For the second time this season Warwick University A gave us a right good spanking by 3.5-0.5, as we finished off our debut Coventry League campaign by being put firmly in our place. Mind you, a quick look at the team lists told us we were in for a tough night - outgraded by 30 ECF points on Bd 1; by about 40 on Board 2; by 37 on Board 3 and a whopping 54 on Board 4. So in fact, the match score went almost exactly to form! I'm not sure when a Kenilworth team can have been confronted by such highly graded opponents (average 192) - but I'm pretty sure it's never happened in my few years with the club.
Roy was thrown to the lions on Board 4, playing Black against 175 graded Morgan Blake. Gradings said he should score -4 points out of every 100 games, and who is Roy to challenge probability theory? Actually, he gave it a really good go, mixing the position up enormously after a weird opening (1e4 c5 2 a3 Nc6 3 b4 b6) and getting right down to a rook and minor piece ending before White was able to make a decisive incursion into the Black position.
Then this season's hero Ben also fell on his sword, losing against Ioannis Lentzos (who had been on Board 1 when we played them earlier in the season) when he ended up with too many weak pawns after an off beat line against the Caro Kan. Eventually the Black rooks took control and hoovered up the weaklings forcing resignation. Nevertheless, Ben at least protected his record of having no draws in the whole Cov League season. (I am trying to match this feat in the Leamington League, but with 4 games still to go the pressure is really on!)
I had actually been doing quite well on Board 1 against FM Peter Bachelor. Luckily he played a line of the Caro Kan which I had looked up that afternoon - though only superficially of course! I managed to get in Ne4-d6+ and Nxb7, but was only able to hang on to my extra pawn because he didn't play the best line. Even so, my extra pawn was doubled, and he had a massive knight outpost on d5 that made life very difficult for my bishop. I couldn't find anyway to be active and with time running low I was glad when he decided to repeat moves and we agreed a draw. Fritz says I was winning in the final position, but in the real world I definitely was not.
A few minutes later Mike went down against Matheusz Eggink, a Polish player who has already been over 2200. He put up a long but largely passive fight with Black, eventually being virtually reduced to moving back and forth as White searched for a way to make his space advantage tell. I missed the climax, but - short of time - it seems Mike transposed into an ending which he thought was drawing, only to find it wasn't.
Unfortunately for us, on the same night Coventry A lost by only 3-1 against Nuneaton A, meaning they pipped us for 5th place on tie break by 1 game point difference. I'll reflect further on the season once our Cup exploits are over, in a Coventry League round up, but in the meantime thanks to everyone who played for us. I hope you've enjoyed our debut season as much as I have.