Thursday, 10 January 2019

Shock, Gasp, Horror.......

…….. No, not due to the fact that we drew 2-2 at home to Rugby A in a Coventry League Division 1 match this week, but to the manner in which it came about.

Our brave Kenilworth boys found themselves confronted by the Phillips massive in opposition, though at least they didn't completely abuse the excellent hospitality we have extended to them on many Thursday evenings by beating us. David P and I were both in non-aggressive mode and he did the decent thing by agreeing to my early draw proposal. Very little happened in the 14 moves which we each managed. Alan P almost spoilt the party, though, by playing rather well - and surprisingly quickly - against Dave on Board 4. It was rather fortunate for us when he didn't notice that Dave's last move, accompanied by a draw proposal, blundered a pawn due to a nice back rank combo. Or maybe he did, and just did the decent thing in accepting the peace offer? No, that doesn't sound like him - I think he just missed it.  Anyway, the evening hadn't even reached 9.00pm and already the Phillips gang had left town and the match was half over.

Which left the middle boards in play, and I was sure Mike was just cruising to a smooth win on Board 2 against Patrick Reid, while being rather worried about Ben's position against Simon Turner on 3. Shows what I know!

First, Mike swapped queens, when it looked to me as though keeping them on was almost a forced win. It probably wasn't, but he would have been well on top, for sure. Instead, the Black pieces jumped out and took up very active positions and things looked rather bleak for our man. Help!

But at the same time, and after playing his very dodgy pet opening once again, Ben had grabbed a pawn and was well in the game, even though his position was still nothing to write home about. But then Simon started to lose the thread, and instead of attacking Ben's weak kingside, allowed himself to be attacked on that side of the board. He got a bishop stuck on h2, hemmed in by a white pawn on g3 and king on g1. Ben switched one rook to the open h file and then found a really excellent slow motion repositioning of the other rook from c5, to a5, to a8 and then to h8. All while White could find no active play. The bishop had to be defended by doubled white rooks on the second rank but when the Black queen joined in the h file party it was Goodnight Irene for the white position. And now it was 2-1 to us.

Meanwhile, Mike had battled on valiantly, but had to shed a pawn in the process. Then Patrick honed in on the weak f2 square and annexed the pawn there. He missed what looked like a forced win to me, but still kept up the pressure with only a rook and opposite bishops left for each side. But when material equality was restored, I was expecting/hoping Mike would hold the draw, though the position was still awkward. However, any hopes of a rear-guard save were dispelled when the unthinkable happened - Mike simply blundered a piece. I don't think any of us had ever seen this happen before. I thought there was more chance of Halley's Comet coming round again in my lifetime (and as its not due till 2061, that's  very small chance indeed) than seeing Mike do this. Still, it does prove that we are all human!

So the match ended 2-2, and both teams went home thinking of missed chances.

BTW, as I was just finishing typing this report, I accidentally hit a random key or keys, and suddenly my computer started reading out the entire post to me in a flat, robotic voice. Very spooky indeed. Especially as I didn't know how to turn it off. The crisis appears to have passed, and the machine has gone silent again - but I wouldn't want this to become a regular occurrence!

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