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Devon Beat Surrey! (22.05.2010)

The day of the Surrey vs Devon match dawned warm and cloudless. Having e-mailed all on-line team members the day before to set off in good time, and allow for all contingencies, from heavy traffic, over-heating engines and getting lost, I thought I’d better do likewise and was on the road shortly after 10 a.m. and after a good trip got to Stratford-sub-Castle just after midday, an hour before I could get the key to open up the Reading Room (village hall) and start laying the stuff out. At least this gave me a chance to soak up some of the ambience of the place.

The Wiltshire Avon looking downstream with the venue hidden behind trees on the left.


The Wiltshire Avon, one of the best trout streams in England, flows along one side of the hall, while on the other is Old Sarum, an Iron Age hill fort, which survived through Roman times until the early Middle Ages, when a conscious decision was made; feeling the town had outgrown the restrictions of its hilly site and there was no mortal danger of imminent attack from invaders, the authorities moved onto the flat land of the Avon valley and built a marvellous cathedral. 

View of Old Sarum from the venue; the defensive banks can be seen on the left.

Old Sarum, as seen from the venue. The Iron Age defensive banks can clearly be seen on the left, though it hardly does the site justice when seen from the air (below). Lower left is the site of the Saxon cathedral and on the central mound stood a Norman castle.

Old Sarum - from the air.

Old Sarum become completely de-populated after the removal of its inhabitants, yet it continued to send two members to Parliament for hundreds of years until the 1832 Reform Act, making it synonymous of all Rotten Boroughs, an unfortunate reputation with which to end a wonderful 5,000 year history of habitation. However, one of the Borough’s MPs in the 18th Century was Pitt the Elder, Britiain’s first PM, who lived in a large house next to the venue.

 Old Sarum’s invaders this day came from east and west, but their battle was to be of a cerebral nature; scars inflicted would be mental, not physical. My previous day’s e-mail listed specific travelling hazards, but didn’t mention the fact that it was the final day of the Devon County Show in Exeter, and, with the weather so predictably fine, the traffic bottleneck there was of monumental proportions. In contrast to my 2 hour run, cars having to pass through Exeter took up to 4 hours, one arriving 30 minutes late.

 Looking at the team lists it was noticeable how closely matched the teams were – no more than an handful of grading points between opponents, except for the two last minute substitutes on bottom boards, Allen and Jones, outgraded by 15 and 10 points respectively. 

Bill Ingham's quick win put Devon 1-0 up and were never headed thereafter.

Bill Ingham (above in yellow) got things off to the perfect start with a quick win after his opponent blundered a piece away in the opening. Devon stayed a point ahead as the next results were all draws, especially Allen and Jones who thereby proved not to be the weak links; Thynne, Cowley and Regis were the others. Brusey, Jamieson, Underwood and Brooks had longer games, some of them coming under some pressure but all still ended in draws, Ingham’s original win being the difference between the teams. With one win and 9 draws from the first 10 games to finish, it was left to the final six to decide the result. 

Dave Regis rolls up his sleeves against David Sedgwick. Next to him are (in order) Robert Thompson, Trefor Thynne, Ian Jamieson, (Brusey had not yet arrived), Dennis Cowley and Steve Homer.

Robert Thompson’s game featured the unusual balance of a Surrey rook pair v 3 minor pieces. In the end French had a sole rook vs bishop, knight and pawn. The rook wished only to sacrifice itself for the pawn, so Thompson had always to be able to screen it as it crept forward, successfully as it proved. His win was immediately offset by Kinder’s loss. Next Gosling drew and Schofield lost, to level the scores at 7-all. With the last two games in progress, Gorodi looked to be losing, so it was left to Steve Homer on top board to resolve the match. His ending had similarities to Thompson’s in that it depended on whether Homer, with knight and pawn v bishop, could shepherd his single pawn through to queening without it being taken. With both flags hovering  and scoresheets abandoned he found the right plan and mated. It now mattered not that Gorodi was still struggling, as even if he lost to even the scores to 8-all, the fact that Devon’s 3 wins were all in the top half, while Surrey’s were all in the botton half, meant that the tie-break rule gave it to Devon on “Board Count” who now go on to meet the winners of Warwickshire v Lancs.

Details and more battle scenes below:

DEvon players on left: Underwood; Schofield; Brooks; Gosling; Kinder; Allen.

The Bd. 1 game (Homer in red) that clinched the match for Devon in a breathless finish

    National U-180       Date:   25.05.2010.  
Bd.   Surrey  Grd     Devon  Grd
1 B Simon McCullough 177 0 1 Stephen J. Homer 178
2 W Neil Cooper 178 ½ ½ Dennis R. Cowley 176
3 B Phil Stimpson 179 ½ ½ Alan W. Brusey 175
4 W Julien Shepley 178 ½ ½ Ian M. Jamieson 175
5 B Alan Punnett 173 ½ ½ Trefor F. Thynne 173
6 W Angus French 173 0 1 Robert Thompson 170
7 B David Sedgwick 174 ½ ½ Dave Regis 165
8 W Paul Archer 169 0 1 William H. Ingham 166
9 B Nick Grey 157 ½ ½ Jon Underwood 165
10 W Paul Barasi 162 1 0 Stephen Schofield 162
11 B Geoff Marchant 164 ½ ½ Paul Brooks 162
12 W Trevor Jones 156 ½ ½ Brian G. E. Gosling 159
13 B Ian Deswarte 161 1 0 Andrew S. Kinder 158
14 W Alasdair MacLeod 156 1 0 John G. Gorodi 155
15 B Simon Wrigley 158 ½ ½ John E. Allen 143
16 W Adrian Waldock 150 ½ ½ Robert H. Jones 140
    Totals   8 8    

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