Open County Final – Yorkshire vs Middlesex

Open County Championships 2015-16 Final

Yorks vs Middlesex

Yorkshire faced Middlesex in the Final of the Open section of the ECF County Championships. Yorkshire were looking to become the first team to win three titles in a row since Middlesex achieved this feat in 1985-87. Although captain Mark Birkin was at Wimbledon watching Djokovic being knocked out, he put together a very strong line-up with an average grade of 209. With Rupert Jones acting as captain on the day, Yorkshire were heavy favourites on paper.

Matthew Webb got the scoring going for Yorkshire with another lethal kingside attack winning inside 30 moves. Alan Walton’s game suddenly sprang into life with a complicated tactical sequence and he found a crucial tactical nuance to open up all the lines to Black’s stranded king which doubled Yorkshire’s lead. See if you can see what Alan played in the position below. Peter Shaw held a comfortable draw with Black to give Yorkshire a 2.5-0.5 lead.

Not much seemed to be happening in Jim Burnett’s game, but he found an amazing resource to put Yorkshire firmly in the driving seat. See if you can find Jim’s winning move below. Two more draws with the black pieces followed courtesy of Paul Townsend and Iain Gourlay. Matthias Gantner then scored Yorkshire’s fourth victory on the White side of a Sveshnikov, a repeat of his opening in the Semi-Final. IM Richard Bates secured Middlesex’s first win in the top board battle of the IM’s. Yorkshire led 5.5-2.5 at half time.

Three more games concluded as the first time control came and went. Jonathan Nelson’s game was a typical opposite-side castling bloodbath, but Nelson’s attack always seemed to be coming quicker and the tactics were working in his favour as his opponent’s king was forced out into the open. David Adams had a see-saw battle with Dimitar Mogilarov which the Yorkshire player managed to come out on top. Jean-Luc Weller’s draw left Yorkshire on the edge of victory with an 8-3 lead.

After another half-hour following time control, the remaining games came to their conclusion. Richard Palliser nursed a pawn advantage in a minor piece ending to confirm Yorkshire’s victory in the match. Palliser has won all four of his games for the White Rose this season. Andy Drabble showed some excellent technique to win a same-coloured bishop ending a pawn up. Middlesex scored some consolation points in the last three games to finish with draws on boards 10 and 15 and a victory for Maria Manelidou. Final score: Yorkshire 11-5 Middlesex.

Congratulations to Yorkshire and their captain Mark Birkin on winning their third successive Open County Championship!

You can view all the games of the final in the game viewer below


Features editor for the Yorkshire Chess website. I collate and write atricles about all the latest chess activities in Yorkshire and beyond. I've also been known to shove some pieces myself from time to time!

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9 Responses to “Open County Final – Yorkshire vs Middlesex”

  1. James Carpenter

    Jul 03. 2016

    Gordon Bennett look at that average grade. I went looking for the Walton game on the scoresheet and couldn’t see it, he’s buried down on 13 :).

    Nice win team.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Jul 03. 2016

      Great win, yes.

      The team was quite similar for the final last season. As it should be of course :)

      Reply to this comment
  2. Andy Bak

    Jul 03. 2016

    Last year’s winning team “only” had an average grade of 204:

    2015 County Championships Final Scorecard

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Jul 03. 2016

      Think a bit of that is down to random grade fluctuations. Only actually 5 changes from last years final.

      The bottom two boards look a wash to me: Gavyn/Andrew vs Kieran/Mark. Higher up, I guess that Gourlay, Webb and Townsend was a mild upgrade on Adair, Hackner, and Li.

      Utterly terrifying depth we’ve got of course :)

      Reply to this comment
  3. Matthew Webb

    Jul 04. 2016

    It was a great day and an even greater performance!

    I believe in the last three finals our results have been:
    11.5 – 4.5 vs Middlesex
    11 – 5 vs Kent
    11 – 5 vs Middlesex

    Such impressive scoring, especially as we have conceded only four individual games across the entire 48 games played.

    Mark has done a tremendous job getting the teams together throughout, nobody deserves more credit than him for our success in these championships over the years. It will be interesting to see who takes over the reins, it’s a little like replacing Alex Ferguson… :-)

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Jul 04. 2016

      That is a bit consistently stunning!

      I don’t think Mark has formally retired yet, so maybe he’ll be inspired to keep doing it for another year :) He’ll obviously be an incredibly hard act to follow.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Matthew Parsons

    Jul 04. 2016

    Well done to team for win.

    Had a quick look at mattys game.

    Phrases such as ‘he makes it look easy’ and ‘it all seemed so simple’ spring to mind.

    Was the evans gambit particular preparation for this opponent?

    Some of these games really bring the home to me the brilliant part of chess, that no matter how good you get, being ‘good’ is all so relative.

    As I close in on 190 I feel like I know nothing about chess at times.

    Reply to this comment
    • Matthew Webb

      Jul 07. 2016

      ha – thanks!

      Unfortunately the Evans Gambit was not preparation 1… e5 was a slight surprise to be honest I was expecting / hoping for a Sicilian …

      I am however always happy to face 1… e5 especially as I have experimented with similar less common lines in the past with some success.

      Ideally, I would like to play the Spanish but as yet I have not spent quite enough time working on or finding my own ideas really pack it with any punch – hopefully when I have a little more free time I will get the opportunity to do so!

      Reply to this comment
  5. Rupert

    Jul 05. 2016

    It was a great team performance and one which so constricted Middlesex that the biggest cheer of the day was when they got their 5th point at the last! I’m told by the man himself that he saw very little of the tennis as his attention was elsewhere!

    Reply to this comment

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