Durham Double Delight!
It had been four long years since Durham University won the first ever 2020/NUCC Yorkshire tournament, and they finally regained their title in Leeds, though not before an epic fight to make it across the finish line. Their B team also impressively took third place, and with it qualification to the 2020 Grand Final in Birmingham next year.
It was a fantastic day with a joint record 20 teams taking part from across the north of England, and raising hundreds of pounds for Oxfam in the process. It was kindly hosted by Leeds University, our many thanks to them and Kira Mac Kenzie and Robert Starley for enabling this event to take place each year. We were generously supported by our sponsors Chess and Bridge who provided equipment and prizes, along with ChessLessons, ICC, Chess King and DeCode Chess who gave memberships and software programs for their respective platforms to various winners and participants.
The first round started with a tasty Yorkshire derby between Leeds A and Sheffield A, with the former eventually prevailing with a 3-1 win. Durham A meanwhile made their mark with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over York, and Northenden Ombudsmen Chess Club celebrated their debut beating Sheffield B by the same margin.
They were undone however in the next round by a resurgent Manchester A team, falling to a 3-1 loss. All eyes were on the top board of teams though, where Durham A faced off against Leeds A. The teams couldn't be separated and it ended 2-2 which had significant ramifications for the rest of the tournament.
Both teams won the following games, but Manchester A didn't slip up either and were in first place going into the penultimate round in this epic three horse race.
Durham A did their job, thrashing Sheffield C 4-0, who had impressively punched above their weight up until that point. Manchester A faced off against Leeds A, knowing that a win would knock out their rivals from contention. They could not manage it however, sliding to an agonizing 1.5-2.5 loss and were left hoping that other results would go their way in the final round.
By chance, their friends from Manchester C were drawn against Leeds A giving them the opportunity to dent Leed's title hopes. The result went accordingy to strength however, as Leeds A quickly dispatched their opponents 4-0 and went over to watch the decider.
Meanwhile, there was a scramble between a clutch of teams to reach the 3 point mark and qualify for the Grand Final. Sheffield A were in direct competition with Northenden, and managed to break the debutant's hearts with a dramatic 3-1 victory sealing their qualification at the expense of their opponents.
Sheffield C did not share the same fortunes however, losing to the same scoreline to Durham B in identical circumstances. Leeds C pulled off a huge shock beating their Yorkshire rivals York 3-1, while Liverpool A thumped Leeds D 4-0 to ensure that a team from Merseyside will be represented at the Grand Final.
The decider for the Yorkshire title was between Manchester A and Durham. As Leeds A had won Manchester A were out of contention, but still were playing for pride and for a place on the podium. Leeds A needed Manchester to prevent Durham A from winning, to win the tournament themselves.
Durham took a 2-1 lead going into the final five minutes, and it all came down to board one between IM Andy Horton of Durham A and Marco Monti of Manchester A. Marco took a gamble of swapping off two rooks for a queen but Andy counter-attacked with his knight trapping his opponent's king in the corner and Marco couldn't defend it and under time pressure made a mistake then was forced to resign as a relieved Andy claimed victory, and the title for his team.
(Inset: To the right, Andy Horton playing black against Marco Monti)
N.B: **Scroll down for individual scores and team results**