Jan 162019
Like a runaway pony, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were brought to a skidding in halt by Halifax ‘A’ in the last round of fixtures before Christmas. Photo: Randy Kashka on Flickr (Creative Commons)

In today’s post we finish our catch up on the month of December with an article outlining the results of the final round of fixtures from before Christmas when both divisions of the Calderdale League met on December 17th.

Calderdale League 1

The juiciest match up in League 1’s final round of the first half of the season took place at the Trades Club where league leaders Hebden Bridge ‘B’ welcomed Halifax ‘A’, the team in third place.

Hebden have been able to field a very stable line up this season and that has certainly been a contributing factor in their success so far. For this match they were missing Neil Suttie on board 5 but replaced him with Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford to ensure that their team was just as strong as usual. The other team members were Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard and Sam Swain.

Halifax conversely were slightly weaker than they might have been without Winston Williams on board 1. They therefore lined up with Bill Somerset, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa, Vivienne Webster and Sam Scurfield. This was a team that looked likely to give Hebden a run for their money and so it proved to be.

The night began badly for the hosts as Matthew Parsons fell victim to some very clever opening preparation by Bill Somerset. Bill had seen a game Matthew had played recently in the Bradford League and found a subtle means to improve White’s play in a line of the Philidor’s Defence. It took a little while for Matthew to realise the true severity of his situation and he tried to limp on an exchange down in an end game, but he never really had a chance of saving himself. Bill’s fine win gave Halifax lead.

Hebden struck back on board 4 where Sam Swain, who’s had a magnificent season for them so far, beat Vivienne Webster fairly comfortably after grabbing a pawn in the opening and hanging onto it. The match was tied but the situation on the remaining three boards didn’t look great for the hosts. On board 5 Beaky seemed to be in a bit of a tangle against Sam, on board 2, Dave was similarly in a difficult situation against Richard, but on board 3, Pete Leonard appeared to have the better of it against Carlos. Hebden would need at least a point and a half from these three board, but in the end they only managed a single draw.

First of all, Beaky capitulated as Sam forced home his advantage. Next Pete made tactical mistake against Carlos and slipped from being better to a defeat. Dave did at least manage to salvage a draw from Richard but that was only because his opponent played a few inaccurate moves in the run up to time control.

So, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ dropped their first points of the season to Halifax ‘A’ who closed the distance between the two sides to 2 points. Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
M.Parsons 0 – 1 W.Somerset (W)
D.Shapland ½ – ½ R.Porter (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 C.Velosa (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 V.Webster (W)
R.Bedford 0 – 1 S.Scurfield (W)
1½ – 3½

Hebden’s slip up gave second-placed Belgrave ‘A’ a chance to close the gap at the top to a single point. To do this they needed to beat the back markers, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ at home. Belgrave didn’t make things easy for themselves when they defaulted board 5 and gave the visitors a point’s head start. However, the remaining four players all performed admirably to ensure that Belgrave’s didn’t miss their chance.

John Morgan and Richard Bowman drew on boards 1 and 4 with Andy Leatherbarrow and John Kerrane respectively and Dave Patrick and Tony Slinger beat Martin Syrett and Paul Gledhill on boards 2 and 3 to clinch a crucial victory for the hosts.

These simple stats don’t tell the entire story of the match though because Martin was beating Dave hands down and then resigned when he thought head over looked a mating attack. In fact, both players had missed that Martin had a flight square for his king and that it looked the best Dave could do was draw. But Dave’s win gave Belgrave a 3 – 2 win in a match they could very easily have lost. Now they look set to mount a serious challenge for the title this season having seemingly strengthened their line up over the last few matches.

Here is the scorecard from that match:

Belgrave ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
J.Morgan ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (W)
D.Patrick 1 – 0 M.Syrett (W)
A.Slinger 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
R.Bowman ½ – ½ J.Kerrane (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W)
3 – 2

Meanwhile, in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were trying to continue their revival against Huddersfield ‘B’. Having been anchored to the foot of the table until their round 5 win against Belgrave ‘B’, they had a chance to get some more points on the board and over take their opponents in the table at the same time. They too did not make life easy for themselves as a last-minute withdrawal meant they also had to default a board.

In this match the top three boards were critical as Hebden had their famous triumvirate of Andrew Clarkson, Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook all present and correct. Both Martyn and Phil had substantial rating advantages over Simon Anscombe and Granville Boot, but on board 1, Leo Keely was a much closer match for Andrew to have to take on.

Happily, for the home team, the top three all did their jobs as they swept the boards. It was a good job too for, on board 4, Pete Dickinson succumbed to David Gray which meant that the margin of victory was the narrowest possible. Nevertheless, it was enough to see Hebden ‘A’ climb to 5 points in the league and take them further away from the danger of relegation.

Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 L.Keely (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 S.Anscombe (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 G.Boot (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 D.Gray (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 A.Ward (W)
3 – 2

In the final match of the round Belgrave ‘B’ went down heavily to Huddersfield ‘A’. Greg Eagleton beat Gordon Farrar on board 1 and Steve Westmoreland and A.Hossain did the same to Steve Harrington and Paul Jacobs on boards 4 and 5. Dave Keddie and Nick Sykes dropped half points to Les Johnson and Dave College as Huddersfield went undefeated.

With half the season now gone both ends of the table are tantilisingly poised. At the top Hebden Bridge ‘B’ have 12 points, Belgrave ‘A’ have 11 and Halifax ‘A’ have 10. It would now seem that these three teams are the only ones who can challenge for the title unless something remarkable occurs.
Next in the table come Huddersfield ‘A’ on 7 points and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ on 5 points. On their day, either of these teams could beat the top three teams and so, although the first half of their seasons have been sub-par, they could yet have a influence on the title race. On the other hand, both could get drawn back into the relegation dog fight if they aren’t able to continue their recent runs of form.

At the bottom, Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have 4 points each and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ have 3. It looks now like two of these three will go down but which of them will survive is anybody’s guess. At present Hebden ‘C’ are the only the only team in the League yet to win a match, but they’ve drawn three against some decent teams and that demonstrates that they aren’t easy to beat.

Round 8 matches took place this week and we’ll be reporting on those here very soon.

Calderdale League 2

The League fixtures page on the Calderdale Chess League’s website may have tricked some team Captains into thinking that they were not playing their seventh round of fixtures until the New Year, however, three matches were due to be played on December 17th.

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ were certainly caught napping as Huddersfield ‘C’ arrived at the Trades Club for their match and (as they were mistaken for Huddersfield ‘B’) were then mistakenly directed to the Golden Lion in Todmorden where their real ‘B’ team were already sitting down playing Hebden bridge ‘A’. All this because we Capatins are in the habit of understanding that the right-hand side of the fixture list on the website is played after Christmas!

The Brighouse vs. Belgrave ‘C’ match did not take place either, so it appears others were laboring under the same misapprehension. Gladly, Huddersfield ‘C’ were very generous in allowing their match to be re-scheduled.

The only match that did take place on the 17th was between Halifax ‘C’ and Halifax ‘B’. This was played on four boards and the ‘B’ team overwhelmed their colleagues for the lose of a single draw on board 3 where John Nicholson held Barry Wadsworth. This result allowed Halifax ‘B’ to leap frog Brighouse to reach the top of the table but Brighouse of course now have a game in hand.

Calderdale Individual Championship Round 3

John Kerrane reports on the third round of the Individual which took place on the 7th of January.

Winter ailments took their toll on the line-up for the third round of the Calderdale Chess League Individual Championship 2018/9, which took place at the Trades Club.

Although the number of players taking part was reduced, the evening produced a lot of interesting games, including a close and difficult endgame between Pete Leonard of Hebden Bridge and Richard Porter of Belgrave, which was finally won by Leonard in the last game to finish. The upset of the evening was Andy Swales’s win against considerably higher-graded John Allan, but the front runner, Phil Cook, proceeded smoothly, leaving him with the only player on a maximum 3 points with a group of others close behind on 2½.

The full results of the round can be seen on the Calderdale Chess League website. The next round is due to be held at the Trades Club on 4th February.

Thanks to all those players who have sent us games from these fixtures. They are all available to play through and download in the game viewer below.

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Jan 082019

Happy New Year to everyone!

Today we continue with our catch up on the first half of the Calderdale Evening Chess League season as we cover the matches played in Round 6 of League 1. These matches were played on the week commencing 10th of December.

Readers will recall that we left the League Champions, Hebden Bridge ‘A’, languishing at the foot of the table having managed just a single draw in their first five encounters. That said, they had lost three of those five matches by the narrowest possible score line and so it seemed entirely plausible that, with a little bit of luck, they could start to pick up points again.

In round 6 they welcomed Belgrave ‘B’ to the Golden Lion in Todmorden. Reviewing the two line-ups on paper suggested that this match really should have been straight forward for the hosts as they out graded Belgrave on every board. Hebden welcomed back Andrew Clarkson to board 1 and had Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook on board 2 and 3. All three of these players out rated their opponents, Gordon Farrar, Keith Marsh and Les Johnson by 40 points or more. On board 4, Richard Bedford made a guest appearance in the absence of both Mick Connor and Andrew Swales. He held a more modest 15-point rating advantage over Paul Edwards. Finally, on board 5, Peter Dickinson had an even smaller rating advantage over Chris Edwards.

It looked like the outcome of the match should really be determined on the upper boards and that did indeed prove to be the case as the home side won on the top four boards with varying degrees of struggle. On board 5 Chris salvaged pride for the visitors with a victory over Peter. The full match score card is given below:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Belgrave ‘B’
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 G.Farrar (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 K.Marsh (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 L.Johnson (W)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 P.Edwards (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 C.Edwards (W)
4 – 1

This match win came as a huge relief to all involved in the ‘A’ team as they looked at other match results during the week and found that they had gained ground on their relegation rivals.

At the other end of the Calder valley, in Halifax, third-placed team Halifax ‘A’, hosted Hebden Bridge ‘C’ who hovered just two points ahead of their ‘A’ team colleagues. Once again, on paper, the statistics suggested an easy win for the home team as they out rated all their opponents and Hebden made life even more difficult for themselves when they arrived with only four players.

The home team sealed their match win on the top boards as Bill Somerset beat Andy Leatherbarrow and Richard Porter beat Martin Syrett. On boards 3 and 4 however the visitors put up serious resistance as Paul Gledhill drew with Carlos Velosa on board 3 and Neil Bamford went one better and took down Sam Scurfield on board 4, a fine result for Neil. Below is the full match scorecard.

Halifax ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘C’
W.Somerset 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow
R.Porter 1 – 0 M.Syrett
C.Velosa ½ – ½ P.Gledhill
S.Scurfield 0 – 1 N.Bamford
S.Gornall 1 – 0 DEFAULT
3½ – 1½

This result meant that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had now drawn level with their ‘C’ team and were only a point behind their vanquished foes Belgrave ‘B’, who had 4 points.

Huddersfield ‘B’ were the other team on 4 points at the start of the round and they had a tough assignment away to the League leaders, Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Once again, the stats suggested that it would be a routine victory for the home team and, once again, the stats didn’t lie. Huddersfield ‘B’ also struggled with a default as one of their players was a no-show. This handed Hebden’s Sam Swain a full point on board 4.

Most of the other games were fairly straightforward wins for Hebden, even if those wins were achieved in contrasting styles. On board 1 Matthew Parsons simply outplayed Simon Anscombe and attained a winning endgame position before the halfway point of the evening had been reached.

Dave Shapland and Neil Suttie by contrast won in more percussive fashion against David Gray and Alec Ward respectively. On board 5, Neil deployed the unusual Budapest Gambit against Alec. He gained a promising position from the mainline of the variation and, when Alec miscalculated, he pounced with a nice intermezzo tactic to win the game on the spot.

Gray vs. Shapland. It’s Black to move. Can he play dxc3? The answer is in the game viewer at the end of this post.

On board 2 Dave played another gambit line against the Queens Gambit of David Gray, the Albin Counter Gambit. David seemed to be doing perfectly well when he placed his knight on c3 even though it was attacked by Dave’s pawn on d4 because the pawn was pinned to the Black queen by a White rook on d1. See the diagram on the right. However, Dave decided that he could sacrifice his queen to get his d-pawn to the b2 square and, with White’s king still in the middle of the board, the position looked very dangerous indeed. In the game David couldn’t find the best defensive line and capitulated reasonably swiftly. Further analysis of the game shows that he could have done better but the resource was not easy to find. Can you do better?

The last game of this match between Pete Leonard for Hebden and Granville Boot for Huddersfield finished in a draw as the visitors narrowly avoided a whitewash. Below is the match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’
M.Parsons 1 – 0 S.Anscombe (W)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 D.Gray (W)
P.Leonard ½ – ½ G.Boot (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 DEFAULT
N.Suttie 1 – 0 A.Ward (W)
4½ – ½

The final game of round 6 took place on the 12th of December as Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted the second placed team in the division, Belgrave ‘A’. In this match Belgrave pulled together a ferociously strong line up which probably wouldn’t have been possible (or necessary) for them to have done had the match been on a Monday. However, missing some regular players who weren’t able to play on a Wednesday night Belgrave reinforced with Tony Slinger on board 3 and Colin Proctor on board 4. Two very experienced and challenging adversaries on the best of occasions but Huddersfield were themselves somewhat depleted of regular players and, as a result, they went down convincingly 1½ – 3½.

Greg Eagleton and John Morgan drew on board 1 and Dave Keddie beat Dave Patrick on board 2 but then it was a land slide for the visitors on the bottom three boards as Tony Slinger beat Nick Sykes, Colin Proctor beat Mark Rojinsky and Peter Hughes beat Brendan Briggs.

As a result of all these fixtures the top three positions in the league remained unchanged with Hebden Bridge ‘B’ on 12 points, Belgrave ‘A’ on 9 points and Halifax ‘A on 8 points. At the other end of the table the relegation scrap was made much more interesting following Hebden Bridge ‘A’s victory. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were now bottom of the league on board count and with 3 points. Hebden ‘A’ also had 3 points. Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ had 4 points each and Huddersfield ‘A’ had 5 points.

In the next post we’ll report on the final round of fixtures before the Christmas break in both divisions. These were played on the 17th of December. 

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Dec 302018

I trust that readers have enjoyed the festive period and possibly also a little break from chess. Your editor has been enjoying the coverage from the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in St Petersburg which has proved to be rather more exciting than the recent World Championship Match…

We still have quite a bit of catching up to do following the extended period when the website was out of action. In today’s post we’ll look back to the end of November when Hebden Bridge ‘A’, propping up the League 1 table, played their postponed match against Huddersfield ‘A’, who were also languishing somewhat.

We’ll also take a look at the results from Round 2 of this year’s Calderdale Individual Championship which took place on December 3rd.

First to the Golden Lion in Todmorden which was the scene for the seemingly apocalyptic clash between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘A’.

This really was a match that neither team wanted to lose and so when Huddersfield arrived with only four players the home side were given an unexpected boost. The visitors sported very strong players on boards 1 and 2 in the form of Greg Eagleton and Mitchell Burke. They were well matched by the home team however as they fielded Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook.
Steve Westmoreland and Robert Sutcliffe were the other two Huddersfield players and they were slightly stronger on paper than their counterparts on boards 3 and 4 – Mick Connor and Andrew Swales.

With a one point head start and operating the Black pieces on all boards, Martyn and Phil sensibly opted to neutralise Greg and Mitchell on the top boards and they secured relatively swift draws. However, Andrew Swales had something of a misadventure as he got his king caught in the middle of the board by Robert and suffered a swift execution.

This meant that the outcome of the match rested on the result between Mick Connor and Steve Westmoreland. Mick seemed to be more than holding his own but then allowed Steve some counterplay which resulted in him having to give up two pawns to avoid mate. It took Steve a little while to convert this advantage but convert it he did to give Huddersfield a huge boost with a 2 – 3 win. The full match scorecard is below:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ G.Eagleton (W)
P.Cook ½ – ½ M.Burke (W)
M.Connor 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (W)
A.Swales 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe (W)
P.Dickinson 1 – 0 DEFAULT
2 – 3

This result left Hebden Bridge ‘A’ adrift at the foot of the table after 5 rounds of games. They had just a single point and were two behind Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Could relegation for the title holders really be on the cards? In our next post we’ll update readers on the two rounds of fixtures played in December.

Calderdale Individual Championship Round 2

The first Monday of December saw the players gather at the Trades Club for the second round of the Individual Championship. John Kerrane reports for us on the evening’s event below:

“In this round, the winners in the first round all face each other, and matches tend to become more even. Most of the results went to form, but there were some notable exceptions. Paul Edwards’s draw on board 2 against Pete Leonard and Steve Harrington’s draw against John Allan were both achieved against much higher-graded opponents, but the biggest upset of the evening was young Luca Curry’s win against Neil Bamford, a player of twice his grade.

Going into the third round on January 7th, only two players, Phil Cook of Hebden Bridge and Angel Gonzalez of Belgrave, will be on a maximum 2 points, with a pack of players on 1½ on their heels.”

Phil Cook was kind enough to send his game through for publication and it can be found in the game viewer below. The full list of results and standings can be found on the Calderdale League website.

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Dec 152018

Hebden Bridge ‘A’, like this giant redwood, have been brought down low recently. Can they climb back up the league before it’s too late. Image: Andreas Vonderheit’s Flickr photostream

We must start this post by apologising to readers for the recent service disruption. The web site was hacked and this led to an array of rogue posts being displayed and also a hoard of nonsense comments and ping backs. Gladly, these issues have now been rectified and we hope that normal service can now resume. The only fly in the ointment at the moment is that your Editor’s broadband is currently faulty and this is making it a little less convenient to post content. Hopefully that too will be fixed early next week.

We’ll start our catch up with a post we were planning to publish several weeks ago covering the fifth round of Calderdale League 1.

This week commencing the 19th of November saw the fifth round of Division 1 fixtures played in the Calderdale Evening Chess League. It’s been a fascinating season thus far with the headline story being that the team who have been League champions for the last four seasons are sitting at the bottom of the table.

Admittedly much has changed for the team who were called Todmorden ‘A’ for their title wins in 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and then became Golden Lion when they won their fourth title last season. Now they have merged with Hebden Bridge chess club and prestige demanded that they adopt the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ moniker. They still have the spine of the team that has swept all before them for the last four years but, somehow, it’s all gone wrong for them so far this season and they have just one draw from their first three matches with a postponed match against Huddersfield ‘A’ to come.

Huddersfield ‘A’ are another of the perennial ‘big beasts’ of the league but they too are in struggling having also managed only a single win from their first three matches.

In this week’s round of fixtures Hebden ‘A’ visited Belgrave ‘A’ who have been performing very well so far and lie in second place in the table. Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted Hebden Bridge ‘C’ who were alongside them on two points. League leaders Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were also at the Belgrave Club as they played Belgrave ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’ played Huddersfield ‘B’ at home.

Let’s start our round up with news of those teams languishing at the foot of the table for a change. Hebden ‘A’ took their strongest line up of the season so far to Belgrave. Messrs Clarkson, Hamer and Cook were joined by Mick Connor in his first appearance of the season and Andy Swales. Belgrave ‘A’s line-up looked very solid indeed with John Morgan, Dave Patrick, Peter Hughes, Malcolm Corbett and Karim Khan taking to the field. On paper it looked like it would be a tight battle and so it proved to be.

The encounters on the top three boards were all very competitive. It was on the bottom two boards where the fixture was decided. Mick Connor went down to Malcolm Corbett on board four. Your Editor didn’t see much of this one but Mick seemed to have had some kind of opening catastrophe on the White side of a Dutch Defence because Malcolm’s position looked very good early in the middle game.

Matters got even worse for the visitors when Andy Swales lost on time to Karim Khan whilst thinking about his 22nd move. Apparently, he had misunderstood the time controls but, nevertheless, seemed to be playing at a much slower rate than Karim in the early stages of the game.

Hebden struck back when Phil Cook defeated Peter Hughes on board three and now the match came down to whether or not Andrew or Martyn could manage to defeat John or Dave respectively. Both the Belgrave men were lower rated but of course they are also very experienced and hard to breakdown. Andrew and John’s game seemed to seesaw back and forth. There was no lack of excitement here but, after many adventures a draw was agreed.

Martyn and Dave were the last to finish with Martyn pressing for a win in an endgame where he was a pawn up. However, Dave defended resourcefully and kept his opponent at bay – just. So, Belgrave won the match by the narrowest possible margin and consigned Hebden Bridge ‘A’ to their third defeat in four matches. Here is the match score card:

Belgrave ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
J.Morgan ½ – ½ A.Clarkson (W)
D.Patrick ½ – ½ M.Hamer (W)
P.Hughes 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
M.Corbett 1 – 0 M.Connor (W)
K.Khan 1 – 0 A.Swales (W)
3 – 2

Huddersfield ‘A’s match with Hebden Bridge ‘C’ took place on Wednesday evening at the Lindley Club and immediately the home side were given a boost when the visitors arrived with only four players. It seems to be becoming increasingly difficult for the teams who play most of their matches on Monday nights to field anything like their usual line ups on a Wednesday night on the one occasion in the season when they need to do so. Earlier this season Halifax ‘A’ visited Huddersfield with a side that looked nothing like any of the other sides they’ve put out in the rest of the fixtures.

Now Hebden Bridge ‘B’s line up was also much altered. They had three regulars in the form of Andy Leatherbarrow, Martin Syrett and Neil Bamford. Paul Gledhill would normally have joined them but he was unavailable on the Wednesday night and so switched into the Hebden Bridge ‘B’ team playing at Belgrave ‘B’. Going in the other direction was Sam Swain who was unavailable on the Monday night but was able to play to supplement the ‘C’ team’s ranks on Wednesday.

Sam’s reward was a tough board 1 match against Greg Eagleton which the ratings suggested he would find challenging and indeed he did. However, Sam’s inclusion enabled Andy, Martin and Neil to play one board lower and they made this set of circumstance count. Andy defeated Steve Westmoreland on board 2, Martin drew with John Lavan on board three and Neil beat Nicola Thompson on board 4 to counteract the default on board 5. This tied match result was excellent for Hebden ‘C’ but more bad news for Huddersfield.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
G.Eagleton 1 – 0 S.Swain (W)
S.Westmoreland 0 – 1 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
J.Lavan ½ – ½ M.Syrett (W)
N.Thompson 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W)
B.Briggs 1 – 0 DEFAULT
2½ – 2½

Huddersfield ‘A’s visit to Hebden Bridge ‘A’ at the Golden Lion on Monday 26th now assumes a great deal of importance. If Hebden can manage their first win of the season they will draw alongside their visitors and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ on three points and can hope to dig themselves out of their current trough of despair. Lose however and they’ll be cut adrift at the foot of the table and in grave danger of relegation which would have been unthinkable at the start of the season.

Back at the Belgrave Club on Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were busy continuing their perfect start to the season as they put Belgrave ‘B’ to the sword. However, it wasn’t as convincing as they scoreline may suggest. Pete Leonard defeated Keith Marsh relatively comfortably on board 3 and Richard Bedford did the same for the visitors against Angel Gonzalez on board 4, but on the other three boards it was much harder going for the league leaders.

On board 5, Paul Gledhill’s debut for the ‘B’ team was not a happy one as he went down against Belgrave’s form man of the season so far, Steve Harrington. He is 3/4 in League 1 and 4/4 in Division 2.

Matthew Parsons also had a real struggle on his hands against Gordon Farrar on board 1 although he finally came through with some excellent calculation in an end game to get the win that took Hebden over the line to three points.

Finally, the board 2 encounter between the team captains, Mike Barnett of Belgrave and Dave Shapland of Hebden Bridge, was a marathon. Dave got a good position out of the opening against Mike’s Pirc Defence. However, he then frittered that advantage away with some loose moves and then made the mistake of continuing to play for a win in what was objectively a drawn position. Dave’s obduracy should have been punished as Mike gained a winning position in a king and pawn ending but, at the end of a long night he somehow couldn’t seem to find the right winning method and ended up settling for a draw. A very lucky escape for Dave!

Here’s the final match scorecard:

Belgrave ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
G.Farrar 0 – 1 M.Parsons (W)
M.Barnett ½ – ½ D.Shapland (W)
K.Marsh 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W)
A.Gonzalez 0 – 1 R.Bedford (W)
S.Harrington 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
1½ – 3½

In the final match to be played on the 19th of November, Halifax ‘A’ hosted Huddersfield ‘B’ (this was supposed to be the other way round so we assume there must have been a venue problem for Huddersfield ‘B’. On the night Leo Keely beat Winston Williams on board 1, but this was offset by Bill Somerset and Richard Porter who beat Simon Anscombe and Granville Boot respectively to give the home side a 3 – 2 win. Boards 4 and 5 were drawn.

In our next post we’ll update readers on the postponed match played between Hebden Bridge ‘A and Huddersfield ‘A’ and also catch up with round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship which was played on December 3rd.

There are a whole host of games from this round of fixtures in the game viewer below.

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Nov 132018

Round 1Last Monday night Hebden Bridge Chess Club hosted round 1 of the 2018-19 Calderdale Individual Championship  at the Trades Club. Coverage of this year’s event will be somewhat diminished in stature given that your editor is not participating in this year’s competition. Nevertheless we still intend to bring you a brief summary of the round and the results. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get hold of some of the games as well.

The competition organiser, John Kerrane, sent us this short over view of round 1.

The first round is always the easiest for the stronger players, and toughest for the less experienced, and so it proved on the night, with all the games leading to decisive results, and all going to grade. The nearest to an upset was in the last game to finish in which 16-year-old Toby Dodd gained a piece advantage in an endgame against much higher-graded Richard Porter. However, with both players in serious time trouble, Dodd could not find a winning line, and Porter’s cool head saw him through to a win with only seconds remaining on the clock.

The full list of results of the round and overall standings can be found on the Calderdale Chess League website. The next round, when stronger players will face each other, will take place at the Trades Club on 3rd December.

Below are all the individual results. The game viewer at the end of this post contains Pete Leonard’s game against Adrian Dawson. Many thanks to Pete for sending this through. If any players in this competition would like to have their games published please email PGN files to

1.) N.Bamford 0 – 1 P.Cook
2.) P.Leonard 1 – 0 A.Dawson
3.) T.Dodd 0 – 1 R.Porter
4.) M.Syrett 1 – 0 Z.Sandhu
5.) L.Curry 0 – 1 M.Barnett
6.) P.Gledhill 1 – 0 B.Joyce
7.) J.Edmondson 0 – 1 P.E.Edwards
8.) A.Gonzales 1 – 0 G.Hughes
9.) A.Dermo 0 – 1 C.Edwards
10.) A.Swales 1 – 0 B.J.S.Hadari

Half point bye:

J.Allan, S.Harrington, J.Morgan, M.Parsons

League 2 update

Last night the fourth round of Calderdale League 2 was played and some significant results were played out.

Leaders Brighouse suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Halifax ‘B’. Robert Broadbent won on board 1 against Carlos Velosa but defeats on boards 4 and 5 for Ron Grandage and Tim Pryke against Howard Wood and Daniel Rowley respectively saw the visitors go down 3 – 2.

At the same venue, Halifax ‘C’ went down to Huddersfield C’ by 1½ – 3½ and this result means that Huddersfield, Brighouse and Halifax ‘B’ are now joint top of the league on 6 points. Huddersfield have the best board score.

Belgrave ‘C’ moved on to 4 points when they successfully saw off the Hebden Bridge ‘D’ team 0 – 5. Once more John  Kerrane provides a brief report on this match.

Belgrave ‘C’ arrived with an unusually strong line-up to take on the youngsters of Hebden’s training team, and, once again, experience was the deciding factor. Despite playing well, the junior players made strategic errors which their opponents were able to exploit, although Gwilym Hughes, on board 5, played well to get into a winning position, only to let victory slip from his grasp. The match ended with a 5-0 win to Belgrave ‘C’.

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
T. Dodd 0 – 1 D. Colledge (W)
L. Curry 0 – 1 A. Gonzalez
Z. Sandhu 0 – 1 P. Edwards
J. Edmondson 0 – 1 C. Edwards
G. Hughes 0 -1 S. Harrington
0 – 5

Steve Harrington’s win on board 5 for the visitors means he is now the only remaining player in the league to have played and won in all four rounds so far.

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Nov 022018

Facing up to closest rivals Belgrave 'A' was something of an ordeal for Hebden Bridge 'B' on Monday night. Image: Kevin Jarrett's Flickr photo stream

Facing up to closest rivals Belgrave ‘A’ was something of an ordeal for Hebden Bridge ‘B’ on Monday night. Image: Kevin Jarrett’s Flickr photo stream

It was a night of high tension at the Trades Club on Monday as Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams took part in round 4 of the Calderdale Evening Chess League 1. Both sides were well matched by Belgrave ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘B’ respectively and both matches were decided by fine margins even if the score lines didn’t necessarily reflect that.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were at the top of the table as the only side with a 100% record after three rounds when the evening began. Having already managed to beat strong sides in the form of Huddersfield ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ they now faced their closest rivals, second placed Belgrave ‘A’.

Half term week meant changes for both sides as some regular players were away. For Hebden Bridge their star performers on boards 4 and 5, Sam Swain and Neil Suttie, were absent. In their place came Richard Bedford on board 5 and Chris Bak who played on board 2. On the Belgrave side they were also missing a star performer on the lower boards, Steve Harrington. In his place came Ian Hunter who was inserted on board 1, allowing the rest of the team to move down a board. Both sides then were in fact marginally stronger than they had been for previous rounds.

The players had barely made their opening moves when Ian Hunter and Matthew Parsons agreed a draw on board 1. Ian boldly essayed Matthew’s trade mark opening system with White himself – the ‘Accelerated London’ with 1.d4 and 2.Bf4. Matthew quickly deployed a solid response, equalized and offered a draw on move 12 which Ian accepted. The match would be decided on the bottom four boards where there was a good deal more belligerence.

On board 2, Chris Bak took advantage of a dubious move order employed by John Morgan and was able to pick up an exchange early on in the game with some accurate play. Unfortunately, his precision did not continue as he overlooked a tactical feature a little later on and was compelled to give the exchange back. A relieved John offered a draw at this point and Chris saw no reason to decline.

Now the match would be decided on the bottom three boards and Hebden had cause for concern on all of them. On board 3 there was a ‘Battle of the Daves’ and Dave Patrick and Dave Shapland had a Classical Variation of the Ruy Lopez on the board. Dave Patrick seemed to have the better of the opening and took control of the open e-file. Shapland countered by offering a pawn up in order to activate his pieces. He succeeded in doing this and managed to win back the material at which point Dave Patrick offered him a draw.

The fact that Dave Shapland declined the draw offer had nothing to do with the position on the board. If anything he was still worse and could have accepted gladly. However, by this stage of proceedings it was clear that Hebden were right up against it. Pete Leonard was a pawn down against Malcolm Corbett who had essayed the super-aggressive Four Pawns Attack Variation against Pete’s Alekhine’s Defence. Pete appeared to be in a good deal of trouble. Meanwhile on board 5 Karim Kahn versus Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford was anything but straight forward and both players seemed to be burning their clock time liberally.

Patrick vs. Shapland. It's white to make his 23rd move. He has the advantage but there is only one way to proceed to preserve it. Can you find it? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Patrick vs. Shapland. It’s white to make his 23rd move. He has the advantage but there is only one way to proceed to preserve it. Can you find it? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

So, with the prognosis apparently poor on boards 4 and 5, Dave decided he had to play on and try to win his game against Dave Patrick. Of course matter then immediately got worse for him as he tried to play actively but in doing so opening himself him to a direct attack on his king. Fortunately, Patrick missed his best chance to win the game but instead followed a line that also looked very promising indeed. However, it turned out to be one of those lines that, whilst optically appearing overwhelming, in reality required precise play to capitalize on. Now with just a queen and a minor piece left each (plus six pawns each) Patrick grabbed a Black pawn on b7 and lost all of his advantage. The key position is in the diagram on the right. See if you can find the only move to keep White his advantage. After the pawn grab Shapland was able to equalise the position again and Patrick decided to offer a queen exchange when it became apparent that his opponent was going to win back his pawn. At this point Patrick offered a draw again.

The situation had not improved in any way on the lower boards. In fact, by this point Pete was two pawns down and still under massive pressure and Beaky was getting into hot water on the clock. On this occasion though Dave Shapland had more reasons than just the match situation to help him decide not to accept the draw offer. He’d seen that, after the queen exchange he’d have a bishop to Dave’s knight and could play on and try to win with little risk of losing. So, this is what he did.

With time control looming and all six players running short of time, the ’10.15 crisis’ was the most nerve shredding point of the night. Karim and Beaky were both in desperate trouble with their clocks and were banging out moves in a highly complicated and tense position knowing that one slip could prove fatal. Meanwhile Pete and Malcolm were also short of time and were trying to navigate a head-spinning position. Pete seemed to be fighting back however.

On board 3 Dave Shapland had a critical decision to make on his 36th move. He’d seen a pawn break which looked like his only chance to win but meant temporarily sacrificing a pawn. However, if it all went wrong he’d probably lose. Once more he decided to gamble and put his opponent under pressure. Once more he got lucky as Dave Patrick didn’t play the most resilient defence and slipped into a losing endgame position. Now there was hope for Hebden to at least hold the match.

Incredibly, they did a lot better than draw the match as, during the final phase of the match they somehow managed to win all three remaining games! First of all, Pete swindled Malcolm with a mating attack when Malcolm thought his own attack would connect first. It didn’t, and Pete put Hebden ahead. Then Beaky and Karim got into their second time crisis of the night but by this stage Karim’s attack had completely petered out. He’d had a piece for three pawns but then lost a second piece and then a rook as it all went wrong for him. Hebden had snatched the match from the fire.

The last game to finish was Patrick versus Shapland on board 3 where ultimately Shapland’s bravery was rewarded as he finished off his opponent to seal the deal. It had been an ordeal indeed but Hebden had held out. All five games from this match can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Here is the final match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Belgrave ‘A’
M.Parsons ½ – ½ I.Hunter (W)
C.Bak ½ – ½ J.Morgan (W)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 D.Patrick (W)
P.Leonard 1 – 0 M.Corbett (W)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 K.Khan (W)
4 – 1

Meanwhile, across the room, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ and Huddersfield ‘B’ were engaged in a similarly tough battle although in this case the games ended earlier in the evening. Half-term week hit Hebden ‘C’ hard and they were missing a player. This meant that Huddersfield’s Captain, Alec Ward, got a night off and still collected a point for his team.

This proved to be decisive as across the remaining four boards the honours were evenly shared. Hebden’s Captain, Martin Syrett, lost out to Granville boot on board 2 but Paul Gledhill equalised the score with a win on board 3. Board 4 was drawn and this left Andy Leatherbarrow in the envious position of having to win on board 1 against David Gray to level the match. Hard as he tried this never appeared to be likely and indeed Gray held firm and a draw was brokered giving Huddersfield a 2 – 3 win.

Here are the individual results from that match:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’
A.Leatherbarrow 0 – 0 D.Gray (W)
M.Syrett 0 – 1 G.Boot (W)
P.Gledhill 1 – 0 K.Stanczyk (W)
N.Bamford 0 – 0 C.Haigh (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 A.Ward (W)
2 – 3

Elsewhere in the League, Hebden Bridge ‘A’s match against Huddersfield ‘A’ at the Golden Lion was postponed at the visiting team’s request and will be rearranged for either the 12th or the 26th of November and at the Lee Mount Club, Halifax ‘A’ smashed Belgrave ‘B’ 5 – 0.

After 4 rounds of play (for everyone except the two sides mentioned above) Hebden ‘B’ remain top of the league with 8 points. They’ve increased their lead over Belgrave ‘A’ who, despite their loss to the leaders stay in second place with 5 points. After that there is something of a bottle neck with Halifax ‘A’, Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ all on 4 points. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ and Huddersfield ‘A’ have 2 points and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ languish at the foot of the table with 1 point but with that match against Huddersfield ‘A’ in hand.

League 2

We’ve been neglecting League 2 on this website. They have now played three rounds of fixtures, the most recent being on the 22nd of October. In this round Brighouse continued their perfect start to the season with a narrow 3 – 2 over Huddersfield ‘C’. Steve Westmoreland scored an excellent win against Robert Broadbent on board 1 for the visitors and another Robert, Sutcliffe, also won on board 3. However, wins for Paul Whitehouse, Adrian Dawson and Tim Pryke meant that Brighouse took the match.

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ were missing two players for their match with Halifax ‘C’ (who only brought four players themselves) but they still managed to get their first game point on the board as Zora Sandhu defeated Barry Wadsworth on board 1. Congratulations to Zora for this excellent win. Let’s hope many more are to follow. Below is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Halifax ‘C’
Z.Sandhu 1 – 0 B.Wadsworth (W)
A.Dermo 0 – 1 P.Stowe (W)
J.Edmundson 0 – 1 J.Nicholson (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 E.Fynn (W)
1 – 3

Finally, Belgrave ‘C’ lost to Halifax ‘B’ 2 – 3 despite Halifax only having four players. Carlos Velosa, Pete Moss and Daniel Rowley all won their games with (that man again!) Steve Harrington scoring the only point aside from the default for the home team against Howard Wood.

Brighouse stay top with 6 points having taken sole lead by beating Huddersfield ‘C’. They and Halifax ‘B’ are on 4 points. Belgrave ‘C’ and Halifax ‘C’ have 2 points and Hebden Bridge ‘D’ have yet to score a match point but have at least now scored a board win.

Calderdale Individual Championship

Next week, on Bonfire night, the first round of the Calderdale Individual Championship will take place at the Trades Club. All Calderdale players are welcome, indeed encouraged, to enter. If you have not yet entered and wish to do so please contact John Kerrane either by email at or telephone on 01422 842 426. Entries close on Sunday evening so get moving if you’ve not signed up yet!

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Oct 302018

Swales vs. Bedford. With the Black king ambling about in the centre of the board it is little wonder that White can win the game. The solution is not straightforward though. Can you find the winning idea for White? Answer in the game viewer at the end of the post.

Swales vs. Bedford. With the Black king ambling about in the centre of the board it is little wonder that White can win the game. The solution is not straightforward though. Can you find the winning idea for White? Answer in the game viewer at the end of the post.

The third round of Calderdale League 1 fixtures took place on the 15th of October and, with all three Hebden Bridge teams in action at the Trades Club there was plenty of action to kibitz! Let’s dive straight in and report on these matches.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ have had a very tough start to the season. They still have at their core the three players who have done the most to secure them the last four league titles: Andrew Clarkson, Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook. However, their lower boards are weaker this season than they have been in recent years and this is causing them some difficulties for the moment. In both their first two matches they lost on boards four and five. Combined with one other board loss in each match they have been condemned to back to back defeats for the first time in very long time – albeit to two strong sides in the form of Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’.

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ probably expected to be somewhere near the foot of the table this season, and indeed, they have managed just a drawn match against Belgrave ‘B’ from their first two rounds. However, this return still saw them sitting above their ‘A’ team before they faced them at the Trades Club last week.

On the night Hebden ‘A’ had to contend without Phil Cook amongst their number. This meant that whilst they had Andrew Clarkson and Martin Hamer on boards 1 and 2, Andy Swales was promoted to board 3, Pete Dickinson to board 4 and Terry Sullivan was drafted in to play on board 5 for the evening. Would this be enough to gain a result from their ‘C’ team?

Hebden ‘C’ welcomed their captain Martin Syrett into their line up for the first time this season. He played below Andy Leatherbarrow on board 2. Richard Bedford also made his first appearance of the season on board 3 while Paul Gledhill played board 4 and Neil Bamford board 5. All of this meant that, while Hebden ‘A’ looked favorites on the top 2 boards, the other three appeared to be very evenly matched.

As it turned out the form books didn’t lie on this occasion. The first game to finish was the board 2 ‘Battle of the Martins’. This was over in relatively short order as Martyn Hamer met Martin Syrett’s King’s Indian Defence with a contemporary treatment which saw him expand aggressively with White on the king’s side. Martin Syrett never really managed to get any counterplay on the queen’s side, or even to get his queen’s bishop and queen’s rook into the game and he made a tactical blunder on move 24 which would see him lose a piece. He resigned without going any further.

The other four games were played out over a greater part of the evening and were closely contested. On board 5 Neil Bamford and Terry Sullivan played out an endgame where Neil always seemed to have a slight edge. He managed to convert this into a full point and equalise the match score.

Not long after that however, Andrew Clarkson was victorious in the board 1 ‘Battle of the Andrews’ to put the ‘A’ team back in front. This game saw an old and complicated variation of the Scotch Game appear on the board. As Andrew Clarkson mentions in his notes to the game (published in the game viewer at the end of this article) the moves followed the original stem game of the so-called Blumenfeld Attack (characterised by 6.Nb5!?) which was first played by Benjamin Blumenfeld in 1903!

For the first ten moves or so Andy Leatherbarrow seemed to be navigating the complexities well but it seems that Black has the tougher practical challenge in this line and, slowly but surely, his position began to deteriorate. However, Andrew Clarkson then played a few inaccurate moves himself and allowed his opponent to coordinate somewhat before a couple of dodgy moves in succession cost Andy the game.

Hebden ‘C’ drew level once again when Richard Bedford saw off the spirited challenge of Andy Swales on board 3. In some sort of Pseudo Catalan position, Andy was the first to go astray when he appears to have miscalculated a tactical sequence which saw Richard grab a pawn. In exchange for that pawn however Andy got a half open h-file to work with and he quickly went about trying to exploit this by rearranging his fianchettoed bishop to f3 and put his king on g2 in its place. Then, another confusing tactical sequence caused a further material imbalance as Richard gave back his extra pawn but won a knight and bishop for one of Andy’s rooks.

Dickinson vs Gledhill. Black to move. Can you find the correct winning method? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Dickinson vs Gledhill. Black to move. Can you find the correct winning method? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Further excitement was to follow as Andy managed to drive Richard’s king into the open board on e4! The situation seemed most perilous, but this point of the game was reached with both players in time trouble and Andy missed a couple of winning continuations just before and then again just after the time control. (Take a look at the game position top right and see if you can find the most clinical finish for White. The solution is in the game viewer at the end of this post.) Finally, the game simplified and Beaky was able to convert the ending. It was tough luck on Andy who has played some interesting and decent chess for his new team so far this season but has yet to show any results for it.

Finally, the board 4 match-up between Pete Dickinson and Paul Gledhill was the point on which the match would pivot. By the time the other games had finished these two had reached a same coloured bishops and pawns ending in which Paul had an extra pawn. It looked for all the world like Paul would win the match for Hebden Bridge ‘C’ and heap more misery on their ‘A’ team, but as the evening draw to a close, Paul was unable to find the winning method (can you do better in the second diagram on the right?) and agreed to a draw which left honours even between the two sides.

Here is the final match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
A.Leatherbarrow 0 – 1 A.Clarkson (W)
M.Syrett 0 – 1 M.Hamer (W)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 A.Swales (W)
P.Gledhill ½ – ½ P.Dickinson (W)
N.Bamford 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (W)
2½ – 2½

Meanwhile, on the next row of tables, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were taking on Huddersfield ‘A’. Most unusually for the Calderdale League, Hebden ‘B’ were the only team with a 100% record after two rounds. Huddersfield meanwhile had suffered a disaster at the hands of their ‘B’ team before pretty much getting a walk over against Halifax ‘A’ at home. The visitors brought a strong side with them though as Messrs Eagleton, Keddie, Westmoreland, Sykes and Tooley looked like they would give the home side a stern test.

The first game to finish was the board 1 clash between Greg Eagleton and Matthew Parsons. These are two of the strongest players in the league and, as you might expect, a fair degree psychology came into play from the very beginning of the game. For a start, Greg played 1.e4 which is certainly not his regular habit and this suggested to Matthew that his opponent must have prepared something to play against his Caro-Kann Defence. Indeed, Greg had prepared something, but Matthew dodged this prep by opting to take a road less travelled in the form of 4…Nf6 (instead of 4…Bf5 or 4…Nd7 which are more frequently seen and must have been what Greg had prepared for.) With the psychology now over, the two played in a very respectful fashion and agreed to peace terms as early as move 19 with the position level.

The other four games in the match went on deep into the evening and were closely contested although play was remarkably ponderous. No better indication of this was that the longest game of the match was concluded on move 37, yet all four of them finished after 10pm.  This also meant that they finished in a relatively short time frame in the run up to the time control at 10.15.

First to finish was the game between Nick Sykes and Sam Swain on board 4. The queens came off the board as early as move 7 but that in no way led to an arid and featureless position. Sam found himself saddled with an isolated e-pawn and this was the basis for Nick’s play. It looked like was making in-roads to the Black position but Sam defended resourcefully until, somewhere around move 20, Nick misjudged a complicated tactical melee, lost a piece and resigned without continuing any further.

On board 3, Pete Leonard and Steve Westmoreland also contested an English Opening which then transposed into a sort of Neo-Grunfeld where White plays g3 and fianchettos his king’s bishop. This was a tense game with both players using plenty of time to reach move 20. With both sets of knights off the board, Pete seemed to manage to get his bishops and rooks coordinated more swiftly and managed to grab a pawn before pushing his now passed d-pawn up the board.

Both players made some inaccurate moves in the time scramble but it was Steve who made the last mistake as he grabbed an exchange that enabled Pete’s d and e-pawns to swap files and gallop towards the back rank. Once the players had agreed that time control had been reached Steve saw that his position was lost and resigned. Hebden Now had the match hand with 2½ points.

Neil Suttie pushed them over the line shortly afterwards when he agreed to a draw with Dave Tooley in what was another tense and complicated struggle. Both players were down to almost no time on their clocks with moves still to make to get to the haven of time control when they decided to agree to a draw.

Finally, Dave Shapland sealed the home side’s victory when he beat Dave Keddie on board 2. This one was another queenless middle game from a 2.c3 variation of the Sicilian Defence. The Hebden player managed to equalise early in the game, created a weakness in the White camp in the form of doubled, isolated f-pawns and then with the tension building up in the centre of the board, found a way to win a pawn. The game simplified down to a rook and bishop (for white) against Black’s rook and knight plus an extra pawn. Objectively it might have been possible for Dave Keddie to hold it but it was very tricky as Shapland’s knight had several wonderful outposts available to it from which it could not be opposed.

Finally, Keddie decided to try and defend through active counter play. It was worth a try but Shapland manage to calculate through the variations, ran his king up the board and finally forced the win with his opponent’s monarch penned in on a1.

This concluded a fine win for Hebden. Here is the final match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
M.Parsons ½ – ½ G.Eagleton
D.Shapland 1 – 0 D.Keddie
P.Leonard 1 – 0 S.Westmoreland
S.Swain 1 – 0 N.Sykes
N.Suttie ½ – ½ D.Tooley
4 – 1

You can find nine of the games from these two matches in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Last night League 1 teams play their fourth round and so we’ll report on those matches, plus the intervening round of League 2 fixtures later this week.

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Oct 122018

There were no half measures at the Golden Lion on Monday night as all five games ended decisively between Hebden Bridge 'A' and Hebden Bridge 'B'. Photo credit: Kevin Harber (Flickr)

There were no half measures at the Golden Lion on Monday night as all five games ended decisively between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Photo credit: Kevin Harber (Flickr)

As mentioned in last week’s post the second of six (!!) Hebden Bridge derby matches in League 1 this season was postponed from last week until Monday evening. It was worth the wait though as no quarter was asked for and none was given as all five boards in the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’ match saw a decisive result and some interesting and enterprising chess was played.

Of course, the fixture was only paying lip service towards being a real derby as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are based in Todmorden at the Golden Lion. Last season Golden Lion had been beaten at home by the same opponents. It was the only match they lost as they clinched their fourth successive title. Hebden Bridge finished four points behind them in second place. It would be reasonable to assume then that these two sides should be in the mix for the title race again this season.

This time around the situation was somewhat different. Hebden bridge ‘B’ had started their season with a resounding win against their ‘C’ team while Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had lost out to Halifax ‘A’. However, the Todmorden-based team still sported a very strong line up with the spine of their quadruple title winning side all present. Andrew Clarkson was on board 1, Martyn Hamer on 2 and Phil Cook on 3. They were joined be Andrew Swales and Pete Dickinson. Swales is new to the team this season, but Dickinson played some games on board 5 last year and performed well.

Hebden ‘B’ meanwhile, whilst not having the same ordnance on all the top boards, certainly had strength in depth. Matthew Parsons played on board 1, Dave Shapland on 2, Pete Leonard on 3, Sam Swain on 4 and Neil Suttie on 5. This meant that the ‘B’ team were stronger on paper on the bottom two boards, weaker on boards 2 and 3 and then slightly stronger again on the top board. If the over the board encounters were as finely matched as it looked in the grading of the players then it was going to be a tight match.

And so it proved to be. All the games continued well into the second half of the evening and the results on all four boards were by no means pre-ordained. It seemed that Hebden ‘B’ would need to win at least one of the bottom two boards. In the end they won both. In the first result of the night, Neil Suttie built up methodically and sensibly against Pete Dickinson’s Philidor Defence. He managed to force Pete’s pieces into disharmony and was then able to take advantage of that with a nice combination starting with 20.Ng5. After Black’s response 20…Rg6 see if you can spot Neil’s continuation in the diagram on the right. After this the game drew to a swift conclusion.

Sam followed up on Neil’s good work with a slightly different sort of win. A highly complicated Chigorin System of the Ruy Lopez appeared on the board. Andy seemed to be making some progress with Black but then, just as had happened on board 5, his pieces seemed to somehow get in each other’s way whilst Sam’s were operating harmoniously. This led first of all to White winning a pawn and then, a little later, Andy was compelled to give up the exchange to prevent his queen from getting trapped. After that Sam was always in control even thought the complications persisted for a while longer. Finally, Sam forced simplifications and Andy resigned when he made a blunder in what was already a lost position.

It was 0 – 2 to Hebden ‘B’, and it seemed that they needed the buffer for by the time Sam had won his game, Pete Leonard had a losing rook and pawn ending on the board against Phil Cook and Dave Shapland, just like Andy and Pete before him, gotten his pieces in a tangle and was forced to give up his queen for a rook and bishop. Unlike Andy and Pete though he did have some counter play and a very resilient looking defensive position.

This all meant that the result on board 1 was absolutely critical to the outcome of the match result. Andrew had ventured a pseudo King’s Indian position against Matthew’s inevitable London System. This way of approaching the London has a decent reputation and indeed Andrew appeared to be holding his own only for Matthew to slowly out play him and exchange one type of advantage for another until he finally sealed it in a rook and pawn ending. By this time Pete had lost and Dave was only writhing in agony before Martyn dealt his death-blow but the result was no longer in doubt. Hebden ‘B’ had managed to beat the title holders away for a second successive season.

Here is the match card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
A.Clarkson 0 – 1 M.Parsons (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 D.Shapland (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 P.Leonard (W)
A.Swales 0 – 1 S.Swain (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
2 – 3

All the games from the match can be found in the game viewer below. Thanks to Andrew Clarkson and Matthew Parsons who have both annotated their game from Monday night.

This result means that Hebden Bridge ‘B’ are the only team with a 100% record after just two rounds! A most unlikely state of affairs. Belgrave ‘A’ are next in the table on 3 points. Then come Belgrave ‘B’, Huddersfield ‘B’, Halifax ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘A’ on 2. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ have 1 point and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are yet to get off the mark.

Next week the bottom two teams will play the last of the Hebden Bridge derby matched before Christmas while the top team host Huddersfield ‘A’ in what promises to be another tight match. Belgrave ‘A’ vs Halifax ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘B’ vs Huddersfield ‘B’ completes the fixtures.

League 2

This week also saw a second round of fixtures played in League 2. In this Belgrave ‘C’ crushed Halifax ‘C’ 1 – 4 with ‘Super’ Steve Harrington registering his fourth win out of four in both leagues so far this season. Chris Edwards and Paul Jacobs also won their games while boards 1 and 2 were drawn.

At the Trades Club Brighouse went one point better to whitewash Hebden Bridge ‘D’s line up of juniors and Huddersfield ‘C’ registered a walk over when Halifax ‘B’ defaulted their match.

All of this means that the new outfit, Huddersfield ‘C’ and the old stagers, Brighouse sit atop the League with 4 points. Belgrave ‘C’ and Halifax ‘B’ have 2 points and Halifax ‘C’ and Hebden Bridge ‘D’ have no points.

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Oct 072018

The Chinese won both the Open and Women's sections in Batumi. A rare and outstanding achievement.

The Chinese won both the Open and Women’s sections in Batumi. A rare and outstanding achievement.

Your editor is fresh back from a short holiday and, as you might expect, there is plenty to catch up on. This week we’ll get an update on Round 1 of the Calderdale Evening League 2 matches which took place last week and also the second round of League 1 matches that (mostly!) took place this week.

Before all of that though it would be most remiss not to reflect on the chess event that has been dominating coverage on all the big chess news sites for the last two weeks. What do you mean ‘Which event?’ Surely you’ve noticed that the biggest (literally) chess event in the world has been taking place in Batumi, Georgia. Yes, I mean the chess Olympiad.

Hillarp Persson vs. Laurusas. White to move. Black has just played Qf1 threatening to pick up the bishop after Qg2+ next. Can you see how the legendary attacker Tiger Hillarp Persson concluded the game with White here.

Hillarp Persson vs. Laurusas. White to move. Black has just played Qf1 threatening to pick up the bishop after Qg2+ next. Can you see how the legendary attacker Tiger Hillarp Persson concluded the game with White here.

For the past three editions of this great event, which is a real personal favorite of mine, I’ve been involved with running the Fantasy Chess Olympiad. Along with Matty Webb who did all the clever web development work, we’ve had a great time entertaining a global audience and providing them with an opportunity to engage with the Olympiad in a new and interesting way. Sadly, this time around, we both concluded some months ago that neither of us had the time or the energy to run it again. We hope it will make a return for the 2020 edition.

In some ways, not having the FCO to worry about over the last two weeks has left me with more time to enjoy the event itself. It has been extremely well covered in all the usual places and, for a change, England have actually performed creditably well.  The team this time consisted of Michael Adams, Luke McShane, David Howell, Gawain Jones and Nick Pert (Nigel Short was busy making a monkey of himself as a candidate for the FIDE presidency which is too long and tawdry a tail to discuss in any more detail here). After 9 of the 10 rounds England had managed to manouevre themselves into a three way share of third place and were genuine medal contenders having lost only one match to Azerbaijan at that stage.

Haast vs. Kosteniuk. Black to play. Former Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk finished off her opponent her in elegant style. The firs move is fairly obvious but can you see the whole idea?

Haast vs. Kosteniuk. Black to play. Former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk finished off her opponent her in elegant style. The firs move is fairly obvious but can you see the whole idea?

Unfortunately, they were then drawn against the Russians in round 10 and, despite the fact that the Russian line up looked marginally less frightening than it might have done (no Grischuk or Svidler), they still managed to beat our heroes fairly convincingly with Vladimir Kramnik on board 3 (!!!) downing David Howell in the only decisive game of the match. However, after this set back, England picked themselves up and managed to crush Kazakhstan to finish the event in fifth place. This is the best result for England at an Olympiad for over 20 years so congratulations to them.

In the end the Chinese won both the Open and Women’s sections following a dramatic final round that saw the infamous Sonneborn-Berger tie break invoked. this effectively meant that the final result wasn’t known for quite some time after all the top teams had finished as the results of their earlier opponents was also needed in order to calculate the tie break scores.

I might well return to the Olympiad briefly in my next post but for now, I’d like to share a couple of interesting positions that caught my attention. These are both featured on the right. See if you can find the winning continuations in both situations. The solutions are given (along with the games in full) in the game viewer at the bottom of this post.

Now, back to more local affairs…

Calderdale League 2

The first round of League 2 fixtures this season took place on Monday 24th of September and there was a very welcome last-minute surprise in the form of a Huddersfield ‘C’ team joining the league. This brought the total number of teams up to six and meant that one team would not need to take a bye in each round of fixtures. As it was our own ‘D’ team scheduled not to play in round 1 Huddersfield’s new arrivals were particularly welcome and travelled to the Trades Club to take on our juniors (plus John Kerrane!)

Huddersfield brought along a team with some new faces in it alongside some seasoned veterans. It looked like the visitors would be favorites on paper and so it proved over the board as they inflicted a whitewash on the home side. Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Huddersfield ‘C’
J.Kerrane 0 – 1 J.Lavan (W)
T.Dodd 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe (W)
Z.Sandhu 0 – 1 C.Bond (W)
L.Curry 0 – 1 M.Rojinsky (W)
J.Edmondson 0 – 1 P.Czerwinski (W)
0 – 5

Elsewhere in League 2, Brighouse dispatched Belgrave ‘C’ at the Belgrave Club with Robert Broadbent, Nick Hudson and Adrian Dawson all scoring wins for the visitors. Steve Harrington managed an excellent consolation point against Paul Whitehouse on board 3 and the bottom board was drawn. The local Halifax derby was only contested on four boards with the ‘B’ team sweeping aside the ‘C’ team on all of those to win the match 4 – 0.

These results see the new Huddersfield ‘C’ outfit go top of the table with Halifax ‘B’ and Brighouse in hot pursuit. One would expect these three teams to be duking it out right through the season.

Calderdale League 1

This week the second round of League 1 fixtures took place. But, before we dive into those it’s worth mentioning that the Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’ match, which was postponed from round 1, also took place on the 24th of September and resulted in a surprising and resounding defeat for the senior side by 4 – 1. The lower rated players in the ‘B’ team on boards 3, 4 and 5 all managed wins whilst on the top two boards, where the match ups were more even, the games were drawn.

This week though, Huddersfield ‘A’ bounced straight back on Wednesday night when they fielded a much stronger team against a Halifax ‘A’ side who were, conversely, far weaker than they had been against Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (@Golden Lion) in the first round. Even though Huddersfield defaulted their fifth board, they won on three of the others as Greg Eagleton, Mitchell Burke and Nick Sykes beat Richard Porter, Vivienne Webster and Pete Moss respectively. Nick has sent us his game which you will also find in the viewer at the end of this post.

By turns, Huddersfield ‘B’, having bagged that excellent derby win were soundly thrashed by Belgrave ‘A’ who had only managed a draw in their own derby match in the first round of fixtures. John Morgan on board 1, Karim Khan on board 4 and Steve Harrington (Again! He’s 3/3 for the season so far against higher rated opponents) on board 5 all won. On boards 2 and 4 Huddersfield managed to hold draws against higher rated opponents.

This just leaves us with Hebden Bridge ‘C’s match against Belgrave ‘B’ to report on. These two teams, along with Huddersfield ‘B’, appear to be the most likely candidates for relegation this season and so, seeing as Huddersfield ‘B’ had already won a match and Belgrave ‘B’ drawn one, it felt imperative that Hebden get off the mark. The match was pretty tight by all accounts. John Kerrane summarises proceedings for us below:

The two teams looked evenly matched on paper, and so it turned out on the night. Neil Bamford’s win for Hebden Bridge after a long endgame on board 4 was matched by Dave Colledge’s on board 5 for Belgrave. The other three games were drawn, leaving the final score level.

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Belgrave ‘B’
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½  G.Farrar
P.Gledhill ½ – ½ M.Barnett
J.Kerrane ½ – ½  K.Marsh
N.Bamford 1 – 0 L.Johnson
T.Sullivan 0 – 1 D.Colledge
2½ – 2½

The big clash between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ will take place at the Golden Lion on Monday night as the venue was not available for the match to be played last Monday. Should Hebden ‘A’ win that match then there would be no teams in the league with a 100% record after just two matches! It looks like this season could become very interesting indeed.

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Sep 212018

They're away! It all began again in the Calderdale Evening Chess League on Monday night. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Tomas' Flickr photostream

They’re away! It all began again in the Calderdale Evening Chess League on Monday night. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Tomas’ Flickr photostream

On Monday night the Calderdale Evening Chess League started up again as a round of League 1 fixtures were played.

As is always the case where any club has two or more teams in a division they are drawn to play each other in the first fixture of the year to ensure there can be no hint of collusion later in the season. This season Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and Belgrave all have two teams. Hebden Bridge actually have three with the team based at the Golden Lion now part of the club and named Hebden Bridge ‘A’.

As Golden Lion were last season’s champions (their fourth title in succession which is a feat only ever bettered by Courier ‘A’ who won the Anderson Trophy five successive times between 1986-87 and 1990-91) let’s start with them.

At the core of the Golden Lion team is the same spine that has helped them to those last four league titles, Martyn Hamer, Andrew Clarkson and Phil Cook. This year though their top scorer from last season, Dave Shapland, has based himself back at the Trades Club as Captain of Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and David Innes and Marc Turu, who played on board five between them for most of last season, have both moved on. In their stead came Andrew Swales and Jon-Paul Ellis who occupied the bottom two boards as they hosted Halifax ‘A’.

Halifax have had a turbulent few seasons themselves. They used to have a trio of super strong players on the top three boards themselves but Winston Williams and Darwin Ursal were both missing last season and the team felt their loss keenly. However, for this first match of the season, Winston was back on board 1 and with Bill Somerset on board 2, Richard Porter on 3, Carlos Velosa on 4 and Sam Scurfield on 5, Halifax had a stronger line up than they’d managed to put out at any point in 2017-18.

Porter vs. Cook. White to move.

Porter vs. Cook. White to move.

It was always likely to be a tall order for Hebden ‘A’ on the lower boards and they weren’t helped when JP lost his game quickly and somewhat noisily. Unfortunately, this caused some distraction to other players on both sides and Andrew Swales lost his game shortly afterwards.

This put the top three Hebden ‘A’ players under a great deal of pressure and the remaining games went on long into the night. They could very well have pulled it off. Martyn managed to beat Winston, Andrew had Bill on the rack for significant chunks of the evening only for his adversary to defend himself stoutly and resourcefully to hold the balance and a draw.

This just left Phil cook and Richard Porter to decide the match. If Phil could win the match would be tied. Nay other result and Halifax would steal the win. Phil was a piece and a pawn up when he made time control and all looked well but it seems he may have drifted back into time trouble for he made a most uncharacteristic blunder on move 41 and this basically cost him the game on the spot as Richard spotted a nice tactic. See if you can find it in the position on the right.

The games from the top three boards can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. Here is the final match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (@Golden Lion) vs. Halifax ‘A’
M.Hamer 1 – 0 W.Williams (W)
A.Clarkson ½ – ½ B.Somerset (W)
P.Cook 0 – 1 R.Porter (W)
A.Swales 0 – 1 C.Velosa (W)
JP.Ellis 0 – 1 S.Scurfield (W)
1½ – 3½

So, an early season set back for the reigning champions that will give the other teams in the League this year hope of stealing their crown. There is a long, long way to go though.

Meanwhile at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were playing their derby match against Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Hebden ‘B’ welcomed back the strongest player in the league (on paper at least) in the form of Matthew Parsons. Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard, Sam Swain and Neil Suttie made up their formation.

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ had the luxury of having more players than they needed and so their Captain, Martin Syrett generously sat the match out to enable others to play. The ‘C’ team lined up with Andy Leatherbarrow, Neil Bamford, John Kerrane, Terry Sullivan and Luca Curry. With significant differences in the players ratings on all the boards this match always looked like it would be a tough challenge for the ‘C’s but they’ve been known to cause derby upsets before and they put up spirited resistance before succumbing on this occasion.

Leatherbarrow vs. Parsons. Black to play

Leatherbarrow vs. Parsons. Black to play

The first game to finish saw Dave Shapland take advantage of some early season rustiness on Neil Bamford’s part to win swiftly but the other games all went on much, much longer. On board 3, the lack of ‘match fitness’ (if you can call it that!) showed itself even earlier as Pete Leonard confused two different variations of the Grunfeld Defence and lost a pawn as early as move 6. Sometimes, this kind of thing can be overcome but John Kerrane maintained his material and restricted Pete’s counter play for quite a long time. Later in the game he gave Pete a glimmer of hope before finding the right way to close out the game with some good technical play. The match was level.

Sadly, that was as close as the ‘C’ team got. First, Matthew sealed a fine win with the King’s Indian Defence by finding a very smart pretty tactic. See if you can spot it in the diagram on the right. Then Sam saw off Terry in the endgame before Neil did much the same against Luca although he had held a material advantage for a significant chunk of the evening.

All five games from this match are in the viewer at the end of this post. Here are the final results:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
M.Parsons 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 J.Kerrane (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (W)
N.Suttie 1 – 0 L.Curry (W)
4 – 1

The third match to take place on Monday night was the one between Belgrave ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘B’. Again, on paper this looked like it should have been straight forward for the home team, but, playing Black and with a rating advantage on every board but board 5, they struggled greatly.

Gordon Farrar continued his strong recent form by holding Ian Hunter to a draw on board 1. New recruit Keith Marsh and Les Johnson did the same to Dave Patrick and Malcolm Corbett respectively. Meanwhile, the only player in the ‘A’ team line up to have a lower rating than his opponent (Steve Harrington against Angel Gonzales) won his game and this left Karim Khan with the task of holding Dave Colledge to a draw to squeeze out a win for Belgrave ‘A’. Sadly he was unable to manage it and Dave won the last game of the night to finish as the ‘B’ team took a very creditable draw indeed.

On Wednesday night Huddersfields ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams were due to meet but (perhaps unsurprisingly given their recent history) the fixture was postponed until next week. We will try and bring you that result then.

League 2 starts next week and the good news is that Huddersfield have been able to belatedly enter a ‘C’ team to the League which means that there won’t need to be a team taking a bye in each round of matches. Very welcome news that and so Hebden Bridge ‘D’ will host Huddersfield ‘C’ next week.

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