Life, according to former Australian PM Malcolm Fraser, isn't meant to be easy. And any thoughts we had that Kenilworth A would coast to a first league championship for over 25 years, were summarily dashed by one moment of madness at Stratford last night.
On paper our team (average grade 177) might have been expected to shade the match against Stratford (average grade 131), but chess is not always as logical as it should be. Shortly after 8.00, we were already 1 point up, when on Board 3 Joshua crashed through for mate with a rook sacrifice, after his opponent kindly castled into an open h-file. Some considerable time later, I drew on Board 2 after having had a good opening, bad middle-game and dodgy ending, before things changed round completely and I came within a single tempo of winning a rook (and then king) ending. However, Paul had chosen this match to lose his first game of the season on Board 1, as Richard McNally continued his amazing winning run. This meant we were all square, and the result on Board 4 would decide the match. Phil was playing someone graded 90. He was an exchange and three (or was it four?) pawns up. He was ahead on the clock. His opponent played an illegal move. Phil, who we might have expected to be an expert on this subject given his own liking for such practices, did not know he could claim an additional 2 minutes for this rule infringement and just played on. And then to the horror of his incredulous, nay dis-believing, team mates - he put his queen en prise. A whole queen. For nothing. End of game.
And so it came to pass that we lost 2.5-1.5.