John Stephens has led the Club Championship all season, while Mark Abbott, the defending Champion, has lagged behind in games played, often failing to secure an opponent on a club night. However, he was never far behind and on the penultimate clubnight of the season managed to beat Steve Murray, against whom he’d only managed a draw in their first game. Then on the final night he faced Phil Kennedy, always dangerous when given even half a chance to attack.
Their game proved a worthy climax to the tournament as they went at it with gusto, matching threat with counter-threat. However, early in the middlegame Kennedy had weakened his kingside with a bold pawn move and in the final analysis Abbott was able to exploit the resulting weakness, mounting twin threats until his opponent was forced to concede.
Abbott thus leapfrogged Stephens to lead by a half point. Throughout the long season he had never been in the lead until the last few minutes of the last game – not unlike the Premiership’s relegation battle the Sunday before, but in reverse. However, no-one would begrudge him being able to add the title to the Devon Individual Championship he won earlier in the year.