Exmouth hosted a Newton Abbot team, knowing that a win for either side would be enough to win the Mamhead Cup Devon’s Division 2, although Exmouth had the feint comfort that a 2-2 draw would give them the title. To this end, both captains had packed their teams with grading points up to the permitted maximum of 639. Both clubs had their top player on Bd. 1, but the difference then was that Newton Abbot had averaged their next 3 boards, while Exmouth had packed everything they had on to Bds. 2 & 3, and filling in an improving player on Bd. 4, in the hope that he might be able to extract something from his game. Team captain, Oliver Wensley, was unable to fit himself in the team, and was obliged to watch from the sidelines.
This particular hope was not borne out as Blake’s opponent, the rapidly improving Vignesh Ramesh, whose latest rapidplay grade is actually 160+, won and Exmouth went 0-1 down, which put increasing pressure on the other 3. For some time, there seemed little between the sides in each game. Eventually, Mark Abbott, using the greater freedom that his pieces had, managed to conjure up a sharp winning attack, thereby levelling the score.
Bds 1 and 3 both went down to the final seconds of normal time and final minutes of extra time. Stephens was gradually being positionally stifled, as Mackle got a pawn to the 7th and his opponent had to commit a knight to h8 to block it. Eventually he had to concede as Mackle could pick up pawns at will. Shaw had gone a piece up, but Brooks found a lot of counterplay as his pieces were better unified. Shaw had to reconfigure and reorganise his army, which he managed. With c. 2 minutes left for each player he won a central pawn with a knight fork that swapped off queens and immediately after a bishop fork won a rook, and with it the game.
A finish to the match that was as nerve-wracking for the spectators as the players. Thus Exmouth added the Mamhead Cup to the Bremridge Cup they had won a fortnight before.
The match details and resulting league table as follows:
|Mamhead Cup||Div. 2 25.04.15.|
|1||J. K. Stephens||194||0||1||D. Mackle||203|
|2||M. V. Abbott||173||1||0||M. Hui||150|
|3||M. Shaw||170||1||0||P. Brooks||154|
|4||S. Blake||102||0||1||V. Ramesh||132|
|Mamhead Div. 2||1||2||3||4||5||+||-||pts|