Exmouth’s penultimate match of the season was in Devon’s 2nd Division, the Mamhead Cup, when they played host to a Barnstaple team headed by IM Jack Rudd. There was nothing inevitable about his likely outcome as the last time he visited Exmouth 2 years ago, he lost to Brian Hewson, so, having won the toss, team captain Steve Clarke opted to give Rudd the White pieces, although this did put some pressure on the other three players who had to cope with 2 blacks.
Once the match started, both Rudd and Stephens set off at a great rate of knots, both reaching move 10 in 60 seconds. The whole game was over in 90 minutes, having made 33 moves. A great start for the visitors but it was quickly balanced by a win for Oliver Wensley in just 19 moves. Soon after that, Tony Hart secured a result by mating his opponent in 33 moves.
Leading 2-1, the win now depended on Meyrick Shaw vs Richard Smith, the latter making a return to weekend chess having recently semi-retired, and it was a much more stately affair. In a long endgame, Shaw had 4 v 3 pawns, a rook each and the “minor exchange”. Slowly, he was able to restrict the central space, preventing White’s rook and knight from making any real threats, squeezing all the life out of his defences.
The 3-1 win puts Exmouth in with a chance of a at least a share of the title, depending on results elsewhere.
|1||John K. Stephens||173||0||1||Jack Rudd||213|
|2||Oliver E. Wensley||164||1||0||Stephen Clarke||144|
|3||Meyrick Shaw||150e||1||0||Richard Smith||141|
|4||Tony G. K. Hart||145e||1||0||Graham Jones||96|