On Friday 24th March the Harvey Cup team played league champions Petts Wood needing a win and a draw from six games to qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament.
The match started badly with the three bottom boards all losing quickly putting the match out of reach Ian McAllan won on board 1, but the other two games were against strong juniors, whose grades at the beginning of the season are over twenty points below their current strength. We lost on board 3, but on board 2 we seemed to be doing well. However, a perpetual check was missed and we lost the match 5 – 1.
On 22nd February the Harvey Cup team hosted Beckenham and won 4.5-1.5
The team got off to a good start when Gary Sharpe picked up an exchange advantage in an English opening and quickly turned it into a win. Rob Pezet’s game turned into a French Exchange variation and he found a neat rook and knight combination to mate his opponent. Chris Cheeseman had a comfortable win on Board 5 emerging from the opening with a 2 pawn advantage and soon completed the win leaving Sidcup 3-0 up. Ian McAllan on Board 1 played white against a Caro-Kann Defence and although the end game arrived with equal material, Ian’s pawns had a superior formation and he forced home the advantage. Don Chapman played against a much stronger-rated opponent and never recovered from losing a piece early in a Sicilian Dragon Defence. Lee Brockwell tried a Reti opening and the game ended up drawn leaving Sidcup with a 4.5-1.5 win.
With the end of the season now in sight, a draw in our last game against unbeaten Petts Wood would guarantee qualification to the knock out stages.
On 25th January the Harvey Cup team played Chislehurst and won 4-2.
Rob Pezet started the match with an excellent win by a direct king’s side attack, mating a player graded 31 points above him. Then Chris Cheeseman, who had only agreed to play on the afternoon of the match after a player dropped out because of family illness, blundered a pawn, sacrificed another one and emerged victorious. After a loss on board six the other games went the distance. Bob Mitchell lost his opening advantage and had to accept a draw offer, while Gary Sharp with no winning prospects also accepted a draw. In the last game to finish Dave Helps found a queen sacrifice which would have won an exchange for a pawn had his opponent not preferred to lose a piece and then lose on time in a lost position.
On 11th January our Harvey Cup team played Dartford and won by 3.5 – 2.0, making the half-point penalty that Dartford conceded for being overgraded irrelevant to the result.
Don Chapman gave us a good start by drawing with a much higher graded player, but all the other games apart from Ian McAllan’s looked bad. However, Gary Sharp held the draw and Dave Helps, who had been a pawn down, equalized and then took advantage of a blunder to win. With Ian McAllan winning the pressure was off Lee Brockwell, who after an up-and-down struggle, accepted a draw offer when both players had less than a minute left.
On Wednesday 16th November the Harvey Cup team played Lewisham. Don Chapman had a quick draw, Ian McAllan and Gary Sharp had solid draws and Ken Smith had a good draw. The other two games swung about wildly. Lee Brockwell after being on top and then being totally lost won when his opponent made the last mistakes. Dave Helps, who had two extra pawns, was mated. So the match was drawn 3-3.
On 25th February the Harvey Cup tam played Beckenham & Bromley and drew 3 – 3.
Don Chapman made a good save to draw after losing the exchange early on. Gary Sharp and Ken Smith had solid draws and Rob Pezet played well, but could not find a way through. With Ian McAllan converting what always seemed a superior position and Sarah Walker-Buckton losing a hopeless ending in the last game to finish, the match was tied.
On 2nd March the Harvey Cup team played Petts Wood and lost 2.5 – 3.5.
We started well with Ken Smith’s poor position becoming a quick win, Gary Sharp having a solid draw and Rob Pezet having one of his quick wins. Things seemed to be going very well as Ian McAllan seemed to have the better position and the bottom two boards were unclear. However, when we lost on the bottom two boards all depended on Ian’s game. Ian reached the first time control a pawn up, but with no obvious way to proceed. Overpressing, he allowed his pieces to go offside and lost.
So a poor end to the season.
On Thursday 18th February the Harvey Cup team went to Dartford to play the league leaders, who had won all their matches. The result was a 4.5 – 1.5 victory, which never looked in doubt.
Sarah Walker-Buckton won quickly after her opponent blundered. Don Chapman won a piece for two pawns and his opponent then lost further material. Gary Sharp managed to recover from a horrible opening to draw. Ken Smith was unfortunate enough to come up against a player just returned to competitive chess after a long gap with an estimated grade much lower than his grade in the past and lost fairly quickly. Rob Pezet’s opponent was a substitute who started the game late and lost a pawn, which proved decisive. Ian McAllan always had the initiative and won after his opponent preferred the loss of a piece to the loss of a pawn.
So a good result.
On Wednesday 10th February the Harvey Cup team played Chislehurst. It was a close match, which we lost 2.5 – 3.5..
After an early loss on board 6, down to a blunder, it looked bad when Rob Pezet lost a rook, but Rob attacked and won the ending. Gary Sharp felt that his position was level for a long time, but that then he threw it away in three moves. Dave Helps just made the first time control and precise defence beat off his opponent’s attack and won the game. The turning point in the match came when Ian McAllan, whose position had been very good for a long time, blundered away a piece. This meant Chris Cheeseman needed to win and his game went to the wire. With both players having less than a minute left to make all their remaining moves in a complicated position, with Chris slightly better on time and position, Chris’s opponent stopped his clock and asked what the match score was. When he restarted the clock he started Chris’s clock instead of his own and, when this was pointed out, offered a draw, which Chris accepted.
On Wednesday 8th December our Harvey Cup team continued our run of drawn matches by drawing 3 – 3 with Charlton.
We got off to a bad start when Rob Pezet blundered in an inferior position, but recovered when Lee Brockwell’s opponent followed up an interesting piece sacrifice incorrectly, leaving Lee a piece up. Gary Sharp and Masud Hoque had solid draws, but Don Chapman lost material and eventually the game. However, Ian McAllan won a knight ending to draw the match.
With half the season gone all our teams between them have lost only one match. Unfortunately they have won only two, leaving everybody except the Tom Fuller Cup team on 50%.