4NCL Poole – Weekend 2
With one win and one loss in the first weekend, our leader John delivered a rousing pep talk calling for us to push on from mid-table mediocrity.
Martin was unavailable and so Dragi Popovic, codename 007 (= seventh player), licenced to thrill, was drafted into the squad. The full line up: Mike, John, Chip, Richie, myself and Dragi.
This second 4NCL weekend of the season was held at the Holiday Inn in Maidenhead which made for a shorter drive which was very welcome.
Day1 – Saturday
Our first match would be against Watford A, a team boasting a suspiciously low average rating of 1792 (to our 1937) but also some youngsters I suspect are improving rapidly.
The match did not start well as Mike, on B1 with the White pieces, got involved in a very complex mess of a position which, with a cursory glance, seemed to be good for White (to me), but in fact was mating for Black. Bad luck Mike.
In better news, Richie was playing a nice game on B5 in which his opponent, playing the Scandinavian, was prevented from having much activity at all. A nice bank rank mating tactic sealed the point.
Further better news was that Chip was playing in a very open style: Rooks being developed via a3 and h3, trapping his opponents king in the centre, lovely piece activity with no concern about material equality. Another nice tactic finished that game.
Infortunately that was it for the good news.
Dragi was unlucky, unfortunately going slightly wrong in a rook and minor piece ending leading to a losing K+ps ending, which his junior school opponent concluded very efficiently (pesky kids).
John was also unlucky as Black in a game with many twists and turns, with one minor oversight leading causing Black’s downfall.
As for myself, I demonstrated how daft I can be by playing on as if on increment for 10 moves after the 40 moves time control. I had forgotten to draw that line under the 40th move on my scoresheet. I had a nice fortress position which needed just a couple of minutes care, which it didn’t get, and a half point was wasted.
So a 4-2 loss. But at least we could now concentrate on the serious business of booking a restaurant. All local Indians were fully booked so Italian it was. The evening passed by very nicely, the only event of note being the discussion as to whether Dragi should have the Tomahawk Steak (2.1 lbs I think). The basic Sirloin was chosen in the end, just for the record.
Back the the hotel and it was decided to use my room as a drinking den to avoid any beer having to be taken back to Bournemouth the next day. At this point, I revealed my master stroke. ‘The Poole Team is on a journey’, I said, ‘and therefore I have brought a bottle of Jura Journey Single Malt for us to share tonight’. I further explained that I like to be prepared, like the Scouts, three-finger salute and all that. This went down well, although I am sure that Dragi was at least two fingers short when he saluted.
(I can’t get the picture to be portrait, perhaps that is appropriate)
Day 2 – Sunday
John, Chip and myself found ourselves eating a hearty breakfast before 09.00 the next morning. Can you believe that? A further short snooze before the 11.00 kick off and all was well in camp Poole.
The Barnet Knights C Team were our Sunday opposition, a friendly bunch and on paper probably a banker for us, but these youngsters (three of their team) just don’t know when they are beaten, as Mike was to find out.
The engine room of the team set the tone.
Richie on B4 played another excellent game (watch out when Richie has the white pieces!) sacrificing to drive his opponent’s king into the centre where it was mated mid board. [In passing, John suggested that we annotate one ‘game of the weekend’, if there is a decent one. We will do that]
Chip again played a nice one of his London System specials, trapping a rook midboard to win the exchange and then squeezing life out of the position with his R+N vs 2N. Chip on to 3.5/4 so far this season! Great stuff.
Mike rolled out his faithful Benko Gambit which was to much for his ‘just senior school’ opponent. A nice lad, but I dont believe that ‘never resign’ should mean asking Mike to convert K+4p vs K. No criticism intended. Just saying.
John was about equal on B1, as I was on B5 (playing a Classical Dutch for the first time in a while) when the match result was effectively decided when both of our opponents offered draws. Two halved games.
Unfortunately for Dragi, another minor calculation error led to an ending of severe grovelling which could not be held. Again, good technique shown by the youngsters whose grades are surely to increase rapidly.
So a 4-2 win, and mid-table mediocrity will have to be endured for another month.
Once again, we were indebted to John for his great organisational skills and endless enthusiasm. A lovely weekend of beer, whisky and laughs, and some chess in between!
February 14, 2022