Thursday, 7 January 2021

Strength in Depth!

The latest in our irregular series of "exotic" friendly matches took place on Tuesday, when KCC emerged victorious against Wotton Hall, the reigning North Gloucestershire League champions. In a 9 board, double round, rapid (15 mins + 10 secs) encounter played on Lichess, we edged the first round 5-4, and the second 5.5-3.5, for an overall winning score of 10.5-7.5.

Many thanks to my ex-Coventry/Whoberley team-mate - and former Warwickshire captain - Joey Stewart, for making the initial approach and for helping to make the match happen. We were rather out-gunned on the highest boards by a very powerful Wotton Hall top three, but thankfully we batted a long way down the order. So while we lost over the first 4 boards, and only drew over the top 6, we carried the day thereafter.



Our heroes on the night were Joshua and Bernard C, who each scored 2-0 wins, though Bernard's was the rather more assured performance - hardly surprising as he found himself well below his normal position on Board 8! Joshua had to perform an amazing unravelling manoeuvre with his queen to make his extra material count in Game 1, when it looked for all the world as though he would have to take a draw. True grit!

Lionel had a tough night against Ian Robson - who I last played in a London League match in1986, but the score hardly tells the full story. Ian won a convincing Game 1, but made an unsound sac in Game 2 and Lionel was totally winning for a long period until, I suspect, time trouble played a decisive role. Jude also went down heavily in the first round, as Joey finished with a nice queen sac to force mate in possibly the best game of the evening, but Game 2 could easily have gone the other way, as Jude was pressing and on top in the middle game. But the advantage slipped away, and Jude was then forced to dig in to secure the draw, as Joey tried in vain for many moves to find a way to break the White set-up. More true grit and a splendid effort against a very strong opponent! I exchanged wins with Mike Ashworth on top board - but we each won the wrong game, as we took it in turns to blunder away winning advantages.

Mike was his normal solid self in scoring an excellent 75% on Board 5, while Bernard R was his normal totally unsound self on Board 6, where he exchanged wins with Sid Venkatanaranyan. There were rather too many pieces left en prise in these two encounters to satisfy the chess purist! Not that we have any of those in Kenilworth, of course. Ben also scored a splendid 75%, but - manager speak alert - Solomon will have been rather disappointed to only score 50%, as he was a piece up for nothing - and probably mating - in his Round 2 game, and after blundering it all away and more, before re-establishing a probably drawn position, he then blundered that away as well. Surely he can't have been indulging in  another of his notorious brandy sessions during play??

As with all these friendly matches, it was good fun and really nice to play against some different clubs and different opponents. The only problem with the Lichess platform, of course, is that you can't easily see what the score is during a team match, but maybe ignorance really is bliss in this respect. At least for the perpetually nervous match captain. And on Lichess, no-one seems to suffer the disconnection problems that seem to be a constant issue on chess.com.

For many of us its now time to start thinking about the next online league event (now jointly branded as CDCL/LDCL) which begins at the end of the month, but with the pandemic continuing to make OTB chess a very distant prospect, I don't doubt that we will be in online friendly action again in the coming months.

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