Inter-County Championship 2007–08

Results and reports from the county’s matches will appear here throughout the season.

Previous years

Under 150

Nottinghamshire U150 – Greater Manchester U150

Neil Graham

Notts Under 150 scored its most convincing victory for many years by beating Greater Manchester 12½–3½ at Stoke. The side welcomed back Tony Wright, Mike McBeth and Brian Thompson on their sojourn to the Under 150s, whilst juniors Daniel Lin and Jonathan Day made their debuts at this level; the remaining team members were the usual suspects from past seasons.

The match got off to a traditional start when Will Place scored a quick win, as in the opening fixture last year. There followed draws on Boards 2, 8, 12, 14, 9 and 5 in about that order to make the score 4–3 to Notts. Thereafter the floodgates opened, with seven Nottinghamshire players winning without any response from Manchester, leaving just Keith Roper and Tony Wright at the board. Keith agreed a draw in a complex position whilst Tony eventually forced a resignation from his opponent in an ending which left Tony with a knight, king and three versus king and four, Tony having an outside passed pawn. I reminded Tony that his opponent was the same player who had beaten him some three seasons ago when an incorrect claim for a third repetition of position was made by the Notts player – so revenge at last.

The next match is against Staffordshire in a month’s time, when everyone who didn’t get a game this time will be invited to play. Thanks to everyone who played in this opening fixture and I hope we will keep up the good work in the next match.

Nottinghamshire U150 – Greater Manchester U150
3 November 2007
1A. J. Wright1491–0M. Compston147
2M. McBeth149½–½G El Gehani141
3A. Combie1481–0A. Beresford130
4W. Place1471–0D. Newell135
5T. A. Lane145½–½J. Lonsdale134
6K. Harvey1431–0M. Pollard127
7B. Thompson1411–0J. Arevulo130e
8D. Sudar138½–½D. Pardoe130
9D. Toms138½–½M. Connor129
10W. F. Ray1371–0R. Nurse114
11B. M. Hayward1361–0D. Kierman130
12S. Cranmer132½–½J. Nicolson122
13D. Lin1321–0G. Morrison117
14N. Graham129½–½M. Burke118
15J. Day1271–0D. Connolly107
16K. W. Roper126½–½K. Andrews104

Staffordshire U150 – Nottinghamshire U150

Neil Graham

The Nottinghamshire Under 150 team visited Brewood Cricket Club as guests of Staffordshire on 1 December. There were six changes in the Nottinghamshire side from the team that trounced Manchester 12½–3½ with Steve Hunter, Lateefah Messam-Sparks, Keith Walters, Bob Taylor, John Tassi and Oliver Exton making their initial appearances of the season. Two special mentions: firstly for Lateefah, who was playing her debut game for the Under 150 side and for Keith Walters who stepped in at the last moment.

At this point I should regale readers with how Notts stumped their opponents, how Staffordshire had too many slips and who was the third man to win. In fact that’s about the best I can do as I had a particularly complex game that kept me fully occupied (1) thinking up sacrifices and (2) having to play the last 20 moves before the time control in 15 minutes when I failed to gain more than a pawn. When I emerged from this Notts had taken a 7½–1½ lead and that increased steadily to 11½–2½ with not a local loss to be sighted. The remaining two games involved Steve Hunter and David Toms. Steve and his opponent agreed a draw with virtually no time left on either clock whilst David, with a minute left, claimed a draw under the two-minute rule claiming his opponent could not win by normal means – a decision that will have to be taken by an arbiter outside the match. (The claim was eventually rejected – Staffordshire were awarded the win.)

Both Manchester and Staffordshire have not been strong this year and they have both been roundly defeated by Notts who have enormous strength in depth at this level. Our next two opponents Warwickshire and Leicestershire will prove much tougher tests and are clearly the two teams that will compete with us for a place in the National stages. Their match on Saturday was drawn 8–8, which means that Notts need a win against either side to progress. Dates for these matches are now:

Staffordshire U150 – Nottinghamshire U150
1 December 2007
1Simon Edwards1480–1Anthony. J. Wright149
2Trevor Owen1400–1Mike McBeth149
3Stephen Hill1380–1Will Place148
4Dave Daniels134½–½Alex Combie148
5Martin May1320–1Tim A. Lane145
6Diarmid Gibson132½–½Steve Hunter141
7Frank Wood131½–½Brian Thompson141
8Derek Perks1291–0David Toms138
9Peter Leary129½–½Lateefah Messam-Sparks137
10Manoj Arora 1240–1Brian M. Hayward136
11Max Wootton1260–1J. Keith Walters130
12Steve Wilcox 1250–1Neil Graham129
13Ken McNulty120½–½Jonathan Day127
14Ken Francis1180–1Robert P.Taylor129
15Steve Harris111½–½JohnTassi128
16Ray Dolan980–1Oliver Exton126

Nottinghamshire U150 – Warwickshire U150

Neil Graham

Nottinghamshire were comprehensively beaten by Warwickshire by 10 boards to 6 at Lenton. This defeat effectively means that our Midland title has gone to Warwickshire and that we must win our last match against Leicestershire to qualify for the national stages. Warwickshire and Leicestershire had drawn their earlier match 8 boards each.

The match began inauspiciously when Tom Day, who was scheduled to play Board 1, failed to appear and after 45 minutes I had to substitute having lost half of my time allocation (more about this elsewhere). The home team got off to the best possibly start with a win for Brian Thompson, but following this Warwickshire replied with wins on Boards 4, 7 and 12. Each time Notts bridged this two-point gap (notably with wins from Alex Combie and Tony Wright) Warwickshire replied with another win.

The match hinged on the lower boards; on Boards 1–9 the score was 5–4 to Notts, but we lost Boards 10–16 by 6–1. We have a large number of eligible players for these boards, but in this match, the first in which we were tested, we were found inadequate.

When the three Keiths all succumbed in quick succession, the match was over: Warwicks leading 9–4. Mike McBeth scored another win for Notts and in time scrambles both Steve Hunter and Brian Hayward halved – the latter swindled out of the win. But by this time the match was lost.

Our ‘must win’ match against Leicestershire is scheduled for 2 February.

Nottinghamshire U150 – Warwickshire U150
12 January 2008
1Neil Graham (reserve)1290–1Colin Eckloff148
2Antony. J. Wright1491–0Robert Reynolds144
3Mike McBeth1491–0Mike Doran146
4Will Place1470–1Robert Wallman148
5Alex Combie1481–0Mark Cundy147
6Tim A. Lane145½–½ Mike Maher144
7Kevin Harvey1430–1Robert Walker143
8Steve Hunter141½–½ Richard C Reynolds142
9Brian Thompson1411–0Keith Thomas141
10David Toms1380–1Gary Hope140
11Brian M.Hayward136½–½ Darren Lee140
12Daniel Lin1320–1Simon Williams140
13Stan Cranmer132½–½ Adam Draper135
14J. Keith Walters1300–1John Fahy135
15Keith Brameld1290–1Phil Bull135
16Keith Roper1260–1Alan Burnett127

Leicestershire U150 – Nottinghamshire U150

Neil Graham

Notts look to be out of the Under 150 Championship after an 8–8 draw with Leicestershire. Only an unusual set of results can now keep the county in the competition. Again the side played inconsistently and although in the lead all the way could not find the final half point that could have carried the team into the National stages.

Without dwelling on the earlier matches, especially my own abysmal game, Notts led by 6½–4½ with five games remaining. Drag Sudar’s game was drawn with the Notts player certainly worse and then Otto Hardy blundered when under substantial pressure versus Brian Hayward, so Notts were three up with three to play.

However, all the remaining games were difficult endings. Will Place was the first to succumb when he had to sacrifice his bishop to stop a passed pawn. His opponent refused to exchange the remaining pawns and soon the position was lost. Alex Combie had to cope with passed pawns on both wings. One was taken, leaving him to get back to stop a rook’s pawn on the opposite side with king and knight. The position was extremely difficult and eventually the pawn was shepherded to the queening square by the opponent’s king and knight. The final game involved Jonathan Day and Graham Booley. Graham used to be a 150+ player and although his grade has fallen, he is still an extremely match-savvy player. Here he had a bishop versus Jonathan’s knight and again there was an awkward outside passed pawn. Whilst Jonathan’s king was displaced guarding against the outside pawn queening, Graham found a winning resource where he sacrificed his bishop for a pawn to open the centre and force a passed pawn. The knight was unable to do anything to prevent the pawn running and so it rushed off to assist Jonathan in queening – too late though, as the king was mated and so the match ended in a draw.

Once the remaining results are known for the zone, I’ll complete my season’s report. Let’s think the unthinkable and hope that the final matches go in our favour!

Leicestershire U150 – Nottinghamshire U150
2 February 2008
1Mike Cowley1461–0Antony J. Wright149
2Alan Jex1410–1Mike McBeth149
3John Glover1391–0Will Place147
4David Farrall1371–0Alex Combie148
5Paul Colburn1350–1Tim A. Lane145
6Steve Turvey1330–1Kevin Harvey143
7Peter Harrison1331–0Steve Hunter141
8Steve Wylie1320–1Brian Thompson141
9John Pattinson132½–½Drag Sudar138
10Otto Hardy1310–1Brian M. Hayward136
11Mick Tate131½–½Stan Cranmer132
12Bob Collins1271–0Neil Graham129
13Karl Potter1270–1Daniel Lin132
14Chris Tipper1271–0Bob Taylor129
15Graham Booley1151–0Jonathan Day127
16Mike Busby940–1John Tassi128

National Quarter-Final: Essex U150 – Nottinghamshire U150

Drag Sudar

This was a very good win for Notts. The teams were evenly matched, the result should have been much tighter and the Essex boys helped create a competitive but friendly atmosphere.

I knew I was on top form when after an hour or so I asked Steve ‘What time did you get here?’ and he stared at me in disbelief before replying ‘You should know – I was in your car’. Oh dear. I blame the sun – or was it the pre-match pint? Thankfully I remembered to move my pieces and drew after 29 moves.

By now Brian T., David and Neil were better but Brian H. and Boards 13–16 were struggling. After a while Steve and Kev drew, Brian T. won his R + P endgame, Neil won with a typical kingside attack and David smoothly won his game against a former Gambit player, Charlton Siddo, giving us a 4½–1½ lead.

Then the fun began. Stan played a lovely move leaving his opponent with the choice of losing his knight or his queen, and Jonathan won the ‘Swindle of the day’ award as he was a piece down with no compensation but somehow manoeuvred his rook and two knights into a mating attack. We were now 6½–1½ up.

After Bill drew and John went down fighting we got our second lot of bonuses. Bob had wriggled out of a losing position into a good R + P ending and showed great composure to win. Brian H.’s opponent had a passed b-pawn but allowed Brian to pick up some kingside pawns before sacrificing his rook for the b-pawn, so had to give back the rook to stop Brian promoting his pawn – and the match was won.

Will had a steady win and Alex won his usual tactical battle, but Keith eventually conceded and Tim was outmanoeuvred in a knight and pawn ending.

The final score probably flattered us but the lads showed great character and took their chances.

Essex U150 – Nottinghamshire U150
10 May 2008
1Nayeem Syed1490–1Alex Combie148
2Ken Clow1470–1Will Place147
3Neville Twitchell1441–0Tim A. Lane145
4Rod Johnson143½–½Kevin Harvey 143
5Paul Barclay143½–½Steve Hunter141
6John Philpott1430–1Brian Thompson141
7Mark Murrell139½–½Drag Sudar138
8Gavin Strachan139½–½Brian M. Hayward136
9David Brock133½–½Bill Ray137
10Charlton Siddo1370–1David Toms138
11Malcolm Kingsley1370–1Stan Cranmer132
12David Smith1340–1Neil Graham129
13Alan Riddoch1350–1Jonathan Day127
14Ian Morgan1241–0John Tassi128
15Tom Winter1230–1Bob Taylor129
16Jeff McWain1171–0Keith Roper126

National Semi-Final: Yorkshire U150 – Nottinghamshire U150

Neil Graham and Drag Sudar

After sweeping aside Essex in the national quarter-finals, Nottinghamshire encountered some Yorkshire Grit in the semis and were unable to progress to the finals. This was Notts’ sixth successive County Under 150 appearance at this stage, but once again the team faltered and failed for a fifth time.

There were five early draws on Boards 1, 3, 6, 7 and 13; then the away side took an early lead when Oliver Exton comprehensively outplayed his opponent, culminating in a temporary queen sacrifice that allowed the local player to queen a pawn with a decisive attack. After that though there were more draws, with neither side being able to add a decisive result to the scoresheet.

However, the main concern was that nowhere across the 16 boards did Notts hold a significant advantage, and as the match proceeded into the final hour and a half, those positions where we were struggling finally gave way. Alex Combie tried for too much, Keith Walters lost after being the exchange down for a considerable time, Stan Cranmer went down in the endgame and finally Bob Taylor lost a bishop when his mating threat was easily repelled. The only reply came from Brian Thompson, who once again showed his adeptness in securing a win in an ending where patience proved a virtue. Brian Hayward might have scored a third win, but he had only two minutes left with his opponent sitting with over an hour on the clock and this time pressure again meant a drawn game.

With Notts trailing by 8–6 it was pointed out that even if we won the final two games, the match would be lost on board count. Consequently David Toms with two doubled pawns against a knight ended his game with just two kings on the board whilst I [Neil] thankfully didn’t have to try to win a most complicated endgame a pawn down but with counterplay in compensation. So out of 16 games Notts were victorious in just two and Yorkshire relished their four wins.

It’s been another outstanding year for the Under 150 team, but let’s hope we can overcome the apparently insuperable semi-final hurdle next year!

Yorkshire U150 – Nottinghamshire U150
15 June 2008
1James Carpenter145½–½Mike McBeth149
2Clive Davies1471–0Alex Combie148
3Andrew Bak146½–½Will Place147
4Mark Birkin145½–½Tim A. Lane145
5David Patrick1420–1Brian Thompson141
6Jonathan Swallow142½–½Steve Hunter141
7George Bak140½–½Drag Sudar138
8Bien Cuaresma138½–½Brian M. Hayward136
9Randolph Donahue136½–½David Toms138
10Tom Pitcher1061–0Stan Cranmer132
11Paul Howden1351–0Keith Walters130
12Robin Browne134½–½Neil Graham129
13Rupert Jones134½–½Jonathan Day127
14Paul Clarke1331–0Bob Taylor128
15Martin Simmonds1320–1Oliver Exton126
16Nick Mahoney128½–½John Tassi128

Under 125

The U125 side has withdrawn from the competition due to lack of interest.

Under 100

Leicestershire B U100 – Nottinghamshire U100

Terry Norris-Hunt

Leicestershire B Under 100 played host to Nottinghamshire’s Under 100 side at Syston on 17 November. We fielded a full squad, and many thanks to those people who were prepared to play at short notice. We lost the toss – that was almost the only consolation our opponents were to have. Some regulars turned out, but it was a new experience for several players. The first result in was Stewart Swift’s win, making the score 1–0 to us. The roll continued until we stood at 5–0. Stephen Morley had to wait almost the full hour before a substitute opponent turned up; his was an attacking game that ended with yet another win for us. By the end of the match we had secured a convincing 10–2 victory, conceding only one hard fought game, with two draws – Leicestershire were made to fight to collect those half points. The next match is on 8 December against Leicestershire’s A team.

Leicestershire B U100 – Nottinghamshire U100
17 November 2007
1 Dave Crane930–1Derek Cronshaw96
2Stan Parsons87½–½Sally McIntosh94
3Alan Butler780–1Benjamin Hobson86
4Ashley DaweSub0–1Stephen Morley80
5Daniel Foulds700–1Peter Smith75
6Ray Beach69½–½Terence Norris-Hunt70
7David Mulvaney0–1Paul Todd64
8Elizabeth Mulvaney0–1Stewart Swift
9Lawrence Chan1–0Steven Baker
10Chris Mulvaney0–1Charlotte Attwood
11Julie Johnson0–1Kenneth Heath55
12Tim Mulvaney0–1Joseph Pacitto38

Nottinghamshire U100 – Leicestershire A U100

Terry Norris-Hunt

Genuine thanks to all players for your time and commitment. Apologies for the brevity of the report; circumstances conspired – I just didn’t see any games. Next time I’ll do better.

Our next match against Warwickshire is on 12 January. It will start at the earlier time of 1:00 p.m. at Lenton Community Centre, Willoughby Street, Lenton, Nottingham NG7 1RQ. There is a match fee: £2 adults, £1 juniors.

Nottinghamshire U100 – Leicestershire A U100
8 December 2007
1Sayer, Ray M97½–½I. Farquaharson99
2Cronshaw, Derek961–0M. Thornton94
3Harper, George920–1C. Johnson92
4Terry Norris-Hunt (sub)70½–½S. Hollingworth96
5Justice, Edwin861–0E. Gist82
6Hobson, Benjamin L861–0R. T. Davis90
7Brown, Alan861–0R. King89
8Smith, Peter G850–1T. Clay85
9Morrell, Len J83½–½M. Adams87
10Dawson, Richard80½–½C. Eastlake84
11Hargreaves, Malcolm D780–1M. MartinU/G
12Todd, Paul J641–0Default

Nottinghamshire U100 – Warwickshire U100

Terry Norris-Hunt

Warwickshire’s team arrived a little late, but fielded a full side, outgrading us on almost all boards. The first result was a win by Ric Dawson, but soon the match was level, and stayed that way until one game remained, the score 5½ each. It was the top board; Derek played well, but as the game reached its last minutes his opponent’s king found safety from the checks and so Warks won the match by one point.

As we have already qualified for the semi-finals, there may well be a rematch.

Nottinghamshire U100 – Warwickshire U100
12 January 2008
1Cronshaw, Derek960–1Kim Gilbert95
2McIntosh, Sally941–0Malcolm Phipps96
3Harper, George920–1Robert Statham96
4Zhang, Michael90½–½Pauline Woodward94
5Hobson, Benjamin L86½–½Keegan Harrisson93
6Brown, Alan86½–½Dennis Horsely93
7Ali, Hamzah84½–½Graham Gee88
8Morrell, Len J83½–½Steven Bowen89
9Dawson, Richard801–0Bramwell Garner87
10Todd, Paul J640–1Ken Wise86
11Peter Smith (Sub)85½–½Joe Rourke86
12Heath, Kenneth B55½–½David Rowe81

MCCU semi-final: Staffordshire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100

Neil Graham

Unfortunately, Terry Norris-Hunt has resigned as Under 100 captain. The reason for Terry’s resignation primarily relates to the MCCU. Anyway: in order for the team to meet its responsibilities, I offered to act as non-playing captain at a NCA Executive meeting. Eventually I heard from Staffordshire Terriers that we were to play them in the semi-finals. It took me some time to get into the swing of organising a team, but eventually, and after a lot of phone calls, I managed to find 12 players who were available, with the last player joining the team on the evening before the match.

Everyone turned up at the pick-up point and we arrived at Newcastle-under-Lyme to find ourselves outgraded on every board. After exhorting our young players to ‘play slowly’, I settled down to watch the games. Notts made an early breakthrough when newcomer Pritesh Patel’s opponent dropped a piece, but Staffordshire soon evened things up with a bottom board win. Despite my advice some of our younger players were soon turning back their clocks at the 36th move time control. There were draws from Stewart Swift, Arun Maini and Ashton Alfred as the match progressed, but wins for Ben Hobson and Hamzah Ali were countered by losses on Boards 7 and 8. With three games remaining the scores were tied at 4½–4½. Derek had been on the defensive for most of the match and he eventually had to concede. Len, meanwhile, had won a pawn just before the time control, but a couple of loose moves had allowed his opponent to equalise; fortunately the ending was unclear and a draw agreed. The match now depended on Michael Zhang’s game. Michael had been well ahead but a series of exchanges, not always to Notts’ advantage, had left us with a rook and pawn versus rook ending. The Staffordshire player initially looked confident in his handling of the position, but soon went completely wrong, allowing Michael to move his king up the board and threaten an unstoppable checkmate. So Notts go through to the national stages with a win on board count and a rematch against Warwickshire – scheduled for 5 April at Birmingham.

Staffordshire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100
8 March 2008
1Geoff Lee971–0Derek Cronshaw96
2Oliver Horrocks980–1Michael Zhang90
3Paul Shelley950–1Pritish Patel
4Dave Tindley960–1Ben Hobson86
5John Montague93½–½Len Morrell83
6John Cater 930–1Hamzah Ali85
7Paul Clapham901–0Rick Dawson80
8Ray Dolan1–0Andrew Garside74
9Matthew Wyza84½–½Stewart Swift
10Robert West74½–½Ashton Alfred73
11Carl Mustafa74½–½Arun Maini58
12Nick McLean 721–0Joseph Pacitto38
Nottinghamshire win on board count

MCCU final: Warwickshire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100

Sally McIntosh

The Nottinghamshire team travelled to Birmingham to face the usual strong Warwickshire side and were outgraded on every board except Board 1. Unfortunately we started a point down, having lost Len Morrell somewhere en route. An hour into the match, things were looking very bad indeed. We were 5½–½ down, Ashton Alfred having celebrated his birthday by claiming the only half point from boards 7–12!

Things began to improve, however, with Alan Brown’s win on Board 6 and Ben Hobson’s draw on Board 5. Michael Zhang on Board 3 was in a strong position, having pinned his opponent’s pawn to secure a neat knight fork on the king and rook, and Pritesh Patel was finding a number of ways to win material on Board 4. Despite continuing pressure throughout the game, I was unable to find a win on Board 2, eventually having to settle for a draw, and, knowing the match to be lost, Ray Sayer also conceded a draw on Board 1 in an even position. Pritesh eventually forced his opponent to the edge of the board for a checkmate and Michael’s opponent resigned in the face of an unstoppable pawn advance, bringing us back to the fairly respectable score of 7–5.

As the second placed Midlands team we will still continue to the national level, but we now face a more difficult match in the quarter finals in May.

Warwickshire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100
5 April 2008
1Kim Gilbert97½–½Ray Sayer97
2Malcolm Phipps96½–½Sally McIntosh94
3Alan Johnson960–1Michael Zhang90
4Pauline Woodward940–1Pritesh Patel
5Kegan Harrison93½–½Ben Hobson86
6Graham Gee900–1Alan Brown86
7Steven Bowen891–0Hamzah Ali85
8Bram Garner871–0Default
9John Pakenham86½–½Ashton Alfred73
10Ken Wise861–0Andrew Garside74
11David Rowe811–0Ross MacKay60
12John Green1–0Tracey Clegg58

National quarter-final: Lancashire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100

Neil Graham

Lancashire conceded a board in this Counties Championship quarter-final before play began so Notts travelled to the match at Newcastle-under-Lyme with 11 players and a board up. The northern captain advised that he also had a ‘make weight’ on bottom board and that soon became apparent as Ashton quickly scored the full point.

I left the venue to walk into Newcastle after about an hour and a quarter. Len was a piece down, the other boards had, at best, only a pawn either way; the middle boards looked as if they might conclude whilst the top boards were still firmly in the opening.

When I returned about 45 minutes later, I found that Pritesh had made the most of an advantage he had held when I’d left and that Michael had drawn. So the score was 3½–½ to Notts. Rick had won a piece in my absence and quickly converted this to the full point. Ben showed how an endgame should be played with a bishop versus a knight and Stewart’s opponent did the opposite, exchanging to a K + RP v K ending and surprisingly finding it was drawn. So 2½ points garnered and the score 6–1.

Top boards Derek and Ray were aware of the match situation and quickly agreed draws to ensure a Notts victory. Len had won his piece back, but his young opponent showed some skilful touches to give Lancashire their only win of the day. Hamzah could make no impression in an ending in which his opponent blockaded the centre. Sally had launched a powerful kingside offensive, but unfortunately left a piece en prise in the middle of the attack. Her opponent chose to take a draw by repetition when he clearly stood better so, fortunately, the match finished early – and we could go home with an 8–4 win.

Lancashire had qualified ‘by default’ whilst we had played five matches to reach this stage and this clearly showed. I thank our opponents for their sportsmanship both on the board and in making the arrangements and also Martyn Harris for his help at the venue. Notts face Surrey next in the semi-finals – they trounced Norfolk 10½–1½ and look to have a side bolstered by (presumably) vastly improving juniors.

Finally both teams stood in silence in memory of Peter Smith (Nomads) before the match commenced. Peter was a regular member of the Under 100 squad and had played earlier this year for the side.

Lancashire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100
17 May 2008
1Abigail Pritchard97½–½Ray Sayer97
2Kenny Quinn94½–½Derek Cronshaw96
3Dave Hartley89½–½Sally McIntosh94
4Danny Reeves84½–½Michael Zhang90
5Lothian InnesU0–1Pritesh PatelU
6Ian Mitchell700–1Ben Hobson86
7Mick Walsh61½–½Stewart SwiftU
8Frank Tanner51½–½Hamzah Ali85
9James Walsh511–0Len Morrell 83
10Matthew Walsh490–1Ric Dawson80
11Matthew ReeveU0–1Ashton Alfred73

National semi-final: Surrey U100 – Nottinghamshire U100

Neil Graham

Notts beat Surrey 6½–5½ in a match that ended in a dispute and where a ruling had to be obtained from the ECF.

On the night preceding the match unfortunately a team member dropped out, and after some two hours of phoning around, I obtained a last minute substitute in Ken Heath of Gambit. On Saturday the team set off and eventually we all arrived at Bicester, which had been deemed an intermediate venue. Our opponents hadn’t all arrived at the specified time and those who were present began, with the latecomers starting without any time penalty.

Some time after this, I was approached by the opposing captain and it was pointed out that Ken was playing with the incorrect colour. The FIDE Laws are clear on this in that Article 7.2 says ‘If a game has begun with colours reversed, then it shall continue, unless the arbiter rules otherwise’. One of the Surrey players had a copy of the Laws with him and this was confirmed. The opposition captain, who wanted the game restarted, reserved his right of appeal and the two players, oblivious of the error, continued without being disturbed.

By this time the results had started to filter through. Nigel Wright, making a welcome return, drew steadily, whilst Andrew Garside scored the first win for Notts with some impressive play in the Scotch Gambit. However, Surrey soon replied with a win on Board 3. Although Michael also lost, Notts took the lead with wins from Ed and Hamzah. Ed’s opponent somehow lost his queen, whilst Hamzah won first the exchange, which became a rook and then two rooks before his opponent gave up. Draws from Ben, Len and Ric added to the scores and with three to play Notts were 5–4 up.

The last three games were decidedly double-edged. Derek had lost a piece but had three pawns in compensation; Pritesh’s game was clearly drawn. Suddenly Pritesh went completely wrong in the ending and Derek’s game was agreed as drawn, so with one game playing it was 5½–5½. As if fate had decreed this even before the match begun, it had to be Ken’s game. At one time I thought that the Notts player was winning, but pawns and the position were gradually slipping away; then suddenly, when I wasn’t looking, the Surrey player left his rook en prise when in no danger and resigned.

It would be nice to say that the match ended there, but it didn’t. Ken had no idea that anything was amiss and suddenly his game had become even more in dispute. Suffice it to say that the details were sent by the ECF to an independent Senior Arbiter and the result stood.

This was an exceptional win for Notts who were outgraded on 11 of the 12 boards. Thanks to all the players who represented the county and we look forward to meeting Hertfordshire in the final.

Surrey U100 – Nottinghamshire U100
7 June 2008
1Julian Walker98½–½Nigel Wright97
2Tom Middleton98½–½Derek Cronshaw96
3Joshua Pineda951–0Sally McIntosh94
4Jasper Tambini881–0Michael Zhang90
5Barnaby Paul851–0Pritesh Patel
6Harvey Murray-Smith94½ –½Ben Hobson86
7Richard Jones940–1Edwin Justice86
8Stephen Welch920–1Hamzah Ali85
9Jonathan Andrew91½–½ Len Morrell 83
10Balraj Gill 87½–½Ric Dawson80
11Robert Jurjevic890–1Andrew Garside74
12Peter Armitage870–1Ken Heath55

National final: Hertfordshire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100

Neil Graham

‘Our toughest match of the season’ was the response of Hertfordshire captain Kidge Elder as the Southern county beat Notts by 7 boards to 5.

To be fair, Herts established a strong lead and Notts never looked like catching up. The match began inauspiciously for the local team when the normally reliable Ben lost in quick time in a ‘1001 new traps in the opening’ variety. There was a long wait for result number two, which was a typical Andrew result (Andrew ten minutes on the clock, opponent one and a half hours) – but it was only a draw as the Herts player was content to repeat positions.

However, a cursory glance at the remaining boards showed that not all was well, with pieces and exchanges adrift on a number of boards. No surprise therefore when Stewart and Michael conceded whilst Hamzah played on in a totally lost position for some time. Pritesh also lost, having declined a draw offer, but at last the first Notts win appeared from Ashton, who showed again why a good bishop beats a bad knight in the ending. With boards 3, 4, 5 and 7 lost, there was no hope even of a win on board count, so Board 2 was agreed drawn in a totally even position.

Nigel had weathered a piece sacrifice on Board 1 but was under substantial pressure; his opponent regained the piece and Herts soon scored the full point. There was a mini Notts revival at the end: Ric had been a piece up for a considerable time – his opponent wriggled around for a while but was completely lost and gave up when he found he was losing lots more material. Edwin had an imbalanced position of 5 pawns vs. bishop + 2 but was able to demonstrate a win when the bishop was unable to stop a pawn running home. Len’s game was tactically very complex and the Notts player found all the best moves, both to improve his position and thwart any chances of a cheapo by his opponent. The 40 move time control was reached and the Herts player soon resigned in a hopeless position.

It was unfortunate that the High School players had already played on Saturday and they were clearly not in their best form. Nevertheless, everyone in the Notts side, including those who were unavailable for the final, can be proud of the way the team has played this year and I hope that next year we can continue our progress at this level.

Hertfordshire U100 – Nottinghamshire U100
5 July 2008
1Roger Kearns991–0Nigel Wright97
2Terry Douse99½–½Sally McIntosh94
3Gabriel Williams961–0Michael Zhang90
4Barry Saunders931–0Pritesh Patel
5Gary Ruddick931–0Ben Hobson86
6Ray Butcher980–1Edwin Justice86
7David Hobden861–0Hamzah Ali85
8Ian Leighton931–0Stewart Swift
9Terry O’Sullivan810–1Len Morrell83
10Ian Riddoch570–1Ric Dawson80
11John Harris78½–½Andrew Garside74
12Kidge Elder770–1Ashton Alfred73