Tuesday, 14 March 2017


We last night began our final push for the Division 2 title with a 3-1 win against bottom club Leamington, but that in no way tells the story of an extraordinary night. Going into the evening we were five points behind leaders Olton (who we play tonight) but with four games in hand. The kind of fixture pile-up that might incense a Premier League Manager, but for our squad just represented an opportunity…

The first sign that things might not go smoothly came when we saw the Leamington team sheet. They had out their strongest squad of the year, with a 160+ player on Board 3 and a combined average that was virtually the same as ours. When we got down to business, things seemed to go badly. Dave looked completely bust out of the opening and I was struggling (playing as those who follow the stats will know, my 47th game in a row with Black.)

Then things started to turn. Mike seemed to be in a quiet position against Rob Gill and when they called it a night, I assumed they’d agreed to draw. It transpired Mike was well booked up and had landed a nice trap to pick up a piece for back to back wins. His reputation for draws is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and he really settled the team down. Bernard struck next, again with a nice tactical shot against Ola to win a piece and culminating in giving mate with King and Queen against King (with a bit of associated shrapnel, but not much.) Thanks to Bernard for guesting again and maintaining his 100% record for the team – a great contribution which is most appreciated by all.

So we were 2 – 0 up, but that looked like that would be it. I even had a philosophical discussion with Mike in the corridor as to why this wouldn’t be the worst result in the world, given their strength on the night… Dave was still completely bust. My position against Andy Price (who I don’t have a brilliant record against) was complex – I had three connected Queen side pawns for a piece and lots of Queenside opportunities. Andy actually said he thought I was winning at one point. I’d certainly gone done that line because I thought it would give me good chances. Unfortunately, he had some great squares to put pieces on and I struggled to hold my King side together, going down around the time control. So 2-1.

I bought a drink and stood back to watch what I thought were going to be the final few moves of Dave’s capitulation. But then it turned. Both in desperate time trouble, Jason seemed to navigate this, before blundering a pawn and a piece. Dave had shown absolute nerves of steel in an impossible position and suddenly he was winning – and not just a little bit! Very sportingly, Dave offered a draw given we only needed the half for the match. Equally sportingly Jason elected to play it out and went down in the end. All credit to Jason. He did play a really good game before the clock took its toll and he was very gracious afterwards – a real gentleman. Massive respect to Dave too though. Most would have crumbled, but his determination and resilience earned us both the points and kept our title charge on track.

So a fantastic effort. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy on a night where I’ve lost, but it was a fantastic evening for us.

Bring on Olton!

No comments:

Post a Comment