When Five Ways drew with KES!
In 2004/2005 I played on board 5 for King Edward VI Five Ways (KEFW, my school) 1st Team. I was one of the younger members of it, along with the board 6, but three of the team were in their final year at the school. We were in Division I of the Birmingham & District Junior Chess League, along with King Edward's School (KES), King Edward VI Camp Hill (KECH) and Handsworth Grammar (they don't have a shortened form)! We were better than Handsworth, but KES and KECH had superior teams to us in terms of strength and depth. The KES side featured Ameet Ghasi, who was on their board 1, and had a grade of about 220 at the time. By comparison, our board 1 had a grade of less than 100! We had beaten Handsworth twice, but lost to KECH and KES 6-0 and 5-1 already as we went to KES for our fifth match of six in the season. To put the gulf into perspective, the previous season, we struggled to beat KES's 2nd team 4-2. KECH's 2nd team were of a similar standard to KES.
My school had chess difficulties at the time, it's Master for over 30 years had retired the previous year, and we only just entered the League in time. To get to KES, four of us went on one of the School Buses, which coincidentally went straight past KES, and the other two went in the back of our temporary Master's car. I was on the bus, and we arrived first at KES. Upon arrival, we were ushered into a dentist-like waiting room, for those that don't know the grammar school system in Birmingham, KES is the fee paying school that is the base of the Foundation. We were greeted by our team-mates ten minutes later, and we then went to play our match. Fortunately, their boards 5 and 6 were absent, and so people from their 2nd team had to fill in for them, which gave us hope of winning a board!
Anyway, I enclose two of the games from that were played in the match. The first of them is my game, which is of a fairly poor standard! I was completely won, but messed it up, and should have lost. However, I won in the end. It showed my lack of "killer instinct." I was just making moves thinking that eventually I'd stumble to victory. Until I read this game, I didn't think I'd improved much since then, but now I know where I was going wrong. I can also see some moves that I wouldn't play nowadays, due to their dangerous nature.
So, I won, and the board 6 won. Our top three boards predictably lost to far stronger opposition. With the score at 3-2 to KES, it meant we needed a win on board 4, which was naturally in progress. The time limit for the game was one hour each on the clock, and every second of it was vital!
It featured Alex Smith, who was renowned for losing games he ought to win. Once against Solihull in Division II, we trailed 3-2, and looked like drawing 3-3 against them, which was good considering they were Division I at the time. However, he made an elementary mistake in the endgame, and we lost 4-2.
So, Alex didn't have a good track record in final board deciders!
Alex's opponent was very strong, considered to be graded around the 100 mark, and as I say, our board 1 wasn't that good. So 4-2 KES was still very likely.
The game was of an average standard, but it swang to and fro all evening. With players from all sides gathered around at the end, it was nervy of all of the spectators.
But, we drew 3-3! It was a tremendous match, one that has endured to this day. It was a last hurrah, in many respects, for all the players that we had that day would leave the school just a few months later. We felt we had a chance against KECH in our last match - but we lost 6-0! Normal order was restored! However, we still came third out of four in the division, and since KES drew with KECH, it meant that KECH won the division due to us drawing with KES.
We've never drawn with KES or KECH since, although we are getting closer to their standard. Within the next few years, we should have the beating of them!