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Chess drama at Penrith

Posted by fellman01 on November 3, 2019

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Rapidplay Trophy

A Tynedale team of three (Peter Crichton, Steve Larkin and Jonny Kearney) played in the Cumbria Chess Rapid Play Team Championship 2019 held at Penrith on November 2nd. This was a 5 round event, with each player having 30 minutes for each game. There were 9 teams of three competing, with combined team grades subject to a points handicap to even out disparities between strong and weak teams.

In round 1 Tynedale faced Carlisle Knights and benefitted from a 1 point handicap, which was just as well since Peter lost to John Kelly and Steve lost to Clive Hutching. However Jonny was on fire and dispatched Paul Rivers (grade 132) to ensure the match was a 2-2 draw.

Next we faced Love ’em laughing, to whom we conceded a half point handicap, but with all 3 Tynedale players recording a win the result was a clear victory by 3 points to 0.5.

No handicap was involved in our round 3 match against Crown Jewels, where Peter’s draw and Jonny’s third consecutive win (against D. McMath, grade 111) was enough to draw the match 1.5 each.

In round 4 we conceded a half-point handicap to Carlisle Kings, but with Peter defeating old friend Ian Mackay and Jonny recording his 4th consecutive win, against Alan Little, we managed the narrowest of victories 2-1.5.

At the start of round 5 three teams, including Tynedale, were tied on 3 points out of 4. Our final match was against Crown Princes, with no handicap involved. Peter won his game more or less by default, and Steve ended a dismal run with a quick win, which was just as well as the Kearney magic finally ran out as Jonny lost for the first and only time. This 2-1 win put us on 4 points, tying with the Crown Jewels team for first place.

The rules stipulated that, in the event of a tie, there would be a rapid-play game of 5 minutes each involving the top board players of each side, so for the second time Peter faced Joseph McAtear (grade 151) with whom he had drawn in round 3. They tossed for colours and Joseph got white. Both players matched each other for speed of play and Peter established a very powerful file with 2 rooks and queen all aligned, but Joseph was able to counter this and what followed immediately was a draw by repetition.

This meant we entered the second stage of the tie-break, a rapid-play Armageddon involving the 2 second board players of each side. So for the second time Steve, with white, faced Fred Clough (grade 118) who had destroyed him in round 3. The tie-break rules stipulated that white would have 5 minutes in which to win and black would have 4 minutes in which not to lose. The game got underway and, curiously, Fred seemed to have opted for an “attack is the best method of defence” approach, while Steve was struggling to get his pieces off the back 2 ranks. With Steve on c2.5 minutes and Fred on c1.5 and a position which was very complex, all the lights went out. The spectators produced mobile phone torches and the game was resumed, with Fred’s time slipping away till it ran out, leaving Steve the winner though he had barely done anything on the board to warrant victory. Nevertheless it meant that Tynedale carried off the John Trothill Rapidplay trophy.

Tynedale’s star was undoubtedly Jonny, whose 4/5 will surely win him the gold medal for best performance on board 3. Not far behind was Peter with a highly respectable 3.5/5 on top board. Steve only managed 2/5 but at least he didn’t shoot himself in the foot in the terrifying Armageddon play-off!

All in all a highly enjoyable, if not exactly relaxing, day. And it’s always nice to come home with a trophy!

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