A historic achievement: Devon defeat Yorkshire 8.5-3.5 in the Major Open Final
ECF Online County Championships, Major Open Final
Saturday 22 Aug 2020
Devon 8.5 – Yorkshire 3.5
JUST ADDED! To play (interactively) through the twelve games, please visit the page here: http://devonchess.com/2020-occ-major-open-final
View the match card on the ECF LMS here: http://ecflms.org.uk/lms/node/61290
Match report by Jon Underwood, Devon team captain
Devon went into this weekend’s Major Open Final seeking to become the first West Country side to win a county first-team title ever – nobody has done it in 100 years of trying – but we faced a formidable opposition in the shape of nine-time champions Yorkshire. There was additional motivation in the shape of special live commentary from England number 2 GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan, which was possibly a first for many of us!
With Yorkshire having five times as many people to choose from, we expected to be up against it if our opponents managed to get their strongest side out – but in the event, they didn’t, and we went into the match with a substantial but not overwhelming grade advantage.
In the first half-hour, Gary Lane seemed to have developed a brutal attack when his opponent lost by disconnection. The two players agreed to restart the game, but the arbiter had already awarded us the point. Gary won the “replay” too, so in the end there could be no complaints. Paul O’Neill also blew his opponent away in a Marshall Attack, so after little more than an hour we had two wins on the higher boards.
There were some other wild games in the top half: Walter had sacrificed a piece and was looking pretty good, while Dominic was close to obliterating his opponent’s Dutch Defence, but in the end forced a draw by repetition – a mere 45 minutes behind on the clock. Keith and Tim also agreed draws of a slightly more sedate variety, giving us a solid 3.5 – 1.5 lead.
A few minutes later, Chris and Will had both secured wins with two well-executed kingside attacks. Meanwhile, your captain had been grinding away in what seemed to be a balanced positional game (not that I ever play any other kind) when my opponent launched a very dodgy attack, and his position suddenly collapsed. Those three points brought the scoreline to 6.5 – 1.5, locking in a memorable victory for Devon.
Yorkshire managed to pull two back after Walter unfortunately made a miscalculation, and Paul Hampton was bored into submission by the London System, taking the scoreline to 6.5 – 3.5 – but those were the last points our opponents would register on the scoreboard. Oliver managed to win a piece, swiftly followed by the game, and Tom – with the eyes of the commentators and everyone else on him – successfully coverted his horrible knight endgame into a less horrible queen endgame and chalked up a seventh win, making the final tally Devon 8.5 – Yorkshire 3.5.
Thank you to everybody who played for Devon throughout the competition. Obviously our three 220+ players – Keith, Will and Gary – made a big difference, but having Paul and Dominic available for every single game also helped a huge amount.
Let’s hope we are able to add an over-the-board title with a real trophy soon!
To play (interactively) through the twelve games from the match, please visit the page here: http://devonchess.com/2020-occ-major-open-final
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