The Richardson Plate Final. The Bridge Inn. The Big Room (with the new carpet). All the ingredients were there for a fabulous giant-killing in our battle against Darnall & Handsworth tonight, but sadly it wasn't to be.
As expected, our opponents fielded a pretty strong side. There was no lack of fighting spirit, with many of the games going down to the last few minutes on the clock, but in the final reckoning we could only manage 1½ points through Ed's win and Oli's draw on the bottom two boards.
Thanks to all the Rotherham players who got us this far—you all fought like lions throughout. Congratulations to D&H on a deserved win—they played some good chess and were extremely gracious in victory. We'll be back next season! 💪
Making the grade
January grades have just been released. Andy saw the biggest increase since July's list, gaining 10 points to reach 134, while Mick Mc added 7 points to reach 136.
With no league fixtures over Christmas, we had an enjoyable rapidplay tournament at the Bridge before New Year which was attended by a few Darnall players as well as a strong contingent of Rotherhamites. Congratulations to Nat H-D who crushed all before him, ending up with a perfect 6/6 score. Now though, we're well into a new decade, the festive period is nothing more than a speck in the rear-view mirror, and the great chess treadmill has started turning again...
2020 kicked off with a double-header against Sheffield Nomads: a home A-team match followed by the Plate semifinal at the Trades & Labour Club. In the league meeting, our valiant chessers couldn't stop the Nomads B juggernaut—the visitors, having lost just one match all season, never looked in any danger as Rotherham A notched just a win and draw in a 1½–4½ defeat.
It was difficult not to take this as a bad omen for the impending knockout game against Nomads II, but things would prove alright on the night. Oli's game was first to finish, winning a chaotic Pirc with the Black pieces to put Rotherham in the lead. Surveying the scene, Ed looked to be up a piece, while on top board Steve Mann had queen for rook after earlier sacrificing the exchange. There was still some chess to be played, but we could dare to dream of a shot at the trophy.
As the clocks began to run low, Steve swapped off into a won pawn endgame and Ed converted after grabbing a second piece. Meanwhile, Chris and Andy halved their games to send us through to the final with a score of 2–4.
In the other semifinal, Darnall & Handsworth defeated Ecclesall 3½–2½, so we'll meet them in the grand finale on Wednesday 12th February.