Wednesday, 1 March 2017

This Is The Way, The Season Ends .......

........ not with a bang, but a whimper. (If I remember my TS Eliot correctly.)

We failed to cover ourselves in glory at our final Coventry League Division 1 match of the season, last night. We had to play University A, whose record before last night read:-

Played 11, Won 11, game point difference +29

So against those odds, the last thing we needed was to be a point down before we started, but unfortunately we could only muster three players on the night. Kenilworth chess playing folk were instead to be found in the USA, Yorkshire, Liverpool and Peterborough, while others were otherwise unavailable or uninterested. This did not bode well for a positive result, and even though our opponents tried to take pity on us by fielding a rather understrength team by their standards, a grade of 175 on Board 4 is hardly weak by Coventry League standards.

So a 3.5-0.5 victory for the students could hardly be classed as a surprise. There was, however, just a glimpse of an upset for a few minutes quite early in the evening. On Board 3 Nick F was material up after Morgan Blake sacrificed a piece for a couple of pawns and a big mess. Nick's king was not happy in the middle of the board, but as well as his extra bit he also had a passed pawn on f6. I suspect he was probably winning with anything like careful play. Unfortunately, he was in his high speed mode (these youngsters, eh?!) and instead of stopping to think in a very double edged position he tried to win more material but found out that it actually blundered a rook. It must be the low attention span of kids these days, I think. As you get older, Nick, you'll understand the attraction of spending ages over each move - because life is so empty there's nothing better to do with your time!

For once I was not last to finish, as my game on Board 1 against the very strong Dimitar Daskalov (ECF grade 233!) ended in a repetition in 22 moves. He knew the opening variation better than me (no surprise there), and went into an early forcing line that seemed to win the exchange for a pawn. But then he found that it was too dangerous to take my rook, as I had two massive threats of Bc4+ (mating or winning a rook) and Nd5 (attacking Black's queen and threatening Ne7 mate). He was forced to keep attacking my queen on e7 and e8 with a rook from f7 and f8, and it was a draw. That put me in a club of just two people (with Paul) who have managed to draw against him this season in 10 league games! This was the fourth time this season that I've secured half a point to spare us from losing 4-0. When we crash and burn, we really crash and burn!

So before nine o'clock I was on my way home and there was only one game still going - though I doubt it lasted very much longer. Ben was getting well pulverised by Ioannis Lentzos on the black side of  a rather brutal advance French. He dropped an exchange and then White decided to sac a piece on h7 so that his queen could pick off all black's kingside pawns with check. I left as White played what looked like the killing move e3-e4, clearing the way for a rook on c3 to swing over to the h or g files to put the boot in decisively.

So there we have it. The Coventry League season is over and we've done OK (fourth place) in what has turned into a very tough competition - thanks to Warwick University its much stronger than Division 1 of the Leamington League at the moment. And now its on to the KO Cup, with Rugby C as our quarter final opponents next week.

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