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John Ripley Cup Final 2018: Hoylake v Atticus 2

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            Hoylake

 

 2½

 3½

              Atticus 2

 

1

b

David Tebb

204

½

½

Andrej Stancak

200

2

w

Mike Stone

190

½

½

David Lawson

189

3

b

Mike Stoddart

148

   0

   1

Steve Kee

196

4

w

Bhakti Vasiev

140

½

½

David Odunaiya

181

5

b

Radu Tatar

108

½

½

Giorgos Christodoulou

186

6

w

John Smallthwaite

92

½

½

Brian Ewart

162

 

Prescot & Knotty Ash Chess Club hosted the John Ripley Cup Final, between two of Division 1's big rivals. Matches between us are usually very close, and despite being without three regular team members, Hoylake took it right to the wire. Boards 3-6 of Hoylake saw big grading disparities, yet to their players' credit you would never have guessed it from the positions on the boards.

Atticus 2 scored a relatively early win as the middle-game complications swung my way, as Mike reflected afterwards that ...f5 had given me too many targets. This early setback meant that Hoylake had to fight on every board – and they certainly did that!

The game on top board saw an opposite-sides castling Sicilian scenario develop, a tensely balanced position where both sides played like only a win was on their mind. On board two, David sacced a pawn to post his knight, annoyingly, on d3. Quite a subtle idea as it turned out, as I was convinced Dave looked worse at the time. David on board 4 looked like his kingside attack might settle matters, but when the pieces became liquidated David had a queen v two rooks and a tricky endgame loomed. Giorgos went a pawn up but his rook had got into trouble, and his response to a draw offer from his opponent was 'paused' as he surveyed the progress on the other boards.

Meanwhile, Brian's opponent had found the dangerous-looking g5! After which Brian looked somewhat deflated. However, John offered a draw, understandably so as a 70 point rating gap should not be taken lightly! The offer was accepted by Brian and a valuable half a point was gained for Hoylake on board 6. Next, David on board 4 recognised that playing for a win with the queen against the two rooks wasn't really on, so a draw there too, and much credit to .Bhakti.

On second board, David had just won the exchange, and this persuaded Giorgos to accept the draw offer on board 5! A fantastic achievement for Radu, who had to deal with a 76 point rating difference. (I once offered a draw in a 4NCL match and my opponent said he'd think about it – after looking at the other games for one and a half hours he finally accepted it – I should have just gone to the pub!)

 

This left the clocks ticking down on the top two boards. Andrej looked like he was in a slightly better position in the ending so a draw was agreed. David realised that although he was the exchange up, the evening could be brought to a successful conclusion if honours were shared there too, and this is what transpired.

 

So, an Atticus team manages to retain the JR Cup, so congratulations to all of our players, and to those from Hoylake too for a terrific fight. Thanks go to Steve Burge for helping with the transport and support (and quite a few Atticus players came to support too) and of course, our thanks to both Will Cook and Joe Butterworth for presiding over matters, and to Prescot & Knotty Ash Chess Club for hosting.

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