Thanks to Nick Wilson for this report, and Mike Richardt for forwarding it to me. The title to this post links to the Taunton Club website.
Last night was the much-delayed Taunton v Frome match in Div1. This was a home match for Frome, played, as usual, at Glastonbury. Thank you Glastonbury for allowing us to play at your venue for this match.
For those unaware, Taunton and Frome are currently joint leaders of Div1, with only the Taunton v Frome home and away ties being the sole matches remaining - the whole Div1 championship now boils down to the result of these matches. Exciting stuff!
For the first time in ages, we managed to put out a full team, and I was in the envious position of having to turn players away who would have been strong performers - e.g. Jorge, Martin, Alex. So the team was MikeRed, Mark, MikeRich, Dave, Nick and Stan. Special thanks to Mike Redman for travelling from work in Exmouth to make this game.
Being held on third party territory, each team had to bring three boards and clocks - a fact I only remembered on the day of the match... d'oh! A few frantic texts sorted it with MikeRich, Dave and myself bringing our own clocks, pieces, boards and tablecloths...
However on arriving at Glastonbury we found all the tables all nicely set out with boards. Looks like we won't need ours after all. I turned to tell Mike'n'Dave, but when I turned back, all the boards had been whipped away.. I tried turning away and back again, but to no avail - the boards were still gone. So we used ours.
I've had a poor season this year, so in this important match it only seemed fair to let Dave play above me, promoting him to board 4, with me on 5. Ok, so Frome are the home team... they'd have black on evens... so I'm on board 5.. I've got white - excellent!
On to the games, which finished in this order -
Board 4. Greg Sweetland 0 v Dave Littlejohns 1
This game was played at breakneck speed, with both players bashing out moves with seemingly little thought. They met the 35 move time control whilst other players were still in the opening. The game itself was pretty simple. Dave gradually simplified everything whilst gaining small advantages - first better pawn structures and then a pawn win. They were quickly in the endgame where Dave queened a pawn and wrapped things up.
(by now it was getting dark outside and the lights above board 1 weren't working, so board one was moved to the vacated, and brighter, board 4 spot)
Board 5 Nick Wilson 1 v G Berryman 0
My opponent got into a tangle in the opening with way too many knight moves - e.g. by move 12, four of his moves has involved moving a knight from b8 to g8! Needless to say, this allowed me time to develop and then pick off a pawn. By move 20, black's king was still un-castled, a knight sac on e6 opened things up. Black resigned 2 moves later.
(it was even darker now, so board two (which also suffered from having no lights above it) was moved to the now-vacated board five)
The next game to finish was a very close and double-edged tussle...
Pool Table (next door) Nick Wilson 0 v Dave Littlejohns 1
Dave broke off, but I got in amongst the balls and raced ahead. However, after a few rusty missed pots, Dave fought back and suddenly the game was all on the black. Dave should have won right there, having an easyish pot, but he missed, leaving me a complete sitter. To make things fun (and get our moneys worth from the 50p, we decided to have a opponent-nominated pocket for the black. This involved lots of crazy doubles and triples in attempts to pot into hopelessly inaccessible pockets. After a while we got bored and wanted to see how the match was coming on, so Dave let me try a simple cross table double. Easy! Yes, the black sailed in - only to be followed by the white! Arrgh! Dave wins.
We wandered back in to the playing area - apparently some idiots had been playing pool and making a lot of noise, distracting the players... oops.. Just as I was starting to feel slightly guilty about it I heard "Oh you f**king c**t!" shouted from the bar next door.. This was loudly repeated a few times with subtle variations, but all involving the same two key words. I think someone was having trouble with the in-pub skybox. It can be frustrating, but just turn it on and off - usually works... However, on the bright-side, all the pool noise was now forgotten!
Next game to finish was -
Board 1 Mike Redman 1 v C Purry 0
After a boring Petrov, both sides castled long. Mike forced black to damage his q-side pawns with a pin on the c6 knight. Form that moment on, black was on the back-foot, forever having to defend something looking increasingly indefensible. Mike sacced a pawn, and suddenly black was lost. A nice win.
So Taunton lead 3-0. from looking at the remaining games, both Mike and Mark had double-edged positions whereas Stan's was looking quite solid. I told Stan to consider a draw to secure the match.
Board 6 G Udell 1/2 v Stan Wojick 1/2
Stan had the better of this game no doubt, and in post match analysis, we found a way to a clear win in the late opening - things are so easy to spot then! But in the heat of battle, Stan made no mistakes and was a pawn up. But the position was marred by long pawn chains and white's light bishop was much better than black's dark one. So in recognition of this, and the match position, Stan offered a draw to secure the match victory!
Taunton win - but the remaining matches are important as should Frome win next week, the aggregate score is used as a tie-break. So a heavy win tonight would dramatically increase Taunton's chances.
Board 2 G Jepps 1/2 v Mark Hassal 1/2
Gerry likes to sac'n'attack and this was no exception. By early middle game, he'd sacced a pawn to gain development and black's king was tied in the centre. Mark tried to kick away a bishop but Gerry initiated a series of exchanges with left him Q + B v 2R + N. But his Q+B were active and Mark's king was drafty. However both players were down to the last seconds on the clock an a draw was agreed.
Board 3 Mike Richardt 1 v Mark Leonard 0
This was a tricky game. I like things simple - one player attacks in one place and the other defends. But this game had stuff going on all over the board. Way too complicated for me! Anyway, things began to simplify and a nice zwischenzug from Mike at a key time gave him the advantage into a Q v 2R ending. A neat combination gave Mike the game, forcing either mate or the winning of a rook.
Final score - Taunton win 5 -1! A great result. But we haven't won overall yet - we need to continue next week to cement the victory.
Man of the match goes to Mike Richardt - an inspirational player in so many ways! But congrats to everyone - this was a great victory and we each played a big part!
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