Surrey put their last hope of survival in Division One on the line in a daring bid to snatch victory over Warwickshire after further rain on the third day of the LV= County Championship clash at Edgbaston.
Having halted their first innings at the overnight 400 for five, they effectively gave up the chance of three bowling points as Varun Chopra, unbeaten with 69, and Ian Westwood, with 42 not out, strolled to 120 without loss before the home side declared.
Surrey then risked everything by forfeiting their second innings, which left last year's champions a more than generous target of 281 in 117 overs.
Chris Tremlett, as Surrey needed him to do, quickly had Chopra leg-before for a duck and the odds were further evened up when Westwood edged Stuart Meaker's third delivery behind the wicket.
However Ateeq Javid and former Surrey player Laurie Evans, with 16 and 20 respectively, safely reached the close at 55 for two and the last day is interestingly set up with Warwickshire needing a further 226.
The difference between two sessions could not have been more obvious. For the batsmen it was suddenly game on as they faced a front-line attack after easy pickings against three bowlers with two first-class wickets between them.
Gary Wilson and Rory Burns were the unlikely new-ball bowlers as Chopra completed 1,000 championship runs for the third year in a row and later on Hashim Amla delivered five overs of unthreatening off-breaks.
In throwing down their challenge, with the necessary consequence of an unsatisfactory passage of play, Surrey may have considered that their season had come to the point of no return.
A draw here would now leave them 24 points behind Nottinghamshire, who would then need one point against Somerset to relegate Surrey, but victory would cut the gap to 11.
The chilling side of this equation is that defeat would definitely put Surrey down before the final fixture against Yorkshire at the Kia Oval.
The attraction for Warwickshire is that a win could put them in with a chance of fourth place prize money despite a wretched run of injuries costing them the services of three wicketkeepers in three weeks.
First-choice Tim Ambrose and understudy Pete McKay are out because of broken bones and now Jamie Atkinson, who came into this match after going behind the stumps as a substitute against Nottinghamshire, is also on the casualty list.
Hong Kong-born Atkinson, who played in five first-class matches when he was at Durham University, is suspected to have fractured a finger during Surrey's first innings on the second afternoon.