
The game Donnelly v Baruch used to be one of the classic encounters of Warwickshire chess. Time may have moved on somewhat since those halcyon days, but they still both know how to wield a pretty mean pawn. I was expecting a very quick draw, but Andy surprised me by playing a very enterprising opening which completely imbalanced the structure - and then turning down Mike's draw offer. But I needn't have worried, as a draw was agreed several moves later, after Mike comfortably defended against Andy's attempts to press in a double rook ending.

Another draw offer was then declined by the A team player on Board 3, even though at the time the Black position looked desperate to me. But Joshua did not become (until last night!) Mr 100% by accepting draw offers, even when the sword of Damocles is hovering directly above his head. I don't know what Herr Fritz or Mr Stockfish have to say about the earlier and subsequent play, but my non-silicon brain thought Andy W was doing all of the pushing in this game and must have been close to winning. But optimism goes a long way, as Joshua's games often demonstrate, and the game finally ended in a draw, but only after all of Joshua's frantic late attempts to dig a trap for Andy to fall into, had failed to trap their prey. (Amusing anecdote:- Before the match started, Joshua took great delight in showing us the excellent Rh4 move he had played (in the opening!) against FM Marcus Harvey at the Shropshire Open that weekend. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly had an internal chortle when I then saw Andy play an excellent Rh4 move against Joshua just out of the opening!)

Meanwhile on the "youth" board, David P was turning the screw on Jude's position in a 4 rooks ending, which was reached almost straight out of the opening.  David's rooks were on d7 and d8, and Jude's on e7 and e8 - a delightful symmetry! But here David surprised Jude by playing Rxc7 winning a pawn, as whichever White rook was captured (both now being en prise), a Black rook would be loose as well. From a position of rook and 6 v rook and 5, David (or must we now call him Jose Raul?) played an impressive endgame that subsequently became rook and 3 v rook and 1, all on the kingside. And after a long, heroic defence Jude finally had to resign, but it was another remarkably mature effort from our star nine year old.

Which put the A team in the lead, but events on Board 2 had earlier seemed likely to see a B team victory, as Ben was outplaying me. He had the advantage (with Black!) straight out of the opening and I was completely unjustified in turning down an early draw offer (yes, there were a lot of them about last night!). I then made a crass oversight which meant that my bishop on a5, which I had willingly trapped by playing b4, was suddenly in serious danger. In making sure that it didn't fall off I overlooked another threat which saw my rooks forked by a Black knight, and suddenly Ben was completely winning. However, he hesitated for one move and all of a sudden I leaped out from nowhere and won back my exchange while simultaneously winning a pawn and getting a passer to c7, with another just behind on b5. Ben's only hope was the opposite bishops, but as there was still a pair of rooks on the board I thought it must be winning for me. However, time was very short and my b5 pawn fell off. With neither of us in a fit state to continue, I offered a draw and Ben had no choice but to accept, sealing an A team victory by the minimum margin.

Definitely not title-winning form from the victors, and not relegation form from the losers. But we've all heard about teams being too good to go down, so come on you B-teamers, get some more points on the board to avoid any nail-biting 4 pointers at the end of the season!

1 comment:

  1. I just noticed that each team (completely accidently!) played in descending age order, which was an interesting quirk. Come back in a couple of years and the same line-ups could easily be in the reverse order. And at least one of the B team will, for sure, be in the A team. No prizes for guessing who I have in mind!