Having missed out on the Division 1 title by a point and the Division 2 title on game point difference, both to Olton, it's fair to say that we had a real desire to re-address the balance in the Cup Final, where our opponents again were Olton!
It was an exhilarating evening, which went right to the wire. Resulting in a sense of achievement for the team perhaps only matched by that I felt when I'd finally worked out how to upload the photo of the happy team for the blog!
All of the games were long and all were really tense - such that I fear we are going to have to wait for Mark's return from holiday for some actual technical insight into what happened. But my impressions were as follows:
We lost the toss. Not a great start as that gave us three blacks to two whites. Whilst the match was at Olton, they were essentially a "neutral" venue for the night as they were the hosts for all three Leamington League Cup finals. We were the holders following our win against Banbury last season.
Having spent a lot of the year sat next to Carl, I have certainly been entertained by a lot of attacking Chess and some brutal victories for Mr Pickering. This was one of those games where it didn't quite work against Richard Smith, although for a long time I thought it would - but something seemed to go slightly wrong and Carl's attack fell a fraction short. I didn't see much of Andrew's loss to Alan Lloyd or Mark's win against Mark Cundy, but there we were 1-2 down.
The reason I didn't see much was because my game against Gary Hope was extremely wild and could easily have gone either way. We were castled on opposite sides of the Board and Gary seemed very close to breaking through. His Knight was poised to land on d6 and B-g5 looked to me like it would be a seriously good blow, really cutting through me on the dark squares. However, after B-e3 I was able to repel his Knight, open up the King-side and go on the attack. I missed a great pawn thrust that would have truly put Gary in trouble. I think I simply miscalculated in time trouble after which my initiative was gone. We ended up in an opposite Bishop Rook and pawn ending, which didn't hold out many prospects. A tame end after a wild game.
So - 1.5 - 2.5 - but on either Board elimination or Board Count - 2.5 - 2.5 would give us a win. The only problem was Paul had to beat Phil Holt to make this happen! Paul played amazingly and I finished my game in time to see a very rare sight. Phil staring at an opposing pawn on h2, shepherded by Paul's Queen with no way of stopping it. Phil tried a few tactics but Paul was more than equal to the task and got us home to victory, the man of the match award and doubtless in time the freedom of Kenilworth!
A great way to win the season after two near misses - which means we'll all need to brush up to receive the trophy at the AGM! Given how well all our teams have done this year and the strength and depth we've got, we can definitely look forward to next season with a lot of excitement.
A great way to sign off!