Tonight was finals night for the Leamington & District Chess League. The U700 final was between Daventry and Banbury.
We won the toss and, since the match is played over five boards, I elected to have us play the white pieces on odd boards, giving us 3 boards as white and two as black.
Banbury turned out with a strong team including three of my teammates from the Bulldogs 4NCL team!
Unfortunately, Andy Foulds was unavailable to play and had he been available, I would have made a tactical switch to give him the White pieces. The way our team panned out, without Andy, it was a tactical decision to give Alan Eley and Kevin Bowman the white pieces (plus myself). Personally, I seem to get pretty even results with both white and black, which perhaps says something about my own game and would have been happy to play as either white or black.
My gambit almost paid off. However, we got away to a disastrous start when Rob Stevens and Andy Johnson both lost with the black pieces in a reasonably short time. This left the rest of the team needing to win their games to give us a chance.
Alan Eley won a convincing game on board 5 and Kevin managed to convert a tricky position into a win.
This left yours truly needing to win in a level position against Bulldogs teammate, Neil Staples. Neil had managed to manufacture a position where he was applying pressure to my "b" pawn, forcing me to defend with my two rooks on my own second rank. Not an ideal position to be trying to win a game from. Despite several (justified I might add!) draw offers from Neil (I would have accepted under normal circumstances due to my inactive position), I fought on, trying to take what I considered acceptable risks in order to try and unbalance the position. It ALMOST paid off! Neil played an excellent end game and looked like he might go on to win the game as I seemed to have over extended in my attempt to win - it was all or nothing. However, I managed to find some accurate moves towards the end and despite being two pawns down at one stage, the draw that Neil so wanted presented itself and my hand was forced.
So, although we actually drew the match 2.5 - 2.5, because this was a cup final, results are removed from the card starting with the lowest board. That meant that Alan's win on board 5 got discounted first, leaving the match at 2.5-1.5 on board count, in favour of Banbury.
The match was played in excellent spirits - there's a nice friendly rivalry between the two clubs. On a personal note, my game felt more like a loss at the end because I knew that drawing the game meant the rest of the team suffered.
Like the excellent teammates they are, everyone stayed behind and offered words of support afterwards. We did remarkably well to get to the final in the first place and the whole team can be proud of themselves not only for the cup run but for our excellent performance in the league.
Our final match of the season is in a weeks' time at home to Solihull where we hope to confirm our status as division 2 champions!
Here is tonights' scorecard:
| ||Daventry|| ||Banbury|
||Lawson, Timothy (155)
||Staples, Neil (163)
||Stevens, Robert (125)
||Christopher J Evans (142)
||Bowman, Kevin (129)
||Martin, Nick (145)
||Johnson, Andy (128)
||Waddell, Mal (139)
||Eley, Alan (120)
||Rowan, Daniel (118)
As you can see, we were outgraded on every board so we did ourselves justice in the match as a whole!
Here is my game - one of the more interesting ones of the season - Neil as always played some excellent chess!