Not a reference to my usual communication skills, nor a crafty way to slip in another of my much cherished Double D titles, but rather acknowledgment that in our two big matches this week it was Mike's two victories against the Dutch that made the biggest contribution to our double success.
First on Monday, he won nicely against Arran Gundry to help the A team to a 3-1 victory over second placed Banbury A. Despite reaching an ending a pawn up, it looked as though Black had enough play to draw, but Mike cleverly gave up his passed a pawn to construct a mating net with rook, knight and pawn which forced the win of an exchange, and he then made no mistake in winning with his extra material. Carl weighed in with an effortless win on Board 3 against Mr D. Fault, and I also added a point, though not without some decidedly dodgy adventures, by beating Gary Jackson on Board 2. Our only reverse came for Andrew P on Board 1, where he found himself giving away 42 grading points against James Jackson. I think he sacked a pawn with a plan to get a knight into e3 forking the entire White army. But this never happened and the game seemed to finish badly with a back rank accident.
Mike was an even bigger part of our success the following evening, when he secured the only decisive result, to give us a 2.5-1.5 Coventry KO Cup Semi-Final win against Nuneaton B. In the process we avenged ourselves for two league losses against them during the season. Mike got a very strong position out of the opening against Mike Maher and won a pawn. Black seemed to get no counterplay at all and White won in a double rook ending. Elsewhere it was all square. Ben caused an audible outburst of displeasure from Tony Green on Board 2 by playing the London System, and a draw did indeed result, though not without some interest along the way. Ben tried to set up a queen and bishop battery against hy7, and threw in an h4 push as well, but a draw it was anyway. Carl, fresh from his perfect performance the evening before, drew against Dave Kearney. He tried to make something happen with the Black pieces against a rather passive opening set-up, but White successfully defused all Carl's attempts to make the game interesting.
I could fill a book with the report on my game against Phil Briggs. He surprised me with almost every move (1 d3 was the least outrageous of his moves!), and though I tried to play classically in response, the madness in the air seemingly affected me, too. At one point White got knights on f1 and g1, while Black had knights on b8 and a8! I ended up with a totally winning position, but failed to put the boot in at the crucial moment before the time control. White equalised but then went wrong again, only for me to miss a very strong move that would have snuffed out all White's activity, and suddenly I was in trouble. Luckily though, the White king was exceedingly open and a virtual perpetual appeared on the board. Then White went wrong again and I had a forced win, but I checked from the wrong square. White offered a draw and after realising I had no way to win, I accepted to secure the match win for us.
In the final next Tuesday we will play Rugby A, so fingers crossed for another KCC trophy win this season.