2013 Somerset Cup fixtures

2013 Somerset Cup Final – report

photo 2-2Yes, its May 22nd, and whilst we should all be outside, sipping Pimms/Lager/Methylated Sprit and enjoying sunshine/BBQs/being-hidden-from-the-police-on-a-park-bench, it seems Mother Nature has been taking her cue from Taunton Chess Club and has officially delayed the onset of Summer until the final chess event of the season completes – that being the Somerset Cup.

Normally this would have been played in late March, or in extreme circumstances perhaps in April. But for various procrastinatory reasons, it took place last Monday. At least summer can start now – are you listening Mother Nature? (looks outside, shivers, and realises she isn’t..)

Anyway, Taunton and Trowbridge are in the final.. er.. WHAT??? WHO??? Trowbridge?? Let’s just check a map… Hmm… They aren’t even in Somerset!! I quote (from Wikipedia) “Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire”. So, that is easy – Taunton win the Somerset Cup by default!! Yay!!

Ok, not quite. Being the sporting, generous chaps we are, we decided to continue with the final and let the best man win and all that (not like that is in any doubt of course – this is Taunton’s Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods we are talking about..)

photo 3-2So, the final was agreed to be played at Glastonbury, this being roughly halfway between the County Town of Somerset and the County Town of Wiltshire. The teams are fighting for the Somerset Cup, with Taunton looking to win it for the third time on the trott. In fact, looking back at the previous winners reveals a few surprises, most notably being the fact Glastonbury travelled back in time to win the 2003 Final before the 2002 event took place – very impressive!

So thanks to Glastonbury for letting us use their club for the final. Regular readers know pawnstar’s opinion of the Tor Club, and will be pleased to hear that the barmaid on duty was definitely more hot than not. Sadly, the pool table was out of action and we were in a room without a mildy entertaining wall mural – cue plenty of agonising boredom while waiting for opponents to move. At least the club has had a good re-fit recently and now very well lit etc.. for us fussy chess-types..

Ok, on to the teams and games.

Taunton were near full strength with – Mark, Dave, MikeR, Nick, Alex, Stan, Martin and MikeW – only Robin and Jorge being unable to make it. Trowbridge turned up with their lot, none of whom we’ve really met or ever played against. So new territories. Looking at the gradings, Taunton had the edge in the upper half and Trowbridge more so in the lower section. But we have Mike Ward on board 8 – a key tactic in many of our victories!

I didn’t see the coin toss for colours, but was aware of the pre-amble with both teams recognising Nick has to have White, and negotiations concluded successfully without the often messy, and maybe slightly potentially illegal, multiple coin tosses until the desired outcome is met. Nick had White, and everyone else settled in around that…

The games finished roughly like this –

Board 4: Nick Wilson 1 v D Weston 0
Nick, as usual, lost (“sacced” – Nick), a couple of pawns early on, but won quickly, after a nice exchange sac, followed by a knight sac and mate. The game was over in just 20 moves. DaveL considered a pawn sac in his game, thought it was too risky, and took 24 moves to win – hah!

Next was Dave –
Board 2: Dave Littlejohns 1 v Mark Leonard 0
Dave and Mark always meet when we play Frome, so it seemed only correct they’d meet here. I don’t know the head to head standings, but Mark must fear a long Dave grind, and therefore meekly capitulated in 24 moves. Dave, all fired up for a long drawn out endgame tussle, was reduced to releasing this pent up energy by making semi-accurate comments on other endgames in the room – particularly Stan’s game – e.g. “Stan’s winning”, then “Stan’s losing”, but then, “Stan might hold this”, followed by “Stan’s losing” etc.. etc…

So, Taunton lead 2-0.

Next was our secret weapon, Mike, on board 8 with this..

photo 1-4Board 8: Mike Ward 0 v C Lamming 1
Mike was technically out-graded by a large margin and therefore ‘took one for the team’ in losing here. Not a great game, sadly.

Taunton lead 2 – 1, but have secured the vital loss on board 8, which tactically mean Trowbridge have to score 4.5 now to win. A matchplay tactical masterclass by Mike Ward!

Next was Martin –
Board 7: D Rothwell 0.5 v Martin Worral 0.5
Had I seen this position after move 14, I would have sworn in was one of Dave’s games (queens off and only one piece beyond the back rank) – a nightmarishly boring tedious position, just ripe for a grind. But it got interesting quickly and soon Martin was a rook up, and therefore as with all his games going that way it was agreed drawn. (Actually he was a rook exchange up, but pawnstar doesn’t like the truth getting in the way of a good story, as regular readers will know…)

Taunton now lead 2.5 – 1.5

Next was Alex with this –
Board 5: T Woodard 0.5 v Alex conway 0.5
Comments are by Alex. Dave also commented on the end postion, seconds before the result, and his opinion was ‘Yawn’… sorry.. ‘Drawn’.

Taunton new lead 3 – 2

Just one more point needed…

Next was Mark –
Board 1: A Cooper 0.5 v Mark Hassall 0.5
Comments are by Mark, but he secured the draw (seeing that MikeR’s game by them looked totally winning) in a position that did offer him chances.

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Taunton now close in on the title with a 3.5 – 2.5 lead.

Next was MikeR –

Board 3: D Marshall 0 v Mike Richardt 1
Comments from Mike –

Taunton win the 2013 Somerset Cup!!

The final game involved Stan.
Board 6: Stan Wojick 0 v G Williams 1
Stan was involved in a lengthy tussle here, and even the legendary end-game grind strategist DaveL couldn’t predict the outcome. Once the match was secured, Stan was offered a draw, but he played on, unfortunately missing a possible best line, and lost.
(Moves to come)

So Taunton win 4.5 – 3.5 and retain the Somerset Cup for 2013!!

Taunton Win the Somerset Cup in 2013

Taunton Win the Somerset Cup in 2013

I have to say, this was a closer match than we anticipated, and so commiserations to Trowbridge who put up a good fight.

But anyway, well done to us and cementing our Supreme Team of Chess Playing Gods status! We just need one more win to have an unprecidented four-in-a-row Somerset Cup Victories!!

A final pic – Nick, Mike and Dave celebrate their wins, not with the expected Coke and Hookers, but a sensible MaccyDs…
photo 4-1
Chess season is now over – see you all in early September (or sooner if you turn up at the yet-to-be-announced annual AGM / BBQ at Nick’s!).

Thanks again everyone for a great season!!

– pawnstar

Latest news on the Somerset Cup Final Date

note – this is all subject to change, but here is the latest from Mike –

Somerset Cup:

We were suppose to play in the Somerset Cup final on Monday, 8th April 2013. Due to several players unable to make it we are trying to sort out a day in May. I suggested 13th and 20th May but Tony Ransom said that most of Trowbridge players will be playing in Frome the weekend before and therefore unable to play on the 13th. It looks like it’ll be the 20th May.

Tony Ransom suggested to play in Frome but I am adamant that this isn’t going to happen. Taunton has been awarded a home match for the final and therefore will NOT travel 1,5h to Frome to play the Somerset Cup final. I said if the want to play on a Tuesday then they will have to play in Taunton. I explained to Tony that we are happy to travel to Glastonbury as it’s the halfway venue for both teams.

Som Cup Semi Final Match Report

Being current holders of the Somerset Cup gives us the honour of not having to pfaff around in the early stages of this prestigious tournament, and instead we are fast-tracked right through to the glamourous semi-final stage. And, being totally fair, it does give the other teams a chance – after all, who wants to meet (and be crushed by) Taunton’s supreme team of chess playing Gods early on??

We are due to play at the Tor Club – will the barmaid look like this on the evening?

This does mean that the normal geographically-based draw system used in the early rounds no longer applies and therefore we may potentially meet a team some way from us. And thus it was, with Norton Radstock being our semi-final opponents, who are miles and miles away. Luckily we were drawn at home. If there’s anything the Taunton supreme team of chess playing Gods (henceforth TSTCPGs) like more than crushing opposition, its crushing opposition who are already mentally drained from having driven for nearly two hours.

Unsurprisingly, Norton contacted MikeR to say two things – firstly can the venue be Glastonbury (roughly halfway), and secondly they would be fielding a ‘weaker team’.

We agreed to the Glastonbury request due to – possibly we might be in the best (or worst, depending on where we are put) playing arena in the league, there is a pool table and a good wall mural (to keep us occupied), a bar, sky TV and sometimes a (semi) hot barmaid.

A hot barmaid.

As for the ‘weaker team’ stuff. The TSTCPGs have in the past perhaps been too confident and lost. This has been documented on here – the scars of the 5-1 defeat to Glastonbury many eons ago still runs deep in the TSTCPGs mind, and yet here is a team positively goading us into our trap of overconfidence. We won’t fall for these mind-game traps this time. Nice try….

MikeR arranged the team, but there were some omissions with MarkH, Jerry and Stan not able to make the 8-man team, so DaveG, MikeW and Vic were all drafted in.

Special mention must go to DaveG, who was recently unwell with a fatal-in-Victorian-times ailment, that was today cured via a short hospital stay. To celebrate his now-newly-extended life, Dave bought a new hat.

Hot barmaid, sadly not at the Tor Club.

So the final team was DaveL, MikeR, NickW, MartinW, RobinC, DaveG, MikeW and VicMcA.

Norton turned up, and they weren’t joking – we out-graded them by a huge margin on every board (apart from board 8 who was u/g and therefore unknown).

Interestingly, we only needed to have one coin toss to give us the colours we wanted (I think the record here is three tosses historically.. don’t ask…).

As usual, I can’t remember the exact order all the games finished in, but it wouldn’t have been too different to this –

Board 8: N Marshall 1 V McAndrew 0
Vic lost a piece very early on. Vic’s opponent wasn’t recording the moves, instead just ticking them off. Vic stopped recording them very ealry on – presumably after he lost the piece. So there is no record, suffice to say Vic battled on, but was always going to lose being so far materially down.

The one saving grace is that in the Somerset Cup, losing board 8 is a tactical stroke as if the match ends drawn at 4-4 then Taunton win due to board count – although a draw is hardly likely – remember this is the TSTCPGs we are talking about!

Next was Robin with this –

Board 5: Robin Challenor 1 v Gary Wood 0
Robin played a nice game, gradually squeezing black until the end. Black resigned, presumably thinking Qh6 then Qg7 mate was forced, but of course Kh8 followed by Rg8 would survive, albeit in a very poor position.

Next was MikeW, continuing his God-like play –

Board 7: Mike Ward 1 v Paul James 0
Nice game from Mike, using his central pawns to push through for the win.

Taunton now lead 2-1. Next was Nick

Board 3: Nick Wilson v Gordon Parrish 0
Nick outgraded his opponent by over 70 points. Text books will say, play safe and wait for opponent to go wrong. So what did Nick do? Played the crummy Fried Liver attack (and badly at that). It won a pawn, and fortunately Black didn’t follow-up properly. Nick later won an exchange as black feared a kingisde attack. Later black was badly tied up, and despite Nick blundering a knight (genuinely missed a Black piece on a Black square..), a nice rook sac lead to mate. –

So, Taunton lead 3-1. Just one more needed to secure the win (we win if score is 4-4)

Next was Martin, with a good win.

Board 4: Daniel Sherborne 0 v Martin Worrall 1
Good game by Martin, keeping up the pressure followed by a nice kingside attack.

This win ensures Taunton win the match!

Then DaveG –

Board 6: Geoff Floyd 0 v Dave Graham 1
Dave, returning from injury to the team, played well and won with a kingside attack. He then rushed off home, with his hat, and took the scoresheet so we don’t have a record of the game – Dave please let me have the pgn…

Then Dave, recently returned from holidays…

Board 1: Dave Littlejohns 1 v Pete Horne 0

Dave uses over an hour for the first few moves – and dangerously advances his pieces beyond the first rank!

Eagle-eyed readers will note the following from this picture –
1. Dave has used over a hour for the first few moves and is now in serious time trouble, and
2. A few of Dave’s major pieces have advanced beyond the first rank.

Dont worry! Firstly the clocks weren’t set right, and secondly, by move 19, Dave had successfully retreated everything to the back rank!
Then the normal DaveL grind started, with the game following the normal Dave ritual of –

1. Swap off some material.
2. Get a slight pawn structure advantage – in this case it is a doubled pawn.
3. Retreat all pieces to the bank rank.
4. Swap off more material.
5. Shuffle remaining pieces around for a long time.
6. Watch as opponent, who like a bored, caged animal just rocks to and fro, simply repeats moves (e.g 43 and 44).
7. Grind out win.

I should point out Dave was particularly happy with his move 45. g5!

Now 6-1, with just MikeR left

Board 2: Jo Clapp 0 v Mike Richardt 1
Comments from MikeR –

So Taunton win 7 – 1 and are into the final!!

Well played everyone – Taunton’s supreme team of chess playing gods continues its relentless slaying!!!

Details of final will be posted soon.

– pawnstar