Reivers v South Shields

This match was played at Corbridge on Tuesday Jan 7th 2014, with the following line-up:
1. Alex Ashworth (127) v Ian Maughan (u)
2. Dave Foster sr (120) v Kevin Rowden (141)
3. Steve Larkin (125) v Stan Johnson (118)
4. Phil Taylor (125) v Ben Wood (112)
5. Bruce Reed v Eddie Czestochoski (u)
This was the Reivers’ very last chance to stay in the promotion race, though South Shields were going to be a tough nut to crack. Still, we had our strongest team out so far, with in-form Dave promoted over Steve and Phil to board 2.
First game to finish was on board 3, where Steve and Stan were having a re-run of their Gilroy encounter of the previous evening, albeit with colours reversed. Yet again it was a very tight affair, evenly balanced throughout. It came down to rook and 3 single pawns each, with one pawn due to fall on either side and endless scope for checking. With no clear advantage, a draw was agreed. 0.5-0.5
Next was Phil, who throughout had been under pressure from Ben. When a rook check won a bishop, it was all over. 0.5-1.5
Dave pulled off the best result of the evening, holding Kevin to just a one-pawn advantage right into the endgame, involving knight and 3 pawns v knight and 2. Holding his nerve, Dave succeeded in forcing a position where not only his knight but also all the pawns came off, thereby ensuring a draw after no less then 55 moves. 1-2
Alex was up against it here. He emerged into the middle game with a one pawn advantage but was being squeezed for space. The pawn advantage was lost and Alex’s king, which was pretty exposed, came under huge pressure. With his time running out, he did his best to keep Ian at bay but Ian, with plenty of time on his clock, steadily eliminated Alex’s defences before checkmating. 1-3
Last to finish was Bruce. The position was materially level throughout, though Bruce had a considerable space advantage, since Eddie never ventured beyond the third rank until the final minutes of the game. It looked as though Bruce might be able to do some damage to Eddie’s castled king with a combination of rook and queen, but it all came too late as Eddie suddenly swung into action with his own rook and queen to force Bruce’s resignation, with serious material and positional damage in the offing. 1-4
So this was a rather chastening evening which confirmed that, if the three-division structure remains in place next season, the Reivers will stay in the bottom division.

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