We got off to a fantastic start when Carl continued his superb recent form by despatching the ever dangerous Mark Cundy in clinical fashion on Board 3. After a Scandinavian where the queens came off before move 6, Carl netted a pawn with a nice Bxb2 sac having a knight fork follow up. In a rook and opposite bishops endgame he then won a second pawn, and although Mark then managed to trade rooks, the win of a third pawn by Carl was enough to force resignation.
Ben followed up with a solid draw on the white side of a Ruy Lopez against Richard Smith on Board 4. Ben seemed to have a very slight edge for most of the game, but with only one open file, it seemed inevitable all the heavy pieces would get traded off to leave a level bishop ending.
Things took a turn for the worse, though, when Andrew went down on Board 1. Black against Phil Holt is not the easiest pairing in the Leamington League, and yet I had high hopes of a result for us for much of the evening. Andrew defended solidly against a c3 Sicilian, and seemed to be close to equality. But then the position opened up and White's pieces started to threaten the black king. Our man pooh-poohed such crudities and simply snaffled a queenside pawn. Unfortunately, Phil then played Qh6 and Rh3 with forced mate on h7. Scores level at 1.5-1.5.
So it was all down to the captain. Yours truly. Me. I seem to have been in this position before. And it doesn't often end well.
I was white against Alan Lloyd, a player I have never beaten. As Paul has largely given up playing for us, I decided to appropriate one of his old opening systems and we quickly entered a very difficult queenless middle-game, where Black had two bishops against my two knights (with a pair of rooks each), but also two sets of doubled pawns (one of them isolated). The bishops were pretty ropey, but the Black rooks got very active. However, I had been lining up a knight sacrifice on d5, followed by a pawn sac to try and win the pathetic black bishop on f8. There were two adequate defences - neither of which Alan or I noticed - and instead the prelate made a dash for freedom to d6 and c7, where it promptly got pinned and fell off. I was a whole piece up, but the position was rather random and Black's rooks and king were active. Still, it was a whole piece. I thought I was weaving a mating net, but Alan put up an inspired defence and kept making it very difficult for me to co-ordinate my forces. My time ebbed away. I faffed around and could hardly make any progress, even though it was now rook, knight and two against rook and two. Then with 40 seconds left I blundered my knight. I offered a draw and Alan did the sporting thing and accepted, though the final position of rook and pawn v rook and pawn may even have been winning for him, and he also had an extra 2 minutes on the clock. So while I could curse my luck and berate myself for throwing away a famous match victory, I have to remember that it could have been even worse.
Sorry team/club, I blew it. Mea Culpa. Flagellation is too good for me. I am already Secretary, Treasurer and double match captain, but I think I probably now also have a new KCC job title. And it can best be illustrated by a classic painting that resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight. Its not just those well known KCC aesthetes Bernard C and Roy that have artistic reference points, you know!
|The Scapegoat (1854-55)|
William Holman Hunt