The omens did not look good when we set out to the Massey Ferguson Club (neutral venue) with an injury hit team. Having beaten Nuneaton in the semi-final the previous week, fielding a line up with an average grade of 172, the absence of Mark (holiday) and Carl (work) meant that our average grade for the biggest game of our season was down to 153 (versus 171 for Rugby.) Dave and Rod came into the team, both fresh from Divisional Cup glory and ready to go. What we lacked in rating points, we made up for in hunger. Having lost a Cup final we really should have won two years ago at the same venue, we knew this was a chance to put things right, to carve our names in history.
The evening started well. I built up an extremely good position against James Kearney and Dave was also moving nicely. Rod was battling away, Mike’s position looked the trickiest but his form has been outstanding so all things started to seem possible. I came within a whisker of beating James, as I built up a crushing King side attack. However, my Rook sacrifice left a resource I had overlooked and by giving the material back James weathered the storm. It was still complex, but hard for either of us to make much progress. I was left dreaming of what might have been. Frustrating, but we still had our first half point.
Dave was next to finish, with the game of the night against Patrick Reid. It was a truly awesome sight as Dave made light of the rating differential to bring home a victory that was beautiful to watch. He seemed to rip open Patrick’s Queen side (where Patrick’s King had been seeking shelter) minor and major pieces swarmed and his Knight delivered the final blow to put us 1.5 – 0.5 up in our games with the White pieces. A superb man of the match performance as Dave signed off his campaign in style.
At which point anything still seemed possible. Rod was battling hard, but now losing, down a pawn in an opposite Bishop ending. Unfortunately, Bob Whilding had a passed pawn and a bit of a grip on Rod’s King so it looked difficult. Mike was also down a pawn to Simon Turner. All four players were in time trouble. Mike was stoically chewing his way through cough sweets. I was pacing. The Coventry members involved in their own matches were averagely vocal. A betting man would have kept his money in his pocket.
Then finally it turned. Mike, won his pawn back and went from worse to better in about the time it would have taken someone to eat one of his throat lozenges. A draw was agreed and suddenly we had two points gained on boards 1, 2 and 3 which meant we’d won on board count! Rod battled brilliantly but went down soon after. It didn’t matter though, as all had played their part in a famous night. 2 – 2 but the silverware was ours!
Another big step in our Coventry journey… Here’s to next year!