|Posted on April 5, 2017 at 7:15 PM|
On Tuesday 4th April 2017 the Brewood A team played at home against Lichfield C in the final match for both clubs in the Wolverhampton Chess League 2016-2017 Division 2 season. Coming into the match it was a winner-takes-all final shootout match of the season. At the end of the match one of the two teams would get relegated, the other one would stay up.
There had been earlier on in the season the possibility of a playoff involving two of any three teams from Brewood, Lichfield or Rugeley until last week's defeat for us at Rugeley meant that Rugeley would stay up and that there would be no need for a playoff. It would all be decided in this final league match. Brewood needed to win to stay up, Lichfield needed a draw.
The story of the match is as simple as the headline says. Brewood won and are staying up. The match report follows but first here is the match card:
Board 1: Derek Laight (155) 1-0 Brian Homewood (137)
Board 2: Mark Keady (142) 1-0 Gary Monks (132)
Board 3: Paul Wright (143) 1-0 Bernard L Baptiste (130)
Board 4: Mike Jarocki (132) ½ - ½ David W Fone (130)
Board 5: Roger Grainger (129) ½ - ½ Peter Willett (123)
Board 6: Andrew Lenz (123) 0-1 Yuriy Slobodyuk (116)
Total: Brewood A 4-2 Lichfield C
Phew!! Everyone at Brewood Chess Circle and perhaps even the whole village of Brewood can breathe easy again as we managed to get the win we needed to stay up and confine the Lichfield C team back into the third division of the Wolverhampton Chess League for the 2017-2018 chess league season after one season in division two.
Lichfield are a nice club and we wish their team well for next season however for the Brewood A team the relief at the end to everyone at the whole club was obvious, as we got the right result from our point of view. There was high tension throughout the whole evening and it took until the final few minutes for the game and the whole season to be decided.
There are not any detailed technical chess board match reports from boards 3, 4, 5 or 6 and these board match reports will be edited into the overall match report should they become available. The webmaster was playing some social chess on the other side of the room. Occasionally I would hear some reaction and wonder across to look at what was happening.
Andrew Lenz was the first to finish his game. He lost very early on in the game and then Mike Jarocki and Roger Grainger got draws meaning at approaching 9:00pm we were 2-1 down with 3 boards left in the season and us needing to win 2½ more points.
Paul Wright then won to bring it back to 2-2. Paul has had an excellent season and managed to complete 8 games for the A team unbeaten with 4 wins and 4 draws. The Wolverhampton Chess League has a top 40 players list on the league website and Paul is currently in 3rd place in this list.
As the time approached 9:30pm and then 9:45pm it was still 2-2. Derek Laight and Mark Keady needed to get 1½ points between them to ensure our safety. One blunder from either of them and the season would be over. Near the end of the evening the whole room including myself was watching them so here are some board match reports from these boards.
Board 1: Derek Laight (155) 1-0 Brian Homewood (137.) I joined watching this match just before the most important moment. As black Derek had set up his queen on a long diagonal in line with Brian's own king but it was not check as Derek had two of his own pawns on the same line. Derek pushed forward one of these pawns allowing Brian to take it with his bishop, which he did.
Had Derek lost a pawn for no reason? No!! Derek pushed forward his other pawn on the same line to attack Brian's bishop. However Brian could not move the bishop because it was a discovered check. Brian moved his king but he lost his bishop. Derek forced an exchange of rooks via a pin and then used his bishop to gobble up Brian's queenside pawns.
With both players having their queens on the board there might have been some sort of perpetual check possible but Derek ensured with his own king tucked safely behind his own pawns and also his own queen covering key defensive squares that there was not. Finally Derek pushed forward his own queenside by now passed pawn to a3.
Brian could not do anything and resigned. The match was over. The website board match report makes it look easy and does not do justice to the tension that there was in the room at the time.
Derek Laight has this to say about him winning the queen side pawns: "I was worried he would move the pawn to c4 because that looked quite nasty. However he moved it to c3." It was true to say that Derek could use his extra bishop to take Brian's queenside pawns and that made the win easier than it might otherwise had been.
"What was the overall result?" Derek asked. "We won 4-2" came the reply from myself. No one said it but if Derek had lost we would have been relegated. The sense of relief from everyone at the club was clearly visible as we were packing away the tables and chairs.
Board 2: Mark Keady (142) 1-0 Gary Monks (132.) At the same time as Derek's game Mark Keady was also playing. Both the boards were next to each other which helped me keep an eye on both of the games at the same time. Mark had both of his rooks and his queen lined up ready for an attack.
Mark moved his queen to the opponent's seventh rank. Check. Gary moved his rook to defend. Mark moved his queen to play a diagonal check and this time Gary was forced to again move his rook to block the check but it was now pinned and stayed there for the rest of the game. Mark had used one of his own rooks to attack Gary's pinned rook.
However Mark had his own king in the corner on h1 and whilst some sort of back rank mate looked impossible I was standing there trying to work out if it was indeed possible. Gary played his own queen to the back rank Qc1 and Mark could use his other rook to play Rg1 attacking Gary's queen whilst Mark also kept up the attack on Gary's pinned rook.
At this point Gary threw everything at Mark and decided to play his other rook which was not pinned to Rxh2+ taking Mark's h pawn. Kxh2, Mark simply moved his king to take the rook and this ended up deciding the match because in the end there was no checkmate there at all. Eventually Mark won on time but Mark was winning on the board anyway.
Board 3: Paul Wright (143) 1-0 Bernard L Baptiste (130.) A detailed board match report for this board is unavailable.
Board 4: Mike Jarocki (132) ½ - ½ David W Fone (130.) A detailed board match report for this board is unavailable.
Board 5: Roger Grainger (129) ½ - ½ Peter Willett (123.) A detailed board match report for this board is unavailable.
Board 6: Andrew Lenz (123) 0-1 Yuriy Slobodyuk (116.) A detailed board match report for this board is unavailable.
Roger Grainger reaction by email: "Phew... we are staying up!" It just about summed everything up.
So that is the end of the season for the Brewood A team. We finished in 9th place winning 2 matches out of 9, drawing 1 and losing 6 and finishing 1 place above the relegation zone. In 4 of the 6 matches the team lost this season it was by the narrowest of margins of 2½-3½ whilst the other 2 defeats were by the score line of 2-4.
Whilst we might have left it late I always felt we had enough about us all throughout the season to eventually find our way to safety and in the end that proved to be correct. The one last time in the season where we needed a result we managed to get it. There was no doubt in my mind before the match started that we would stay up. Thankfully we got the result we needed to do so.