last updated Monday 25th March 2019
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Two weeks before the match day, Cumbria had 11 players without myself and I was waiting for confirmation from another couple. So, whatever happened, we would have a full squad, or so I thought. By the Thursday before the match, for a variety of reasons, we were down to 9 players without me and by Friday, 9 including me. It didn't look good so, knowing that Bill O'Rourke wouldn't have much time to contact his players, I e-mailed him with the news that we might have to default some boards and he asked me to let him know by the end of the day. So, my Friday afternoon was spent e-mailing and telephoning and with the help of Gary Sharkey and Peter Hanks, by 9 pm we had a full squad without me. All sorted, I thought but though everyone turned up at the Reform Club, Lancaster in good time, our board 2 hadn't even got to sit down before he recieved a call from home and had to leave. Fortunately, everyone else stayed and the match got under way, me included. We won the toss and played white on odd boards but our good fortune didn't hold out. Despite some very close games, Lancashire, graded on average 19 points per board higher than us, started to pull ahead and eventually won 9 - 3. Well played David Wright (Ulverston), our only winner! (Play through the game on our games page
). The other two points came from draws by our board 1, Neil Jones (Maryport), Greg Millar (Maryport), George Horne (Barrow) and Andy McAtear (Penrith).
Cumbria are always up against it when it comes to playing Lancashire but after two players had to withdraw at short notice, they were replaced by much lower graded players. This made our task harder but not impossible. A couple of early wins by Martin Gawne (Ulverston) and Clive Hutchby (Keswick), inspired our squad to push harder. Kevin Southernwood, Lewis McAtear (both Penrith), Gary Boswell (Ulverston), George Horne (Barrow) and Mark Mallard (SASRA), all managed to hold their opponents to a draw. So, had the match been over 7 boards, we would have won already but, Eggert Fruchtenicht (Penrith) picked today to be the rare occasion when he loses a game (though I'm certain his opponent had something to do with it). Jon Duffield (Barrow) lost his game to a fierce attack by a demure young lady but Gerry Rowan (Penrith) kept hope alive by drawing with an opponent graded more than 50 points higher and probably 50 years younger! Peter Caulfield (Ulverston) eventually succumbed to, Lancashire Captain, Bill O'Rourke. The score now 6 - 5 to Lancashire with only one board left in play...mine (Andy McAtear, Penrith). I had offered my opponent a draw much earlier in the game but he declined. He now offered me a draw but, as I knew the current scoreline and I had a decent plan and I was the Captain, I declined. I did miss a forced mate (or two) but my plan turned out to be a good one and I won!! (You can see this game on the games page
). So we drew the match despite being graded, on average, 12 points lower on every board.