|Posted on April 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM|
Brewood fielded a team of only 3 players in the Dudley Chess League division 3 fixture away to Stourbridge on Wednesday 22nd April 2015. However despite defaulting board 4, due to a lack of available players, the 3 players that did play, all won their matches, so that the club could win the match 3-1. Here is the match card:
Board 1: Martin Berridge (96) 0-1 Paul Wright (126)
Board 2: Daniel N Arkell (69) 0-1 David Blower (103)
Board 3: Charlie A Arkell (47) 0-1 Andrew Davies (104)
Board 4: Aimee F Erb (6) 1-0 Default
Total: Stourbridge 1-3 Brewood
NB: The board order was based on the July 2014 grades but the results that will be counted for grading are based on the more recent January 2015 grades which are the numbers beside each of the player's names on the match card shown above.
The detailed technical chess board reports from the boards 1-3 that did take place will be given a mention in a moment but first an apology to Stourbridge is needed. It is my regret as captain that we did not provide a full quota of players from Brewood for this match for Stourbridge to play against. Sorry Stourbridge.
I am particularly conscious about the fact that Stourbridge are using the Dudley Chess League division 3 to provide opportunities for their junior players, from their club, to play in competitive chess league matches, against other clubs, often against adults, but without the pressure of it being a promotion and relegation league.
It is an ideal environment for Stourbridge in which to familiarise their youngsters with competitive chess matches, that are ECF graded. Indeed if I was running Stourbridge chess club I would have the exact same selection policy. Stourbridge is a chess club that runs plenty of teams in different leagues and is well known for giving opportunities for chess players at all levels of the game.
The game was originally scheduled for October. Ironically it was postponed then, at our request, because we were only going to have 3 players available. In hindsight we may as well have played it then but then again hindsight is a wonderful thing. Brewood are not known for ever defaulting matches, and in fact we rarely even default any boards.
With our main league the Wolverhampton & District Chess League having more stricter rules about defaults, it was a stated club target at our 2014 AGM, that not only should we not default a match, but in fact we should go further than that and state quite clearly that we would have a club target of not even defaulting a single board in any league this coming season.
The club target therefore has been missed. Obviously defaulting board 4, meant that we were at a disadvantage straight away before we had even started the match. It is not often you enter a match already 1-0 down. Yet despite the fact that it was a disadvantage to us, I felt guiltier about the fact that we were letting down Stourbridge, rather than the fact that we were already losing 1-0.
As I walked into the room I did feel a bit embarrassed about having to tell David Scriven from Stourbridge that we were defaulting board 4, especially as it was postponed from October at our request in the first place. I know myself that any chess player would rather play a match, than not play but win by default, which does not count as a win for ECF grading purposes anyway.
As the aim of our Dudley Chess League team is to give new and inexperienced players, especially junior players, experience of competitive league chess without the pressures of being in a promotion and relegation league, our aim from the league is pretty much the same as Stourbridge’s. So believe me, the club is sorry that we did not get a full team to Stourbridge.
Stourbridge really is a good chess club and I would encourage anyone reading this who lives in or around Stourbridge and who likes chess to join their chess club.
As for an explanation of what happened exactly to get into this situation in the first place if anyone reading this (including those of Stourbridge) has ever been a chess team captain you would feel sympathy towards me. It turned into a complete nightmare for me to organise the match. Clearly we did not set out to travel to Stourbridge with only 3 players.
Everyone who was a member of our club, who was within the grading limit for the league, and who was not already playing for another club in the Dudley League, was emailed with plenty of notice, to ask if they could play in the match. 9 different members of the club were eligible which means that normally you would find 4 of them able to play in the match.
5 of the players emailed me almost straight away to say they could not make it for a mixture of reasons. However I did get a team of 4 players, the only 4 available to play, with more than a week to go before the match.
To cut a long story short, and for the benefit of anyone from Stourbridge who is reading this, there was a late withdrawal for unavoidable reasons only confirmed to me the evening before the match. The last time we were scheduled to come to Stourbridge in October, I knew at least a week in advance that we would only have 3 players and I had time to do something about it.
This time there was virtually no notice. I was simply left with the 3 of us that did play being the only 3 players that were available to play. Oh and just as an added nightmare, none of the 3 players playing drive. Nothing was certain for us the night before the match. The main issue was transport.
David Blower: “We have a problem. We only have 3 players for Stourbridge for tomorrow nights match, and no transport arranged.” If it was not for the fact that I am starting to go bald, I would have been pulling my hair out. If we could arrange a car driver than we would at least get 3 of us to Stourbridge and give them some kind of game.
Various options were discussed. At the end of the club evening we had narrowed it down to 3 options depending on if transport was available, and what Stourbridge wanted to do. The options in order of preference were to 1) ask for a postponement so that we could play the game at a later date with a full team, 2) turn up with 3 players and 3) default the entire match 4-0.
David Blower: “I’ll let you know what’s happening tomorrow, stand by your phone and be prepared for anything. If the worst does come to the worst I still want us to get 3 players to Stourbridge and give them some kind of a game.” It did not quite reach the stage of knocking on someone elses door and saying: “Do you want to play chess tonight at Stourbridge,” but it was not far short of that.
I got back from the chess club and at least managed to secure transport to get 3 of us there. All I had to do now was to ask Stourbridge for a postponement on the day of the match. Even though it was very late notice there was nothing to lose by asking them.
If that failed I would at least tell them that we were going to be turning up with only 3 players. The deadline I had set was 5:00pm and if I got nothing by then we would simply have to go with 3 players without them knowing about it. I did not get through to anyone. Clearly it was not ideal to have to do this on the day and this sort of thing can happen from time to time.
It was only at 5:00pm that I made the final decision about the match. We were going to Stourbridge with 3 players. I phoned up Andrew and Paul to say we were going to Stourbridge. I did not have time to update the club’s twitter account. It was explained to the team we were defaulting board 4.
David Blower: “Yes, we are defaulting board 4.”
Paul Wright: “Does this mean we are at a disadvantage straight away?” The reply was bluntly honest as it needed to be.
David Blower: “Yes. We are already 1-0 down.”
For the record, this is the quickest length of time it has ever taken me as a captain to confirm that we are already 1-0 down. I did explain to the team on the way there that there was no added pressure to accept or decline any draw offers made, simply because we were already 1-0 down.
My mum was the transport, and we set out from my house before 6:00pm, collected Andrew and then Paul, and then made our way to Stourbridge, eventually arriving at Stourbridge chess club at about 7:15pm. Having made my way into the room telling David Scriven we were defaulting board 4, I decided to let Stourbridge figure out which player would miss out on a graded game of chess.
David Blower pre match: “I’m getting a pint, I deserve it!” I brought a mate from the bar called Stella to help me, so that she could be sat on the side table during the match. This had being a tough match to organise. That is the board 4 match report. A whole series of telephone calls, emails, and a mum’s taxi to Stourbridge later, we were about to start the actual chess match.
Here is what happened:
Martin Berridge 0-1 Paul Wright. Paul had a move earlier on in the game which would have led to a huge advantage and an almost instant win, but he missed it. This meant the game carried on for longer than it needed to but he did get the win in the end. With a lot of pieces crowded on the board, Paul had managed to secure a checkmate.
Daniel Arkell 0-1 David Blower. Despite everything that I had to deal with pre match, I love playing the game. Every so often, you play a game of chess that reminds yourself of why you love the game in the first place. This was one of them. This was a thrilling win for myself with the game decided in the last few minutes. Daniel should take credit for playing the way he did against me.
With the organisation worries of my mind, all I had to do was try and win the game. I had done all that I could as captain. It seemed as though having the chance to play a game of chess was going to be the least of my worries. Not so!
The opening in this game was: B06: Modern Defence. The game was a bit of a slow burner at the start. After 14 moves the material was even but Daniel had doubled up pawns on the c file. Daniel had the bishop pair against my bishop and knight.
I used Daniel’s doubled up pawns to shift my knight round the board and therefore forked his rook and pawn, thereby winning Daniel’s pawn. A pawn up I kept the advantage so that by move 27 Daniel and I had traded a knight, bishop and rook each with me keeping my 1 pawn advantage. This left myself with rook, knight and 7 pawns and Daniel with rook, bishop and 6 pawns.
This was the last game to finish in the evening and by now almost the entire room was watching us. The tension became very high as a direct result of the time for both of us becoming low. I made the 30 move time control with 2 minutes to spare, Daniel had 1 minute left. I did not think that I used my knight at this stage of the game as well as I could have done.
I made a move with my knight to take another pawn of Daniel’s to go 2 pawns up but in doing so left the knight undefended. Daniel at this point played a move which meant he had a triple attack on me! A potential pawn move to attack my rook, which at the same time would give a discovered check from his bishop, whilst also using his rook to attack my now undefended knight.
Daniel was smiling. I was extremely nervous and fidgeting like mad.
Nick Arkell quote after the game: [Daniel’s dad.] “He couldn’t stop smiling. I’ll have to teach him how to play poker!”
David Blower: “Oh I think it is obvious both of us would not make good poker players.”
However was there a way out of it? Sort of. I played a pawn move to lead to a discovered check from my rook, and then moved the king out of the way to avoid 2 of the 3 attacks, but I still lost my undefended knight. With this Daniel had the material advantage but I could give endless rook checks so it would have been a draw.
Daniel ended up taking my f pawn allowing a skewer and therefore I won his rook. From there I took all of his pieces and did a rook and king checkmate to win with minutes to spare. Phew. The website board match report does not really do this game justice though. You could recreate the moves, but not recreate the tension involved. It was one of those you had to be there for.
David Blower gave this reaction on the way back home: “I value that win quite highly, probably my best this season because Daniel really played well.” My nerves really had being tested to the limit. The game had ebbed and flowed all the way.
Daniel was obviously disappointed but sporting in his congratulations to me. I did say to Daniel after the match had finished that he probably deserved a bit better after the game.
David Blower further reaction: “Just had an amazing game of chess at Stourbridge.” Watch out for a problem position from the actual game in the monthly club newsletter from Andrew Davies next week.
Charlie Arkell 0-1 Andrew Davies. Andrew stated: “She was doing well, but made a mistake which led to a back rank checkmate.”
With the time limit between Daniel Arkell and I going down to the last few minutes for both of us, we left Stourbridge chess club at about 11:00pm, and I got back to my own house after midnight. 6 hours spent of my life travelling to, playing, and coming back from a chess match, and it seemed a lot longer trying to organise it.
Neither team going into the match could win the league. We were a player short. The effort to organise the match by myself seemed to be going on forever. Was it all worth it? Yes. The game of chess itself seems to always make any effort to organise things worthwhile. Thank goodness the decision was made to go to the match.