After looking to be in comfortable control of the home Stoke League Division One match against Newcastle from the outset, Stafford eventually scrambled over the winning line in the final few seconds of play.
Gerald Acey’s opponent inexplicably left a piece en prise in the opening and followed this up by blundering a rook, so Stafford were soon in the lead. By this stage, Andrew Leadbetter was also looking good on board five as his opponent rather speculatively sacrificed a piece to obtain a protected passed pawn on d6. However, Andrew calmly organised his defences and set about exchanging pieces and then rounding up the dangerous pawns. His opponent fought valiantly but Andrew eventually secured a notable victory, overcoming a 37-point grading deficit.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Armstrong had a solid draw on board one so the match score stood at 2.5-0.5 with Stafford also doing well in the two remaining games. Ray Hyde looked to be better on board three and an ending with two bishops against rook and pawn should have offered good winning chances. However, Ray fell behind on the clock and managed to get his bishops misplaced as his opponent’s king and rook penetrated in what proved to be a mating attack.
Stephane Pedder had also enjoyed the better of his game on board four, having advanced his central and queenside pawns and obtained a particularly strong pawn on c6. He also held an edge on the clock as time began to run short but, as his position on the board improved, his position on the clock deteriorated and a degree of randomness ensued as both players went into their last minute. Eventually, Stephane had rook and two pawns against a bare bishop but accepted his opponent’s draw offer with both players into their last 10 seconds to secure a 3-2 match victory.