For our last Harrod Cup fixture of the summer, we were away at the Swallow Inn. Both teams were marooned in mid-table, so it was a fairly meaningless fixture. Despite trying to rope in some of our less-strong players, due to circumstances, I was forced to pick myself.
Having previously talked up John Manger, the Grinder picked this match to lose his first rapidplay game of the season. This was in his second game against Bob Collins. The first game had finished in some controversy, in that John had mated Bob, but then Bob had claimed a draw on time, as John had hit the clock. This wasn’t disputed at the time, but well-lubricated discussion in the bar afterwards amongst ourselves, and a brief reading of the LRCA Handbook FIDE information, indicate that the game ended at the point of the completion of the mating move, so the draw claim wasn’t valid. (Where are Sean or Cyril when you actually need them?) If the match mattered, then we might have made an issue of this, but as we were consigned to mid-table mediocrity win, lose or draw there is no point.
Ray (Comrade) Beach obviously felt the benefit of his trip to Russia and, with considerable aplomb, dispatched his opponent twice in short order. (It might, however, be that he was taking his frustrations over the non-appearance of his opponent on Tuesday for a re-arranged County Championships game.)
Colin found his opponent Mick Busby too strong, and failed to make any contribution to the scoreboard.
I won my first game, playing white, and found that my second game was the match decider. Playing Black I made an absolute pig’s ear of my Sicilian opening, and found myself with a centralised King and both bishops on their original squares and still blocked in by the b, d, e & g pawns quite a long way into the game. If it had been a standard play game I would probably have resigned, but in the first game my opponent had got himself into time trouble and then blundered, so I continued to hope. I improved my position by swapping off Queens and then a Bishop. Eventually I went a piece up, but at the expense of a passed pawn on the seventh rank. My extra piece was pinned to the King, and as the clocks ticked down, my opponent repeated the position twice and then we agreed a draw. Thus the match was drawn. As this was the final game (and my opponent had recorded the moves) the game opening & ending was subject to some analysis. I think I am unable to disagree with Paul Deacon’s comment that I ought to have been “creamed”.
Bob Collins (“119”/ 120) – John Manger (“122”/UG) ½ - ½, 1-0
Mick Busby (“122”/122) – Colin Ross (“102”/93) 1-0, 1-0
Gavin Hart (“120”/U/G) – Dave Ricketts (“98”/96) 0-1, ½ - ½
Michael Adams (“86”/86) – Ray Beach (“85”/85) 0-1, 0-1
Overall Result 4-4
Given that under the grading rules we were out graded by 40 points this was a good result.
In the bar, we got a text from Graham Booley indicating that the Wylie Cup side had been successful at Wigston, thereby retaining the trophy. (See report below.)
On a TripAdvisor front I thought that the Swallow Inn was a very good venue, but if they are selling cheap beer (Titanic @ £2 a pint) apparently you should avoid this!
There will be a Club night on Tuesday. Hopefully, there will be a reasonable turnout. We need to get practising, as the season is less than 4 weeks away.