Open County SF – Yorkshire vs Surrey

Open County Championships 2015-16 Semi Final

Yorkshire have reached the finals of this year’s County Championships which takes place today, Saturday 2nd July. You can view the games here

Yorks vs Surrey

Yorkshire’s Open team travelled to Long Buckby, Northamptonshire to face Surrey in the semi-finals of the ECF County Championships. Both teams were strong, but Yorkshire were slight favourites on paper averaging a grade of 200 across their 16 players. However when it was clear that one of Surrey’s players was not going to arrive, Yorkshire knew they would have a 1-0 headstart.

Martin Carpenter scored a relatively quick knockout blow to double Yorkshire’s lead and Andrew Bak edged Yorkshire closer to the finishing line with a short but exciting draw on board 16.

Matthew Webb made his return to the county side and took advantage of his opponent’s lack of development to launch a huge Kingside attack that proved to be decisive. Surrey weren’t about to give up that easily though and Michael Healey scored their first win of the day to bring them back to a 3.5-1.5 deficit after the first two and a half hours of play.

Peter Shaw (L) and David Adams

Peter Shaw (L) and David Adams

It took another hour or so for some more results to pour in as games started to near the first time control and Yorkshire started to seize control of the top boards. Jean-Luc Weller’s central control proved more than enough to neutralise Akshaya Kalaiyalahan’s attack. Richard Palliser used a neat trick to win an exchange and managed to convert his advantage despite his opponent’s best efforts at counterplay. Surrey fought back on the lower boards though courtesy of wins by Robin Haldane and Julien Shepley. Yorkshire 5.5-3.5 Surrey.

At this point the remaining games looked slightly in favour of Surrey but all the spectators realised that a close finish would be inevitable. Boards 3 and 4 were split as both went into big time scrambles. Surrey scored a significant blow on board 15 as Neill Cooper made a remarkable comeback from a large material deficit as his mass of central pawns proved to be too hard to handle. A draw on board 7 left the score as Yorkshire 7-6 Surrey with 3 to play.

As Yorkshire had already scored 5/6 on the top 6 boards, it was clear that Yorkshire would progress in case of an 8-8 draw. This caused Neil Bridge to try to win in desperation against Peter Shaw but Shaw did not waver and took advantage of his opponent’s errors with ease. Andy Drabble ensured the win for Yorkshire as he kept his position solid after his opponent sacrificed a piece and eventually managed to untangle when his extra piece ruled the roost. Alan Punnett ground out a consolation win, using the full five hours of play.

Yorkshire will be taking on Middlesex in the final on Saturday 2nd July, aiming for a third consecutive title, which would match Middlesex’s run in 1985-87.

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!


One Response to “Open County SF – Yorkshire vs Surrey”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Jul 02. 2016

    Go time lag! Monster team in final. Not quite finished yet but its won, and very convincingly with it.

    Rather more so than this or the quarter final actually.

    Looking at the historical list online, Lancashire actually managed 4 in a row in the 60’s so there’s that to try and match :)

    Mark definitely deserves player of the year this time. Getting Yorkshire’s top players organised like this has been basically impossible historically.

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