The final match of the first half of our inaugural Coventry League campaign saw us make the short journey to play Coventry A. Both teams were on 50% at the start of the evening, so a close match was expected - and so it proved.
With him having no PTA, WI, WRVS or PDSA meetings scheduled, Stuart was finally able to make his League debut, and found himself facing Dave Filer, who had beaten Roy a few weeks ago in the match against Coventry B. Despite being heavily out-graded, Stuart played a model game, and although he temporarily shed a queenside pawn, he soon won it back, and even stood better in the final position, though with no way to make progress. Still, a very creditable draw. I would tell you what the opening was, but Stuart seems to use a notation of his own, and his score sheet defied all my attempts at interpretation.
Things didn't go so well for last week's hero, Ben on Board 3. Against Ed Goodwin's French he tried a strange system involving f4 and B to d3 to c2, but without castling or playing d4. Ed seemed to open the position up favourably and ultimately annexed a piece to put Coventry one up.
I had been pressing very slightly against Dave Ireland on Board 1, but without actually having any advantage. In an equal rook and pawn ending I went very slightly wrong and lost a pawn, but the position was much simplified and even I couldn't contrive to actually lose.
Which left Carl on Board 2 playing against our very own Joshua. (The Coventry A board order was actually against the rules, as they knew very well, but short of looking like bad losers, what can you do?) Joshua played in, shall we say, primitive fashion against Carl's Caro Kann and went for the jugular. However, Carl stood firm and sensibly fled the danger area by castling queen side at the right moment. Then he began to jump out. And then he began to annex some material. And then he was three pawns up and only opposite bishops were left. The position required some care, but it was clearly winning. Unfortunately Carl saw but rejected the right idea, and instead ended up with two pawns against none, but with no way to force either one home. So one of the great injustices of chess - opposite ****** bishops - came to Joshua's rescue, and denied Carl a deserved win. And so we lost by the narrowest margin, 2.5-1.5, and go into the winter league break in sixth position.
We've been competitive in every match except one, in what is a much stronger league than in recent seasons, despite only once fielding our four highest graded players. We might be hard pressed to repeat these heroics after Christmas, but we should already be safe from the possibility of finishing last, which was my sole aim at the start of the campaign. Thanks to everyone who has turned out for us, especially Ben who has been both an ever present and a heroic match winner on more than one occasion.
We still have one more game before Christmas, with an away KO Cup match against Division 3 Rugby C, who get an enormous start on handicap, on December 8th so that we have to win at least 3.5-0.5 to get through. News of this in a couple of weeks time, when I'm hoping I won't be reporting on a Cup giant-killing!