Relief! For the fifth and - thankfully - last time in less than 2 months the A team came up against a Solihull side last night, but at least both teams managed to introduce one new player each to slightly break the monotony. At the end of the evening, Kenilworth had squirmed their way to a 2.5-1.5 win, which had looked anything but likely for just about the entire evening.
Carl was first to finish, as his trademark hack-attack against Neil Clarke's king largely failed to get off the launch pad. Carl was pleased to finish relatively early and take his man-flu symptoms home for an early night. Both Carl and Neil were doubtless also pleased not to face their "normal" opponents, Tony Sadler and me respectively - four times in eight weeks would really have been too much for any of us.
The encounter between two Andy's on Board 1 was rather exciting - but ended rather prematurely in a draw. Possibly both players were simply too overwhelmed to be actually playing a game of chess. But at least Solihull's Andrew McCumiskey has had the excuse of living overseas for many years for not appearing too often! In the game (the infamous Monkey's Bum opening!) White sacrificed two minor pieces for a rook and three pawns. Our Andy soon mobilised his bishops, though, and won two pawns back. In what was admittedly a murky and double edged position, I was expecting Black to launch a kingside attack when our man instead found a faintly ridiculous way of forcing a move repetition when more ambitious continuations were available. But what do I know - he's the one with the 199 grade!
Thankfully, though, fortune then decided to shine on us. After a hard fought game on Board 3, I was lucky enough to be gifted a full point on the very last move before the time control by Paul Roper. From virtually nowhere he blundered into mate. I was slightly better by this point, but it would have been a very hard job trying to turn the advantage into a win. And when Fritz subsequently showed me how I had allowed White a winning Bxf7 sac in the middle-game, I could only conclude that my win was karma for my recent unfortunate experience against Olton.
At the time, I had assumed I had to win to save the match for us, as the events on Board 2 were simply too gruesome to behold. Andrew was playing Ray Carpenter in a repeat of their encounter in last week's cup match. But there the similarity ends. Our man played a truly excruciating opening with White and was totally and utterly busted in about 15 moves. Two pawns down with a lost position. Somehow he won a pawn back in a double rook ending, but it still looked terminal for him. But then I looked again and by some black magic Andrew had reached a seemingly drawn king and pawn ending. Incredibly, White may have been able to play on for a win, but after Ray offered a draw, Andrew did the sensible thing to clinch an unlikely and probably undeserved match victory.