All went well for KCC when we successfully avoided any slip-ups in the first round of the Coventry KO Cup on Tuesday.
Playing away against Second Division Rugby C, we started with a 1.25 points handicap disadvantage, meaning we needed to win 3-1. So one of us could have an accident (even a big one!) but the other three had to be on form. And before we started our task got a bit easier as Rugby C found themselves hit by a late withdrawal, and so had to default on Board 4. This gave Jude the evening off, as he had been due to make his Coventry League seasonal debut for us.
Things went smoothly enough, and I was never really worried about the match, although - as is usual with us! - we didn't always have everything under total control on every board!
I finished first, having won a pawn very early despite a rather lacklustre opening, and then snaffling a second not many moves later. My opponent found a seemingly clever move which set me up for a big cheapo, but even though I hadn't seen it coming, it actually allowed me a reply which stopped the cheapo; attacked a rook; and attacked a knight as well - now that's the sort of move I could do with more of! There was no defence to all the threats and we were one up.
Meanwhile Drago was having an interesting game on Board 3, in which he got powerful central pawns on c5 and d5; a monstrous bishop on b2; a killer knight on e4; and a marauding queen on g3. The pressure against the Black king - and g7 in particular - was too much and Drago was able to crash through witha piece sac on f6, winning many pawns and an exchange.
Ben's game on Board 2, though, was anything but interesting, and he was having to work very hard to get any action going with the Black pieces, as the position had all the fluidity of set concrete. But by sheer determination - and a little help along the way - he finally managed to unleash a splendid tactical shot, jumping his knight onto the d2 square where it could be captured three ways - by a knight, rook or queen! Each capture lost the exchange, though, so it looked like a case of job done - but in chess we dont have a must capture rule, and White could have avoided material loss and traded into a queen ending at the cost of getting doubled f pawns. Its not at all clear whether this would have been that much better for Black, but fortunately for us, White forgot he wasn't obliged to capture and fell in with Ben's plan, losing material and the game.
So that was us safely through to round 2, where we will have a home tie in early February against Division 3 side Nuneaton D - to whom we will have to concede a 2.25 points handicap start - meaning we will only be able to afford to drop a half point if we are to make it to the semi-final.