First of all many many thanks to all of you who made the effort yesterday.
We lost 10-6. We were just a few too many players short to be successful, although it must be said everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong on the day! David Innes answered the call very late on Friday night after Richard Gavin withdrew with flu. Many thanks, David.
Played at the excellent East Midlands bridge centre, we kicked off the 4.5-hour match with Dave Aspinall playing an opening that looked strong, creative and had his opponent looking bewildered.
Unfortunately, Dave went wrong somewhere early on and suddenly he was lost! 0-1. Dave Innes looked to have a strong central pawn but again a mistake leads to dropping a piece and the game. Early doors and 0-2 did not augur well for the afternoon, especially across the boards only Steve Ward looked to be ahead, having decided to snaffle his opponent’s rook and allowing a dangerous looking initiative for his opponent.
The match then went quiet for one hour. Looking at the boards they all looked fairly even apart from Steve’s. A spate of draws now took place in even looking games. 0-2 became 2.5-4.5 in no time at all. Clearly, Essex had taken on board their 2 point advantage and realised they could wait for us to try to over-reach. My game was typical. My opponent played risk-free chess and what appeared an aggressive opening from me petered out after several pieces swap off to a dead draw.
With the onus being on trying to breach the gap, results started to go against us. John Whitfield and Rob Tokeley both had reverses from hopeful positions and suddenly the game was virtually out of our reach, 3-7. Steve Ward converted to offer some hope at 4-7 and John Addison’s win took us to 5-7 and with Phil Taylor looking good, some faint hope remained. But Steve Potter was having to resiliently defend on one with his time running down. A couple more dead draws took Essex to the line at 5-8. Suddenly Roger Chapman went down in a tricky queen and pawn ending and Essex had won. Phil Taylor won a good game to make it 6-9 but Steve Potter went down in the last few seconds to complete a 6-10 defeat.
This was a bad day at the office for the team. Essex deserved winners on the day and we relinquish our national title. However we’ve had these reverses before and we will be back next year – with hopefully the few strong players who could not make it this time.
Lancashire v Yorkshire (Score 4.5 – 7.5) full match score to follow.
Report from Bill O’Rourke (captain)
Many thanks to all the players who made the effort. Sickness claimed a few players, so we were a little under par. However we clearly had a bad day at the office – 9 draws, and 3 defeats (two of them very late on for John Whitfield and Cliff Rutlidge, hard luck men) gave Yorkshire a comfortable 7.5-4.5 victory,
John Addison was unlucky to not be able to convert an advantage in a very tricky knights ending. In my game I thought I saw an early sacrifice in the middle game that trapped his king in the centre – unfortunately couldn’t quite make it work (been reading John Littlewood’s middle game book too much!). i had to watch my defeat be compounded by 9 straight draws. To be honest, apart from John’s game, none of the games really offered any real hopes of victory for ourselves. A late incursion by the opponent’s queen into John Whitfield’s position proved fatal, and Cliff Rutlidge on board 2 finally had to succumb after his opponent’s rooks coordinated better for an eventual queen-side breakthrough.
Well that is what is seemed for the two main forces in the Northern Counties Chess Union. Lancashire were represented in 3 finals, Yorkshire had gone one better and had 4 teams in the finals. Not to be outdone, Lancashire would make the trip back up north the happier!
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.
To test out the chessboard feature, that allows you select games from the database, here are a reminder of some of the games played at the County Finals 2017. Continue reading “County Finals 2017”