Having drawn against Solihull B last time out, playing Solihull's A team was always going to be something of a challenge and so it proved. Albeit, things could have been very different had it not been for the cruel nature of the clock.
Phil Wood had heroically stepped in at very short notice on the Sunday night, as Mike was ill and the original replacement had a family matter to deal with. However, his board three encounter with Paul Roper (who is finding Kenilworth an increasingly good customer) did not go to plan. Paul uncorked a beauty of a tactic in the opening which gave him an incredibly strong position. Phil really made Paul work for it, but sadly there was little he could do to prevent us going 0-1 down. Still a really valued effort at such short notice.
My own position against Tony Sadler was unclear at this point, but Andy Ward was well up on his 180+ opponent on Board 1 and Jude was winning against Nigel Towers on Board four. Jude as ever played with incredible maturity way beyond his years. He is not the teams top point scorer for nothing! Perhaps there was a chance for the win, but it wasn't obvious and in the end Nigel held out for a draw. Nigel said afterwards that he would not enjoy playing Jude a year from now, but it has to be said he did not look like a man who had enjoyed the previous three hours of his life! Another great effort from Jude against a very strong and highly respected opponent. So 0.5 - 1.5.
I don't have the best of records against Tony and we ended up in a position where I had ripped his king side apart, only to find myself in huge danger down the center. I certainly did not find the right plan and found myself having to back off, deep in survival mode. Tony pressed forward, picked up a pawn and seemed to be closing in on victory.
I felt bad that Andy's efforts were going to be in vein, but then disaster struck on Board One. Somehow Andy had lost on time in a great position. An incredibly painful way to lose and Andy had deserved so much more. It is only a matter of time until play of his quality yields some points, but tonight was just not his night. So the match was lost 0.5 - 2.5.
However, by some miracle my own game was not. I sacrificed a second pawn to give myself an incredible Senitz Knight that completely dominated the board. Tony's king had very few squares and I picked up first one of my lost pawns and then the other. I had all the play, but was down to a minute and a half on my clock to Tony's five. An ocean of time compared to the previous match, but I couldn't see the win. There was one there, as we established afterwards, but Tony had surly missed victory himself earlier in the night, so a draw was a fair result.
So in the end a 1-3 result. Not a disaster, but had Andy and I had a little more time to think, things could have been very different. Not to worry. We have a crunch match coming up next, against Shirley. A real four pointer if ever there was one. I know we sometimes give Jude tips on slowing down, but maybe we all need to take lessons from him as to how to play more quickly!