This report on our 4-1 loss away against Banbury in the KO Cup will have to be brief, as I need to go back to banging my head against a brick wall to try and take my mind off the shame of it all.
I finished first with a disastrous loss against Georgs Vikanis as White. For the second game in a row I had to give up my queen for a rook, though at least this time I could only manage to play a couple of more moves before I had to resign and end the suffering. I can't explain it; don't understand it. I ain't never played like this before.
Ben and Mike then agreed draws on Boards 4 and 5 against Carl Portman and Arran Gundry respectively. Mike won a pawn but with opposite bishops he couldn't make much progress ,and Black won the pawn back anyway. Ben was under some pressure on the black side of one of these strange open Sicilians with an early e5 by Black, but he more or less neutralised the pressure and was glad when Carl decided to offer a repetition. This was a massive improvement on the debacles that have occurred on that board the last twice we have played away at Banbury, so congratulations to Ben for combatting the very bad vibes associated with that corner of the room!
Andrew P's game on Board 2 initially followed Ben's but then became much wilder. Coming up to the time control, Black looked slightly worse to me, but then Andrew played a series of strong moves that completely flummoxed Gary Jackson and with superb co-ordination the three Black pieces forced an instant win. At least they would have done if Andrew had found one final (and obvious) good move. Instead, in bad time trouble, he first missed the win, and then blundered a whole rook. I'm not sure if me sitting next to him has caused his loss of form, or if it's him sitting next to me that's led to my recent collapse, but the fact is we are both playing horrendously. The team's engine room is misfiring badly!
This loss was decisive. If Andrew had won we would have tied the match, and all would have been set for us to win on Board Count/Elimination if Paul could then draw on Board 1 against James Jackson. Obviously easier said than done, but after blundering a pawn in the middle game, Paul staged a massive fight back against his very strong opponent. He cleverly sacrificed an exchange to open up the Black king and picked up a couple of pawns as well. Then James provoked a tactical phase which ended up badly for him, but at a crucial moment - and with Paul in, yes, you guessed it - terminal time trouble, he missed a very strong move which would have put the Black king in possibly terminal danger. As his time ran out, the Black king eventually ran up the board to safety, and another undeserved loss was chalked up against us.
On the balance of play, we could/should have won 3-2, but instead we were on the end of a 4-1 hammering. Chess is a cruel and fickle mistress.
And thus endeth our only hope of Leamington League silverware this season, and our excellent recent record in the KO Cup (3 wins in 4 seasons) has taken a big hit. Thankfully, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce have just been parachuted into new jobs this week to try and save two other clubs in despair, or else one of them would doubtless have already occupied the A team manager's chair. So it's back to the League for the hapless Page and his unhappy band. Next week's match against Leamington looks like a six-pointer, which is quite something when there's only two points for a win!