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.
Home and dry
On Monday, Rotherham A travelled to Hillsborough B where we scored an excellent 4–2 win despite being mostly outgraded. Four boards were drawn, while Andy and Ed continued their good runs by netting the crucial full-points to secure victory.
Wednesday's B fixture saw us finally return to our spiritual home, the Bridge Inn, for the first time in six weeks since the floods struck. Hillsborough C were the opponents and, despite the lack of heating in the upstairs function room, there was plenty of fire on the chessboard. The match toed and froed; Oli's top-board curse continued as he blundered a rook in a pleasant position. In the end, wins from Colin and Mick Mc alongside a half-point from John led to the spoils being shared in a 2½–2½ tie.
The festive period is just around the corner and we're heading for a well-deserved rest until the 8th of January—although I hear whispers of a quickplay tournament between Christmas and New Year.
Have a lovely Christmas and see you in 2020. 🎄