If you are in a space ship…

…. travelling at the speed of light and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?

It is amazing what things crowded into my mind during yesterday evening's 3 hour round trip to Hastings to play our last match in Division 3 this season against their fourth team.

Readers of the earlier escapades of Horsham 5 (of which I know there are a few; well, I know of one) will have been all too aware that a win in this match would bring us to 50% for the season so, probably, safely ensconced mid-table. But we were struggling pre-match to rustle up our normal team particularly as Matthew and Lucy for perfectly understandable reasons (they both had school the next day) were unable to join us. So the call went out to Dave (Britton) and Julie to valiantly step into the breach … and valiant they certainly were. To the match itself.

We started about 19:45 after suffering massive traffic jams around Falmer as Brighton FC were playing at home. However four of us arrived pretty much together and Dave joined us around 20:00.

Dave had obviously read my earlier references to Brian’s quick play skills so had decided to “put his foot to the metal”. So much so he won his Board 5 game in about 20 minutes allowing him to retire to the local hostelry for a well earned drink. We were 1-0. and cruising, but there were choppy waters ahead.

Brian, on Board 1, had a massive attack (the chess term, not the R&B combo of yesteryear) and was threatening either mate or a significant grab of material. Unfortunately, he slightly miscalculated which, after the tactical fireworks, meant he was down a minor piece which his opponent gradually took advantage of. Match score 1-1.

Now to yours truly. In light of my horrible KID experience of recent weeks I tried something new. I wish I hadn’t or, at least, had concentrated a bit more. Drawish for much of the game but I have to admit I got positionally outplayed at the end and had to resign in the face of significant threats. A bit of a damp squib really. So Hastings 4 were in the lead 2-1 with about 45 minutes remaining.

Richard on Board 3 was involved in virtual trench warfare – locked pawn chains, single open ‘a’ file, blocked bishops, knights trying to find outposts etc. It look for the entire world an impasse but gradually, and surely, he made headway, getting his queen on a6 (eyeing neighbouring squares and pieces) and elsewhere threatening to breakthrough on the kingside.

His opponent lashed out with his queen and knight down the f file. It looked fatal for Richard. But then the crowd around the table saw an immediate queen fork that allowed Richard to pick up his opponent’s knight. I know Richard saw this immediately but he played a bit of “cat and mouse” by thinking for about 10 minutes (accompanied by the odd sighing and moving of his chair) before he committed the “coup de grace”. 2-2 with about 7 minutes to the time control.

So it was down to Julie on Board 4. An even queens and minor piece ending with 4 pawns each. But Julie kept pressing and pressing… she picked up a pawn and then got her queen and rook on the seventh rank, threatening mate. But wait, could her opponent force a perpetual?

With about 90 seconds to go it looked like it, but Julie managed to get her knight in the way which also rather elegantly covered all the squares her opponent’s queen could deliver check from.

30 seconds to go … her opponent lashed out with a pawn thrust … a mistake … Julie delivered immediate mate … The victory was ours!!!

Phew…. Which only left the long journey home and my wandering thoughts about space travel.

My heart felt thanks to all the team last night (and to everyone who has played for Horsham 5 this season). Above and beyond the call of duty. You are all stars (with or without headlights).

Thank you



I'd like to make it absolutely clear there was nothing about my driving to cause Mark to be thinking about the speed of light. Officer.


Hastings chess club has a fine old venue but those chairs!!. the slightest movement sets them off! i was frightened to move at times ! thanks for your efforts Mark, can be difficult as a captain sometimes.