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.