Oct 122018
 
There were no half measures at the Golden Lion on Monday night as all five games ended decisively between Hebden Bridge 'A' and Hebden Bridge 'B'. Photo credit: Kevin Harber (Flickr)

There were no half measures at the Golden Lion on Monday night as all five games ended decisively between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Photo credit: Kevin Harber (Flickr)

As mentioned in last week’s post the second of six (!!) Hebden Bridge derby matches in League 1 this season was postponed from last week until Monday evening. It was worth the wait though as no quarter was asked for and none was given as all five boards in the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’ match saw a decisive result and some interesting and enterprising chess was played.

Of course, the fixture was only paying lip service towards being a real derby as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are based in Todmorden at the Golden Lion. Last season Golden Lion had been beaten at home by the same opponents. It was the only match they lost as they clinched their fourth successive title. Hebden Bridge finished four points behind them in second place. It would be reasonable to assume then that these two sides should be in the mix for the title race again this season.

This time around the situation was somewhat different. Hebden bridge ‘B’ had started their season with a resounding win against their ‘C’ team while Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had lost out to Halifax ‘A’. However, the Todmorden-based team still sported a very strong line up with the spine of their quadruple title winning side all present. Andrew Clarkson was on board 1, Martyn Hamer on 2 and Phil Cook on 3. They were joined be Andrew Swales and Pete Dickinson. Swales is new to the team this season, but Dickinson played some games on board 5 last year and performed well.

Hebden ‘B’ meanwhile, whilst not having the same ordnance on all the top boards, certainly had strength in depth. Matthew Parsons played on board 1, Dave Shapland on 2, Pete Leonard on 3, Sam Swain on 4 and Neil Suttie on 5. This meant that the ‘B’ team were stronger on paper on the bottom two boards, weaker on boards 2 and 3 and then slightly stronger again on the top board. If the over the board encounters were as finely matched as it looked in the grading of the players then it was going to be a tight match.

And so it proved to be. All the games continued well into the second half of the evening and the results on all four boards were by no means pre-ordained. It seemed that Hebden ‘B’ would need to win at least one of the bottom two boards. In the end they won both. In the first result of the night, Neil Suttie built up methodically and sensibly against Pete Dickinson’s Philidor Defence. He managed to force Pete’s pieces into disharmony and was then able to take advantage of that with a nice combination starting with 20.Ng5. After Black’s response 20…Rg6 see if you can spot Neil’s continuation in the diagram on the right. After this the game drew to a swift conclusion.

Sam followed up on Neil’s good work with a slightly different sort of win. A highly complicated Chigorin System of the Ruy Lopez appeared on the board. Andy seemed to be making some progress with Black but then, just as had happened on board 5, his pieces seemed to somehow get in each other’s way whilst Sam’s were operating harmoniously. This led first of all to White winning a pawn and then, a little later, Andy was compelled to give up the exchange to prevent his queen from getting trapped. After that Sam was always in control even thought the complications persisted for a while longer. Finally, Sam forced simplifications and Andy resigned when he made a blunder in what was already a lost position.

It was 0 – 2 to Hebden ‘B’, and it seemed that they needed the buffer for by the time Sam had won his game, Pete Leonard had a losing rook and pawn ending on the board against Phil Cook and Dave Shapland, just like Andy and Pete before him, gotten his pieces in a tangle and was forced to give up his queen for a rook and bishop. Unlike Andy and Pete though he did have some counter play and a very resilient looking defensive position.

This all meant that the result on board 1 was absolutely critical to the outcome of the match result. Andrew had ventured a pseudo King’s Indian position against Matthew’s inevitable London System. This way of approaching the London has a decent reputation and indeed Andrew appeared to be holding his own only for Matthew to slowly out play him and exchange one type of advantage for another until he finally sealed it in a rook and pawn ending. By this time Pete had lost and Dave was only writhing in agony before Martyn dealt his death-blow but the result was no longer in doubt. Hebden ‘B’ had managed to beat the title holders away for a second successive season.

Here is the match card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
A.Clarkson 0 – 1 M.Parsons (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 D.Shapland (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 P.Leonard (W)
A.Swales 0 – 1 S.Swain (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
2 – 3

All the games from the match can be found in the game viewer below. Thanks to Andrew Clarkson and Matthew Parsons who have both annotated their game from Monday night.

This result means that Hebden Bridge ‘B’ are the only team with a 100% record after just two rounds! A most unlikely state of affairs. Belgrave ‘A’ are next in the table on 3 points. Then come Belgrave ‘B’, Huddersfield ‘B’, Halifax ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘A’ on 2. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ have 1 point and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are yet to get off the mark.

Next week the bottom two teams will play the last of the Hebden Bridge derby matched before Christmas while the top team host Huddersfield ‘A’ in what promises to be another tight match. Belgrave ‘A’ vs Halifax ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘B’ vs Huddersfield ‘B’ completes the fixtures.


League 2

This week also saw a second round of fixtures played in League 2. In this Belgrave ‘C’ crushed Halifax ‘C’ 1 – 4 with ‘Super’ Steve Harrington registering his fourth win out of four in both leagues so far this season. Chris Edwards and Paul Jacobs also won their games while boards 1 and 2 were drawn.

At the Trades Club Brighouse went one point better to whitewash Hebden Bridge ‘D’s line up of juniors and Huddersfield ‘C’ registered a walk over when Halifax ‘B’ defaulted their match.

All of this means that the new outfit, Huddersfield ‘C’ and the old stagers, Brighouse sit atop the League with 4 points. Belgrave ‘C’ and Halifax ‘B’ have 2 points and Halifax ‘C’ and Hebden Bridge ‘D’ have no points.

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Oct 072018
 
The Chinese won both the Open and Women's sections in Batumi. A rare and outstanding achievement.

The Chinese won both the Open and Women’s sections in Batumi. A rare and outstanding achievement.

Your editor is fresh back from a short holiday and, as you might expect, there is plenty to catch up on. This week we’ll get an update on Round 1 of the Calderdale Evening League 2 matches which took place last week and also the second round of League 1 matches that (mostly!) took place this week.

Before all of that though it would be most remiss not to reflect on the chess event that has been dominating coverage on all the big chess news sites for the last two weeks. What do you mean ‘Which event?’ Surely you’ve noticed that the biggest (literally) chess event in the world has been taking place in Batumi, Georgia. Yes, I mean the chess Olympiad.

Hillarp Persson vs. Laurusas. White to move. Black has just played Qf1 threatening to pick up the bishop after Qg2+ next. Can you see how the legendary attacker Tiger Hillarp Persson concluded the game with White here.

Hillarp Persson vs. Laurusas. White to move. Black has just played Qf1 threatening to pick up the bishop after Qg2+ next. Can you see how the legendary attacker Tiger Hillarp Persson concluded the game with White here.

For the past three editions of this great event, which is a real personal favorite of mine, I’ve been involved with running the Fantasy Chess Olympiad. Along with Matty Webb who did all the clever web development work, we’ve had a great time entertaining a global audience and providing them with an opportunity to engage with the Olympiad in a new and interesting way. Sadly, this time around, we both concluded some months ago that neither of us had the time or the energy to run it again. We hope it will make a return for the 2020 edition.

In some ways, not having the FCO to worry about over the last two weeks has left me with more time to enjoy the event itself. It has been extremely well covered in all the usual places and, for a change, England have actually performed creditably well.  The team this time consisted of Michael Adams, Luke McShane, David Howell, Gawain Jones and Nick Pert (Nigel Short was busy making a monkey of himself as a candidate for the FIDE presidency which is too long and tawdry a tail to discuss in any more detail here). After 9 of the 10 rounds England had managed to manouevre themselves into a three way share of third place and were genuine medal contenders having lost only one match to Azerbaijan at that stage.

Haast vs. Kosteniuk. Black to play. Former Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk finished off her opponent her in elegant style. The firs move is fairly obvious but can you see the whole idea?

Haast vs. Kosteniuk. Black to play. Former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk finished off her opponent her in elegant style. The firs move is fairly obvious but can you see the whole idea?

Unfortunately, they were then drawn against the Russians in round 10 and, despite the fact that the Russian line up looked marginally less frightening than it might have done (no Grischuk or Svidler), they still managed to beat our heroes fairly convincingly with Vladimir Kramnik on board 3 (!!!) downing David Howell in the only decisive game of the match. However, after this set back, England picked themselves up and managed to crush Kazakhstan to finish the event in fifth place. This is the best result for England at an Olympiad for over 20 years so congratulations to them.

In the end the Chinese won both the Open and Women’s sections following a dramatic final round that saw the infamous Sonneborn-Berger tie break invoked. this effectively meant that the final result wasn’t known for quite some time after all the top teams had finished as the results of their earlier opponents was also needed in order to calculate the tie break scores.

I might well return to the Olympiad briefly in my next post but for now, I’d like to share a couple of interesting positions that caught my attention. These are both featured on the right. See if you can find the winning continuations in both situations. The solutions are given (along with the games in full) in the game viewer at the bottom of this post.

Now, back to more local affairs…


Calderdale League 2

The first round of League 2 fixtures this season took place on Monday 24th of September and there was a very welcome last-minute surprise in the form of a Huddersfield ‘C’ team joining the league. This brought the total number of teams up to six and meant that one team would not need to take a bye in each round of fixtures. As it was our own ‘D’ team scheduled not to play in round 1 Huddersfield’s new arrivals were particularly welcome and travelled to the Trades Club to take on our juniors (plus John Kerrane!)

Huddersfield brought along a team with some new faces in it alongside some seasoned veterans. It looked like the visitors would be favorites on paper and so it proved over the board as they inflicted a whitewash on the home side. Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Huddersfield ‘C’
J.Kerrane 0 – 1 J.Lavan (W)
T.Dodd 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe (W)
Z.Sandhu 0 – 1 C.Bond (W)
L.Curry 0 – 1 M.Rojinsky (W)
J.Edmondson 0 – 1 P.Czerwinski (W)
0 – 5

Elsewhere in League 2, Brighouse dispatched Belgrave ‘C’ at the Belgrave Club with Robert Broadbent, Nick Hudson and Adrian Dawson all scoring wins for the visitors. Steve Harrington managed an excellent consolation point against Paul Whitehouse on board 3 and the bottom board was drawn. The local Halifax derby was only contested on four boards with the ‘B’ team sweeping aside the ‘C’ team on all of those to win the match 4 – 0.

These results see the new Huddersfield ‘C’ outfit go top of the table with Halifax ‘B’ and Brighouse in hot pursuit. One would expect these three teams to be duking it out right through the season.


Calderdale League 1

This week the second round of League 1 fixtures took place. But, before we dive into those it’s worth mentioning that the Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’ match, which was postponed from round 1, also took place on the 24th of September and resulted in a surprising and resounding defeat for the senior side by 4 – 1. The lower rated players in the ‘B’ team on boards 3, 4 and 5 all managed wins whilst on the top two boards, where the match ups were more even, the games were drawn.

This week though, Huddersfield ‘A’ bounced straight back on Wednesday night when they fielded a much stronger team against a Halifax ‘A’ side who were, conversely, far weaker than they had been against Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (@Golden Lion) in the first round. Even though Huddersfield defaulted their fifth board, they won on three of the others as Greg Eagleton, Mitchell Burke and Nick Sykes beat Richard Porter, Vivienne Webster and Pete Moss respectively. Nick has sent us his game which you will also find in the viewer at the end of this post.

By turns, Huddersfield ‘B’, having bagged that excellent derby win were soundly thrashed by Belgrave ‘A’ who had only managed a draw in their own derby match in the first round of fixtures. John Morgan on board 1, Karim Khan on board 4 and Steve Harrington (Again! He’s 3/3 for the season so far against higher rated opponents) on board 5 all won. On boards 2 and 4 Huddersfield managed to hold draws against higher rated opponents.

This just leaves us with Hebden Bridge ‘C’s match against Belgrave ‘B’ to report on. These two teams, along with Huddersfield ‘B’, appear to be the most likely candidates for relegation this season and so, seeing as Huddersfield ‘B’ had already won a match and Belgrave ‘B’ drawn one, it felt imperative that Hebden get off the mark. The match was pretty tight by all accounts. John Kerrane summarises proceedings for us below:

The two teams looked evenly matched on paper, and so it turned out on the night. Neil Bamford’s win for Hebden Bridge after a long endgame on board 4 was matched by Dave Colledge’s on board 5 for Belgrave. The other three games were drawn, leaving the final score level.

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Belgrave ‘B’
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½  G.Farrar
P.Gledhill ½ – ½ M.Barnett
J.Kerrane ½ – ½  K.Marsh
N.Bamford 1 – 0 L.Johnson
T.Sullivan 0 – 1 D.Colledge
2½ – 2½

The big clash between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ will take place at the Golden Lion on Monday night as the venue was not available for the match to be played last Monday. Should Hebden ‘A’ win that match then there would be no teams in the league with a 100% record after just two matches! It looks like this season could become very interesting indeed.

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Sep 212018
 
They're away! It all began again in the Calderdale Evening Chess League on Monday night. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Tomas' Flickr photostream

They’re away! It all began again in the Calderdale Evening Chess League on Monday night. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Tomas’ Flickr photostream

On Monday night the Calderdale Evening Chess League started up again as a round of League 1 fixtures were played.

As is always the case where any club has two or more teams in a division they are drawn to play each other in the first fixture of the year to ensure there can be no hint of collusion later in the season. This season Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and Belgrave all have two teams. Hebden Bridge actually have three with the team based at the Golden Lion now part of the club and named Hebden Bridge ‘A’.

As Golden Lion were last season’s champions (their fourth title in succession which is a feat only ever bettered by Courier ‘A’ who won the Anderson Trophy five successive times between 1986-87 and 1990-91) let’s start with them.

At the core of the Golden Lion team is the same spine that has helped them to those last four league titles, Martyn Hamer, Andrew Clarkson and Phil Cook. This year though their top scorer from last season, Dave Shapland, has based himself back at the Trades Club as Captain of Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and David Innes and Marc Turu, who played on board five between them for most of last season, have both moved on. In their stead came Andrew Swales and Jon-Paul Ellis who occupied the bottom two boards as they hosted Halifax ‘A’.

Halifax have had a turbulent few seasons themselves. They used to have a trio of super strong players on the top three boards themselves but Winston Williams and Darwin Ursal were both missing last season and the team felt their loss keenly. However, for this first match of the season, Winston was back on board 1 and with Bill Somerset on board 2, Richard Porter on 3, Carlos Velosa on 4 and Sam Scurfield on 5, Halifax had a stronger line up than they’d managed to put out at any point in 2017-18.

Porter vs. Cook. White to move.

Porter vs. Cook. White to move.

It was always likely to be a tall order for Hebden ‘A’ on the lower boards and they weren’t helped when JP lost his game quickly and somewhat noisily. Unfortunately, this caused some distraction to other players on both sides and Andrew Swales lost his game shortly afterwards.

This put the top three Hebden ‘A’ players under a great deal of pressure and the remaining games went on long into the night. They could very well have pulled it off. Martyn managed to beat Winston, Andrew had Bill on the rack for significant chunks of the evening only for his adversary to defend himself stoutly and resourcefully to hold the balance and a draw.

This just left Phil cook and Richard Porter to decide the match. If Phil could win the match would be tied. Nay other result and Halifax would steal the win. Phil was a piece and a pawn up when he made time control and all looked well but it seems he may have drifted back into time trouble for he made a most uncharacteristic blunder on move 41 and this basically cost him the game on the spot as Richard spotted a nice tactic. See if you can find it in the position on the right.

The games from the top three boards can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. Here is the final match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (@Golden Lion) vs. Halifax ‘A’
M.Hamer 1 – 0 W.Williams (W)
A.Clarkson ½ – ½ B.Somerset (W)
P.Cook 0 – 1 R.Porter (W)
A.Swales 0 – 1 C.Velosa (W)
JP.Ellis 0 – 1 S.Scurfield (W)
1½ – 3½

So, an early season set back for the reigning champions that will give the other teams in the League this year hope of stealing their crown. There is a long, long way to go though.

Meanwhile at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were playing their derby match against Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Hebden ‘B’ welcomed back the strongest player in the league (on paper at least) in the form of Matthew Parsons. Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard, Sam Swain and Neil Suttie made up their formation.

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ had the luxury of having more players than they needed and so their Captain, Martin Syrett generously sat the match out to enable others to play. The ‘C’ team lined up with Andy Leatherbarrow, Neil Bamford, John Kerrane, Terry Sullivan and Luca Curry. With significant differences in the players ratings on all the boards this match always looked like it would be a tough challenge for the ‘C’s but they’ve been known to cause derby upsets before and they put up spirited resistance before succumbing on this occasion.

Leatherbarrow vs. Parsons. Black to play

Leatherbarrow vs. Parsons. Black to play

The first game to finish saw Dave Shapland take advantage of some early season rustiness on Neil Bamford’s part to win swiftly but the other games all went on much, much longer. On board 3, the lack of ‘match fitness’ (if you can call it that!) showed itself even earlier as Pete Leonard confused two different variations of the Grunfeld Defence and lost a pawn as early as move 6. Sometimes, this kind of thing can be overcome but John Kerrane maintained his material and restricted Pete’s counter play for quite a long time. Later in the game he gave Pete a glimmer of hope before finding the right way to close out the game with some good technical play. The match was level.

Sadly, that was as close as the ‘C’ team got. First, Matthew sealed a fine win with the King’s Indian Defence by finding a very smart pretty tactic. See if you can spot it in the diagram on the right. Then Sam saw off Terry in the endgame before Neil did much the same against Luca although he had held a material advantage for a significant chunk of the evening.

All five games from this match are in the viewer at the end of this post. Here are the final results:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
M.Parsons 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (W)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 J.Kerrane (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (W)
N.Suttie 1 – 0 L.Curry (W)
4 – 1

The third match to take place on Monday night was the one between Belgrave ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘B’. Again, on paper this looked like it should have been straight forward for the home team, but, playing Black and with a rating advantage on every board but board 5, they struggled greatly.

Gordon Farrar continued his strong recent form by holding Ian Hunter to a draw on board 1. New recruit Keith Marsh and Les Johnson did the same to Dave Patrick and Malcolm Corbett respectively. Meanwhile, the only player in the ‘A’ team line up to have a lower rating than his opponent (Steve Harrington against Angel Gonzales) won his game and this left Karim Khan with the task of holding Dave Colledge to a draw to squeeze out a win for Belgrave ‘A’. Sadly he was unable to manage it and Dave won the last game of the night to finish as the ‘B’ team took a very creditable draw indeed.

On Wednesday night Huddersfields ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams were due to meet but (perhaps unsurprisingly given their recent history) the fixture was postponed until next week. We will try and bring you that result then.

League 2 starts next week and the good news is that Huddersfield have been able to belatedly enter a ‘C’ team to the League which means that there won’t need to be a team taking a bye in each round of matches. Very welcome news that and so Hebden Bridge ‘D’ will host Huddersfield ‘C’ next week.

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Apr 222018
 

It’s been a very long time indeed since this website reported on the Calderdale Evening League so it’s time for an action replay! There is a lot of catching up to do so let’s begin at once and rewind back to week commencing Monday the 19th of February when League 1 teams convened for round 10.

Round 10

First of all an unusual and potentially very serious incident occurred on the Wednesday night as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ travelled to Huddersfield ‘A’ for an encounter that would likely decide which of these two teams would mount a serious challenge to league leaders Golden Lion. The match was building nicely when one of Huddersfield’s players became unwell and ultimately had to be taken to hospital after just 30 minutes play. Happily, we can report that the player concerned is ok but understandably the teams decided to abandon the match and rearrange the fixture for another day. More on this later.

This incident enabled Golden Lion to climb further clear at the top by thrashing the league’s back markers Brighouse away 0 – 5. All of the games were over by about 9.15 although in a couple of instances Brighouse’s players could have chosen to labour on in much worse positions rather than ending their evening’s early. It would almost certainly not have changed the outcome had they battled on.

Elsewhere, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ defaulted their second match of the season as they were unable to raise a side for the away match at Halifax ‘A’. Halifax themselves only had four players and for the results was recorded as 4 – 0 to the home side.

The final match of Round 10 between Halifax ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘A’ ended 1 – 4 to the visitors with wins by John Morgan, Richard Bowman and Karim Khan. Halifax salvaged good draws against higher rated opponents for Peter Hughes against Ian Hunter and Vivienne Webster against Dave Patrick.

Round 11

On the 12th of March Hebden Bridge ‘A’ faltered in their pursuit of Golden Lion as they failed to beat Belgrave ‘A’ away. They were greatly hampered by only having four players and indeed, would quite possibly have won the match if they had been able to field a full team. Pete Leonard got an excellent result when he beat Ian Hunter on board 1 and Nick Sykes drew with Dave Patrick on board 2. Sam Swain won on board 4 against Karim Khan but, with Belgrave’s Richard Bowman beating another Richard (Bedford) on board 3 and the default on board 5, it was only a drawn match for Hebden.

Golden Lion took full advantage of their pursuers slip up as they crushed Halifax ‘B’ at home 5 – 0. Halifax defaulted a board themselves but Andrew Clarkson won a very nice game on the Black side of an Anti-Grunfeld Variation against Pete Hughes, Dave Shapland played aggressively against Scott Gornall who survived a violent attack on his king only to emerge a piece down in a simple ending and Mick Connor and Marc Turu also scored wins against Vivienne Webster and Mac Randhawa respectively.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ bounced back from the disappointment of defaulting their round 10 match by edging out Brighouse in a tight match where all five games ended decisively. Hebden lost the top two boards as Robert Broadbent defeated Andy Leatherbarrow and Chris Lund beat Martin Syrett. However, Hebden won on board 3, 4 and 5 to snatch a vital victory that gives them a good chance of surviving relegation this season. Paul Gledhill, John Lavan and Neil Bamford scored the wins.

Sadly, there was another default fixture in round 11 as Halifax ‘A’ were unable to field a team at Huddersfield ‘A’.

Round 12

This brings us to a crucial round of ties played on the 26th of March as all of the top three played in the same venue. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ hosted Golden Lion and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ hosted Huddersfield ‘A’ at the Trades Club.

Hebden started the evening a point behind Golden Lion and knowing that only a victory would be good enough to keep realistic title hopes alive. However, they had been the only team so far this season to defeat their guests when they crushed them 1 – 4 at Golden Lion before Christmas.

This time around Hebden were not as strong as, although they welcomed back Matthew Parsons to top board for the occasion, they were without Andrew and Chris Bak and also John Allan. This meant that Pete Leonard, who played board 5 in the away match, was on board 2 and regulars Nick Sykes, Richard Bedford and Sam Swain completed the line-up.

Golden Lion meanwhile had strengthened their line up from that match pre-Christmas and replaced David Innes on board 5 with Mick Connor. The top four boards of Hamer, Clarkson, Cook and Shapland all played in the previous match and, on the night, all improved on their individual results from the home defeat to help Golden Lion move well clear at the top of the league.

The final position between Martyn Hamer and Matthew Parsons. Guess the result!

The final position between Martyn Hamer and Matthew Parsons. Guess the result!

On board 1, Martyn Hamer and Matthew Parsons played out a fascinating and highly complicated encounter that ended in a draw in a very unusual final position (see right). In previous encounters between these two they have circled each other carefully and exchanged prosaic wins in their last two match ups. This time the gloves came off and the sparks flew. This excellent and entertaining game appears in the game viewer at the end of this report along with some notes by Matthew.

Hebden did manage to win on board 5 just as they had done in the away match. This was another very complicated game where Sam Swain, having built up a very comfortable and promising position against Mick Connor decide to start sacrificing pieces to open up his opponent’s king. With the aid of a computer it is possible to find better defensive ideas than Mick did but, from a practical perspective, it was a very difficult position to defend and the attack looked very scary. Mick went wrong and Sam won in combustible style.

After this brief glimpse of optimism the other three boards all ended in defeat for the home side however. Dave Shapland got nothing from the opening against Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford but pounced on a brief window of opportunity afford to him by a slightly slow move by his opponent. Here too accurate defensive moves were required but they were hard to find and Beaky relented under pressure.

Nick Sykes seemed to be defending himself very solidly with Black against Phil Cook on board 3 but he too made one mistake and was brutally punished for his error as Phil converted mercilessly.

The final game to finish went on late into the night. Andrew Clarkson had lost any opening edge he may have had against Pete Leonard Alekhine’s Defence and the game seemed to be headed for a draw when the players entered a double bishop and pawns ending. Andrew had other ideas however and decided to continue playing, with no real risk of losing, just in case his team needed a victory to seal the match. By the time it became evident that he didn’t need to win he had managed to secure a winning advantage in a single bishop (same colour) and pawns ending. This game features twice in the game viewer as both players have analysed the game for us.

In the end Golden Lion won a match full of high quality and exciting chess to stamp their authority on the title race with two rounds to go. Here’s the final match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘A vs. Golden Lion
M.Parsons ½ – ½ M.Hamer (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 A.Clarkson (W)
N.Sykes 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
R.Bedford 0 – 1 D.Shapland (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 M.Connor (W)
1½ – 3½

Meanwhile, just across the room, third place side Huddersfield ‘A’ were locked in combat with Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Just like the other match, the hosts made a bright start with a win on the bottom board but were quickly overhauled by their higher rated opponents on the other boards.

It was John Kerrane on board 5 who gave the hosts something to cheer about. Huddersfield’s Robert Sutcliffe deployed his Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Kerrane could have played 2…e6 and simply transposed into his favorite French Defence, but he chose instead to take Robert on and was rewarded with a lively and active game in which the players castled on opposite wings. Although John’s attack looked quicker on the queen’s side, Robert found a way to block up the structure and then went on the attack himself on the king’s side. However, his attack also faltered and finally, John broke through in the centre, fittingly, with the extra pawn that he’d won on the second move, to take the full point.

Sadly, not long afterwards, Huddersfield were level as Steve Westmoreland took full advantage of a slightly eccentric opening sequence by Paul Gledhill and won a piece early in the game. That it took him a little while to patiently convert his advantage should not delude the reader that he was ever in any danger of failing to do so.

That just left the top three boards. On board 2 Dave Keddie and Mark Stollery set the board alight with some fiery complications in a game that Mark wanted to be an Alekhine’s Defence but Dave elected instead to steer into a Four Knights opening. Mark chose a very tactical continuation but he too blundered a piece early on. Dave made no mistakes and put the game away in 19 moves to put Huddersfield in the lead.

The match was won for the visitors when Leo Keely finished off Andy Leatherbarrow from a Spanish opening. On this occasion however, it was not to be a typical ‘Spanish torture’ with a slow build up and attack by White on the king’s side whilst Black aims for counter-play on the queen’s side. Instead, Leo actually won the game by grabbing an extra pawn on the queen’s side and liquidating down to a position where that extra pawn was able to push through to b7 and at the end he finished with a nice tactic to exploit Andy’s overloaded rook which couldn’t defend the back rank and the weak f7 square.

Finally, in the longest game of the match, Hebden’s Captain, Martin Syrett, was slowly and inexorably ground down by Dave Tooley who thereby helped his side clinch a convincing 1 – 4 victory. Here is the final match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs Huddersfield ‘A’
A.Leatherbarrow 0 – 1 L.Keely (W)
M.Stollery 0 – 1 D.Keddie (W)
M.Syrett 0 – 1 D.Tooley (W)
P.Gledhill 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (W)
J.Kerrane 1 – 0 R.Sutcliffe (W)
1 – 4

Elsewhere in Calderdale, Belgrave ‘A’ continued their resurgence as they took full advantage of more Halifax ‘A’ woes at the Lee Mount Club. Halifax defaulted board 2 and 3 and lost on the other three boards as the visitors emerged with a clean sweep and a slightly dissatisfied feeling despite the result.

Also at the Lee Mount, bottom side Brighouse finally managed to secure their first points of the season as the edged out Halifax ‘B’ in a tight encounter. The key to the match was the top two boards where both Robert Broadbent and Nick Hudson managed to beat Peter Hughes and Scott Gornall respectively. Two draws on boards 4 and 5 were enough to see Brighouse over the line. Kudos to them for getting off the mark in what’s been a tough season for them.

This round of fixtures all but crowned Golden Lion as league champions as they now sat four points clear of Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with two fixtures remaining. Hebden had an extra match in hand but they would still need Golden Lion to lose at home to Halifax ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘A’ in order to have any chance of catching them.

We’ll report on round 13 (which took place on the 9th of April) and 14 (which takes place next week) in our next report and also reflect on the final fixture in League 2. In the meantime there are a host of games available (16!)from rounds 10, 11 and 12 in the game viewer below. Thanks as always to those players who have sent us their games and annotated them.

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Feb 072018
 
Not quite 180 for the top three in League 1 last week but 13.5 out of a possible 15 game points isn't bad!

Not quite 180 for the top three in League 1 last week but 13.5 out of a possible 15 game points isn’t bad!

Last week teams from the top half of the division all played against teams from the bottom half in round 9 of the Calderdale Evening Chess League 1. These fixtures produced the kind of one-sided results that might have been expected especially as, in all but one of the four ties, the stronger teams had the White pieces on all five boards. Indeed, the top three teams dropped no more than a single defeat and a couple of draws between them as they made light work of their opposition.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ travelled to play Halifax ‘A’ at the Lee Mount Club. Halifax were without their Captain, Richard Porter and seemed to feel his loss keenly as the put out a comparatively weak team. They were out graded on every board except on board 1 and in the end all of the games followed the form books.

Bill Somerset was the only one of the home players to draw blood as he beat Pete Leonard in a Closed Sicilian where the players castled on opposite sides of the board. This type of game possibly suited Bill’s style more than Pete’s and, at least on this occasion, it was the Halifax man who took the day as his attack crashed through. Pete’s defensive task was practically quite challenging and he wasn’t able to find the most resilient moves.

That was as much as Halifax could muster however as they lost on all the remaining boards. Carlos Velosa had ‘one of those days’ on board 2 as he blundered numerous times to make Nick Sykes’ task relatively straightforward. Sam Scurfield faired better on board 3 as he closed the centre to slow down Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford’s play. However, the Hebden man opened the g-file with decisive effect and finished the game in brutal fashion. Neil Suttie and Sam Swain added gloss to the result by defeating Daniel Rowley and Mac Randhawa respectively.

Three of the games from this match can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. Here is the full match scorecard:

Halifax ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
B.Somerset 1 – 0 P.Leonard (W)
C.Velosa 0 – 1 N.Sykes (W)
S.Scurfield 0 – 1  R.Bedford (W)
D.Rowley 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
M.Randhawa 0 – 1  S.Swain (W)
1 – 4

At the Trades Club Hebden Bridge ‘B’ hosted league leaders Golden Lion. Martin Syrett has been able to field a core of four players pretty regularly this season and it was no different on this occasion as he, Andy Leatherbarrow, Paul Gledhill and Neil Bamford (who have all played at least 6 of the 9 fixtures thus far) were joined by John Kerrane who has played less frequently but is hardly a stranger to League 1 chess.

Despite this experienced line up and some spirited resistance by everyone on the team, Hebden were beaten soundly by a visiting side who out-rated them heavily on all but the bottom board. On board 1 Andrew Clarkson was the beneficiary of a blunder by Andy Leatherbarrow which lost a piece for nothing on the spot. There was no point in continuing and the avalanche had begun.

Board 2 saw Captain Syrett last rather longer against Phil Cook but he saw his position slowly eroded by his opponent who won a pawn on move 30 and then a second a few moves later. Martin can always be relied upon to muddy the waters even from a disadvantageous position, but on this occasion, the more he wriggled, the tighter the noose about his neck became. Immediately after time control, and already in a desperate position, he too blundered as he allowed Phil’s queen to fork his king and rook. It was game over.

John Kerrane also put up stiff resistance for forty moves or so against Mick Connor, but then, just as it looked like the game might fizzle out into a draw, Mick found a way to create some complications and John too made a tactical error which saw him lose a piece.

The last two games to finish were the most keenly contested. Never the less, on board 5 Marc Turu was able to grind down Neil Bamford, slowly accumulating small advantages which eventually amounted to a winning position. As his team mates had, Neil did his very best to graft for something but Marc was resolute forcing Neil to concede when he was three pawns in deficit and bound hand and foot.

Finally, there was a rather epic and tense encounter between Dave Shapland and Paul Gledhill. Dave applied some pressure in the opening and appeared at one point to have an over whelming advantage. However, he let numerous opportunities slip through his fingers, then played the ensuing endgame rather haphazardly to see all chances of victory slip away and even allowed Paul a brief opportunity to snatch a win at the death. However, this was one of those occasions when the player who has felt under constant pressure for most of the game was so relieved to see a certain draw that he didn’t really look for a win. Dave was given the chance to correct his error and the last game of the match was halved.

There are four games from this match in the game viewer below. Here is the match card:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Golden Lion
A.Leatherbarrow 0 – 1 A.Clarkson (W)
M.Syrett 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
P.Gledhill ½ – ½  D.Shapland (W)
J.Kerrane 0 – 1  M.Connor (W)
N.Bamford 0 – 1  M.Turu (W)
½ – 4½

This result leaves Golden Lion top of the league on board count. They are three game points clear of Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and both have 16 match points. Halifax ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ remain in fifth and sixth places respectively. They certainly can’t be sure of staying up and will have to ensure they pick up points against the bottom teams when they play them.

Back at the Lee Mount Club, Huddersfield ‘A’ were engaged in the slaughter of Halifax ‘B’ by ½ – 4½. On paper it looked like it should have been a white-wash and it nearly was with only home Captain, Scott Gornall managing a heroic result by drawing with Greg Eagleton who his rated almost 60 points higher than him. The rest of the side were put to the sword and this result ensures Huddersfield stay in the hunt for the title as although they are only on 11 match points they have two re-scheduled fixtures yet to play which, if both are won, will see them move up to be just one behind the two leaders.

The fourth match of the round saw Belgrave ‘A’ host back markers Brighouse. The visitors challenge looked even greater when they arrived with only four players. However, they should great fighting spirit to make the final score line the tightest of the round when Nick Hudson drew with John Morgan on board 2 and Paul Whitehouse went half a point better to beat Dave Patrick on board 3. Brighouse remain bottom of the league and Belgrave ‘A’ in fourth although they are seven points distant behind the leaders.

Be sure to tune back into these pages later this week when there will be a bumper update on the Calderdale Individual Championship when we cover rounds 3 and 4 (which took place on Monday night).

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Jan 212018
 
A suitably snow-related race for the seasonal conditions! Hebden Bridge 'A' and Golden Lion are the leaders in League 1 at the moment with little to choose between them. Photo used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from ERic Teela's Flickr photo stream.

A suitably snow-related race for the seasonal conditions! Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Golden Lion are the leaders in League 1 at the moment with little to choose between them. Photo used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Eric Teela’s Flickr photo stream.

It’s been over a month since our last report on the Calderdale League. We didn’t report at all on the seventh round of League 1 which took place just before Christmas. The main reason for this was that, unfortunately, neither Hebden Bridge team contested their scheduled matches. Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were unable to field a team and defaulted their match with Belgrave ‘A’. Meanwhile, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were ready to play against Halifax ‘B’ but the visitors then requested a postponement. This match will now take place next Monday the 22nd.

Meanwhile, Golden Lion were reinstating their title credentials by pipping League leaders Huddersfield ‘A’ away in a very tense affair. Dave Shapland won early on board 5 against Dave Tooley to give the visitors the lead but the next two games to finish were drawn and this left Roger Keely against Pete Mulleady and Leo Keely against Phil Cook. Both looked very close and one wouldn’t have betted against two draws at this point. However, as clock pressure started to make itself felt towards the end of the evening the games fell decisively, one to each side, as Roger blundered against Pete while Leo picked Phil’s pocket in an endgame it appeared he had no way of winning. So, it ended 2 – 3 and this result ensured Golden Lion were back on top of the League at Christmas

The second half of the season got underway on Monday night and, as is traditional, featured the return derby matches. In this instance for Hebden Bridge and Halifax.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ beat their ‘B’ team comfortably (4-1) in September but they have struggled against them in previous years. Would they struggle this time? As you would expect the line ups meant that, on paper, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had a comfortable rating advantage on every board. With captain Pete Leonard on board 1 followed by John Allan, Richard Bedford, Neil Suttie and Sam Swain all the players were rated over 150. Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team however was packed with seasoned campaigners all capable of causing an upset on their day. Andy Leatherbarrow was on board 1, Martin on 2 and then new man Paul Gledhill who is having an excellent debut season, John Kerrane and Neil Bamford.

In the end the ‘B’ team were unable to land a telling blow on their opponents. Paul, John and Neil all managed highly creditable draws against their opponents but on the top two boards Pete and John both won to ensure Hebden ‘A’ kept up their title chase.

Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Andy Leatherbarrow 0 – 1 Pete Leonard
Martin Syrett 0 – 1 John Allan
Paul Gledhill ½ – ½ Richard Bedford
John Kerrane ½ – ½ Neil Suttie
Neil Bamford ½ – ½ Sam Swain
1½ – 3½

Halifax ‘A’ lost to their ‘B’ team colleagues in the first match of the season but took their revenge this time around as they won their match comfortably and in exactly the same fashion as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ by drawing on the lower boards and winning the top two boards with Bill Somerset and Richard Porter over turning Peter Hughes and Scott Gornall respectively. This restored some order to the two Halifax teams’ league positions too with the ‘A’ team moving 3 points clear of their colleagues, who have that match against Hebden ‘A’ in hand.

Having agreed to reverse the venue for the first fixture of the season, Huddersfield ‘A’ were due to host Brighouse at home on Wednesday night but this match was postponed when the wintery weather caused chaos on the roads in the area .

That just leaves us to cover league leaders Golden Lion who fought their way to victory at home in a very tough match against Belgrave ‘A’. The 3½ – 1½ score line does not reflect the close nature of the encounter. Golden Lion fell behind early in the evening as Dave Colledge defused David Innes’ attacking intentions taking the gambit materials and keeping them.

Next to finish was board 2 where Phil Cook and John Morgan drew their game. Now, down one point with three boards left to finish it seemed the home team were up against it but they recovered and gained the lead courtesy of two marvellous games. First of all, on board 1, Martyn Hamer initiated a devastating attack on Ian Hunter’s king to sweep him aside. This was followed by an admirable technical victory by Andrew Clarkson over Dave Patrick. The rook and minor piece ending appeared pretty level at first glance but Andrew used his king to boldly march up the board not once, but twice with decisive effect.

Now Golden Lion had the lead but, in the final game to finish Karim Khan had the better of Dave Shapland. That was, seemingly, until he realised he had to win the game to tie the match. Both players had only a few minutes left to complete a knight and pawns end game where Karim had four pawns to Dave’s two. Under normal circumstance Karim would have converted easily but, under the pressure of the clock and needing a win he went astray, lost his knight and then his pawns meaning Dave had swindled his first win from this opponent. Historically it’s been the other way around!

All this leaves Golden Lion still at the top on 14 points from eight matches. Hebden ‘A’ are two points behind but have that match against Halifax ‘B’ in hand next week. If they can win that 5 – 0 they’ll be just half a board point behind Golden Lion. Huddersfield ‘A’ are still in third on 9 points but they now have two postponed matches to play so they are still right in the hunt.

At the other end of the table Brighouse, without a point, look doomed. Halifax ‘B’ are on 4 points, Hebden ‘B’ have 5 and then Halifax ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘A’ have 7 each. Theoretically, any of these last four could occupy the second relegation spot.

In the game viewer below are a selection of games from this week and the round played before Christmas. Our thanks as always to those who have sent in their games for publication. These columns would be greatly diminished without them.

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Jan 032018
 
Dave (left) in action at the Brighouse Rapidplay in 2011.

Dave (left) in action at the Brighouse Rapidplay in 2011. He was never seen without his trade mark baseball cap.

Unfortunately we must begin 2018 by sharing the sad news that Dave Milton passed away in December. So many Calderdale Chess players will have met him or known him and a very great number of us enjoyed playing against him.

Tributes to and memories of Dave have already been shared by Ihor Lewyk on the Yorkshire Chess website and a detailed obituary recalling his involvement in Yorkshire Chess has also been published by Steve Mann on his Yorkshire Chess Association Yearbook. I don’t intend to repeat any of the content from those two articles and Ihor and Steve both knew Dave and his long term involvement with chess much more intimately than I.

What is absolutely clear from those two articles and from the conversations and emails I’ve had about Dave in the last few weeks is his huge enthusiasm and appetite for the game, not only as a player but primarily as an organiser and team Captain.

I first met Dave when I moved to Calderdale twelve years ago at which time he was Captain of the Calderdale ‘B’ team in the Yorkshire League. He gave me the opportunity to play my first games for Calderdale. However, most local league players will have known Dave for his leadership of the Todmorden Chess club which, quite simply, wouldn’t have existed without him. Dig back into the Yorkshire Chess Annual Statistics web page and you’ll notice that, in 2007-08 Todmorden Chess Club disappeared from the records. It was Dave who re-established them in 2009-10 and he essentially ran the club and organised all the teams from then until the beginning of this season when his illness forced him to give it up.

Dave built up Todmorden’s player base over the years and at one point in 2012-13 they even had four teams across the two divisions. He was particularly determined to see the ‘A’ team capture the League 1 title. After a number of near misses he finally achieved this objective in 2014-15 and under his skillful stewardship the team then went on to make up for lost time by retaining their title in 2015-16 and again last season.

Unfortunately the club was so reliant on Dave that when he stood down last summer it almost folded. However, the team now called Golden Lion was salvaged and will be playing the remainder of this season’s fixtures with his legacy  very clearly in their thoughts. Indeed, the team heard the news of his passing last month just a week before they played league leaders Huddersfield ‘A’ and certainly felt that their win in that match was a fitting tribute to him.

It’s hard to think of Dave as either a team Captain or a player without reflecting on his long battle with a rare form of cancer called myeloma which effects the blood’s plasma cells and is a relapsing-remitting form of cancer. Dave lived longer with this condition than anyone else in the UK and his chess play was as implacable, unyielding and resilient as his battle with this illness. I had a few hard battles with him myself in recent years and will remember him as a friendly and sporting, but tough opponent.

Dave was heavily involved with the organisation of the Caldedale League, in recent years it was he who ensured all the various trophies were engraved and returned from incumbent champions in time for presentation to their new owners at the League AGM. He played regularly in the Calderdale (for Todmorden) and Bradford (for Central Division) leagues and his last game was played for Belgrave ‘C’ against Halifax ‘C’ as recently as October. I must thank Howard Wood for generously agreeing to send me the moves of this game which Dave won. I’ve also published one of my games against him in the viewer below. Both games are typical of the style I mentioned above and both see him deploying one of his favorite openings, the French Defence.

Friends and colleagues across the region will miss Dave very much and of course we send our condolences to his family. His funeral will be held at 14.15 on the 9th of January at Park Wood Crematorium, Park Road, Elland. HX5 9HZ. The family have requested no flowers be sent and that any donations instead be made to  the MacMillan Cancer Support Fund Halifax.

Please feel free to share your memories and thoughts about Dave by leaving a comment to this post.

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Dec 062017
 
An interesting position from Shapland vs. Scurfield in the Halifax 'A vs. Golden Lion match. It's White's move and he appears to have an over whelming attack. However, precision is still required. How would you proceed? Find the solution and the game continuation in the game viewer at the end of this post.

An interesting position from Shapland vs. Scurfield in the Halifax ‘A vs. Golden Lion match. It’s White’s move and he appears to have an over whelming attack. However, precision is still required. How would you proceed? Find the solution and the game continuation in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Calderdale League 1 took another step towards the halfway mark last week and the season is shaping up to be very interesting indeed. In our last report we saw that both Golden Lion and Huddersfield ‘A’ stumbled to their first defeat and draw of the season respectively, both to Hebden Bridge teams. It’s now very tight at the top between these two and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and then the next four teams Belgrave ‘A’, Halifax ‘B’, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’ are all pretty close together as well. How would week 6 play out?

Let’s start the report by recounting events at the Lee Mount in Halifax where Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were visiting Halifax ‘B’ and Golden Lion took on Halifax ‘A’.

Hebden ‘B’ sported a very different look to their last match away at Huddersfield where they had benefitted from having a couple of ‘A’ team regulars in the side that helped them draw with the league leaders. This time out they had Andy Leatherbarrow back on board 1, Martin Syrett on 2, John Kerrane on 3, Paul Gledhill on 4 and Neil Bamford on 5. This team matched up pretty closely to Halifax’s side although the host team held higher ratings on all but board 2.

The first board to finish was in fact the board two clash between the team captains and Martin came out on top against Scott Gornall. Scott is normally a tough player to beat but Martin seemed to develop a ferocious attack quite easily and was able to carry the day fairly swiftly. Soon after, the board 1 game between Andy Leatherbarrow and Peter Hughes and the board 5 game between Neil Bamford and Ray Cully ended in draws. Leatherbarrow and Hughes looked to be a tightly controlled, risk free affair where both sides probed and then decided that a draw was ok. It was probably more ok for Andy considering the match situation. On board 5 there was a feeling that Neil could have pressed for longer to try and eek out a win against Ray but he, like Andy was out-rated by 15 points by his opponent and the draw edged Hebden closer to a crucial match win.

That victory was sealed when John Kerrane polished off Howard Wood with great efficiency and then, towards the end of the evening, Paul Gledhill crowned a very fine team effort by beating Vivienne Webster, another tough opponent.

The final match card looked like this:

Halifax ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
P.Hughes ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (White)
S.Gornall 0 – 1 M.Syrett (White)
H.Wood 0 – 1 J.Kerrane (White)
V.Webster 0 – 1 S.Gornall (White)
R.Cully ½ – ½ N.Bamford (White)
1 – 4

Across the room, Golden Lion were slowly but surely grinding out another win to recover from their defeat to Hebden ‘A’ in round 5. Dave Shapland picked the same team that had played in that match and saw everyone but David Innes on board 5 improve their performance by half a point or more. Admittedly the opposition was a little weaker than it had been a few weeks ago but the visitors never looked in trouble on any of the boards aside from the one they lost. Dave Shapland sacrificed no fewer than three pawns against Sam Scurfield on board 4. Each time Sam accepted one he put greater pressure on himself to defend accurately and, as his clock time ebbed away, eventually he started making mistakes and Dave’s attack broke through.

Martyn Hamer drew comfortably with Bill Somerset on board 1 before David over-pressed on board 5 against Dave Loughenbury. Having sacrificed a pawn for the initiative in the opening, David won back the material but then swapped off the last pieces on the board only to realise later that the king and pawn ending he’d acquiesced to was losing.

The match was level and the last two boards looked unclear but on board 2 Phil Cook appeared to have significant advantage both on the board and on the clock against Richard Porter although the position was messy and very complicated. Meanwhile Andrew Clarkson and Carlos Velosa were locked in a Maroczy Bind-type position that appeared balanced and tense. Andrew declined a draw at one point wanting to ensure that Phil was going to win before he considered acquiescing. This was risky as both players were very low on time, but Andrew judged it well and, by the time Phil did convert the full point against Richard, Carlos too had gone astray and found that he too was losing this time in a piece and pawns ending.

The final score was 1½ – 3½.

Meanwhile, back at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were playing their fifth home fixture of the season (in six games played so far!) and should now feel they have gained plenty of practice playing with the Black pieces! Their opponents this time were Brighouse and they should have been very confident of defeating the bottom team despite having a much weaker team than for their last outing at Golden Lion.

Pete Leonard had played board 5 in that match but this time he was on top board. John Allan was promoted from board 4 to board 2. Nick Sykes returned to play board 3 and Richard Bedford and Neil Suttie made up the rest of the line up. With this team Hebden out-pointed Brighouse heavily on every board but board 1 and yet they almost failed to win the match.

Pete Leonard and Robert Broadbent chopped wood in fairly frenetic fashion on the top board. They were down to two pawns a knight and a rook each by the time they agreed peace terms on move 36. Meanwhile on board 2, John Allan suffered a major malfunction against Nick Hudson who found a wrinkle in one tactical variation that netted him an exchange in the end game. John continued only briefly but then decided to resign shortly afterwards.

Hebden saved themselves (sometimes literally!) on the lower boards. Nick Sykes was far from impressed with his game but he never the less managed to beat Paul Whitehouse when his opponent blundered a bishop to him on move 26. The rest was just a matter of mopping up.

Neil Suttie was also forced to toil on board 5 against Tim Pryke. Finding himself in one of those games where he was perfectly solid but without much of a platform for really dynamic or aggressive play, Neil had to slowly accumulate advantages until his position was overwhelming. First he won a pawn, then he managed to triple Tim’s pawns on the b-file, then he won a second pawn and isolated all White’s remaining pawns so that there were weaknesses everywhere. However, Tim battled stubbornly and even managed to reduce his losses to the extent that he reached a rook and pawns ending just one pawn down. Despite his efforts, Neil’s technique was up to the job and he converted to put Hebden in front with one game remaining.

In that last game though Adrian Dawson was doing very well against Richard Bedford. It seemed that Richard was in great danger of loosing but he fought on persistently and when Adrian unaccountably offered a draw from a position of superiority, Richard shook his hand enthusiastically. Hebden had just squeaked the win.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Brighouse
P.Leonard ½ – ½ R.Broadbent (White)
J.Allan 0 – 1 N.Hudson (White)
N.Sykes 1 – 0 P.Whitehouse (White)
R.Bedford ½ – ½ A.Dawson (White)
N.Suttie 1 – 0 T.Pryke (White)
3 – 2

Then, last Wednesday, everyone held their breath to see how the league leaders would get on in their home tie against Belgrave ‘A’. Sadly the result never got posted on the league website as the match was postponed due to an unexpected clash with a Huddersfield League fixture we understand. Hopefully the postponement will soon be re-arranged.

All of this leaves Golden Lion top of the league on board count from Hebden Bridge ‘A’ but Huddersfield ‘A’ lie in third a point behind and with their postponed match still in hand. The lower end of the table has become quite congested following Hebden ‘B’s win at Halifax. Belgrave ‘A’ are on 5 points (with their game in hand) along with Hebden ‘B’. Then come Halifax ‘B’ on 4 points and Halifax ‘A’ on 3. Brighouse seem destined for the drop now as they remain on 0 but the second relegation spot could easily go to any of the others at this stage.

In the game viewer below you’ll find a number of games from round 6. As always, our thanks to the players who collected or sent their games through to us for publication. If anyone else would like to see their league games published here (we’ll publish whatever we receive) then please email your PGN files to hebdenbridgechessclub@gmail.com.

Before we go we should quickly add that the first game in this year’s handicap league took place last Monday too. This saw Belgrave sweep aside Halifax over the boards by a score of 5  –  1, however, such was the rating difference between the two sides that the two draws Halifax managed on boards 1 and 6 were sufficient to see Halifax steal the match 5 – 6 after the handicap bonus was applied!

Finally, this Monday was round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship. There will be a report on that here in due course.

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Nov 222017
 
Hebden Bridge 'A' tamed the Golden Lion last week to assert their title credentials.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ tamed the Golden Lion last week to assert their title credentials.

Last week the fifth round of the Calderdale Evening League 1 took place in venues in Todmorden, Halifax, Brighouse and Huddersfield.

On Monday there was a clash of title contenders as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ travelled to Todmorden for their match with Golden Lion. Meanwhile Halifax ‘A’ drove across town to play Belgrave ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ went further afield to play Brighouse. Then on Wednesday Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted Hebden Bridge ‘B’.

The tie of the round was undoubtedly the one between Golden Lion and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ as these two teams plus Huddersfield have set the early pace and look like the strongest teams in the league this season. Last year Hebden made the journey to Todmorden knowing that a win would pretty much guarantee them the title while any other result would hand it to their hosts. In the end it was a humbling experience for Dave Shapland’s men as they went down 4 – 1 suffering three defeats and gaining just two draws.

This time round Captain Pete Leonard had brought an even stronger line up – probably the strongest he could have mustered – in a bid to continue the team’s recovery since they lost at home to Huddersfield in round 3. Matthew Parsons and Andy Bak were two of the losers in last year’s match and they returned on boards 1 and 2 with points to prove. Chris Bak, John Allan and Pete himself made up the rest of the line-up meaning that (for the first time in a very long time – possibly ever!) the whole Hebden line up was rated above 160.

Golden Lion meanwhile were under the charge of Hebden’s captain of last season, Dave Shapland. He didn’t quite have his strongest possible team but it was close. Regulars Martyn Hamer, Phil Cook and Andrew Clarkson were on the top three boards and then Dave played on board 4 and David Innes on board 5. Only on the bottom board, where David was rated 20 points lower than Pete, was there a significant difference in ratings between the two sides.

Playing all boards with the White pieces should confer some sort of advantage but it had not helped Hebden in last season’s failure, this time out they determinedly made it count. The first game to finish was the bottom board where Pete was subjected to a typically ferocious attack from David. However, on this occasion Pete simply took the material he was offered (as he likes to do) and then calmly repelled the threats before going to the counter offensive. Hebden had made a perfect start and for once, the men from the Golden Lion were under pressure.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts pretty quickly. On board 1 Matthew benefitted when Martyn missed a tactic and found himself a pawn down and with a very uncomfortable position as early as move 16. It was almost a mirror of their encounter last season. Martyn fought on of course but then another nice tactical sequence cost him an exchange after which Matthew was clearly winning and just went on mopping up pawns. At the end Martyn was an exchange and four pawns down and had run out of any chances to trick Matthew so he resigned.

Hebden were 0 – 2 up and by this stage of the evening it looked like it was going to be a total rout. Phil Cook on board two had deployed his Nimzowitsch Defence against Andy Bak but it looked like the opening had gone very badly indeed as Andy had gained a huge space advantage and Phil was hanging on by his finger nails. On Board 3, Chris Bak had also had the better of the opening against Andrew Clarkson and, whilst he wasn’t winning, Andrew was clearly going to have to play well to hold on for a draw. Finally, on board 4, Dave Shapland had also suffered from a weak display in the opening and was a pawn down against John Allan. With Golden Lion now needing to win all three of these games to take the match it was clear that a miracle would be required.

The miracle didn’t come as Andy finished off Phil to seal the match and now it was simply a case of whether or not Chris and John had an appetite to try and grind out victories to rub salt into the wound. It turned out that they didn’t although both did press on for a while. First Dave managed to find a way to activate his pieces and exchange off three sets of minor pieces so that opposite coloured bishops were left on the board. It was clear that, even with the extra pawn, John would probably require Dave to make some more mistakes if he was going to win and, having felt like he’d lost most of his advantage, proposed a draw.

Then on board 3, Chris Bak too acknowledged that Andrew’s stubborn defence had somewhat levelled the playing field. The position was congested and, although he had a space advantage, it was hard to see how Chris could make progress, so he too offered a draw.

This was an outstanding 1 – 4 win for Hebden Bridge against one of their principle rivals for the title. Here is the final match scorecard:

Golden Lion vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
M.Hamer 0 – 1 M.Parsons (White)
P.Cook 0 – 1 A.Bak (White)
A.A.Clarkson ½ – ½ C.Bak (White)
D.Shapland ½ – ½ J.Allan (White)
D.Innes 0 – 1 P.Leonard (White)
1 – 4

The other games on Monday night were rather closer matches. Bottom team Brighouse did their very best to scrounge something from their match against Halifax ‘B’ but they were out of luck. The top two boards were drawn and Adrian Dawson managed to overcome Howard Wood on board 3 but then Ronnie Grandage and Tim Pryke lost to Vivienne Webster and Ray Cully respectively as Halifax pinched the match 2 – 3.

Halifax ‘A’ have had a real struggle so far this season but there are signs of a recovery beginning to show as they held Belgrave ‘A’ to a draw by winning tight encounters on the top two boards and drawing with a rating disadvantage on board 4. Only Karim Khans’ win on board 5 against Mac Randhawa and Richard Bowman’s win on board 3 against Carlos Velosa saved the home team from defeat.

This just leaves us to report on the Wednesday night match between Huddersfield and Hebden Bridge ‘B’. This was the home side’s chance to take advantage of Golden Lion’s slip up and go top of the league on their own. However, as it turned out Hebden had other ideas.

Huddersfield have been pretty consistent with their team selection so far this year with Greg Eagleton, Dave Keddie, Steve Westmoreland and Dave Tooley forming the spine of their team. This time Dave Keddie was missing but the other three regulars played on the top three boards and were joined by Andrew Dearnley and David Gray on boards 4 and 5.

Hebden were out-gunned to one extent or another on every board as they brought Neil Suttie, Nick Sykes, Martin Syrett, Andy Leatherbarrow and Paul Gledhill to the fixture. Yet, despite their statistical disadvantage, the visitors caused their hosts a great deal of trouble.

On board one, Greg Eagleton was unable to make anything more than a draw in a cagey encounter with Neil Suttie. As Neil was giving away the biggest rating difference in the tie this was an excellent result for him. There were also draws between the Captains, Steve Westmoreland and Martin Syrett, on board 3 and between the Andrew’s, Dearnley and Leatherbarrow, on board 4.

Paul Gledhill lost out to David Gray on board 5 but Nick Sykes levelled the match by beating Dave Tooley on board 2. It appeared that Dave had the better of the opening phase of the game but he got short of time as he looked for the knock-out blow they may not have been there and over-pressed. In the end he ran out of time in a lost position.

Here is the final match card:

Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
G.Eagleton ½ – ½ N.Suttie (White)
D.Tooley 0 – 1 N.Sykes (White)
S.Westmoreland ½ – ½ M.Syrett (White)
A.Dearnley ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (White)
D.Gray 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (White)
2½ – 2½

In the end then Huddersfield ‘A’ did go top of the league with this draw. They now have 9 points whilst Golden Lion and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ both have 8. Neverthless, Huddersfield may feel they have failed to fully exploit their advantage as they could have been two points clear at the top and with a far superior board count ahead of their crunch match with Golden Lion just before Christmas. It looks as though that match will now decide who will be top of the league at the half way point in the season. It could still be Hebden ’A’ if those other two draw. Hebden have now played all of their main rivals once and will finish the first half of the season by playing Brighouse and Halifax ‘B’ so they should reach 12 points without any fuss.

At the other end of the table, Brighouse are still rock bottom but, with their fantastic draw at Huddersfield, Hebden ‘B’ have joined Halifax ‘A’ on 3 points and actually have a better board count. Halifax ‘B’ are a point ahead on 4 points and Belgrave ‘A’ are not yet out of the relegation battle completely as they have 5 points. It looks like it will be a tight battle to see who goes down with Brighouse.

Five games from the two Hebden Bridge matches can be found in the viewer below. As always, our thanks go to those who sent in their games or annotated them. The match reports would be so much less interesting without them. If anyone else (from any clubs in Calderdale would like to send in Calderdale League games for publication (annotated or otherwise) please just email your PGN files to hebdenbridgeschessclub@gmail.com

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Nov 032017
 

BouncebackabilityRound 4 of Calderdale League 1 took place on Monday this week and, after a disappointing showing in round 3, both Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were hoping to demonstrate their powers of recovery.

Pete Leonard’s Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team were put to the sword in brutal fashion by Huddersfield ‘A’ in their last match. Now, in a strange quirk of the fixture list this season, they were set to play their fourth consecutive home match of the season – they will in fact play six of their seven matches in the first half of the season at home. This schedule should give all the ‘A’ team members plenty of practice playing with the Black pieces before Christmas!

On Monday night they were up against a resurgent Belgrave ‘A’ side who have bolstered their line up considerably this season with the inclusion of John Morgan and Dave Patrick. The visitors have also shown an impressively consistent line up so far this season using only six players to date. On Monday they brought Ian Hunter, Morgan, Patrick, Malcolm Corbett and Karim Khan to the Trades Club. Pete meanwhile had strengthened his team compared to the one he’d fielded for the Huddersfield defeat. Andy Bak returned to play on board 1 and Nick ‘Syko’ Sykes was back on board 5 after performing strongly on top board for the ‘B’ team in the last two rounds.

As the two teams gathered for the match it was clear that the outcome was completely in the balance. On paper both sides had exactly the same average rating. Would the possession of the White pieces in these circumstances tip the balance in favour of the visitors?

The match turned out to be just as tight as the statistics would have suggested. On board 2, though the Johns Morgan and Allan played out an interesting and intricate dance with John Allan relinquishing a pawn in exchange for active piece play, the game ultimately ended in a draw at the point when it seemed inevitable that Black would win the pawn back.

On board 4, Neil Suttie seemed well set to open Hebden’s account as he got the better of Malcolm Corbett in the opening, winning first one, than a second pawn. However, in reaching out for a third he missed a tactic and had to relinquish a piece. The players reached an endgame in which Malcolm had a rook, bishop and two pawns against Neil’s rook and five pawns. The situation still looked dicey for White but Malcolm managed to stabiles the situation and, finally, they repeated moves and agreed a draw although the engine assesses the final position to be decisively in White’s favour with accurate play.

Andy Bak lost out to Ian Hunter on board 1 but Hebden struck back decisively with wins on boards 3 and 5 to secure the narrowest possible victory. Pete Leonard’s win demonstrated most aptly the natural justice inherent in the game as, having succumbed to an opening trap in horrifying fashion last time out against Huddersfield, he this time sprung a trap of his own to secure a decisive advantage, winning a piece. That he was able to do this against a player as well prepared as Dave Patrick just goes to show that it really can happen to anyone!

Meanwhile on board 5 the Syko was doing his dark work against one of his favourite customers, Karim Khan. Karim tends to play a hybrid Reti-Larsen’s opening system (with 1.Nf3 and 2.b3) when he thinks he’s facing a well booked-up opponent. The approach has worked for him in the past no doubt, but when you are up against someone as well versed in theory as Nick, playing offbeat lines can sometimes back fire. In this instance, even though he’d expected to face 1.e4, Nick wasn’t surprised by Karim’s opening choice and was able to gain a very comfortable position early on in the game as a result.

The middle game developed along purely positional lines and Nick gradually improved his position and simply outplayed Karim who was eventually forced into desperate measures as he gave up a whole rook for just two pawns. The hoped-for initiative never manifested itself and Nick simply handed back an exchange and defused White’s activity to win the game and secure the match for Hebden.

Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Belgrave ‘A’
A.Bak 0 – 1 I.Hunter (White)
J.Allan ½ – ½ J.Morgan (White)
P.Leonard 1 – 0 D.Patrick (White)
N.Suttie ½ – ½ M.Corbett (White)
N.Sykes 1 – 0 K.Khan (White)
3 – 2

This excellent win put’s Hebden Bridge ‘A’ on three wins out of four. They are still most definitely in the title chase and will next play away at Golden Lion in Todmorden on the 13th of November.

Now to Martin Syrett’s Hebden Bridge ‘B’ team who, despite putting up good resistance in all three of their matches before this one, had failed to score a match point. They too were playing at home on Monday night against fellow back-markers Brighouse. This match represented Hebden’s best opportunity yet to get off the mark.

Brighouse brought pretty much their strongest line up of the season for a match that was vitally important for them too. On board 1 was Robert Broadbent, a player able to take on anyone in the league. Then came Nick Hudson, playing his first game of the season on board 2, Captain Paul Whitehouse on board 3 and Adrian Dawson and Tim Pryke on boards 4 and 5. To meet this team Martin fielded Andy Leatherbarrow, himself, Paul Gledhill, Neil Bamford and Terry Sullivan. With rating advantages on board 2, 3 and 5 and an evenly matched encounter in prospect on board 4, it looked like Hebden might have the edge.

Of course rarely do all the games in a match go according to the ratings. Such was the way of things in this one as Andy Leatherbarrow succeeded in drawing with Black against Robert Broadbent on board 1 despite giving away more than 25 rating points.

It was on the middle boards, where the games were most closely matched, that Hebden did their damage. Neil Bamford dispatched Adrian Dawson on board 4 and on board 3, new player Paul Gledhill took down Paul Whitehouse’s London System in confident fashion. He played sensibly until Paul misjudged a tactic that cost him a piece. The rest was pretty straight forward.

Finally, Captain Syrett won a nice game on board 2. For once it was his turn to face a gambit line as Nick Hudson met his Sicilian Defence with the Smith-Morra Gambit. It’s not in Martin’s nature to play passively to hang on to material and so he didn’t as he prioritized development and placed his pieces on active squares. He also hung onto the gambit pawn with the only cost being that his king remained in the centre of the board uncastled for a pretty long time. It turned out to be the safest place for it as Paul allowed Martin to exchange bishop for knight on g4 and opened the g-file by re-capturing with his g-pawn.

Martin continued to prioritise piece activity until move 22 when he finally decided it was safe for him to castle king’s side. By this time he had a strong positional advantage as well as an extra pawn. Finally, it was Martin and not Nick who got an unstoppable king’s side attack as he pushed his pawns with his opponent pretty much a passive by-stander. At the end Martin broke through decisively with his queen to finish the game in his favour. This gave Hebden ‘B’ their first win of the season.

Here is the scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Brighouse
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ R.Broadbent (White)
M.Syrett 1 – 0 N.Hudson (White)
P.Gledhill 1 – 0 P.Whitehouse (White)
N.Bamford 1 – 0 A.Dawson (White)
T.Sullivan 0 – 1 T.Pryke (White)
3½ – 1½

So, with both Hebden teams showing their ‘bouncebackability’ and keeping their respective hopes for the title and avoiding the drop alive, heads now turned to Halifax chess club where the other four teams in League 1 were gathered.

Halifax ‘A’ took on Huddersfield ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ welcomed Golden Lion. Both visiting sides were the only ones left undefeated in the league at the start of the night and, by the end of the evening, they both still were.

Huddersfield ‘A’ are perennial challenges for the title. In recent years though they have failed to get their strongest line up out consistently across the whole season. So far this time they have gotten stronger and stronger. Having defeated Hebden Bridge ‘A’ last time out now they were out to add Halifax ‘A’ to their list of victims and they fielded Greg Eagleton, Mitchell Burke and Dave Keddie together for the first time this season to help them do it.

In fact, in the end it was made to look easy as Greg beat Bill Somerset, Mitchell beat Richard Porter and Dave beat Carlos Velosa. Dave Tooley then beat Sam Scurfield and Steve Westmoreland took down Mac Randhawa to record the League’s first whitewash of the season.

Golden Lion meanwhile were given a head start as, for the second match in a row, their opponents defaulted a board to them. It could have been another overwhelming victory at the Lee Mount Club but in the end the visitors made hard work of it as they lost their first board of the season on board 5 where Marc Turu had a perfectly viable position against Ray Cully only to blunder to instant defeat.

The visitors did manage to win the remaining three games but they certainly didn’t have everything their own way. On board 2 Phil Cook was forced to toil and grind late into the evening against Scott Gornall before he finally converted a rook and pawn ending where he had an extra pawn. On board 3, Andrew Clarkson defeated Howard Wood quickly but realized the outcome could have been different if Howard had spotted a tricky defence that could have netted him a piece.

Finally, Dave Shapland won a piece very early in his game against Vivienne Webster but then played too casually and lost it back before going on to win the game for a second time in a tough knight, rook and pawns endgame when Vivienne got her knight trapped in enemy territory. The final score was 1 – 4.

All of this means that Golden Lion stay on top of the league table by just half a board point over Huddersfield ‘A’. Both have 8 points. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are in third place with 6 points, Belgrave ‘A’ have 4 and then Halifax ‘A’, Halifax ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ all have 2, while Brighouse stay rooted to the foot of the table and have yet to score.

A number of games from this week’s fixtures can be found in the game viewer below. Thanks again to Nick Sykes for collecting and transcribing many of them for publication.

Next week sees the start of the 2017-18 edition of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship. As in recent years, all rounds will take place at the Trades Club on the first Monday of the months of November, December, January, February and March. John Kerrane is the tournament organiser. If you haven’t yet entered and you would like to please call (01422 842 426) or email (kerranerie@btinternet.com) John before the end of the day on Sunday 5th of November.

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