Instead it will be Marple in the final of the President's Cup, after a 4-2 win in the semi-final last night.
Marple fielded a strong team and were always favourites to win since the average grading difference was a massive thirty five points. But Sale didn't half put up a fight. The only comfortable victory was on board 5 where Terry quickly used his white pieces to get an early space advantage. He then had his queen backed up with a rook on the half-open C file. Qxc6 not only won a pawn, but also forked the bishop on c7 and the rook on a8. He was soon an exchange and two pawns up, the pawns became united passed pawns and the game was over.
Meanwhile Neil Oddie was playing a great game against Paul; he had his queen on the open g-file with a rook alongside pointing at Paul's king. Paul managed to defend without much problem but with bishops attacking both f1 and f8, neither player could progress. Drawn.
At this stage it was far from over. A drawn match would be decided by bottom board elimination and our only win was on 5.
On 2, John Hennessy seemed to have a reasonable position, albeit with an isolated queen's pawn, but next time I looked Alan had won a piece. John defended resolutely but Alan gradually improved his position and converted.
Andy wasn't having things his own way either. Gary Jackson had played his favoured King's Indian Defence so Andy pushed his h-pawn; Gary played h4 to block, and calmly took on g4 when the chance arose. The h-file was now open but Andy couldn't make progress. Next Gary had queen on a1, pinning the b1 knight against the king on c1. Gary threatened a mating attack but Andy saw this off without any problem. With position and material level Gary offered a draw. Andy asked if he could accept but at this stage we needed the comfort of another point, so I asked "Can you win it?"
"No!" Draw agreed.
Meanwhile on 4 Andy Parry was also making our player work hard. This was the last game to finish
but eventually Chris's experience and endgame technique lead to another win.
So well done both teams, but a fine fighting performance from Sale who, as always, were great company. Marple now wait for the winners of Monday's match between Stockport and Wilmslow.