The last few weeks have passed in something of a blur for me - unfortunately both at - as well as away from the chess board. Still, the clamour on the streets of Kenilworth has now reached such a pitch that I feel duty bound to write a potted report on our last three matches.
We've picked up three vital points since my last post. A narrow defeat to Solihull A has been followed by a magnificent victory against top of the table Banbury A and a draw with Solihull B. All of this means that with two games to go (against Rugby A and Shirley A) we remain in a relegation dog-fight. We are two points above Shirley A and Solihull B, who at the time of writing both have a game in hand against us. My guess is we need another two points to be safe, so still all to play for.
I'm not going to give you a game by game account, but instead am going to dish out a few awards.
Best game prize - Jude Shearsby won magnificently against Julian Summerfield to secure the point against Solihull B. Jude really held his nerve in a complex endgame and made what might have been quite a difficult task look easy. Mike Donnelly was awesome in the Banbury A match. With every other game drawn, his win against Paul Rowan secured both points. Mike was miles ahead on the board for the last hour, but unfortunately most of the remaining time was on Paul's clock rather than Mike's! I have never felt more nervous watching a game, but Mike couldn't have been calmer. Honourable mention to Lionel Durand-Riou - his demolition of Paul Roper in the Solihull B match was a delight to watch.
Making your captain panic by being late, but ultimately it being worth the wait prize, is as you can imagine a keenly contested category. I certainly feared for our winner, Bernard Charnley when there was no sign of him at 7.50 in the Solihull A match. Still, Bernard is not the first person to inadvertently drive to Shirley instead of Solihull, I'm sure. A bit of quick thinking saw him saunter in as cool as you like, before ultimately securing a good draw with Phillip Hurtado. Special mention to Lionel and Jude regarding the Solihull B match. Neither were massively late, but Solihull had turned up early and we were underway before either appeared. I would have been even more nervous, had I known then that they were going to ultimately contribute 100% of our points!
The super-sub award goes to Phil Wood. Jude was struck down with tonsillitis hours before the Banbury A match. Phil stepped in at short notice and held a great draw with Gary Jackson. Like Mike's game against Paul Rowan this went right to the wire - a brilliant effort on Phil's part.
The most helpful act by an opposing team award - must go to Banbury A for kindly not playing James Jackson.
So there we have it. Readers should not see the early spraying around of awards as a sign of complacency on our part. (Opposing teams who would like to win further "most helpful act awards," please let me know though.) We are very keen and very focused. All of the above means this is still in our own hands. Bring on Rugby and Shirley!