Match Report – U160 QF v Nottinghamshire

County Chess Championship U160

Match Report Carl Tillotson

Knock out stages for the County Championship, and for the U160 team a tricky away fixture against Nottinghamshire.  Venue for the match was the nice East Midland Bridge club in Spondon.  A regular visiting place for the Lancashire teams, and others I might add.

The problem with the KO stages is that people sometimes forget how big the county of Lancashire is!  Therefore, the players from Lancaster were up bright an early on a glorious Sunday morning for the long trek down south. 

Joining up with the Lancaster players at Preston, we all travelled down to the meeting place at Haydock and pile into the mini-bus that had driven over from Heywood!  Yes, the team had probably averaged 40 miles travelling just to get to the meeting place!

The drive down was for once, without incident, and we arrived at Spondon just after 12:30pm in time for the 1pm kick-off.  The Nottingham players were probably just setting off to the venue as we were arriving – the joys of “home advantage”.    As we arrived, the Lancashire Cricket team had just beaten Nottinghamshire by an innings at Trent Bridge – would this be a good omen? 

So battle commenced!  It was, as these affairs usually are, a close run match and games ebbing both ways during the course of the afternoon.  The match result not decided until the last few minutes of the last board. 

Who would want it any other way!

Lancashire got off to a great start, with the first point on the board coming from Steven Potter.  Closely followed up by a win from David Aspinall.  Lancashire 2-0.  Next result up was the Board 1 matchup, a draw from Dennis Owen, followed shortly after with Notts first win as Colin Fisher was outplayed by a up and coming junior player.   Match score 2.5 – 1.5.

The next set of results seem to be going Lancashire’s way.  Draws from Andrew (or is it Neil) Fawcett, Phil Seery and John Addison coupled with wins from Dave Almond and Richard Gavin meant that after 9 results, Lancashire were in the lead 6-3.

Seven games still in the balance,  Nottinghamshire brought in two wins to make the match score 6-5.  The match was evenly balanced, and it looked like Nottinghamshire had the edge in the majority of the remaining matches. 

My match was a dead draw from move 40.  However, the match situation has it was, I had to attempt to keep the game alive whilst not allowing a 3 repeat.   As you can see, my position after the time control.  As White whilst I have a slight edge, my opponent was defending very accurately.   Five games still in play, my game as you can see should be a draw.  Phil Taylor’s game was also a dead draw.  Both of us were still playing on, because the other 3 games were losing (or worse) for Lancashire.

As with all these matches, one team needs a little bit of “lady luck”.  Although in chess, you do make your own luck.   Rob Tokeley was in his usual time trouble, and hanging on in his game, with some excellent defensive technique.  Sometimes the attacker overpresses and misses a move.  

Rob with 1 minute left to reach time control, and still with 3 moves to make managed to reach this position with his move,  his opponent missing the tactical resource that Rob had.  Black to move, and Rob threw out the move Rxe5.   With one move, a game that was clearly worse for Lancashire now turned into an important victory when his opponent resigned a few moves later.   Lancashire 7-5, with four matches to play.

Phil then duely drew his game, and it took me a while to actually work out that a draw in my game would take us over the finishing line due to a better board count score for Lancashire.  Fortunately, for me, I had plenty of time stored up in the tank so was able to let my clock run down whilst the match unfolded knowing I had a draw whenever I needed it.  Draw offered and accepted, match score 8-7 to Lancashire. 

Last game playing was the Lancashire Captain, Bill O’Rourke.  Who somehow, turned a losing game being a piece for a pawn down to a nearly won game but with time running out, both players agreed a draw.  Match result 8.5 – 7.5 to Lancashire. 

The long journey home, with some happy players in the mini-bus.  The Lancaster players getting back home for around 9pm.  A long day out for a game of chess! 

Still, another day out to come on Saturday 9th June, as we play Essex in the Semi-Final!

Final scorecard can be found on the ECF webpage here