The first round of the Coventry League KO Cup saw us travel to play Rugby C from Division 3. Unlike the FA Cup, this competition aims to give the underdog a helping hand (not that Sutton Utd needed one in 1989) in the form of a handicap system, so we started the match with a 2.5 point deficit needing to win at least 3.5-0.5 to go through.
On paper this seemed a fairly straightforward task given that we enjoyed respective grading advantages on the four boards of 94, 81, 53 and 90. And it didn't take long before we had our first point on the board. In fact it took less than 20 minutes, as Dave forced resignation on Board 3 (which should have been the closest match) at 7.50 - when Roy had made the grand total of 4 moves! (This was even quicker than Joshua's win at Stratford a couple of years back in the match that featured the infamous Stiff-Wood encounter - now there's a mouthful.) To begin with, Dave's opponent seemed to know all the moves on the Black side of an Advance French, but he then went horribly wrong almost immediately and resigned when a White knight gave a big check on d6 forcing Kd8, with Nxf7 check winning a whole rook as the inevitable follow-up.
But after that things got decidedly less straightforward, and it was a good 90 minutes plus before the next result. Carl's opponent on Board 2 went for a very aggressive set up against the Dutch and then threw in a piece sac (inexplicably as far as I could see). Carl's position looked a little loose on the white squares around his king, but he quickly regrouped and launched a deadly counter attack against the exposed White king on c1. But all credit to Jim MacDonald for giving it a real go, and at least making Carl's team-mates quite nervous - even if Carl probably always had it under control!
My game on Board 1 had been quite interesting (Black started with a double fianchetto), though I was having great difficulty anticipating my opponent's moves. I shovelled an h pawn up the board and when my bishop on g5 was attacked with h6 I sacced it with hxg6 and gxf7+. The combination was sound and I won my piece back with two pawns interest, before Black generously threw in a piece as well and resigned soon after.
Returning to the scene of his infamous "Bollocks" game (see October 7th post for more details), Roy successfully avoided a repetition of the calamity that befell him that day and had the honour of securing the win for the team. He gradually assumed control against some rather passive play by White and soon annexed a pawn. White then played a move which lost another pawn, and in a bizarre coincidence felt obliged to utter exactly the same word that Roy had previously used - though at considerably less volume and with slightly less angst, it must be said. When I next looked Roy was a rook and three pawns up and soon won. (Meaning that Dave's wait for a lift back to Kenilworth only lasted just over 2 hours!)
So a potential banana skin was successfully avoided and we move on to Round 2 (aka the Quarter Final) when we will play another Div 3 team, Nuneaton D, at home, and will again have to overcome a 2.5 points handicap start. And finally thanks to our likeable opponents from last night - the most gender balanced team I've ever played against - who displayed good humour throughout, despite the lop-sided nature of the match.