After Ulverston came to Penrith to beat our Penrith II team in the first round, they were drawn at home in the semi-final against Penrith I so, reluctantly, Penrith I made the journey to them on a cold, wet Monday evening with three players; we did have 4 but one fell ill with a bad cold and rather than pass it on to everyone else, quite wisely, stayed at home in bed. I informed their captain and we agreed to play a 3 board match.

The match got under way at about 7:30 pm in the Stan Laurel pub in Ulverston. The pub was closed to the public so, apart from other Ulverston club members, there was unlikely to be any disturbance.

After the rating differences were calculated, there wasn’t a handicap for either team as there wasn’t much difference in the ratings on each board. Eggert on board 2 was our only player to have the black pieces and unfortunately, his Slav defence wasn’t much of a defence against Martin Gawne’s queen’s side pawns; 1-0 to the home team. On board 1 however, Jacob had played 11 moves in less than a minute, compared to half an hour off Kit Hopkins’ clock…though he was playing, one of his pet openings, the Göring Gambit. To be fair to Kit, he had just about equalised by move 28 when he blundered with 29….f5?? opening the diagonal for Jacob’s B on b2 and Q on h4 and that was like waving a red flag to a bull. Three moves later, Kit resigned, one move away from being checkmated. This left one game to decide the match, Steve was white against an upcoming young player, Calum Hamilton. Steve was well ahead (5 pawns according to Stockfish) but still had to finish the game in less than 5 minutes but Calum was fighting on hoping for a draw with even less time on his clock. By now the Ulverston captain had realised that a draw on board 3 would lose them the match and had obviously, not read the FIDE rules on chess etiquette, as he approached his player at the board and told him that he needed to win and while this conversation was taking place, Steve’s clock was ticking. Steve was, naturally, outraged by this and concentration totally broken, had to leave the room. Upon Steve’s return, he learned that his game was deemed a draw, enough to win the match but as Steve was totally winning before the interruption, hardly acceptable. In the interest of diplomacy and the fact that Penrith I progress to the final, Steve acknowledged, though hardly accepted, the result of his game when he wasn’t even there to agree a draw.

So, Penrith I are in the final after the elimination of board 3, then board 2…but had Steve’s game gone uninterrupted, we could have won without the elimination of boards.

The Whitaker table is below: