Feb 162017
Hebden Bridge 'A' came very, very close to losing their unbeaten record at The Trades Club on Monday night.

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?

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:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield
A.Bak 0 – 1 L.Keely (White)
C.Bak 0 – 1 D.Keddie (White)
J.Allan 1 – 0 S.Westmoreland (White)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 R.Sutcliffe (White)
N.Sykes 1 – 0 B.Charlesworth (White)
3 – 2

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.

Hebden Bridge ‘H’ vs. Belgrave ‘H’
O.Buchan (W) 0 – 1 D.Colledge
L.Curry 0 – 1 A.Gonzalez (W)
A.Dermo (W) 0 – 1 A.Dawson
B.J.S Hadari 0 – 1 S.Harrington (W)
J.Y.Hadari (W) 0 – 1 R.Bottomley
T.Dodd 1 – 0 M.Leggett (W)
Handicap 3½ – 0 Handcap
4½ – 5

The outcome of this league is also completely up for grabs with Halifax, Belgrave and Todmorden all in the hunt.

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Jan 222016

Have you ever wanted to pit your wits against a Grand Master? Well now’s your chance!

Hebden Bridge Chess Club is delighted to announce that Grand Master Daniel Gormally (ranked as England’s number 14 by FIDE) has accepted our invitation to take on 30 opponents simultaneously to help us raise funds for Calderdale Flood Relief.

Essential details below:

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 hebdenbridgechessclub@gmail.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.

Registration form

About Danny Gormally

Danny Gormally Rd 8 (1)Born: 1976

Started playing chess: 7 years old

International Master title gained: 1997

Grand Master title gained: 2005

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:

He’s also written many magazine articles and is a respected chess coach.

Danny is renowned for his attacking style of play personal. His favourite openings are the Najdorf and the Grunfeld.

In the video below IM Andrew Martin commentates on Danny’s win against GM Jonathan Hawkins in last years British Chess Championship.

May 282015
Summer's here, not that you'd know it from the weather!

Summer’s here, not that you’d know it from the weather!

We’ve just published our programme of summer events for 2015. Everyone is welcome to come along and join in.

You can get to the programme quickly and easily using the page tab in the top menu or use this link: http://www.hebdenbridgechessclub.co.uk/summer-programme-for-2015/

Mar 262015

resignedWe’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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Oct 242014
If one lives by the sword one has to be prepared to die by it also. Sadly last Monday Hebden Bridge 'A' were on the wrong side of the violence. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from One Lucky Guy's Flickr photostream

If one lives by the sword one has to be prepared to die by it also. Sadly last Monday Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were on the wrong side of the violence. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from One Lucky Guy’s Flickr photostream

The Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team’s League 1 campaign has begun with an unusually bloodthirsty set of encounters. Having lost to Huddersfield 3-2, with three decisive games and one very hotly contested draw, in their first match of the season they faced Courier ‘A’ and Belgrave in back to back Monday night fixtures on the 6th and 13th of October and a veritable cascade of blood was split in both matches.

On the 6th they hosted Courier ‘A’ who last season came within a whisker of winning the title and served up a double helping of misery to Hebden at home and away. Frankly, the team did not expect much from the match as they had a weaker line up (without Matthew Parsons and Dave Shapland) than in the corresponding fixture last season. However, Courier were also a little bit weaker as Phil Watson played on board 1 for them at the Trades Club in 2013 and he was replaced by Tony Slinger (still a very strong player) for this match. Gone too was last season’s board 5, Pete Hughes, replaced by a slightly weaker player on paper this time in the form of Dave Colledge. Hebden were still out graded on every board but the bottom one then.

As it turned out the Trades Club men were in ferocious mood as they over turned the odds on the top two boards and on board 4 and drew on board 5 to secure an splendid victory and gain a measure of revenge for their shortcomings last season. Team Captain Pete Leonard provides us with some of the match details.

I finished first, after a surprisingly easy victory against John Morgan. Quite uncharacteristically, I sacrificed a piece for two pawns; this was Fritz’s preferred move, so it was sound as well! John immediately blundered and it was then just a question of making sure I didn’t throw it away. 1-0 to Hebden Bridge.

Nick Sykes opened 1.d4, as he said, not wishing to face Robert Clegg’s French. Robert opted for a King’s Indian, which it turned out Nick knew much better than he did. By the time I looked, Nick had a very nice position, with an advanced c pawn that eventually the game for him. 2-0 to Hebden Bridge.

On board 4 Andy Leatherbarrow got into a frightful pickle on the king’s side against Dave Patrick. He got into time trouble as well and went down under pressure. 2-1 to Hebden Bridge.

Andy Bak gained a small advantage early on and just kept it. He finished off nicely after Tony Slinger moved his king to the worst possible square in an endgame. 3-1 to Hebden Bridge.

Finally, on board 5 Martin had looked to be in a dreadful mess against Dave Colledge. He won a pawn but omitted to get his king into safety. Dave missed plenty of winning chances, and was still somewhat ahead when they reached the time control. By that point, we were 3-1 up, so Dave generously offered a draw, which Martin accepted with alacrity!

Here’s the final match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs Courier ‘A’
A.Bak 1 — 0 T.Slinger
P.Leonard 1 — 0 J.Morgan
A.Leatherbarrow 0 — 1 D.Patrick
N.Sykes 1 — 0 R.Clegg
M.Syrett ½ — ½ D.Colledge
3½ — 1½

So there were four decisive games out of five in that match. Then last week Hebden went one better at Belgrave as all five games in the match ended with a resignation rather than a peace treaty. Sadly the result of the match was not such a happy one!

On this occasion Hebden looked like the favourites on paper as they out graded their opponents on every board. The night got off to a splendid start for them as Nick Sykes quickly won a piece for just a pawn against Les Johnson on board 4 and Dave Shapland appeared to have Karim Khan completely bamboozled with his obscure opening play on board 3. The other three boards all began in much more measured and closely contested fashion.

Mid-way through the evening it looked like everything would go according to plan as Pete Leonard pounced on Gordon Farrar’s mistake in the endgame to put Hebden one point up and Nick Sykes inevitably compelled his opponent’s resignation soon after to make it two. Surely nothing could go wrong from here.

Sadly it could. On board 1 Andy Bak appeared to overlook a tactical shot for a material advantage and ended up material down against Malcolm Corbett. He struggled on to the very end of the evening trying to hold a rook and pawn against queen and pawn ending but finally Malcolm’s technique privailed and he converted the full point.

Before this Andy Leatherbarrow had lost control in a tense and complicated strategic struggle with Mike Barnett on board 5. Although he only dropped a pawn his position fell apart in the ending.

The true tragedy was taking place on board 3 however. Dave Shapland had managed to gain a great measure of control in the position out of the opening against Karim but there was still much work to do. The position was very messy and Dave realised that he needed to take some time out to consolidate his position and complete his development before pressing forwards. Karim appeared to be restricted to fairly passivity but defended himself resolutely until he played an inaccurate move that allowed Dave to grab a pawn and demolish the defences around the White king.

Normally Dave is in his element in this kind of situation and he increased his advantage until it was a winning one… but it took him too long on the clock to do it. With both players in some time trouble and the position still terribly complicated Dave overlooked a defensive resource, mistakenly pressed ahead with his attack when he needed to defend and suddenly found himself getting checkmated. Sometimes when you live by the sword, you also die by it.

The outcome was a stunning reversal and Belgrave continue to be a real bogey side for Hebden ‘A’ when they are playing at home. Here’s the final match scorecard:

Belgrave vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
M.Corbett 1 — 0 A.Bak
G.Farrar 0 — 1 P.Leonard
K.Khan 1 — 0 D.Shapland
L.Johnson 0 — 1 N.Sykes
M.Barnett 1 — 0 A.Leatherbarrow
3 — 2

Elsewhere in League 1 the title seems to be becoming a two horse race between Huddersfield and Todmorden ‘A’ already. On the 13th Huddersfield travelled to the champions Halifax ‘A’ and dealt their hopes of retaining the title a huge blow by beating them 2 — 3. The week before Halifax had travelled to Todmorden ‘A’ and lost 3½ — 1½ so they are now 1 and 2 for the season to date. Critical to Huddersfield’s success last week was Matthew Parsons’ win on board 1 against Winston Williams whilst Daves Firth and Tooley also won against Sam Scurfield and Scott Gornall respectively.

Todmorden ‘A’ seem to have found some very handy new players this season. They travelled to Brighouse (a destination they’ve performed poorly at in the past) without top board Martin Hamer but they came away with a convincing victory of 1½ — 3½. The damage was done in the middle order by Messrs Cook, Gil-Fresno and Clarkson.

All this means that Tod and Huddersfield are the only two teams with a perfect record and next Monday that statistic can’t fail to change as the two play each other at Todmorden as Huddersfield begin the season with four away fixtures in succession! It looks like we’ll find out what these two teams are made of.

Courier ‘A’ bounced back from that defeat to Hebden Bridge by seeing off Tod ‘B’ at home last week. This puts them back in touch with the leaders as the only other team with two wins to their name. Behind Courier, Belgrave are the fourth team in the table with a win, a draw and a defeat. Then come Hebden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ with a single win each, Brighouse with a draw and Tod ‘B’ prop up the table with no points thus far. They have however been very competitive in all their matches and won’t be taken lightly by anyone.

Next Monday besides the Todmorden vs. Huddersfield match there is also a match between Halifax ‘A’ and Courier ‘A’ which you’d already have to classify as a ‘must win’ for the title holders. Meanwhile Hebden Bridge travel to Brighouse knowing that they need a result to stay out of the relegation dog fight and Todmorden ‘B’ host Belgrave hoping to get their season off to a start at the fourth attempt.

In the game viewer below you’ll fine a number of games from the last two rounds of Hebden Bridge fixtures as well as the game between Matthew Parsons and Wintson Williams which Matthew kindly sent on to us.

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Sep 022014
Hebden Bridge Chess Club travelled to the Albert Hotel in Keighley for a pre-season friendly

Hebden Bridge Chess Club travelled to the Albert Hotel in Keighley for a pre-season friendly

After a nice long break for the summer I’m starting up the website again as the usual pre-season activity begins. Last week six Hebden Bridge players travelled to Keighley for a friendly match that was a return tie for last year’s equivalent which I think was played over ten boards.

Here’s John Kerrane’s match report:

The new Calderdale league season approaches, and Hebden Bridge Chess Club accepted an invitation from Keighley Chess Club to a warm up match at their home venue, The Albert Hotel, Keighley. A six-strong team from Hebden Bridge set out across the moor on Wednesday evening to take up the challenge.

The Hebden side was a little weakened since the corresponding match last year, and were surprised to find that Keighley had made a very strong addition to their line-up in the form of Greg Eagleton, one of Huddersfield’s leading players.

A couple of blunders on lower boards left the Hebden side struggling, and although the other team members fought back hard, the match slipped away from them. The last game to finish was between Eagleton and Hebden Bridge captain Pete Leonard, who put up a strong fight, but succumbed in the end, leaving the home side with a 4-2 victory.

The individual results were:

Keighley vs. Hebden Bridge
G. Eagleton 1 – 0 P. Leonard
R. Zaidman ½ – ½ N. Sykes
D. Duffton ½- ½ J. Kerrane
M. Cunningham 1 – 0 T. Sullivan
M. Boyd 0 – 1 N. Bamford
J. Nuttall 1 – 0 D. Crampton
4 – 2

Pete Leonard and Nick Sykes have annotated their games and these can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Here are the important dates coming up in the month of September:

  • 8th of September: Matthew Webb Simul 
    Matty will play a 20 board simultaneous match against Hebden Bridge Chess Club players and invited guests. This will be held at the Trades Club and will begin at 7.30pm. The match will be played as a clock simul where the standard Calderdale League time limits apply on all boards (36 moves in 75 minutes + 15 minutes allegro finish). Matty has been playing in occasional matches for Hebden Bridge for the past three seasons and had a very impressive season indeed in 2013-14. He played in the Bradford A side that took the Yorkshire League Division 1 title and he represented White Rose in the 4NCL this season too. Altogether he played 23 games in Yorkshire last season winning 20 and drawing just 3! This saw his Yorkshire rating rocket to 217 and he is currently the 5th player on the YCA rating list. This will be his first ever simultaneous match and there are still a handful of places available for any Calderdale League players that might be interested. If you would like to play please email us as soon as possible to confirm your place. hebdenbridgechessclub@gmail.com
  • 15th of September: Club Lightning Competition
    We’ll be holding our traditional curtain raiser for the league season  at the Trades Club on Monday the 15th. All members are encouraged to coming along for a fun evening of high speed chess. The Lightning format of the game allows each player just 10 seconds per move with each move being played on the sound of a buzzer. There are always plenty of thrills and spills and the playing field is generally levelled with the amount of thinking time reduced.
  • 22nd of September: League 1 fixtures begin. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are due to play Huddersfield
  • 29th of September: League 2 fixtures begin with Hebden Bridge ‘B’ playing away at Courier ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ playing at Todmorden ‘C’

I’ll be posting reports on both the simul and the lightning competition as well as a review of last season and a preview of the forth coming one. in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

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May 022014
Any excuse for another amazing photography of a lightning strike!! This one is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Bo Insogna's Flickr photostream

Any excuse for another amazing photography of a lightning strike!! This one is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Bo Insogna’s Flickr photostream

The annual Calderdale Team Lightning competition will be hosted by Courier chess club this year and will take place at the Belgrave Social Club on Monday the 12th of May.

Players are asked to arrive at the venue as close to 7.00pm as possible so that teams can be registered in time for the first round to begin at 7.30pm.

If you would like to register a team in advance of the event then please email Dave Colledge at davecoll33@hotmail.com. Please send your team name and the players in the line up. This will enable him to have your team registered early but you will still need to arrive in plenty of time before the first round starts.

Feb 182014
With four rounds to go there are still five teams involved in the dance for this season's league 1 title race! This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Jim Linwood's Flickr photostream

Swords are drawn! With four rounds to go there are still five teams involved in the dance for this season’s league 1 title race! This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Jim Linwood’s Flickr photostream

After our last post on the subject (‘Rats in a barrel’) readers will not be surprised to hear that it was all change yet again at the top of Calderdale League 1 when the teams reconvened on the 4th of February. Todmorden ‘A’ were leading the title race by a single point but they went down at Brighouse with a marginally weakened line up. Captain Alistair Wright was without top board Martin Hamer who was over in Gibraltar participating in the chess festival. Tod have struggled in previous years when Hamer has been gone and unfortunately for them they did so again. The damage was done in the middle order where Dennis Breen, Nick Hudson and Paul Whitehouse defeated Andrew Clarkson, Alistair Wright and Rob Tokeley respectively. Wins on the top and bottom boards for Pete Mulleady and David Innes at least ensured that Todmorden kept their board count ticking over. This looks increasingly like it will be a deciding factor when the final reckoning comes.

Of course this defeat opened the door once more for Huddersfield who had fallen at home to Courier in the last round and now faced a potentially tricky challenge away to Todmorden ‘B’ who have caused problems for several of the top teams. Not on this occasion however as Huddersfield cruised to a 1 — 4 victory that took them back to the top. Dave Tooley was the only away team player to go down as his scalp was collected by Rob Collier.

Todmorden ‘A’s demise also provided an opportunity for Halifax ‘A’, Courier ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ to gain ground. Halifax took full advantage by thrashing Hebden ‘B’ 0 — 5. John Kerrane reports briefly on this match:

“Out-graded by more than fourty points on all boards, the home players were under pressure from the start. Despite spirited resistance, they gradually succumbed to their powerful opponents, until, when Josh Blinkhorn resigned on board 1 after a lively but unsuccessful attack against Winston Williams, the predictable 5 — 0 scoreline emerged in favour of the visitors.”

Individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
J.Blinkhorn 0 — 1 W.Williams
M.Syrett 0 — 1 B.Somerset
J.Kerrane 0 — 1 D.Ursal
N.Bamford 0 — 1 S.Scurfield
K.Dickinson 0 — 1 A.Dawson
0 — 5

Halifax appeared to be out of contention in the title race after losing in round 8 at Huddersfield but now they have recovered and lie just 2 points behind the leaders. They still have some tough matches to play but at the moment they have the best board count in the league and in Darwin ‘Draw-Win’ Ursal they have the leagues most destructive weapon. He’s scored an amazing 9½/10, mostly against players rated a lot lower than himself on board 3 but he has also appeared effectively on top board a couple of times.

The last match in round 10 promised to be the tightest as champions Hebden Bridge ‘A’ travelled to Courier ‘A’ for another critical encounter. The visitors knew it would be a very stiff test for they had already been defeated by the Courier outfit at the Trades Club earlier in the season. When they arrived they found that Courier had been forced to change their line-up due to John Morgan’s illness and Kevin Winter’s unavailability. Sadly, that did not lead to the kind of weakening in the home team’s line-up that the visitors might have hoped for as in came Phil Watson on board 1 (Hebden have been unlucky to have to face Phil on the only two occasions Courier have deployed him this season!) and Dave Colledge on board 5.

Admittedly, Dave Colledge is not quite as strong as Kevin Winter on the bottom board and so it was immediately clear that Hebden would have to do serious damage on the lower boards if they were to collect an unlikely victory against a side that out-graded them on every board but the bottom one. It’s become a bit of a trend for Hebden to start the night well and then run out of steam and once again this familiar pattern was played out through the course of the evening.

Captain Nick Sykes has found the going to be challenging recently and so he sensibly decided to demote himself from board 3 to board 5 for this match if only for a bit of respite from the pressure he’s putting on himself to do well further up the order. His choice looked to be a master stroke after a couple of hours of play as he smoothly defeated Dave Colledge with the King’s Indian Defence. Meanwhile the rest of the team also seemed to be doing well. On board 1, Matthew Parsons was also using the King’s Indian against Phil and he had launched a formidable attack on the White king and managed to land a knight on the g3 square. An upset looked quite possible on the top board. On board 2 Pete Leonard was also holding his own against Tony Slinger, Andy Leatherbarrow seemed comfortable on board 3 against Dave Patrick and on board 4 Dave Shapland had pounced on some early positional errors by Robert Clegg to hold a comfortable if marginal advantage.

Unfortunately the good form didn’t quite last, and having jinxed the team on this very website in that aforementioned post by quoting the statistic that the champions hadn’t lost away since March 2012, they inevitably lost the match! It was Phil Watson who turned the tide as he defended calmly in the face of Matthew’s onslaught and, when the dust of battle had settled, Matthew was a piece down in the endgame. There was no coming back from that. The match was level.

The last three games went on and on to the very end of the night. On board 4 Dave was never in any real danger of losing and had managed to hold his positional advantage right into a single rook and pawns ending. However, having played a little aimlessly in the opening, Robert now seemed to “wake up” and knuckled down resolutely to his defensive task. Probably Dave missed some opportunities to press for the win and, with the two remaining boards still unclear it was hard to know what result to aim for. Going all out for a win might have been a mistake and so in the end Dave didn’t take too many risks and Robert avoided a couple of traps to secure a draw in the end.

The match hinged on the next game to finish on board three. Dave Patrick had applied pressure persistently and Andy had resisted determinedly but at the expense of time spent cogitating. They got passed the time control and into an endgame were Andy seemed to have the advantage but was being forced into playing more and more quickly. Tragically, as his advantage crystallised into a winning one he ran out of time and forfeited the game, Courier were ahead.

The board 2 struggle had been a fascinating one. Tony Slinger had deployed Anti-Grunfeld system with 3.f3. This might have thrown Pete Leonard off course somewhat had it not been for the fact that he’d faced the same line against Dave Shapland last summer in the Bridestones Holme Brew Chess Challenge. Subsequently he’d gone away and taken a look again at the line and was able to reply with the even more offbeat idea of 4…Nh5. After that the game spiralled off into complications. The queens came off early but the piece-based play remained highly complex and the pawn structures on both sides somewhat chaotic. That said, neither player ever really looked like winning, so ultimately a draw was the just result. This gave Courier a valuable victory and catapults them into joint second on match points just behind Todmorden on board count. They still have to host Todmorden and also visit Halifax before the season ends but their back to back wins over Huddersfield and Hebden have put them right in the hunt.

Individual results from this match were:

Courier ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
P.Watson 1 — 0 M.Parsons
T.Slinger ½ — ½ P.Leonard
D.Patrick 1 — 0 A.Leatherbarrow
R.Clegg ½ — ½ D.Shapland
D.Collegde 0 — 1 N.Sykes
3 — 2

Here are some of the games from the fixtures in this report.

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Jul 092013
Like the enraged Achilles tearing the Trojans limb from limb, Peter Rawlings (right) cut a bloody swathe through the serried ranks of Arts Festival Goers

Like the enraged Achilles tearing the Trojans limb from limb, Peter Rawlings (right) cut a bloody swathe through the serried ranks of Arts Festival Goers

The Chess Club played its part in the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival last weekend when an elite team of members took part in the ‘Games Day’ at the Town Hall on Saturday the 29th.

Martin Syrett, John Kerrane and Peter Rawlings set up alongside the Halifax War Games Club, the Hebden Bridge Railway Modellers and Hebdenopoly Games Designers for an afternoon of concentration and friendly competition. Two boards were set up for all-comers along with the Calderdale League’s outdoor chess set for those who felt the need to get a dose of vitamin D whilst they played.

Amongst this collection of gaming nerds our members cut a slightly more ‘approachable’ gib by offering stakes games against the public. Pete ‘the Ripper’ Rawlings mercilessly pocketed one 50p after another as the townsfolk fell to his wiles and as a result the club made a small surplus from the exercise.

However, financial gain was not the main aim of the day. Promoting chess and the chess club was and several participants expressed an interest in coming along on Monday nights. Most encouragingly of all, John was able to speak with a governor from Riverside School who suggested that it might be possible to reinstate the chess club there again. Let us hope that this becomes a reality.

Apr 182012

Darwin Ursal has had to play an even longer game than this one to capture the Individual Summer Knockout title. This image is sourced from Maxwell GS's Flickr photostream

Hebden Bridge Trades Club was a hive of activity on Monday night as our League 2 teams met for their second derby clash of the season and Dave Sugden and Darwin “Draw-Win” Ursal met to replay their Individual Summer Knockout Final for the second time.

You’d need an excellent memory to recall that the individual knockout began almost a year ago and was supposed to have been concluded before the new league season began. Unfortunately the rules allow for drawn games to be replayed and with no fixed schedule for games and a high rate of draws between participants this year’s edition lagged into the league season whereupon its progress slowed to a pace best described as “glacial” when league fixtures made it even harder to schedule games.

Those readers who are interested can take a look at the full draw and results on the “Summer Knockout Tournament” page. Suffice to say that Darwin eventually emerged victorious to maintain his reign of terror over Calderdale this season. He is unbeaten in all competitions and has already bagged the Calderdale Individual Championship to add to his trophy cabinet. If Hebden Bridge ‘A’ can lift the League 1 title next week then he will only require the Team Lightning and Team Knockout titles to complete a Calderdale Grand Slam! It will be a signal achievement when someone finally manages to beat him.

Whilst Darwin was practicing his Midas touch Hebden Bridge ‘D’ entertained Hebden Bridge ‘C’ in League 2. John Kerrane provides us with the match report below:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ played against their senior colleagues in Hebden Bridge ‘C’. The result 4½-½ win to the ‘C’ team was no surprise although the strongest opposition was provided by the ‘D’ team’s two junior members. Kyle Sharpe, on board 1, played a very good game against Terry Sullivan, but went down eventually by mis-handling a difficult endgame, while Spike Leatherbarrow, on board 5, took advantage of an error by his opponent, Ray Deravairere, to force a well-earned draw.”

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
K.Sharpe 0 — 1 T.Sullivan
T.Wilton-Davies 0 — 1 J.Kerrane
C.Greaves 0 — 1 N.Bamford
D.Crampton 0 — 1 J. Todd
S.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ R.Deravairere
½ – 4½

All of the games from this match can be found in the game viewer at the bottom of this post along with a selection from Hebden Bridge ‘D’s excellent win against Courier ‘B’ which I mentioned in my last post.

This result insured that the ‘C’ team maintained their second position in the League two points behind Todmorden ‘B’ and one in front of Halifax ‘A’. Next week Todmorden and Halifax meet before Halifax and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ round off the season with their postponed fixture on April the 30th. If Hebden can keep their noses in front then we will maintain two teams in both divisions next season despite the ‘B’ team’s relegation.

I’ll close this post by informing readers of the fate of Calderdale’s two Yorkshire League sides who completed their fixtures for the season last Saturday.

Calderdale ‘A’ finished the season in fine style with a comfortable 6½ — 1½ win over Sheffield ‘D’. This left them 5th in the Woodhouse Cup league standings which team Captain, Dave Patrick, informs us is the best result for a Calderdale side for about 30 years! Congratulations to them. Sadly, Calderdale ‘B’ lost to Sheffield ‘E’ by a score of 3 — 5 and got relegated from the I.M. Brown League as a result. Match reports and results are available on the excellent Yorkshire Chess website.

Three games from these fixtures by Hebden Bridge players are available in the game viewer below. For Calderdale ‘A’ Darwin Ursal won a nice game against his opponent’s offbeat Budapest Gambit. On board 1 for the ‘B’ team Dave Shapland lost in a tough game on the Black side of a Budapest which saw a very different and more orthodox treatment of the opening. Finally, Andy Leatherbarrow can be seen finishing off his game for Calderdale ‘B’ in percussive fashion with an aesthetic checkmate.

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