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Devom March On To A National Final (17.06.2017.)

After beating Nottinghamshire in the quarter finals of the U-180 Inter-County Championship, Devon met their semi-final opponents, Surrey, on Saturday at Burcombe Village Hall, on the A30 near Salisbury. The teams were very evenly matched in strength, apart from one Surrey player having to withdraw at short notice and being replaced by a lower-graded reserve. His eventual loss was the difference between the teams as Devon finished 8½-7½ winners. They now go on to play in the Final next month. The details were as follows:- (Devon names first in each pairing).

1.John Fraser (178) ½-½ R. F. Holmes. 2.John Wheeler (176) 1-0 F. Hernandez. 3.Mark Abbott (176) 1-0 D. J. Young. 4.Chris Bellers (173) ½-½ J. Ranga. 5.Plamen Sivrev (173) 1-0 D. Sedgwick. 6.Trefor Thynne (165) ½-½ J. P. Foley. 7.Oliver Wensley (168) ½-½ M. Smart. 8.Jos Haynes (165) ½-½ M. G. Smith. 9.Alan Brusey (161) ½-½ N. L Edwards. 10.Paul Brooks (162) 0-1 O. S. Phillips. 11.Meyrick Shaw (159) 0-1 N. Faulkes. 12.Bill Ingham (165) ½-½ I. Deswarte. 13.Brian Gosling (159) ½-½ P. D. Barasi. 14.Chris Scott (152) ½-½ P. Gibbons J. 15.Andrew Kinder (153) 0-1 N. D. Grey. 16.Martin Quinn (145) 1-0 D. J. Howes.

Here is Devon’s unusual opening and subsequent win from Bd. 2.

White: F. Hernandez (178). Black: John Wheeler (176).

Scotch 4 Knights [C47]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 White’s pawn on e4 is no longer protected as its defender is pinned. 6.f3 This seems a reasonable defensive move but then… 6…Nxe4? A gambit usually assumes the voluntary loss of a pawn in return for advantages other than purely material. Offering a whole piece is much more unusual, especially in such a crucial match.  However, if it was Black’s wish to lead his opponent into unfamiliar territory, he surely succeeded in that.  7.fxe4 Qh4+ 8.Ke2 If 8.g3 Qxe4+ forking king & rook, but after 9.Qe2 Black’s queen is pinned anyway, so there’s no real advantage. 9.bxc3 Qxe4+ At least Black gets 2 pawns for his knight, and White’s pawns, isolated and doubled, look a mess compared to Black’s.  10.Be3 d6 11.Nf3 0–0 12.Qd3 White would like to make equal exchanges won’t help Black’s cause, so… 12…Qg4 13.h3 Qh5 14.Kd2 Bf5 15.Qc4 Be6 16.Qf4 Qd5+ 17.Bd3 Rfe8 18.Rhb1 Threatening Rb5 winning the White queen. 18…Ne5 19.Qe4? The threatened mate forces Black’s hand, but it proves bad for White. 19…Qxe4 20.Bxe4 Nc4+ 21.Kd3 Nxe3 22.Bxb7? In not retaking immediately, White has miscalculated.  22…Bf5+! Not just check but defending the knight as well. 23.Kd2 Rad8 White has now lost his one piece advantage and is a pawn down. 24.Nd4 Nc4+ 25.Kd1 Bd7 26.Rb4? A fatal error, inviting c4; but first… 26…Ne3+ 27.Kd2 c5 forking rook & knight. 0–1

The key to last week’s position (above) was 1.NxP+ and if 1…PxN 2. Qd6#, or 1…Kf8 2.Qh8#.

This week’s position came at the end of a game played in the US Championships earlier this year. Black to play and win.

Black to play and win

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