Sunday, 20 September 2015

Off the mark

After the team's somewhat disappointing opening result against Olton, it was clearly time for Kenilworth A's inspirational captain to return to the fold to set matters aright in the game against Banbury. Since recent personal strengthening has now left me playing on board 4, I like to think of myself as the team's cattle driver, driving on the herd of unruly bulls in front of me. Since I expect this metaphor will only get more offensive if I continue it, let us move on to the games themselves.

Paul, playing on board 1 against sometime Warwick University colleague Georgs Vikanis, got an excellent position out of the opening as his opponent appeared to have no idea how to play against his usual slow, uneventful opening play. An outside observer might have thought his position so overwhelming the game was as good as won, but those of us who have known Paul for a while will be aware that there is no position so advantageous he can't manage to spoil it with poor clock management. A depressingly familiar pattern soon emerged, and as each move ticked by towards the time control, Paul went from better to equal, to possibly even somewhat worse. Fortunately, after the extra time was added, he recovered to hold the draw quite comfortably, but still a slightly disappointing result from the position he had after 20 moves.

Andy, if anything, achieved an even more impressive result from the opening. First, what I can only assume to be an unfortunate finger slip led to him pushing his c pawn a square further than I have ever seen him on move one as black, meaning rather than his trademark Caro-Kann, he was playing the black side of a Sicilian. A fine position soon resulted, and I left the game when it became apparent he was about to win a whole piece for virtually no compensation. I was somewhat bemused, therefore, to return a little later and to find him up by less material (only 2 pieces for a rook), and also subject to an absolutely vicious attack from his opponent's rook and queen, A very baffling turnaround was soon completed with Andy forced to resign facing imminent mate. I don't know what went wrong, but it certainly went wrong very quickly

This left both Mark and myself needing to win to take the match, and Mark tried for this in his usual sharp theoretical style, by playing the exchange French as white. A more or less equal manoeuvring game then developed, but once again time pressure was the scourge of our team, as he gave away a pawn close to the time control, for adequate but certainly not overwhelming compensation. However, his opponent (Nathan Manley) then proceeded to horribly misplay his position, first off unnecessarily returning the pawn, then allowing Mark an unstoppable outside passed pawn that decided the game in his favour. Some good endgame technique displayed by Mark, but once again a game of his where the result was almost impossible to predict based on the position halfway through the game.

Finally, here is the position of my game against Dan Rowan after 7 moves:

I had to endure a considerable amount of moaning from my team mates after the game about how terrible my opening was, and how white must have been much better. I decided therefore to put my position into an engine, which came out with an evaluation of 0.00 for the above position, not a bad result after 7 moves with black, Admittedly, the game went slightly downhill after this as I "sacrificed" a pawn for an attack that didn't really go anywhere, then "sacrificed" a second pawn to go into a worse endgame. However, for the second year in a row against Dan, poor rook endgame technique let him down, and he proceeded to somehow contrive to lose a rook endgame a pawn up. A victory then, but perhaps not the most convincing performance we'll ever put together. Next up, Solihull, and Andy's first game against his former club.

Final score: Banbury A 1.5 - 2.5 Kenilworth A

1 comment:

  1. I hope the title of this article was not intended as a sarcastic reference towards myself! Despite knowing the author's sense of humour quite well, I am undecided on this point - so I guess I should give him the benefit of the doubt. Gullible fool that I am.