With Taunton no longer really being the TSToCPGs (I can’t bear to type it out in full – brings a tear to my eye, fondly remembering those glory days of old etc…), it means we no longer play in Division One and have to console ourselves with competing in the Somerset Cup.
Round One (or the Quarter-Finals, as I like to call it) is geographically based, and although it was a surprise to see Wellington had entered a team in the competition, it was unsurprising to see we were drawn against them with us being so close.
Unsurprisingly they have changed their venue (chess teams, like lepers or hoards of bored teenagers are always being moved on). Whenever pawnstar hears of a new venue, his mental checklist of ‘bar’, ‘hot barmaid’ and ‘pool table’ springs to mind, hopefully for any new venue. Devastatingly, the new venue is a ‘chapel’, although surprisingly this chapel looked much more like a 1970’s 3 bed detached residential property, rather than a decaying, gothic, buttressed, type place one would normally expect. So no bar, pool or hot bar maids. Had we still been the TSToCPGs, I would blasphemously being saying people could come and worship our play, but I can’t.
MikeR did a good job of rounding up the best team available, this being – MikeR, James, Nick, Alex, Martin, Stan, Nigel and MikeW.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice the strategy of having MikeW on board 8 – this tactic has won us many fine SomCup victories, and much was expected of MikeW again tonight!
Wellington, for all their lack of bars, barmaid, pool tables etc.., do have some of the nicest chess sets we play on (this doesn’t make up for the lack of beer though…)
SomCup colours are decided on a coin toss, and this time only the one toss was needed to ensure Nick got White – glad things are settling down now and the silliness of having to carry out multiple tosses doesn’t seem to have to happen anymore.
Looking at the MatchSheet, we massively out-graded Wellington, and so the game should be an easy win, but things never seem to work out quite like that…
So, the match got underway and the results came along roughly in this order –
First was Mike –
Board One – Mike Richard v Simon Pickard
Mike, by his own admission, was a little over-confident, and suddenly found himself on the defensive in the opening. Black offered a draw, which Mike happily accepted as the position was in Black’s favour. One interesting side note is that Mike shared with us, via his blog, a Jack Rudd victory in the opening, where black put a Bishop on e5, winning the black rook on a1. In Mike’s game, had Black played 11. … Nxb4, then after cxd, black had Bd4, winning a rook in exactly the same way!
I think Alex was next –
Board Four – Chris Barratt v Alex Conway
Alex seemed to have the edge throughout, although not sure if ever was enough for a win. In the end, his trapped knight stagnated the game and a draw was agreed.
Now Stan –
Board Six – DJ Smith v Stan Wojcik
Again, I think Stan had an edge, but not enough for a win.
So, currently all square (and boring draws…). The first decisive game was Nick’s –
Board Three – Nick Wilson v A Stonebridge
During last week’s lightning tournament, Alex told Nick that Nick had missed an opportunity to win a Queen via a discovered attack from a Bishop check. Nick was dumbfounded – had this really happened? How had he missed it? Would the scars run deep? Well, just like if you fall off a horse, you need to get back on immediately, in the next game, Nick didn’t miss winning a Queen via a discovered attack from a Bishop check, and took full advantage… Phew – that particular piece of mental trauma baggage has been unloaded…
So Taunton take a slim lead… only for Wellington to strike back in the very next game –
Board Five – Marin Worrall v Robert Harris
Martin seemed to have a lot of play and initiative during the opening and early middle game, but in his own words, ‘.. went down in a blaze of tactics…”
So back to parity again. Three matches remained – James’s, which at the time looked drawish, Nigel (drawish) and MikeW (chaotic, over g-pawned, etc..). so things weren’t clear. The TSToSCGs never had issues like this…
The next game to end was James –
Board Two – Piet Dobber v James Byrne
This looked like being a close struggle, but James became a pawn up in the end-game and that proved enough for the win! Comments from James.
So Taunton creep ahead – just one more win needed. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, cometh Mike Ward!
Board Eight – AJ Smith v Mike Ward
By move 11, Mike had only his Queen developed. Much later there was an odd extra g-pawn which had made its way there somehow. But Mike played without error and his extra pawns clearly won through. The tactic of MikeW on board 8 gives us a win again. We must never field a SomCup team without MikeW on 8. Never! Well played Mike!
This gave us the overall win – yay!
There was one game still to go – Nigel’s.
I don’t have the scoresheet, but Nigel was a couple of pawns up in the end-game and a win looked secured. We waited ages and ages and ages for the game to finish – i.e. for his opponent tor resign. But it didn’t. So we waited ages and ages more. Still not finished. Sportingly we waited even more. Still not finished. Then we remembered that the final series of Peep Show was on TV, so we dashed off. Sorry Nigel – well played – I assume you won – here is a photo of the game in a surely won position –
Anyway Taunton won, probably by 5.5 to 2.5!
Well done to all and plenty of time to hone our chess skills proir to the SemiFinal in Feb!