Forest Hall Admirals finished off the season in style, leaving ‘Old Durham Town’ in the dust to win the final league match of 2016-17 by the impressive margin of 4½-½.
Durham looked to be one of our main rivals this season – especially when they could turn out their top three 200+ players, Thomas Eggleston, Ken Neat and Ian Watson. But in Wednesday’s match, Forest Admirals laid siege to Durham’s castle and – as Michael Caine would say – blew more than the proverbial doors off.
Once again, GM Danny Gormally was a class act, outplaying Tom Eggleston in a fluctuating Siclian battle, while I was able to beat Durham’s Russian expert Ken Neat after a typical ‘in your face’ Trompowsky opening left him defending various weaknesses and succumbing to a neat tactic that won the exchange. (See game below)
Zheming Zhang completed a good season with a solid draw as Black against Szymon Palucha, while on board 4 Alan Harvey showed some positional mastery to win on the white side of a complex King’s Indian.
A team captain Mark Younger saw off the challenge from Sebastian Palucha, taking a piece sacrifice and holding on to win the endgame.
Forest Hall Admirals 4½-½ Durham City
1. Daniel Gormally 1-0 Thomas Eggleston
2. Tim Wall 1-0 Ken Neat
3. Zheming Zhang ½-½ Szymon Palucha
4. Alan Harvey 1-0 Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya
5. Mark Younger 1-0 Sebastian Palucha
White: Tim Wall (Forest Hall A)
Black: Ken Neat (Durham City)
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.Nd2 c5 4.e3 b6 5.Ne4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.d5 Bb7 8.Nc3 f5 9.Nge2 Bf6 10.g3 b5 11.Bg2 b4 12.Na4 Na6 13.O-O Qc7 14.Nf4 O-O-O 15.a3 Kb8 16.axb4 cxb4 17.c3 Rc8 18.cxb4 Qc2 19.Nc5 Rxc5 20.bxc5 Qxd1 21.Rfxd1 Nxc5 22.Nd3 Na6 23.Ra5 Bd8 24.Rb5 Bb6 25.Ne5 1-0
The 4½-½ victory was the A team’s biggest win all season, giving us 17 match points out of a possible 20, leaving a margin of at least 3 match points ahead of second-placed Gosforth Empire. Gosforth will probably finish ahead of us on game points (we sccored 32/50, wheareas they can get a maximum of 34 after playing their B team in the last round).
But since it’s match points that count, Forest Hall A’s more efficient approach (wins of 3-2 and 3½-1½ were the norm) came out on top. Definitely a triumph for team work!
All the players who turned out for the A team this season have done a fantastic job. Congratulations to the whole squad: Martin Seeber, Zheming Zhang, Mike Smith, Yichen Han, Mark Younger, Stuart Skelsey, Alan Harvey, myself and last but not least Danny Gormally!
This final win caps off a brilliant season for the club, who in the end finished comfortable winners of both Division 1 and Division 2.
Just looking back 4 or so seasons, when Forest Hall were struggling to get out 2 teams, and you can see how far we have come. Particular thanks is due to Mike Smith and his work in building up the club (especially the junior club, which is now the strongest in the North East.)