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Stafford v Rushall match report

posted 24 Sep 2010, 01:24 by knight moves   [ updated 22 Oct 2010, 11:12 ]
Stafford began their defence of the Cannock League Division 1 title with a 2-2 draw in a very tight match against last year's runners-up Rushall.
 
Things were looking grim when Ray Hyde got into early difficulties on board 3 and, unable to castle and faced with his opponent's very active pieces, he succumbed to a mating attack.   By that time Stephane Pedder was 2 pawns down for what appeared scant compensation, but suddenly a blunder from his opponent, who walked into a skewer which cost him his Queen and the match was level.    Malcolm Armstrong and John Staniforth had been playing a slow manoeuvring game on board 1 in which both players probably had a slight edge at various points.   With neither player willing to take undue risks, a draw was agreed as the game reached a tricky endgame with three minor pieces each.  
 
This left the match level with everything resting on board 4, where Ken McNulty had played a smooth game to nurture his Queenside pawn majority and appeared to have excellent winning chances.     However, Ken's deficit on the clock was good practical compensation for his opponent, who exploited a mistake from Ken to liquidate into an advantageous Knight endgame.    All 3 results were possible as both players went into their last 2 minutes, but Ken played calmly to sacrifice his Knight for 2 pawns and good prospects of exchanging the remaining pawns, which he evenually achieved with about 30 seconds remaining on his clock.   This was a good example of the merits of the additional digital clocks recently purchased by Stafford, as such an ending would have been much more difficult and nerve-wracking to play with the uncertainty of an analogue clock.  
 
At this stage of the season both teams were probably happy enough to draw a match which could have gone either way, although in the cold light of day it is probably Stafford who should feel grateful to have escaped with a point.
 
M.A.