The A team climbed to its highest league position of the season (a none too exciting third place) after a 3-1 away win at Leamington last night. We fielded a strong team, thanks to a rare sighting of Andy B, and duly annexed the two points but, as usual, the final result didn't necessarily tell the whole story.
Mike continued his excellent run of form (goodness knows how strong he'll be if he ever returns to full fitness!) by demolishing Rob Gill's patent 1 b3 on Board 4. He built up a clear advantage from the opening and into the middle game, and then jumped into the White position with a crushing Nxf2 sacrifice which led to a speedy conclusion. A nice clean and correct game.
Which is more than can be said about the Board 3 encounter. I eventually brought home another full point by beating Tom Darling's rare (for a good reason) Elephant Gambit. (Seeing an opening like this, it was almost like having Joshua back in the room!) I was comfortably better with an extra pawn when I saw a flashy brilliancy which, while indeed flashy was not at all brilliant. In fact with best play it should have left me a piece down for three pawns. But best play was a bit beyond both players, and instead it just became a completely winning position for me, with two extra pawns, one of which was a monster passed e pawn. Black's king was also rather unsafe, and on move 36, Tom kindly walked into mate in one which speeded things up no end.
Andrew P then drew on Board 2 against Ben Egid, after a rip-roaring encounter. Andrew was two exchanges up, but White's bishops were rampant and he had to give one back. It got very complicated, with Andrew's king going on a voluntary yomp up the kingside straight into White's waiting army of pawns and a queen. Eventually a truce was declared for reasons I failed to notice. Andrew still had an exchange, but White had a passed c pawn. It may just have been too difficult for both players to carry on!
And then proceedings were brought to a close when the top board encounter between Andy B and Andy Collins ended in another draw. Our man had not exactly ever got up any head of steam, and after regular exchanges it came down to a bishop v knight ending (we had the bishop), where the pawn structure favoured the knight. But our Andy's king got to a very strong square and with the number of pawns rapidly dwindling there was no way for either Andy to make progress.
So, almost April and two matches still to play, but with no Europa League place on offer, we only have pride left to motivate us. Let's make that third position ours!