Devon were determined to avoid anything like the 12½-3½ thrashing they received in last year’s match against Hampshire, and they did do a little better at Wincanton on Saturday, but still went down 10-6 in the 1st team. Only late wins by Mackle, Homer and Abbott offered any form of compensation. The Hants winners were M. Yeo, D. Tunks, W. McDougall, J. Tambini, T. Anderson, D. Fowler and C. Priest.
The 2nd team match was quite a different story, which Devon won 8-4, with wins by C. Howard, J. Duckham, B. Gosling, J. Allen, J. Morrison and K. Alexander.
This was the top game in the 1st team.
White: I. D. Thompson (204). Black: D. Mackle (Devon – 197).
English Opening – Sicilian Var. [A20]
1.c4 e5 Giving a position that looks like a Sicilian Defence with colours reversed, generally regarded as Black’s most active response. 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 h6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Nf3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 e4 7.Nd4 0–0 8.0–0 b6 9.Nb3 d6 10.d3 Bb7 11.Nd2 Nbd7 12.dxe4 Saddling himself with a second pair of doubled pawns, weak and vulnerable. After this, White’s pieces are always chasing the game, rarely able to combine to create any lasting threat. 12…Re8 13.Qc2 Nc5 14.f3 Qd7 15.Nb3 Qa4 16.Be3 Qxc4 17.Nxc5 bxc5 18.Rfd1 Bc6 19.Qd3 Qa4 Not 19…Qxd3, of course, as it would solve several of White’s problems. 20.c4 Rab8 21.Bd2 Nd7 22.f4 Nf6 23.e5 Bxg2 24.Kxg2 dxe5 25.fxe5 Rxe5 26.Bc3 Re6 27.Bxf6 Rxf6 28.Rf1 Rd6 29.Qf5 Qxc4 Those isolated pawns are easily picked off without compromising the defences. 30.Rac1 Qxa2 31.Rxc5 Qxe2+ Now Black is 3 pawns up and hunting the enemy king at close quarters. 32.Rf2 Qe7 33.Rfc2 Rf6 34.Qd3 Rd8 35.Qc4 Qe3 Utilising the long open files to close in on the exposed king. 36.Rxc7 Qf3+ 37.Kh3 If 37.Kg1 Rd1+. 37…Rd5 While the queen keeps the king hemmed in, the rooks seek to finish him off with a first threat of mate on h5. 38.Rc8+ Kh7 39.Rc5 Rxc5 40.Qxc5 Rf5 0–1. Only a queen sacrifice can delay mate.
Meanwhile, Somerset had an equally comfortable win over Gloucestershire at Clevedon by11½-4½, losing only one game in the process. Somerset winners were Messrs Rudd, Sherwin, Studdard, Freeman, Jepps, Musson, Peters and Senior. Gloucestershire’s sole winner was John Waterfield. Next week, I hope to include one of the key games.
Last week’s 2-mover from the postal round of the British Solving Championship was solved by 1.Nc3! threatening 2.Ne6#. Black had seven possible attempts to escape the inevitable, but each was met by a different mate: viz 1…Kxc3 2.Nb3#; 1…bxc5 2.Qg7#; 1…Qxc3 2.Qd6#;1…Qxb5 2.Nxb5#; 1…Nxc3 2.e3#; 1…Bxe2 2.Nxe2# and finally 1…Bb3 2.Nxb3.
In this 2-mover Black is streets ahead in material and his king is surrounded by defensive forces, yet there is a chink in that armour. Can you spot it?