County Championship (U160): Yorkshire vs. Greater Manchester

Getting ready for action at the Lee Mount Club - a splendid venue for the match. We even had our own book stall! Thanks to David Mills for the photograph.

Getting ready for action at the Lee Mount Club – a splendid venue for the match. We even had our own book stall! Thanks to David Mills for the photograph.

Last Sunday Yorkshire took on Greater Manchester in an Under 160 County Championship Quarter Final which was hosted by Halifax Chess Club at their home venue the Lee Mount Club.

Yorkshire team captain Rupert Jones was delighted to have so many players make themselves available for the fixture that he had to stand several down in the run up to the match. The result of having such strength in depth was that Yorkshire out-rated their guests on almost every board. In the end this superiority showed itself on the final score line as Yorkshire completed a comprehensive victory of 9½ – 6½ over the 16 boards. However, the winning margin doesn’t tell the whole story as, for much of the afternoon, Greater Manchester gave an excellent account of themselves and pushed Yorkshire hard. A  drawn-game percentage of less than 30% is a good indication that the fixture was very closely contested.

When there are so many boards involved in a match the odds are that at least one game will be over quite quickly as a result of some blunder being committed. Fortunately for Yorkshire the only ‘game-ending’ mishap in this tie was committed by the opposition as on board 14 Howard Hughes left a rook en prise for Peter Mason to take before the playing session was an hour old. This early lead in the match was never to be relinquished though it was seriously threatened on a couple of occasions.

Board 2: Patrick vs. McLean - Black to play. What would you play here?

Board 2: Patrick vs. McLean – Black to play. What would you play here?

Before half a dozen games were completed, Greater Manchester had fought back as, on board 2, Yorkshire’s Dave Patrick found himself on the wrong end of a mating attack after he and his young opponent, Robert McLean, had played out a complicated and exciting Exchange Variation of the French Defence. There is a critical position from this game to test yourself with on the right. The answer to this puzzle as well as some commentary on the rest of the game, which was probably the most interesting in the tie, can be found in the viewer at the end of this post.

Yorkshire pushed on after this set back though and soon opened up a two-point lead as your correspondent on board 13 (there’s a second interesting position for your consideration from that game below right) and Paul Johnson on 8 scored energetic victories that both ended with tactical fusillades. Meanwhile, Bill Clark on board 1, Jonathan Round on board 4, Alec Grice on board 15 and Dave Mills on board 16 all settled for solid draws.

Board 13: Eskandari vs. Shapland. Black to play. The knight is attacked. What to do?

Board 13: Eskandari vs. Shapland. Black to play. The knight is attacked. What to do?

With Yorkshire leading 5 – 3 at this stage, it was the next hour of the playing session which was to prove critical. Boards 6 to 14 all ended decisively and it was here that the Yorkshire team did the most damage, though not without losing a couple of games in the process to keep Captain Jones on edge for a little while. He was at his most anxious when, on board 12, Paul Clarke appeared to have a decisive advantage which he first fumbled to concede a theoretically drawn ending and then, unfortunately, blundered into mate. Peter Braham had also resigned his game on board 9 but a pair of excellent, patient, positional squeezes by Colin Proctor on board 6 and Mike Ashdown on board 10 as well as two more tactical efforts by Rob Dean on 7 and Will Boothman on 11 ensured that Yorkshire were now out of sight.

To their very great credit, Greater Manchester continued to fight hard and outperformed their hosts on the top 5 boards by three and a half points to one and a half. Besides Robert McLean’s win on board 2, Mick Connor, also managed to defeat Clive Davies in a complicated game and, in the last game of the match to be completed, Bien Cuaresma was extremely fortunate to salvage a draw against David Newell. An early attack by Bien was repelled and then, slowly but surely, David secured a decisive advantage, though at the cost of falling a very long way behind on the clock. At the end the Mancunian had a king and queen on the board against the Yorkshireman’s lonesome king, but he had to settle for a draw when he ran out of time.

Here is the full and final match card:

Board NumberColourYorkshireResultGreater ManchesterColour
9½ – 6½
1BB.Clark ½ – ½ J.LonsdaleW
2WD.Patrick 0 – 1R.McCleanB
3BC.Davies 0 – 1M.ConnorW
4WJ.Round ½ – ½ C.JardineB
5BB.Cuaresma ½ – ½ D.NewellW
6WC.Proctor 1 – 0F.MoanB
7BR.Dean 1 – 0N.LiveseyW
8WP.Johnson 1 – 0D.KeirmanB
9BP.Braham0 – 1 D.PardoeW
10WM.Ashdown 1 – 0A.BeresfordB
11BW.Boothman 1 – 0 I.LambW
12WP.Clarke 0 – 1M.CarrollB
13BD.Shapland 1 – 0 H.EskandariW
14WP.Mason 1 – 0 H.HughesB
15BA.Grice ½ – ½P.DohertyW
16WD.Mills ½ – ½ S.UnderwoodB
The top board encounter gets under way.

The top board encounter between Jon Lonsdale and Bill Clark of Yorkshire gets under way. The players were well matched and the game ended in a draw. Photo by Rupert Jones

A number of the games from this match can be found in the game viewer below.

I should record our thanks to Calderdale Chess Association’s incumbent Chairman, Howard Webb, for his assistance in organising both the venue and refreshments. He even put on a book stall – this must be the first ever county match to be served by its own bookstall!

All in all, a strong performance by Yorkshire. Old foes Essex now await Rupert Jones’s charges in the semi-finals which will take place on the 11th of June. They will be confident that they have a good chance of progressing to their second final in three years.


3 Responses to “County Championship (U160): Yorkshire vs. Greater Manchester”

  1. James Carpenter

    May 28. 2016

    Nice win and nice set of games. Good to see our correspondent Dave up to his usual chaos :).

    I went straight for Nxg2 in the Patrick – McLean game I admit, I think it’s very hard as a human player not to, you just assume if white doesn’t take it you’re surely doing well :)

    Best of luck in the semi finals guys.

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  2. Adrian Dawson

    May 30. 2016

    An excellent result for Yorkshire! However, Dave, I don’t think that Howard Wood would enjoy being named after a F.A. referree lol.

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  3. Martin Carpenter

    Jun 02. 2016

    Nice to see Yorkshire managing to play Greater Manchester for a change :)
    (If anyone wonders why we don’t do it more often, there is some very, very silly and rather sad history meaning that GM are in the Midlands in county chess terms!).

    Doesn’t seem sure we’ll get an Open report, but that was 9.5 – 6.5 in the end. vs Kent. Scorecard:

    Not a ‘comfortable’ 9.5! It turned 6-6 then 7.5 – 6.5 with Gavyn/Keiran playing. Gavyn well on top so OK, but then he blundered his Q(!). Happily his position was still very playable then winning shortly after due to some evil tactics :) Then Keiran won too.

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