Who'd have thought that Deep Purple would ever be an appropriate soundtrack for a Leamington League chess match? But that was regrettably the case this week, as Kenilworth A failed the test on our first serious examination of the season, relinquishing top spot in the Division 1 table to our conquerors in the process.
We've had a pretty good run against Olton lately, winning comprehensively in the league earlier this year and beating them in the Cup Final, too, so the law of averages said that would have to come to an end sometime. Even fielding our strongest side so far this season couldn't overturn the odds.
Andy B made his 2019-20 league debut and pressed for the whole game against Alan Lloyd on Board 2, though without ever making any serious inroads into the Black position. The game was probably about level when Andy offered a draw, but given the state of play in the match, we could have done with him playing on.
David P was struggling against Mark Cundy on Board 3, and gradually shed a pawn or two. I was expecting his pieces to spring to life and deliver a rousing counter attack on the White king, which had castled long - but it never happened and eventually the material advantage told for Mark.
Thank goodness for the ever reliable Joshua on Board 4, who kept his 100% (league) record for the A team this season by despatching Richard Smith. I saw virtually nothing of the game and have no idea how convincing a victory it was - but quite frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn! A point is a point and we needed it.
But alas it wasn't to be enough, as the law of averages also caught up with me on Board 1, where I failed to make it three wins in a row against Phil Holt, and fell to what used to be my traditional defeat in rather excruciating circumstances. Deep into a game where I had been slightly worse throughout, I thought I saw a clever way to line up a perpetual attack on White's queen by giving up a pawn on g6. But I had overlooked a neat tactical trick which saw Phil counter the attack on his queen by attacking mine, and in the time it took to say "Rats!" my position collapsed. I could have given up a pawn, but for some reason decided to give up an exchange instead and the game should have ended on the spot. But bizarrely/cruelly Phil then needlessly blundered the exchange and a pawn back leaving me just a pawn down in a rook and opposite bishops ending. But my pawns were all on vulnerable squares and Phil cleverly traded off the rooks to win all my queenside pawns. Even opposite bishops can't save you when you are three pawns down.
And it really was a black night for the club all round, as the B team failed to win a crunch match they had at their mercy against Shirley, and the D team went down 0-3 at home to Solihull E, which included a very annoying default. And also spare a thought for Noah, who came within one or two moves of his first league victory only to falter at the eleventh hour after playing a really good game against the very experienced Dennis Horsley.
And maybe there's a song called Black Week somewhere? Because the C team went down 3-1 to Banbury B last night to complete a clean sweep of all four of our teams within four days. I think the lads need to be called in for extra training - though Jude is exempt after his excellent win last night. Clearly we need more 9 year olds in the teams to show us the way.