1995: The Decider
Having been knocked out of the Cup as usual by Teignmouth, Exeter made it to the five-board final of the Major Plate in good style, due to some vigorous work on the top boards by Brian Hewson and Peter Lane. But at the Birmingham final Brian soon drew, and so did Pete on board two, and Dave on board three, and Chris on board four...Of course if Richard drew on five, we would all have to sit down again and play a half-hour game!
So how was Richard doing? His colleagues were used to seeing him in dire time trouble, but there seemed to be other problems on the board... — DR
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. e4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 d6 7. Be2 a6 8. O-O Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. f4 Bd7 11. Rf2 Qc8 12. Nc2 Qc7 13. Qd3 Rad8 14. Raf1 Bc8 15. Bf3 Nd7 16. g4
Richard doesn't usually play the Sicilian but undoubtedly recognised the position as kin to the Maroczy Bind, a formation where Black often struggles for counterplay.
16...Nc5 17. Qe2 Bf6 18. e5
With hindsight, this attempt to force the issue looks too early, and possibly breaks with the wrong Pawn. But at the time I'm sure it was not easy to look at the massed White King's-side pieces without some anxiety.
18...Be7 19. b4 Nd7
20. exd6 Bxd6 21. c5 Be7 22. Ne4 Nf6 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. Be4 Nd4 25. Nxd4 Bxd4 26. g5 g6 27. h4 e5 28. f5 Bd7 29. fxg6 hxg6 30. Rf6 Bb5
White may have overlooked this win of the exchange; the attack certainly is running out of steam.
31. Qf3 Bxf1 32. Kxf1 Bxe3 33. Qxe3 Qd7 34. Rd6 Qb5+ 35. Bd3 Qxb4 36. Qxe5 Rxd6 37. cxd6
The continuing run of exchanges has left Black with a winning game, if only he doesn't let the d-Pawn through, doesn't allow a sacrifice for a perpetual check on g6 and can make the time control...
37...Qd2 38. Bc4 Qd1+??
39. Kf2 Qd2+ 40. Kg3 b5 41. Bd5 Qd3+ 42. Kg4 Qd1+ 43. Kg3 Qg1+ 44. Kf3 Qf1+ 45. Kg4 Rd8 46. Qe7 Qf5+ 47. Kg3 Rd7 [47...Rc8 48. Bc6] 48. Qe8+ Kg7 49. Bf3 Qe6 50. Qc8 Qxd6+ [50...Rxd6 51. Qc5] 51. Kf2 [51. Kg4 Qe6+ 52. Kg3 Qe1+ 53. Kh3 Rd4] 51...Qh2+ 52. Ke3 Qd2+ 53. Ke4 Re7+ [53...Qd4#] 0-1
We all needed a pint after that one!
[Notes by DR]