Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Seasonal Sighting of Elusive & Legendary Figure

As with many of us, at Christmas my thoughts turn to that possibly imaginary, jolly, old chap who makes an annual appearance to bring joy and wonder into our lives. No, not Santa, I'm talking about Andy Baruch. And he chose last night to make that appearance at the Abbey Club for our league match against Banbury A. He very nearly came bearing gifts as well since, on Board 1, he played the opening against Paul Rowan rather unsoundly. However, a big miscalculation cost White a whole rook, and his passed pawn on d7 proved inadequate compensation - especially when it promptly dropped off. So 1-0 to us.

Quite out of character, I was the next to finish with another black piece victory for us on Board 3. I tried a probably unsound variation against Chris Evans, but he didn't know the critical line. Instead we swiftly reached an amazing position after 12 moves where I had six pawns left which were all on the third rank, and six pieces left which were all on their starting squares on the back rank. And 8 completely empty squares on my second rank! Still, I had an extra pawn and despite my next 5 moves being four with pawns and one with my king, I won a piece. After an exchange sac Chris resigned just before I could mate his king on b3. Neither of the white rooks made a single move, and neither did my king's bishop. No everyday game!

I rather lost track of the other two games, but not long afterwards Andrew secured the win for us by beating Dan Rowan on Board 2 - his first ever win against the Rowan clan after far too many losses and a solitary draw earlier this season. This turned out to be the only game of the evening where White even avoided defeat, as Carl then paid the penalty for apparently pushing too hard against Nathan Manley on Board 4, and ended up first in a lost rook ending, and then soon after in a lost pawn ending. Luckily, though, this only counted 1-0 for Banbury.

So, very surprisingly, Banbury A remain pointless this season, despite having in James Jackson, the league's highest rated player by a considerable margin. But they seemingly have even more difficulty getting him to the board than we do with Messrs Baruch and Lam! The 3-1 win has taken us to the top of the table, but whether we stay there over the Xmas break will depend on how we get on in our game next week with Olton who - as ever - are challenging for first place.

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