Your editor is freshly home from his holidays and recognizes the need to catch up on the Calderdale Evening League scene which has now played three rounds of fixtures since our last post. In this missive we’ll cover the League 1 action from fixtures played on the 28th of October and also the League 2 matches played on the 4th of November.
We’ll start with title holders Hebden Bridge ‘A’ who hosted a Huddersfield ‘A’ team that has been struggling somewhat so far this season with defeats against Halifax ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ sandwiching a win over Brighouse in round 2.
Hebden were missing their top three boards from their previous match against their ‘B’ team. Matthew Parsons, Stavros Pantazopoulos and Dave Shapland were all unavailable, but into the side came the Bak brothers, Chris and Andy and also the returning Pete Leonard who had been absent for their previous match. Andy Leatherbarrow and Neil Suttie made up the full compliment.
On paper this side looked to have a decent edge over the visiting line up which had plenty of experience but not the same strength, especially on the top couple of board as they fielded with Steve Westmoreland, Dave Keddie, Nick Sykes, Richard Boylan and David Booth.
Unfortunately for the hosts, this was one of those occasions where the form book was not reflected in the result. Andy Bak and Neil Suttie beat Dave Keddie and David Booth on boards 2 and 5 respectively and Andy Leatherbarrow drew with Nick Sykes on board 3 but there were blunders by Chris Bak and Pete Leonard on boards 1 and 4 which saw the visitors grab the two wins they needed to tie the match. Kudos to Huddersfield for taking their chances in these games and effectively slowing down the momentum that was building in the holders attempts to retain their title. Hebden were happy not to have dropped both match points in the end. Here’s the full match card:
This result meant that Halifax ‘A’ stayed top of the League by a single point despite having their bye week. It also gave the Hebden Bridge ‘B’ team a chance to close the gap on their colleagues with a tight win at home over somewhat weakened Belgrave ‘A’ line up. The visitors arrived without Tony Slinger, Malcolm Corbett or Peter Hughes in train and, although John Morgan and Dave Patrick succeeded in holding draws against their higher rated opposition on the top two boards, Karim Khan and Chris Edwards were dispatched by Andrew Clarkson and Sam Swain respectively. However, Steve Harrington beat Paul Gledhill on board 5 to give the visiting team a single win and keep the scoreline respectable.
The full match score card was:
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Belgrave ‘A’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ J.Morgan (W)
P.Cook ½ – ½ D.Patrick (W)
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 K.Khan (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 C.Edwards (W)
P.Gledhill 0 – 1 S.Harrington (W) 3 – 2
Several games from these two Hebden Bridge matches can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. My thanks to all the players concerned for sending in their games for publication. This website would not be nearly so interesting without games to look at!
The third match of the round saw back markers Brighouse beaten by Belgrave ‘B’ at home. This moved the visitors further ahead of their opponents and gave them a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. Remember that two teams go down from league 1 this season but only one will be promoted from league 2.
Speaking of which… last week saw round 4 of the League 2 season with the teams starting their second cycle of four this season. For Hebden Bridge ‘C’ this meant a home tie against a Belgrave ‘C’ team that had pipped them at the post in the opening match. The players were hungry for revenge and duly got it with a fine team display that saw Andy Leatherbarrow, John Kerrane, Paul Gledhill and Terry Sullivan all win their games against Chris Edwards, Angel Gonzales, Paul Edwards and Paul Jacobs respectively. Only Chris Marsden on board 5 went down to defeat after a blunder in his game.
With this result Hebden joined their defeated foes on 4 points for the season so far. These two sides are now 4 points behind the run-away leaders, Huddersfield ‘B’. They consolidated their advantage with a crushing 4½ – ½ win at home against Halifax ‘B’. Only Howard Wood on board 1 was able to hold a draw against David Gray.
Next week we will feature another double-billed report as we cover the matches played in League 1 on Monday night and also the League 2 matches being played next week.
The same, but different. Today’s post features an interesting pair of games played in the Two Knight’s variation for your interest.
Sometimes in chess you see a pair of games that bear a striking resemblance to one another in terms of strategic ideas and tactical motifs. Of course, it makes more sense when the games stem from the same opening variation, but when they’re played almost exactly 18 months apart and played against the same opponent, it’s a bit uncanny.
A couple of Saturday’s ago I played for Calderdale ‘A’ in their first match of the new Woodhouse Cup season against York ‘B’. I played on board 4 and found myself operating the White pieces against Paul Johnson. As far as I can recall, I’d only played Paul once before. That was in the Leeds League a couple of seasons back. I’m blessed with a fairly good memory (for the moment at least) and can recall some details about games I’ve played against a great many players but this one is imprinted on my memory particularly strongly because I considered it to be a game in which I played pretty well – as it turns out I was pretty wrong – I didn’t play it at all well! This wasn’t a typical ‘Dave Shapland’ hallmark game full of complications and chaotic tactics. This one was quite positional and reasonably controlled. Perhaps because of that, I remember it even more keenly.
That game was played on the 4th of April 2018. The game the other week was played on the 5th of October 2019. Almost 18 months later to the day. The similarities didn’t end there though. In both games Paul played the Two Knights Defence and we entered what is sometimes called the Modern Variation where White plays 4.d4 and 5.e5. This is a line I’ve been playing consistently against the Two Knights for a few years and have been learning its subtleties. It’s an interesting variation.
Perhaps remembering something of that game 18 months ago, and also taking advantage of a sub-optimal move order on my part, Paul played a slightly different line in the second game. However, the strategic themes that emerged were very similar to the first game. White gained a king’s side pawn majority which became more of a telling factor as the game progressed. Black had a majority on the queen’s side but his structure was damaged because he had a doubled c-pawn. On the credit side, Black used the half open b-file for counter play.
Another theme of this variation is White’s attempt to establish strong control of the dark squares. Especially important are the squares on c5, d4 and e3. White aims to control these squares in order to blockade Black’s potentially mobile c and d-pawns so that he can then launch his own attack on the king’s side using his pawn majority there. It’s a classic endeavour to strangle the opponent’s counter play on one wing in order to buy time for an assault on the other.
Of course, that sounds very simple, but in any game it is impossible to maintain complete control throughout and at some point tactical operations will be necessary. Such was the case with both these games. In both games found I needed to make a judgement and take a clear decision to abandon the positional approach in favour of a more concrete method at some point. You’ll see that happen quite clearly in each example I think.
But, going beyond the strategic ideas, the two games that are the subject for today’s post even have tactical motifs that carry more than a passing likeness. Take a look at what I would consider to be critical positions from each game and compare them.
Shapland vs. Johnson, Leeds League, 2018
In the first position (top) from the game in 2018 it’s White to move. I’d sacrificed a pawn in order to centralise my king and queen and set up the tactical sequence that now follows. I played 43.f6+ Kg8 44.Qe8+ Kh7 (note that if 44…Qf8 then 45.f7+ forces the king away and wins Black’s queen) 45.f7 Qa3+ and there followed a short sequence of checks from Black which I had carefully calculated an escape from. After that it was impossible for Black to prevent me making a second queen and winning the game.
In the second position (bottom) it’s Black to move but he’s threatened with exactly the same tactical idea. White wants to use a discovered check and play 47.e7+ which will force home the e-pawn rather than the f-pawn on this occasion. So, to avoid this my opponent found the tricky move 46…Qd3. Now 47.e7+ doesn’t work because then …Qxd5+ 48.Re4 Qxe4 is mate! But instead White wins with 47.Qxd3 exd3 48.e7! dxe2 49.e8=Q+ Kh7 50.Qxe2.
Shapland vs. Johnson, Woodhouse Cup, 2019
The two positions are remarkably alike aren’t they? In both, White has been able to exploit his king’s side pawn majority to break through. In both, White’s pieces are very well placed on central squares and operating harmoniously. In both, Black has an opportunity counter play with his passed pawns or pawn but doesn’t have time to exploit their potential. In both, White’s discovered check with a pawn advance is a deadly threat.
I know these kinds of thematic ideas crop up all the time in chess but in two games against the same opponent it feels a bit spooky.
I’ve published both games in full below. I hope you’ll enjoy them. I think they are quite interesting, both individually and as a pair.
Just a short report this week folks as your Editor is away on his holidays.
Last Monday night saw the third round of Calderdale League 2 take place with the top two teams facing each other for the right to lead the League and the bottom two facing off to see who would get out of the basement.
Sadly Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were in the second of these contest having lost against Belgrave ‘C’ and Huddersfield ‘B’ by the narrowest possible margin. Now they faced Halifax ‘B’ in a match that would decided who would be the back markers after the first of four rounds of fixtures.
Hebden fielded their strongest line up yet with Andy Leatherbarrow on board 1 and Pete Leonard on board 2. Neil Bamford played on 3 with Paul Gledhill on 4 and Chris Marsden on 5.
Hebden’s captain on the night was Andy Leatherbarrow and he reports that it was a very noisy night at the Lee Mount venue as the players had to play in room next to bar rather than the usual room due to the venue having other conflicting commitments. There were some very loud drunken people around which made concentrating on the games rather hard but it seemed to disturb the home side more than the visitors.
Horward Wood played Andy on board 1 was so perturbed that he decided to resign on the loss of a pawn early on as he was fed up with background noise. Shortly afterwards Pete Leonard won on board 2 when his opponent blundered horribly and this was followed by Neil Bamford winning on board 3. Chris Marsden also won what was just his second ever competitive over the board game. He must think this chess lark is all rather easy! Last to finish was board 4 where Paul Gledhill struggled on a pawn down but lost to Barry Wadsworth in an endgame.
In the other League 2 match, Huddersfield ‘B’ seized sole ownership of the top spot after they beat Belgrave ‘C’ 2 – 3 away. The home side succeeded in beating higher rated opponents on board 2 and 3 where Chris Edwards and Les Johnson took down David Gray and Granville Boot respectively. However, the visitors won all three of the other boards to take the match.
This week the League 1 teams return to action and we hope to bring you a brief report and some games from the Hebden Bridge teams later this week.
Black to move in Clarkson vs. Sykes. Andrew had just played 20.f4 threatening to open up lines towards Nick’s king. What would you do with Black here? Nick took an unusual but effective approach. Find out what he did in the game viewer at the end of this post.
We’ve two weeks’ worth of action to catch up on in this post and, coincidentally, two matches featuring Hebden Bridge against Huddersfield teams. The aggregate score is proudly displayed in our title but that masks the fact that we won one by a huge margin and lost one by fractions.
First of all, a week last Monday, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ undertook the odyssey of travelling to Holmfirth to take on Huddersfield ‘B’. The hosts are probably the favorites to take the League 2 title having been relegated from League 1 last season, but Hebden Bridge have decent players available to them too and were still more than capable of causing an upset though they were out graded on every board.
It was a brutal match in the end with none of the five boards ending peaceably. The visitors fought well but fell just short of causing a big upset. On board 1 Andy Leatherbarrow was winning against Leo Keely, but lost track of time and didn’t manage to reach the time control.
Meanwhile, Neil Bamford bounced back from losing his first match of the season on board 2 with an excellent win over David Gray. He won a knight in the middle game and tidied up nicely. John Kerrane never really managed to make a mark on Granville Boot on board 3 and Paul Gledhill ‘went for glory’ on board 4 against Simon Anscombe, but his attack didn’t come off and he went down.
On board 5 though, debutant Chris Marsden outplayed his opponent nicely, tripling his heavy pieces on the b-file to dominate the game and not becoming discombobulated when Black tried to mix things up by sacrificing a knight for two pawns.
In the other match in League 2, Belgrave ‘C’ smashed Halifax ‘B’ by 4½ – ½. Dave College was out graded on board 1 against Scott Gornall but managed to hold the draw while the rest of his team-mates all held rating advantages over their opponents and duly dispatched them.
Those results mean that Huddersfield and Belgrave are on a collision course to fight for the top spot when they meet on Monday night whilst Hebden Bridge ‘C’ will hope to avoid sinking to the bottom of the table when they face Halifax away.
Now on to last week’s matches in League 1. Reigning champions and league leaders, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ sat out the round 3 matches and were interested by-standers as they waited to see if any of their rivals could over-haul them at the top.
Like their ‘C’ team colleagues the previous week, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ travelled to Huddersfield on Monday night, although they made a slightly shorter trip to the Lindley Liberal Club. Hebden had pretty much as strong a line up as the one they had sported in the derby match in round 2 with Pete Leonard (un needed by the ‘A’ team) returning to play on board 5 in place of Richard Bedford.
Hebden’s fire power was simply far too much for Huddersfield to handle. Without their top two rated players they were heavily out gunned on the top boards and forced to promote what would have been highly competitive lower board players to fill the gap.
Of course, Huddersfield fought hard and made Hebden work for their victory but Martyn Hamer over came Dave Keddie on board 1 and Phil Cook found a chink in Steve Westmoreland’s armour when the Huddersfield captain tried to block up the position and build a fortress.
On the lower boards, Sam Swain and Pete Leonard played the same opening variation against Richard Boylan and David Booth’s French Defence. However, whereas Pete never really looked like slipping up on board 5, Sam seemed to be in trouble against Richard towards the end of the middle game but managed to turn the tables to enter a rook and pawn ending with an extra pawn. In time trouble, Richard capitulated when he might still have salvaged a draw.
That just left the board 3 match between Andrew Clarkson and Nick Sykes. Predictably this was the heaviest theoretical duel of the night with the players continuing their discussion of the 6.h3 line of the Najdorf. This line is trendy enough that Magnus Carlsen played it in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss earlier this week! Nick has been good enough to annotate the game and send it through for publication – see the game viewer at the end of this post. It seems that Andrew secured an advantage but, with both players in time trouble, he was unable to find the best procedure and a draw was agreed in the last game of the night to finish as Nick secured a sole half point for his team.
Here’s the match scorecard:
Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Keddie 0 – 1 M.Hamer (W)
S.Westmoreland 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
N.Sykes ½ – ½ A.Clarkson (W)
R.Boylan 0 – 1 S.Swain (W)
D.Booth 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W) ½ – 4½
Elsewhere, Halifax ‘A’ took full advantage of Hebden Bridge ‘A’s absence to go top of the table by beating Belgrave ‘B’ at Claremount Road. The hosts managed to draw on board 2 and win on board 5 but were otherwise put to the sword with Winston Williams leading the charge on board 1 as he stayed perfect for the season winning his third game.
Also, at the Belgrave Social Club, their ‘A’ team continued to make Brighouse’s return to the top flight a miserable one as they won 4½ – ½. Only Robert Broadbent on board 1 was able to resist.
So, Halifax ‘A’ are top of the table with 6 points from three matches. Belgrave ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are on 4 points but Hebden have only played two matches. Hebden ‘B’ and Huddersfield ‘A’ have 2 points each (Hebden have also have a match in hand) and Belgrave ‘B’ and Brighouse are bottom.
There are a selection of games from the last two weeks in the game viewer below.
Ingmar Bergmans’ ‘The Seventh Seal’ contains the most iconic chess game in cinematic history. At it’s heart Max Von Sydow’s character chooses to answer our question for today: “Chess or extinction?” with the answer “Chess”. Which of us wouldn’t do the same?
On Monday night patrons of the Golden Lion in Todmorden were greeted with this seemingly stark ultimatum as they entered the premises. The occasion was the first local derby match of the Calderdale Evening Chess League season between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and the alternative on offer was an ‘Extinction Rebellion’ group meeting taking place upstairs. Our genial host merrily posited these two options from behind the bar to any customer who she didn’t really recognise. It didn’t fail to raise a chuckle from the chess players, who were in the know, and quizzically alarmed looks from genuine newcomers.
It’s the kind of scenario that can only really happen out at the Golden Lion. On Monday what could turn out to be one of the most serious and earnest chess matches of the season was punctuated by musical interludes from the bar next door. Funky breaks and wailing guitar solos were in plentiful supply. It could have been off-putting (and possibly would have been at another venue) but at the Golden Lion pretty much all the players seemed to be bobbing their heads in appreciation and even humming the tunes to themselves at some point. It certainly didn’t seem to adversely affect the standard of the chess being played, which was pretty high.
Last year, the Hebden Bridge based team beat the Todmorden based team not only in the corresponding fixture but to the title too. The Golden Lion fraternity had a desperately awful start to the season last year, drawing one and losing four of their first five matches. They were not helped by having some lower rated players on boards 4 and 5 early for the early matches before the roster stabilised. This time around, with Hebden Bridge ‘C’ having been relegated last year and a few new players arriving at the club, the ‘B’ team is stronger. Much stronger. Ferociously strong. The five players in the line-up on Monday sported an average ECF rating of 174.8!! Those five in order were Martyn Hamer; the Calderdale Individual Champion of the last three seasons, Phil Cook; Andrew Clarkson; Sam Swain and Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford. It’s got to be one of the strongest lines-ups ever fielded in the league – certainly it is just about the strongest your correspondent has ever seen.
The reigning champions had strengthened their line up too! They boasted an average rating of 172.8 and were comprised of Matthew Parsons; Calderdale League debutant, Stavros Pantazopoulos; Dave Shapland, Andy Leatherbarrow and Neil Suttie. With the two teams so closely matched it was bound to be a tight, tense and enthralling match. It also promised to be a very late night, and that was exactly how it turned out.
The ‘A’ team playing White, did their best to try and exploit their ‘advantage’ in the early stage of the evening. On board 1, Matthew and Martyn duelled in Matthew’s favorite London System. The early exchanges were very cagey and Matthew appeared to get very little from the opening despite his best efforts. On board 2 it was a different story as Phil met Stavro’s 1.d4 and 2.c4 with a very unorthodox approach. It cost him a pawn early on and it wasn’t clear if it was a gambit or a blunder, but it certainly led to some unclear and unusual positions. More importantly, it caused Stavros to start thinking hard and, with him playing the relatively short evening league time limits for the first time, he soon got very behind on the clock.
Dave Shapland sprang a surprise on Andrew Clarkson on board 3 – well maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t – as he decided to take on Andrew’s Grunfeld rather than having yet another go at his Pirc which he has never yet been able to defeat. Inspired by some recent games from the FIDE World Cup, Dave played the first moves of the mainline exchange variation and then selected an offbeat continuation with 8.Bb5+. He succeeded in stabilising his pawn centre and getting his pieces developed onto active squares in the opening while Andrew was given some problems to solve from the early stages.
Andy Leatherbarrow and Sam Swain contested an English Opening in which the centre of the board soon become rather blocked with pawns. Both players switched their efforts to counter attacks on opposite flanks with Sam playing f5 and Andy playing b4 to try and break the position open in their favour.
Finally, on board 5, Neil and Beaky contested the latter’s favoured Nimzowitsch Defence. This too was a very tense game in the early stages with Beaky gradually manoeuvring his pieces over to the king’s side to build what looked like a dangerous attack.
For much of the night it was really difficult to see which way the match would go as all the boards seemed rather unclear. Slowly but surely though, the games started to resolve themselves. The first to finish was the board 2 match where Stavros found himself with a rook and pawn versus Phil’s knight and bishop. He also found himself very short of time as early as move 20! Phil too had consumed a fair deal of time and the end of the game demonstrated the tension of the encounter and the pressure of the clock as Stavros overlooked a move that would have secured him the advantage and instead actually handed Phil with a winning opportunity. However, Phil in turn missed his opportunity as he opted to sacrifice a bishop to force a perpetual check and the game ended abruptly in a draw. This was a rather curious but by no means bad game.
The game on board 1 finished next with both players choosing not to take any undue risks although it looked like they explored some interesting possibilities in the post-mortem. There’s a health respect between Matthew and Martyn who have both won games from each other in the past. This time it was a draw.
The home side took the lead shortly afterwards when Sam beat Andy on board 4. In a very complicated middle game, Sam finally succeeded in opening up the position in the centre and damaging the White king’s protective shield. Meanwhile, Andy opened the b-file for his heavy pieces. It would appear that this scenario favoured Black because, by the time Andy had decided on a tactical approach with 24.Re6!? it looks like he was already in trouble. Sam found the right solution to the problem and emerged an exchange up. Andy didn’t have enough compensation and his king was too exposed to try and mount a serious counter-attack. Sam snuffed out any counter play and mopped up efficiently.
I often think you can measure the intensity and drama of a chess game by the number of pints consumed by the players. The game between Neil and Beaky was clearly a ‘six pint’ game, which says it all really.
The champions struck back on board 3 where Dave’s initiative against Andrew built up into a strong attack. Andrew may have missed a couple of fleeting opportunities to defend himself more robustly but generally the position was much harder for Black to play than White and once Dave had been able to initiate a rook lift and transfer his queen to the h-file it was all over bar the king hunt as Andrew’s monarch staggered drunkenly up the board as far as d5 in the vain hope of finding a refuge.
And that meant that the outcome of the match would be settled by the board 5 encounter. As the rest of the players gathered around it was far from clear who was better if anyone. Both Neil and Richard burned their clocks down to almost nothing before the time control and then almost as soon as they’d had their 15 minutes added, they slowed down their rate of play and got into time trouble again!
It’s clear from the game analysis that the pendulum swung between these two several times during the game but in the end the game and the match was decided when Beaky over-stepped the time limit and sportingly pointed it out himself. By that point Neil seemed to have secured a winning advantage anyway.
Here’s the final score card from what was a fabulous match full of interesting play and you can find four of the five games with some annotations in the game viewer at the bottom of this post.
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ M.Parsons (W)
P.Cook ½ – ½ S.Pantazopoulos (W)
A.Clarkson 0 – 1 D.Shapland (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
R.Bedford 0 – 1 N Suttie (W) 2 – 3
Elsewhere on Monday night Huddersfield ‘A’ were busy putting Brighouse to the sword in much the same fashion that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had done in round 1. The score was ½ – 4½ and this time it was Robert Broadbent on board 1 who salvaged Brighouse’s pride by holding Greg Eagleton to a draw. Nick Sykes, Alec Ward, Steve Westmoreland and David Booth all won their games.
At the Lee Mount Cllub in Halifax, Halifax ‘A’ were rustling up a highly convincing victory against last season’s runners up, Belgrave ‘A’. Certainly, Belgrave were weaker for this match than they had been for their first-round match, missing Tony Slinger and Colin Proctor as they were. Into the breach stepped Malcolm Corbett and Steve Harrington. Halifax meanwhile welcomed back Richard Porter to board 3 and this strengthened their line up enough for them to be higher rated on all five boards. The home team won on all three of the top boards as Darwin Ursal, Winston Williams and the afore mentioned Richard Porter beat John Morgan, Dave Patrick and Malcolm Corbett respectively. Karim Khan and Steve Harrington held their adversaries, Carlos Velosa and Vivienne Webster to draws as Halifax romped home 4 – 1.
All these results mean that after two rounds, only Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ have perfect scores and 7½ board points each. Huddersfield and Belgrave ‘A’ have two points each and the other three are yet to score although both Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have both got a game in hand.
In round 3 it will be the reigning champions turn to sit it out as Halifax will be given the chance to go top on their own if they beat Belgrave ‘B’ away.
I’d better start this post by explaining the first part of the title for the uninitiated. Several years ago there was a Yorkshire Chess website. Sadly, it is no longer with us as it was pretty good and even won the ECF’s ‘Website of the Year’ Award in 2014-15. I was one of the writers for this website and published, amongst other things, a blog column called ‘Travial Pursuit’ – no it’s not a spelling mistake. The blog reached episode 69 before the website disappeared.
The series was always primarily and unashamedly a blog of my own chess games and experiences. It was, as all blogs have to be, self-centred and biographical, although I also hoped that it was sometimes interesting and entertaining perhaps even, on very rare occasions, insightful. Regular readers may well wish to have disagreed, but I tried to strike a balance between publishing my triumphs and my travails – hence the name of the blog!
So, now I’ve decided to resurrect Travial Pursuit on this website. It should hopefully mean that there will be a regular flow of content as I will, more than likely, publish games I play from other leagues and not just the Calderdale League. Believe it or not our little Hebden Bridge Chess Club website has been going for 10 years this September. When I first started it, at least as many of the posts were for entertainment purposes as there were posts for match reports. Maybe it’s time for the Hebden Bridge Chess Club website to return to its roots then!
There’s another significant anniversary for me to celebrate this year. 2019 marks my 25th year as a ‘competitive’ chess player – in other words 25 years of me playing in evening leagues and congresses etc. So, just as I did when I started the Travial Pursuit series for Yorkshire Chess, which was intended initially to give me an excuse to revisit my back catalogue of games from the first 20 years of my chess playing career, there is a very selfish reason for re-starting this blog series here on the Hebden Bridge website.
Were else can we begin then than with the anniversary of a significant and worthwhile game from my portfolio? Today’s game was played 9-years ago today. And what a game it is, even if I do say so myself! I think this game is one of the wildest, craziest and richest games that I’ve ever played. Is it a game of high quality? Nope! Indeed, I find that rarely are the most entertaining games error free. If they are complicated, then our computer friends will always point out where we went wrong and in tactically complicated games humans simply make more mistakes. That error count goes up significantly when the players have very little time to select their moves and that is one of the themes from this game: zeitnot – time pressure!
In fact, most of the critical part of this game was played in extreme time pressure by both players. I don’t tend to get into time trouble too often over the board, but in this game I did, and so did my opponent. Indeed, I would say that my use of his time trouble was a significant practical factor in the outcome of the game and those of you who know me know that I am nothing if not a practical chess player! To make the situation even more stressful the game spiralled into some absolutely skull splitting complexity just at the point when we were both running out of time. So much so that I’d say they even put the lunacy of the current Brexit deadlock into perspective.
I’m fed up of hearing on the news about how Brexit is as or more complicated than than 3D chess. It’s about time we reclaimed our game by publishing a match up that can rightly claim to be more complicated than Brexit. Here it is!
The whole game with annotation is in the game viewer at the end of this post but let’s visit a few key moment’s in it first to try and give you readers a few positions to assess.
In this first position (right) White has just played 10.0-0. What would be your plan here with the Black pieces? I played 10…0-0 myself, but now, looking back at this game afresh I can’t believe that I didn’t fancy trying for a direct attack on the White king by taking on f5 to open the g-file and then playing something like Rg8-Bc6-Qd7 and 0-0-0. What was I thinking?! And how unlike me to pass up such an opportunity. My maybe I was having one of those days when I was trying to play sensibly. If I was then it didn’t turn out too well as we shall see!
In this next position (position 2 on the left) I’ve just played 15…gxf5? What’s all that about? Having castled short, I then went crazy and played for the aforementioned attack on the White king’s side. Madness! This is the moment I should have been punished by my opponent. What should he be playing here instead of the game move 16.exf5? In fairness, the best move here does require a fair bit of calculation already, so no wonder both players missed it.
Just a few moves later and we have our next position (position 3 on the right) after I’ve played 17…Qxf6. This time I think White’s best move and subsequent plan is easier to find. What should White have played here to develop a strong initiative instead of the game move 18.Nd2?
By move 25 we were both beginning to get a bit short of time and the sanctuary of time control was still ten moves or so away. Here, White has just played 25.Qe4 (see position 4 on the left). This is a good move which prevents my intended 25…f5 and also keeps and eye on the g2 square. In this position, sensing that I was taking too long on the clock I tried to speed up and made another awful move in the form of 25…c6? This was well intentioned as I wanted to threaten 26…Bb6 and also to undermine White’s d5 pawn. Of course, White responded by winning his pawn back with tempo with 26.Rxf7! What should I have played instead of 26…c6?
Yet another crucial decision came for White in this position. After 26.Rxf7 I took the opportunity to pop in an intermezzo with 26…Bb6+. (See position 5 on the right.) White now needs to decide which square to put his king on. Normally, one would tend towards h1 I suppose but it looks like there may be some back rank tricks in the air for Black. Are those real or illusory. Why don’t you decide which square the king should go to?
By move 30 we were both down to our last few minutes to reach the time control at move 35 but the position had become exceedingly concrete! In this position (position 6 on the left) I’ve just played 29…Bd4? It’s another mistake that could have been punished but you’ll have to calculate some tricky forcing lines to find the win for White. He let me off the hook again by playing 30.Nb3? here. What should he have gone for?
I could very well ask you to find the best move for either player for all the remaining moves of the game from here on in! I’ll refrain from doing so and just give you a three more positions to consider. In this next one (position 7 on the right) White has just played 31.Qh3 and with some justification. It threatens mate in one and sustains the threat to win the bishop on d4. However, it loses. Can you find the correct path for Black? If you want to recreate the game conditions, give yourself about 45 seconds to conduct your search!
This is the position (position 8 on the left) at the time control on move 35. Black has just played 35…Bg1. Having been given an extra 15 minutes to add to the 30 odd seconds he had left, my opponent now spent 10 minutes (!!) calculating his next move. He found the best one, but it took him way too long. Can you do better?
OK, here’s the last one! (Position 9 below and on the right) This is the position after Black has just played 38…e1=N+!! We now have three queens on the board and Black has just under promoted to a knight with check! Did you ever imagine a position like this could have been reached from the rather torpid opening position I gave to you above? It’s monstrous!
Where should White put his king? What in heaven’s name is going on? My poor opponent had only a minute or so to finish the game by this point. I remember seeing a look of total panic and confusion in his eyes the like of which I would perhaps have expected to see in the eyes of someone who was in fear for their very life! Then I realised that I probably had exactly the same crazed expression on my own face!!
I won’t trouble you with anymore positions from the game but will instead let you find the answers to the questions I posed above and enjoy the finale in the game viewer below. I’m not going to try and draw any real wisdom from such a chaotic game other than this:
Try and manage your clock sensibly folks. Even in complicated positions you have to try and play as quickly as you can when you’re in time pressure. In this game my opponent was hanging on and even winning the game until he took those fateful 10 minutes to decide on his 36th move. After that he really had no chance even though objectively, he was winning. Moliere said it best: ‘Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error.’
What a crazy, ridiculous and marvellous game chess is when things like this can happen.
I hope you enjoy this game as much as I’ve enjoyed re-discovering it!
The four teams in the Calderdale Evening Chess League played their first fixtures of the season on Monday night. They are going to become very familiar with each other this season as, with such a small number of teams in the league they will play each other four times – twice home and away. It could be quite a tight league although, on the basis of the first round of fixtures, one would imagine that Huddersfield ‘B’ are the favorites to win the title and take the sole promotion spot this year.
Indeed, Huddersfield made pretty light work of what looked like a reasonable Halifax ‘B’ team on Monday as they cruised to a 1 – 4 victory at the Lee Mount Club. Leo Keely set the tone for the visitors with a win over Richard Porter on board 1 but the David Gray, Alec Ward and John Hill also won their games against Pete Moss, David Rowley and Barry Wadsworth respective. Only the home sides fourth board, Andrew White, managed to salvage something for them with a win over Simon Anscombe.
Across the otherside of Halifax, Belgrave ‘C’ were hosting Hebden Bridge ‘C’ in what turned out to be a much tighter match which was edged by the hosts by 3 – 2. The visitors appeared to out grade their opponents on all boards but board 5 based on their ECF ratings, but, as not everyone in League 2 has an ECF rating yet (remember last season that League 2 matches were not rated) the line ups on paper are not always going to be what they seem in League 2 this season.
On board 1 Pete Leonard looked likely to win his game when a grabbed the gambit pawn in a Scandinavian Defence and seemed to be able to hold on to it for quite some time. However, his opponent, Dave Colledge, always had good piece activity for his sacrificed material and saved himself with a perpetual check.
The board 2 game saw Neil Bamford miss a draw and stumble to defeat in the endgame against Les Johnson in a game where Neil’s early advantage slipped away whilst on board 3, John Kerrane blundered in a promising position and left himself a pawn down with no compensation against Angel Gonzalez. Angel went on to grind out the win.
Paul Gledhill won the only game of the night for the visitors playing a very unbalanced attacking game on board 4 against Paul Edwards. He finished with a spectacular ‘White to play and win’ type position.
Finally, on board 5, young Zora Sandhu held Paul Jacobs to a draw.
Here’s the final match scorecard:
Belgrave ‘C’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘C’
D.Colledge ½ – ½ P.Leonard (W)
L.Johnson 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
A.Gonzalez 1 – 0 J.Kerrane (W)
P.Edwards 0 – 1 P.Gledhill (W)
P.Jacobs ½ – ½ Z.Sandhu (W) 3 – 2
Newly promoted Brighouse were given an infernally warm welcome back to League 1 by the current champions on Monday night. Photo credit: chuffin’s Flickr photostream
The Calderdale Evening Chess League saw its opening round of fixtures for the 2019-20 season played on Monday night as League 1 teams gathered to test their metal and shake off any rustiness that may have accumulated over the summer break.
This season there are only seven teams in the League after the decision was taken at the League AGM in July to change a long-standing rule that stated that League 1 must have eight teams in it. The rule change means that League 2 can maintain four teams. Next season the numbers will change again to go to six teams in League 1 and five in League 2 – always assuming there are no more teams that disappear in the meantime of course!
This further change to the number of teams in each league means that two teams will be relegated from League 1 at the end of this season but only one will be promoted from League 2.
Right, let’s get kicked off with the match reports then. The reigning champions of League 1 are Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (though as they won the title as Hebden Bridge ‘B’ last season, they can hardly be named the ‘B’ team again this season can they?) and they faced off against the League 2 champions from last season, Brighouse. It was always likely to be a stern test for the new-comers and so it proved to be as they were roundly thrashed 4½ – ½.
The visiting team’s night got off to a pretty bad start when Tim Pryke blunder early on in his game against Pete Leonard on board 4 and resigned on move nine.
After that the pace of Hebden’s advance slowed down rather as three of the other four games became grinds. The exception was the board 1 game between Hebden’s Matthew Parsons and Brighouse’s Robert Broadbent. In this one Matthew gained a great deal of space on the queen’s side in a Closed Sicilian type of position. He followed this up with a positional exchange sacrifice that left Robert almost completely helpless, before finishing the game off with a checkmate in the endgame that his opponent was generous enough to let him play out.
Hebden were 2 – 0 up and cruising. The next game to finish was on board 5 where John Kerrane took down Brighouse debutant Dave Gunthorpe. This was a Queen’s Gambit Declined Exchange Variation game in which the Brighouse man acquitted himself well but then slowly started to bleed pawns through out the middle game. John accumulated his advantage and mopped up efficiently to make it 3 – 0. It was a similar story on board 3 where Andy Leatherbarrow essayed his Scandinavian Defence and slowly and steadily improved his position against Ronnie Grandage all the while giving his opponent no real active play. Finally, Andy was able to simplify down to a king and pawn ending in which he was a pawn up. This left Ronnie with little choice but to resign.
The last game to finish at least ensured Brighouse would not leave Hebden Bridge on the wrong end of a whitewash as their captain Paul Whitehouse held a draw against his counterpart Dave Shapland on board 2. This was a strange game originating from a London System. Dave had no problems equalising but was unable to create any significant problems for Paul after the queens were exchanged early in the game. Try as he might, Dave couldn’t avoid blocking the position up and it gradually became evident that he was going to need to take great risks to play for a win. That was unnecessary given the match situation and so, when Paul offered a draw at time control, Dave saw no reason to refuse.
The final match score was:
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs Brighouse
M.Parsons 1 – 0 R.Broadbent (W)
D.Shapland ½ – ½ P.Whitehouse (W)
A.Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 R.Grandage (W)
P.Leonard 1 – 0 T.Pryke (W)
J.Kerrane 1 – 0 D.Gunthorpe (W) 4½ – ½
A fine start for Hebden and a difficult one for Brighouse who were seriously outgunned ratings-wise. At least they can console themselves knowing that the rest of their matches before Christmas should theoretically be against teams who finished below there first opponents last season.
With the league down to seven teams there are just three matches being played in each round with one team having a bye. This time round it was Hebden Bridge ‘B’. They will return to action on 3oth September when they will host their ‘A’ team at the Golden Lion for the first derby match of the season. That should be an absolute cracker if both teams can gather their full ordnance.
Away from Hebden Bridge, Belgrave ‘A’ beat their ‘B’ team in their first derby clash. The ‘A’ team look like a solid outfit this season with a new addition to their line up on board 4 in the form of Colin Proctor. On paper only the top board encounter between John Morgan and Gordon Farrar looked like it would be closely fought, and indeed it was drawn, but elsewhere the ‘B’ team held their higher rated opponents on boards 4 and 5 where Angel Gonzalez and Paul Jacobs drew with Colin Proctor and Karim Khan respectively. Belgrave ‘A’ did their damage on boards 2 and 3 where Dave Patrick beat Mike Barnett and Tony Slinger (who could very easily be playing on board 1) beat Chris Edwards.
The third match in the round took place at Halifax’s Lee Mount venue where Halifax ‘A’ hosted Huddersfield ‘A’. A first glance at the Halifax team suggests they could be a serious threat if they can get the returning Darwin Ursal and Winston Williams on to their top two boards on a regular basis. The home side were missing Bill Somerset and Richard Porter on Monday, if that pair join forces with Ursal and Williams then they’ll be capable of beating any team in the league. Instead their bottom three boards were Carols Velosa, Sam Scurfield and Vivienne Webster. Fine players all but not the same standard as Somerset and Porter.
By contrast, Huddersfield were slightly weaker than they often are at the start of the season. No Greg Eagleton or Mitchell Burke in their line-up. Instead, Captain Steve Westmoreland played on board 1 and was backed up by experienced players in the form of Dave Keddie, Nick Sykes and Richard Boylan and then another welcome newcomer to the Calderdale League, David Booth.
Huddersfield were out rated on every board but board 4 and the form books played out as Halifax took the match 3½ – 1½ with the home team not managing a single win with the White pieces. The wins for Halifax came on board 2, where Winston Williams beat Dave Keddie, and on board 5 where Vivienne Webster saw off David Booth.
All five games from the Hebden Bridge vs Brighouse match are in the game viewer below. Next week sees the return of League 2.
After a long break for the summer (I really needed it!) this website will be coming back from it’s metaphorical vacation at an all-inclusive Caribbean paradise to report on the new Calderdale Evening League season which begins again tomorrow night.
There have been some changes to the league structure for the 2019-20 season. This year there will be seven teams in League 1 (instead of eight) and just four in League 2 which means the League 2 teams will play each other four times instead of twice. As always, fixtures and results information can be found on the Calderdale League website. At the end of the season two teams will be relegated from League 1, but only one will be promoted from League 2. That’s in order to further rationalise the distribution of teams between the divisions.
Another change this season is that both divisions of the League will be ECF rated. That means that players in both divisions will need to become members of the ECF. Anyone who has played more than three league matches and is not registered with the ECF will incur a charge that will be passed back to their club.
Their will still be one competition available for ECF refusniks to participate in however and that is the Handicap competition where local ratings will be used to calculate the handicap at the start of each match. There are just four teams entered into this competition too however and with each team playing each other just once, it will be interesting to see whether or not this format will thrive or wither and die.
Another change for this season is the demise of the Individual Championship. Hebden Bridge Chess Club – i.e. John Kerrane – has hosted and organised this competition for a very long time now and John quite justifiably wanted to pass the responsibility on to someone else. However, no one else volunteered to pick up the gauntlet and so, for the moment at least, this contest is no more. It’s a great shame to see it go, but ultimately, if more players from the league do not step forward to contribute to the running of the league and it’s competitions then some of them are bound to disappear sooner or later.
So, tomorrow night, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (last year’s ‘B’ team but defending league champions) begin the defence of their title at the Trades Club against newly promoted Brighouse. Meanwhile, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (our Todmorden-based enterprise) will have a bye round and will only begin their campaign on Monday 30 September when the local derby with the ‘A’ team will take place. Judging by the respective line ups that are beginning to emerge that match should be an absolute belter!
Elsewhere in League 1, Halifax ‘A’ will host Huddersfield ‘A’ and last season’s runners up, Belgrave ‘A’ will play their derby match against Belgrave ‘B’. It will be fascinating to see how those teams line up and perform in the first match of the season as players carry a bit of off-season rustiness into their first match encounters.
Of course we’ll update the website with match reports, results and games as they happen. We’ve also some games from the end of last season to publish and we’ll aim to put those up on the website next week too.
In the meantime, last Monday night we held our annual Individual Lightning Championship at the Trades Club. Eleven players took part with some very strong players present. Over the last few years Matthew Parsons has been the dominant force in this competition (although he hasn’t always had it his own way) and he arrived at the Trades Club as reigning champion and top seed.
However, after losing to Pete Leonard in round 1 and then Nick Sykes in round 2, it was soon clear that Matthew wasn’t going to retain his title. Instead the second and third seeds, new arrival Stavros Pantazopulos and Calderdale Individual Champion Phil Cook steadily pulled clear of the field. In round 3, Stavros beat Dave Shapland, who was the only other player on a perfect score after the first two rounds. Meanwhile Phil, having been held to a draw by Nick Sykes in round 1, beat Pete Leonard in round 2 and John Kerrane in round 3 to take second place on his own with 2.5/3.
The two leaders faced each other and drew in round 4 and this gave some of the chasers a chance to close the gap. Dave Shapland beat Nick Sykes and Pete Leonard beat John Allan to give themselves a chance of taking the title but then they both fell in round 5 to the top dogs. Phil swept Dave aside with the Black pieces whilst Stavros beat Pete with White. This kept Stavros half a point clear of Phil going into the sixth and final round.
In that last round Stavros was drawn to face Matthew with the Black pieces whilst Phil had White against John Allan. Phil duly won his game whilst Pete, from a seemingly lost position, took full advantage of a couple of terrible blunders by Dave to secure third place. The top two seeds played out a tense game that still had plenty of play in it by the time the 50 move beeper had finished meaning that an adjudication was needed. Everyone gathered round to suggest ideas for both sides but in the end it was clear that there was just too much play in the position and material on the board to call anything other than a draw and this outcome meant that Phil caught up with Stavros.
We don’t have tie-breaks in this competition and so Stavros and Phil share the title. Well played to both of them. They were certainly worth winners on the night.
Here are all the scores:
1st: Stavros Pantazolpoulos and Phil Cook – 5 3rd: Pete Leonard – 4 4th: Matthew Parsons, Nick Sykes and Martin Syrett – 3.5 7th: Dave Shapland and Mark Stollery – 3 9th: John Allan – 2.5 10th: John Kerrane – 2 11th: Terry Sullivan – 1
We continue our catch up of League reports today with an overview of the eleventh round of Calderdale League fixtures which were played on the 25th of February.
The big clash of this round was between league leaders, Belgrave ‘A’ and the second placed team, Hebden Bridge ‘B’, who were just one point behind their rivals. The match took place at the Belgrave Social Club and with no other teams in realistic contention for the title it seemed very much like a title decider. Certainly, it was due or die for Hebden Bridge as a defeat would leave them three points adrift with just three matches remaining.
On the night Hebden arrived at their hosts with their ‘regular’ line up of Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard, Sam Swain and Neil Suttie. Belgrave’s line up by contrast was slightly altered from their recent matches but no less strong for that. They had experience and stability on the top three boards in the form of John Morgan, Dave Patrick and Tony Slinger but then introduced John Cawston to replace the absent Richard Bowman on board 4. Karim Khan, another regular player was on board 5. On paper Hebden Bridge had the edge, but the ratings on all the boards were close enough to suggest that this was going to be a tough battle.
All five games were hard fought affairs and played on well into the evening. The first game to be concluded was on board 4 where Sam Swain seemed to be in trouble at one point against John Cawston but he knuckled down, found some accurate moves and held a draw.
Next, on board 1, Matthew Parsons overcame John Morgan in another tight game. Matthew had played the opening phase very quickly and this put a good deal of pressure onto John as he had used up much more time on the clock. When John then missed a tactic shortly before time control it appeared that the game would soon be all over but then Matthew made a mistake himself and suddenly the game appeared to be level again. It was Matthew’s rook, knight and three pawns against John’s rook, bishop and three pawns. There appeared to be very little on, but Matthew declined his opponent’s draw offer and managed to outplay John to secure the first whole point of the match for Hebden.
Neil Suttie then made sure of at least a draw in the match for the visitors when he bet Karim on board 5. This was another game where Hebden took full advantage of having the White pieces to apply great pressure to their opponents. Karim never really seemed to get any counter play going and Neil eventually broke through.
Belgrave now needed to win both the remaining games to tie the match and retain their slender lead in the title race. However, their hopes were dashed when Dave Shapland agreed a draw with Dave Patrick from a modestly advantageous position to give Hebden 3 game points. The Hebden Bridge captain had held a decisive advantage earlier in the endgame but had frittered it away somehow. However, with very little material on the board and realizing that his opponent had no realistic chances of winning at all, Shapland made an offer his counterpart could hardly refuse.
The last game of the knight to finish saw Belgrave score a consolation victory as Tony Slinger finally ground down Pete Leonard’s resistance in a rook and pawn ending. Both players afterwards agreed that the end game was theorectically drawn, but it required accurate defence from White to hold and that is always difficult in an evening league match with relatively little time available on the clock.
Here is the final match scorecard:
Belgrave ‘A’ – Hebden Bridge ‘B’ J.Morgan 0 – 1 M.Parsons (W) D.Patrick ½ – ½ D.Shapland (W) T.Slinger 1 – 0 P.Leonard (W) J.Cawston ½ – ½ S.Swain (W) K.Khan 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W) 2 – 3
And so, with this crucial victory the advantage in the title race swung back to Hebden Bridge. They now have to face Belgrave ‘B’, Huddersfield ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’ to finish off the season. All matches in which they will be the favourites, but Halifax ‘A’ did beat them in the final match before Christmas.
Belgrave meanwhile have a tougher run in with Hebden Bridge ‘A’, Huddersfield ‘A’ and finally Hebden Bridge ‘C’ still to face.
Elsewhere, Hebden Bridge ‘A’s fantastic run of 5 straight match wins came to an end as they were forced to forfeit their match against Huddersfield ‘A’. This was unfortunate because Huddersfield has lost their regular venue in Lindley and were forced to find alternate accommodation in Holmfirth. Hebden, already missing a couple of key players who were not available to play on a Wednesday night then lost another last minute due to work commitments and decided to default the match rather than turn up with three players.
Similarly, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ also defaulted their match to Huddersfield ‘B’ when they could not raise a team either. It’s always a shame to see matches defaulted.
So, the second and only other match played in the round was between Belgrave ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’. Belgrave were desperately seeking to bail themselves out of the relegation zone (and so news of Hebden ‘C’s default to Huddersfield ‘B’ will not have been greeted well in Claremont!) and so brought a very strong line up to the party for Halifax’s visit. In fact, Halifax without their regular board 1, Bill Somerset, were weaker throughout the side and the home team snatched a vital victory with wins by Malcolm Corbett over Carlos Velosa and Les Johnson over Howard Wood. Vivienne Webster scored a fine consolation point over the higher rated Gordon Farrar on board 3 and the other two games were drawn.
In our next post we’ll cover the final round of the Calderdale Individual Championship and also the final rounds of League 2 as well as the twelfth round of League 1.
Three annotated games from the Belgrave vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’ match can be found in the viewer below.