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