The ¼ final of this year’s Richardson Cup was held at the Inchture Hotel on Saturday January 18th. The format of Richardson Cup matches consists of teams of 8 players and a playing session of 40 moves in 2 hours plus 30 minutes each in addition once the time control has been reached. This year Dundee were strengthened by our new Board 1, Jacques Ophoff – giving a team of Jacques, David Findlay, Andrew Wright, Ed Spencer, Stephen Hogg, Gary Weir, Alan Borwell and Euan Dawson – this is by any standard a very strong team but it could be argued that Edinburgh were even stronger, perhaps one of the top two teams in Scotland and led on Board 1 by FM Neil Berry.
All of the matches were lengthy and extremely tight. First to finish was Stephen Hogg who lost a very tight match as Black against Andrew Green. There followed several draws. Alan Borwell drew his match against the high-graded Hugh Brechin. Jacques used a Slav Defence to obtain equality against Neil Berry and eventually a draw was agreed in an evenly balanced and Queenless middlegame. Then, Euan Dawson reached a drawn R and P endgame against the highly-rated Raj Bhopal. But then a couple of reverses. Ed Spencer found it tough going against Adam Bremner in a Sicilian Morra Gambit and eventually resigned. Then Andrew Wright and Petros Walden on Board 3 reached a time scramble leading up the time control. Such was the speed of play by both as the time control approached that the game moves had to be reconstructed – and at that point it was found that Andrew has lost on time with his opponent only having himself 5 seconds left on his clock.
Shortly afterwards David Findlay and Calum MacQueen agreed a draw on Board 2. Which left Gary Weir up against Graeme Kafka on Board 6. Gary has not played much chess in the last 2 years but the standard of his play did not reflect that. He entered the middle-game a pawn up with Graeme struggling to hold a fragile position. But hang on Graeme did, and with the match already decided, a draw was agreed between the two players. The final result was 5.5 – 2.5 in favour of Edinburgh. Dundee should be proud of drawing 5 of the matches against higher-grade opposition. But at the end of the day, the strength in depth of the Edinburgh was probably the telling factor that enabled them to secure a place in the semi-finals. Overall it was an enthralling afternoon of high-quality chess and Dundee Chess Club should be proud of having put up such a fighting performance.