The good news from Division 1 of the Coventry League is that last season's sex- I mean points - machine and Clubman of the Year, Ben Graff was right back to his best on Tuesday night in our away match against Nuneaton A. After a difficult start to the campaign, he showed great "bouncebackability" (courtesy of Iain Dowie) to chalk up an excellent win against Colin Green. He first won a pawn and then traded down to a queen ending. Colin gave up a second pawn to maximise his chances of perpetual check, but Ben kept his cool, avoided all the tricks and shepherded his c pawn all the way down the board to queen.
The bad news is that by this stage we had already lost the match. I went down in flames on Board 1 against our very own Player of the Year, Andrew Paterson, who put aside any sense of club loyalty by absolutely crushing me with the black pieces in 26 moves. The moral of this tale is don't just play the same moves you know in one opening variation when you are actually playing a completely different variation. I really should know that - the clue is in the word different after all. Anyway, so much for my unbeaten start to the season.
Carl was suffering against Maurice Staples on Board 2, having voluntarily taken on doubled f pawns on move 3. By way of chess justice, White's 4 v 3 majority on the queenside eventually yielded up a passed pawn, but Carls' self-compromised 4 kingside pawns couldn't follow suit until it was way too late. A White c pawn yomped down the board and won the Black rook.
Which meant that we needed Mike to win on Board 4 to draw the match. His opponent started 1 a3, which is not the most respectful of opening moves. It transposed to a London System, where White castled queenside, and eventually felt obliged to justify his first move by following up with b4 which was not a good idea. With the White king looking very draughty, we had every reason to hope for a Black win, but unfortunately it didn't come, as after White snatched a red hot pawn on d5 in mutual time trouble, Mike offered a draw. White accepted and Nuneaton won by 2.5-1.5.