Thursday, 17 February 2022

One More Twofer for the Road

Finally, the seemingly never ending pattern of Monday night Leamington League match and Tuesday night Coventry League match has come to an end. So this is absolutely, positively and definitively the last twofer match report for ........... well, possibly until March 16th. But to commemorate the occasion, I thought I'd throw in a bonus song so that we can hear Boz Scaggs also having one more for the road.

Right, to the week's business. Monday night and we are home to Banbury A just 4 days after they had rather fortuitously edged past our B team by the minimum margin. Who knew that we would now return the compliment? Especially when they arrived with only 3 players, meaning Jude and his Dad had had a wasted journey/evening. But it was hard for me to head too quickly for the moral high ground, as simultaneously in the bar area, our D team was failing to produce even one player to take on visitors Solihull E. Which meant casting the first stone was not really on the cards.

Despite our free point start (for the second match running!) this was to be no walk in the park as all three games were tough encounters. I was (needlessly) worried for Andrew in the opening against Dan Rowan, as he eventually emerged with a solid extra pawn, which was, moreover, passed and supported from behind by a rook. 1-0 I thought, except that soon it was half-half, as Andrew had uncharacteristically blundered his extra pawn away. Then there was a moment when Joshua overlooked a rook sacrifice by Nathan Manley that just won two pawns from nowhere. But in the resultant queen ending, Joshua went checky, checky, checky and managed to win both pawns back, with what I then thought might even be a better position.

Meanwhile I was playing Gary Jackson and was clearly better, with me in total charge of a monster diagonal from a8 to h1. And with the White king sat on g1 it looked like an impossible position to defend. But defend it he did, and after I had missed a couple of wins at one crucial moment I went seriously wrong and there was a near certain draw on the board when Gary could have eliminated my light squared bishop and put an end to all the long diagonal issues. But he missed the moment and soon he was in almost total zugzwang, with his queen, rook and knight all immobilised, meaning he could only shuffle his king from g1 to f1 and back or his bishop from d2 to c1 and back. Still, I hadn't worked out how I was actually going to cash in when he tried to improve his queen's position and found himself having to resign immediately when my own queen jumped into f3 with decisive effect.

Match won, which was just as well, since in trying to avoid perpetual check, Joshua had instead got himself mated by Nathan. So instead of 3-1 and another healthy boost to our already massive game points difference, it was a narrow 2.5-1.5 result, and we had only drawn on the boards actually contested. Still, I would be lying if I didn't admit I loved being the team's match winning hero for once! And before leaving this match, I just want to pass on our best wishes to Paul Rowan of Banbury who has been on the end of a rather nasty bike/car collision recently and is currently out of action, chess wise. Get well soon, Paul.

And so to Tuesday, and a KO Cup Quarter Final against Coventry B (who fielded just the three ex-Kenilworth players!). As our opponents are a Division 2 team, we had to give them a 1.25 handicap start, and so we had to win by at least 3-1 to go through. Thankfully, this meant we could afford one accident, as we suffered just that. Ben had an absolute car crash of a game, being totally wiped out by Margarita Nasibova, who took about 15 minutes for the entire game. All in all this was one of the most one-side games you could ever see - apart from 2 of the others in this same match! On top board Andrew steamrollered Kate Donegan after her Scandinavian went badly off course, while on Board 2 I did much the same to Nigel Morris, who played the opening very well, but then managed to go from a near dead level position on move 16 to resignation 4 moves later.

Now all attention was focussed on the Board 3 encounter between Mike Donnelly and Mike Johnson, which we absolutely had to win. Our Mike amassed a mighty attacking force against our-ex Mike's king, but Black defended very tenaciously, avoiding plenty of traps and tricks. Then our Mike set up a great redeployment of his queen with Qh3-f1, planning to go to d3 and invade decisively on h7 (rather significantly he also had a bishop on b1!). But in a moment of chess blindness, he then put the queen on the pretty ineffective square g2, when carrying on with his plan would, he told me later, have just won a piece on the spot. So the game carried on ...... and on ..... and on. Our Mike won a pawn, but for some reason then found himself in an opposite bishop ending with just this solitary extra pawn. But whether it was winning or not was immaterial, as our-ex Mike had no time left. And as Coventry don't play with increments, because they have to be out by 10.30, he lost on time at around 10.40.

Phew! A very unconvincing team effort, but somehow - on both nights - we kept our unbeaten records going, so that, including cup matches, our LDCL A team is now Played 10; Won 9; Drawn 1 and our Coventry League team is now Played 10; Won 8; Drawn 2. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

As I'm now running on even emptier than last week, after the latest twofer supplemented by a 4NCL weekend immediately before, it's only right that we have another version of Jackson's brilliant mini-autobiography in song. After last week's 1978 full on rock interpretation, here's a totally different, but equally spellbinding, pared down acoustic version from 2006.  Totally mesmerising. And 10 bonus points for anyone who can tell me which LDCL Div 1 stalwart (not KCC), slide guitar player extraordinaire David Lindley reminds me of!

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