Wednesday, 3 February 2021

KCC Edge Close Encounter of the Second Week

Another week, another 4.5-3.5 win for the A team in the second round of fixtures in the Coventry & Leamington Online League. After a wafer-thin win over the B team in Week 1, last night saw a repeat score, and thankfully an altogether more convincing performance, against a very strong Shirley A side. Everyone contributed to an excellent win. I took leave of my senses and rested our 100% performer from last week, Bernard C, (rotation, rotation, rotation!) while also bringing myself into the side to - I thought - lead from the front. But I got the first shock of the evening when discovering that Jude had added 40+ points to his rapid rating at the 11th hour, to bump me off Board 1. So much for my intense preparation for a heavyweight battle against Don Mason!

The match got off to a flying start as Billy - who else?! - exchanged wins with Gordon Christie on Board 4 in - what else?! - double quick time. Both games were over before anybody else had finished one! Billy clearly didn't listen to the words of last week's song, or he might have capitalised on his winning position in Game 2 and scored a memorable double. As it was, a 1-1 tie from 2 very tactical and messy positions (Billy's favourite territory!) was a really fine result anyway, given the 30 (old) ECF grading points gap.

Jude struck another blow for the Young KCC Guns, by making light work of another 30+ ECF grading points disadvantage and easily holding Don to a draw with Black in Game 1 on top board, but the return was a rather grizzly affair. Jude's opening looked to be in urgent need of repair, and his queenside castled king got completely over-run in very short order. Ouch!

Mike was also giving away about 30 ECF points, but exchanged wins against Iain Galloway. In a far from uncommon online experience, though, he won the wrong game. He was on the ropes for most of Game 1 , but with White failing to land a knock-out blow, Mike eventually emerged from the back two ranks to win a pawn or two and the resultant rook ending. The boot was on the other foot in Game 2, as Mike transitioned to a seemingly winning bishop v knight ending. But for some reason he failed to capture a Black pawn which stood very en prise on f7. A few moves later this pawn had become an unstoppable passed e pawn.

Which leaves my encounter on Board 2 against Jonathan Dale, where for once it was KCC with the 30+ points advantage. In Game 1, I thought I was doing everything right with an extra, passed pawn on d6 in a rook and minor piece ending. But I got my rook misplaced and was getting worried that this extra pawn was about to drop off, when he suddenly put a bishop en prise. Then he walked into a knight fork and lost his rook. Then I got a new queen, and eventually I delivered checkmate. Game 2 saw me get an edge with Black and win an exchange, but at the cost of weakening my kingside. In trying to get an attack, though, White walked into a pawn fork which lost a piece, and in  attempting to escape this, he dropped a rook instead. Then I won the White queen. Then I took all his pawns. And then I got a second queen and delivered mate.

Such experiences are unfortunately very common in the online world - even when an opponent has several minutes left and a ten second increment, many people seem inexplicably reluctant to resign. We (doubtless including me on occasion) seem to bring a bullet/blitz/no-increment mentality to relatively slow paced games and continue playing long after we should have done the decent thing. We're the ones who are suffering, after all, so why drag it out?? Rant over, but please - let's all resolve not to play on one or two queens down, unless there is some actual point. It really doesn't look good!

Next week's fixtures see the A team up against league newcomers Leamington, while the B team will take on Shirley A. We've softened them up for you, lads!

Hope you enjoy the music which plays this report out. Though I have to confess I don't remember ever hearing it before. Think I got confused with 2001: A Space Odyssey!

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