Richardson Cup Final

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Saturday May 18th 2024 turned out to be a very signifcant day. Not since the days of Paul Motwani and Colin McNab over 20 years ago have Dundee been represented in the Final of the Richardson Cup. Having battled through earlier rounds against Cathcart and Bank of Scotland, we were paired in the Final against Edinburgh. On paper, Edinburgh were, by far, the strongest team in the competition. Their Rounds 1 and 2 matches illustrated a team that dazzled with International Masters, Fide Masters and Candidate Masters. In the preparation of the match, therefore, we anticipated opponents with IMs on the top boards down to players with FIDE grades in excess of 2000 on the bottom boards. As it turned out we were completely wrong as, on the day of the match, Edinburgh fielded a weaker team with  several of the strongest players missing. Although it still looked like a big ask for us, the reduction in the overall strength of our opponents at least meant that we had a realistic chance. That said, we were still out-graded on the lower boards – on the other hand with Jacques on Board 1 and strengthened by Declan Shafi and Rishi Vijayakumar on Boards 2 and 3 we were exceptionally strong on the top boards. So it was a big day – with all of the 8 games being streamed live on the Internet.

As the match unfolded, several of the bottom boards were the first to resolve themselves. First to finish was Alastair against Lindsay MacGregor on Board 8. In a Kings Indian, Alastair, with the white pieces, reached a blocked position where neither side thought they could progress without endangering their positions – and so a draw was agreed. Shortly after, Euan Dawson, up against Willie Rutherford’s London System, found himself in difficulty and could not resist white’s kingside breakthrough. Thereafter, Joshua Crofts played a Qb3 Nimzo-Indian against Hugh Brechin and eventually reached a drawn Queen and minor piece ending. So, halfway through the match, Dundee were 1-2 down. Shortly afterwards, Ed Spencer found himself in a valiant struggle against Petros Valden but it could not be sustained and resignation soon followed. 

In a difficult position therefore, with 4 matches remaining, there was a moment of joy when on Board 1 Jacques Ophoff made a winning exchange sacrifice against Keith Ruxton that forced resignation. At this point the score was 2-3. On Board 3 Rishi Vijaykumar was having a hard time against Craig Thomson and eventually had to resign. That left 2 matches with Dundee needing to win both. The first of the two matches was between Andrew Wright and Andrew Green. Andrew pushed hard for the win but once the Queens were exchanged, his pawn deficiency was exploited by his opponent and he had to resign. On Board 2 Declan had an equal Queen and Pawn endgame against Neil Berry but with the pawns locked, a draw was the only result. When the dust had settled, our efforts were not enough with the final score showing 2.5 – 5.5. That said, the tournament organisers at the prize-giving described a very tough match that had taken place between the two teams. When the match day was nearing its end, Dundee were left to contemplate what might have been. One thing was for sure, that we would be back again in the Richardson Cup next year ready to take on all-comers.

Alastair Dawson

Dundee 2½ – 5½ Edinburgh

  1. CM Jacques Ophoff 2262 1-0 FM Keith Ruxton 2289
  2. Declan Shafi 2226 ½ – ½ FM Neil Berry 2260
  3. Rishi Vijayakumar 2196 0-1 FM Craig Thompson 2247
  4. Ed Spencer 2123 0-1 Petros Valden 2174
  5. Andrew Wright 2128 0-1 CM Andrew Green 2113
  6. Joshua Crofts 1922 ½ – ½ Hugh Brechin 2047
  7. Euan Dawson 1892 0-1 William Rutherford 1935
  8. Alastair Dawson 1847 ½ – ½ Lindsay McGregor 1948