No sooner does Carl Pickering achieve web-site star status with his titanic Game of the Month performance (see post dated Jan 3, 2017), than one day later he's at it again, being the hero of the A team's narrow 2.5-1.5 win against Solihull B. And remarkably it was yet another wild, wild encounter against Tony Sadler that saw Carl annexe the only full point of the match.
The game began as a Modern Defence (Carl playing White) with opposite side castling. Carl shovelled his h pawn to h5 forcing Black to play g6-g5, which Carl promptly took (a knight sacrifice). But it wasn't taken, and instead Tony stormed Carl's king with his own pawn rush. It got very murky indeed. Carl gave up an exchange on h1, but a pair of knights and a phalanx of kingside pawns against a vulnerable looking Black king offered plenty of compensation even after the queens came off. But it looked hellishly complicated. However, something happened while I wasn't watching and Carl won back the exchange and emerged several pawns up, with just a rook and knight each. But his back rank was weak and Black had a solitary f pawn that lurched down the board to f2 and seemed set to queen - help! But in the time it took me to blink, it was all over - somehow the f pawn had fallen off and Carl had won. I'm not sure these two should be allowed to play each other again. At least not if I have to sit next to them. Tony again abandoned his score sheet at the end of the game, but no way was I going to damage my sanity by going anywhere near it!
Elsewhere things were very much calmer. In two more rematches from our pre-Xmas encounter with Solihull B, the Kenilworth players failed to chalk up repeat wins. First Andrew drew against Tom Thorpe on Board 1, proving that he is better with the black pieces, and then I drew against Neil Clarke on Board 2, proving that I am better with white. Truth to tell, very little happened in either game. Finally, Ben at least found himself up against a different opponent, but the result was the same and a fairly uneventful draw with Ian Brodie ensued on Board 4. There were certainly more possibilities in this game than in the Board 1 and 2 match-ups, and the game was finely balanced and quite tense for a long way, but no fireworks actually occurred and a draw seemed a fair result.
So despite a largely uninspired performance, we managed to notch up another win, and in so doing elevated ourselves back to the top of the table. This was largely because, playing alongside us, Shirley A lost to Solihull A - not least because they only managed to get three people to the board. But while we have reclaimed league leadership, Olton are in the driving seat, with two matches in hand and only a 2 point deficit on us. And who are our next opponents? You guessed - it's Olton!