Friday, 19 April 2019

We Are Going Up! We Are Going Up!

Playing for both the B and C teams this year has been to experience a wide range of emotions. The C team's desperate battle for survival. The B team's seemingly stoppable march to glory. Monday night saw the C team ultimately survive in Division 2. On Tuesday, the B team had a chance to win the thing and finally we did it!! Dave our captain might well write more and I apologise for blogging first, but in my excitement I felt I had to write something now!

This is the culmination of a multi-year quest. Two years ago, we had gone into our final match against Leamington knowing that victory would see us go up. We hadn't been able to do it. Last year (not helped by my own disastrous form) we were nowhere near. This time everything was different. Throughout these seasons, we have had the same core of four players. Mike, Dave, Phil and me. A massive shout out to Josh for his 4/4 this year and to Bernard Rodgers for his cameo on Tuesday. We did promise when we missed out at Leamington that one day we would put things right and now we have...

Eleven wins and a draw going into Tuesday's match against third placed Banbury C and we still weren't home. Banbury B's own excellent form meant they were still just about in with a shout. They needed to win their two remaining matches and see us lose ours if they were going to prevail. A long shot for them perhaps, but not impossible. (One draw from the two games was all we needed.) Over the last few months I have been trading regular emails with Gary Jackson as the battle has played out. His final one on this subject coming on Wednesday morning, congratulating us all! Thanks Gary - Banbury B will be the team to beat next year I am sure...

If Monday had been tension packed, Tuesday somehow wasn't. Perhaps it was because none of the games were particularly wild. Perhaps we just had enough belief that this was going to be our year. That we had come too far to do a Devon Loch. Mike and Dan and Dave and Nick drew. Bernard was well ahead on the clock against Mal and looked quite a bit better on the board to me. I was level with Arthur Hibbitt in probably the most off balance game of the night. I actually quite liked my position but after the previous evening's exertions, I was really short of energy. I was very confident Bernard was not going to lose, so I offered a draw. Arthur declined and played the most aggressive move, which looked tempting but was probably the wrong choice. Suddenly I was better. At which point Arthur blundered and dropped a rook. We've all been there. The noise in the club room at the crucial moment hadn't helped him. I think psychologically when you you are on the attack, it is easy to forget to defend. Just one of those things, but we now had at least the point we needed to win the League. Perhaps a slightly anti-climactic final moment, but we would have taken victory in whatever form the chess gods deemed to offer. Bernard and Mal agreed the draw very soon after to actually win us the match outright

It turned out we did not need any of it. Banbury B lost to Olton that same night. We would have gone up even if we had lost. But it is always much better to win! One game to go against Daventry (which sadly I can't make) but that is now just a victory lap. Albeit, chances to go a whole season unbeaten are few and far between and I know we will not want to blow that...

We've had to fight hard for each other as a team. A lot of our matches have been close, both in terms of final score and over the board. Bizarrely, the only team we have beaten 4-0 has been Banbury B! What has seen us through has been that between us, on every night, we have found enough to bring home the points. I know we can't wait to strut our stuff in Division 1 next season. I'm already dreaming of our first match. Kenilworth B (Division 2 Champions) v Kenilworth A (hope upon hope Division 1 champions!) Who could ask for more!

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