Intermezzo

Apr 052020
 

In these times of ‘social distancing’ chess players are having to become creative in order to pursue their favorite pass time! Thanks to Andrew Clarkson for sending me this amusing image!

With the Corona virus causing chaos and unprecedented disruption around the world, Hebden Bridge Chess Club and the local chess leagues have all been forced to adapt in order to continue their activities. All ‘over-the-board’ chess has been suspended until we are once again allowed to sit down across from each other to play the game we love. In the meantime, Hebden Bridge Chess Club has moved online. We’re still getting together on Monday evenings but now we’re doing it via Chess.com and Microsoft Teams.

Last Monday we hosted our first try at holding a Microsoft Teams video call so that we could look at some puzzles and a game together. More than 10 us managed to spend an hour and a half together analyzing. It was great fun, if a little ad hoc. I’ll be thinking about the best way for us to run these sessions in future so that we can get the most out of them. In the meantime though, for those that missed it, below are the three puzzle positions taken from the excellent ‘Invisible Chess Moves’ by Emmanuel Neiman and Yochan Afek.

I’ve set the board to display in puzzle mode. See if you can find the next move and do enough analysis to support your choice. Once you advance the game the solution will be displayed along with the required variations. Remember that you need to click on the bar above the board with the three dots in it to reveal and select the games in the viewer. At the end there is also a fairly wild game that we analysed at together.

Online activities for week commencing 6th April

This week we’ll continue with our online activities with another Microsoft Teams call on Monday the 6th followed by an online tournament on Chess.com. I’m also going to try out running some activities at other times and see how we get on. Here’s the schedule for this week.

  • Monday 6th of April at 19:30 – Puzzles and Game Analysis
    Microsoft Teams video call with three more puzzles and a game prepared and presented to us by Pete Leonard. Follow this Microsoft Teams link to join the video call. You can choose either to download the Microsoft Teams software to your computer, or join via your web browser.
  • Monday 6th of April at 21:00-22:00 – Online Blitz Tournament
    We’ll play an online blitz tournament on Chess.com. 5 minutes each for all moves. This will be another ‘Arena’ tournament where you play as many games as you can in 1 hour and get re-paired as soon as a new opponent is available. You get awarded extra points for ‘streaks’ of wins. If you aren’t already a member of Chess.com then it’s easy and free to create an account. Once you’ve done that follow this link to find our online chess club and click on the orange ‘Join’ button. Once you’ve joined the club you can follow this link to register for the tournament – online registration opens at 20:00 – so you won’t be able to join the tournament before then.
  • Wednesday 8th of April at 16:00 – Online Rapidplay Tournament
    Online rapidplay tournament on Chess.com. Follow this link to join. This will be a 10 mins each. This will be a 6-rounded Swiss format and should be finished by about 18:00. Online registration is from 15:00.
  • Good Friday 10th of April at 19:00 – How good is your chess?
    This will be another Microsoft Teams video conference but this time a slightly different format. We’ll go through a Grand Master game and you’ll be asked to predict the next move and score points based on how well your answers correspond to the best moves in the game. At the end we’ll see who’s scored the most points and rate your performance. Follow this link to join us.

Hopefully there should be something here for everyone and we’ll be able to keep you out of mischief!

I just have one final notification:

  • Online Classical Chess Tournament
    I’m sure that lots of you, like me, are missing your slower time limit chess. So, I’m proposing to run a tournament at a classical time limit on Chess.com. The number of rounds and format will have to be determined by the number of entrants but I’d ideally like it to be at least 6 rounds and run the format as 90 minutes for all moves! (i.e. like the evening league but without the winding back of clocks after 36 moves). Obviously this tournament would take place over a number of weeks…
    If you would like to take part in this competition then please email me to tell me you’re interested at hebdenbridgechessclub@gmail.com
Mar 132020
 

The mist has finally cleared in the League 1 title race and we can now clearly see who the favorites are despite the fine margins involved. Photo: Coconino National Forest

Here is a brief article to bring readers (almost!) up to date on the status of the League 1 title race.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ hosted Huddersfield ‘A’ at the Golden Lion last Monday (the 2nd) to play their match in hand. With this match both Hebden teams have now played nine times and so the position in the league table clarifies itself somewhat.

A win for Hebden ‘B’ would take them top of the league on board count, overtaking their ‘A’ team for the first time this season. The home side’s line up remained unchanged from the previous week’s match away at Belgrave ‘A’. Huddersfield visited with a marginally stronger line up than they had fielded against Hebden Bridge ‘A’ at home in the previous round. Out went David Booth on board 4 to be replaced by Richard Boylan, an experienced and steady presence. The visitors also swapped the order of their top two boards from the previous week with Steve Westmoreland playing on board 1 and Dave Keddie on board 2.

By the mid point in the evening the visitors seemed to be holding their own pretty well as Nick Sykes held Andrew Clarkson in a theoretical Grunfeld battle and Richard Boylan also drew his game with Sam Swain. The home side had won on board 5 however where Jamie Heritage continued his unbeaten streak for the club by beating Rob Mitchell. The game was not without chances for the visiting player however as you’ll see from the game viewer below.

Later in the evening however, Hebden’s ferociously strong top board duo gave the victory a pleasant gloss as Martyn Hamer overcame Steve Westmorland and Phil Cook defeated Dave Keddie. With that victory Phil puts himself in pole position for the League’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ title as he has now scored 7½/9 games. He is now a point and a half (!) clear of his pursuers, his team mate Martyn, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ captain Dave Shapland, Vivienne Webster of Halifax and Dave Patrick of Belgrave who all have 6 points. In fact Hebden Bridge ‘B’ have four players in the top 10 list of highest scorers in the league and so it’s easy to see why they have climbed to the top of the heap.

Here is the final match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
M.Hamer 1 – 0 S.Westmoreland (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 D.Keddie (W)
A.Clarkson ½ – ½ N.Sykes (W)
S.Swain ½ – ½ R.Boylan (W)
J.Heritage 1 – 0 R.Mitchell (W)
4 – 1

This result means that both Hebden Bridge teams now have 15 points from nine games. They have both drawn one and lost one match. In fact, their records are identical except for in the ‘Boards’ column of the table as the ‘B’ team have now scored 31.5 board points and the ‘A’ team have 28.5. This may seem like a narrow margin, but with only three matches left to play this season,  a three point board count lead is significant especially when you note that Hebden Bridge ‘B’ have to play the two sides at the bottom of the division as well as Halifax ‘A’ with the White pieces, while Hebden Bridge ‘A’ have to play Belgrave ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ with the Black pieces and have Belgrave ‘B’ away for their other match. It seems most unlikely that the ‘A’ team will be able to overhaul the board count deficit and so may now be relying on an unlikely shock match result to turn the tables in their favour. Either way, the ‘B’ team are now most definitely in the driving seat.

Let us also note an excellent result for our ‘C’ team in League 2 on Monday night as they beat Belgrave ‘C’ at home in what looked like a tough match. On board 1, Pete Leonard got lucky when, after playing a winning combination, Faisal Rabbi resigned after an unexpected move by Pete, when objectively, he was still winning. The board 5 game was the last to finish and here Paul Gledhill had about 10 moves to make in a couple of minutes, but it was his opponent, Paul Edwards who made the inaccuracies, and then resigned.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
P.Leonard 1 – 0 F.Rabbi (W)
N.Suttie ½ – ½ D.Colledge (W)
N.Bamford 0 – 1 C.Edwards (W)
J.Kerrane ½ – ½ L.Johnson (W)
P.Gledhill 1 – 0 P.Edwards (W)
4 – 1

Mar 022020
 

It still isn’t clear who’s in the driving seat in the League 1 title race between Hebden Bridge’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams. Photo: Michael Coghlan

There’s a diminishing amount of chess left to play in the 2019-20 season and the League 1 title race is still nip and tuck between the two Hebden Bridge sides after the eleventh round of fixtures was played this week.

Title holders and current league leaders, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ travelled to Huddersfield ‘A’ on Monday whilst Hebden Bridge ‘B’ visited Belgrave ‘A’. At Huddersfield, the ‘A’ team put out pretty much their strongest possible line up of Parsons, Pantazopoulos, Shapland, Leonard and Leatherbarrow, against a home side that was bereft of their very strongest players. In fairness Messrs Eagleton (three appearances) and Burke (one appearance) have not been playing frequently for them this season (while Leo Keely has restricted himself to playing for Huddersfield ‘B’ exclusively) and that has made life pretty challenging for their top board players this season.

The home team’s line up of Dave Keddie, Steve Westmoreland, Nick Sykes, David Booth and Rob Mitchell were operating the Black pieces and also heavily out rated on all five boards and it looked like the match would offer Hebden Bridge an excellent opportunity to harvest the kind of heavy points win they needed for the title race duel. Of course, it didn’t turn out to be quite so simple – when does it ever.

Early on in the evening all seemed to be going pretty smoothly for the visitors as they achieved decent positions on all boards out of the opening. Boards, 2, 4 and 5 all finished at a similar point in the evening. On board 5, Andy Leatherbarrow won a piece for a pawn from Rob Mitchell as early as move 16 and, thereafter, played sensibly to keep control of the position and simplify the game. That it took 62 moves to complete the process should not in any way suggest that the Huddersfield man was able to mount serious resistance after his early loses.

On board 4 however, Pete Leonard was left to kick himself after he missed several clear-cut chances to accumulate a similar opening advantage to Andy. Instead he had to settle for an extra pawn in a rook and knight ending. Had he managed to exchange the rooks off, Pete would almost certainly have taken the full point, but instead, he lost his extra pawn and might even have got himself into hot water before agreeing to peace terms.
Stavros soon increased Hebden Bridge’s dominant position as he completed a smooth positional win over Steve Westmoreland. At the end, Steve had a rook and bishop against Stavros’ queen, but once the queen had invaded Black’s camp it was all over.

That just left boards 1 and 3 to finish. The contest on board 1 ended first and with a surprising outcome too. Matthew Parsons hardly ever loses with the White pieces – especially in the Calderdale League – yet he lost his second of the season on Monday. Facing an aggressive line against his favourite London System, Matthew blundered an important pawn (just proving it can happen to anyone) after which his position against Dave Keddie was pretty much untenable. Dave played very well to nurture his advantage over the line. Suddenly, there was a danger that Hebden Bridge might only tie the match if they lost on the last board to finish.

Fortunately for them, by the time Matthew’s game had finished, Dave had achieved the upper hand against Nick Sykes. However, that wasn’t the whole story of the game. It was tense, complex and certainly saw Black have the better chances at several points during its course. Nick and Dave have played each other hundreds of times and know each other’s repertoires very well. Dave decided to divert from his usual patterns of play against Nick’s Sicilian Najdorf in a bid to avoid a heavyweight theoretical discussion.

Dave got the kind of game he wanted but Nick developed a good position and had a couple of chances to secure a significant advantage – albeit after some vertigo inducing variations illuminated by engines afterwards. In the end it was the clock that was Nick’s undoing as he left himself with very little time to conduct the latter stages of the middle game in which pinpoint accuracy was still required for him to hold. Instead, he managed to get to the time control but was immediately trapped in a mating net.

Here’s the full match score card:

Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
D.Keddie 1 – 0 M.Parsons (W)
S.Westmoreland 0 – 1 S.Pantazopoulos (W)
N.Sykes 0 – 1 D.Shapland (W)
D.Booth ½ – ½ P.Leonard (W)
R.Mitchell 0 – 1 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
1½ – 3½

Meanwhile, closer to home, in Halifax, the ‘B’ team were battling Belgrave ‘A’ in a match that looked on paper like it would be much tighter than the one in Huddersfield. Indeed, when the two sides had met in Todmorden during the first half of the season, Hebden had only edged the match by 3 – 2. This time out though, they were even stronger having recruited the talented youngster, Jamie Heritage to their number for his first run out in League 1. He duly won his game against Karim Khan on board 5 in a long end game where Jamie had a bishop, knight and pawn against a rook.

The regulars on the top four boards also did their jobs with only Sam Swain succumbing to the dangerous Malcolm Corbett on board 4. Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook both won while Andrew Clarkson drew with Richard Bowman on board 3.

The final scorecard looked like this:

Belgrave ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
J.Morgan 0 – 1 M.Hamer (W)
D.Patrick 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
R.Bowman ½ – ½ A.Clarkson (W)
M.Corbett 1 – 0 S.Swain (W)
K.Khan 0 – 1 J.Heritage (W)
1½ – 3½

These two results mean that the difference between the two Hebden Bridge sides remains exactly the same. Hebden ‘A’ are two points clear of the ‘B’s having played one match more and they have just one extra board point. Hebden ‘B’ play their match in hand at home to Huddersfield ‘A’ on Monday. Even a 3 – 2 win would see them take the top spot with a two point board advantage with just three matches left in the season.

The third and final match of the eleventh round of League 1 fixtures saw an upset as the bottom team, Brighouse, scored their first win of the season in resounding fashion by beating Belgrave ‘B’ 1 – 4. Only Les Johnson on board 4 was able to stem the tide of results by winning his game against Tim Pryke. This means that Brighouse have given themselves a slim chance of escaping the single relegation spot. They have now drawn level with their vanquished hosts on 3 points at the bottom of the division. However, their board count is so low that they will likely have to secure another result of some sort in one of their remaining two matches in order to do a Houdini. They have Halifax ‘A’ at home in the next match before visiting Hebden Bridge ‘B’ away in the final match of the season.

League 2

Before we sign-off we should also mention that Hebden Bridge ‘C’ scored a resounding 5 – 0 victory last week over Halifax ‘B’. This was a great result and bodes well for them as they go into their final cycle of games with a home match against ‘Belgrave ‘C’ at hoe on Monday.

Here’s the scorecard from the match last week:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Halifax ‘B’
P.Leonard 1 – 0 P.Moss (W)
J.Heritage 1 – 0 D.Rowley (W)
N.Bamford 1 – 0 J.Nicholson (W)
J.Kerrane 1 – 0 A.Whiteley (W)
C.Marsden 1 – 0 B.Wadsworth (W)
5 – 0

Feb 142020
 

The Calderdale League 1 title race has become a whole lot more interesting since Hebden Bridge ‘B’ beat the ‘A’ team last month. The two sides are now neck and neck and look like they’ll be duelling it out right to the end of the season. Photo: vegaseddie’s Flickr photostream

The recent ‘Game of the Decade’ series of posts has meant that we’ve fallen rather behind with our Calderdale League updates in January. It’s time to rectify that with a bumper edition designed to get you up to date with the state of affairs in all three Calderdale Leagues.

League 1

Two rounds of fixtures were played in January. In the first, played on the 6th of January, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had an opportunity to stretch their lead at the top of the table as their colleagues in the ‘B’ team had a bye. They travelled to the team at the bottom of the division, Brighouse. The home side had added a new player to their ranks over the Christmas break as Oliver Graham made his first league appearance on board 1.

Hebden meanwhile were significantly under strength with both Matthew Parsons and Stavros Pantazopoulos unavailable. This left team captain, Dave Shapland, with the honours against Brighouse’s new signing. They played out a tense game which originated from a Hungarian Defence but transposed into more of a Ruy Lopez-type position. Oliver had some chances to obtain a good game but didn’t make the most of them and Dave was able to take full advantage and establish knights on both f5 and h5 before opening the position, re-locating one of his knights to a monstrous outpost on e6 and switching his king from the queen’s side to the king’s side to drive home his attack.

On board 2, Andy Leatherbarrow at first seemed to obtain a solid position against Robert Broadbent but later found himself defending a tricky end game that he was unable to hold. Meanwhile, the board 3 encounter saw Pete Leonard trying very hard to convert a promising position against Brighouse’s captain, Paul Whitehouse. However, just as he had done in the reverse fixture of this match in round 1 against Dave, Paul held on gamely and Pete ultimately had to settle for a draw.

Most of the hard work in this match was done by Hebden’s two Neils on boards 4 and 5. Neil Suttie saw off Ronnie Grandage and Neil Bamford beat Tim Pryke to seal the result for the visitors and ensure they kept moved 4 points clear of their ‘B’ team rivals having played one match more.

Brighouse vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
O.Graham 0 – 1 D.Shapland (W)
R.Broadbent 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
P.Whitehouse ½ – ½ P.Leonard (W)
R.Grandage 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
T.Pryke 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W)
1½ – 3½

 

In the other fixtures of this round, Belgrave ‘A’ beat their ‘B’ team ‘away’ by a score of 1½ – 3½ and Halifax ‘A’ (complete with a new player on board 2) defeated Huddersfield ‘A’ 2 – 3 in a ding-dong match with no draws.

Two weeks later, on the 20th of January, the League 1 teams were back at it again and this time the focus was undoubtedly on the Trades Club where Hebden Bridge’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams met for their second derby match of the season. Their first encounter in October had been a very tight and hard-fought affair. This one was to be no different.

Both teams were without their regular board 1 players as Matthew Parsons was unavailable and Martyn Hamer was making his annual pilgrimage to play in the Gibraltar tournament. That meant that boards 1, 2 and 3 would see re-matches of the first fixture but with colours reversed while on board 4 Pete Leonard (who missed the first match) took on John Allan and on board 5 Neil Suttie took on Mick Connor (making his first appearance of the season for the ‘B’ team).

All the games featured plenty of action and the game on board 1 was the first to finish with Phil Cook and Stavros Pantazopoulos neutralising each other for a draw. Boards 3 and 4 were also drawn after well contested efforts with Sam Swain and Andy Leatherbarrow and John Allan and Pete Leonard also agreeing peace terms.

The match was decided on boards 2 and 5. The game between Andrew Clarkson and Dave Shapland on board 2 was the first of these to finish. The players discussed a highly theoretical and very sharp and complex variation of the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Dave had prepared this line for the game thinking that Andrew would be less familiar with it, but this was a serious misjudgement. It turned out Andrew knew exactly what he was doing and played very accurately until Dave overlooked a tactic that allowed Andrew to force an endgame where he was a pawn up and had a positional advantage. Dave tried his best to complicate matters, but Andrew’s technique was exemplary as he converted the win.

The last game to finish was between Mick Connor and Neil Suttie. This one went right to the death with Neil now needing to win to tie the match. With both men battling the clock as well as each other, the game was destined for a nail-biting conclusion. Mick seemed to be winning but then Neil found a way to enter an ending where he had four pawns versus a knight and a single pawn. It probably should have been drawn but, playing for his team, Neil tried to win it and instead ended up losing it.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
S.Pantazopoulos ½ – ½ P.Cook (W)
D.Shapland 0 – 1 A.Clarkson (W)
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ S.Swain (W)
P.Leonard ½ – ½ J.Allan (W)
N.Suttie 0 – 1 M.Connor (W)
1½ – 3½

 

So, the ‘B’ team took their revenge by 1½ – 3½ and moved back to within 2 points of the league leaders with a match still in hand. Their scheduled match last Monday at home against Huddersfield ‘A’ would have been their chance to go top on board count but it was postponed as the main road to Todmorden from Halifax was closed for most of the day on Monday as the valley reeled from the aftermath of storm Ciara. Should the ‘B’ team win this game in hand, we will then have a thrilling run in between the two Hebden sides as they aim to stay perfect and win as many boards as they can. It could be enthralling.

The other matches played on the 20th of January saw Huddersfield ‘A’ thrash Brighouse 4 – 1 (albeit with highly creditable individual results for Oliver Graham and Tim Pryke who held Greg Eagleton and Nick Sykes respectively) and Belgrave ‘A’ draw against Halifax ‘A’ in a match that saw the visitors board 3 and 4, Carlos Velosa and Vivienne Webster, achieving a win and a draw respectively against higher rated opponents.

This week, aside from the postponement between Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Huddersfield ‘A’, Brighouse were whitewashed at home by Belgrave ‘A’ and Halifax drew with Belgrave ‘B’ which was a fixture the home side will feel they should have won as they out rated their visitors on every board but only Vivienne on board 5 was able to beat her opponent as Carlos this time lost to Chris Edwards on board 3.

For the moment then, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ remain top of the table on 13 points having played eight matches. They are followed by Halifax ‘A’ on 12 points from nine matches and then Belgrave ‘A’ with 11 points from nine matches and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ with 11 points from just seven matches.

In the League basement, Brighouse remain bottom on 1 point but they have not yet lost hope of avoiding relegation as Belgrave ‘B’ have 3 points and have also yet to face Brighouse for a second time. Still, it looks bleak for the Brighouse team at the moment.


League 2

The sides in the second division also played twice in January. On the 13th, the runaway leaders Huddersfield ‘B’ underlined their overwhelming superiority by beating bottom team Halifax ‘B’ 1 – 4. Pete Moss and Andrew Whiteley showed spirited resistance in drawing their games with much higher rated opponents but the rest of the home side’s line up were put to the sword.

In this round, Belgrave ‘C’ also clarified their second-place position as they beat Hebden Bridge ‘C’ by 3½ – 1½. In this match Belgrave’s top three boards all won but Hebden’s tail wagged furiously as Chris Marsden drew with Angel Gonzalez and Jamie Heritage continued to show great potential as he beat Paul Edwards and earned himself a board promotion in the next round of fixtures.

Belgrave ‘C’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
F.Rabbi 1 – 0 J.Kerrane (W)
D.Colledge 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
L.Johnson 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
A.Gonzales ½ – ½ C.Marsden (W)
P.Edwards 0 – 1 J.Heritage (W)
3½ – 1½

The teams reconvened on the 27th of January. This time is was Hebden Bridge’s turn to get a taste of Huddersfield’s dominance as they were on the end of a 4 – 1 defeat. It certainly didn’t help that they had to default a board due to John Kerrane falling unwell on the day of the match, but, once again, it was left to young Jamie, this time on board 2, to salvage some pride as he beat David Gray in a fine game. It’s safe to say that we haven’t yet discovered the limit of Jamie’s abilities! Meanwhile, in Halifax, Belgrave ‘C’ were heaping more misery on Halifax ‘C’ who they trounced 0 – 5.

Huddersfield ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
L.Keely 1 – 0 P.Leonard (W)
D.Gray 0 – 1 J.Heritage (W)
G.Boot 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
A.Ward 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
S.Anscombe 1 – 0 DEFAULT
4 – 1

 

It’s safe to say that this division has become something of a procession with big gaps opening up between the sides. Huddersfield are top with a perfect 16 points from eight matches. Belgrave are second on 10, Hebden Bridge have 5 and Halifax just 1.


Handicap League

In stark contrast to League 2, the Handicap League is poised for a thrilling finale. The competition only has three rounds of fixtures but, after the second round was played on the 3rd of February, we are looking at the prospect of a final showdown between Hebden Bridge and Huddersfield as they have both won their first two matches.

In round 2 Hebden beat Halifax 4½ – ½ over the boards and, after Halifax had received an extra half point from the handicap system, they were comfortable 4½ – 1 winners. What amounted to Hebden’s regular ‘C’ team were too good for the equivalent of the Halifax ‘B’ team. Only John Kerrane dropped a half point against John Nicholson when he blundered in a completely won position. Aside from that it was straightforward for the home side.

Hebden Bridge H vs. Halifax H
N. Bamford 1 – 0 H.Wood (W)
(W) J.Kerrane ½ – ½ J.Nicholson
C.Marsen 1 – 0 B.Wadsworth (W)
(W) P.Gledhill 1 – 0 E.Fynn
J.Heritage 1 – 0 P.Stowe (W)
Handicap bonus: 0 – ½
4½ – 1

The match between Huddersfield and Belgrave was altogether much closer. Interestingly, Huddersfield were out rated on every board but they fought hard and managed to win on board three and draw on boards one and five. That meant that, although they lost over the boards by 2 – 3, they managed to win the match due to the two extra handicap points they received before-hand.

This now sets up the aforementioned winner-takes-all encounter at Huddersfield on the 30th of March. Hebden will certainly fancy their chances.

Feb 022020
 

The votes have been cast, polling is now closed and we have a winner! The game between Dennis Breen and Matthew Parsons was the overwhelming favorite in our poll  with more than 69% of the votes. Firth vs. Wedge was second and Gormally vs. Morgan came in third. The full results can be seen in the table below.

Thanks to everyone who contributed suggestions for this poll and to everyone who voted. Congratulations to the winners!

Jan 242020
 

This way to the polling station! Time for you to decide on your ‘Game of the Decade’. Photo: kcivey

We’ve reached the end of our short series covering some of the best, most interesting, exciting and memorable chess games played in Hebden Bridge or by Hebden Bridge Chess Club players. Now it’s time for us to reveal our short list and for readers to decide which one they think is their ‘Game of the Decade’.

Just as with the long list I really agonised over which games to select. There are so many factors to weight up and, in the end, the selection is subjective. The least I can do is explain the criteria that I used to weigh up the long list candidates so that readers can understand how I reached this short list of five games, even if they don’t agree with my choice.

  • How accurate was the play in general?: although there were some games on the long list in which the general standard of the play was not that high, I felt they merited inclusion because of one interesting moment or because they were particularly dramatic. However, those games have not been carried forward to the shortlist as I felt the games here should be considered as being ‘well played’ by the majority of our readership. All of the games on this short list would be torn to shreds by chess engine’s but we aren’t computers and so the engine’s assessment didn’t come into my thinking so much. It’s also fair to say that really complicated games tend to contain more moves that engines would class as ‘inaccurate’ but that, for us mere mortals, would be hard to criticize. So the complexity of the game was considered in conjunction with the standard of play.
  • Was the game was a genuine contest?: I eliminated some games from my consideration because I felt they were too one-sided. Sometimes even games that were well played by one player were ruled out because the defender had capitulated too easily or missed an obvious improvement
  • Was the game exciting or unusual in any outstanding way?: I felt all the games on this shortlist should have some exciting or interesting moments in them. That didn’t mean they had to be sacrificial, tactical or complicated but I felt they needed to have some kind of ‘X-factor’ in them.

Here then is my shortlist for readers to vote on:

 

In the game viewer below I have published the five shortlisted games again for those who wish to refresh their memory before making their decision.

This poll will be open for 1 week only. Everyone is welcome to vote (you don’t have to be a Hebden Bridge Chess Club member or even a UK resident!) Voting is anonymous and please note that you’ll only be allowed to vote once by the poll, so choose carefully! I’d also very much like to hear from any readers who would like to share the reasons for why they chose a particular game and whether or not they thought the right games made both the longlist and the shortlist. Do please leave comments at the end of this post and let everyone hear your opinions. You can post comments anonymously if you wish to.

Jan 232020
 

It’s Black to play in this position from Ursal vs. Leatherbarrow. What would you play here? Find out what Andy did in the game viewer below.

This is the third part of the series in which we’ll be featuring the final five games that made it onto my long list. After having had five games from 2014 in our last post, this time the games span out over a longer time frame from 2016 to 2018.

I also want to mention that I’m using a different game viewer in this post. Several readers had been in contact with me to say that they had not always been able to see the Chess Tempo game viewer that I had been using. I’m not sure what was causing the problem as it wasn’t a universal one, but that game viewer was no longer being updated or supported so I guess it was going to break down at some point anyway. The ‘new’ viewer is in fact one that I was using quite some time ago. I’ve tinkered around with the display to try and optimize it. I hope it works for everyone.

Please note that, when more than one game is included in the viewer, you need to click on the bar above the board to reveal a drop-down list and select the game you want to view. Otherwise, the viewer is set to automatically play through the games in turn.

Right! On with the show.


10.) Gormally vs. Morgan, Hebden Bridge Flood Relief Simul, 7th February, 2016

Many readers will have happy memories of our fund raising simul for flood relief with GM Danny Gormally back in 2016. I know I do – primarily because I beat him of course! It was a tough day at the office for the GM as he ended up losing a small handful of games against what he acknowledged was a pretty strong field of club players.

I could have featured several games from this event. All of Danny’s defeats could have qualified as ‘memorable giant-killings’ despite the fact that they were simul games. However, in the end I decided that I should feature the game that he picked out as the ‘best game’ of the simul.

John Morgan acquitted himself most nobly in this one. For a start, he had the courage of his conviction to play his favorite St George’s Defence (1…b5) against the GM. Secondly, he was quick witted enough to spot when Danny’s aggressive play tipped into over-extension and he punished him effectively. In fact, after John had played his 14th move Danny was strategically lost already.

The question then became whether John could be accurate enough to finish the GM off. Unfortunately, he missed a couple of opportunities to finish his illustrious opponent off and Danny slowly clawed his way back into the game. By move 25 he had managed to equalise. John missed one last rather difficult and very beautiful saving chance and goes down swinging. A cracking game of heroic failure fully worthy of it’s space in our list.


11. Cook vs. C.Bak, Calderdale League 1, 17th October, 2016

The younger of the two Bak brothers has played fewer games for Hebden Bridge than Andy and his style of play is rather different. Chris admits that he prefers slow burning positional squeezes rather than the percussive tactical play and attacking flair that is the hallmark of Andy’s style.

This game is a good example. Phil Cook is not an easy man to beat, especially with the White pieces. In fact, I can only think of one other occasion that this happened and that was in the final round of the Calderdale Individual Championship 2016-17 against Matthew Parsons, and Phil already had the title in the bag by that point. There must be others, but I haven’t witnessed them.

In this game a curious position arises from an English opening in which the White king ends up on d1 and Black castles long behind a shattered pawn structure and with White controlling the b-file. In the middle game, Phil finds a creative way to double his rooks on the open d-file but Chris strikes back in the centre.

I think time pressure had an impact on the quality of the play in this game from as early as move 20 and both players commit some errors. In particular, on the last move before time control and under extreme pressure, there is a case of double blindness as both men miss a straight-forward tactic that would have sealed the game for Black. Instead they bound on into an intricate and interesting rook, piece and pawns ending in which Chris slowly out plays his opponent and runs the gauntlet of a second time scramble to secure a very nice victory.


12.) Ursal vs. Leatherbarrow, Halifax, 13th February, 2017

When Darwin Ursal first started playing for Hebden Bridge in 2010-11 I gave him a nickname: ‘Draw-Win’ Ursal. That was simply because he never lost and usually won. So, it’s fair to say that finding a Calderdale game in which he was on the losing side is like finding a hen’s tooth! Here then is a hen’s tooth extracted with great effort by Andy Leatherbarrow.

The key moment of the battle comes on move 20 when Andy digs deep and plays an instinctive piece sacrifice to get Darwin’s king out in the open. The position is very complicated, and Andy couldn’t possibly have calculated everything, but his bravery and gut feel are rewarded as he gets a huge attack on the king with his queen and rook whilst Darwin’s pieces are largely by standers.

Andy can’t find the killing blow immediately but patiently probes and pushes the White king around until he can find something concrete. Darwin’s defensive task proves impossible and he finally caves in. A fascinating sacrifice which is well worth of further study and exploration and is excellent calculation practice!


13.) Cook vs. Porter, Calderdale League 1, 27th of November, 2017

We’ve just seen Phil Cook losing a game. It wouldn’t be at all fair to omit an example of the three time and reigning Calderdale Champion’s work. With that competition now defunct, he may end up keeping the trophy and the title forever!

This game is from the Calderdale League and I think it is quite typical of Phil’s style and qualities. Of course we expect to see his trade mark English Opening but Richard’s choice of response (to play d5 and d4 quite quickly, provokes Phil into playing 3.b4!? and this induces Richard to gambit the d-pawn. From there on in Phil plays deceptively simple and sensible chess to increase his control in the centre, open the b-file, improve the position of his pieces and limit Black’s counter play.

By move 30, White’s position is a picture of harmony whilst Black’s is a sad tangled mess. Richard hit’s out in desperation, trying to complicate proceedings but he is in no position to do so and Phil ends up with four extra pawns and a positional bind.

This one is a bit of a crush, but it’s a model in how to exploit eccentric opening play.


14.) Patrick vs. Clarkson, Calderdale League 1, 15th of January, 2018

Sometimes a game stands out because of one unusual feature or motif. This game is a case in point. How many games have you seen when one player’s king could justifiably be dubbed ‘Man of the Match’? In his notes to this one Andrew Clarkson quite justifiably awards his king the MVP prize and when you take a look at this game, you’ll see why.

The game doesn’t start out in a way that would suggest it would become so remarkable. Dave chooses an unusual, but perfectly playable variation of the Pirc Defence to test Andrew with. Both players develop sensibly and then a crisis comes in the centre of the board as Andrew breaks thematically with 12…c5 and Dave responds in kind 13.e5 and a mass simplification occurs.

If this doesn’t sound promising so far then the endgame really makes up for it. Both players have six pawns and two rooks but Dave has a bishop against Andrew’s knight but he also has doubled and isolated c-pawns and this proves to be the decisive factor in the outcome. Dave forces off another pair of rooks thinking that he can at least hold the position. It’s at this point that Andrew executes a remarkable winning plan as he marches his king across the open board from g8 to collect one of Dave’s loose c-pawns before turning tail and racing back to g7.

In the final act, Andrew manages to exchange the final pair of rooks to enter a knight versus bishop ending in which he has an extra pawn. He then frog-marches his king all the way back to pick up Dave’s pawn on a2 in order to win the game. Of course, there are some improvements in play that both sides could have made here but this is a fairly unusual endgame to be sure.

In my final post of this series tomorrow I’ll be launching a poll for readers to choose their favorite game from a shortlist of 5 games selected by me.

Jan 122020
 

Maybe the craziest position of the decade? This is from Syrett vs. Webster. White just played 7.Kh1. Find out how this happened and what came next in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Today’s post covers five more games from the archive that made my ‘long list’ for Hebden Bridge’s ‘Game of the Decade’. Interestingly, all five of today’s games were played in 2014. It seems that this was a vintage year for interesting and exciting chess games in the Calder valley. Was it something in the water I wonder? Who knows?
As with Friday’s post, I’m going to give a short description of each game and why I selected it plus, at the end of the post, all the games are published with some notes.


5. Dickinson vs. Corbett, Calderdale League 2, 17th of February, 2014

The 17th of February, 2014 should be memorialised in our collective psyches in the same way that the dates of some of England’s most famous battlefield triumphs are memorialised. Why? Well, the date marks what amounts to the most improbable, unlikely and surprising match result ever in the Calderdale League. That’s not hyperbole. The occasion in question was our Hebden Bridge ‘D’ junior team, without a win to their names approaching the end of the season and rooted to the foot of the table, hosting Belgrave ‘B’ who were top of Division 2 and undefeated. No one expected anything other than a rout for the hugely out-gunned home side and yet the juniors triumphed 3 – 2.

This game from board 2 was my pick of three startling wins by our juniors but I should also mention that Dan Crampton beat Gordon Farrar and Dylan Leggett defeated Angel Gonzalez (both excellent wins) in a blood bath where all five games were decisive. I felt compelled to pick one game from this match and I chose this one primarily because of the dramatic turning of the tables at the end. Karl Dickinson was being comprehensively dismantled by Malcolm Corbett whose main problem appeared to be choosing between the different ways to win the game. In the end the one he chose back fired horribly and Karl found the narrow path he needed to tread to force victory. The only shame is that he missed a very beautiful checkmate right at the end which would have crowned his startling achievement. But this game is certainly the most memorable giant-killing of the past decade.


6. Shapland vs. Leatherbarrow, Calderdale Individual Ch. – Round 5, 10th of March, 2014

Let’s get this one out of the way as it’s one of mine! Generous colleagues suggested a few of my own games as candidates but not this one. However, when I weighed them all up, I felt this game was the most special and I remember a lot of the kibitzers after the game remarking on how interesting it was. It’s hard to disagree, this is a most unusual game. It should also be said that Andy played a full part it too, competing with creativity and bravery in a game that was ultimately a bit of a dead rubber for both of us as neither of us could challenge for the Championship in the final round.

The game develops out of a Scandinavian Defence and, in a moment of improvisation, I decided to play on both sides of the board rather than in the centre. This makes for a very unusual and chaotic position but somehow, I always felt that I managed to maintain the initiative. This is one of those games with a dizzying complex of variations some of which the players considered and calculated and others that were unearthed with the help of an engine afterwards. I’m relatively satisfied however, that both of us played the game well enough for it to be on this list and as your archivist, I have to permitted one indulgence surely?!


7. Syrett vs. Webster, Calderdale League 1, 14th of April, 2014

Another game made memorable by its total mayhem. I seem to recall that I was playing in another match at the Trades Club on the night in question, took an early walk to see what was happening on the other boards and nearly fell over with surprise when I saw this one. By the time Martin had played his seventh move he was missing his f, g and h-pawns and Tom had a pawn on h2 that the White king was taking shelter behind. On move 7 mark you!

That this position is reasonably well known in King’s Gambit theory is bye the bye, there aren’t many players that would agree to reach this position in a serious game. If White has the audacity to play the King’s Gambit, generally Black players will try to spoil his fun in some way by declining it or playing the Falkbeer Counter Gambit. Here though we have a full-blooded King’s Gambit Accepted – a rare jewel that both Martin and Tom immerse themselves in to the full.

To be fair, this game is rather one-sided after Tom makes a couple of mistakes early on. It gallops on in a similar vein with some striking moments along the way before Martin finally finds a route through to Tom’s king. This game can be torn to shreds under the scrutiny of an engine, but that’s rather missing the point. It’s pure entertainment from start to finish.


8. A.Bak vs. Eagleton, Calderdale League 1, 22nd of September, 2014

I was keen to have a feisty draw on the long list, and this is one of the feistiest I can remember. It’s more chaos and complexity but is different from the previous two games in that this one is rather more theoretical in nature as the platform for it is one of the most heavily analysed branches of the Najdorf Sicilian, the infamous Poisoned Pawn variation.

The game develops much as you’d expect it to with Black collecting White’s b2 pawn at the cost of giving his opponent a serious development advantage. With his queen getting kicked around, Greg fights to find ways to simplify the position whilst Andy strives to keep pieces on and open lines towards the Black king.

I remember both players got into serious time trouble in this game, which is no surprise when you consider the level of complexity they were dealing with. However, neither man backs down and both play some creative and resourceful chess. Later in the game Greg plays an inaccuracy that hands Andy the advantage but he in turn fails to find the most effective way to prosecute his attack and the game hurtles on.

At the end, realizing that both their flags had fallen and not knowing who’s had dropped first, the exhausted fighters agreed to a draw. A game full of fight and commitment.


9. Sykes vs. Clegg, Calderdale League 1, 6th of October, 2014

‘And now’, as Monty Python famously said, ‘for something completely different! Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of excitement to enjoy here, but this is a silky smooth and predominantly positional win from Nick where all the tactics fall into place for him behind his single-minded strategy. It’s a classic win against Robert’s King’s Indian Defence with White attacking on the queen’s side and trying to break through before Black can get to his king.

The fact that the result never seems to be in doubt should not disguise the fact that Robert played quite well himself in this game, it’s just that Nick played pretty much perfectly to best him. At the end White is just a pawn up but the position is completely winning.

A really fine effort from both players which bestows even more kudos on the winner.

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Jan 102020
 

It’s traditional to celebrate special occasions with a display of fireworks. As this website celebrates its tenth anniversary and marks the and of the 21st century’s teenage years, we have a fireworks display of our very own. 14 of the best and most exciting games played by Hebden Bridge players or in Hebden Bridge over the last ten years. Photo: Robert Hensley

Dear reader,

As the calendar flips inevitably over to the beginning of another new year the natural tendency of many writers, historians, commentators, journalists, philosophers, TV presenters, sociologists, pundits and yes, even chess players, is to turn back to reflect on the events of the previous year to try an identify the important moments of interest for them. As 2019 ended and we entered a new decade, we had even greater cause to reflect than usual.

Now then seems an appropriate time for us to think back over the last ten years of recording chess events in Calderdale and of course Hebden Bridge in particular. This little website started life just over ten years ago itself. The 10th of September, 2009 was the date of the first post to be exact. I initially set it up as a personal chess blog but quickly moved it on to become a website for the chess club, reporting on the matches and exploits of our players and our friends and rivals participating in Calderdale chess.

Recently I was trying to think of a suitable way to celebrate reaching such a landmark anniversary. I don’t know how many posts there are on this website or how many games I’ve published here, but I’ve invested an enormous amount of time into documenting our club’s activity, recording our successes and failures, greeting our new members and remembering some who are no longer with us. I felt like I ought to do something to celebrate.

It was then that it struck me that the website’s 10th anniversary and the passing of the present decade might enable me to run something like a ‘Best Games’ poll to enable us to enjoy again some of the most accurate, complicated, tense, stressful, beautiful, competitive and entertaining games from the first ten years of this website’s existence.
Making that decision was the easy part. I then had the dilemma of deciding which games to select and trying to figure out which deserved a place in the pantheon of the ‘greatest’ of the past ten years. When I reflect on my own games from that time there have been so many memorable and interesting battles that I could probably make a very long list of my own efforts quite easily. It was going to be too hard a task to compile a list of candidate games on my own. So, I reached out to club colleagues from the past ten years and some of the strongest players from other clubs in Calderdale to ask for suggestions.

I expected a few suggestions primarily from current team-mates and a few players who I see regularly. What I got was an unexpectedly enthusiastic response, both to the concept of a ‘Games of the Decade’ list and also contributions suggesting games for the list. In fact, I got so many suggestions that I realised I would quickly have to set out some entry criteria to help me home in on a longlist to present to you. Here are those criteria:

  • First of all I decided that all the games on the list must include at least one Hebden Bridge Chess Club combatant and have been played in a Calderdale Evening Chess League competition or have been played in by two non-club members in Hebden Bridge under the auspices of the club, for example in the Calderdale Individual Championship.
  • Secondly, after some agonising, I decided that I would only allow individuals to appear in the list once as a game winner, meaning they could only feature in a second or third game if they were on the losing side. This criteria has enabled me to showcase the best endeavors of a pretty broad range of players, some of whom are no longer active in the league.
  • Finally, I would only allow games that had been played between 2009 and the present day.

Using those guidelines, I was able to whittle down the list of candidates I had received, but I still had rather a lot, and, in some cases, players were appearing in multiple games. The next job then was to go through the games again myself, often having to decide which of a number of candidate games suggested for a particular player were my favorites. I use the word ‘favorite’ very specifically because I didn’t really feel that I could be the sole arbiter for the ‘best game’.

And that brings me to the final dilemma. After much soul searching and contemplation, I have created what still amounts to a longlist of 14 of my favorite games that I’d like to celebrate again with you. There’s that word ‘favorite’ again. I’ve used it because I think this will ultimately be more of a popularity contest than a judgment of quality. If we were only aiming to seek out the best on the basis of the ‘most accurately played’ game, then we’d probably end up selecting a contest between two of the strongest players in league that ends up as a draw with some relatively hard to understand strategic manoeuvring along the way.

My list of 14 still has plenty of games played by the strongest players in the league, but we’ve also got a few games that are not, and they deserve their place on this list in my opinion. Some games are extraordinarily complicated and that usually means that the accuracy levels go down and the number of mistakes (at least from a chess engine’s perspective) go up. Others are memorable because they involve high stakes or high drama and were played under the greatest competitive pressure. Others still are on the list for aesthetic reasons because there is something strikingly beautiful about them. There are also some games that are outstanding for technical reasons and that can therefore be considered as instructive. What they all are, I hope, is entertaining.

I’ll present all 14 games over the course of three posts and then in a fourth post I’ll give you my shortlist of five games and present a poll to ask readers to choose their favorite which will be crowned ‘game of the decade’. You can do so on any or all of the grounds given above. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to reflect on their games and the games of others and send me their suggestions. Every game was considered but ultimately this initial long list is my own selection so I apologise if my opinion doesn’t reflect your own.

Without further ado then, let’s rip the lid gleefully off pandora’s box and take a look at our first four games as we progress through the list in chronological order.


Game 1: D.Firth vs. D.Wedge, Calderdale Team Knockout Competition, 13th July, 2009

This first game actually predates the website but it fits the entry criteria and I was keen to have an example of Dave Wedge’s play in the list as he was, without doubt, the strongest player at the club at the turn of the decade. Here, Dave faces Huddersfield’s top board of the day who plays the most aggressive and uncompromising set up against the Modern Benoni. Dave knows how to handle this and sets about neutralising White’s attack before going on the counter offensive. His opponent continues to hit out and go for the kill as the position opens up and becomes very complicated.

I’m guessing that the end of this game was played in mutual time pressure as both players miss chances that I’d have expected them to spot with time in hand. However, aside from a moment at the very end when Dave allowed his opponent a gilt-edged chance to steal the game that was in turn overlooked, this was a typically fearless win for Dave in fine counter attacking style.


Game 2: Breen vs. Parsons, Calderdale League 1, 29th November, 2010

Matthew has been one of the dominant players in the Calderdale League for much of the last ten years. That being the case it was no surprise to find that there were a significant number of his games that could easily have made it into this collection. There were several that made my ‘Parsons shortlist’, but in the end I picked this one as my personal favorite because the sacrificial idea that swings the game is, in my opinion, quite hard to concieve.

Using one of his favorite weapons with Black, the Sniper, Matthew plays ambitiously and creates a very double-edged position against Dennis Breen of Brghouse. The critical moment comes at move 15 when Matthew invites Dennis to invade on the queen’s side with his knight via b5 to c7 in order to give himself the time to launch a king’s side attack from what seems an unlikely position. Even the chess engines take quite a long time to figure out that this approach is viable. Dennis misses what amount to a couple of pretty difficult chances to improve his play and Matthew sweeps him aside. I find this to be a highly creative and powerful performance.


Game 3: Webb vs. Ursal, Calderdale League 1, 8th October, 2012

Two of the strongest players in the league at the time go toe to toe in this slugfest. Matty Webb opts for the offbeat Mengarini Variation (2.a3!?) against Darwin Ursal’s Sicilian Defence. He’s hoping to confuse Darwin with such an unusual variation and, early in the game, the strategy appears to be paying off as the game develops down an unorthodox route. Darwin weathers the early storm however and, when Matty goes astray he takes his chance to initiate a ferocious counter-attack that quickly lands him the full point.

The engine assessment will tell you there were a number of better moves available to the combatants in this game, but, as Matty says in his game commentary, ‘your opponent is NOT a perfect calculating machine, you should try to line up as many problems and lines to analyse as possible to allow them to go wrong!’ Unfortunately for him, in this encounter it was Darwin who calculated more accurately.

This was a heavy weight encounter with lots of interesting ideas in it and it also has Darwin’s finger prints all over it. He often sails quite close to the wind in his games, but he often ends up coming out on top even from seemingly desperate situations.


Game 4: Leonard vs. Sugden, Calderdale Individual Ch. Round 4, 2nd November, 2013

A good king hunt is always a pleasure to witness and this game made my list primarily because of the stylish way Pete concludes it. The game builds quite slowly to begin with as Pete deploys his favourite Bishop’s Opening against 1…e5 and Dave responds with a critical set up for Black. Pete proceeds to use strategic ideas commonly seen in the Ruy Lopez to initiate a dangerous king’s side assault and Dave is unable to find the antidote.

At the end Pete finds some attractive tactics to draw Dave’s king out of his lair and then hunts him across the board to check mate him. That Pete was able to find these ideas in the pressurised situation of the fourth round of the Calderdale Individual Championship is all-the-more impressive. This game made a big impression on me at the time and it was a pleasure to re-discover it again as I researched games for this poll.


You’ll find all four of the games mentioned above in the game viewer below with notes by the combatants (mostly). I hope you will enjoy these and the subsequent games to come in two further posts.

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Jan 012020
 

First of all I’d like to wish all our members and readers a very Happy New Year! In this first post of the new decade we’ll be catching up on a plethora of recent action from across the Calderdale Evening Chess League as we reach the halfway mark in the 2019-20 season.

Handicap League

On Monday the 16th o November the first round of fixtures in this year’s handicap league were played. Hebden Bridge travelled to Belgrave and Huddersfield went to Halifax.

In the second of these matches, Huddersfield held a rating advantage on all but the top board where Scott Gornall out rated Alec Ward. However, when the handicap calculation was made the overall rating difference was small enough that Halifax only received a half point head start. It turned out that this was the only score they were going to receive as Huddersfield went about their business in brutal fashion putting their opponents to the sword on every board including the top one were Alec was the only player to overturn the handicap.

Across Halifax at the Belgrave Social Club the home team welcomed Hebden Bridge. Here both teams field six players. It seems that everyone involved thought this was the correct number and were in error – a resolution to this will need to be agreed by the league committee as the Calderdale League website only has room to enter the results from five boards.

Hebden fielded a balanced side with regular ‘A’ teamers, Stavros Pantazopoulos and Pete Leonard, on boards 1 and 2, and two juniors, Zora Sandhu and Jamie Heritage on boards 5 and 6. John Kerrane and Paul Gledhill made up the numbers. Belgrave meanwhile largely featured players who appear most regularly in their ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams and this meant that they too received a half point head start.

Despite an outstanding draw for the home side on board 1 where Dave College held Stavros Pantazopoulos, Belgrave lost the match. Two victories for Hebden on board 2, where Pete Leonard overcame Chris Edwards; and board 5, where Jamie Heritage won in just his second competitive over the board encounter; were accompanied by draws on boards 3, 4 and 5 to see Hebden home by a score of 3 – 4 after the handicap had been taken into account.

Here is the final match score card:

Belgrave vs. Hebden Bridge
D.Colledge ½ – ½ S.Pantazopoulos (W)
(W) C.Edwards 0 – 1 P.Leonard
L.Johnson ½ – ½ J.Kerrane (W)
(W) P.Edwards ½ – ½ P.Gledhill
R.Pratt ½ – ½ Z.Sandhu (W)
(W) A.Arthur 0 – 1 J.Heritage
Handicap ½ – 0 Handicap
2½ – 4

POST SCRIPT: Both clubs agreed a way to resolve the issue of having played the match over six boards instead of five. The game between Paul Edwards and Paul Gledhill will not be entered onto the League results website. As the two players were very close in their ratings this means that the overall match result will not be affected the omission of this one board. Handicap League fixtures are not rated and so this will not effect the players ratings either.

This result represents a good start for Hebden in a competition they have a realistic chance of winning.

League 1

As we reported on in our last post, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ faced a challenging trip to Halifax ‘A’ on Monday the 9th of December for the final round of fixtures in League 1 this year. The champions brought a very strong line up with Matthew Parsons, Stavros Pantazopoulos, Dave Shapland, Andy Leatherbarrow and Pete Leonard all turning out to face a slightly below strength Halifax team. The hosts were without Winston Williams and Sam Scurfield meaning that they lined up with Darwin Ursal, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa, Vivienne Webster and John Nicholson in their side.

On paper it looked like the top board would be very tight but then Hebden out rated Halifax by varying degree from board 2 downwards. In the end the result did reflect the statistics but the match was somewhat tighter than the ratings suggested it would be.

Hebden successfully plucked the low hanging fruit early on in the evening when Pete Leonard saw off John Nicholson on board 5 to give the visitors the lead. After that result though, the rest of the games were rather more closely fought.

As expected, the board 1 encounter between Matthew Parsons and Darwin Ursal was a heavyweight encounter. Initially, Matthew appeared to be doing well but then Darwin turned the tables and even won some material but, as the game got sharper and more complex, the Halifax player overlooked a forced draw and the game came to an abrupt end.

Boards 2 and 3 finished at a similar time quite late in the evening. Stavros Pantazopoulos slowly turned up the heat and built the tension in his game against Richard Porter until finally, the Halifax captain cracked by miscalculating a tactical sequence and losing material. It looked like he was in serious trouble positionally anyway.

This result prompted Dave Shapland to offer Carlos Velosa a draw on board 3 in order to try and secure the match. This game too had been a tight and tense affair. Carlos had wrestled the initiative from his opponent in the middle game but didn’t find the right way to press home his advantage and allowed Dave to re-establish control.

Dave’s advantage in the ensuing endgame was quite small, even non-existent, but it seemed that he could carry on playing for a win at very little risk and so that was what he did until a draw was all his team needed. Ironically, in the very position where Carlos shook hands, it appears he may have had a good try for a win himself. However, when you’ve been hanging on with little hope of winning for a while, sometimes you just want the game to be over.

In the end it was probably a good job that Dave stopped playing when he did for, shortly after the board 3 game ended, Andy Leatherbarrow made a critical mistake against Vivienne Webster on board 4 and slumped to Hebden’s only defeat of the night.

Here is the final scorecard for the match:

Halifax ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
D.Ursal ½ – ½ M.Parsons (W)
R.Porter 0 – 1 S.Pantazopoulos (W)
C.Velosa ½ – ½ D.Shapland (W)
V.Webster 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
J.Nicholson 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W)
2 – 3

A crucial win then for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ but a highly creditable performance from Halifax ‘A’ who demonstrated why they’ve been up near the top of the table for most of the first half of this season.

Over in Brighouse, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were busy bidding for a win that would take them above Halifax and restrict the gap with their ‘A’ team to a couple of points. Unfortunately, Hebden lost the services of Richard Bedford on the day of the match as he succumbed to one of the many bugs doing the rounds at this time of year. Happily however, even with four players, Hebden were far too strong for their hosts as they won on all four of the boards that did see action.

Here’s the scorecard:

Brighouse vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
R.Broadbent 0 – 1 M.Hamer (W)
C.Lund 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
T.Pryke 0 – 1 A.Clarkson (W)
D.Gunthrope 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
R.Grandage 1 – 0 DEFAULT
1 – 4

In the third match to take place on the 9th, Huddersfield ‘A’ defeated Belgrave ‘B’ at home to increase their margin for error above the drop zone. Had Belgrave managed to beat them, Huddersfield would have dropped down a place into sixth. Instead they drew two points further ahead to within one point of fourth placed Belgrave ‘A’ who had the bye in round 8.

Huddersfield were happy to welcome Greg Eagleton into their side for the first time this season and he duly saw of Gordon Farrar on board 1. Belgrave struck back on board 3 where Karim Khan took down Richard Boylan but Huddersfield sealed the win when Nick Sykes defeated Chris Edwards on board 5. The other two games were drawn.

All this means that, at the halfway mark, there are no teams on the same points total. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are top with 11 points, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ have 9 and Halifax ‘A’ are third with 8.

League 2

On Monday 2nd of December the League 2 teams played their final round of fixtures in 2019. Run away leaders Huddersfield ‘B’ hosted second placed Belgrave ‘C’ and duly won 4 – 1 to maintain their perfect run of form. They look all but certain to secure promotion back to League 1 next season. The home team dropped just two draws in this match as Belgrave players Dave Colledge on board 2 and Paul Edwards on board 5 managed to hold their opponents.

At the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were up against the bottom team Halifax ‘B’. This fixture was a very tight one with three draws in the match balanced by a win for either side. Scott Gornall beat John Kerrane on board 1 for Halifax’s win and Chris Marsden won against John Nicholson on board 4 for Hebden Bridge. It’s worth mentioning that a new junior club member, Jamie Heritage, played his first match for the club on board 5 and drew against Andrew Whiteley. You’ll have seen above that he went on to win his next game in the Handicap League against Belgrave. We look forward to seeing how this new young prospect develops.

Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Halifax ‘B’
J.Kerrane 0 – 1 S.Gornall (W)
P.Gledhill ½ – ½ H.Wood (W)
T.Sullivan ½ – ½ D.Rowley (W)
C.Marsden 1 – 0 N.Nicholson (W)
J.Heritage ½ – ½ A.Whiteley (W)
2½ – 2½

You’ll find a couple of the games from the matches reported on in this post in the game viewer below.

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ChessTempo PGN Viewer

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