Somerset v Gloucestershire

We are indebted to Jack Rudd for the following report.

Played at St Edward’s School, Cheltenham on 21 February 2004. Gloucestershire had white on the odd boards.

Board

Somerset

Grade

BCF No

Result

Gloucestershire

Grade

BCF No

1

TWYBLE, Michael S.

202

120731D

½-½

HOSKEN, Nigel

180

113031G

2

RUDD, Jack

207

118310C

1-0

BURN, Malcolm

180est

-

3

FOOTNER, Andrew F

176

110729L

½-½

MEADE, Phil J.

174

115392E

4

PUGH, Derek C.

185

117513A

1-0

DODWELL, Phil

172

109759D

5

EDGELL, Ben P.

149j

185236L

1-0

BROWN, K. 

169

101424K

6

LITTLEJOHNS, D. 

158

114482A

1-0

Default

-

-

7

GIBBS, Dominic V.

158

101893A

0-1

WHITE, Michael 

167

149180F

8

PURRY, Chris S.

154

117534J

1-0

Default

-

-

9

WILSON, Nicholas

154

162574D

0-1

TAYLOR, G.P. 

159

140995F

10

JEPPS, Gerry N.

147

13628J

0-1

MATTOS, Chris

137

135226L

11

WINCH, Colin E.

140

126904F

1-0

GUY, Matthew

132

186715F

12

MCKINLEY, C.

142

115187D

½-½

BENTLEY, A. R.

129

106637H

13

STEER, Graham

138

155229G

0-1

RICHARDS, Alun

129

117865K

14

WOOD, David C.

136

126981B

1-0

HARRISON, P. .

125

154511F

15

EADIE, Robert S.

136

174377G

1-0

BLENCOWE, I.

112

106888L

16

SKINNER, Adam

134est

-

½-½

BURGESS, W.

73j

190778F

 

10-6

 

This match was critical for both teams; Gloucestershire needed a result to retain a chance of qualifying for the national stages of the Minor Counties Championship; Somerset a victory to have a chance of retaining the Harold Meek trophy. The match almost immediately swung in Somerset’s favour when two Gloucestershire players failed to turn up. No reason was forthcoming for the absence of their board 6, but their board 8 had apparently gone to a stag do the previous night and not yet returned. GCCA officials are presumably searching lamp-posts and Virgin Trains services to Aberdeen as I write this.

The absence of his players proved not to be too troublesome for Gloucestershire captain Chris Mattos, who caught Gerry Jepps’s king in the centre. Gerry’s comment on the game afterwards was "I played the white side of a Pirc. The trouble was, he didn’t play the black side of one!". I restored our 2-game lead by beating Malcolm Burn. Honours were shared in the next two games, as Adam Skinner made no headway against his 13-year-old opponent’s rather unconventional handling of a Scotch Game, and Mike Twyble’s good position dwindled to a draw after he miscalculated a line where he gave up two pieces for a rook and several pawns.

Geoff Taylor then pulled another point back for Gloucestershire when Nick Wilson went wrong in a heavily tactical position, and Andrew Footner and Phil Meade swapped off into a drawn opposite-coloured bishops ending. Then Dave Wood, who had been on the receiving end of an opponent exploiting an extra exchange in the Hampshire match, took the opportunity to exploit an extra exchange of his own and make the score 5½-3½ to Somerset.

Dominic Gibbs went down shortly after against Michael White; his attack in an opposite-sides-castling position never got going. Colin Winch then found two neat tactics in an under-pressure position: the first freed his game and netted the exchange; the second won his opponent’s queen and the game. Then Graham Steer lost a disappointing game; he’d had a clear advantage earlier, but it just slipped away from him. This meant the score was 6½-5½ with four games to go, and it looked pretty tight. Chris McKinley seemed to be losing, Derek Pugh’s endgame advantage was pretty small, Ben Edgell’s position was dead drawn, and although Rob Eadie was a pawn up in an ending, it wasn’t clear he could find a way through.

The Somerset players’ superior endgame play proved to be the critical factor. Derek found a way to win a pawn in a knight ending, and soon converted this to victory. Then Chris’s opponent, missing a mate in three, settled for perpetual check. Graham Brown had by this time managed to blunder a pawn, and Ben Edgell demonstrated excellent technique in converting the material advantage to victory. This gave Somerset the win with one game to go, and Rob Eadie’s win was the icing on the cake.