Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Cup Glory Beckons!

After what seems like eons, we were back in Coventry League KO Cup action last night, with an away semi-final against Division 2 Rugby B. With Carl absent, we found ourselves rather dangerously close to our opponents on average grading, given that we started with a 1.25 pts handicap disadvantage and needed 3 points to win the match. But I needn't have been so worried, as we were largely in control, virtually from the start.

Dave had won ridiculously quickly on a previous cup visit to Rugby in December, and found himself twiddling his thumbs for hours yet again, after winning first one piece and then another in double quick time against Martin Wilson. And with the black pieces to boot. Ben was also very fast out of the traps and won only minutes later after his opponent left a rook hanging on a8. Though the position was already winning for Ben anyway.

So only 1 point more needed to get us over the line - but it was quite some time coming. On Board 1, Rugby's very promising junior Jamie Kearney castled queenside against my offbeat line of the Spanish, and while I immediately opened the b file, he had opportunities to generate counterplay with a kingside pawn storm. However, he chose the wrong plan and his attack ground to a halt while mine rolled on. Just before the first time control I broke through on b7 with my rooks and with my passed a pawn about to win a piece by force the game was over.

Which was just as well, since Mike was having a torrid time on Board 2 against Nigel Stanley. With opposite castled kings, White massed his heavy pieces on the open h file and developed a threatening attack. Mike got a pawn for his troubles, but all the time his position was on a knife edge and eventually he had to give up an exchange for another pawn. But then the White queen zoomed down a diagonal to hit the Black king from another direction, There may have been a defence by a rook sac to close the h file, but missing that fleeting opportunity the White rooks invaded on h8 and h7 and it was mate.

Never mind, we've made it  and next Tuesday we will play yet another Division 3 side, Chelmsley Wood, in the final at Wembley. Sorry, make that Coventry Chess Club. We start with a 2.25 point handicap deficit, so there's minimal margin for error, but we've been rather good at overcoming these difficulties so far (11 wins from 12 games in our three Cup matches), so here's hoping we can do it one more time.

The club now finds itself in two Cup Finals - which happily gives us double the chance of having an excuse for another end of season meal to celebrate!

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