Thanks to Nick Wilson for writing this report, and Mike Richardt for forwarding it to me. You can reach the Taunton Chess Club website by clicking on the title to this post.
Last night was the re-arranged Div 1 match v Sedgemoor.
Prior to this we had potentially 3 remaining games left in Div1 - this one and 2 v Frome. We are one win behind Frome in the table, so winning this will bring us level with them at the top of the table. Mathematically the result isn't vital as we could still be Div1 champs if be beat Frome twice, but by winning tonight, it'd mean we'd only need a win and draw v Frome to be overall champs, or two draws to be joint champs (no idea how/if a tie-break works). So a win isn't vital, but it helps.
As usual I was angling for our best team, but I knew MikeRed was about 458% likely not to play due to being miles away north or south. Mark was also doubtful due to his dual work/life commitments in Cornwall/Somerset. And then a few days before the match Martin pointed out he had previously re-arranged a Div2 game on the same night (i.e. the same night I told Sedgemoor was free for our re-arranged Div1 match)...
What..?? I had checked my dusty, tattered and torn schedule printout, and there was no Div2 match then.. Apparently I'd been told and emailed about it by at least two people... and they expected me to know, register and remember this!? Pah! Anyway, on realising I was in the wrong here I did the right thing and forced Martin to re-arrange his match again(!), which he did. (although to next Monday which I tried to get him to re-arrange yet again as it clashed with a date I wanted as an option for one of our Frome matches... - and he REFUSED to do this... some people are so unreasonable...)
Anyway, Martin and Stan filled in for Mike and Mark. The team was to be this - MikeRich, Nick, Dave, Jorge, Stan, Martin. But Mike had told me he couldn't finish work until 7.30 and he'd be a bit late. Hmm, no problem I thought.. I'll turn up around 7.30, chew the fat a bit, and the start will be delayed unnoticeably and Mike will be fine..
Shortly before I turned up, Martin helpfully texted me to say the school might be shut due to Easter holidays and maybe I should turn up early to help find the caretaker... Hmm, maybe I should have read the text before 7.25...
On turning up, the room was open (I think Stan and Alex helped find the caretaker - thank you). And Mike was already there...but Jorge wasn't. I waited a bit for him, but it was nearly 7.45 so I scribbled Jerry on the matchsheet. We all sat down to play, and then Jorge walked in.. d'oh..! Sorry Jorge...
There have in the past been whispers accusing me of fiddling with the board order so that I end up with White. Well, tonight there'd be none of that. I'm doing everything by the book. Straight grade order it is. So lets see.. I'm on 2 behind Mike, and were are the home team... white on evens... Hey, I have white! How about that!
The matches finished something like this -
Board 6 Jerry Kirby 1 v S Hill 0
Jerry won a piece in the early middle game but black had some compensation with advanced central pawns. Annoyingly, his opponent didn't crumple immediately on losing the piece but fought back a bit - very bad form if you ask me! But Jerry played active and won after a few minor worries.
Board 4 Stan Wojack 1 v Steve Green 0
Steve can be an awkward player to beat but Stan was on the attack from the start and by the middle game had a strong kingside attack. Once Stan had ensured black had no counterplay on the queenside, he sacced on the kingside to break through, forcing either mate or the winning of black's queen. A lovely win!
Board 1 Mike Richardt 1/2 v Ben Edgell 1/2
These two have a long boring history of short boring draws. Hmm.. wonder if tonight will be any different. After the opening it was looking boring. Oh dear, here we go again I thought. But then Mike started advancing his k-side pawns in-front of his king. Wow! An element of risk, the start of an opportunity to break the turgidity. Yes, at last! Mike got up from the board and I wandered over to tell him how his game could potentially be exciting and active.. But before I could open my mouth he said "I've just offered him a draw." Oh crap... and a draw it was, albeit after a bit of woodpushing later.
Board 2 Nick Wilson 1 v Neville Senior 0
I started this match coming off the worst losing/drawing streak (I.e. a streak with no wins in it) I've had in ages. And the last time I played Neville I got trashed from about move 4 onwards due to some really bad opening play by me, and good play by him. So I wasn't feeling at all confident. Must play slow, safe and steady. Maybe get a draw.. steady the ship, stop the rot, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, by about move 10 I found I'd sacced a pawn in the opening and was having to play active for compensation... when will I learn...
But Neville was perhaps a move or two too slow in castling and this allowed me to swap a rook for the bishop pair. And this proved enough for the win - Neville resigned once lines were eventually opened for my bishops and there were a few ways of winning an exchange which would have left me a bishop up in an otherwise equal ending.
Board 3 Dave Littlejohns 1 v Chris McKinley 0
Person X: "Draw?"
Person Y: "No."
a bit later...
Person X: "Draw?"
Person Y: "No."
Person X: "Draw?"
Person Y: "No."
(Now, if you were a betting person, you'd assume given Dave's drawish reputation, you'd put money on PersonX being Dave, right?)
But then PersonY strated to *grind* out a minor advantage in a Q+some-pawns v Q + some-ever-so-slightly-worse-pawns ending....
(Ahh.. you say. The 'G' word did it. There can only be one explanation - Dave is PersonY!)
Yes, Dave won after a ground-out ending and after refusing multiple draw offers. For Dave, refusing those draws, must be like a recovering alcoholic being tempted by a bottle of Vodka... and staying sober.
Board 5 Martin Worrall 1/2 v Ian Chacon 1/2
Martin is our in-form player, coming off a major winning streak and a projected grade probably now inflated well above my projected deflated grade! So surely a win was on the cards tonight too. I kept checking his game, waiting for the magic to start. But it did look very uneventful each time I saw. "No problem" I thought, our rising star knows what he's doing.. only a matter of time. But I was wrong and the game was drawn.
So final score was a 5 -1 crushing win for Taunton!
Man of the match is Stan for his lovely attacking win - well played!
1 month ago