Oct 162017
 
White to play from Velosa vs. Swain (Hebden Bridge 'A' vs Halifax 'A') Black has grabbed a hot pawn. Can you see how White took advantage to press home the attack? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

White to play from Velosa vs. Swain (Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs Halifax ‘A’) Black has grabbed a hot pawn. Can you see how White took advantage to press home the attack? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Both Calderdale Evening Chess Leagues have now played two rounds of fixtures, so we’ve plenty of action to catch up on in this post.

League 1

Let’s catch up on round 2 of League 1 first of all. Most of the fixtures took place on Monday 2nd of October with Golden Lion’s first home fixture against Hebden Bridge ‘B’ postponed until Monday the 9th.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ took on Halifax ‘A’ at home in their second match of the season. In recent years these two sides have fought out some epic encounters full of twists and turns and almost always very tight indeed. Hebden had the better of things last season but for this fixture both sides sported line ups that looked very different to the corresponding fixture last season.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had fielded Messrs Parsons, A.Bak, C.Bak, Shapland and Leonard on the 3rd of April when they edged a tight match 3 – 2. This time out the side was Andy Bak, John Allan, Sam Swain, Neil Suttie and Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford. Team Captain Pete Leonard was away and stand-in Captain, Nick Sykes, elected to play his strongest five available players which meant no place for him in the line up.

Halifax ‘A’ also had four different players to the April match. Last season they had Winston Williams, Darwin Ursal, John Morgan, Richard Porter and Sam Scurfield. This time out it was Bill Somerset, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa, David Loughenbury and Barry Wadsworth. With this line up the visitors were out-graded on every board to a greater or lesser extent. On paper it looked it should have been easy for Hebden but it turned out to be anything but.

On Board 1 Andy Bak and Bill Somerset continued their theoretical discussion of the Semi-Slav (this time the Anti-Moscow Variation as opposed to the Botvinnik Variation). This opening lends itself to mind boggling complications and generally both sides make inaccurate moves. On this occasion it was Andy with Black who came out on top.

Board 2 saw Richard Porter play the London System against John Allan. John’s had plenty of practice of playing against this system from his recent games against Matthew Parsons and Richard didn’t play the most ambitious lines. Never the less the game did get pretty complicated. However, with plenty of life still in the position, the players agreed to a draw on move 25.

Halifax struck back on board 3 where Carlos Velosa was up to his old tricks with Bird’s Opening (1.f4). Sam Swain handled the unorthodox opening system perfectly well but Carlos is a dangerous tactician and, when Sam grabbed a hot pawn on move 26, Carlos seized the opportunity and found a pretty forcing sequence (see the puzzle at the top of the post). Sam missed the point and resigned when he saw mate in two coming.

Loughenbury versus Suttie on board 4 was another London System. Here too Black seemed to equalise fairly easily and the game simplified quickly to a double rook, knight and six pawns each endgame. The players decided as early as move 22 that the position was sterile and shook hands. Of course the engine has an opinion of its own and suggests White was better with potential to play against a vulnerable Black a-pawn.

This meant that the match was decided on board 5 where Hebden had the largest rating advantage of any of the encounters. However, Richard Bedford had toiled with the Black pieces to take down Barry Wadsworth in round 2 of last year’s Calderdale Individual Championship so the conclusion was by no means forgone. On this occasion however, Beaky made lighter work of the task when, in the middle game he managed to create and exploit a pin on the d-file. Barry had a fleeting opportunity to release the pin on move 26 when Bc5 or Bd4 (see the game in the viewer at the end of this post) may have enabled him to hang on. But after the game move 26.Re3 and, soon after, the critical mistake 28.h4? he first lost a piece and then his queen with check mate to follow shortly.

Thus did Hebden manage to win a tight match 3 – 2. Bizarrely they have been scheduled to play 6 out of the first 7 matches this season at home (!!) which means they are going to get some practice with the Black pieces and may be able to make a strong surge when the have the reverse fixtures after Christmas.

Here is the final match scorecard against Halifax:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
A.Bak 1 – 0 W.Somerset (White)
J.Allan ½ – ½ R.Porter (White)
S.Swain 0 – 1 C.Velosa (White)
N.Suttie ½ – ½ D.Loughenbury (White)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 B.Wadsworth (White)
3 – 2

On the same evening Belgrave ‘A’ bounced back from their opening fixture defeat against Golden Lion to thrash Brighouse ½ – 4½. The home side were without their top board Robert Broadbent and this exposed the rest of the squad. Only the Brighouse Captain, Paul Whitehouse, saved a walk over for the visitors when he held John Morgan to a draw on board 2 – a highly creditable outcome considering the rating difference of almost 60 points.

Then, on Wednesday last week, Huddersfield ‘A’ took on Halifax ‘B’ who had surprisingly opened their account by beating their own ‘A’ team in the first fixture. Huddersfield defaulted their third board and Ray Cully held Steve Westmoreland to a draw on board 5 but the other three games went the way of the home side as Huddersfield won 3½ – 1½.

To complete the second round of fixtures, Golden Lion and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ played their match this last Monday, the first at the eponymous venue of the home side. It must be said that not everything went perfectly smoothly (the venue was noisy) but the necessary steps have already been taken to ensure better conditions for future matches and five new visitors to the league turned up for some social chess which was very encouraging.

The match itself swung the way of the home side all too quickly. On board two Hebden’s Andy Leatherbarrow blundered a piece early in the game and, although he battled on for some time after that, the outcome was never in doubt and Andrew Clarkson converted to the full point.

By this time though the match was already in the bag. Dave Shapland beat Neil Bamford on board 3 in the first match to finish as Neil got his pieces into a tangle, gave up the exchange for a pawn to try and sort himself out only to drop a piece to a tactic shortly after.

On board 4 the manner of victory was rather different as Golden Lion’s David Innes ground down Terry Sullivan finally swapping down to a king and pawn ending where he had an extra pawn and a sure win. Terry resigned rather than suffer further.

Finally, on board 5, Golden Lion’s new recruit Peter Dickinson played a complicated draw out against Paul Gledhill. There was plenty of complexity and excitement in this one but in the end the players decided to agree peace terms with the situation at the board still rather unclear.

With the match now decided Hebden’s Nick Sykes was able to offer a draw to Martyn Hamer in the confidence that he was at least no worse and possibly even slightly better against his much higher rated opponent. Certainly Martyn was happy enough to grant the request given that trying for anything more would have involved a good deal of risk and a very long and drawn out evening’s effort to boot.

The final match scorecard looked like this:

Golden Lion vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ N.Sykes (White)
A.A.Clarkson 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (White)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 N.Bamford (White)
D.Innes 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (White)
P.Dickinson ½ – ½ P.Gledhill (White)
4 – 1

With all teams now having played two matches, Golden Lion top the table with 4 match points and 7½ board points. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are in second place with the same match points and 7 board points and Huddersfield are in third, also with two wins from two matches but 6½ match points. Belgrave ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ have one win and one defeat to their names and at the bottom, Brighouse, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and, surprisingly Halifax ‘A’, are yet to score any points.

In round 3 next (matches played tonight) both Hebden Bridge teams will be at home with Hebden Bridge ‘A’ playing Huddersfield ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ hosting Halifax ‘A’. These should be fascinating match ups. Elsewhere Golden Lion host Brighouse and Belgrave ‘A’ will play Halifax ‘B’.

League 2

John Kerrane’s (predominantly junior) Hebden Bridge ‘C’ team played their first round match on the 25th of September and their second round match last Monday.

In round 1 they faced Belgrave’s new ‘C’ team outfit. Unfortunately, Hebden were missing one of their youngsters when Martha Leggett had to take an emergency trip to the dentist at the last minute. The largely junior line up was up against it any way as Belgrave fielded an experienced side who were more than a match for the hosts on this occasion.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
J.Kerrane ½ – ½ D.Colledge (White)
L.Curry 0 – 1 A.Gonzales (White)
T.Dodd 0 – 1 S.Harrington (White)
G.Hughes 0 – 1 P.Jacobs (White)
Default 0 – 1 R.Bottomley (White)
½ – 4½

Then, last week, Hebden fielded a similar line-up against Belgrave’s ‘B’ team (this match was an away fixture but Belgrave had kindly agreed to play it at the Trades Club so that transportation for the juniors was not a difficulty. This time the juniors faced a side that in no small part reflected the line up of the Belgrave ‘A’ team that had participated in League 1 a few years ago. Once again Hebden managed just a single draw and this time it was provided by one of Todmorden’s refugees welcomed into the club to play in League 2 – J.P Ellis who scored a very fine draw with Gordon Farrar on board 1.

Here is the full score card:

Belgrave ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
G.Farrar ½ – ½ J.P.Ellis (White)
M.Barnett 1 – 0 T.Dodd (White)
L.Johnson 1 – 0 L.Curry (White)
P.Edwards 1 – 0 J.S Hadari (White)
C.Edwards 1 – 0 B.J.S Hadari (White)
4½ – ½

All of this means that Hebden ‘C’ are still awaiting their first win of the season. Maybe it will be ‘third time lucky’ as they take on Halifax ‘D’ at the Trades Club this evening (this match is being played a week ahead of schedule).

In League 2, Belgrave ‘C’ and Huddersfield ‘B’ top the table with two wins out of two. Halifax ‘C’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have one win each and Hebden and Halifax ‘D’ are yet to score.

You’ll find a number of recent games in the game viewer below. Our thanks to Nick Sykes for collecting and transcribing the Hebden Bridge games.

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Sep 222017
 
The chess players of Calderdale got saddled up for the new chess season as round 1 matches in League 1 took place this week. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from John Maddin's Flickr photostream

The chess players of Calderdale got saddled up for the new chess season as round 1 matches in League 1 took place this week. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from John Maddin’s Flickr photostream

Monday night saw the first convention of the 2017-18 Calderdale Evening Chess League. But, before we dive into the match reports and results, let’s ring the changes from last season as there have been several of significance and this website has lain dormant over the summer so there’s lot’s to catch up on.

Let’s start on a positive note! There are eight teams taking part in League 1 this season after last season began with Todmorden ‘B’s last moment withdrawal. This is a very welcome state of affairs.

The other significant change in League 1 concerns the current (and three-time consecutive champions) Todmorden ‘A’. Todmorden chess club folded over the summer but a chess team based in Todmorden has been salvaged and will be based at the Golden Lion in Fielden Square. The team primarily comprises former Todmorden ‘A’ players and it is hoped that, by moving the team to the Golden Lion (a community pub with an interest in hosting and promoting a range of local clubs) that some fresh blood might be attracted and new administrators be found for a club in Todmorden to be established there.

In the meantime, some of Todmorden’s members have joined Hebden Bridge Chess Club and been welcomed with open arms as they have bolstered our numbers to the extent that we can be far more confident about being able to consistently field three teams across the two divisions this season. That hasn’t been the case in recent years.

Some consolidation and expansion has occurred elsewhere in the league too. Belgrave have seen John Morgan and Dave Patrick return to their ranks (a few years ago they represented Courier at the same venue but when Courier was discontinued they joined Halifax and Todmorden respectively) and this has enabled them to enter two teams into League 2 this season as former ‘A’ team regulars are now available for the ‘B’ team and ‘B’ teamers for the ‘C’ team.

Finally, League 2 has also welcomed back a Huddersfield ‘B’ team this season. It’s been a while since Huddersfield has had two teams in the league and this too is a very heartening development. It is worth mentioning to readers that, (PLEASE NOTE) whilst Huddersfield ‘A’ will continue to play their home matches at the Lindley Club on a Wednesday night, the ‘B’ team will play their home matches at the Honley Club in Holmfirth on a Monday night.

League 1, round 1 fixtures took place on Monday and Wednesday night this week. Here’s a quick re-cap of all the teams playing in League 1 this season:

  • Golden Lion (formerly Todmorden ‘A’ – League 1 Champions 2016-17)
  • Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (League 1 Runners-Up 2016-17)
  • Halifax ‘A’ (League 1 3rd place 2016-17)
  • Huddersfield ‘A’
  • Belgrave ‘A’
  • Halifax ‘B’
  • Hebden Bridge ‘B’
  • Brighouse (promoted as League 2 Champions 2016-17)

And so, to the action. Tradition holds that any derby matches between teams from the same club are held on the 1st and 8th rounds of the league season. This meant that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were pitted against each other and so were Halifax ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’. Additionally, Belgrave ‘A’ hosted Golden Lion and, on Wednesday evening, Huddersfield ‘A’ played Brighouse.

Last season Hebden Bridge ‘A’ only managed to draw against their ‘B’ team in the opening match of the season when they were playing at home (i.e. they all had the Black pieces). This time around although the ‘B’ team once again had the White pieces, the eventual outcome of the fixture more closely resembled the return match up from 2016-17 when Hebden Bridge ‘A’ won 4½ – ½.

One factor that had certainly changed since last season was the team line ups. Gone from the ‘A’ team line up on the 23rd of January were their top three boards, Matthew Parsons, Chris Bak and Dave Shapland. In their stead appeared John Allan (a ‘B’ team player last season), Pete Leonard (the team Captain this season) and Sam Swain (a welcome new arrival this summer). The side was completed by Neil Suttie (a Todmorden refugee) and ‘A’ team regular Nick Sykes.

Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team also saw some changes from the last time these two sides played with John Allan stepping up to the ‘A’ team and John Kerrane stepping out of the line up to make way for fresh blood. Martin was joined by Andy Leatherbarrow on board 2, a returning friend from Keighley Mark Stollery on board 3, a new member Paul Gledhill on board 4 and a familiar friend Terry Sullivan on board 5.

With the ‘B’ team out-graded by at least 20 points on each board, they could have anticipated a tricky evening and so it proved as the stronger ‘A’ team squad drew two and won three of the games despite all operating the Black pieces.
On board 1, ‘B’ team Captain Syrett ventured his favorite King’s Gambit against John Allan. John took and kept the gambit pawn but as the game eventually simplified down to a rook and three pawns versus rook and two pawns ending it became clear that it wasn’t so easy for Black to convert his extra pawn and finally the players agreed to a draw.

Andy Leatherbarrow played an English Opening to counteract Pete Leonard’s favoured Grunfeld set up on board 2 and a very closely contested and finely balanced game ensued which eventually was agreed drawn. However, the kibitzing Matthew Parsons thought Andy might have had a winning ending when the result was agreed.

The game on board 3 between Mark Stollery with White and Sam Swain with Black developed into one of the evening’s sharper battles after the agreed upon the Meran variation of the Semi-Slav as their chosen terrain for the opening phase. It appeared that Sam built up a good deal of pressure but the assessment of the position was still unclear. Later on Mark sacrificed a piece for an attack but Sam defended stoutly and was able to consolidate and win the game with the extra material.

On board 4 the ‘A’ team’s Neil Suttie faced a new member, Paul Gledhill who has just arrived in the Calder Valley from Manchester. He set out his chess-playing style by essaying the Urusov Gambit. Neil responded cautiously and carefully before building an attack on the White king that led him to win first a piece and then the game.

Finally, on board 5, Nick Sykes played the Nimzo-Indian against Terry Sullivan and gained a god position from the opening before both players overlooked a strong tactical idea for White that would have kept Terry in the game. Once he’d missed his chance Nick didn’t give him another and won the game soon after.

Here are the full match details:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
J.Allan ½ – ½ M.Syrett (White)
P.Leonard ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (White)
S.Swain 1 – 0 M.Stollery (White)
N.Suttie 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (White)
N.Sykes 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (White)
4 – 1

A good start for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ then and they look to have a very compact line up with all players rated within a 20 point range. With occasional appearances from the likes of Matthew Parsons and the Bak brothers, they will certainly be in the running for the league title again this season.

The other derby match at Halifax threw up a great surprise as Halifax ‘B’ beat their ‘A’ team colleagues rather handily. To be sure, the ‘A’ team does not look as strong as it has done in recent years with John Morgan moving back across town to Belgrave and Darwin Ursal and Winston Williams both missing. Never the less, the line up on paper should have been sufficient to have gotten the job done, but derby matches can be strange affairs, especially when it’s the first match of the season and blunders are perhaps more likely.

In any case, with the ‘A’ team all having the Black pieces, the statistical advantage was diminished and on the night Pete Hughes overcame Bill Somerset on board 1 and Vivienne Webster and John Nicholson beat Sam Scurfield and David Loughenbury respectively overturning significant rating differences in the process. The bottom board was drawn which left only the ‘A’ team captain, Richard Porter, to salvage a consolation point for his team by beating his counterpart Scott Gornall on board 2.

The third match to take place on Monday night was between Belgrave ‘A’s new beefed up side and Golden Lion. This was probably the heavy weight encounter of the round in terms of teams who may be vying for the title at the end of the season. Golden Lion’s top three boards (Martyn Hamer, Pete Mulleady and Andrew Clarkson) have done the business for Todmorden ‘A’ over the course of the last three seasons, but on this occasion they were matched by Belgrave’s Ian Hunter, John Morgan and Dave Patrick. Of these three boards perhaps only Andrew Clarkson will feel he should have achieved more than a draw for his efforts.

This match was sealed for the ‘Champions’ by wins on the bottom two boards. On board 4 Dave Shapland over whelmed Malcolm Corbett’s Pirc when his opponent chose swift expansion on the queen’s side over piece development and then played inaccurately at a crucial moment to allow Dave a mating attack. Later, David Innes saw off Karim Khan in a game that was typical of his street fighting style. The opening was off beat, the tactics obscure and, although it appeared at one point that Karim had the upper hand, shortly afterwards he found himself a whole rook down for just two pawns and the rest was fairly straight forward for David.

On Wednesday evening Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted neighbors Brighouse in the final match of round 1. Again on paper this looked like a total mis-match as Huddersfield out-rated the visitors 45 points or more an all of the bottom four boards! That they only won by the narrowest possible margin was down largely to the efforts of Brighouse’s top board, Robert Broadbent who drew with Greg Eagleton, their team Captain Paul Whitehouse who drew with Andrew McFadden and a new Brighouse player, journeyman Adrian Dawson who has joined the club to help bolster their dwindling numbers, who dispatched Dave Tooley on board 4. Dave Keddie and Steve Westmoreland restored order for Huddersfield by winning on boards 2 and 5 to see the home side over the line.

At the end of round 1, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are top of the opening league table having been the only side able to win by a margin of 4 – 1. Golden Lion and Halifax ‘B’ are just behind them on board count with Huddersfield in fourth. Based on the first round of match one would have to conclude that the title honours will be fought out between Golden Lion, Hebden Bridge ‘A’, Huddersfield and probably Belgrave ‘A’. We’ll have to wait and see but the league certainly looks like it will once again be very competitive this season.

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