Saturday, 25 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rd 5

I bring news of great joy which will reverberate across the land, even to the furthest corners of Windy Arbour, Dalehouse Lane and Beehive Hill. I have now won a game at the World Old People's Team Championships! In the words of the Iron Lady, "Just rejoice at that news!"


And not just any old win, but against yet another titled player (there's more of them here than you can shake a stick at - and that's just in our hotel!), and two time East German Women's Champion, Annett Wagner-Michel. And - I kid you not - I played quite well. Not very well, of course, but I'll happily settle for quite well any time. Moreover, there was a crushing team victory as well, with England 2 scoring a 3.5-0.5 win over the German Women's team. Having now faced both the contenders for the Women's 65+ World title, my money is on the Latvians who currently hold a one point lead over the Germans.  It is to be hoped that they do get paired together, at some stage, though. And by the way, at this point we should celebrate the victory of the English team for becoming World Champions in the 50+ category ...... where they are the only participants. Where are the Mongolian Ladies when you need them, I wonder?

It was another good day for the top English teams. In the 50+ event Mickey and Mark won with Black to give us a 3-1 win over Hungary, and a critical success for John Nunn against GM Vaisser edged us home 2.5-1.5 against France in the 65+ tournament. Which means we lead in the 50+ event on game points from the USA, and by a clear point from Germany 1 in the 65+. Next up in Rd 6, its England v Italy in the 50+ and England v Israel 2 in the 65+, while my England 2 team face the German club team Rochade Bielefeld. Though I cannot divulge whether I will be playing in this match or not! 

The temperatures have actually cooled down a bit the last two days, and yesterday there was a storm/downpour of biblical proportions during play - a roof leak caused the England 1 v France match to be suspended. Clearly they have put the top matches at the wrong end of the hall, as we bunnies on the low boards were dry as a bone! All of which has reminded me - you lucky people - of this song!


Friday, 24 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rds 3 & 4

Well, don't think I'm going to start off by apologising for missing a day or two. If you knew how much aggro I have to go through (hopeless hotel wi-fi) to post one of these reports, you'd realise that its actually a miracle there's been any posts from Acqui Terme at all.

Anyway, here's a brief summary of what happened in Rds 3 and 4. If I can remember that far back. My team finally won a game on Wednesday - 3-1 against A team from nearby Alessandria. Kevin Bowmer and Peter Wood won with the White pieces, and Stewart Reuben and I drew with Black. Though I should have lost, but my very pleasant opponent took a repetition in a completely winning position, after I over-pressed. lesson learnt? Probably not. Yesterday I was "rested" and went to Turin on the train for some sight-seeing. In my absence we lost 3.5-0.5 against a strong Switzerland team, who had all titled players, despite resting their top board. Today I am back in the fold, when we will play Germany Women.

Meanwhile the serious chess has been going on at the far end of the tournament hall from where we have been playing. And its pretty good news. England 1 are tied for the lead in both the 50+ and 65+ competitions. In the oldies section, England 1 followed a 2-2 draw against Germany 2 with a 3.5-0.5 win over Germany 1. (No, I can't figure that out either!) John Nunn wiped out GM Rainer Knaak yesterday, but we already know that he has a problem facing English opposition, so that could hardly come as a surprise. Today its England 1 v France as the only two teams on 7/8 go head to head - Nunn v Vaisser on top board. The top seeded Israeli's have lost 2 matches already.

In the 50+ tournament there have been some heavyweight match ups for England 1 in the last 2 rounds. First it was a 3-1 win over the all GM Icelandic team, with impressive wins for Mickey and Nigel on the top 2 boards, and yesterday there was a nail biting 2-2 draw against the USA. Mark Hebden lost against Novikov, but Mickey saved the day with a brilliant endgame win over Gregory Kaidanov. Well worth checking this out to see Mickey conjure up passed a and h pawns from nowhere in a knight ending. real chess artistry and mastery. Another tough match against Hungary today, but with Mickey and Nigel on the top 2 boards, I somehow think its the Magyars who will be the more nervous. And as Mickey said to me at breakfast yesterday, "Mind if I join you?" Sorry to so shamelessly name drop. Though I may still share my 5 second conversation with Nigel in a future post.

But enough about the chess - here's a few pictures from my visit to the Royal Palace in Turin yesterday to get the culture vultures amongst you (Bernard C and Roy!) excited!

A very strange paining of a future Savoy king as a child - with a very small person

Van Dyck's famous painting of the Children of Charles I

That Botticelli wasn't ashamed to rework his ideas, was he? Birth of Venus, anyone?!

OK, that'll do for today. Its the rest day tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to provide another update. But as at least 2 players in the event have now tested positive for Covid, it may not be all good news.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rd 2

Another day, another GM for me! Well, OK, if you want to split hairs, today it was a WGM, but really - must we get bogged down in the details?  I was pressing - or at least I thought I was pressing - for most of the game, but at the crucial moment I overlooked a tempo winning move for my opponent which enabled her to set up a rock solid defence of my big attack against f7. So only a draw, and England 2 went down 2.5-1.5 against the Latvian Women's team. Not a good result. My opponent beat Nona Gaprindashvili a few years back, and has been rated as high as 2236, so her current rating of just 1978 scarcely does her justice. Two of the other boards were drawn, but Geoff James lost with Black on Board 2 which decided the match. Better news of England 1, who beat a German team 3.5-0.5, while top seeds Israel were going down to Hungary in the top match.

In the 50+ section, it was England 1 v England 2, and the match went the expected way, as both John  Emms and Nigel Short won, but Glenn Flear held Mickey Adams to a draw in an all GM battle on top board. When I left a few minutes ago, Mark Hebden was turning the screw against Chris Duncan with an extra pawn and a safer king, so I expect it will end up as 3.5-0.5 to the first team. No idea how any of the other top matches went, but England Women (already World Champions as the only female side in the event!) had a very big win over the Oslo club that played England 1 yesterday, and England 3 were in a titanic struggle against USA 5 Brothers (a misnomer this year as there are only 4 brothers present!). The match could go either way with 2 games left.

Oh well, nothing for it but to go and drown my sorrows with a few bottles of Moretti!

Monday, 20 June 2022

World Seniors Team Chess Championships 2022 - Round 1

 Or WSTCC 2022 as we will now call it!

Well, I have just hot footed it (literally - its way over 30 degrees here) from the blissfully air conditioned playing hall in Acqui Terme (Italy) to my definitely not air conditioned hotel room in order to break the news that ..... I lost. But as I was playing the great John Nunn (with the Black pieces too) this will surprise no-one. It was actually level, but difficult, out of the opening (good prep by me!) and then I gradually got outplayed, as he angled for an advantageous ending while I tried to avoid being mated on h7. I avoided the mate, but he got his ending advantage and that was all she wrote. Though in fact v England 2 went down only by 2.5-1.5 to England 1, as Geoff James drew against Paul Littlewood after sacking a piece, and Kevin Bowmer won a remarkable game with Black against Tony Stebbings. Tony had 3 pieces for a queen, plus a powerful passed c pawn, but Kevin played a terrific game to win after a massive kingside pawn storm. Ian Snape won the match for England 1 on bottom board, when Stewart Reuben lost on time in a lost looking position.

In the 50+ section, England 1 beat Oslo Schakselskap 4-0. There were quick wins for Messrs Hebden and Arkell with White, while Nigel Short won a long minor piece ending on Board 1 (Mickey Adams was rested today) and John Emms won after pointing all his pieces at the Norwegian players king.

The organisers are rather slow posting the results, so that's about all I have to offer by way of hard results. In due course, you can find out the details yourselves here (50+) and here (65+).

There are supposedly some live games each day (top two matches in each section) but I can't find them on Chess24. So instead you'll have to make do with a couple of snaps. Always assuming the very dodgy hotel wi-fi can cope with the heavy task of uploading them!

The Centro Congressi, Acqui Terme

Hopefully I'll post every day - but its so hot and enervating, and the technology is so iffy,  I can't guarantee anything!

The playing hall - no GMs visible in this picture!


Friday, 10 June 2022

Broooooooce!

At the recent "4 Trophies dinner" at The Gauntlet, it was great to welcome again our most long distance paid-up member, Bruce Holland, who had travelled up from deepest Herefordshire to join in the celebrations. Bruce, of course, was one of the original movers and shakers in getting the current incarnation of Kenilworth Chess Club up and running in 1975 - and 47 years on he still has a great affinity with the club, despite the miles that now separate him from the rest of us.

In my early years with the club, it was something of a ritual for Bruce to turn up on Thursday nights at The Royal Oak, and later The Gauntlet, at an hour when most people were thinking of leaving. His arrival, at 10.30 or later, was invariably accompanied by a general chorus of "Brooooce", albeit not with quite the same passion as Mr Springsteen's fans usually muster.


Now this is all well and good, as Bruce is a legend of KCC and thoroughly deserves a bit of website appreciation, but what really prompted this article was the fact that his return to Kenilworth was actually a rather remarkable coincidence. Because on two occasions he had recently been thrust centre stage of my imagination, by a couple of out of the blue happenings.

Firstly, there I was on holiday in Scotland, in search of my Celtic forefathers, when what do I see but Bruce's name - if not up in lights, then up in stone.

Dunfermline Abbey - the final resting place of Robert the Bruce

But something like that can obviously be easily explained. the next incident most certainly can't. Trundling up the M5 the other day, my wife and I stopped off at the decidedly upmarket Gloucester Services. Idly browsing the shop - and recoiling in horror at the prices - I was brought to a complete standstill by a wholly unbelievable sight. Which I now share with you!

Any further comment from me would be superfluous

You couldn't make it up if you tried! "The chances of anything coming from Mars" may well be "a million to one", but the odds on finding a display of these three tins must be several trillion to one. Proof, if any were still needed, that Bruce is no ordinary guy!

I'm not sure what Bruce's favourite Bruce song is, so I have chosen for him. How about a bit of Waiting on a Sunny Day, live in Hyde Park in 2009?in 



Sunday, 22 May 2022

Kenilworth Invaded by GMs!

After hosting the English Seniors' Championships at the beginning of May, Kenilworth has also been the venue for the English Open and Women's Championships over the last four days. It can safely be said that GM Mark Hebden likes Kenilworth, as after winning the English Over-50's title (and £500) he has now followed up by winning the English Championship (and £2,000) - going undefeated with a 12.5/14 score over the two events.

The loneliness of the long distance Grand Master. Mark Hebden prepares for his Rd 3 game against FM Adam Ashton - 1-0 (30) (Banbury IM James Jackson in the background)

Two other legendary English GMs were also competing in the event. Keith Arkell finished in a tie for 4th with 4.5/7, while Peter Wells scored 4/7 to finish in a tie for 8th.

Before the start of the final round - Mark Hebden v Keith Arkell. Drawn in 12 moves. At left is IM James Jackson who won his final game to finish clear second (£1.200!) with a fantastic 5.5/7 score. 

Peter Wells (right) in play against IM Richard Pert in Rd 3 (Draw in 23 moves)

At the latest weekend, the only Kenilworth participation - inevitably! - was our pocket rocket Jude, who made an eminently respectable 3/7, but missed a couple of opportunities to rack up even more points. Not bad for a 12 year old! Meanwhile, pre-pandemic visitor to The Gauntlet - and another graduate of the CCA - Elis Dicen, finished 5th in the English Women's Championships, playing a decisive role in the final standings by beating tournament leader Alaa Gamal in Rd 7, which saw the title go to WIM Lan Yao. Earlier in the month, there had been more Kenilworth representation, when Ed scored 3.5/7 in the English 65+ Championships. 

Here's hoping the Holiday Inn continues to be a major venue for English chess events. Who knows? I might even play in one of them! Unless I'm away on holiday, again.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Oh, What a Night!

Oh, what a night.
Late April, twenty twenty two



Yes indeed - Leamington League Cup Finals night at Olton. Let history remember the date - Tuesday, April 26th - and the venue - Tyseley Working Men''s Club (the Wembley of the local chess world). For on that date, and in that place, KCC picked up two of the three trophies on offer (the Open KO Cup and the Under 8750 Cup) and went down narrowly in the third (the Under 1600 Cup). Bringing the total number of KCC triumphs for the season to four, as the Leamington League Division 1 and Coventry League KO Cup titles had already been annexed. And if anyone has forgotten how close we went to also winning the Coventry League Division 1 trophy, just refresh your memories by reading the Blog post of March 18th!

Where to start? How about with a pictorial record of the 14 valiant KCC men who were in action on this epic night.

From left to right: Andrew, Phil, Rod, Mark, Bernard (partially obscured - for the first time in his life, I expect!), Jude, Andy, Billy, Joshua, Roy, Chris, Hector, Patrick, Ben.
(With Andrew a clear winner of the Best Turned Out prize!)

Naturally, my attention was mainly focussed on my own game against Alan Lloyd, against whom I have a dreadful record (played 9, drawn 4, lost 5!). But I did notice that Andrew had scored a convincing win over Bruce Baer on the next board to me; that Jude was winning against Gary Hope and Andy had drawn early against Richard Reynolds. So, from a position of slight advantage I was able to offer a draw secure that we were winning the Open KO Cup match against Olton comfortably. Little did I know, though, that Jude had had a brainstorm and momentarily transformed his winning position into a lost position ..... but thankfully the chess gods were smiling on us and he turned the tables again to secure the win - in the process, surely becoming the youngest ever winner in the League's premier knock-out tournament. This left Joshua able to finish the match with no pressure. He was an exchange down against Mark Cundy but had a wide open White king to attack. However, Mark had a dangerous passed pawn, and in the end Joshua had to take a perpetual check. Nevertheless, an unbeaten 3.5-1.5 win for us, with two White victories and three Black draws (yes, I lost the toss - mea culpa!)

The next match to conclude was the Under 1600 final against Solihull.  Things got off to a great start when Hector continued his remarkable form by notching up a point for us on Board 2, but then things fell apart as both Roy and Patrick went down to defeat (the latter to Kenilworth resident and long time KCC member, Mike Johnson.) Even if Chris had been able to even the scores on Board 4, we would have lost the tie break on the board elimination rule, but the game ended in a draw anyway, and we had lost by 2.5-1.5. A great shame that the team fell at the final hurdle, but Chris and his lads have done the club proud by reaching the final of a competition where we have traditionally only been able to win a tie if we got given the bye. There's also no doubt in my mind that we would have won this match, and the Cup, if we hadn't also reached the U-8750 final which deprived the U-1600 side of Billy, who was eligible for both teams.

But I can finish on a positive note, as at the end of the evening we emerged victorious from a titanic struggle against Banbury in the Under 8750 final. It was a strange match. Ben drew very early against Danut Joian, and team supremo Bernard added another draw into the mix soon after when halving out with Chris Evans. The Banbury strategy for the match was very interesting, with a low rated player on Board 5 and much higher rated players on the other 4 boards to keep under the 8750 total limit. Our strength was much more evenly spread, but it meant we were out-graded on 4 of the 5 boards. Banbury were in effect accepting they would probably lose on Board 5, but if they could score 2.5/4 on the other boards, they would win any tie on board elimination. Rod duly delivered our much needed win against Michael Campling on Board 5, but this was balanced by Mal Waddell beating Billy on Board 4 to level the scores. How Billy lost I don't know, as at one point it looked like he had driven a threshing machine through Mal's position, forcing the White king to c3 and getting a pawn to f2. So the scores were consequently tied, and Banbury just needed a draw on top board to vindicate their strategy and win the match on tie break............

But I must break off the narrative at this point for an important message.


I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Phil's position in the decisive game against Nathan Manley. He was, I kid you not, about 5 pawns up so I naturally assumed he had sacked a piece and that the game was in the balance. Then I counted the pieces and they were level! So he was just 5 pawns up. Oh yes, and he had a virtual forced mate on the board, as well - or at least the win of humungous amounts of material. Of course, Phil being Phil, it was never going to be that simple, but he did indeed soon add an extra rook to his material advantage, and eventually this proved sufficient to force resignation and win another trophy for Kenilworth. What a hero!!


And so ends a truly momentous season for KCC - surely one of the best in the club's history. 4 trophies; splendid efforts by all our teams; well attended club nights; enthusiastic new members; some fearsomely strong juniors; and a group of solid old timers as well. Enjoy the summer, and when the new season rolls around, just like Jackson, let's "get up and do it again!"


Wednesday, 30 March 2022

By Jupiter, Forgot!

"By Jupiter, forgot! I am weary; yea, my memory is tired. Have we no wine here?"
Coriolanus, Act 1 Scene 9.

But I've remembered now, and so here is the report of last Monday's final Leamington League Division 1 match of the season. Nothing of real importance was at stake, as we had wrapped up the title a couple of weeks back, but there was one last challenge - maintaining our unbeaten league record. And as our Coventry League team had lost its own unbeaten record - and the league title - in the very last game, we really needed to make sure that history did not repeat itself. It was all about pride.

In all our matches this season we have fielded the Three Ps plus AN Other, and this pattern held right to the end, as Messrs Page, Paterson and Pink were joined by the recently rediscovered Andy Baruch. Our opponents were Solihull A, led this year by Don Mason, who had run us mighty close in our earlier encounter and had a victory over Olton to their credit.

Things did not start well. I walked straight into some ferocious opening preparation from Don, and I was already losing/lost by move 10. I didn't expect to make it to move 20, so the fact that mate only arrived on move 34 must be considered something of a moral victory for me. Though, regrettably, moral victories do not count on the match scoreboard. Still, never mind, as Joshua had been winning easily against Paul Roper on Board 3 and looked likely to finish even before me. Wrong! He had reached a rook and pawn ending two pawns up and with 2 connected, passed kingside pawns, when he decided to jettison them to win White's last two queenside pawns.  But this left him with just doubled b pawns of his own, and when Paul managed to get his king back to b1 the draw was inevitable.

So now things looked decidedly dodgy, since Andy B's position on Board 2 against Tony Sadler looked to have gone from very promising to totally lost. I took a look at the board and counted two White pieces and one White rook under attack - try saving all those at once! But somehow he scared Tony into not taking the material, and it ended up in a rook and 4 v rook and 4 ending. Tony was in desperate time trouble, though, and swapped off into a king and pawn ending that might just have held with very precise play, but his clock situation ruled that possibility out and Andy duly queened a pawn and won. His first victory for two years! (Though in fairness, in only his second game!)

Which left the other Andrew in play on Board 2 against Ray Carpenter. He seemed to be winning Black's bishop in a minor piece ending thanks to a passed d pawn, when Ray suddenly created mayhem to get a passed pawn of his own on the b file. For a moment I was in panic, as I thought this pawn couldn't be stopped, but Andrew kept his cool and moved his king away from the path of the pawn, so there were no tempo gaining checks en route to the queening square, and brought his knight back to stop the pawn. This was enough to win, as in order to cause the mayhem, Ray had had to give White another passed pawn on the a file, and his lone bishop couldn't prevent either this or the d pawn from queening.

So not only did we finish unbeaten, but we also finished victorious in the match, squeaking home by 2.5-1.5. Coupled with yet another Olton defeat (0.5-3.5 against Shirley A) the same night, this meant that our final winning margin was a massive 7 points. We dropped only two points all season, when drawing with our B team and Olton A, and ended up with a game point difference of +17. By any measures, this was a comprehensive success!


Massive kudos goes to Andrew, for a stunning performance on Board 2. I, on the other had, need to do considerably better! Joshua's impressive hit rate was slightly affected by him missing out on one game due to an opposition default. Lionel, Jude and Andy didn't do badly either, while Mike kept me company on 50%.


No particular reason for this week's song, though I don't think Poco have ever featured here before, and that omission needs to be remedied immediately!


Friday, 18 March 2022

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Its been a week of very mixed fortunes in KCC-land, and how it all stacks up in the end depends on whether you are a "glass half full" or a "glass half empty" kind of guy.

Which sort are you?!

At the end of it all, we have two trophies confirmed for the season, but strangely it is the one that got away which will likely live longest in the memory. Proof, if it were needed, that some people will never be totally contented with life.

It all started on Monday, when - in what was scheduled to be a Leamington League Division 1 decider against Olton A - we drew 2-2 in an ultimately unimportant encounter, as Olton had contrived to gift us the title by losing their previous match at Banbury. So all that was at stake was a bit of local pride, and our unbeaten record. It was honours even on the night, but as Olton played without regular Board 1 Phil Holt (get well soon, Phil - I know you're reading this!) maybe they had more reason to be happy. Joshua was our sole winner, seeing off Mark Cundy's King's Gambit in most assured style by quickly transposing into a pawn up minor piece ending. The rarely sighted lesser-spotted Baruch then chipped in with a draw on Board 4 against Gary Hope. In normal circumstances this would have been a disappointing result, but given it was Andy's first game since March 4th 2020 (740 days by my reckoning) it was a minor miracle he even remembered the moves. Andrew followed up with another draw against Bruce Baer on Board 2, after a game in which he was a pawn up for most of the time, only to fall into a perpetual check when the win was in sight. Which left me needing a draw to win the match.  But I was playing Alan Lloyd, against whom I have a record of Played 8, Won 0, Drawn 4, Lost 4. It didn't matter that I got into a rather good position, where I was the only one who had any winning chances, as it was inevitable that I would completely misplay things at several key moments and end up losing a rook and pawn ending after a zillion moves on the increment. Some things are just meant to happen, and me losing to Alan is one of them.


Tuesday evening saw a rather more critical encounter, as we took on Coventry A in the final of the Coventry League KO Cup, a competition we have won once before, in 2018. As we had done the double over Cov A in the League our hopes were high, but things proved to be less straightforward than we might have hoped. All 4 games were still in play late into the evening when we had a massive stroke of good fortune, as Bava Manickam contrived to walk into a one move mate against Mike in a rook and pawn ending. Mike was a pawn up, and assures me he was winning, but mate in one certainly saves a lot of effort, technique and agony for the spectators. As soon as mate appeared on the board, I offered Ed Goodwin a draw on Board 2. I had been in all sorts of trouble a few moves earlier, but thankfully I was let off the hook and it was almost dead level in a double rook and pawns ending when we shared the point. I knew that this essentially assured us of the Cup, as Andrew was a pawn up against Joshua Pink (you'll have noticed how I can't bring myself to be on first name terms only with those KCC players who have split loyalties!) in a rook and 4 v rook and 3 endgame. Andrew then even gave up his extra pawn to make it so drawn that even Joshua Pink couldn't find any excuse to play on. This made Ben's loss against Warwick Scaife on Board 4 irrelevant, as we were going to be winners on board count in the event of a 2-2 tie. The Cup was ours - though I doubt we will see quuite the same scenes as these on the streets of Kenilworth when we bring the trophy home!


And so to Wednesday, and the same 4 were back in action in our postponed Coventry League Division 1 encounter with Warwick Uni A, which had become a title decider - where we had draw odds, as we were 1 point clear of the University team. Now they have a lot of very strong players to draw on, but thankfully they don't often get them all to play, so we went into the match with every chance of securing a first ever Coventry League title. But its the hope that kills you, isn't it?

First blood went to our opponents, and it was a bitter pill to swallow when Mike went down to Simeon Bott on Board 3. Mike had played a typical Rxc3 exchange sac and got a pawn and lots of compensation for it. But the position was very messy, and Mike had a bishop stuck on h8 behind a White pawn on f6. Mike tells me he was winning for about 20 moves, but it was anything but straightforward while that bishop remained stuck. Which it did. Seemingly for eternity. Or check mate as its known. A disastrous result for us, as Mike went from Tuesday hero to Wednesday zero. Still, I remained confident, as Andrew was an exchange for a pawn up on Board 1 against Joe Varley and seemingly cruising to victory, and while I was still down the pawn I had sacked in the opening, I had definite compensation with Black's queen, king's bishop and rook all either back or still on their starting squares at move 30. Somehow I just knew I was going to win!

So when Ben lost a very strange game on Board 4 against Vikas Sajanani, I was still more than hopeful. Ben had a queen against a rook and bishop (and maybe a pawn?) and I had been hoping we weren't losing, but his departure from the room at 100 mph and 100 degrees centigrade told me a different story. Now it was most definitely down to me and Andrew. The first part of the task went well, as the position just got too difficult for the players in my game, and in serious time trouble my opponent, Ivan Nikolov, couldn't defend when I got a pawn all the way to a7. This was a seriously heavyweight game! But something awful had happened in Andrew's game. I thought he was going to double on the seventh rank and deliver mate, but he was scared that White's passed d pawn might queen first, so instead swapped off a pair of rooks and ended up with rook and three (h, f and a) against bishop and three (h, g and a). It seemed like an obvious win, but Andrew had to be careful that when he went active with his rook, the White king couldn't munch the weak Black pawns on h6 and f6 and queen one of his own. I'm pretty sure there was a win if he had brought his king around to attack the White kingside pawns from behind before going after the White a pawn, but in increasingly desperate time trouble he went straight to the a2 pawn with his king and after various captures ended up with a rook against a lone White h pawn - but with the Black king several miles away from the action on a1. By a tempo it was a draw, but knowing that a draw was not good enough, Andrew tried one last trick and instead of sacking his rook, he allowed the White pawn to queen thinking/hoping he could then deliver mate with his rook. Unfortunately, White had one move which both stopped the mate and saved his queen. And he found it. And a few moves later he won the queen v rook ending which had ensued. Heartbreak for Andrew, and for KCC, who had come so close to a first Coventry League Championship. Chess is a harsh mistress.

But never mind. Two out of three is not so awful, is it? Vegetarians please look away now - Meat Loaf is about to be served



Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Excruciating

Well, that was an incredibly painful way to spend three hours, but somehow - at the very last moment - we stumbled across the line to win our Coventry League KO Cup Semi Final against Division 3 side, Coventry E by the required handicap defeating score of 3.5-0.5. But it was an evening of pure agony.

Andrew is exempted from all/any criticism, as he was the only one who played anything like a good game, throwing in plenty of tactics on his way to a convincing win over John Conway on Board 1. John lost on time at the end, but his position had completely gone by then.

But the rest of us. Oh dear, oh dear.

Ben eventually won decisively on Board 4, being oodles of material up against Joshua Rivett, but his opening play looked anything but convincing and I reckon he was in serious danger of being worse for quite a few moves.

Mike then offered a draw against Pablo Kelly on Board 3. His position had been going progressively downhill, as his two bishops looked pretty impotent against a big queenside pawn advance by White. I guess out of desperation he gave up a piece for a couple of pawns, but his young opponent was glad to take the rating points and a draw when they were offered.

But, of course, this then meant I had to win on Board 2 against Dave Filer. From a position where I was absolutely not better at all. And behind on the clock. I have no idea what had gone wrong, as I was almost winning straight out of the opening, but then I kept taking wrong decision after wrong decision. With Dave playing very assuredly, and consistently forcing pieces off the board whenever the opportunity presented itself we ended up in a dead level rook and knight ending. And then he forced the rooks off. It was move 49. It was knight and 4 against knight and 4. There were no passed pawns. It was almost 10.30. And the engine evaluation was 0.00. For all intents and purposes we were going out. And then Dave cracked. I had ramped up the clock pressure as a last try, and he had fallen behind, and at the crucial moment he allowed a trade of knights which gave me a winning king and pawn ending. Phew!

I didn't deserve to win. We didn't deserve to win. But I/we did, and next Tuesday we will play either Rugby A or Coventry A in the final.

No contest for this week's song. It's the only one I could think of that was depressing enough to match the mood of last night!