|1 w||Alan McIntosh||½ – ½||Rob Woodford|
|2 b||Norman Wragg||0 – 1||Geoff D Brown|
|3 w||Peter Cooper||1 – 0||Craig Chatterton|
|4 b||Peter Hoare||0 – 1||Danny Dawson|
|5 w||Roger Swindell||½ – ½||Geoff Facer|
|6 b||Mick Howarth||½ – ½||Bob Lindsay|
On Wednesday 15th October 2014 we travelled to The Abbey to take on Ecclesall 2 in the first round of the Richardson Cup. The draw for the next round had already been made and the winners of our tie knew that they would come up against either S.A.S.C.A. 1 or Phoenix. Progression beyond the next round would pitch us in with other first division giants such as Ecclesall 1, Sheffield Nomads, Chesterfield and Woodseats — a veritable Poisoned Chalice for either ourselves or Ecclesall 2. Surely our best chance of silverware would be to lose this match and go all out in the Plate competition with other first-round losers.
Despite all that, we fielded our strongest available team. Tom Whitaker had a family event to attend and Mike Gallagher-Clark is still working every hour he can to help secure a new mortgage deal.
An hour or so into the match Bob Lindsay, on bottom board, was the first to finish, gaining a draw against Mike Howarth. None of this 'play-on-in-a-drawn-position-until-the-top-boards-have-finished-just-in-case-they-need-me-to-push-for-a-win' thinking for Bob. Bob's thinking was clearly along the lines of, "We don't need to win this match. The Plate is our best chance."
Danny finished soon afterwards. Danny had won a pawn early doors but then gave his opponent a chance to win one back again. Peter eschewed the offer and actually contrived to lose another one a few moves later. Peter resigned when two pawns down.
Geoff Brown was obviously trying his best in the opening to avoid the team going through to the main competition. Although the pieces were level, Norman, with black, gained a much superior set up with the bishop pair against Geoff's bishop and knight. Norman's white squared bishop dominated the long diagonal down to the g2 square in front of Geoff's castled king. Then there were a series of exchanges, Geoff slipped in a zwischenzug, Norman was quickly the exchange and a pawn down and soon resigned.
We were leading 2½ – ½ and staring into the precipice of the second-round but then Craig lost on board 3. Craig had had some threats in the centre for a time but they quickly dissipated and his opponent grabbed the upper hand.
Geoff Facer's was the penultimate game to finish. His opponent agreed to the draw once Geoff had captured the passed pawn on the queen side. The game finished with rook, knight and five pawns against rook, bishop and five.
The match score was now 3 – 2 to D&H. If Rob Woodford won or drew then we would go through to Round 2. If he lost, then board count would come into play, Ecclesall would win and theirs would be the team to go through. Rob was a pawn down at this stage but with good chances of winning one back and Alan was extremely short of time. A draw was agreed with Alan's flag not quite hanging. Certainly, Alan couldn't win in the remaining time and a draw was a fair result in the situation.
So, another win for D&H. Any win is sweet, of course, but the Ecclesall players agreed with us that it was difficult to know if winning this match was a good thing or not. We move on now to our next cup match — S.A.S.C.A. 1, away, on Monday 10th November. They only have five players graded over 180! What could be easier?