Tuesday (6th April) saw round 6 of the 3rd season for our two 4NCL Online League teams. Captain Dave Price was grateful the other players were in fine form as the B team cemented their status as leaders of division 6A against Plymouth 2. Junior Harry Gardiner seems to relish playing on bd 1 as he smashed his higher graded opponent to smitherines in no time at all, to put the league leaders in command. Kobus Nienaber, who has really taken the bit between the teeth throughout this Online regime, similarly cruised to victory on board 4, against a marginally higher graded player. Captain Dave was in command when he blundered a rook in the end game, probably thinking too far ahead and opened the door to a potential slippage at the table summit. With Lukasz Michalek being severely tested in a difficult end game where he was a pawn down to some skilful play it seemed we may not win the match. However Lukasz is made of fighting spirit and constantly kept nipping at the heels despite the pawn loss and what seemed terminal trouble, with a king cut-off by a Rook on the 7th. Lukasz’s defence was oustanding as his opponent tried every “which-way” to convert the pawn advantage as he somehow got his King into the corner to stop the advancing Rook’s pawn and was able to blockade with his own Rook when needed to prevent defeat. Eventually (after about 80-odd moves) the Plymouth player had to agree he could not force the win, and so the B team scraped home 2.5-1.5, when it should have been much easier. I suspect captain Dave will be swapping boards with young Lukasz for the vital round 7 game. The team are 1 point ahead of the 2nd and 3rd placed teams who play each other in the final round before the semi-finals. In order to win the group and guarantee a semi-final spot they need to defeat Deaf England 1, and may still win the group with a draw in round 7. This would be the first occasion our club has reached any 4NCL play-offs if we can make it.
At the opposite end of the spectrum our A team have struggled throughout this campain in division 3D. After 5 defeats, we clocked up our first point of the season with a 2-2 draw against Catford Cosmonauts 3. The match was drawn in all respects with each of the four games all ending in draws. Lukasz Holcman was first to share the spoils as it seemed he was in a rush on bd 2. Neville Layhe (the team’s star performer) appeared to have created enough chances to win but allowed his opponent to escape with a draw on bd 4, while Rick Renegade has one of his usual wild games with attack and counter-attack before somehow finishing level. Karl Lockett as always taking on the toughest role on top board kept a calm control throughout before ensuring safety of another draw. Well done to the AOL team in breaking their duck. Although guaranteed to finish in one of the two relegation slots for the 3rd season in a row, at least they have a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon if we can win our final game.