After their disappointing loss to Tiverton in the Bremridge Cup (Div. 1) on Saturday, Exmouth were faced with meeting them again just four days later, this time in the Newman Cup, which comprises four players involved in two one hour games.
The teams were well-matched, to within 1 grading point. Playing “Steady Freddy” Hodge with a modest grade on Bd. 4 allowed stronger players in the middle order – a policy that paid dividends when he won the 1st game as Knowles, in desperate trouble, had to watch his digital clock count down the last 10 seconds. Wensley also won, while the other 2 games were drawn, Jones being a knight for a rook down but a king in a good defending position. With seconds to go, his opponent was not prepared to risk losing on time so agreed a draw. 3-1 to Exmouth.
In Rd. 2 with colours reversed, Annetts and Knowles took revenge for their earlier losses, while Stephens and Hewson drew again. Jones had White and went all out for early attack against the Sicilian Defence, using the Yugoslav System. He lost the exchange but it didn’t seem to matter as all his pieces were active and the Black king was stuck in the centre. Atkins defended stoutly and his queen became active. With a minute to go, the queen checked forking a rook. White brought his queen back to both block the check and protect the rook, which looked good for about 2 seconds until he realised the rook was not reciprocating the defence; in fact the queen was completely undefended and could be taken for nothing, with check and picking up the rook as well. Black’s mindset was that he did not wish to exchange queens as the White pawns would win the game, so imagining, like White, that the proximity of the rook to the queen meant they were protecting each other, withdrew his queen back up the board. The collective and audible sharp intake of breath from the spectators told him something was very amiss and then he realised. ****! (Expletive deleted). Seconds later the queens were forced off and the danger passed. Those 10 seconds of double lunacy decided the game, the match and the destination of the League trophy.
It actually made up for our bad luck on Saturday.
|Bd||Tiverton||Grd||Gm 1||Gm 2||Gm 1||Gm 2||Exmouth||Grd|
|1||B. W. R. Hewson||178||½||½||½||½||J. K. F. Stephens||176|
|2||I. S. Annetts||153||0||1||1||0||O. E. Wensley||164|
|3||K. P. Atkins||138||½||0||½||1||R. H. Jones||147|
|4||J. Knowles||124||0||1||1||0||F. R. Hodge||107|
After the match it was calculated that even with a match against Seaton still to play, Exmouth cannot be caught and have won the cup with a match to spare.
The position below was the vital one. The pieces at the top of the board are not exact, as the whole thing was a blur at the time. White now played 1.Qe1 to block the check and protect the rook. Black, not realising the queen was unprotected and not wishing to exchange queens (as he thought) , played 1…Qg5. Nothing to be proud of on either side, but anything can happen as the clocks run down to the last few seconds.