Visit to Mechelen 2013
Visit: 21st - 24th February 2013
The St Albans Foreign trip this year was to Mechelen (Belgium) which took place between Thursday 21st and Sunday 24th Febuary 2013. There were nine players in the our touring team this year. We played two Matches, the first on the Friday against the local Mechelen Club. The second Match on the Saturday was against the Humbeek Club.
Both Matches were played in a “Micro-Brewery” in the neighboring town Kapelle-op-den-Bos. This offered a unique back-drop to the Matches and allowed the players to sample the local Beer. Our hosts also cooked a delicious meal on both days, greatly simplifying the catering arrangements.
Mechelen is located approximately midway between Brussels and Antwerp and has a population of around 80,000. It is less commercial than Brussels and the local people speak “Mechlinian”, a local Dutch dialect. There was free-time on Sunday before the return trip back to England to allow the team some site-seeing opportunity.
The base camp for this year’s trip was the Hotel Den Wolsak, in the Wool Market area close to St. Rumbolds’s Cathedral (St. Rumbold is the local Patron Saint). The accommodation was good and the hotel staff were extremely friendly and helpful.
Match v Mechelen (Friday, 22nd February)
We each played two games of 45 minutes duration against the same opponent, with colours reversed in the second Round. This allowed a playing session of 3 hours, but with a short break in between Rounds.
St Albans had Black in all games of the first round and won by 5½ - 3½. This put the team in a strong position having 9 Whites in the next round. However, we got of to a poor start by losing the first four games and falling behind 7½ - 5½ in the overall match. St Albans recovered strongly to edge the second Round 5 - 4, and taking the match with the final score 10½ - 7½.
Match v Humbeek (Saturday, 23rd February)
We had been warned that Humbeek would be stronger than the Mechelen team, so we expected a really tough Match on the Saturday! The time limit for the Match was 90 minutes per player, again providing a 3 hour playing session.
St Albans raced to an early lead and won on the lower six boards. The games on the top three boards appeared closer, but Jeremy won a topsy-turvy game on top-board to make the Match score 7 - 0. The remaining two games were both halved, giving St Albans a comfortable victory with the score 8 - 1.