One hero proved to be not enough last night, as the A team brought the first half of the season to a close with a narrow 2.5-1.5 loss to runaway leaders Olton A.
But what a hero, as Andrew P proved he is well and truly back from the doldrums with a tremendous win over Phil Holt on Board 1. To say the game was a complete mess would be an understatement. It was, in fact, the biggest mess since 101 dalmatians all jumped into the world's biggest mud pool. After an irregular opening (of course!) Phil instantly sacrificed a pawn with an e3 thrust, as after fxe3, Bh4+ followed and Ke2 was White's only legal move. The game was unfathomable to me- Andrew offered an exchange sac of his rook on h1, which was declined, as Phil's white square bishop on e4 looked by far the superior piece. Both sides looked to have a terrible position, but somewhere around the time control, the Black position went t*ts up (Strange how that phrase came to mind after watching the Tina Turner video) and White finished with a mating attack against the Black king on c8. A great win, but all in vain, as the match was already lost by then.
Ben had finished first, drawing what I have to say looked like a very dull Spanish against Richard Smith. This was the only game of the evening not won by White, which was unfortunate as we had the White pieces.
Mike then went down on Board 4 against Mark Cundy, losing his first game of the calendar year in the process - what a time to choose! He seemed to have equalised comfortably against White's Maroczy Bind, but at a crucial moment he chose an e5 pawn move instead of d5 and the position turned against him. White played very precisely at the end to snuff out Mike's drawing attempts.
I followed shortly after, losing - yet again - against Alan Lloyd. After the inevitable English Opening, I reached an equal position, but after a clever shift of his queen from d1-d2-f4-g4, Alan found a strong Ng5 move which prompted some needlessly imprecise calculation from me, and I blundered into a Nxf7 and Qh5+ combo that cost me a pawn and ruined my position. In terrible time trouble I then blundered an exchange, which Alan returned almost immediately to reach a completely won position. Thus bringing down the curtain (I hope) on what has been my worst run of results for many a long year. Goodbye 2017.
So at halfway, we find ourselves rather closer to the bottom of the table than we would like, and have massively under-performed (especially me!), even given the regular absences of many of our first team squad. Still, as football pundits have said since time immemorial, "We're too good to go down!"
And a Happy Christmas to all our readers.