Wednesday, 25 September 2019

It's Chess, Jim - But Not As We Know It!

Yes, of course, I'm referring to Joshua's latest performance. In action for the A team in the home match with Solihull B on Monday, he first essayed a supposedly dubious opening (no surprise there), which is actually not as dubious as the books say (now that is a surprise, and I know it's correct because I was the one who told him about the variation!). Then he forgot the chess player's mantra LPDO (loose pieces drop off) and overlooked a Nxf7 sac that immediately regained the piece (an undefended bishop on b4) via a queen check. So his king was stuck in the middle and even though the queens were soon traded, it wasn't the most comfortable place to be while the rooks were all still on, and his opponent (Paul Roper) also had a bishop against Joshua's knight. At one point Josh ended up with his king on e8 and a rook on f8 - it looked as though he had been about to castle but had moved his rook first and been forced to abort the move half way through. Around here I couldn't take any more and basically stopped looking, but you'll have already guessed the inevitable outcome - Joshua won.

We had already annexed a full point on Board 4 where Mike gave Nigel Byrne's Dutch Defence a terrible going over, breaking through in the centre and the c file to win a couple of pawns. With an unopposed rook on the seventh and g7/h7 about to be attacked by the White queen, Nigel decided enough was enough.

On Board 2 David Phillips played his first game for us since a one off D team appearance (unsuccessful against an opponent graded 40!!) almost exactly 4 years earlier. Now David has become rather stronger in the meantime, and was never in danger of repeating that result, but despite a clear positional edge, he couldn't make much progress against Ray Carpenter's steady defence and the game ended up in a relatively uneventful draw. Its good to have David back playing for his home town team and now he only needs one result (a win!) to have the full set in Kenilworth colours. Hopefully it won't be long coming!

Which just leaves me. Thankfully the match was already decided in our favour by the time that my Board 1 game against Neil Clarke came to a crisis. The game had been a rather tense affair, where neither side looked to have a good position, but eventually the position clarified itself and I started to take over. Neil organised doubled rooks on a semi-open g file to try and get at my king, but I had already got a passed pawn to c3 by this stage, and my rooks and queen seemed to be controlling the centre of the board. But as we both went below three minutes, panic set in. Neil put a piece en prise, but I failed to take it due to an elementary miscalculation. Nevertheless I was still totally winning (+8 according to Fritz), but Neil resourcefully found some confusing queen moves that threatened to get in on the seventh rank. And under increasing pressure from the clock, I then stopped the threatened check with the wrong rook and my wonderful passed pawn promptly fell off, to leave a totally drawn rook and pawn ending. Still, it could have been worse, as the only harm done was to my grading. Our 3-1 win took us - temporarily I expect - to the top of the Division 1 table as (so far) the only team to get to 4 points.

And despite the presence of Mike and myself in the team, this could well have been the youngest Kenilworth A team to take to the field for some time! This was brought home to me afterwards as I gave David and Joshua a lift, as the music playing in my car was Billy Joel's Greatest Hits 1973-1985 (no sarcastic comments please!). It transpired that this covered a period before Joshua had been born. And as David is a child of the 21st century I suspect he has never even heard of Billy Joel. Sigh. But let's at least try and address that knowledge gap!

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