BDCL Handicap KO Final: Poole vs Purbeck

And so after battling through round after round (two!) of KO action the all conquering Poole Team found itself playing the final against the auld enemy, Purbeck. Home advantage at ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ put us in a good mood (well, no need to schlepp bloody miles over to the Isle of Purbeck for a start, and I am not sure six games could fit in their clubroom). Captain Chip had spent many hours poring over potential line-ups and to everyone’s relief decided on a 6-0-0, which was handy. Oscar up front; your amiable correspondent on B2; B3/4 were Hiru and Sandu, one way round or the other; a relaxed Chris Ambrose on B5; and Seth Ryder on B6 with a grading of 77 (a word with the grading secretary please!).

With the usual ‘Are Hiru and Sandu on their way?’ and ‘Why didn’t they ask David for a lift?’ discussions dispensed with, we welcomed our opposition. Calculators were produced and after some head-scratching it was confirmed that the handicap mechanism required that Poole would need to win 3.5-2.5 to lift the trophy; a 3-3 draw would be a victory for Purbeck. The unfeasibly amiable Steve Peirson lead the Purbeck team to the playing arena, sitting down opposite Oscar. I am sure that I heard Steve mutter ‘Theatre of Dreams, my arse’ under his breath, followed by ‘Stadium of Sh1te more like’… I might have misheard, but I felt sure that we had the psychological advantage already!

So the clocks were started. You could almost grab bits of tension and chew it. So much so that Chip and a few others moved into the next room. It seems that recent B-Team events whereby Toby closed the deciding game of a critical match with checkmate with two seconds left on his clock had left Chip somewhat lacking the stomach for further stress. I suspected he might only be happy if we knocked a couple of early goals in.

Well would you believe it, my game B2-W against the somewhat amiable Colin Grant started in excellent fashion. My standard Grand Prix Attack progressed in an ideal manner until Colin fell into a trap of sorts, his seemingly correct 9…exf5 (gxf5 is best) putting his position into a critical state. A few moves later White was winning a piece and then Black’s Queen to avoid mate. Black resigned after move 14, my shortest game I think. I only did it to help Chip.

Down on B6-W, Seth tweaked the nipple of his 77 grading by demolishing P. Stanley (amiability rating undetermined Tim. I didn’t speak to him). If Black brings his Queen’s Bishop out to f5 against d4/d5 then trouble can occur on Black’s queenside; and this is what happened. A nice double check won the Queen, more pieces fell and his opponent resigned about 18 pawns down. Two-nil and not even half time!

Hiru B3-B had equalised against J. Coles and asked Chip whether he should accept a draw offer from his opponent. A draw was agreed and both sides seemed rightly content.

All this while, Oscar B1-B had negotiated what looked like a sharp opening and had a position with opportunities for both sides. More later…

Chris B5-B vs R Quin was a positional affair and unfortunately for Chris his opponent gradually improved his position to a point whereby he could exchange down to a routinely winning RvB (with pawns) ending.

Sandu’s game (B4-W) had looked very interesting throughout, with opportunities for both sides. At least a draw from Sandu was required at this point, with Oscar’s game looking positive but by no means winning. I felt at one stage that there might be some clever tactics involving a Nf6 sac with a mating net, but that may have been the adrenaline talking. Lots of exchanges suddenly took place with Sandu, unusually, short of time. The resulting double rook ending, though awkward looking for Sandu, soon resulted in another draw offer accepted. Three-two with only a draw required from B1. Exciting.

As Martin Simons has already confirmed in his punctual but less amiably-punctuated report, a crowd gathered around the top board. Two furrowed brows stared down at the board, and that was just Colin. I have to say, in all seriousness, that at this point neither Oscar or Steve had moved (as far as I could tell) from their board the whole game. This demonstrates the professional manner and levels of concentration from both parties during play; a lesson for me there if nothing else.

Chip looked across anxiously from his viewpoint in front of the clocks and held up three fingers. I believe that he was suggesting that Oscar only had three minutes left, but it could quite possibly have been a call for a quick stiffener to calm the nerves. Steve, with five minutes left, to his credit kept pushing for the required win. Suddenly it became clear that Oscar had everything under control and a forced sequence was executed to pick up a pawn and swap everything off to a trivially won King and Pawns ending. Two minutes left would have been plenty of time to finish off, but Steve knew this and conceded. One thing about Steve – you cant tell whether he has just won or lost after a game – another lesson for us all. A great game to decide the match. Four-Two at full time. Poole retain the trophy.

I was so excited that when we went down to the bar I bought a round of drinks, and the barman! Now THAT doesn’t happen very often.

From a personal point of view, I very much enjoyed the six-game set-up of the match. Much less dependency on individual results. I wonder if we should consider this as a suggestion for a future AGM. Additionally, I have to again say that, despite there being this year a couple of niggly moments over the board in matches, this final was played in the most agreeable manner and was a pleasure in which to participate. Some of that feeling might be because Poole won, but most of it wasn’t.

Chip went off for a lie down… (don’t mention the upcoming B-Team match vs Bournemouth)

David Fuller
May 6, 2017