The defending champions were in town last night. Having lost to us earlier in the season, Olton A were taking no chances, with a line up of Holt, Lloyd, Cundy and Smith. Still, what nights like the previous Olton match and our game against Kenilworth A last week have shown, is that the B team need not fear anyone. We have a squad of players who are all capable of getting results against higher rated opponents. I have no doubt that we will stay up. Yesterday we just had one of those evenings where we perhaps got a little less than we deserved.
On Board 4, Richard Smith appeared to walk into a trap against Jude. However, Richard is a very wily player and when I next looked, he seemed to have dug himself out and as the game progressed just seemed to get on top. A good learning experience for Jude. Chess is a game of fine margins and matches like this are where Jude gets to hone is craft for the years to come. A good effort, and we were a bit unlucky not to pick something up from this one.
If Jude had been winning on board 4, Lionel always looked to me to be losing with black on board 3. Down a pawn and in what looked superficially to be a tricky position, Lionel played with great skill to hold Mark Cundy at bay. It was not until about 10.20 that Mark was forced to concede that victory was not possible and to offer the draw. Very nice play from Lionel, who is increasingly making his presence felt.
For the first 45 minutes, boards 1 and 2 had virtual mirror image positions on them. Both Phil Holt and I had bishops on h6, honing in on bishops on g7. Eventually the games diverged. Phil seemed to pick up a pawn and while Mike did a great job of making it difficult, eventually Phil found a way to crash through the centre to decisive effect.
All of which rendered my game on board 2 academic, which was probably just as well. I was in a very strong position out of the opening, found a nice tactic and won rook for knight and pawn. Alan by way of compensation had a strong passed pawn, with a bishop controlling the queening square and a strong knight. We both thought it should be a win for me, but as ever chess is not an easy game. I drifted into desperate time trouble and never really found a way through, so in the end a draw was a fair result. I would certainly have taken that at the beginning of the night.
So a 1 - 3 defeat, but more than enough to suggest that we will pick up some points, going forward.