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Devon Win National U-180 Title (03.07.2017.)

Devon took the English U-180 Championship in the Finals at Leamington Spa on Saturday. Here is the report of Captain on the day, Paul Brooks.

Match report: Devon vs Middlesex – U180 Final:
Devon won the toss and had white on odd boards. The first three hours of the match went well for Devon with a very good positional victory for Bill Ingham and solid draws for Brian Gosling, Dennis Cowley, Jos Haynes and Paul Brooks. John Fraser had the better of his opponent’s Sicilian defence and Steve Dean was looking in control of his game with excellent outposts for his knights and a good space advantage. I then looked at Steve’s clock and noticed he had 5 minutes to play about 17 moves! By the time he reached the time-control the outposts had gone, he was a pawn down and his bishop was buried behind a solid wall of pawns, so he was facing an uphill struggle.
Debutant Alex Taylor played a King’s Gambit where chances seemed to be fluctuating from one side to the other, while Dave Regis and Oliver Wensley were both under fairly strong pressure. Meyrick Shaw, on the other hand, created an excellent position with a kingside attack, doubling rooks on the h file.
Chris Bellers and Alan Brusey both achieved well-earned draws and a few minutes later John Wheeler had neutralised his opponent’s slight pressure and another draw was agreed.
Alex Taylor having fought to reach an position where he had 3 pawns for a bishop was unfortunate that his opponent was able to co-ordinate his rooks and bishop successfully in an attack where Alex had to give up a rook or be mated.
Mark Abbott took advantage of opposition time pressure to win a good game, but things were looking bad for Dave Regis and Oliver Wensley, who both reached positions where their opponents had endgames with a couple of extra pawns. After a hard fight both players were forced to resign.
Steve Dean also succumbed in the endgame, so with 3 matches still to be decided Devon were 2 points in arrears. It was clear that 2 wins and a draw would enable Devon to win on board count, so there was still all to play for.
Meyrick Shaw played well to exchange into a rook and pawn endgame where he was 3 pawns up and after a short fight his opponent was forced to resign. On top board, John Fraser played an excellent attack which forced his opponent to exchange into an endgame where John was two pawns up and these were both passed and connected on the sixth rank. John played a clever combination which allowed his opponent to win a pawn, but the consequence was that a couple of moves later he was forced to liquidate into an endgame where John had a single unstoppable g pawn.
So the match was all-square and everyone’s attention shifted to Paul Hampton’s game. This had been very close all the way through, but, with both players down to their last 10 minutes, the Middlesex player seemed to have an edge, holding the slight material advantage of rook and 2 pawns to Paul’s knight and 3 pawns. The fact that all the pawns were on the kingside meant that we had hopes that Paul could hold the draw. Paul’s opponent looked as though he was taking control with his advanced king and rook on the seventh rank, but Paul kept cool, swapping off a pawn and creating a fortress which meant that his opponent was never going to be able to force his final pawn through. In the end, Paul was able to create a passed pawn himself which advanced to the seventh rank where his opponent had to sacrifice his rook and leave Paul with a bare knight and a draw.
So a very tough encounter finished 8-8, but as Devon’s wins had come on higher boards Devon were victorious on board count. A great victory to follow up an excellent season!
Devon grd Middlesex grd
1 John Fraser 178 1 0 B. Kelmendi 179
2 John Wheeler 174 ½ ½ S. Coles 176
3 Mark Abbott 172 1 0 M. Grigorian 175
4 Chris Bellers 173 ½ ½ I. Calvert 177
5 Dennis Cowley 169 ½ ½ G. Batchelor 174
6 Dave Regis 175 0 1 A. Hayler 170
7 Paul Hampton 161 ½ ½ M. Dydak 169
8 Oliver Wensley 168 0 1 A. Fulton 173
9 Jos Haynes ½ ½ R. Campbell 168
10 Alan Brusey 166 ½ ½ R. Walczak 173
11 Alex Taylor 165 0 1 J. White 171
12 Paul Brooks 161 ½ ½ P. Kennelly 167
13 Bill Ingham 162 1 0 J. Dhemrait 161
14 Meyrick Shaw 163 1 0 J. Hudson 154
15 Steve Dean 160 0 1 J. Rudeck 161
16 Brian Gosling 159 ½ ½ R. Thursby 154
8 8
Board count 31 40
A few photos of the happy occasion……
The team after the presentation, clutching their golden trophies.

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