Sunday, 7 August 2016

15 Moments (Part 3: Games 11-15)

This is the final part of the review of my own playing season. (Click for Part 1 and Part 2).

At this stage in the season, Redcar were definitely in the driving seat for a league and cup double, especially as we had already beaten Middlesbrough Rooks in both competitions. It is, however, a big mistake to relax the efforts before the job is done and we were very aware that just one match defeat would reignite the title chase.

SM vs. David Oates (Darlington)
Darlington had been strengthened by the return of David Oates. Remarkably, we shared the top spot in the local grading list, at 214. At the end of an interesting game a winning tactic appeared. 32 Re8+ (and if 32 ...Rxe8 then 33 Qxd5.) The game continued 32 ...Kg7 33 Qg4+ Kf7 34 Qg8+ 1-0.

Bob Harding (Westgarth) vs. SM
I last played Bob back in 1992, when he was a Middlesbrough Rook! The Rooks were the second Middlesbrough team back in those days, behind Middlesbrough A. This had been a very tough game but Black's passed pawns exert terrific influence on the position and it should be no surprise that a winning tactic is available. 41 ...Rb1+ 42 Ke2 Rb2+ and the knight is lost to the skewer, so 0-1.

SM vs. Bob Harding (Westgarth)
Having not played Bob for so many years, it was ironic that we should play each other in two consecutive matches. This time it was in the Tom Wise KO Cup semi-final. Black found his pieces tangled after 13 Bd3 h6 14 Nc4, winning a piece. 1-0.

SM vs. Mike Hardman (Great Ayton)
Mike is very difficult to beat, as his record on board 1 over the years will show. This very tense game was decided by an unexpected kinight sacrifice, 25 Ng4. Now 25 ...hxg4 26 Qh2 cannot be allowed, but the knight is also on the way to a better square. 25 ...Qd8 26 Nh6+ 1-0

Steve Dauber (Darlington) vs. SM
And so, we conclude with the final of the Tom Wise Knockout Cup. Steve and I had played side-by-side for Elmwood over the course of a whole decade and have played each other many times. Steve held an advantage in the middlegame, with his bishop pair causing me problems. However, a late, sacrificial counterattack changed the course of the game. 

We both missed stronger continuations in my time trouble but in this position the advantage is with Black, despite the material discrepancy. 28 ...Nxg3+ lights the blue touch paper. What cannot play 29 hxg3 due to 29 ...Qh3+ and 30 ...Qg2 checkmate, so he tried to run away with his king with 29 Kg1, but there was nowhere to hide. 0-1, 34.

This brought my personal score for the season to 15/15 and increased my grade again, this time to 221.

Thus Redcar A won the Cleveland A Division and the Tom Wise Knockout Cup.

I have yet to make a decision on whether or not to play again for the 2016-7 season.

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