After a prolonged hibernation due to the vagaries of the fixture list, the A team sprang back into Leamington League action last night with a tricky match against a rather useful Solihull B. Our top two players were, Achilles-like, resting in their tents, and so squad depth was once more put to the test. Happily, we sailed through with flying colours, notching up a very impressive 3.5-0.5 win.
After the first few moves I thought my new glasses had developed a fault and I was seeing double - our two White players had chosen the same variation against the French, and our two Black players had chosen the same variation of .... another opening. (We don't need to give too much information away, do we?) Apparently, we have now adopted team openings! Naturally, though, any similarities didn't last very long.
Ben was first to finish (at 8.20!) with a rapid and very boring draw on Board 4 against Julian Summerfield. Clearly the players had taken their cue from the equally turgid 12th game between Carlsen and Karjakin being played simultaneously. Or else Ben had a very pressing engagement!
But then the real excitement started. Andrew played a splendid game with the black pieces against Tom Thorpe on Board 1. He found a long combination which first won an exchange for a pawn, but subsequently appeared to lose at least another pawn. However, he had seen it all coming, and he promptly delivered a mating attack to force an early resignation!
I was generally in control on Board 2 against Neil Clarke, apart from one slightly dodgy moment when he could have sacked a piece for a couple of pawns to mess things up and generate some play. Missing that chance, I forced the win of the exchange, and then set up a decisive attack with two rooks and a bishop that was about to win more material or deliver mate when he resigned.
Which left Carl in play on Board 3 against Tony Sadler. Although I was sat next to this game, I could hardly bear to look for most of the evening. Tony threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Carl's king, and at one point was two pieces down but with horrendous threats down the h file. I feared for Carl's chances but somehow he kept avoiding mate and when I next checked the position had resolved itself into two rooks for white against Carl's rook, bishop and three pawns. As 2 of them were connected, it looked like a clear win for Carl - until he simply put one of them en prise. All Tony then had to do was give back the exchange to eliminate Carl's g pawn, and leave a totally drawn R&P v R position where his king was right in front of Carl's last pawn. But he missed his chance, and making the most of this reprieve, Carl got his g pawn to g3 where finally Tony gave back the exchange to eliminate it. But his king had strayed to the f file by this time and Carl's c pawn looked likely to win the day. Instead of which Tony made things much simpler and blundered into mate as the clock ticked down. Epic stuff! And much more exciting than the World Championship!!