Happy Xmas… for Black and for White (if you want it)
This turned out to be a lyrical performance against fellow relegation contenders Cabot A. Both teams were missing their top performers in this so far not-so-joyful Season. Cabot had more absent stars than us, with their last-minute plea to postpone the match not entertained because the LMC have been drumming on at all clubs to play their matches despite missing some key board players. A quick check of their score sheet showed the same player on top board and board 4: being sharp I asked for a rearrangement.
We had hardly started playing, just warming up, before James' opponent was piping on - quite dramatically - that he had left a piece en prise (what have I done?) and resigned after 7 moves. An excellent introduction and I imagined the Lords leaping around and dancing with the ladies - although I may just have made that up and be milking the situation.
Richard P was next to finish. Some of his recent games have seen him going under after some possibly swanning around moves resulting in dropping queens. However, a much more purposeful effort saw him orchestrate a crushing attack on John's loose as a goose king, reversing his fortunes by pinning his opponent's queen and laying the foundation for a gold, ringing in 2-0.
I thought that I had a small plus in my game against David, although not being able to castle certainly didn't help my prospects. After failing to find an opening on the kingside, I had a calling to thrust a rook (in the absence of hens and doves) at his queenside pawns to provoke a weakness, although the computer's analysis tree shows that this could well have gone pear-shared had he pressed on the other wing. Luckily, he overlooked a check that allowed me to liquidate to a winning pawn ending and subsequent checkmate. So, half way there at 3-0 - potentially the cue for a key change in the match.
Richard L was playing against Diego, an unknown force, although looking at the game it was clear that he was well-versed in the art of chess. Diego appeared to press too hard for an attack, giving up the exchange and a pawn, whilst apparently missing Richard's defensive resources. Diego's king was soon under the spotlight and although Richard would have been happy to find a quick mate, his material advantage soon told.
Going in to overtime, Robert's opponent had found a lovely tactic - giving up a knight for an attack - but then failed to follow up a long winning sequence entirely correctly, handing over the benefit of a piece for two pawns. After an exchange of pieces, Robert wove a delightful mating net with a rook, pawns and knight to conclude the game. Dominique's game was less tactical and revolved more on careful positional play to prevent the other player's rooks becoming active. With Neil's position looking quite difficult to hold, he succumbed to the dreaded clock. Later analysis finds a resource which certainly would have been difficult to find over the board and impossible in the seconds available.
Not very often that we achieve a 6-0 result, and whilst we may have been slightly fortuitous, this was the statistic that we needed to lift ourselves just outside of the relegation zone. However, a full-strength Cabot side would surely have tested us and we must go to the Rope Walk for what I am sure will be a crucial match. We may have won today's battle, let's hope that the war is over, and we have a happy New Year without any fears of relegation. A very merry Xmas to you all!