|1 w||Oskar Hackner||0 – 1||Thomas Whitaker|
|2 b||Peter Shaw||½ – ½||Rob Woodford|
|3 w||Miles Edwards-Wright||1 – 0||Geoff Brown|
|4 b||Tom Wills||1 – 0||Craig Chatterton|
|5 w||Steve Gibbs||1 – 0||Danny Dawson|
|6 b||Paul Blackman||1 – 0||Rob Black|
I was watching the probe from the mothership, Rosetta land on the comet last night. It suddenly occurred to me an analogy can be made for our second round match against SASCA in the Richardson Cup. We were the probe on a voyage of discovery, floating aimlessly in black space, trying to find answers on how to beat the SASCA comet 67P. Shortly after 1930 GMT we hurtled into our games at speeds of up to 135,000km/h hoping to find the secrets of their players strength.
Our board six player, Rob was first to crash land with a loss. Their game was cagey in the opening, with neither side committing to attack. The middle game was congested and Rob couldn't find answers for a breakthrough. After long manoeuvring with Bishops by both players, Rob tried unsuccessfully to hold for a draw after a weakened queenside. My game on board five started promisingly, remembering all book moves to move fourteen. I then had a short circuit in my strategy and lost communication with my two Knights. I mixed up two strategy ideas, my Knights disintegrated into space and my batteries ran out with a Bishop, Queen and Rook combination check mate.
After surprisingly castling kingside Craig's opponent had a lucky escape. Craig was drilling holes in his opponents defence with two strong Bishops but couldn't find the moves because of some type of interference unknown to Craig. Our engineers after the game analysed the game and found a beautiful piece sacrifice for a checkmate for Craig, or at least material up. Our engineers couldn't find where the interference was coming from, but believe it was located near Tom's board one table. Geoff was next to succumb to the comet's dangerous terrain on board three. The onboard telemetry suggested Miles took early control of the long black diagonal and an error by Geoff wasted a couple of moves. Geoff tried to eject a piece for two pawns hoping to reboot a counter attack but was unsuccessful.
Rob was fully aware of the terrain and the tactical skills his opponent had on board two. The game opened slowly and Rob managed to harpoon his b-pawn down the board. Rob's thruster Rook intended to help deploy a queen failed and began to repeat moves. Both players agreed a draw. Tom on board one had the most clear signal with a dramatic time scrambled win and reported back with clear, detailed images. In the media briefing after the game it was suggested Tom's t-shirt helped to put his opponent into a trance and interference echoed down to Craig's board. During Tom's game evidence has suggested his opponent did hold his Queen for a while and his eyes seemed to be fixated to Tom's t-shirt.
The successful landing of our Darnall spacecraft was always going to be tough but it has provided us with a 'quantum leap forward'. Defeats in matches can be summed up by Jose Capablanca, "People who want to improve should take their defeats as lessons, and endeavour to learn what to avoid in the future. You must also have the courage of your convictions. If you think your move is good, make it."