Published 12 March 2012
Derbyshire - Leicestershire
Played 10 March 2012 at Spondon, Derbys. Leicestershire players on odd-numbered boards had white. Reported by Graham Booley.
Graham Booley reports: Leicestershire met Derbyshire at Spondon for an epic battle.
Leicestershire needed a draw to qualify for the national stages and a win to become Midland Champions whereas a win for Derbyshire would see them through to the nationals and eliminate Leicestershire.
Leicestershire fielded almost their strongest possible team, but Derbyshire were stronger than expected. Excepting the top board, there was very little difference in grades between players.
First blood went to Derbyshire. The board 12 players swapped all their pieces very quickly and once a king and pawn ending was reached, it was a straight forward win for Gilmour.
Sean Hewitt on board 15 evened the score for Leics. A nice combination won material. Hewitt then returned the material to set up a won pawn ending.
A succession of draws followed on boards 4, 6, 7, and 10. In these games only Sharpe had a slight advantage, but he missed his opponent's perpetual check. At this point both Jiminez and Miller were material down but battling on.
Chino Nwachukwu and Sheahan then found nice wins for Leicestershire with Chino gaving up the exchange for extra pawns and positional advantage to convert.
Hewitt got out of tricky position with two minor pieces for a rook and forced a win putting Leicester 2 points in the lead. But Derbyshire fought back with wins from Hedges and Pickering.
Wins looked likely for Leicester from Hebden and McDermott, and for Derby from Latham and Johnson. Boards 5 and 8 drew making the match score 8-all followed by Leicesters' expected wins from boards 1 and 13 to take the score line to 5-7 in Leicester's favour.
Burrows forced a perpetual check, to gain Leicester an unexpected half point. Galligan, defending a pawn down for most the game with queen, rook and opposite-coloured bishops, got the draw by swapping off the queens and rooks, giving Leicester at least a draw and a place in the national stages.
Latham won for Derby to reduce the deficit to a single point, 7-8.
Morley's position was looking slightly better, but then lost two pawns in his usual time scramble heading, everyone thought, to defeat. With a hour of play left, most Leicester players exited for the pub to celebrate reaching the national stages.
Team captain, Booley and his number 6, Burgess, were made of sterner stuff. Morely didn't give in and devoted 20 of his extra 30 minutes, trying to find a way out of his lost position. This may have unnerved Jarvis and after a couple of moves he could swap off queens and rooks for a won king and pawn ending. Instead Jarvis kept checking to trying to get a bigger advantage, but used up a lot of his own time. When both players were below 5 minutes each, there were a few more checks and Jarvis offered the draw!
There was disbelie when Leicester captain Booley retired to the pub and reported a 8½- 7½ win for Leicestershire.
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