Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Out of our hands

Our final match of the league season was arranged a week early, thanks to a sporting gesture from our opponents Priorslee Lions A as we would have been without three of the team for next week's original date.

In the event, the match was a close one, but having been pipped 3-2, we now face an agonising wait to see if Telford manage to scrape any points against Shrewbsury A in their final match on 4 April.

The match started with the home team a player short. Steve Tarr was missing on board four, although one of our team had seen him at the weekend and we were all fairly certain he was going to show up. Around 55 minutes later it was looking increasingly unlikely, but he then walked through the door, held up by a late taxi pick-up. I was pleased that there was no default given the row about the  incident in an earlier match.

Trevor managed to get our first points when his opponent seemed to go into self destruct and trap his own queen. This was soon followed by a home win however as Michael overlooked some tactics on board four and ended up a whole piece down with no compensation.

I was the next to fall, transposing into an ending that I thought I could hold even if my isolated pawn was gobbled up, but I was wrong and despite having a bit of fun with a rook pair, it was to no avail.

Two games left and we needed a win and a draw to level the match. Francis continued his excellent run for the A team and gave his opponent no opportunities at all before winning an exchange and then going on to prepare a mating trap. (In this league season, Francis has chalked up 90 per cent with 4.5/5 in the A team, as well as 86%, 9.5/11 in the B team!)

The match was now two-all. Graham on board three was ahead on time but lost a critical pawn which in the end was enough for his opponent to convert.

The result leaves us still sitting just one point above the drop zone in division one, but Telford A only need a draw in their final match as they have a lead in game points. Just have to sit and wait now.

Priorslee Lions A 3-2 Condover & Church Stretton A
W Bates 0, T Brotherton 1;
G Pugh 1, S Rooney 0; J
O'Neil 1, G Shepherd 0;
S Tarr 1, M Bukojemsi 0;
G Viszokai 0, F Rooney 1.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Finally another win

After four losses on the trot, the A team finally secured some vital points with a win at Priorslee Lions B. Our opponents might be relegated already but that didn't stop them putting up a strong fight, despite us going one up straight away due to a default.

Graham sportingly agreed to take the defaulted board and expected to be popping home early, but the thrilling finish kept him there right to the last move.

Early on it looked fairly comfortable, Eric was in a strong position and Trevor seemed to emerge from the opening with an advantage. But suddenly it all started to go wrong. Eric's opponent managed to activate his rooks which were soon charging down the g-file and the tables turned. Eric eventually lost after having  refused a draw offer, partly in response to my pre-match warning that we needed to win this match and all boards were vital. We were now two-down.

My game on board two was now full of tactics as Gary White played his usual sharp stuff, including the obligatory g4-g5 pawn advance. Suddenly I noticed Trevor re-setting the board and was shocked to find that he had lost putting us behind. Michael was up on time and seemed slightly better although I only had time for a cursory glance.

My game moved into a critical phase and Graham managed to wave a scoresheet at me to tell me Michael had won, putting the scores level.  My clock showed about one minute to Gary's seven but somehow the moves were easy to find after I won some material and then sacrificed my queen for a knight to rid him of any mating chances. With two rooks, bishop and pawn on the sixth rank against his queen, and my king safely tucked in the corner guarded by one of the rooks and the bishop, I managed to force the pawn through and deliver mate with 14 seconds to spare.

Phew! A win means we might avoid relegation after all. If we'd lost that game it would have been curtains. But Telford can still catch us if they get at least two points from their remaining two games.

Priorslee Lions B 2-3 Condover & Church Stretton A
M Morrison 1, T Brotherton 0;
G White 0, S Rooney 1;
Default 0, G Shepherd 1;
M Carbin 0, M Bukojemski1;
S O'Dell 1, E Elwell 0.