On the 21st of January the ninth round of Calderdale League 1 fixtures were played and it turned to be a dramatic night which may yet determine the outcome of the title race this season.
The pick of the matches was undoubtedly the return match between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’. In the second round of the season the ‘B’ team had visited the Golden Lion and dispatched the league champions in a closely fought contest 2 – 3. That had been the beginning of a terrible run of form for the ‘A’ team which saw them lose five and draw just one of their opening six fixtures. Since then however they have been resurgent and successfully strung together three back to back wins.
Hebden ‘B’ meanwhile had been cruising unbeaten atop the table following the derby match but were then brought back to earth with a bump when they lost to Halifax ‘A’ right before Christmas. They now had Belgrave ‘A’ breathing down their necks just a point behind them.
On the night the ‘A’ team were without their top scorer, Martyn Hamer (who was making his annual pilgrimage to the Gibraltar Chess Festival) but had replaced him with Pete Mulleady, who made his first appearance of the season. Regulars, Andrew Clarkson, Phil Cook and Andy Swales were joined by another new comer, Steve Whitehead.
Hebden ‘B’ were missing their top board Matthew Parsons and so this meant that Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard and Sam Swain all had to play up a board while John Allan slotted in on board 4 and Neil Suttie played board 5. Thus the ‘B’s were out graded on the top three boards but had rating advantages on the bottom two. The scene was set for a tense encounter.
First to finish was board 5 where Neil ventured his Budapest Gambit against Andy’s 1.d4 2.c4 set up. This opening has served Neil well once already this season and he seemed to be going well again until Andy spotted a nice tactical idea sacrificing a piece to launch a mating attack. Neil overlooked a key facet of the idea and played inaccurately. With mate in one coming he resigned, but he’d missed a defence that could have allowed him to keep the material with very good winning chances. A second successive defeat for Neil and an excellent result for Andy. The ‘A’ team were in the lead.
Matters soon got worse for the league leaders as Phil Cook took down Sam Swain. Sam’s had an excellent season this year but Phil out played him after Sam allowed the pawns in front of his king to be stripped away and then took his hapless monarch on a walk to g6! There was no way for Phil to capitalise on this immediately but he patiently built up a second wave to his attack re-routing his queen’s knight from c3 to e8 to deliver the death blow.
Not long after this John Allan and Steve Whitehead agreed on a draw in a position where, if anything, Steve held the advantage. This left the ‘B’ team needing to cause upsets on the top two boards to tie the match.
They managed an upset on one of them at least as Andrew Clarkson over estimated his chances in an endgame and then made a most uncharacteristic blunder against Dave Shapland to find himself getting mated or losing a rook.
In the last game of the match Pete Leonard found himself over extended in the centre against Pete Mulleady. Ultimately Leonard couldn’t maintain his advanced pawn on e4 and lost it. Mulleady simplified and won a second pawn after which his passed d-pawn sealed the deal.
So, Hebden ‘A’ beat their league topping colleagues and subjected them to a second defeat in three matches whilst they march on to their fourth straight win. Here’s the match card. All the games are given in the game viewer at the end of this article.
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
D.Shapland 1 – 0 A.Clarkson (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 P.Mulleady (W)
S.Swain 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
J.Allan ½ – ½ S.Whitehead (W)
N.Suttie 0 – 1 A.Swales (W)
1½ – 3½
Hebden ‘B’s defeat opened the door for Belgrave ‘A’ who were hosting Huddersfield ‘B’ at the Belgrave Club in Halifax. The home side out rated their opponents on every board and ran out easy victors as John Morgan on board 1, Richard Bowman on board 4 and Karim Khan on board 5, all won their games. The other two boards were drawn giving Belgrave a convincing 4 – 1 victory. They now leapfrog Hebden ‘B’ to go top by a single point.
Also at Belgrave, was the match between Belgrave ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Hebden were bottom of the league with three drawn matches and no wins to their name. Belgrave were two points above them and so this really represented a chance for Hebden to try and haul themselves back from the brink of relegation.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The top and bottom boards were drawn and Martin Syrett continued his rich run of form with a win over Mike Barnett on board 2 but Paul Gledhill and Neil Bamford each went down to Les Johnson and Dave Colledge respectively. The final result was yet another 3 – 2 defeat for the ‘C’ team. Here’s the scorecard:
Belgrave ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
G.Farrar ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow
M.Barnett 0 – 1 M.Syrett
L.Johnson 1 – 0 P.Gledhill
D.Colledge 1 – 0 N.Bamford
A.Gonzalez ½ – ½ J.Kerrane
3 – 2
The final match of the round saw Halifax ‘A’ hosting Huddersfield ‘A’. Halifax, having lost to Hebden Bridge ‘A’ the previous week, were now probably out of contention for the title but still sitting comfortably in third place. Meanwhile, Huddersfield had been struggling to gather enough players all season and were not yet out of danger of the drop. The visitors were only able to muster four players again and, whilst the remaining boards were closely fought the default point proved to be crucial. Bill Somerset drew with Greg Eagleton, Richard Porter drew with Nick Sykes and Sam Scurfield drew with A.Hossain but Carlos Velosa beat Nigel Hepworth on board 3 to give the home team a 3½ – 1½ win.
Calderdale League 2
We’ve neglected League 2 on this website so it’s high time we had an update on this too. There were two rounds of fixtures played on the 14th and the 28th of January.
Halifax ‘B’ continue to top the table here as they beat Huddersfield ‘C’ and then Belgrave ‘C’ at home. Both matches were close. In the first against Huddersfield it’s almost a miracle that the match was played at all as Halifax only had three players and Huddersfield four! With the bottom board scratched the hosts managed to collect two and a half from the top three board to edge the match by 2½ – 1½.
Against Belgrave, it was also a close-run thing but the league leaders again did just enough. This time each team had five players and wins by Scott Gornall over Paul Edwards on board 2 and Daniel Rowley over Paul Jacobs on board 5 were enough to see them home as they drew on boards 1 and 4 and were defeated on board 3 where Chris Edwards scored for the visitors against Pete Moss.
Brighouse continue to pursue Halifax in second place and they lie just two points behind them after two victories which contrast sharply with Halifax’s troubled progress. First, they visited Hebden Bridge ‘D’ on the 14th of January, and won 0 – 5. Then on the 28th they travelled to Huddersfield where they also dispatched a four-man team 0 – 5. They play next on February the 18th at home against Halifax ‘B’ in what looks like it could be the title decider.
Belgrave ‘C’ and Halifax ‘C’ played their round 7 match a week early on January the 7th. The home team won on the top three boards to take the match 3½ – 1½.
Halifax ‘C’ then went on to beat Hebden Bridge ‘D’ by the same score in round 8 as John Kerrane managed to beat Barry Wadsworth on board 1 and Zora Sandhu held a draw against Pete Stowe.
All of this leaves Halifax ‘B’ top on 14 points, Brighouse are second with 12 (but they have a match in hand still to be played), Belgrave ‘C’ are third with 8 points, Huddersfield ‘C’ have 6, Halifax ‘C’ have 4 and Hebden ‘D’ are yet to score.
Calderdale Individual Championship
Round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship took place a week last Monday the 4th of February. Here is John Kerrane’s report:
With the race hotting up, the round was notable for slips among the leaders. Front-runner Phil Cook of Hebden Bridge, achieved a strong position against Pete Leonard, also of Hebden, but in the end, could only manage a draw. Meanwhile, an even bigger upset occurred on board 2, with John Morgan (Belgrave) making a slip when going into the endgame, and losing to Hebden’s Martin Syrett, who is on fine form at the moment.
The results leave Cook still in the lead on 3½ points going into the last round, but with three other players, Leonard, Syrett and Andy Swales, all of Hebden Bridge, on his tail with 3 points. It should all make for an interesting final round on March 4th.
The results of the individual games can be found on the Calderdale Chess League’s website
A selection of games from the matches described in this report, including the Calderdale Individual can be found in the game viewer below.