Thursday, 15 February 2018

Double Delight

Two Division One wins on successive evenings have made it a good week for Kenilworth Chess Club. After our recent Double Defeat, it's a relief to be able to report on a Double Delight. No matter what the knockers say, I'm all in favour of these double d headlines.

We started off on Monday with a convincing 3.5-0.5 win over bottom club Solihull B. At least it was convincing in the end, though at times it looked likely to be a lot closer.

The first point was notched on Board 1, where Andy played an excellent and efficient game. When some tactics blew up in the middlegame he annexed a couple of pawns, before returning one to reach a completely won ending. Andy gets a lot of stick for not playing too often, but I think it's only fair to set the record straight. He has now played 21 times for Kenilworth since 2013, and his record reads won 10, drawn 10, and lost only 1 (to James Jackson). Not too shabby. Having said that, this was his first Kenilworth win for 427 days - so it was about time he got his finger out!

Surprisingly, my game was next to finish, as I won against Neil Clarke on Board 3. I say surprisingly, since from a complicated but broadly level position, he unleashed an H-Bomb of a move which I had completely failed to see coming. My queen and king were on the same diagonal, and he suddenly threatened to switch a hitherto dormant bishop from h1 to d5 with calamitous effect. And he was also threatening my loose bishop on h3. Thankfully, I kept my nerve and found the only playable line, which involved giving up my queen for two minor pieces, but surrounding his king in the process. I was threatening perpetual/mate dependent upon his response, and he should have returned the queen immediately to reach a probably drawn rook and bishop ending where my extra doubled pawn was not much use. In big time trouble, though, he went wrong and had to give up his queen for just one piece. A further inaccuracy allowed me to re-establish a mating net with doubled rooks on the seventh. A lucky win, but I'll take it.

Shortly afterwards, Andrew P drew against Tony Sadler on Board 2, after a fairly torrid evening. For most of the evening I thought he was worse, so this was something of a success from a team perspective. All that remained was for Mike D to complete a successful demolition of Julian Summerfield's Stonewall Dutch. After easily defusing Black's heavy piece attack down the h-file with the calm move Bh1, he chose the right moment to break in the centre and used some tactics to win lots of material.

The following night we had a "home" Coventry League match away at Coventry Chess Academy A. (Yes you did read that right!) Once again the match was like a KCC social/convention.

Ben drew very quickly on Board 2 against David Phillips, in a game which was devoid of any interest whatsoever as far as I could see. I'm surprised both players managed to stay awake. Mike had a rather more interesting struggle against Alan Phillips on Board 3, but the result was the same. Alan started off with the ultra-trendy and aggressive d4/Bf4/h4 set-up, but then rather backtracked by castling kingside. Mike countered in the centre to equalise and proceedings came to a fairly early end.

Thankfully, the other two games had a bit more going for them, and the match deadlock was broken on Board 4, where club stalwart Dave Shurrock beat club stalwart Roy Watson in bizarre circumstances. Dave had a slight edge as White, but Roy seemed to be defending well, when all of a sudden he must have crossed over into "Roy-world". This is seemingly a parallel universe where time becomes suspended. With three moves to make, Roy looked at the position. Then looked at it some more. Then some more again. And he only stopped looking when Dave pointed out that he had lost on time. Yes, Roy had thought for 8 minutes and done nothing. This has improved Roy's Coventry League record for us this season to Played 0; Points 2. Maybe this should be our new strategy - export players to other clubs and get them to lose against us twice a season? Especially if, like Roy, they also provide coffee and biscuits during the match!

Almost immediately the match was over, as Paul offered me a draw just before the time control and I naturally accepted. Paul had been exerting some pressure for much of the game, but Fritz says the position had never strayed far from equality. The game was still in the balance with plenty of scope for mistakes, in a highly unclear and unbalanced position and time trouble a real issue. I was certainly in no mood to chance my arm with the match on the line, so I was happy to split the point and give us two very welcome Coventry League points, after a run of 1 point from the last 3 matches.

This week's matches have put us into fourth place in each League with near-identical records - Played 9, Points 9 in the Leamington League, and Played 12, Points 13 in the Coventry League. Are we average or what?!

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