Amazing! 2017 has seen three games and three wins for our Coventry League team, as we held on to our recently acquired fourth place with a convincing 3-1 win over Coventry A this week. In fact we are only 1 point away from second place, though I think that we may have to concede first place to University A - which is not so much magnanimity on my part as recognition of the fact that they have a 100% record, are 10 points clear and have already clinched the title with oodles of matches to spare. Nevertheless, we're not too proud to fight it out amongst the also-rans for minor honours!
The squad rotation system came into effect this week, as Carl sat out our latest match (at home with his man flu symptoms and a cup of cocoa I expect!), and Dave came into the team. As he has the best percentage score of any of us, this wasn't too much of a problem! We started off with a quick win by Ben on Board 2 over our very own Bernard C after a somewhat offbeat variation of the Dutch. Bernard has been in excellent form since Christmas (we won't mention the few months before that!), so this was a good win for Ben who took advantage of some exposed Black pieces to snare a whole piece.
We cemented our position soon after when Mike drew on Board 3 against Ed Goodwin. A Modern Benoni was met by an early g4 and a capture on e5 which gave White a passed d pawn. Mike hurried to get a knight to d6 and to blockade it. The position was still very complicated when the players decided to share the point.
Dave had been pressing all night on Board 4 after a 2 c3 Sicilian, and he was the one who clinched the win. He got a space advantage, a grip on the c file and good squares for his pieces. Black seemingly had none of these things. Eventually he broke through in the centre and his queen and a powerful passed pawn won the day.
It was just left to me to close the match by drawing with Dave Ireland on Board 1. I played one of several basically unsound variations of the Sicilian that I now try once in a while and it got me a good game. We went into a rook, bishop and knight ending which was still tactical, but where my pieces were much more active and I also had a space advantage. Then Dave started to defend extremely well and gradually freed his position as I failed to find the right plan to exploit my edge. White's rook jumped out and started causing me much aggro. With time running out I called off my winning efforts and offered a draw. Dave initially declined, but a few moves later returned the offer and I accepted.
We still have to play both Nuneaton teams, who are vying with us for the silver and bronze medal positions, so its all to play for. We also have to play the monstrously strong University A team, but we won't think about that until we have to!