Three in a row - A fantastic club performance!
When we started the season with three fairly dull draws nobody could have expected the D team to buck up and challenge for a top placing. But actually we had one key advantage over the other sides, several seasoned campaigners and one up-and-coming teenager who all turned out pretty regularly. And if they weren't all available there were always a couple of even more seasoned reserves in the E team who could be relied on to fill in!
And so, as we strung a few wins together, we managed to reach the heady heights of a closely contested top four by the turn of the year. After some more solid performances the unthinkable emerged - could we actually win Division Three and match the performances of the senior teams in the club?
So here we were at home to Clifton C, a team we had drawn with in the very first match of the season, now needing a win to secure top place ahead of our close rivals from Clevedon. A draw would almost certainly mean missing out on the title on Game Points.
It was a bit disappointing that they didn't repeat a couple of their recent away matches and turn up one short but perhaps they were paying due respect. More likely they just wanted to stop the juggernaut. Oli had other ideas, though, and soon built a very promising position against Anthony and it was no surprise when he waved goodbye with a thumbs up as he moved into the other room.
I couldn't see much in it on boards one, five and six and, although I had a comfortable game against Alan, I thought the converse applied to Neil's game with Mark. And so it transpired that the bottom two, Dave's and Nigel's games, both knight and pawn endings, were duly halved, not without a few scary moments though. In the meantime James had given up R + P for B + N against Tim and was pressing fiercely while I found a knight sacrifice which set Alan a few problems. Then James won an exchange back and Tim, now finding himself a piece down for a pawn with no real compensation, resigned. Nicely played by James and a crucial win.
The dust had settled in my game and, a piece up with much better placed rooks, I was well poised to gain the point but with only 7 minutes against 20+, and with a 3-2 score sheet being waved in my direction, I had to decide whether to carry on or offer a draw. We've all been there, cursing under our breath a team mate who didn't take a draw in a plus position to clinch a match. Well, this was to clinch the Championship so it was pretty much a no-brainer and unsurprisingly Alan accepted the draw offer at once.
So we won 3½-2½ in the end and there was no possibility of great celebrations yet because the B team were still playing. But I think we shall probably find a few opportunities to celebrate a most remarkable season, winning Divisions One, Two and Three. We must enjoy it while we can because this kind of achievement only comes round once in a blue moon. The only question remaining is, can we pull off an amazing quadruple by winning the League KO in a couple of weeks' time?
Incidentally, we shouldn't forget the B, E and F teams who all surprised opponents with their play throughout the season and achieved very respectable placings. They also provided excellent reserves on the relatively few occasions that senior teams needed them. A fantastic club performance all round!