COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION ONE, Emirates Ground:
Durham 286 & 320 drew with Somerset 426 & 48-3
Somerset 11pts, Durham 8pts
Craig Kieswetter appeals in vain against Dale Benkenstein at Chester-le-Street
Somerset could only manage a draw with Durham and then watched in frustration as Nottinghamshire denied them their first ever County Championship title.
After bowling the home side out for 320, Somerset were left needing 181 from 17 overs to guarantee the title.
But, at 48-3, the chase was abandoned at Chester-le-Street and a draw agreed.
Fired-up Notts then took the three Lancashire wickets they required at Old Trafford to pick up a sixth bonus point and break Somerset hearts.
Durham, the outgoing champions, resumed with a lead of 31 on 171-2, taking the score on to 214 before Ben Harmison fell to a fine catch by wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter off the bowling of Alfonso Thomas.
Michael di Venuto progressed from his overnight 84 to 129, but he was caught behind off Peter Trego and, in the next over, Murali Kartik removed Ian Blackwell.
Somerset, being made to work hard for their wickets, managed to remove Phil Mustard and Scott Borthwick either side of tea, but they were held up by Dale Benkenstein, who defended resolutely to marshal the tail.
Eventually, Trego had Scott Rushworth caught behind and Benkenstein was caught at slip by skipper Marcus Trescothick off Charl Willoughby to set up the Somerset chase.
They went to the crease not knowing if a draw would be good enough to hold off Notts and immediately lost Kieswetter, promoted up the order, when he was bowled by Somerset old boy Blackwell.
Trescothick had reached 21 when he fell to Ruel Brathwaite and, soon after Trego was stumped off Blackwell, hands were shaken.
From there, Somerset were left watching events at Old Trafford, where Notts had earlier revived their slim hopes of winning the title by reaching 400-9 declared.
Those five batting points, along with the one for taking three wickets and the three for the draw, took them level with Somerset on 211 points, but Notts take the title by virtue of winning more games.
After their luckless night at the FP 20 finals at The Rose Bowl last month when they lost to Hampshire, this was Somerset's second close shave this season.
And, in this season's search for silverware under new skipper Trescothick, they will now be extra hungry going into Saturday's CB 40 final against Warwickshire at Lord's when they will look to make it third time lucky.
Somerset captain Marcus Trescothick said:
"The lads are pretty disappointed after a long, hard season and a lot of hard work put in to be second again. It's gutting, really.
"It's terrible. Something that will live with us for a long, long time to know we were so close - touching distance to the trophy - but so far away when Notts got that third wicket.
"Any time you lose a big cup or a final it's disappointing.
"Twenty20 finals day still haunts me even though we're six weeks away from it, but with this being the elusive trophy for the club it is going to hurt, no doubt about it."