Forest Hall won the 2018-19 Northern Counties (NCCU) Open Club Championship from Heywood, Lancashire, in a thrilling final hosted by Harrogate Chess Club on May 26.
The Open final took place alongside the Seniors and Minor finals, also held at Harrogate one the same afternoon, which were won by South Shields and Heywood, respectively. In the Open final, Heywood were leading 2-1 with one game to go and looked favourites to win the title as their top board, Brett Lund, had the advantage. But then, in a sudden twist of fortunes, Forest Hall’s Tim Wall managed to turn the tables with a desperate kingside onslaught that produced a checkmate with only a minute to spare.
The board 1 win meant that both teams had 2 game points each, but Forest Hall triumphed on board count. The fact that a total of seven teams took part in this year’s club competitions is due in large part to the campaigning of NCCU President Bill O’Rourke (also the Heywood team captain) who encouraged more teams to enter.
The finals day at Harrogate Chess Club was a splendid afternoon, with each team contributing sandwiches and other snacks and beverages for the players. The chess was hard-fought, but played in an excellent, friendly spirit.
Heywood 2-2 Forest Hall*
(*Forest Hall win on board count)
1 Brett Lund (208) 0-1 Tim Wall (207)
2 Martyn Hamer (191) 0.5-0.5 Zheming Zhang (184)
3 Peter Jowett (191) 1-0 Chris Goodall (173)
4 Bill O’Rourke (159) 0.5-0.5 Ravi Wariyar (162)
1.g3 e5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.c4 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.O-O Nb6 7.d3 Be7 8.a3 Be6 9.Nbd2 a5 10.b3 O-O 11.Bb2 f6 12.Rc1 Qd7 13.Ne4 Rfd8 14.Nc5 Bxc5 15.Rxc5 Bh3 16.Bxh3 Qxh3 17.b4 axb4 18.Qb3+ Kh8 19.axb4 Na4 20.Rc2 Nxb2 21.Qxb2 Ra4 22.Rc4 Rda8 23.b5 Rxc4 24.dxc4 Ne7 25.Rd1 Qg4 26.Qc2 h6 27.Nh4 Kg8 28.Qd3 e4 29.Qd2 Kh7 30.Ng2 Ng6 31.Ne3 Qh5 32.Qc2 f5 33.Qb2 f4 34.Rd5 Qh3 35.Nf5 Rg8 36.Qc3 c6 37.bxc6 bxc6 38.Rc5 h5 39.f3 fxg3 40.hxg3 h4 41.fxe4 Nf4 42.Qf3 Ra8 43.Ne3 hxg3 44.Nf1 Ra1 45.Qxf4 Qh2# 0-1