Last season Nuneaton gave us two major wallopings in the Coventry League. A 1-3 defeat at home was bad enough, but a 0-4 thrashing in the away match was a real humiliation. Even the warblings of the local music and dance troupe, rehearsing vigorously for the Xmas panto, couldn't soften the blow.
So it was with a little trepidation that we drove over to Attleborough Liberal Club on Tuesday to kick off the new Coventry League campaign. One good omen was that Credeence Clearwater Revival's Greatest Hits were not playing in my car as they had been, with such disastrous effect, the previous year. The more mellow sounds of Buffalo Springfield seemed much more appropriate for our pre-match mental state, though it was a close run thing, since my in-car music plays alphabetically, and seconds before we arrived, "Buf" ominously gave way to "Cre". I had to hurriedly switch it off to prevent any repeat calamity!
Although for much of the match, it looked like we were heading for defeat anyway. On Board 3, Ben got into a bit of a cul-de-sac playing that accursed opening of his (I refuse to type its name!) and lost a pawn against Colin Green, in the match-up of the Coventry and Leamington League Chairmen. But a slip from Colin allowed the extra pawn to fall off and a draw was soon agreed. So that was one prospective bullet dodged.
Dave was next to finish, with another draw on Board 4 againd Dave Kearney. While dodginess and murkiness were going on all around him, Dave was comfortable for the entire game, and never seemed to be worse at any time. And pretty soon it was three draws, as I easily held a pawn down opposite bishops ending against Phil Briggs on top board. This was definitely a second bullet dodged, though, as I had got myself into big trouble with some rather insipid play against his offbeat opening. Fortunately for me, Phil cashed in his positional advantages for the sake of a measly pawn, but at the cost of activating my pieces and he could then find nothing better than to swap off all the rooks to leave himself in a dead drawn ending.
So it all came down to the battle between Mike and Tony Green on Board 2. Tony went a bit all in from the opening with a very early f5 (leaving a big hole on e5), but Mike countered with a b5 break. It all got a bit messy for a time, but Tony failed to find a convincing way for his pieces to follow through behind his pawn advances and Mike gradually took over and won a pawn. With the clock doing him no favours, Tony threw in the towel as a Black queenside pawn was set to motor all the way through for a touchdown. A win for Mike, and a win for us!
Not very convincing, but a win is a win - although 2.5-1.5 is a pretty modest act of revenge compared to last season's two pummellings. And we didn't win many games last season - just two - and managed to lose all 5 away matches. So we'll gladly take 2.5-1.5 any day of the week, thank you very much!