Sep 152019
 
Of course any post about Lightning competition’s needs to be accompanied by a suitable photo. Here’s a cracker of lighting striking the Grand Canyon. Image sourced from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Flickr photostream

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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