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
After a long break for the summer (I really needed it!) this website will be coming back from it’s metaphorical vacation at an all-inclusive Caribbean paradise to report on the new Calderdale Evening League season which begins again tomorrow night.
There have been some changes to the league structure for the 2019-20 season. This year there will be seven teams in League 1 (instead of eight) and just four in League 2 which means the League 2 teams will play each other four times instead of twice. As always, fixtures and results information can be found on the Calderdale League website. At the end of the season two teams will be relegated from League 1, but only one will be promoted from League 2. That’s in order to further rationalise the distribution of teams between the divisions.
Another change this season is that both divisions of the League will be ECF rated. That means that players in both divisions will need to become members of the ECF. Anyone who has played more than three league matches and is not registered with the ECF will incur a charge that will be passed back to their club.
Their will still be one competition available for ECF refusniks to participate in however and that is the Handicap competition where local ratings will be used to calculate the handicap at the start of each match. There are just four teams entered into this competition too however and with each team playing each other just once, it will be interesting to see whether or not this format will thrive or wither and die.
Another change for this season is the demise of the Individual Championship. Hebden Bridge Chess Club – i.e. John Kerrane – has hosted and organised this competition for a very long time now and John quite justifiably wanted to pass the responsibility on to someone else. However, no one else volunteered to pick up the gauntlet and so, for the moment at least, this contest is no more. It’s a great shame to see it go, but ultimately, if more players from the league do not step forward to contribute to the running of the league and it’s competitions then some of them are bound to disappear sooner or later.
So, tomorrow night, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (last year’s ‘B’ team but defending league champions) begin the defence of their title at the Trades Club against newly promoted Brighouse. Meanwhile, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (our Todmorden-based enterprise) will have a bye round and will only begin their campaign on Monday 30 September when the local derby with the ‘A’ team will take place. Judging by the respective line ups that are beginning to emerge that match should be an absolute belter!
Elsewhere in League 1, Halifax ‘A’ will host Huddersfield ‘A’ and last season’s runners up, Belgrave ‘A’ will play their derby match against Belgrave ‘B’. It will be fascinating to see how those teams line up and perform in the first match of the season as players carry a bit of off-season rustiness into their first match encounters.
Of course we’ll update the website with match reports, results and games as they happen. We’ve also some games from the end of last season to publish and we’ll aim to put those up on the website next week too.
In the meantime, last Monday night we held our annual Individual Lightning Championship at the Trades Club. Eleven players took part with some very strong players present. Over the last few years Matthew Parsons has been the dominant force in this competition (although he hasn’t always had it his own way) and he arrived at the Trades Club as reigning champion and top seed.
However, after losing to Pete Leonard in round 1 and then Nick Sykes in round 2, it was soon clear that Matthew wasn’t going to retain his title. Instead the second and third seeds, new arrival Stavros Pantazopulos and Calderdale Individual Champion Phil Cook steadily pulled clear of the field. In round 3, Stavros beat Dave Shapland, who was the only other player on a perfect score after the first two rounds. Meanwhile Phil, having been held to a draw by Nick Sykes in round 1, beat Pete Leonard in round 2 and John Kerrane in round 3 to take second place on his own with 2.5/3.
The two leaders faced each other and drew in round 4 and this gave some of the chasers a chance to close the gap. Dave Shapland beat Nick Sykes and Pete Leonard beat John Allan to give themselves a chance of taking the title but then they both fell in round 5 to the top dogs. Phil swept Dave aside with the Black pieces whilst Stavros beat Pete with White. This kept Stavros half a point clear of Phil going into the sixth and final round.
In that last round Stavros was drawn to face Matthew with the Black pieces whilst Phil had White against John Allan. Phil duly won his game whilst Pete, from a seemingly lost position, took full advantage of a couple of terrible blunders by Dave to secure third place. The top two seeds played out a tense game that still had plenty of play in it by the time the 50 move beeper had finished meaning that an adjudication was needed. Everyone gathered round to suggest ideas for both sides but in the end it was clear that there was just too much play in the position and material on the board to call anything other than a draw and this outcome meant that Phil caught up with Stavros.
We don’t have tie-breaks in this competition and so Stavros and Phil share the title. Well played to both of them. They were certainly worth winners on the night.
Here are all the scores:
1st: Stavros Pantazolpoulos and Phil Cook – 5 3rd: Pete Leonard – 4 4th: Matthew Parsons, Nick Sykes and Martin Syrett – 3.5 7th: Dave Shapland and Mark Stollery – 3 9th: John Allan – 2.5 10th: John Kerrane – 2 11th: Terry Sullivan – 1
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Nails were most definitely bitten at The Trades Club on Monday night as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ came very, very close to losing their unbeaten record to Huddersfield.
The Calderdale Evening Chess League division 1 title race is really hotting up as, on Monday night, the teams played the ninth of fourteen rounds. We’re at the business end of the season now and the destiny of this year’s title most definitely hangs in the balance.
This week title holders Todmorden ‘A’ hosted Belgrave ‘A’, current league leaders Hebden Bridge ‘A’ hosted their old foe Huddersfield and 2013-14 champions Halifax ‘A’ played Hebden Bridge ‘B’ whilst Halifax ‘B’ had a week off.
At Todmorden the champions found themselves weakened by the absence of Martin Hamer and Pete Mulleady but they still managed to field a team with an average rating of 165! Replacements Alistair Wright and Mick Connor can hardly be considered as weaknesses. Indeed, both played their part in a tight 3½ – 1½ victory where the home team displayed their resilience by remaining unbeaten on all 5 boards. No small feat with the Black pieces. The top two boards and board 4 were drawn (with Phil Cook drawing with Ian Hunter on top board in what could be a dress rehearsal for the final round of the Calderdale Individual Championship) with wins by Dave Patrick on board 3 over Karim Khan and Mick Connor on board 5 over Mike Barnett proving decisive.
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were due to host Halifax ‘A’ but the fixture was switched to Lee Mount after the corresponding fixture in the first half of the season was played at The Trades Club. Hebden ‘B’ still played with the Black pieces though. Sadly, Hebden were again struggling to put out a full line up and defaulted board 5 but the remaining four players put up a terrific fight. Andy Leatherbarrow has been having a golden season (he’s only lost one game so far) and he put in another legendary performance to take Darwin Ursal’s scalp on board 1 (the rating list shows a whopping 58 point difference between the two though we all know what Andy is capable of) while captain Martin Syrett held Winston Williams to a draw on board 2 (overcoming a 47 point rating difference).
Sadly that was as far as the resistance went as John Lavan went down to John Morgan on board 3 and Neil Bamford lost to Richard Porter on board 4. Here’s full confirmation of the individual results:
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
A.Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 D.Ursal (White)
M.Syrett ½ – ½ W.Williams (White)
J.Lavan 0 – 1 J.Morgan (White)
N.Bamford 0 – 1 R.Porter (White)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 S.Scurfield (White) 1½ – 3 ½
On paper the juiciest tie of the round always looked like being Hebden Bridge ‘A’ against Huddersfield. These old enemies have played out plenty of epic battles over the years although in more recent times Hebden have had the edge – in fact the last time Huddersfield won was on 22nd September 2014. Perhaps it was their time to win again.
Both teams fielded slightly unusual line ups. Hebden were missing the services of Matthew Parsons and Pete Leonard but drafted in Chris Bak and John Allan as replacements alongside Andy Bak, Dave Shapland and Nick Sykes. Huddersfield meanwhile were without regulars Greg Eagleton, Mitchell Burke and Dave Tooley but they still brought a competitive side with Leo Keely and Dave Keddie on boards 1 and 2 and Steve Westmoreland, Robert Sutcliffe and Bryn Charlesworth completing their line up. On paper Hebden looked much stronger on the lower boards with the top two boards looking more closely matched.
Of course what looks likely from an analysis of the statistics before the match often bears no relation to what actually takes place. This match turned into an epic struggle with all five games ending decisively. Right from the off the outcome looked in the balance as two of the five boards were decided relatively quickly. First of all Andy Bak had a bad day at the office against Leo as his double edged opening choice of the Schliemann Variation of the Spanish backfired. He first lost the exchange for a pawn and then blundered into a pawn fork that lost a piece. All this compelled his resignation before the players had reached the 20th move. A game to forget for Andy.
Hebden bounced back quickly though as John Allan made fairly short work of Steve Westmoreland. The Tarrasch Variation is not a popular choice against the Queen’s Gambit these days and Steve, who is normally very well prepared in the opening phase of the game, seemed to be caught a little bit cold. He lost a piece in the opening and after that John offered him no hope of recovering as he simply exchanged material and achieved an overwhelming advantage in the end game. 1 – 1.
Somewhat later on Nick Sykes made it 2 – 1 to the hosts as he converted smoothly against Bryn Charlesworth on board 5. It was a solid performance from Nick who has only lost three of his seventeen games this season. He met Bryn’s offbeat choice of the Nimzo-Larsen opening in principled fashion and slowly outplayed his lower rated opponent winning an exchange and then grinding out a win.
Hebden were in front but the remaining two games looked very worrying indeed for them by the time Nick had put them in front. On board 2 Dave Keddie and Chris Bak were playing a Classical Variation of the French Defence and it appeared that Chris had chosen a fairly unusual approach. In the middle game he overlooked a tactic that cost him a pawn and Dave found a clever way to maintain a passed pawn on f6. Chris was hanging on but White was clearly better.
Meanwhile on board 4 Dave Shapland had reintroduced the Budapest Counter Gambit to his repertoire against Robert Sutcliffe. The opening seemed to be going according to plan for Dave until it became clear that Robert was going to break with orthodoxy by castling queen’s side. This was a smart move because Dave burned way too much time on his clock trying to find a way to take advantage of Robert’s choice but in the end couldn’t find any way to improve on Black’s regular plan and the game took a fairly obscure turn.
Later on Dave missed a move order trick that enabled Robert to set up a various dangerous looking battery of two bishop and a queen pointing towards Dave’s castled king. Robert then played very energetically to advance his king’s side pawns in order to break open that side of the board and it was clear that White’s attack was going to be the fastest. Dave sought refuge in complications but was now extremely short of time and in trouble on the board as well.
Black (Chris Bak) has just played 30…Kd6 to try and protect his e-pawn. Can you see how Dave Keddie responded? The solution is in the game viewer below.
As both these remaining games reached their critical phases Hebden Bridge seemed in deep trouble but, as so often happens in these tense situations, mistakes changed the course of events. On board 2 Chris, desperately trying to prevent the advance of Dave’s f-pawn fell victim to a very attractive tactic that would have a decisive material cost. Chris chose a different path and went for a walk up the board with his king only to be caught in a mating net. It was 2 – 2.
The final act of the evening was no less dramatic as Robert and Dave approached time control with Dave down to his last minute on the clock. Suddenly Robert started playing quickly too although he had more time to think. A forcing line appeared in which it looked like Robert could grab a pawn and open up Dave’s king to a decisive attack. However, he’d missed an intermezzo from Dave’s queen which cost him the bishop and the game was suddenly over.
The Hebden players breathed a huge sigh of relief and congratulated their opponents on a ferociously hard fought encounter. The final scores were:
You can find a number of the games played on Monday night in the game viewer at the end of this post.
These results mean it’s ‘as you were’ in the league table. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ stay top on 14 points. Halifax ‘A’ are second on 12 and Todmorden ‘A’ are third with 11 although they have a match in hand on the other two which could bring them within a point of the leaders. Huddersfield have 9 points and now seem to be out of contention for the title although with Todmorden and Halifax still to play, they could yet have a bearing on the outcome.
At the other end of the table Belgrave ‘A’, despite running a number of the top teams very close have only 4 points and are not clear of the relegation dog fight as Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Halifax ‘B’ are both on 2 points. It seems likely that the games between these three teams will decide which one of them goes down.
In the next round of fixtures on 27 February Hebden Bridge ‘A’ will travel to Todmorden ‘A’ for an absolutely critical encounter. Hebden have yet to lose a match but they have drawn two, one of these was against Tod. It should be enthralling especially if both teams are able to field their strongest line ups. Halifax ‘A’ have a week off and so you can imagine they too will be fascinated to see the outcome of his tie.
While this is going on Belgrave ‘A’ will play host to Halifax ‘B’ in the relegation battle of critical import. If Belgrave win you’d have to fancy that they wold guarantee their safety.
The final match sees Hebden Bridge ‘B’ on the road again at Huddersfield.
The Trades Club also saw another one of the inaugural Handicap League fixtures as Hebden Bridge played host to Belgrave while at Todmorden another match was played between Todmorden and Halifax. The final round of fixtures is due to be played on the 10th of April and there is a postponed match between Belgrave and Todmorden to be re-scheduled.
At Todmorden the home team put out the stronger side but as a result gave their opponents a 3½ point head start. They did manage to overcome this with a 5 – 1 ‘over-the-board’ score to take the match 5 – 4½.
At Hebden Bridge John Kerrane took the opportunity to field an all-junior line up against the visiting Belgrave side. What’s more, as the visitors came with only five players, he was even able to add a further player (Martha Leggett) to their team in order to make sure everyone got a game. This is really what the handicap league is all about, giving League 2 players more opportunity to play games and for the juniors, every game is great experience.
When the handicap (average rating difference between the two teams) was calculated Hebden also started with 3½ points but they too were overhauled by their more experienced opponents. Only the ‘enemy in the midst’ of Belgrave’s ranks lost her game as the visitors match Todmorden with 5 – 1 win at the boards and a 5½ – 4½ win over all. Below are the individual scores for the match.
Walk humbly, now. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication.
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When:Sunday 7th of February (player registration at 1.30pm with games starting at 2.00pm) Where: Hebden Bridge Town Hall Entry Fee: £20 (entry fees will be collected on the day) Register: There is an online form below or you can email us at email@example.com
Space is limited so boards will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
If you can’t play on the day don’t worry, you can still contribute to this worthwhile local cause. We’ll also be running a raffle and have a number of high-value chess related prizes that have been donated by generous sponsors including 3 annual premium memberships to Chess24.
About Danny Gormally
Started playing chess: 7 years old
International Master title gained:1997
Grand Master title gained: 2005
Achievements: Danny has represented England at the Turin Chess Olympiad in 2006 and at European Team Championships
Last year he finished equal second in the British Chess Championship scoring 8/11. This unbeaten performance included a win against the eventual champion Jonathan Hawkins and a draw with the defending champion David Howell.
GM Gormally has authored a number of acclaimed books and videos including:
We’ve just been given sad news by our colleagues at the Bradford Chess Club of the untimely passing of Steve Priest. Steve was a stalwart of our club and a regular player in our ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams up until last season when illness forced him to significantly reduce his playing commitments. He was a prolific player outside Calderdale too and I remember being amazed a few years ago when I found out that, aside from playing for us in the Calderdale League, he was also appearing regularly in Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield competitions as well. In fact a quick look at his record on the Yorkshire Chess Association Grading list confirms that he played an incredible ninety five rated games in Yorkshire in the 2011-12 season! Moreover, he played only a handful fewer in each of the three seasons before that one. These statistics demonstrate his passion for the game and his unquenchable competitive spirit.
Steve was a real fighter at the board. On the handful of occasions when I played him I found him to be a most tenacious and resourceful opponent who simply didn’t know when he was beaten and made you struggle to draw any concession from him. Even the handshake at the end of the game could sometimes seem grudging but he always gave his opponents full respect though he hated losing and it wasn’t uncommon to hear him muttering rebuke to himself at the board when he make a mistake. Put simply he was one of those characters that make playing club chess such a joyful and interesting recreation. Last year I published a particularly memorable and intensely hard fought epic draw that I had with him in my Travail Pursuit column on the Yorkshire Chess website. I’ve published the game again below as I believe it’s a typical of his uncompromising and spirited approach to the game.
I’m sure that some readers will want to share their own memories of Steve here. I don’t know where chess players go to when they pass on but I’m sure wherever Steven is he’ll have announced his arrival with his traditional greeting of “Fancy a game?”
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