Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Fourteen and a Half is a Big Number

At least, it is when it's the total points scored by our two teams in Week 4 of the Coventry & Leamington Online League.  Out of a possible 16. Though as always, Lady Luck had to put in an appearance or two during the evening, but more of that later!

There was excitement before the matches when I got a frantic call from Bernard C telling me he had joined the wrong match. By the time I had sorted this problem out for him and he had extricated himself from the B team match, I'd had an urgent e-mail from Ben telling me the B team had too many players and had been infiltrated by an unknown fifth columnist (surprisingly not answering to the name Joshua or Lionel!)  Despite being on the same team as him about 8 times pre-Xmas, Ben was seemingly unable to recognise Bernard's chess.com user name. Anyway, problem sorted, but coming hot on the heels of last week's earth-shattering default shock, I feel the pressures of captaincy are beginning to get to me. 

But to the chess, and first to the A team, who ran up an unexpectedly convincing 7-1 win over a slightly depleted Sutton Coldfield A, including a clean sweep in Round 1. Mike got us off to a flying start on Board 3 with a very quick win over Marek Soszynski - which I later found out was due to a disconnection issue. The first time that we have ever been on the right side of such an incident, I think. Not a lot happened in Game 2 which ended in a draw. On Board 4, Artistic Bernard made the same score against Rob Marks, but with considerably more chess content - though not all of it good! Bernard tells me he made a finger slip in the first game (play on a proper computer like the rest of us, Bernard, and then you can blame it on the mouse!), but it turned out to be an inspired pawn sac which opened up lines against the Black king and the White pieces stormed in with decisive effect. Game 2 was bizarre. Bernard lost a piece. Then he won it back. Then he started winning pawn after pawn, and in a single knight ending he had 4 extra pawns. Which he somehow failed to win. The charge is gross carelessness, and I hereby pronounce that Mr Charnley has been found guilty! Bring on the rack!!

For the second week running we chalked up a 4-0 score on the top two boards. Jude had a measured build up in Game 1 with White against Andy Lake, but when the time was right he lined up his pieces down the g file and won a piece. Game 2 was absolutely manic, with each side throwing the kitchen sink at the other's king after opposite-side castling. Jude was always just ahead in the race, and despite missing an absolute cruncher (26...Qb6) he was still in time to land the decisive blow to cap a massively exciting game. I may have (accidentally) played a good game against Mircea Mesesan with Black, though I was helped enormously by my opponent giving up a pawn which only served to put his king in a mating net. I also started off quite respectably in Game 2, with a clear plus, but at an early moment I missed a crushing rook sac that would have won on the spot. Thereafter we kept exchanging blunders, whereby I would neglect to play the winning move, and Black would neglect to play the drawing reply. In my time trouble the game went totally out of control as Black's a pawn yomped down the board, while I tried to deliver mate. We should have ended up with 4 queens on the board - and amazingly with a drawish position - but Mircea made a terrible mistake and allowed me to force mate after all.

After last week's heartache, the B team were due a change of luck, and they got it in spades against Leamington - trumping the A team with a near perfect 7.5-0.5 win. Tom Darling is clearly an even more unforgiving Captain than me, as he changed the entire Leamington line-up from their match against our A team last week. (Or was he just showing off that Leamington have so many players to choose from? The answers simple, Tom - two teams) Whatever the reason, our lads seized the moment - or carped the diem as they would have said in Ancient Rome - as we chalked up 2-0 wins on Boards 1, 2 and 4. Dave, Ben and Solomon showing ruthless efficiency (not to mention fear, surprise and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope) against, respectively, Ben Egid, Mike Nevin and Reshmi Vayyapuri.



On Board 3, Billy was giving away about 40 ECF rating points against Jon Griffiths and had a really tough first game, as the advantage edged and flowed before Billy ended up in the same knight and rook's pawn v knight ending as Bernard did in the A team match. Like Bernard, Billy had to concede the draw, but unlike Bernard, he hadn't started with an extra 4 pawns, so it was an altogether more correct outcome! Game 2 wasn't going our way, and Black was on top, when the game ended abruptly in Billy's favour. Whether it was another disconnection or a loss on time, I don't know, but it was the final proof that Lady Luck is indeed currently residing in Kenilworth. This week, at least.

The A team will obviously stay at the top of the table after this week's matches, while the B team will probably have soared to the dizzy heights of just below half way. Next week, it is the B team's turn to take on Sutton Coldfield A, while the A team encounter the pre-Xmas champions, Nuneaton, who gave us a good thrashing in our most recent encounter.  Stay tuned, and who knows what strange video material might turn up in next week's match report? After all, you weren't expecting Monty Python, were you?!

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