THE Penarth Chess Club’s first team, the Pirates, were busy last week with two matches in successive days.

On Monday they met the division's bottom team, Barry Gambits, and, with a substantial gradings advantage, hoped for an easy win. Initially, things appeared to be on track as Steve Cronick overturned Chris Green on second board. Sam Warburton appeared to have reached a dead-drawn position against John Stephenson when the Barry man made an unguarded move and was promptly mated. Sadly, Mike Servini, on bottom board, ought to have had a draw but thought that a back-rank check with his queen would gain him more. Instead, his best piece was rendered out of play, whilst Peter Watkins romped home a pawn to victory. On top board, James Thomas should have overcome Sam White fairly easily but the latter put up terrific resistance before finally crumbling. The last game was the middle-board tussle between Ben Thomas and Kevin Gandy, with the former somewhat tired as a result of playing at the Welsh Chess Congress at the weekend, where he had secured the under 1400 title. Having established a terrific positional advantage, he uncharacteristically made an error that appeared to give him only a draw; an offer he refused. He then overlooked a mate from his opponent and the match finished a disappointing 3-2 win for Penarth.

The next night saw the Pirates in action, with a change only on top board, against division leaders North Cardiff Woodpushers, who outgraded the Pirates. Again, Cronick finished first but only managed a draw against Rob Dineen. Warburton weathered a powerful king-side attack from Simon Blackmore and was fortunate to obtain a draw by the unusual method of allowing his opponent a passed pawn but ensuring that there could be no progress. Servini also held his own against Gavin Williams to make three draws before Thomas atoned for his previous performance and expertly took apart Dave Hambrook’s position. The top board clash between David Sully and the immensely strong Tim Kett was an extremely positional affair but the latter never got enough of an edge to make a difference and they agreed a draw. So, again, Penarth won 3-2 but, on this occasion, were extremely pleased with the result.

The club meets at 7.30pm every Monday at Penarth Conservative Club; all are welcome. The section meets every Wednesday in term time from 6.30-8.30pm at the Kymin.