“Do you have a game tonight?” asks Long Suffering Wife. I think I detect a note of optimism in the tone of her question. I suspect an evening of unrestricted access to the TV remote will more than compensate for my absence. In my diary it says “Castlehill C away Dundee”. I hand her the remote.
This is not an insignificant journey. Our chess team consists of the captain who plays a reasonable game, a player who is even more hopeless than me, an irritating young boy, aged twelve, who in eighteen months or so will be a far better chess player than any of us – but at the moment is too much of a flibbertigibbet to get the results he should – and me, the designated driver. Picking up the team from scattered parts of the county is followed by a forty-mile drive to Dundee.
Our matches are over four boards with thirty-six moves in an hour and a quarter followed by a fifteen minute “allegro” to finish the game. A game could therefore last up to three hours. I am out graded by about one hundred points but play carefully and after two and a half hours I am at least equal.
This was the position where I threw my evening’s work into the dustbin. It is my move, as black, and instead of worrying about his knight coming to d6 via f5, I am eyeing up the white “a” pawn. If I fix it by moving a6 then I can win it with the knight from c4. That is what I did and that was the losing move. All I have to do is play Nc4 immediately and his knight cannot do any real damage. I might even have won. As it is my knight got trapped and I lost a pawn to extricate it and was remorselessly ground down.
The team lost one and half points to two and a half. The captain is very grumpy during the long drive home, pointing out at length how obvious the immediate Nc4 move was. But for my shortcomings the result would have been reversed, seems to be the majority view of a disgruntled team. Chess is a very cruel game. One tiny mistake, that’s all it takes. When I reach home at midnight Long Suffering Wife has retired, but tells me later that she could tell I had lost from the way I opened the door.