4NCL: 29 April-1 May 2000
Saturday 29th April
Martin Simons, trying to pretend that he is not just an accountant but a turf accountant as well, was offering 6-1 on the team getting promoted. Three wins would probably have done it, depending on the vagaries of the last round draw. I believe it is still the subject of discussion as to whether a bet was actually struck...
Wessex Perceptron Youth
1 W Corkett, Anthony 2295 ½-½ Hunt, Adam 2388 2 B Upton, Ian 2238 1-0 Mutton, Jonathan 2110 3 W Neil, David 2244 1-0 Broomfield, Matthew 2166 4 B Yeo, Michael 2198 ½-½ Hodge, David 2117 5 W Simons, Martin 2248 ½-½ Trent, Lawrence 2188 6 B Willmoth, Robert F * 2215 0-1 Frost, Nicholas 2109 7 W Pleasants, Allan 2072 1-0 Jessie Gilbert (F) 2050 8 B Default 0-1 Foster-Yeow, Andrew 1528 4½-3½
Emily's final exams and Karen being taken to hospital left us without a woman (for the afternoon anyway). Somehow it felt worse being 1-0 down due to a default than if someone had played and lost. Philip was away playing for someone else (!), so we produced our first wildcard of the season (I'm not sure when the last one was). After a couple of hours it looked like we might muster seven draws - no-one was doing particularly badly, but neither was anyone doing very well. After three hours my opponent offered me a draw, but I still couldn't see where our wins were coming from so played on. After 3½ hours, with five minutes left on his clock, he offered another draw. By this time Martin had drawn a slightly dodgy ending so I asked him how we were doing. He was fairly optimistic, but further enquiries revealed that he thought Ian was a pawn up and winning. Luckily my own eyes confirmed that while Ian did indeed have an extra pawn, he was also the exchange down! ,Dave's game looked more promising, Rob's looked worse but Allan was attacking (his young female opponent had never faced the Blackmar before). Still not enough points, but the more I looked at my own position, the worse it looked. I played a few more moves in the hope he would go for an ending, but then when he didn't I had to repeat moves. I trooped off to the analysis room thinking we had blown it. While I was gone, things improved. Allan and Dave both won. Rob had to resign after the time-control which left the score 3½ - 3½ and our captain courageous to finish. Somehow, Ian won the exchange back and then was amused to be able to deliver checkmate with a bishop and knight in the middle of the board. Possibly our best result of the season. 6-1 was now looking a bit generous.
yeo_rd9.pgn Dull and boring.
The curry house that night was good, but the team's official photographer recording the occasion has had to be sacked due to her inability to open her shutter. (Is anyone else prepared to take on this onerous responsibility? The former holder of the job wishes to point out that her shutter should open automatically!)
Sunday 30th April
Wessex Bigwood 2
1 w Rossiter, Philip 2368 ½-½ Taylor, Peter 2187 2 b Corkett, Anthony 2295 ½-½ Naylor, John 2253 3 w Neil, David 2244 0-1 Barnes, Michael 2245 4 b Upton, Ian 2238 ½-½ Dighton, Stephen 2230 5 w Simons, Martin 2248 ½-½ Hadzimanolis, Antonios 2224 6 b Yeo, Michael 2198 1-0 Thomas, Nick 2215 7 w Willmoth, Robert F * 2215 1-0 Evans, Raymond 2176 8 b Default 0-1 Howard, Marieanne (F) 1536 4-4
Still womanless, but at least Philip had returned. Our opponents had however also strengthened their team despite moving their previous days Board 7 up to Board 1. This time I was the first to finish when my opponent in time trouble tried an ambitious winning attempt and blundered. Rob won soon afterwards (but took some time to let the controller know about it) but elsewhere things were trickier. Dave had a reasonable position out of the opening but was gradually outplayed. I thought Martin was losing a piece in the opening, but he emerged with a very promising ending that he then messed up by misplacing his king. He was relieved to draw (clearly had too much sleep with the 1 p.m. start). 3-3. This time our captain's heroics were solely confined to turning a lost position into a drawn one by ending up with bishops of opposite colours. By now, everyone was hopeful that Philip would be able to make use of his extra space advantage but despite (or maybe because of) using vast amounts of time on moves 41 and 42, it wasn't to be. 4-4 rather than 4½-3½ meant that in the last round we would have to win 5½ - 2½ rather than just win against Barbican 2 to gain promotion. 6-1 was now looking very mean! Martin decided to get a full night's sleep.
yeo_rd10.pgn Death of a variation.
Monday 1st May
Barbican 4NCL 2 Wessex
1 w Rogers, Jonathan 2340 1-0 Corkett, Anthony 2295 2 b Duncan, Chris 2302 0-1 Rossiter, Philip 2368 3 w Palliser, Richard 2322 ½-½ Yeo, Michael 2198 4 b Twyble,Mark 2214 1-0 Simons, Martin 2248 5 w Sands, David 2258 ½-½ Upton, Ian 2238 6 b D'Costa,Lorin 2215 1-0 Neil, David 2244 7 w Lewis, Andrew 2266 1-0 Willmoth, Robert F * 2215 8 b Fox, Tanya (F) * 1256 0-1 Howard, Emily (F) 2050 5-3
(when we needed to win 5½-2½ to gain promotion)
So near and yet...(MY) ...bloody miles away! (DN)
Our chances were never that good, but our morale was greatly improved (and the opposition somewhat concerned) by the sight of Emily. Taking time off from her studies she demolished her opponent (who understandably hadn't been expecting to play) in 90 minutes and then departed. Hopefully her exams will go as well! The rest of us were struggling, except for Philip who unusually was half an hour ahead on the clock. I got to a position where I had run out of ideas and was surprised to find that my opponent had as well. Ian chose to repeat moves (and keep his unbeaten record for the season) rather than commit suicide, but 2-1 up was as good as it got. Dave and Martin (looking very tired) both lost on time in hopeless positions and Rob resigned after the time scramble. The one win came from Philip whose opponent when in timetrouble left his queen en prise, attempted to put the queen back and make another move and then realised that there were rather a lot of people watching.
yeo_rd11.pgn Queen's Gambit Accepted or a Chigorin?
Congratulations to South Wales Dragons, Barbican 2 and Poisoned Pawns who get promoted. Seventh place was probably a bit below where I thought we would finish, but we certainly missed opportunities to do better. I will do some kind of performance table for the season in due course.
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