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Hickman Cup Exit

posted 22 Apr 2012, 12:27 by knight moves
The semi-final of the Hickman Cup, the Staffordshire County Open cup competition, saw Stafford travelling to Walsall Kipping and, short of several first-team regulars, struggling against an average grading deficit of around 16 points per board.

The home side drew first blood on board five when Ken McNulty, having got his queen into the heart of his opponent's position on e3, omitted to ensure that he could get it out again and found it trapped.   Further blood followed on board three as Stephane Pedder did not get to grips with his opponent's kingside advances and succumbed to a well-played attack.

Andrew Leadbetter opened Stafford's account with a draw on board six.  He had looked to be a bit worse as his opponent's central pawns advanced, but he remained solid to earn a draw.  Ray Hyde was the one Stafford player who enjoyed the better of things, despite giving away 26 grading points.  However, as time began to run short he missed a strong continuation and allowed his grateful opponent to escape with a draw.

On board two, Malcolm Armstrong faced British Senior Champion David Anderton, and a lively encounter developed as the players castled on opposite sides and launched their separate attacks.  Malcolm's attack ran out of steam first and he was in trouble as a pawn sacrifice exposed his king.  A rather involuntary exchange sacrifice followed, but Malcolm was able to pick up a second pawn and, with time running short, his opponent could see no way to improve his position and allowed a rook sacrifice leading to a draw by perpetual check.

In the final game to finish, Lee Grinsell had also been under pressure as he faced a strong kingside attack.  However, he defended robustly and also gradually recovered his deficit on the clock, and may have stood a little better when discretion prevailed with both players down to their last couple of minutes and a draw was agreed.

So, Stafford's involvement in the final will be restricted to acting as hosts, as Walsall Kipping take on Cheddleton.
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