Wednesday, 7 February 2018

100% - The Champions of what we always wanted (honest!)

When the season starts, you can but dream. We were a whisker away from the Division 1 and 2 titles in the Leamington League last season and won the Open Cup. We might well have hoped we would go one better this year and bring home a stash of silverware. As the winter set in, reality bit, along with the cold and it’s become clear that those prizes are going to have to wait until next season…

But what’s that you say? Indeed, all is not lost. For we have won something after all and for the first time in Kenilworth’s history! Last night we were crowned champions of the Coventry League Divisional Cup (Group A no less.) OK – it’s only the second time we’ve entered it, but hey.  It would be slightly disingenuous to say that this is the one we really wanted to win, but it has been good fun and we’ve ended up with a 100% record.

What a night it was… At home to Coventry C we needed to win 3-1 and we started very brightly as Dave brought home the full point pretty quickly to put us 1-0 up. At which point it all became more challenging. Toward the time control, I was in a wild position with Black against John McCan. He’d attacked on the King side, been pushed back and was attacking on the Queen side, but I was pretty solid and had good counter chances. At the start of the campaign I would have played it out without hesitation, but the season has not gone well for me. Part technical issues, but also part psychological – I’ve certainly lost a bit of confidence of late. Hence, I was happy to take the draw. I know I have a lot of work to do to get my game back to where I want it to be – but lots of games left and I’m already thinking about how I might re-work things in the closed season. We had an interesting post-mortem, in which it was clear that it was all very double edged and John played it all very well.

So 1.5 – 0.5 as the time control approached, and boy was it looming up on Rod as his clock ticked down to almost nothing with quite a few moves left to be played. Rod was up against Simon Webster on four and it was totally wild. You have to say, Simon played very well and held his position together very nicely and it wasn’t obvious how Rod was going to break through, particularly with so little time to think about it. Rod really wanted to try and bring home the full point, but it just wasn’t possible. So a draw was agreed which left the score at 2-1, meaning Carl needed to beat Dave Filer to lead us to glory.

The only problem was, Carl’s chances of doing this appeared to be minimal. In a Bishop and five v (same colour) Bishop and five ending there appeared to be absolutely no way through. Dave was playing really well and it looked impossible. Then finally at the death, Dave succumbed. He pushed a pawn onto the same colour square as the Bishops and after Carl fixed it there he had another target. The pawn could not be held and once it had fallen, Carl pressed on with a passed pawn to bring home the full point. An excellent effort by Carl, who brought us to glory! It had looked impossible, even minutes earlier.

Thanks also to Mike and Nick who have also been part of the Divisional Cup squad this season – it’s been a really enjoyable and successful effort. I’m very happy to manage a squad in this competition next year – when hopefully we can repeat this success. Whilst also hopefully winning a host of other trophies!

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