The wind was howling around our ears last Tuesday as both the First and Third teams ventured into battle against Ashfield 3 and University 3 respectively.
I had volunteered to play for the Third team and after an uneventful trip we found ourselves waiting at the Portland Building outside room C30 along with the Long Eaton squad who were to face Uni 2. Unfortunately no sign of any University chess players. I hurriedly rang Charlie Grainger who asked the rather strange question “Are you waiting outside C30?”. When I answered in the fairly obvious affirmative we were ‘fetched’ and led to the bowels of the Trent Building. Along the way I was able to congratulate Charlie on his excellent win against our own John Harrison a week or two before.
We then proceeded to get thrashed 4-0. I went a pawn up against the ungraded Tom Dabner and was feeling good about my position until allowing a fiendish one-move killer tactic (apparently rather spookily titled a ‘night fork’), losing my Queen in the process. Alex and Harry also lost. John Dell held out the longest against the improving Steve Luland (who went on to success in the County Championship) but wasn’t able to withstand a nasty king-side attack.
I got back to the Billy in time to see the end of the First Team’s match against Ashfield. We had already wrapped up the points and there was just Andy Sutton left trying to defend a King and Pawn endgame two Pawns down against Nigel Wright. It looked hopeless but Andy nearly pulled off the draw. With both squads watching and time running out, Nigel appeared to have run out of ideas and swapped the Rooks off. This led to a technical draw but with time pressure, a big audience and the tiredness that comes with having to get up early, work hard for a living and then concentrate for hours in the evening, he was unable to find the correct moves and Nigel held his nerve for the win.
The County Championship at the weekend saw an excellent Central turnout with mixed results. Steve Foster, Mark Radford, Graham Gibson, Andrew Sutton, Myself and Alex Meade all played with Simon Parham dropping in for support. Andrew got close to some prize money in the Minor but failed to take advantage of a winning position against Steve Luland in the final round (who came equal first). Myself and Alex (who beat Bob Abrahart in the final round) managed one win each. I checkmated Ronnie Watson with about 10 seconds left on my clock. I think he fell into the trap of moving too quickly in my time trouble, the move that allowed my checkmate was played almost instantly even with around 10 minutes left on his clock.
Sunday evening was spent in the Lincolnshire Poacher in the excellent company of a smattering of Gambiteers and the Uni lads (who had done really well, Owen Hunt having won the Intermediate although Sean Grenham was still smarting from having missed a really nice checkmate against Drag). Later on, me, Mike Naylor and Drag continued to put the world to rights, the conversation ranging effortlessly from adjournments to racial stereotypes to bowel movements.
Monday saw Central 2 take on the mighty West Bridgford 3 who already seem assured of promotion back to division 3. We put up a good fight and ended up losing 3-2. Alex got an excellent draw on Board 5 against the experienced Allan Brown (who had crushed me a couple of weeks earlier). In fact she was very disappointed she hadn’t won. Pat and Simon lost to Mike Hunter and David Gold but I managed to beat Chris Budd in a very interesting game where I had a strong kingside attack brewing. I almost threw it away by neglecting to stop any queenside counterplay but an error under board and time pressure by Chris allowed me a mate in three.
All in all an enjoyable chess week.