Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Two For The Price Of One

By a happy coincidence, last night two Kenilworth teams found themselves in Leamington taking on the locals. While the A team faced Leamington A in an ultimately meaningless match (we had secured second place the previous night when Shirley lost to Solihull B), our C team faced a relegation threatened Leamington B who were desperate for the points. Maybe we should try these double headers more often, as we emerged with two convincing victories (6.5-1.5 overall) and no individual losses. Though now I think about it, we lost both matches (which each turned out to be crucial) when the A and C teams found themselves at Olton on the same night earlier this season.

The A team match was a bit of a joke. Leamington mustered 3 players, one of whom was substantially lower rated than their entire B team. With a one point lead thanks to the default, Ben quickly put us two up by winning a piece and then some more material on Board 3. I had an interesting game against Ben Egid on Board 2. After an English Opening he was a bit slow getting his queenside play going and I took the opportunity to direct my pieces at his king. A knight sacrifice saw my rook jump into f2 (supported by a pawn on g3) and then my remaining knight hopped to g5, then check on h3 and the rook delivered mate on h2. All this time, White's large army stood stranded on the queenside doing nothing. We couldn't quite complete the clean sweep, as Andy Collins defended resolutely against Andrew on Board 1. Andrew won an exchange but his remaining queen and rook were rather out of things on the eighth rank and Andy's queen and bishop were eyeballing the White king. I thought Andrew should have just resigned himself to it being perpetual, but the man is a maximalist and decided to go on a long king walk to try and get shelter. Andy missed an instant draw, that might have been a win, but it didn't matter, as even when the White king made it as far as a2 and the queen came back to protect it, there was still a perpetual.

The C team played an excellent match and despite being slightly outgraded overall, stormed to a 3-1 win over a strong Leamington team. Mike J was first to finish on Board 3, as his two knights hopped around sufficiently against Nigel Morris's two bishops to secure a draw. Then Nick F drew against Andy Price on Board 1. He may have had a slight edge in a double bishop ending, but it would probably have needed Capablanca to make anything of it. Roy then won against Jason Madden on Board 4, though for most of the game I thought he was on the verge of losing. His pieces were all stuck on the back rank while his queen lurched over to a2 to grab a pawn. I expected disaster to ensue - and maybe it should have - but somehow Roy emerged victorious. And finally Dave clinched the win by beating Ola Olaleye with Black on Board 2. As he had won a loose bishop on b5 with Qa5+ on about move 7 the result was never in doubt. And as he had a pass out for the evening, why not spend it playing another 40 moves or so in a completely winning position? The win means that the C team will finish either 4th or 5th in Division 2 - a really excellent achievement after last season's near death experience!

So we are now left with just two matches this season - the B team have a trip to Leamington next week for their last game, and then we have the KO Cup final against Olton on May 2nd. How on earth will Ben and I fill those long summer months without any more match reports to write?

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