Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A White Christmas Comes Early to Kenilworth

There was no snow in  Kenilworth last night, but it was still most definitely a total white-out, as our rearranged Coventry League match against Coventry A ended with four decisive games, all won by White.  The more perceptive amongst our readers will thereby deduce that the match ended 2-2. A good result for Coventry, given that half their team was out of the country when the match should have originally been played!  And a good result for us against the league leaders. It was a very tense encounter, and it can be fairly confidently said that on no board did the correct result occur, although the overall match score was about right (and directly in line with ratings).

It is almost inevitable that there will be internecine encounters in this match, and despite Coventry turning up without either Joshua or Bernard C in their team there were still two such games, although even in this mini-match honours were also shared. Mike's disastrous run of results continued as he finished first with another loss against Lionel, who thus joins Joshua, Bernard C and Ed in the Kenilworth Hall of Shame for winning against us. (Whisper it, but I am in there too, for having given the likes of Bernard R and Carl regular thrashings in the years when I misguidedly played for Leamington. But at least I have never won, or even played, against Kenilworth since I joined the club!) But an extra spoonful of shame is awarded to Lionel for (a) having lost for the B team the night before and (b) winning against Mike from a bad/losing position.

But if that was an unlucky break for us, Lady Luck balanced things up on Board 4 as Ben came back from a losing position to beat Ed in the other civil war encounter. Ed's Dutch was doing rather well until he hallucinated and put a bishop directly en prise. Even then he had play and tricks, but Ben carefully navigated the rocky waters to level the score. This was a very happy moment for me, as when I had looked at the position shortly before I had miscounted the pieces and thought Ben was a rook down!

Almost simultaneously I won against Dave Ireland on Board 2, but the position had been totally drawn until a few seconds before the end, when Dave simply blundered a piece under pressure from the clock. A sad end to a very interesting game - albeit one where I never had any edge at any stage, until I was gifted a bishop!

Now if you were paying close attention, you will have been shocked by the last paragraph. What was the Club Organiser and Team Captain doing on Board 2 when he has been on Board 1 in every match he has played so far this season? And he is the highest graded active player in the club? Did he forget the board order rules and play someone ineligible above him on Board 1? Or had he put his hand in his pocket and brought in a hired hand? The answer is …. none of the above! The game marked the return to competitive action of our very own Paul, who by fortunate happenstance was available to make what was only his third appearance in three seasons - and first ever for us in the Coventry League! Regrettably, though, this selection coup only served to extend Paul's run of KCC results over those 3 seasons to played 3, lost 3! He had a very intense struggle against Henrik Stepanyan, which saw Paul win an exchange in the middle game, though the position was very complicated and White definitely had compensation. But the clock eventually caused some inaccuracies to occur and Paul lost back his exchange advantage, before ending up in a lost rook and pawn ending.

Still, a thoroughly enjoyable and well fought match. They won't be losing any sleep in Moscow Central Chess Club over the quality of the games, but they must surely have appreciated the fighting spirit. And they know all about white-outs in Moscow, too!

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