“And the winning team is…Market Harborough… I can’t quite believe it. I’ve checked three times. It’s a statistical miracle,” said host and arbiter Andy Morley.
A Draw vs Tough Nut Anstey
Harborough 3rd remain unbeaten this season thanks to a 2-2 draw against upwardly mobile Anstey 2nd. The season has seen Harborough out graded in the majority of matches, but here, Anstey were underdog on each of the four boards according to English Chess Federation ratings.
At around 9.30pm, Harborough 3 were staring at a first league loss of the season. Wigston needing only a draw from the final game to finish, led 3 v 2. A win for the home team would see them leapfrog us into top spot of Division 4. Amrik Tahim, with Black on board six, had to win against Chris Brown, to draw the match. Both players’ clocks had around five minutes plus increment, yet both had the majority of their major pieces.
Market Harborough 2nd team were ahead only on board difference (same as goal difference) against second place Heathcote’s 1st team when the two sides meet in early December. Market Harborough also had a game in hand against their opponents but knew that a lose would see them overtaken going into the mid-season break.
In a galaxy not so far far away from the centre of Market Harborough in late November. Having won all of their matches so far this season the galactic empire was attempting to show this new force in the division the taste of failure.
In the name of The Father, Pawn, and The Holy Bishop Harborough 2s had rocked up Thursday the 11th of November in Anstey, the club was situated in a church and there were a few other younger players playing against each other on the other side of the room. Boards were arranged in a straight line, such that board 1 was farthest on the left and on the right-hand side was board 5.
The long trip north to Loughborough on a cold, dark Wednesday night is perhaps the football equivalent of Stoke away. Full credit to the six committed chess amateurs from Harborough Three. Loughborough’s home venue, the Fennel Street Club, has undergone a swish makeover since our last match here. Their playing squad has seen a similar rejuvenation, during the match, eight or so social games took place involving new members, many of whom are students.
John Thomson was the first to finish in the match at Braunstone. He was never in trouble and his opponent seemed happy to force the draw. Braunstone’s high graded top board then produced a startling blunder and Ian Clarke took full advantage to win.
With the match level at 2-2, our top board Cyril Hill offered his opponent, John Manger a draw. Their game looked ‘drawish’ having gone down the French exchange route. Manger declined Cyril’s offer. One of the Heathcote’s players whispered that Manger is known as ‘The Grinder’ presumably due to his ability to dig out results from stodgy endings. Manger grinded away but it was Cyril who was successful, giving Harborough Three the two points to send us top of the table.
Harborough Hombres faced a tough draw against Title contenders Wigston Warriors, who fielded a full strength team of 2,000 plus players. A mix of English, Dutch and Catalan speakers, there was no e4 to be seen.