Nov 162019
 

Huddersfield ‘A’ slowed down Hebden Bridge ‘A’s attempt to retain their title by holding them to a draw. Photo credit: veggiefrog’s Flickr photostream

Your editor is freshly home from his holidays and recognizes the need to catch up on the Calderdale Evening League scene which has now played three rounds of fixtures since our last post. In this missive we’ll cover the League 1 action from fixtures played on the 28th of October and also the League 2 matches played on the 4th of November.

League 1

We’ll start with title holders Hebden Bridge ‘A’ who hosted a Huddersfield ‘A’ team that has been struggling somewhat so far this season with defeats against Halifax ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ sandwiching a win over Brighouse in round 2.

Hebden were missing their top three boards from their previous match against their ‘B’ team. Matthew Parsons, Stavros Pantazopoulos and Dave Shapland were all unavailable, but into the side came the Bak brothers, Chris and Andy and also the returning Pete Leonard who had been absent for their previous match. Andy Leatherbarrow and Neil Suttie made up the full compliment.

On paper this side looked to have a decent edge over the visiting line up which had plenty of experience but not the same strength, especially on the top couple of board as they fielded with Steve Westmoreland, Dave Keddie, Nick Sykes, Richard Boylan and David Booth.

Unfortunately for the hosts, this was one of those occasions where the form book was not reflected in the result. Andy Bak and Neil Suttie beat Dave Keddie and David Booth on boards 2 and 5 respectively and Andy Leatherbarrow drew with Nick Sykes on board 3 but there were blunders by Chris Bak and Pete Leonard on boards 1 and 4 which saw the visitors grab the two wins they needed to tie the match. Kudos to Huddersfield for taking their chances in these games and effectively slowing down the momentum that was building in the holders attempts to retain their title. Hebden were happy not to have dropped both match points in the end. Here’s the full match card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
C.Bak 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (W)
A.Bak 1 – 0 D.Keddie (W)
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ N.Sykes (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 R.Boylan (W)
N.Suttie 1 – 0 D.Booth (W)
2½ – 2½

This result meant that Halifax ‘A’ stayed top of the League by a single point despite having their bye week. It also gave the Hebden Bridge ‘B’ team a chance to close the gap on their colleagues with a tight win at home over somewhat weakened Belgrave ‘A’ line up. The visitors arrived without Tony Slinger, Malcolm Corbett or Peter Hughes in train and, although John Morgan and Dave Patrick succeeded in holding draws against their higher rated opposition on the top two boards, Karim Khan and Chris Edwards were dispatched by Andrew Clarkson and Sam Swain respectively. However, Steve Harrington beat Paul Gledhill on board 5 to give the visiting team a single win and keep the scoreline respectable.

The full match score card was:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Belgrave ‘A’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ J.Morgan (W)
P.Cook ½ – ½ D.Patrick (W)
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 K.Khan (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 C.Edwards (W)
P.Gledhill 0 – 1 S.Harrington (W)
3 – 2

Several games from these two Hebden Bridge matches can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. My thanks to all the players concerned for sending in their games for publication. This website would not be nearly so interesting without games to look at!

The third match of the round saw back markers Brighouse beaten by Belgrave ‘B’ at home. This moved the visitors further ahead of their opponents and gave them a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. Remember that two teams go down from league 1 this season but only one will be promoted from league 2.

League 2

Speaking of which… last week saw round 4 of the League 2 season with the teams starting their second cycle of four this season. For Hebden Bridge ‘C’ this meant a home tie against a Belgrave ‘C’ team that had pipped them at the post in the opening match. The players were hungry for revenge and duly got it with a fine team display that saw Andy Leatherbarrow, John Kerrane, Paul Gledhill and Terry Sullivan all win their games against Chris Edwards, Angel Gonzales, Paul Edwards and Paul Jacobs respectively. Only Chris Marsden on board 5 went down to defeat after a blunder in his game.

The match scorecard looked like this:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
A.Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 C.Edwards (W)
J.Kerrane 1 – 0 A.Gonzales (W)
P.Gledhill 1 – 0 P.Edwards (W)
T.Sullivan 1 – 0 P.Jacobs (W)
C.Marsden 0 – 1 R.Pratt (W)
4 – 1

With this result Hebden joined their defeated foes on 4 points for the season so far. These two sides are now 4 points behind the run-away leaders, Huddersfield ‘B’. They consolidated their advantage with a crushing 4½ – ½ win at home against Halifax ‘B’. Only Howard Wood on board 1 was able to hold a draw against David Gray.

Next week we will feature another double-billed report as we cover the matches played in League 1 on Monday night and also the League 2 matches being played next week.

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Oct 282019
 

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ got off the mark at the third time of asking last Monday night when they beat Halifax ‘B’ away. Photo credit: The U.S. Army’s Flickr photo stream

Just a short report this week folks as your Editor is away on his holidays.

Last Monday night saw the third round of Calderdale League 2 take place with the top two teams facing each other for the right to lead the League and the bottom two facing off to see who would get out of the basement.

Sadly Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were in the second of these contest having lost against Belgrave ‘C’ and Huddersfield ‘B’ by the narrowest possible margin. Now they faced Halifax ‘B’ in a match that would decided who would be the back markers after the first of four rounds of fixtures.

Hebden fielded their strongest line up yet with Andy Leatherbarrow on board 1 and Pete Leonard on board 2. Neil Bamford played on 3 with Paul Gledhill on 4 and Chris Marsden on 5.

Hebden’s captain on the night was Andy Leatherbarrow and he reports that it was a very noisy night at the Lee Mount venue as the players had to play in room next to bar rather than the usual room due to the venue having other conflicting commitments. There were some very loud drunken people around which made concentrating on the games rather hard but it seemed to disturb the home side more than the visitors.

Horward Wood played Andy on board 1 was so perturbed that he decided to resign on the loss of a pawn early on as he was fed up with background noise. Shortly afterwards Pete Leonard won on board 2 when his opponent blundered horribly and this was followed by Neil Bamford winning on board 3. Chris Marsden also won what was just his second ever competitive over the board game. He must think  this chess lark is all rather easy! Last to finish was board 4 where Paul Gledhill struggled on a pawn down but lost to Barry Wadsworth in an endgame.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Halifax ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
H.Wood 0 – 1 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
D.Rowley 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W)
A.Whiteley 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W)
B.Wadsworth 1 – o P.Gledhill (W)
E.Fynn 0 – 1 C.Marsden (W)
1 – 4

In the other League 2 match, Huddersfield ‘B’ seized sole ownership of the top spot after they beat Belgrave ‘C’ 2 – 3 away. The home side succeeded in beating higher rated opponents on board 2 and 3 where Chris Edwards and Les Johnson took down David Gray and Granville Boot respectively. However, the visitors won all three of the other boards to take the match.

This week the League 1 teams return to action and we hope to bring you a brief report and some games from the Hebden Bridge teams later this week.

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Oct 202019
 

Black to move in Clarkson vs. Sykes. Andrew had just played 20.f4 threatening to open up lines towards Nick’s king. What would you do with Black here? Nick took an unusual but effective approach. Find out what he did in the game viewer at the end of this post.

We’ve two weeks’ worth of action to catch up on in this post and, coincidentally, two matches featuring Hebden Bridge against Huddersfield teams. The aggregate score is proudly displayed in our title but that masks the fact that we won one by a huge margin and lost one by fractions.

First of all, a week last Monday, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ undertook the odyssey of travelling to Holmfirth to take on Huddersfield ‘B’. The hosts are probably the favorites to take the League 2 title having been relegated from League 1 last season, but Hebden Bridge have decent players available to them too and were still more than capable of causing an upset though they were out graded on every board.

It was a brutal match in the end with none of the five boards ending peaceably. The visitors fought well but fell just short of causing a big upset. On board 1 Andy Leatherbarrow was winning against Leo Keely, but lost track of time and didn’t manage to reach the time control.

Meanwhile, Neil Bamford bounced back from losing his first match of the season on board 2 with an excellent win over David Gray. He won a knight in the middle game and tidied up nicely. John Kerrane never really managed to make a mark on Granville Boot on board 3 and Paul Gledhill ‘went for glory’ on board 4 against Simon Anscombe, but his attack didn’t come off and he went down.

On board 5 though, debutant Chris Marsden outplayed his opponent nicely, tripling his heavy pieces on the b-file to dominate the game and not becoming discombobulated when Black tried to mix things up by sacrificing a knight for two pawns.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Huddersfield ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
L.Keeley 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
D.Gray 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W)
G.Boot 1 – 0 J.Kerrane (W)
S.Anscombe 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
J.Hills 0 – 1 C.Marsden (W)
3 – 2

In the other match in League 2, Belgrave ‘C’ smashed Halifax ‘B’ by 4½ – ½. Dave College was out graded on board 1 against Scott Gornall but managed to hold the draw while the rest of his team-mates all held rating advantages over their opponents and duly dispatched them.

Those results mean that Huddersfield and Belgrave are on a collision course to fight for the top spot when they meet on Monday night whilst Hebden Bridge ‘C’ will hope to avoid sinking to the bottom of the table when they face Halifax away.

Now on to last week’s matches in League 1. Reigning champions and league leaders, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ sat out the round 3 matches and were interested by-standers as they waited to see if any of their rivals could over-haul them at the top.

Like their ‘C’ team colleagues the previous week, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ travelled to Huddersfield on Monday night, although they made a slightly shorter trip to the Lindley Liberal Club. Hebden had pretty much as strong a line up as the one they had sported in the derby match in round 2 with Pete Leonard (un needed by the ‘A’ team) returning to play on board 5 in place of Richard Bedford.

Hebden’s fire power was simply far too much for Huddersfield to handle. Without their top two rated players they were heavily out gunned on the top boards and forced to promote what would have been highly competitive lower board players to fill the gap.

Of course, Huddersfield fought hard and made Hebden work for their victory but Martyn Hamer over came Dave Keddie on board 1 and Phil Cook found a chink in Steve Westmoreland’s armour when the Huddersfield captain tried to block up the position and build a fortress.

On the lower boards, Sam Swain and Pete Leonard played the same opening variation against Richard Boylan and David Booth’s French Defence. However, whereas Pete never really looked like slipping up on board 5, Sam seemed to be in trouble against Richard towards the end of the middle game but managed to turn the tables to enter a rook and pawn ending with an extra pawn. In time trouble, Richard capitulated when he might still have salvaged a draw.

That just left the board 3 match between Andrew Clarkson and Nick Sykes. Predictably this was the heaviest theoretical duel of the night with the players continuing their discussion of the 6.h3 line of the Najdorf. This line is trendy enough that Magnus Carlsen played it in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss earlier this week! Nick has been good enough to annotate the game and send it through for publication – see the game viewer at the end of this post. It seems that Andrew secured an advantage but, with both players in time trouble, he was unable to find the best procedure and a draw was agreed in the last game of the night to finish as Nick secured a sole half point for his team.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Keddie 0 – 1 M.Hamer (W)
S.Westmoreland 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
N.Sykes ½ – ½ A.Clarkson (W)
R.Boylan 0 – 1 S.Swain (W)
D.Booth 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W)
½ – 4½

Elsewhere, Halifax ‘A’ took full advantage of Hebden Bridge ‘A’s absence to go top of the table by beating Belgrave ‘B’ at Claremount Road. The hosts managed to draw on board 2 and win on board 5 but were otherwise put to the sword with Winston Williams leading the charge on board 1 as he stayed perfect for the season winning his third game.
Also, at the Belgrave Social Club, their ‘A’ team continued to make Brighouse’s return to the top flight a miserable one as they won 4½ – ½. Only Robert Broadbent on board 1 was able to resist.

So, Halifax ‘A’ are top of the table with 6 points from three matches. Belgrave ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are on 4 points but Hebden have only played two matches. Hebden ‘B’ and Huddersfield ‘A’ have 2 points each (Hebden have also have a match in hand) and Belgrave ‘B’ and Brighouse are bottom.

There are a selection of games from the last two weeks in the game viewer below.

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Oct 042019
 

Ingmar Bergmans’ ‘The Seventh Seal’ contains the most iconic chess game in cinematic history. At it’s heart Max Von Sydow’s character chooses to answer our question for today: “Chess or extinction?” with the answer “Chess”. Which of us wouldn’t do the same?

On Monday night patrons of the Golden Lion in Todmorden were greeted with this seemingly stark ultimatum as they entered the premises. The occasion was the first local derby match of the Calderdale Evening Chess League season between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and the alternative on offer was an ‘Extinction Rebellion’ group meeting taking place upstairs. Our genial host merrily posited these two options from behind the bar to any customer who she didn’t really recognise. It didn’t fail to raise a chuckle from the chess players, who were in the know, and quizzically alarmed looks from genuine newcomers.

It’s the kind of scenario that can only really happen out at the Golden Lion. On Monday what could turn out to be one of the most serious and earnest chess matches of the season was punctuated by musical interludes from the bar next door. Funky breaks and wailing guitar solos were in plentiful supply. It could have been off-putting (and possibly would have been at another venue) but at the Golden Lion pretty much all the players seemed to be bobbing their heads in appreciation and even humming the tunes to themselves at some point. It certainly didn’t seem to adversely affect the standard of the chess being played, which was pretty high.

Last year, the Hebden Bridge based team beat the Todmorden based team not only in the corresponding fixture but to the title too. The Golden Lion fraternity had a desperately awful start to the season last year, drawing one and losing four of their first five matches. They were not helped by having some lower rated players on boards 4 and 5 early for the early matches before the roster stabilised. This time around, with Hebden Bridge ‘C’ having been relegated last year and a few new players arriving at the club, the ‘B’ team is stronger. Much stronger. Ferociously strong. The five players in the line-up on Monday sported an average ECF rating of 174.8!! Those five in order were Martyn Hamer; the Calderdale Individual Champion of the last three seasons, Phil Cook; Andrew Clarkson; Sam Swain and Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford. It’s got to be one of the strongest lines-ups ever fielded in the league – certainly it is just about the strongest your correspondent has ever seen.

The reigning champions had strengthened their line up too! They boasted an average rating of 172.8 and were comprised of Matthew Parsons; Calderdale League debutant, Stavros Pantazopoulos; Dave Shapland, Andy Leatherbarrow and Neil Suttie. With the two teams so closely matched it was bound to be a tight, tense and enthralling match. It also promised to be a very late night, and that was exactly how it turned out.

The ‘A’ team playing White, did their best to try and exploit their ‘advantage’ in the early stage of the evening. On board 1, Matthew and Martyn duelled in Matthew’s favorite London System. The early exchanges were very cagey and Matthew appeared to get very little from the opening despite his best efforts. On board 2 it was a different story as Phil met Stavro’s 1.d4 and 2.c4 with a very unorthodox approach. It cost him a pawn early on and it wasn’t clear if it was a gambit or a blunder, but it certainly led to some unclear and unusual positions. More importantly, it caused Stavros to start thinking hard and, with him playing the relatively short evening league time limits for the first time, he soon got very behind on the clock.

Dave Shapland sprang a surprise on Andrew Clarkson on board 3 – well maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t – as he decided to take on Andrew’s Grunfeld rather than having yet another go at his Pirc which he has never yet been able to defeat. Inspired by some recent games from the FIDE World Cup, Dave played the first moves of the mainline exchange variation and then selected an offbeat continuation with 8.Bb5+. He succeeded in stabilising his pawn centre and getting his pieces developed onto active squares in the opening while Andrew was given some problems to solve from the early stages.

Andy Leatherbarrow and Sam Swain contested an English Opening in which the centre of the board soon become rather blocked with pawns. Both players switched their efforts to counter attacks on opposite flanks with Sam playing f5 and Andy playing b4 to try and break the position open in their favour.
Finally, on board 5, Neil and Beaky contested the latter’s favoured Nimzowitsch Defence. This too was a very tense game in the early stages with Beaky gradually manoeuvring his pieces over to the king’s side to build what looked like a dangerous attack.

For much of the night it was really difficult to see which way the match would go as all the boards seemed rather unclear. Slowly but surely though, the games started to resolve themselves. The first to finish was the board 2 match where Stavros found himself with a rook and pawn versus Phil’s knight and bishop. He also found himself very short of time as early as move 20! Phil too had consumed a fair deal of time and the end of the game demonstrated the tension of the encounter and the pressure of the clock as Stavros overlooked a move that would have secured him the advantage and instead actually handed Phil with a winning opportunity. However, Phil in turn missed his opportunity as he opted to sacrifice a bishop to force a perpetual check and the game ended abruptly in a draw. This was a rather curious but by no means bad game.

The game on board 1 finished next with both players choosing not to take any undue risks although it looked like they explored some interesting possibilities in the post-mortem. There’s a health respect between Matthew and Martyn who have both won games from each other in the past. This time it was a draw.

The home side took the lead shortly afterwards when Sam beat Andy on board 4. In a very complicated middle game, Sam finally succeeded in opening up the position in the centre and damaging the White king’s protective shield. Meanwhile, Andy opened the b-file for his heavy pieces. It would appear that this scenario favoured Black because, by the time Andy had decided on a tactical approach with 24.Re6!? it looks like he was already in trouble. Sam found the right solution to the problem and emerged an exchange up. Andy didn’t have enough compensation and his king was too exposed to try and mount a serious counter-attack. Sam snuffed out any counter play and mopped up efficiently.

I often think you can measure the intensity and drama of a chess game by the number of pints consumed by the players. The game between Neil and Beaky was clearly a ‘six pint’ game, which says it all really.

The champions struck back on board 3 where Dave’s initiative against Andrew built up into a strong attack. Andrew may have missed a couple of fleeting opportunities to defend himself more robustly but generally the position was much harder for Black to play than White and once Dave had been able to initiate a rook lift and transfer his queen to the h-file it was all over bar the king hunt as Andrew’s monarch staggered drunkenly up the board as far as d5 in the vain hope of finding a refuge.

And that meant that the outcome of the match would be settled by the board 5 encounter. As the rest of the players gathered around it was far from clear who was better if anyone. Both Neil and Richard burned their clocks down to almost nothing before the time control and then almost as soon as they’d had their 15 minutes added, they slowed down their rate of play and got into time trouble again!

It’s clear from the game analysis that the pendulum swung between these two several times during the game but in the end the game and the match was decided when Beaky over-stepped the time limit and sportingly pointed it out himself. By that point Neil seemed to have secured a winning advantage anyway.

Here’s the final score card from what was a fabulous match full of interesting play and you can find four of the five games with some annotations in the game viewer at the bottom of this post.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ M.Parsons (W)
P.Cook ½ – ½ S.Pantazopoulos (W)
A.Clarkson 0 – 1 D.Shapland (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
R.Bedford 0 – 1 N Suttie (W)
2 – 3

Elsewhere on Monday night Huddersfield ‘A’ were busy putting Brighouse to the sword in much the same fashion that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had done in round 1. The score was ½ – 4½ and this time it was Robert Broadbent on board 1 who salvaged Brighouse’s pride by holding Greg Eagleton to a draw. Nick Sykes, Alec Ward, Steve Westmoreland and David Booth all won their games.

At the Lee Mount Cllub in Halifax, Halifax ‘A’ were rustling up a highly convincing victory against last season’s runners up, Belgrave ‘A’. Certainly, Belgrave were weaker for this match than they had been for their first-round match, missing Tony Slinger and Colin Proctor as they were. Into the breach stepped Malcolm Corbett and Steve Harrington. Halifax meanwhile welcomed back Richard Porter to board 3 and this strengthened their line up enough for them to be higher rated on all five boards. The home team won on all three of the top boards as Darwin Ursal, Winston Williams and the afore mentioned Richard Porter beat John Morgan, Dave Patrick and Malcolm Corbett respectively. Karim Khan and Steve Harrington held their adversaries, Carlos Velosa and Vivienne Webster to draws as Halifax romped home 4 – 1.

All these results mean that after two rounds, only Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ have perfect scores and 7½ board points each. Huddersfield and Belgrave ‘A’ have two points each and the other three are yet to score although both Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have both got a game in hand.

In round 3 it will be the reigning champions turn to sit it out as Halifax will be given the chance to go top on their own if they beat Belgrave ‘B’ away.

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Sep 282019
 

Calderdale Evening Chess League 2 got off the ground on Monday night. Photo Credit: liftmeupletmefall’s Flickr photo stream

The four teams in the Calderdale Evening Chess League played their first fixtures of the season on Monday night. They are going to become very familiar with each other this season as, with such a small number of teams in the league they will play each other four times – twice home and away. It could be quite a tight league although, on the basis of the first round of fixtures, one would imagine that Huddersfield ‘B’ are the favorites to win the title and take the sole promotion spot this year.

Indeed, Huddersfield made pretty light work of what looked like a reasonable Halifax ‘B’ team on Monday as they cruised to a 1 – 4 victory at the Lee Mount Club. Leo Keely set the tone for the visitors with a win over Richard Porter on board 1 but the David Gray, Alec Ward and John Hill also won their games against Pete Moss, David Rowley and Barry Wadsworth respective. Only the home sides fourth board, Andrew White, managed to salvage something for them with a win over Simon Anscombe.

Across the otherside of Halifax, Belgrave ‘C’ were hosting Hebden Bridge ‘C’ in what turned out to be a much tighter match which was edged by the hosts by 3 – 2. The visitors appeared to out grade their opponents on all boards but board 5 based on their ECF ratings, but, as not everyone in League 2 has an ECF rating yet (remember last season that League 2 matches were not rated) the line ups on paper are not always going to be what they seem in League 2 this season.

On board 1 Pete Leonard looked likely to win his game when a grabbed the gambit pawn in a Scandinavian Defence and seemed to be able to hold on to it for quite some time. However, his opponent, Dave Colledge, always had good piece activity for his sacrificed material and saved himself with a perpetual check.

The board 2 game saw Neil Bamford miss a draw  and stumble to defeat in the endgame against Les Johnson in a game where Neil’s early advantage slipped away whilst on board 3, John Kerrane blundered in a promising position and left himself a pawn down with no compensation against Angel Gonzalez. Angel went on to grind out the win.

Paul Gledhill won the only game of the night for the visitors playing a very unbalanced attacking game on board 4 against Paul Edwards. He finished with a spectacular ‘White to play and win’ type position.

Finally, on board 5, young Zora Sandhu held Paul Jacobs to a draw.

Here’s the final match scorecard:

Belgrave ‘C’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘C’
D.Colledge ½ – ½ P.Leonard (W)
L.Johnson 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
A.Gonzalez 1 – 0 J.Kerrane (W)
P.Edwards 0 – 1 P.Gledhill (W)
P.Jacobs ½ – ½ Z.Sandhu (W)
3 – 2 

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Sep 202019
 

Newly promoted Brighouse were given an infernally warm welcome back to League 1 by the current champions on Monday night. Photo credit: chuffin’s Flickr photostream

The Calderdale Evening Chess League saw its opening round of fixtures for the 2019-20 season played on Monday night as League 1 teams gathered to test their metal and shake off any rustiness that may have accumulated over the summer break.

This season there are only seven teams in the League after the decision was taken at the League AGM in July to change a long-standing rule that stated that League 1 must have eight teams in it. The rule change means that League 2 can maintain four teams. Next season the numbers will change again to go to six teams in League 1 and five in League 2 – always assuming there are no more teams that disappear in the meantime of course!

This further change to the number of teams in each league means that two teams will be relegated from League 1 at the end of this season but only one will be promoted from League 2.

Right, let’s get kicked off with the match reports then. The reigning champions of League 1 are Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (though as they won the title as Hebden Bridge ‘B’ last season, they can hardly be named the ‘B’ team again this season can they?) and they faced off against the League 2 champions from last season, Brighouse. It was always likely to be a stern test for the new-comers and so it proved to be as they were roundly thrashed 4½ – ½.
The visiting team’s night got off to a pretty bad start when Tim Pryke blunder early on in his game against Pete Leonard on board 4 and resigned on move nine.

After that the pace of Hebden’s advance slowed down rather as three of the other four games became grinds. The exception was the board 1 game between Hebden’s Matthew Parsons and Brighouse’s Robert Broadbent. In this one Matthew gained a great deal of space on the queen’s side in a Closed Sicilian type of position. He followed this up with a positional exchange sacrifice that left Robert almost completely helpless, before finishing the game off with a checkmate in the endgame that his opponent was generous enough to let him play out.

Hebden were 2 – 0 up and cruising. The next game to finish was on board 5 where John Kerrane took down Brighouse debutant Dave Gunthorpe. This was a Queen’s Gambit Declined Exchange Variation game in which the Brighouse man acquitted himself well but then slowly started to bleed pawns through out the middle game. John accumulated his advantage and mopped up efficiently to make it 3 – 0. It was a similar story on board 3 where Andy Leatherbarrow essayed his Scandinavian Defence and slowly and steadily improved his position against Ronnie Grandage all the while giving his opponent no real active play. Finally, Andy was able to simplify down to a king and pawn ending in which he was a pawn up. This left Ronnie with little choice but to resign.

The last game to finish at least ensured Brighouse would not leave Hebden Bridge on the wrong end of a whitewash as their captain Paul Whitehouse held a draw against his counterpart Dave Shapland on board 2. This was a strange game originating from a London System. Dave had no problems equalising but was unable to create any significant problems for Paul after the queens were exchanged early in the game. Try as he might, Dave couldn’t avoid blocking the position up and it gradually became evident that he was going to need to take great risks to play for a win. That was unnecessary given the match situation and so, when Paul offered a draw at time control, Dave saw no reason to refuse.

The final match score was:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs Brighouse
M.Parsons 1 – 0 R.Broadbent (W)
D.Shapland ½ – ½ P.Whitehouse (W)
A.Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 R.Grandage (W)
P.Leonard 1 – 0 T.Pryke (W)
J.Kerrane 1 – 0 D.Gunthorpe (W)
4½ – ½

A fine start for Hebden and a difficult one for Brighouse who were seriously outgunned ratings-wise. At least they can console themselves knowing that the rest of their matches before Christmas should theoretically be against teams who finished below there first opponents last season.

With the league down to seven teams there are just three matches being played in each round with one team having a bye. This time round it was Hebden Bridge ‘B’. They will return to action on 3oth September when they will host their ‘A’ team at the Golden Lion for the first derby match of the season. That should be an absolute cracker if both teams can gather their full ordnance.

Away from Hebden Bridge, Belgrave ‘A’ beat their ‘B’ team in their first derby clash. The ‘A’ team look like a solid outfit this season with a new addition to their line up on board 4 in the form of Colin Proctor. On paper only the top board encounter between John Morgan and Gordon Farrar looked like it would be closely fought, and indeed it was drawn, but elsewhere the ‘B’ team held their higher rated opponents on boards 4 and 5 where Angel Gonzalez and Paul Jacobs drew with Colin Proctor and Karim Khan respectively. Belgrave ‘A’ did their damage on boards 2 and 3 where Dave Patrick beat Mike Barnett and Tony Slinger (who could very easily be playing on board 1) beat Chris Edwards.

The third match in the round took place at Halifax’s Lee Mount venue where Halifax ‘A’ hosted Huddersfield ‘A’. A first glance at the Halifax team suggests they could be a serious threat if they can get the returning Darwin Ursal and Winston Williams on to their top two boards on a regular basis. The home side were missing Bill Somerset and Richard Porter on Monday, if that pair join forces with Ursal and Williams then they’ll be capable of beating any team in the league. Instead their bottom three boards were Carols Velosa, Sam Scurfield and Vivienne Webster. Fine players all but not the same standard as Somerset and Porter.

By contrast, Huddersfield were slightly weaker than they often are at the start of the season. No Greg Eagleton or Mitchell Burke in their line-up. Instead, Captain Steve Westmoreland played on board 1 and was backed up by experienced players in the form of Dave Keddie, Nick Sykes and Richard Boylan and then another welcome newcomer to the Calderdale League, David Booth.

Huddersfield were out rated on every board but board 4 and the form books played out as Halifax took the match 3½ – 1½ with the home team not managing a single win with the White pieces. The wins for Halifax came on board 2, where Winston Williams beat Dave Keddie, and on board 5 where Vivienne Webster saw off David Booth.

All five games from the Hebden Bridge vs Brighouse match are in the game viewer below. Next week sees the return of League 2.

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