Posts Tagged ‘Exeter Chess’
The current Devon Champions, Exmouth, hosted local rivals, Exeter, in a match on Saturday that would not only confer local bragging rights but probably determine who would win this year’s Devon club championship.
The omens were not good for the hosts, as Exeter were able to field their strongest team, probably one of the strongest sides seen for many a decade, while Exmouth were under par, conceding c. 16 points per board over Bds 3 – 6 – a big ask. However, the match proved to be a truly titanic struggle as each game came to an end.
First of all, Exeter’s captain, Graham Bolt, won the toss yet chose to give their opponents White on top board. That was the first to finish, when O’Neill came unstuck and resigned, and put Exmouth 1-0 up. Was Bolt’s tactic a wise one? Next, Chris Scott got a valuable draw against Jamie Morgan, playing his first game for Exeter. Then, Oliver Wensley generated enough pressure to cause his opponent to run out of time.
Thus Exmouth had 2.5 point after 3 games, and it seemed highly possible they would be able to get something from the other 3 games to squeeze at least a draw. Then Dave Regis, who had 2 minor pieces for a rook, forced a win, while Bolt found himself in an ending with 2 bishops against 2 knights with a sprinkling of pawns on either side. The bishops found good long diagonals enabling his king to advance, keeping the black knights and king on their back rank, and a win was inevitable. 2.5 all, with former Scottish International, Paul Hampton, locking horns with Paulden, in what for the most part had been a blocked position. However, in seeking active play for his queen, he allowed Regis’ queen in to the centre. With just 2 minutes of extra time left on both clocks, there was a titanic struggle with both queens grabbing any pawn they could get hold of, preferably with check, and Paulden succeeded in this race.
So, with just seconds to go, Exeter took the lead for the first time in the match, and with it the match.
The details were:-
|Bremridge Cup Div. 1 11.02.2017|
|1||J. Underwood||187||1||0||P. A. O’Neill||185|
|2||S. Martin||185||0||1||G. Bolt||190|
|3||P. Hampton||166||0||1||T. J. Paulden||187|
|4||O. E. Wensley||168||1||0||C. Lowe||175|
|5||B. G. Gosling||159||0||1||D. Regis||175|
|6||C. J. Scott||152||½||½||J. Morgan||170|
The 5 teams in Devon’s 1st Division, play each other once, giving a total of 4 matches. Both Exeter and Exmouth have been a little slow off the mark this season, for one reason or another, and this was the third match for each, with Exeter having won their 1st two matches, while Exmouth had won one and drawn one. So there was everything to play for.
Luck played a part in the team selection for both sides. Exmouth were lucky in that former player, Ken Derrick, had decided to play a more active part in Devon chess, playing both for the county and his old club of Exmouth. This, combined with Dr. Underwood’s recent return from a two year stint in Connecticut, enabled the home team to be at full strength. On the other hand, one Exeter player found himself in another country and had to be substituted at short notice.
The first game to finish was on Bd. 4 where Kevin Hurst gained the upper hand against Simon Waters in a Petroff Defence, and it was all over in 21 moves. This was balanced by a win for Dr. Paulden who broke through Dr. Underwood’s king’s position, utilising long open lines for his pieces, queen, rook and bishops. Then Exeter took the lead as Andy Boyne got a knight established on the 6th rank, and kept all his other pieces working harmoniously. At this point, 2-1 down, and two players a pawn down, for little obvious compensation, even a drawn match looked optimistic.
It was, in fact, like a match of two halves, with the first 3 games finishing in 21, 28 and 32 moves respectively, while the other three all went right down to the wire; in 59, 63 & 64 moves. The 6 free players and non-playing captain all looked on nervously as the games went into extra time and fortunes gradually swung around.
Mark Abbott had looked the only one with a superior position, but this was gradually whittled away until an ending was reached where he only had 3 pawns against a rook. Fortunately, his king was able to protect them as they shuffled forward, like a shepherd coralling his last 3 sheep. The rook alone could do little as his king was trying to catch up with the action. Abbott finished prettily, underpromoting a pawn to a knight with check, allowing a 2nd pawn to queen.
Now 2-all, and the other two games, in which both Exmouth players had been a pawn down, were gradually turning around. The Stephens/Regis game had been positionally congested with 13 pawns still on the board late on, but Stephens was able to grab an open file for his rook, before invading Black’s position to winning effect. The Pope/Shaw game came down to a N + B each with a scattering of pawns, when Shaw opted to swap his bad bishop for Pope’s good knight, after which he was able to grab a few pawns and ran his h-pawn forward to queen, which Pope was unable to prevent.
So it finished 4 – 2, which sounds a healthy margin, but the result was in doubt to the very end. It was unusual at this level to have all six games ending decisively, with no draws, indicative of how all 12 players were committed to the cause.
|1||K. W. Derrick||207||0||1||A. Boyne||195|
|2||J. K. F. Stephens||192||1||0||D. Regis||179|
|3||J. Underwood||177||0||1||T. Paulden||177|
|4||K. J. Hurst||176||1||0||S. R. Waters||168|
|5||M. Shaw||166||1||0||S. Pope||158|
|6||M. V. Abbott||167||1||0||P. Dobber||142|