The first match of the year was also the first of two scheduled encounters between the A and B teams, and all eight regular players were available. On top board for the B team, James Cook tried Bobby Fischer’s old favourite, the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation, against Rudy van Kemenade, who has plenty of experience in it, going back to the 1970s. White attacked prematurely on the kingside, allowing Black to co-ordinate his pieces for a more convincing counter-attack, which won a rook with mate following shortly. Tony Geraghty sidestepped Julie van Kemenade’s opening preparation by playing the unusual Owen’s Defence, and was not far behind when the players reached a knight versus bishop ending. Then his concentration slipped and he left the knight en prise, resigning immediately. So the top two boards both went to the higher graded player, and that was the story on Board 4, too, as I picked up a pawn in the opening against Georgina Gray, followed by another as we exchanged into a double-rook ending, which was comfortably won. Only B-team captain Ian Finlay was able to buck the trend in a sharp King’s Indian encounter with David Ferguson, who grabbed the exchange at the cost of leaving his king wide open, and suffered the consequences – an excellent win for Ian against a player graded much higher. 3-1 to the A team.

James Cook – Rudy van Kemenade 0-1

Julie van Kemenade – Tony Geraghty 1-0

Ian Finlay – David Ferguson 1-0

Matthew Francis – Georgina Gray 1-0

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