Games like this one are the reason why I love cup competitions so much. It was a night full of high drama, played out at Mercia, who were kind enough to host the event. The two teams were very evenly matched on grade, giving Kidderminster a theoretical advantage by virtue of the 2.25 point lead as a result of their Division 2 status, but it was always going to be close. Kidderminster won the toss and had white on the odd numbered boards. No clear advantage was gained from the early exchanges, although Peter Pearson-Jones and Phil Porter both briefly went a pawn ahead. Phil Bull was the first to finish, agreeing a draw. As the first time control approached, Peter Pearson-Jones had better pawn structure in an end game featuring passed pawns for both sides, while Parminder Sanghera went a pawn ahead and had exposed the black king. However Jonathan Hunt, already a pawn behind, now went two pawns down on the queenside and was forced to launch an all out attack against the white king. Sacrificing a rook and then a knight, the white kingside pawn structure was torn open, but the mating combination was just not there. In the end, a draw was achieved by virtue of a perpetual check.
Dave Wightman agreed a draw and Frank Wood secured a passed pawn on d6, which forced black into a largely passive role in order to blockade it. Phil Porter drew on Board 8, making the score on the night 2 – 2 and inching Kidderminster ever closer to the winning post. Wolverhampton now needed to win three of the remaining four games and draw the fourth in order to win the trophy. Peter Pearson-Jones was now a pawn ahead, and was able to give it back in order to shepherd his passed pawns through to win, and Parminder Sanghera was now two pawns ahead with his opponent in terrible time trouble. Shortly afterwards, still valiantly defending a difficult position, black’s flag fell. This made the score 4 – 2 to Wolverhampton, but both of the remaining games were looking drawn. Frank Wood was unable to push the passed pawn onwards and reluctantly agreed a draw, leaving the match to be decided on Board 1, where an incredibly complicated position had developed. The white king had been forced into the centre of the board and the black queen, rook and bishop were circling around it, trying to find an opening.
Mike Townsend knew that a win was required, and so the match continued right to the death. White managed to build counter-play by releasing the queen from the defence of the king and slowly the pieces were exchanged. With no time on either clock, just the kings and three pawns were left. Black had two connected, passed pawns on the kingside, but had to keep his king on the queenside to cover white’s own protected passed pawn. Technically, it was a draw but, in the flurry of final moves which reached this position, white’s flag had fallen and the game was won for black.
So, the score was 5.5 – 2.5 on the night and a win for Wolverhampton, who retain the Pittaway Cup, by the narrowest possible margin. Thanks are due to Kidderminster for a fine match, played in the best possible spirit. Good luck for next season in Division 1.
By Dave Wightman
Wednesday 2 April 2014
WDCL Pittaway Cup Final 01/04/2014: Wolverhampton Triumph!
WDCL Pittaway Cup Final at Mercia Chess Club (neutral venue)