Cardigan A are the perennial champions of the Dyfed League and are unbeaten again this season. But when Aberystwyth A played them on Monday 18th March, it looked for a while as though the long trek to Cardigan might have been worth it. The top-board encounter between Rudy van Kemenade and the league’s strongest player Howard Williams exploded into tactics right away, surprisingly in view of the opening, the usually quiet Catalan. When the smoke cleared Black was an exchange up and the game didn’t last much longer. On second board, though, Julie van Kemenade had worked up a dangerous attack against Iolo Jones’s king with her favourite Philidor system. He seemed to be weathering it, however, and she took the opportunity to draw by perpetual check against her strong opponent, only discovering afterwards that the win was still there. I had learned in the car on the way to the match that I was due to play White against Tony Haigh; there followed a desperate analysis with Rudy’s pocket set as I tried to remember a gambit line I’d prepared against his Franco-Benoni some months earlier. I managed to reproduce it successfully, and though it didn’t all go to plan I reached the middle-game with a superior position, only to squander half a dozen winning chances in succession before being outplayed in the ending. Meanwhile, on board four, Cardigan’s Howard Leah had been unavoidably detained, and Awne Osinga was summoned instead, arriving twenty-five minutes behind on the clock. James Cook got a big space advantage on the queenside with his Caro-Kann, but couldn’t break through, and a draw was agreed. 3-1 to Cardigan, but Aber would have won if Julie and I had taken our chances.

Rudy van Kemenade – Howard Williams 0-1

Iolo Jones – Julie van Kemenade ½-½

Matthew Francis – Tony Haigh 0-1

Awne Osinga – James Cook ½-½

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