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
Board Grade Grade
1 A. J. Wright 149 1–0 M. Compston 147
2 M. McBeth 149 ½–½ G El Gehani 141
3 A. Combie 148 1–0 A. Beresford 130
4 W. Place 147 1–0 D. Newell 135
5 T. A. Lane 145 ½–½ J. Lonsdale 134
6 K. Harvey 143 1–0 M. Pollard 127
7 B. Thompson 141 1–0 J. Arevulo 130e
8 D. Sudar 138 ½–½ D. Pardoe 130
9 D. Toms 138 ½–½ M. Connor 129
10 W. F. Ray 137 1–0 R. Nurse 114
11 B. M. Hayward 136 1–0 D. Kierman 130
12 S. Cranmer 132 ½–½ J. Nicolson 122
13 D. Lin 132 1–0 G. Morrison 117
14 N. Graham 129 ½–½ M. Burke 118
15 J. Day 127 1–0 D. Connolly 107
16 K. W. Roper 126 ½–½ K. Andrews 104

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Simon Edwards 148 0–1 Anthony. J. Wright 149
2 Trevor Owen 140 0–1 Mike McBeth 149
3 Stephen Hill 138 0–1 Will Place 148
4 Dave Daniels 134 ½–½ Alex Combie 148
5 Martin May 132 0–1 Tim A. Lane 145
6 Diarmid Gibson 132 ½–½ Steve Hunter 141
7 Frank Wood 131 ½–½ Brian Thompson 141
8 Derek Perks 129 1–0 David Toms 138
9 Peter Leary 129 ½–½ Lateefah Messam-Sparks 137
10 Manoj Arora 124 0–1 Brian M. Hayward 136
11 Max Wootton 126 0–1 J. Keith Walters 130
12 Steve Wilcox 125 0–1 Neil Graham 129
13 Ken McNulty 120 ½–½ Jonathan Day 127
14 Ken Francis 118 0–1 Robert P.Taylor 129
15 Steve Harris 111 ½–½ JohnTassi 128
16 Ray Dolan 98 0–1 Oliver Exton 126

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Neil Graham (reserve) 129 0–1 Colin Eckloff 148
2 Antony. J. Wright 149 1–0 Robert Reynolds 144
3 Mike McBeth 149 1–0 Mike Doran 146
4 Will Place 147 0–1 Robert Wallman 148
5 Alex Combie 148 1–0 Mark Cundy 147
6 Tim A. Lane 145 ½–½ Mike Maher 144
7 Kevin Harvey 143 0–1 Robert Walker 143
8 Steve Hunter 141 ½–½ Richard C Reynolds 142
9 Brian Thompson 141 1–0 Keith Thomas 141
10 David Toms 138 0–1 Gary Hope 140
11 Brian M.Hayward 136 ½–½ Darren Lee 140
12 Daniel Lin 132 0–1 Simon Williams 140
13 Stan Cranmer 132 ½–½ Adam Draper 135
14 J. Keith Walters 130 0–1 John Fahy 135
15 Keith Brameld 129 0–1 Phil Bull 135
16 Keith Roper 126 0–1 Alan Burnett 127

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Mike Cowley 146 1–0 Antony J. Wright 149
2 Alan Jex 141 0–1 Mike McBeth 149
3 John Glover 139 1–0 Will Place 147
4 David Farrall 137 1–0 Alex Combie 148
5 Paul Colburn 135 0–1 Tim A. Lane 145
6 Steve Turvey 133 0–1 Kevin Harvey 143
7 Peter Harrison 133 1–0 Steve Hunter 141
8 Steve Wylie 132 0–1 Brian Thompson 141
9 John Pattinson 132 ½–½ Drag Sudar 138
10 Otto Hardy 131 0–1 Brian M. Hayward 136
11 Mick Tate 131 ½–½ Stan Cranmer 132
12 Bob Collins 127 1–0 Neil Graham 129
13 Karl Potter 127 0–1 Daniel Lin 132
14 Chris Tipper 127 1–0 Bob Taylor 129
15 Graham Booley 115 1–0 Jonathan Day 127
16 Mike Busby 94 0–1 John Tassi 128

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Nayeem Syed 149 0–1 Alex Combie 148
2 Ken Clow 147 0–1 Will Place 147
3 Neville Twitchell 144 1–0 Tim A. Lane 145
4 Rod Johnson 143 ½–½ Kevin Harvey 143
5 Paul Barclay 143 ½–½ Steve Hunter 141
6 John Philpott 143 0–1 Brian Thompson 141
7 Mark Murrell 139 ½–½ Drag Sudar 138
8 Gavin Strachan 139 ½–½ Brian M. Hayward 136
9 David Brock 133 ½–½ Bill Ray 137
10 Charlton Siddo 137 0–1 David Toms 138
11 Malcolm Kingsley 137 0–1 Stan Cranmer 132
12 David Smith 134 0–1 Neil Graham 129
13 Alan Riddoch 135 0–1 Jonathan Day 127
14 Ian Morgan 124 1–0 John Tassi 128
15 Tom Winter 123 0–1 Bob Taylor 129
16 Jeff McWain 117 1–0 Keith Roper 126

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
Board Grade Grade
1 James Carpenter 145 ½–½ Mike McBeth 149
2 Clive Davies 147 1–0 Alex Combie 148
3 Andrew Bak 146 ½–½ Will Place 147
4 Mark Birkin 145 ½–½ Tim A. Lane 145
5 David Patrick 142 0–1 Brian Thompson 141
6 Jonathan Swallow 142 ½–½ Steve Hunter 141
7 George Bak 140 ½–½ Drag Sudar 138
8 Bien Cuaresma 138 ½–½ Brian M. Hayward 136
9 Randolph Donahue 136 ½–½ David Toms 138
10 Tom Pitcher 106 1–0 Stan Cranmer 132
11 Paul Howden 135 1–0 Keith Walters 130
12 Robin Browne 134 ½–½ Neil Graham 129
13 Rupert Jones 134 ½–½ Jonathan Day 127
14 Paul Clarke 133 1–0 Bob Taylor 128
15 Martin Simmonds 132 0–1 Oliver Exton 126
16 Nick Mahoney 128 ½–½ John Tassi 128

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Dave Crane 93 0–1 Derek Cronshaw 96
2 Stan Parsons 87 ½–½ Sally McIntosh 94
3 Alan Butler 78 0–1 Benjamin Hobson 86
4 Ashley Dawe Sub 0–1 Stephen Morley 80
5 Daniel Foulds 70 0–1 Peter Smith 75
6 Ray Beach 69 ½–½ Terence Norris-Hunt 70
7 David Mulvaney 0–1 Paul Todd 64
8 Elizabeth Mulvaney 0–1 Stewart Swift
9 Lawrence Chan 1–0 Steven Baker
10 Chris Mulvaney 0–1 Charlotte Attwood
11 Julie Johnson 0–1 Kenneth Heath 55
12 Tim Mulvaney 0–1 Joseph Pacitto 38

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Sayer, Ray M 97 ½–½ I. Farquaharson 99
2 Cronshaw, Derek 96 1–0 M. Thornton 94
3 Harper, George 92 0–1 C. Johnson 92
4 Terry Norris-Hunt (sub) 70 ½–½ S. Hollingworth 96
5 Justice, Edwin 86 1–0 E. Gist 82
6 Hobson, Benjamin L 86 1–0 R. T. Davis 90
7 Brown, Alan 86 1–0 R. King 89
8 Smith, Peter G 85 0–1 T. Clay 85
9 Morrell, Len J 83 ½–½ M. Adams 87
10 Dawson, Richard 80 ½–½ C. Eastlake 84
11 Hargreaves, Malcolm D 78 0–1 M. Martin U/G
12 Todd, Paul J 64 1–0 Default

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Cronshaw, Derek 96 0–1 Kim Gilbert 95
2 McIntosh, Sally 94 1–0 Malcolm Phipps 96
3 Harper, George 92 0–1 Robert Statham 96
4 Zhang, Michael 90 ½–½ Pauline Woodward 94
5 Hobson, Benjamin L 86 ½–½ Keegan Harrisson 93
6 Brown, Alan 86 ½–½ Dennis Horsely 93
7 Ali, Hamzah 84 ½–½ Graham Gee 88
8 Morrell, Len J 83 ½–½ Steven Bowen 89
9 Dawson, Richard 80 1–0 Bramwell Garner 87
10 Todd, Paul J 64 0–1 Ken Wise 86
11 Peter Smith (Sub) 85 ½–½ Joe Rourke 86
12 Heath, Kenneth B 55 ½–½ David Rowe 81

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Geoff Lee 97 1–0 Derek Cronshaw 96
2 Oliver Horrocks 98 0–1 Michael Zhang 90
3 Paul Shelley 95 0–1 Pritish Patel
4 Dave Tindley 96 0–1 Ben Hobson 86
5 John Montague 93 ½–½ Len Morrell 83
6 John Cater 93 0–1 Hamzah Ali 85
7 Paul Clapham 90 1–0 Rick Dawson 80
8 Ray Dolan 1–0 Andrew Garside 74
9 Matthew Wyza 84 ½–½ Stewart Swift
10 Robert West 74 ½–½ Ashton Alfred 73
11 Carl Mustafa 74 ½–½ Arun Maini 58
12 Nick McLean 72 1–0 Joseph Pacitto 38
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
Board Grade Grade
1 Kim Gilbert 97 ½–½ Ray Sayer 97
2 Malcolm Phipps 96 ½–½ Sally McIntosh 94
3 Alan Johnson 96 0–1 Michael Zhang 90
4 Pauline Woodward 94 0–1 Pritesh Patel
5 Kegan Harrison 93 ½–½ Ben Hobson 86
6 Graham Gee 90 0–1 Alan Brown 86
7 Steven Bowen 89 1–0 Hamzah Ali 85
8 Bram Garner 87 1–0 Default
9 John Pakenham 86 ½–½ Ashton Alfred 73
10 Ken Wise 86 1–0 Andrew Garside 74
11 David Rowe 81 1–0 Ross MacKay 60
12 John Green 1–0 Tracey Clegg 58

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Abigail Pritchard 97 ½–½ Ray Sayer 97
2 Kenny Quinn 94 ½–½ Derek Cronshaw 96
3 Dave Hartley 89 ½–½ Sally McIntosh 94
4 Danny Reeves 84 ½–½ Michael Zhang 90
5 Lothian Innes U 0–1 Pritesh Patel U
6 Ian Mitchell 70 0–1 Ben Hobson 86
7 Mick Walsh 61 ½–½ Stewart Swift U
8 Frank Tanner 51 ½–½ Hamzah Ali 85
9 James Walsh 51 1–0 Len Morrell 83
10 Matthew Walsh 49 0–1 Ric Dawson 80
11 Matthew Reeve U 0–1 Ashton Alfred 73
12 Default 0–1

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Julian Walker 98 ½–½ Nigel Wright 97
2 Tom Middleton 98 ½–½ Derek Cronshaw 96
3 Joshua Pineda 95 1–0 Sally McIntosh 94
4 Jasper Tambini 88 1–0 Michael Zhang 90
5 Barnaby Paul 85 1–0 Pritesh Patel
6 Harvey Murray-Smith 94 ½ –½ Ben Hobson 86
7 Richard Jones 94 0–1 Edwin Justice 86
8 Stephen Welch 92 0–1 Hamzah Ali 85
9 Jonathan Andrew 91 ½–½ Len Morrell 83
10 Balraj Gill 87 ½–½ Ric Dawson 80
11 Robert Jurjevic 89 0–1 Andrew Garside 74
12 Peter Armitage 87 0–1 Ken Heath 55

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
Board Grade Grade
1 Roger Kearns 99 1–0 Nigel Wright 97
2 Terry Douse 99 ½–½ Sally McIntosh 94
3 Gabriel Williams 96 1–0 Michael Zhang 90
4 Barry Saunders 93 1–0 Pritesh Patel
5 Gary Ruddick 93 1–0 Ben Hobson 86
6 Ray Butcher 98 0–1 Edwin Justice 86
7 David Hobden 86 1–0 Hamzah Ali 85
8 Ian Leighton 93 1–0 Stewart Swift
9 Terry O’Sullivan 81 0–1 Len Morrell 83
10 Ian Riddoch 57 0–1 Ric Dawson 80
11 John Harris 78 ½–½ Andrew Garside 74
12 Kidge Elder 77 0–1 Ashton Alfred 73