Dyvels secured a narrow win or a comfortable victory against Haydon Bridge, depending on how you count it.
With the result of South Tyne fixtures depending on a total of handicap points – which are linked to gradings – and points for a match result (4 for a win, 2 for a draw, 0 for a loss) – the Dyvels had to win three and draw one of the four games as a minimum to come out on top.
In the first game to finish, David Foster Jnr (Dyvels) with a handicap of 7 played some exquisite combinatorial chess to push Damian Rudge‘s king out into the open, and win a rook for a bishop. Gradually piling on the pressure against his handicap 8 opponent he was the first to secure the 4 points for a win.
Next to finish was the Phil Taylor (handicap 4) v Karl Skrowonski (handicap 5) match. By the middle game Phil had a clear edge in material (bishop v pawn advantage) but Karl’s inspired resistance made it tough for Phil, and as the pieces on the board dwindled Phil had to give up material to counter Karl’s advancing pawns. At the end, Phil’s sole remaining piece – a pawn supported by his king – could not get past Karl’s knight (either blocking it or threatening to take it if it advanced), and a draw was agreed. 2 match points apiece. Karl, who has entered the second half of his tenth decade, plays his chess like someone one third of his age – strongly, and hard to beat.
The team captains (David Tulip – handicap 7- of Haydon Bridge, playing white, and Bruce Reed, handicap 4, of the Dyvels) were third to finish. As both players had played each other many times David dropped his usual c4 English opening (otherwise known as the Haydon Bridge opening) in favour of e4, leading to an Open Sicilian, with early novelties.
The outcome of the game hinged on Black’s attack with two knights, two bishops and a queen against white’s kingside-castled king protected by two knights in front of his three pawns. With White unable to get his other pieces from the queen’s side to help his king the massed Black pieces were able to remove White’s protective knights, open up the pawns and secure another 4 game points for the Dyvels.
This left Jeremy Handley (handicap 2) on top board against Christine Moorcroft (handicap 5) needing to win his game if the Dyvels were to emerge victorious. Unfortunately for the Dyvels, at that point Christine (as White) was playing brilliantly, and with a pawn advantage, pieces integrated and mobilised, and bearing down on Black’s king. Jeremy looked as if he would be doing well to force a draw as Christine swapped a rook for a bishop and two pawns to open up Black’s remaining protection for his king further.
In the end, as Jeremy sweated, and brought his two rooks, a bishop and his queen together for a well organised counter, Christine was unable to take full advantage of forking Black’s king and rook with her knight. She then stumbled as she moved quickly with her clock running down, and miscalculated a queen / rook exchange. Jeremy’s win – the hardest / most fortunate of the night – gave the Dyvels another 4 game points.
In the final scoring the Haydon Bridge 25 handicap points were added to their 2 game points to give them a combined total of 27. The Dyvel’s 14 game points (from three wins and a draw) were added to their handicap total of 17 to give an overall total of 31, and a win for the Dyvels by 31 points to 27.
The match result was much closer than the simple scores suggested, and the Dyvels were perhaps a little fortunate to get their season off to a winning start.