As the 2018/19 reached its conclusion, four teams in division 1 had moved clear of the field. Brighton 1, perhaps not quite as strong as in previous seasons, had lost to their three main rivals and when Horsham 1 lost to Hastings 1, having already lost to Hastings 2 despite beating everyone else convincingly, both teams were out of contention. This meant that the final match of the season between Worthing 1 and Hastings 1 would decide the title. We had won all our matches except a draw against Horsham 2 whereas Worthing 1 had drawn against Hastings 2 and lost against Horsham 1. However, despite going into the match a point behind us a win for Worthing 1 would have brought them level on match points and would have given them the title by half a game point.
In the event the match against Worthing 1 really could not have been closer. On board 1 Bogdan won an excellent tough battle against Matthew Payne but on boards 2 and 3 things did not go as well. Nicolas had an inferior opening against Dave Graham which resulted in the loss of a pawn and eventually the endgame. Francis had a good position and won a pawn against Dominic Miller but uncharacteristically did not sense the danger and in his efforts to keep hold of the extra pawn allowed a winning counter attack. I played much too passively against Mike Nicolas on board 5 and reached an inferior middle game but had managed to equalise when Mike, in an attempt to win, played an interesting pawn break. Fortunately I found the most accurate response and he soon had to sacrifice a pawn for counter-play. However the resulting K+P ending was still very tricky and, playing on increments, I could not find the win and had to agree to a repetition. The match and title therefore depended on board 4 where John was playing Chris Jones. Chris played an aggressive opening but John defended well and reached a R+P ending two pawns to the good. With both players playing on increments the ending was still very difficult and John did very well to negate Chris’s initiative and reach a winning position at the time control. As a result the match was drawn, the league title was ours, and Worthing 1 unluckily even dropped to 3rd place behind Horsham 1 on game points.
Congratulations to those who played for the 1st team as everyone achieved at least a 50 percent score with top performers being Bogdan 3/3, Daniel 1/1, Alan 3.5/4, Bernard 2.5/3, Howard 4.5/6, Francis 6.5/9 and Nicolas 4.5/8. A special thanks to Bogdan as there are not too many GM’s who would be prepared to turn out in a local league games without payment and to John and Jim for driving especially as Jim was not even playing in two of the matches. Equally important to our success was the performance of the 2nd team who managed to take vital points off both of our main rivals.