Bangor Derby

"Chess Notes" from County Down Spectator, 18 Nov 2004

Groomsport relegated Again!

After last year's poor showing, Bangor Groomsport were relegated into Division 2 for this season. Club Night on 18th November saw the first junior division derby match between Barracudas and Groomsport.

With a total of 3 new recruits to bolster his ailing veteran squad Groomsport captain Richard Proctor stepped down to field his strongest team against the upstart Barracudas. Seeing Richard dropping himself for fear of weakening his own team, Barracudas captain Drew Ferguson also stepped down to give younger players the opportunity to gain experience. On paper, Drew reckoned the odds were stacked against the Barracudas and cautioned his players to go for draws and maybe steal a few points.

First up on Board 1 James O'Fee led the Barracudas against Martin Moorcroft who opened with his famous, if stodgy, English. James was up for it, and maintained balance through careful manoeuvring. The end game arrived with Martin under time-pressure, material down and James pressing for promotion. It looked like James had secured a good win till he was surprised by forceful play from Martin threatening to trade and win a Rook advantage. Fortunately James woke up just in time and recovered to seal the win.

Martin Rogers opened on board 2 for the Barracudas against late arrival Paul McLoughlin. Perhaps pressed by his 15 minutes disadvantage, Paul went on the offensive with aggressive play quickly exchanging Queens. The game settled down though to a solid positional game. In the minor-piece end-game, Martin was pushing for promotion but he needed to be careful. Martin's end-game expertise told and Paul was unable to retrieve his position as he did last week.

Barracudas boasted their brace of wins but Richard Proctor was unmoved, confident in the strength of his bottom boards.

On bottom board 5 Ken Browne was a late draft for the Barracudas when top youngster Philip Todd had to cry off. Facing William McGratten, still a bit tentative on his return to competition play, Ken defended ably and was in line for at least forcing a draw when a miscalculation cost him a Knight. William needed no more encouragement and cleanly wound up the game to give Groomsport their first win.

Barracudas' middle-board 3, young David Symmington defended against the experience of Ron Henderson. David survived the opening well and had established a good defensive structure against Ron's careful development. The Queen's side had a couple of open files which both players prepared to exploit with minor and major pieces. Ron had a pair of isolated pawns and this gave David a target to aim for immediately forcing Ron onto the defensive. Focusing all his pieces on Ron's weak pawns it looked certain David would gain substantial material but somehow he let his advantage slip away - indeed almost losing an exchange in the process. Ron recovered well and gradually fought back to balance the game, eventually deadlocked in a pawn end-game to agree a draw.

With David's draw, the Barracudas were now certain of at least sharing points for the match. The final game would decide and by now the Groomsport captain was justifiably concerned.

Youngster Richard Montgomery opened for the Barracudas against Albert McCarter on board 4. Richard was very much the under-dog having only played a couple of League matches last year, and Albert an unforgiving opponent exploiting every weakness. Still Richard played solidly keeping control of the game and not letting Albert gain an advantage. Claiming lack of match practice(??), Albert blundered away a Knight but the game was by no means lost - with only a couple of pawns missing all four Bishops had very little room to manoeuvre. A position reminiscent of Richard's match lost to Aurelio Javier in the KO Plate, but Richard had clearly benefited from this experience and demolished Albert in a fine display of accurate play to claim an excellent win.

Barracudas captain Drew Ferguson enjoyed his team's 3.5 - 1.5 victory describing it as an "Outstanding Performance" especially from the young players. Hopefully the stunned Groomsport team will be able to recover after a rest next week, and give a better account of themselves as Bangor's 3rd Team when they visit Hillsborough.

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