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Witney 2 in the Frank Wood Shield

 

Witney 2's early hopes that Cowley 2 would need to work hard to achieve the 4:2 win required for them to advance to the semi-finals of the Frank Wood Shield were somewhat dampened by Mark Hannon's late withdrawal and by the news on arriving at the Cowley 2 venue that not only Gerard O'Reilly (ECF grade 190) but also Andy Walden (ECF grade 197) would be playing. Some small consolation was provided by Heather Lang's and Maria Lang's absence, but even so Witney 2 faced an uphill task.

 

The match in fact proved to be a real thriller, and it was a shame that one team had to exit the competition. I offered an early draw after Andy misplayed the opening somewhat; at the end I had a small advantage and could have played on, but on looking at the state of play in the other games I reckoned that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. Patrick was the next to get a half point, accepting Maria's draw in a position where he definitely had winning chances; but, like me, he decided that getting another half point on the scoreboard was more important. By this stage, however, the match position had taken a distinct turn for the worse. Although Pavel's and Alan's games were evenly balanced with chances for both sides, Howard had dropped two pawns and was struggling badly and Derek was also a pawn down, although not without compensation. So Cowley 2 were on course for the 4:2 win they needed.

 

Enter centre stage Howard and Pavel, the heroes of the evening. Howard wriggled magnificently to reach a blockade which Bob, still two clear pawns up, was unable to breach. So with three games still to play we needed one more point, which Pavel provided in magnificent style. In a double-edged middle game Pavel managed to find a resource which complicated things wonderfully just as Gerard was running short of time, and when Gerard made a couple of inaccuracies Pavel managed to simplify the position and mop up two pawns at the same time, leaving him with a trivially won rook ending. I believe Gerard is the highest graded player that Pavel has beaten, and I very much hope that he will be letting us have the game for publication on the website.

 

So in the end the last two games didn't matter, as we had the 2½ points we needed to progress. Alan went wrong after sacrificing a pawn, allowing Rod to establish a huge knight in his vitals (well, on c6, but you know what I mean - and if I'm not allowed a few literary purple patches after a fine result like this, when am I?), and Derek allowed a snap mate in one in a rook ending in which Robin, although clearly winning over the board, had only 23 seconds left on his clock and would in all likelihood have lost on time. It would have been the icing on the cake if Derek had drawn or even won, but in the end it didn't take the gloss off a fine performance by Witney 2.

 

Cowley 2's captain, 'Gentleman' Gerard, and indeed the whole team, were as magnanimous in defeat as they are gracious in victory. It's a pleasure to play against a team as sporting as Cowley 2 (unlike another OCA team that I could mention, but won't). In all likelihood Witney 2 will play City 1 in the semi-final, and if we can get Mark back in the team there is no reason why we shouldn't do as well against City 1 as we did against Cowley 2.

 

Cowley 2 vs. Witney 2

 

1 Walden, Andrew (197)     ½-½  Truran, Michael (188)

2 O'Reilly, Gerard (190)   0-1  Asenov, Pavel (147)

3 Nixon, Rod (178)         1-0  Gentry, Alan (152)

4 Waugh, Bob (-)           ½-½  Searle, Howard AJ (147)

5 Wang, Anna (169)         ½-½  Moss, Patrick (154) 

6 Nandi, Robin J (154)     1-0  Edwards, Derek F (143)

                          3½-2½ away win

- played on 13 Jan 2014.

 

 

- Mike.

 

 

 

© SC

 

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