A squad that fought its way out of Exeter's heavy traffic to visit Newton Abbot emerged victorious to retain the Peter Rooke Cup.
Despite some late substitutions, the teams were roughly balanced with Teignmouth looking stronger on the higher boards, so Exeter were looking for points in the bottom half. In the event, the closing stages saw Newton Abbot's lead on the lower boards overtaken by a couple of last-minute wins for Exeter higher up the order.
EXETER Grade Result NEWTON ABBOT 1 REGIS, David (Black) 175 1 0 180 HOMER, Steve (White) 2 DOBBER, Piet 149 ½ ½ 171 THYNNE, Trefor 3 POPE, Sean 149 1 0 162 KINDER, Andrew 4 MARJORAM, William 148 0 1 160 BROOKS, Paul 5 WALEY, Jonathan 132 0 1 125 FRASER, John 6 AMOS, Jeremy E130 1 0 E100 MILLS, Nathan 7 FAIRBAIRN, William 97 0 1 104 CHORNENKYY, Vitali 8 ALDWIN, Brian 95 1 0 59 DARLOW, Paul 4½ 3½The plan worked well at the start when Brian Aldwin notched up an early win for the visitors, his opponent playing an defence that owed more to inspiration than study (Exeter 1-0 Newton Abbot). Bill Fairbairn on the next board up had strong queen's-side pressure in an 'unorthodox Queen's Gambit' and sacrificed a Queen for Rook, Bishop and passed pawn, but this sadly went awry, making the score 1-1.
Jonathan Waley's Pirc survived a King's-side attack against improving junior John Fraser but not the pawn endgame (1-2). After Will Marjoram swapped off Paul Brook's bad French Bishop he was heading for trouble, and while White defended well, Black penetrated with a couple of major pieces to leave the home team looking good (1-3).
Happily, Jeremy Amos had it all under control with his English against Nathan Mills, exploiting Black's doubled isolated pawns on the open file(!) (2-3). After Piet Dobber drew as White in a sophisticated Sveshnikov Sicilian against home captain Trefor Thynne, Exeter still had it all to do, as the unkind logic of the 'board count' tie-break required Exeter to find two wins on the remaining two boards.
It looked good on third: Andrew Kinder, the mad axe-man of Newton Abbot, couldn't create any attacking chances against the Caro-Kann Defence of Sean Pope, the Iron Man of Exeter, and White was already shaking his head by the time the opening phase ended. Sean milked the attack against the IQP to perfection, swapping off all the minor pieces, winning a weak pawn and scoring a smooth win in the Rook endgame (3½-3½).
Meanwhile, Steve Homer saw the MacCutcheon French coming from a long way off, and launched some knockout moves of Anand against his unsuspecting opponent. Black chose a plausible but flawed 15th move and White got a position marked as 'winning' by move 20. But Steve's old enemy, the clock, came to Black's rescue. Despite investing heavily in thinking time, White couldn't get the attack out of second gear, and he lost on time in a wrecked position (Exeter 4½-3½ Newton Abbot).
Congratulations and thanks to the team, and hat-tip to Brian for driving.
I believe Peter Rooke was a Teignmouth postman. The cup is contested as a knockout between two teams of eight 'ordinary' club players, with a team grading limit equivalent to 140 per board (formerly 125). This has the effect of excluding the very top players, as they are too expensive! The teams are the largest of any Devon competition, so there is always a nice friendly crowd at these matches.