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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Apr 012019
The final moment of tension after a tough fight. Who will take the points decision? The round 11 match between Belgrave ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ had a similar feeling to it when the two teams met for a match that could decide the title. Photo: Ian Glover’s Flickr photo stream

We continue our catch up of League reports today with an overview of the eleventh round of Calderdale League fixtures which were played on the 25th of February.

The big clash of this round was between league leaders, Belgrave ‘A’ and the second placed team, Hebden Bridge ‘B’, who were just one point behind their rivals. The match took place at the Belgrave Social Club and with no other teams in realistic contention for the title it seemed very much like a title decider. Certainly, it was due or die for Hebden Bridge as a defeat would leave them three points adrift with just three matches remaining.

On the night Hebden arrived at their hosts with their ‘regular’ line up of Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard, Sam Swain and Neil Suttie. Belgrave’s line up by contrast was slightly altered from their recent matches but no less strong for that. They had experience and stability on the top three boards in the form of John Morgan, Dave Patrick and Tony Slinger but then introduced John Cawston to replace the absent Richard Bowman on board 4. Karim Khan, another regular player was on board 5. On paper Hebden Bridge had the edge, but the ratings on all the boards were close enough to suggest that this was going to be a tough battle.

All five games were hard fought affairs and played on well into the evening. The first game to be concluded was on board 4 where Sam Swain seemed to be in trouble at one point against John Cawston but he knuckled down, found some accurate moves and held a draw.

Next, on board 1, Matthew Parsons overcame John Morgan in another tight game. Matthew had played the opening phase very quickly and this put a good deal of pressure onto John as he had used up much more time on the clock. When John then missed a tactic shortly before time control it appeared that the game would soon be all over but then Matthew made a mistake himself and suddenly the game appeared to be level again. It was Matthew’s rook, knight and three pawns against John’s rook, bishop and three pawns. There appeared to be very little on, but Matthew declined his opponent’s draw offer and managed to outplay John to secure the first whole point of the match for Hebden.

Neil Suttie then made sure of at least a draw in the match for the visitors when he bet Karim on board 5. This was another game where Hebden took full advantage of having the White pieces to apply great pressure to their opponents. Karim never really seemed to get any counter play going and Neil eventually broke through.

Belgrave now needed to win both the remaining games to tie the match and retain their slender lead in the title race. However, their hopes were dashed when Dave Shapland agreed a draw with Dave Patrick from a modestly advantageous position to give Hebden 3 game points. The Hebden Bridge captain had held a decisive advantage earlier in the endgame but had frittered it away somehow. However, with very little material on the board and realizing that his opponent had no realistic chances of winning at all, Shapland made an offer his counterpart could hardly refuse.

The last game of the knight to finish saw Belgrave score a consolation victory as Tony Slinger finally ground down Pete Leonard’s resistance in a rook and pawn ending. Both players afterwards agreed that the end game was theorectically drawn, but it required accurate defence from White to hold and that is always difficult in an evening league match with relatively little time available on the clock.

Here is the final match scorecard:

Belgrave ‘A’ – Hebden Bridge ‘B’
J.Morgan 0 – 1 M.Parsons (W)
D.Patrick ½ – ½ D.Shapland (W)
T.Slinger 1 – 0 P.Leonard (W)
J.Cawston ½ – ½ S.Swain (W)
K.Khan 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
2 – 3

And so, with this crucial victory the advantage in the title race swung back to Hebden Bridge. They now have to face Belgrave ‘B’, Huddersfield ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’ to finish off the season. All matches in which they will be the favourites, but Halifax ‘A’ did beat them in the final match before Christmas.

Belgrave meanwhile have a tougher run in with Hebden Bridge ‘A’, Huddersfield ‘A’ and finally Hebden Bridge ‘C’ still to face.

Elsewhere, Hebden Bridge ‘A’s fantastic run of 5 straight match wins came to an end as they were forced to forfeit their match against Huddersfield ‘A’. This was unfortunate because Huddersfield has lost their regular venue in Lindley and were forced to find alternate accommodation in Holmfirth. Hebden, already missing a couple of key players who were not available to play on a Wednesday night then lost another last minute due to work commitments and decided to default the match rather than turn up with three players.

Similarly, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ also defaulted their match to Huddersfield ‘B’ when they could not raise a team either. It’s always a shame to see matches defaulted.

So, the second and only other match played in the round was between Belgrave ‘B’ and Halifax ‘A’. Belgrave were desperately seeking to bail themselves out of the relegation zone (and so news of Hebden ‘C’s default to Huddersfield ‘B’ will not have been greeted well in Claremont!) and so brought a very strong line up to the party for Halifax’s visit. In fact, Halifax without their regular board 1, Bill Somerset, were weaker throughout the side and the home team snatched a vital victory with wins by Malcolm Corbett over Carlos Velosa and Les Johnson over Howard Wood. Vivienne Webster scored a fine consolation point over the higher rated Gordon Farrar on board 3 and the other two games were drawn.

In our next post we’ll cover the final round of the Calderdale Individual Championship and also the final rounds of League 2 as well as the twelfth round of League 1.

Three annotated games from the Belgrave vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’ match can be found in the viewer below.

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Mar 272019
Having taken the top spot in the last round, Belgrave ‘A’ stayed top of League 1 after a resounding win at Halifax ‘A’. Photo sourced from Adrianoit’s Flickr photo stream.

Readers would be well within their rights to wonder if your editor had been kidnapped by aliens such has been the paucity of updates here in the last five weeks. We are pleased to inform you that we are alive and well but have been busy!

There is so much to catch up on but we’re going to keep our discipline and report on one round of the Calderdale League at a time. In our last post we recorded Hebden Bridge ‘B’s downfall to their ‘A’ team colleagues which enabled Belgrave ‘A’ to hit the front in the League 1 title race, as well as a League 2 update and the results of Round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship. So, picking up where we left off, let’s recount the action from Round 10 of League 1 which took place in the week commencing February 11th.

Newly minted League leaders Belgrave ‘A’ faced a potential banana skin in he shape of third placed Halifax ‘A’ away. The top two boards looked fairly evenly matched but on the lower boards Belgrave had strong rating advantages. In the end it was a one-sided affair with the visitors achieving a compelling 1 – 4 victory. John Morgan beat Bill Somerset on board 1 and Tony Slinger and Richard Bowman took full points off Carlos Velosa and Vivienne Webster respectively. The other two games were drawn.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ continued their sparkling form at home to their ‘C’ team colleagues with a comprehensive 4½ – ½ victory. Andy Leatherbarrow managed to hold a draw against Andrew Clarkson on board 1 (a highly creditable result) but the rest of the team were swept aside. Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
A.Clarkson ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 M.Syrett (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 N.Bamford (W)
S.Whitehead 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
A.Swales 1 – 0 P.Dickinson (W)
4½ – ½

The other match played on Monday the 11th was between relegation rivals Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’. This was a really tight match on paper and it proved to be the case over the board as well. There were draws on boards 1, 2 and 4 and then the sides traded wins on board 3, where Belgrave’s Gordon Farrar beat David Gray, and board 5, where Huddersfield’s captain, Alec Ward beat Les Johnson to save a vital draw for his team. That result left both team locked in a struggle to avoid the second relegation spot.

The last match of the round was played on Wednesday the 13th at the Lindley Liberal Club in Huddersfield where the hosts, Huddersfield ‘A’ entertained Hebden Bridge ‘B’ who were aiming to bounce back from only their second loss of the season in round 9.

In days gone by these two clubs have staged some epic clashes. This time around though the match was something of a damp squib as Huddersfield were under strength and indeed had to forfeit the bottom board. The visitors then built on their hosts generosity with three more wins and a draw to take the match comfortably.

Sam Swain got the ball rolling with a quick win on board 4 against Brendan Briggs and then Dave Shapland took down Steve Westmoreland on board 2 when the Huddersfield man miscalculated a forcing sequence that it turned out would end with him losing his queen or getting check mated. Pete Leonard then made it 0 – 4 when he defeated Amin Hossain.

The last game of the night went on to the end of the evening as Matthew Parsons tried to force a win through against Greg Eagleton. A fascinating endgame struggle ensued where Matthew had three pawns against Greg’s lone bishop. Eagleton was down to vapours on his clock when he finally forced Matthew to concede the only half Hebden gave up in the match. The scorecard is below:

Huddersfield ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
G.Eagleton ½ – ½ M.Parsons (W)
S.Westmoreland 0 – 1 D.Shapland (W)
A.Hossain 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W)
B.Briggs 0 – 1 S.Swain (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 N.Suttie (W)
½ – 4½

The game viewer at the end of this post below has a number of games from this match in it.

These results left Belgrave ‘A’ top of the League with 17 points, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ in second on 16 and Halifax ‘A’ are in third on 11 points a position they share with Hebden Bridge ‘A’ who after starting the season with a drawn 1 lost 5 record have won all five matches since to reach 50% for the season.

At the bottom Hebden Bridge ‘C’ looked doomed on 3 points. But then it’s a bun fight as Huddersfield ‘B’ have 8 points and Huddersfield ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘B’ both have 7 points. Any of these three teams could join Hebden ‘C’ in the drop to League 2.

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Feb 222019
Swales vs Suttie. White has just played 20.Nxd6. Can Black capture the knight and survive? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

On the 21st of January the ninth round of Calderdale League 1 fixtures were played and it turned to be a dramatic night which may yet determine the outcome of the title race this season.

The pick of the matches was undoubtedly the return match between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’. In the second round of the season the ‘B’ team had visited the Golden Lion and dispatched the league champions in a closely fought contest 2 – 3. That had been the beginning of a terrible run of form for the ‘A’ team which saw them lose five and draw just one of their opening six fixtures. Since then however they have been resurgent and successfully strung together three back to back wins.

Hebden ‘B’ meanwhile had been cruising unbeaten atop the table following the derby match but were then brought back to earth with a bump when they lost to Halifax ‘A’ right before Christmas. They now had Belgrave ‘A’ breathing down their necks just a point behind them.

On the night the ‘A’ team were without their top scorer, Martyn Hamer (who was making his annual pilgrimage to the Gibraltar Chess Festival) but had replaced him with Pete Mulleady, who made his first appearance of the season. Regulars, Andrew Clarkson, Phil Cook and Andy Swales were joined by another new comer, Steve Whitehead.

Hebden ‘B’ were missing their top board Matthew Parsons and so this meant that Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard and Sam Swain all had to play up a board while John Allan slotted in on board 4 and Neil Suttie played board 5. Thus the ‘B’s were out graded on the top three boards but had rating advantages on the bottom two. The scene was set for a tense encounter.

First to finish was board 5 where Neil ventured his Budapest Gambit against Andy’s 1.d4 2.c4 set up. This opening has served Neil well once already this season and he seemed to be going well again until Andy spotted a nice tactical idea sacrificing a piece to launch a mating attack. Neil overlooked a key facet of the idea and played inaccurately. With mate in one coming he resigned, but he’d missed a defence that could have allowed him to keep the material with very good winning chances. A second successive defeat for Neil and an excellent result for Andy. The ‘A’ team were in the lead.

Matters soon got worse for the league leaders as Phil Cook took down Sam Swain. Sam’s had an excellent season this year but Phil out played him after Sam allowed the pawns in front of his king to be stripped away and then took his hapless monarch on a walk to g6! There was no way for Phil to capitalise on this immediately but he patiently built up a second wave to his attack re-routing his queen’s knight from c3 to e8 to deliver the death blow.

Not long after this John Allan and Steve Whitehead agreed on a draw in a position where, if anything, Steve held the advantage. This left the ‘B’ team needing to cause upsets on the top two boards to tie the match.

They managed an upset on one of them at least as Andrew Clarkson over estimated his chances in an endgame and then made a most uncharacteristic blunder against Dave Shapland to find himself getting mated or losing a rook.

In the last game of the match Pete Leonard found himself over extended in the centre against Pete Mulleady. Ultimately Leonard couldn’t maintain his advanced pawn on e4 and lost it. Mulleady simplified and won a second pawn after which his passed d-pawn sealed the deal.

So, Hebden ‘A’ beat their league topping colleagues and subjected them to a second defeat in three matches whilst they march on to their fourth straight win. Here’s the match card. All the games are given in the game viewer at the end of this article.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
D.Shapland 1 – 0 A.Clarkson (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 P.Mulleady (W)
S.Swain 0 – 1 P.Cook (W)
J.Allan ½ – ½ S.Whitehead (W)
N.Suttie 0 – 1 A.Swales (W)
1½ – 3½

Hebden ‘B’s defeat opened the door for Belgrave ‘A’ who were hosting Huddersfield ‘B’ at the Belgrave Club in Halifax. The home side out rated their opponents on every board and ran out easy victors as John Morgan on board 1, Richard Bowman on board 4 and Karim Khan on board 5, all won their games. The other two boards were drawn giving Belgrave a convincing 4 – 1 victory. They now leapfrog Hebden ‘B’ to go top by a single point.

Also at Belgrave, was the match between Belgrave ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Hebden were bottom of the league with three drawn matches and no wins to their name. Belgrave were two points above them and so this really represented a chance for Hebden to try and haul themselves back from the brink of relegation.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The top and bottom boards were drawn and Martin Syrett continued his rich run of form with a win over Mike Barnett on board 2 but Paul Gledhill and Neil Bamford each went down to Les Johnson and Dave Colledge respectively. The final result was yet another 3 – 2 defeat for the ‘C’ team. Here’s the scorecard:

Belgrave ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
G.Farrar ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow
M.Barnett 0 – 1 M.Syrett
L.Johnson 1 – 0 P.Gledhill
D.Colledge 1 – 0 N.Bamford
A.Gonzalez ½ – ½ J.Kerrane
3 – 2

The final match of the round saw Halifax ‘A’ hosting Huddersfield ‘A’. Halifax, having lost to Hebden Bridge ‘A’ the previous week, were now probably out of contention for the title but still sitting comfortably in third place. Meanwhile, Huddersfield had been struggling to gather enough players all season and were not yet out of danger of the drop. The visitors were only able to muster four players again and, whilst the remaining boards were closely fought the default point proved to be crucial. Bill Somerset drew with Greg Eagleton, Richard Porter drew with Nick Sykes and Sam Scurfield drew with A.Hossain but Carlos Velosa beat Nigel Hepworth on board 3 to give the home team a 3½ – 1½ win.

Calderdale League 2

We’ve neglected League 2 on this website so it’s high time we had an update on this too. There were two rounds of fixtures played on the 14th and the 28th of January.

Halifax ‘B’ continue to top the table here as they beat Huddersfield ‘C’ and then Belgrave ‘C’ at home. Both matches were close. In the first against Huddersfield it’s almost a miracle that the match was played at all as Halifax only had three players and Huddersfield four! With the bottom board scratched the hosts managed to collect two and a half from the top three board to edge the match by 2½ – 1½.

Against Belgrave, it was also a close-run thing but the league leaders again did just enough. This time each team had five players and wins by Scott Gornall over Paul Edwards on board 2 and Daniel Rowley over Paul Jacobs on board 5 were enough to see them home as they drew on boards 1 and 4 and were defeated on board 3 where Chris Edwards scored for the visitors against Pete Moss.

Brighouse continue to pursue Halifax in second place and they lie just two points behind them after two victories which contrast sharply with Halifax’s troubled progress. First, they visited Hebden Bridge ‘D’ on the 14th of January, and won 0 – 5. Then on the 28th they travelled to Huddersfield where they also dispatched a four-man team 0 – 5. They play next on February the 18th at home against Halifax ‘B’ in what looks like it could be the title decider.

Belgrave ‘C’ and Halifax ‘C’ played their round 7 match a week early on January the 7th. The home team won on the top three boards to take the match 3½ – 1½.

Halifax ‘C’ then went on to beat Hebden Bridge ‘D’ by the same score in round 8 as John Kerrane managed to beat Barry Wadsworth on board 1 and Zora Sandhu held a draw against Pete Stowe.

All of this leaves Halifax ‘B’ top on 14 points, Brighouse are second with 12 (but they have a match in hand still to be played), Belgrave ‘C’ are third with 8 points, Huddersfield ‘C’ have 6, Halifax ‘C’ have 4 and Hebden ‘D’ are yet to score.

Calderdale Individual Championship

Round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship took place a week last Monday the 4th of February. Here is John Kerrane’s report:

With the race hotting up, the round was notable for slips among the leaders. Front-runner Phil Cook of Hebden Bridge, achieved a strong position against Pete Leonard, also of Hebden, but in the end, could only manage a draw. Meanwhile, an even bigger upset occurred on board 2, with John Morgan (Belgrave) making a slip when going into the endgame, and losing to Hebden’s Martin Syrett, who is on fine form at the moment.
The results leave Cook still in the lead on 3½ points going into the last round, but with three other players, Leonard, Syrett and Andy Swales, all of Hebden Bridge, on his tail with 3 points. It should all make for an interesting final round on March 4th.

The results of the individual games can be found on the Calderdale Chess League’s website

A selection of games from the matches described in this report, including the Calderdale Individual can be found in the game viewer below.

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Feb 102019
It was a damaging round of fixtures for some of the sides playing in derby matches in Calderdale League 1. Image: Bill Collison’s Flickr photostream

Having worked so hard to catch up with our reports, we have fallen behind again. Never mind, we’ll get back on track again soon enough.

Let’s begin with a recap of the 8th round of fixtures in Calderdale League 1. These were played on the 14th of January and, naturally, featured a whole host of derby matches between sides from the same clubs. In fact three of the four matches played were derbies and two of those three ended in heavy defeats.

We’ll start though with the closest fought of the derby matches. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ took on Hebden Bridge ‘B’ at the Trades Club and both sides found themselves somewhat depleted in number. Hebden ‘C’ were short of players and, as the ‘A’ team were also missing a player, the ‘B’ team loaned out Pete Leonard to the ‘A’ team rather than have a player taking a default and not getting a game.

That meant that a four-a-side match with Hebden ‘C’ lining up with Andy Leatherbarrow, Martin Syrett, Paul Gledhill and Neil Bamford while the ‘B’ team had Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland, Sam Swain and Neil Suttie. On paper it looked like it should have been straightforward for the ‘B’s but it turned out to be a tough battle.

Matthew defeated Andy on board 1 in relatively smooth fashion. Of course, the game saw a London System on the board and Andy had come prepared for a battle in that system. Early on in the opening he appeared to be doing well but he was gradually out played in the middle game and made a few tactical mistakes which curtailed the game mid-evening.

Sam Swain also had a fairly comfortable night on board 3 against Paul Gledhill. Sam opted for the Grand Prix Attack and, like Matthew, took full advantage of some tactical oversights to ease past his opponent.

The match was already almost in the bag but on the last two boards the ‘B’ team stumbled. First, Neil Suttie lost a piece against Neil Bamford. He opted to go all in and try to confuse his opponent but Bamford held fast, defused the danger and simplified the position to force resignation. This was an excellent win for Neil who has had an excellent season for the ‘C’ team collecting 6½/8 so far.

Finally, it came down to the game between the two Captains. Dave took charge of the game early in the opening and seemed to be building an overwhelming attack. However, Martin hung on determinedly and when Dave couldn’t find the right way to prosecute his attack, he developed his own dangerous counter play. The game simplified and the danger receded. With equal material on both sides and the only chance for a win requiring some level of risk, Dave accepted Martin’s draw offer to ensure that at least the match was won for the league leaders.

Here is the final match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘B’
A.Leatherbarrow 0 – 1 M.Parsons (W)
M.Syrett ½ – ½ D.Shapland (W)
P.Gledhill 0 – 1 S.Swain (W)
N.Bamford 1 – 0 N.Suttie (W)
1½ – 2½

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ continued their resurgence in the only non-derby match of the round as they crushed third-placed Halifax ‘A’ at the Lee Mount Club. Admittedly they had their strongest line up of the season with Phil Cook and Mick Connor missing they were replaced by even stronger players in the form of Chris Bak and Pete Leonard. Together with Andrew Clarkson and Martyn Hamer on the top two boards Chris and Pete won their games as the visitors swept aside Bill Somerset, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa and Vivienne Webster. Only Sam Scurfield could muster a consolation point against Andy Swales on board 5. Here is the match card:

Halifax ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
W.Somerset 0 – 1 A.Clarkson (W)
R.Porter 0 – 1 M.Hamer (W)
C.Velosa 0 – 1 C.Bak (W)
V.Webster 0 – 1 P.Leonard (W)
S.Scrufield 1 – 0 A.Swales (W)
1 – 4

With this win Hebden ‘A’ climbed further up the table and away from the relegation zone into a share of 4th and 5th places.

That climb up the table was made possible in part by Huddersfield ‘A’s defeat to their ‘B’ team rivals for the second time this season. Dave Keddie, Steve Westmoreland and Kyle Sharpe were held to draws by Leo Keely, Simon Anscombe and David Gray respectively and then the tail end of the ‘A’ team collapsed as Granville Boot beat Robert Sutcliffe and Alec Ward beat Craig Sharpe. This was a fine win for Huddersfield ‘B’ to boost their survival chances.

In the final match of the round Belgrave ‘B’ hosted their ‘A’ team and were roundly thrashed for their troubles. Gordon Farrar saved a half on board 1 against John Morgan but after that it was slaughter as Dave Patrick, Tony Slinger, Peter Hughes and Karim Khan put Mike Barnett, Keith Marsh, Les Johnson and Angel Gonzales to the sword. This result ensured that Belgrave maintained their hot pursuit of Hebden ‘B’ in second place in the table.

You’ll find some of the games from round 8 in the game viewer below.

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Jan 162019
Like a runaway pony, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were brought to a skidding in halt by Halifax ‘A’ in the last round of fixtures before Christmas. Photo: Randy Kashka on Flickr (Creative Commons)

In today’s post we finish our catch up on the month of December with an article outlining the results of the final round of fixtures from before Christmas when both divisions of the Calderdale League met on December 17th.

Calderdale League 1

The juiciest match up in League 1’s final round of the first half of the season took place at the Trades Club where league leaders Hebden Bridge ‘B’ welcomed Halifax ‘A’, the team in third place.

Hebden have been able to field a very stable line up this season and that has certainly been a contributing factor in their success so far. For this match they were missing Neil Suttie on board 5 but replaced him with Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford to ensure that their team was just as strong as usual. The other team members were Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard and Sam Swain.

Halifax conversely were slightly weaker than they might have been without Winston Williams on board 1. They therefore lined up with Bill Somerset, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa, Vivienne Webster and Sam Scurfield. This was a team that looked likely to give Hebden a run for their money and so it proved to be.

The night began badly for the hosts as Matthew Parsons fell victim to some very clever opening preparation by Bill Somerset. Bill had seen a game Matthew had played recently in the Bradford League and found a subtle means to improve White’s play in a line of the Philidor’s Defence. It took a little while for Matthew to realise the true severity of his situation and he tried to limp on an exchange down in an end game, but he never really had a chance of saving himself. Bill’s fine win gave Halifax lead.

Hebden struck back on board 4 where Sam Swain, who’s had a magnificent season for them so far, beat Vivienne Webster fairly comfortably after grabbing a pawn in the opening and hanging onto it. The match was tied but the situation on the remaining three boards didn’t look great for the hosts. On board 5 Beaky seemed to be in a bit of a tangle against Sam, on board 2, Dave was similarly in a difficult situation against Richard, but on board 3, Pete Leonard appeared to have the better of it against Carlos. Hebden would need at least a point and a half from these three board, but in the end they only managed a single draw.

First of all, Beaky capitulated as Sam forced home his advantage. Next Pete made tactical mistake against Carlos and slipped from being better to a defeat. Dave did at least manage to salvage a draw from Richard but that was only because his opponent played a few inaccurate moves in the run up to time control.

So, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ dropped their first points of the season to Halifax ‘A’ who closed the distance between the two sides to 2 points. Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
M.Parsons 0 – 1 W.Somerset (W)
D.Shapland ½ – ½ R.Porter (W)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 C.Velosa (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 V.Webster (W)
R.Bedford 0 – 1 S.Scurfield (W)
1½ – 3½

Hebden’s slip up gave second-placed Belgrave ‘A’ a chance to close the gap at the top to a single point. To do this they needed to beat the back markers, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ at home. Belgrave didn’t make things easy for themselves when they defaulted board 5 and gave the visitors a point’s head start. However, the remaining four players all performed admirably to ensure that Belgrave’s didn’t miss their chance.

John Morgan and Richard Bowman drew on boards 1 and 4 with Andy Leatherbarrow and John Kerrane respectively and Dave Patrick and Tony Slinger beat Martin Syrett and Paul Gledhill on boards 2 and 3 to clinch a crucial victory for the hosts.

These simple stats don’t tell the entire story of the match though because Martin was beating Dave hands down and then resigned when he thought head over looked a mating attack. In fact, both players had missed that Martin had a flight square for his king and that it looked the best Dave could do was draw. But Dave’s win gave Belgrave a 3 – 2 win in a match they could very easily have lost. Now they look set to mount a serious challenge for the title this season having seemingly strengthened their line up over the last few matches.

Here is the scorecard from that match:

Belgrave ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
J.Morgan ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (W)
D.Patrick 1 – 0 M.Syrett (W)
A.Slinger 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W)
R.Bowman ½ – ½ J.Kerrane (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W)
3 – 2

Meanwhile, in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were trying to continue their revival against Huddersfield ‘B’. Having been anchored to the foot of the table until their round 5 win against Belgrave ‘B’, they had a chance to get some more points on the board and over take their opponents in the table at the same time. They too did not make life easy for themselves as a last-minute withdrawal meant they also had to default a board.

In this match the top three boards were critical as Hebden had their famous triumvirate of Andrew Clarkson, Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook all present and correct. Both Martyn and Phil had substantial rating advantages over Simon Anscombe and Granville Boot, but on board 1, Leo Keely was a much closer match for Andrew to have to take on.

Happily, for the home team, the top three all did their jobs as they swept the boards. It was a good job too for, on board 4, Pete Dickinson succumbed to David Gray which meant that the margin of victory was the narrowest possible. Nevertheless, it was enough to see Hebden ‘A’ climb to 5 points in the league and take them further away from the danger of relegation.

Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 L.Keely (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 S.Anscombe (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 G.Boot (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 D.Gray (W)
DEFAULT 0 – 1 A.Ward (W)
3 – 2

In the final match of the round Belgrave ‘B’ went down heavily to Huddersfield ‘A’. Greg Eagleton beat Gordon Farrar on board 1 and Steve Westmoreland and A.Hossain did the same to Steve Harrington and Paul Jacobs on boards 4 and 5. Dave Keddie and Nick Sykes dropped half points to Les Johnson and Dave College as Huddersfield went undefeated.

With half the season now gone both ends of the table are tantilisingly poised. At the top Hebden Bridge ‘B’ have 12 points, Belgrave ‘A’ have 11 and Halifax ‘A’ have 10. It would now seem that these three teams are the only ones who can challenge for the title unless something remarkable occurs.
Next in the table come Huddersfield ‘A’ on 7 points and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ on 5 points. On their day, either of these teams could beat the top three teams and so, although the first half of their seasons have been sub-par, they could yet have a influence on the title race. On the other hand, both could get drawn back into the relegation dog fight if they aren’t able to continue their recent runs of form.

At the bottom, Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have 4 points each and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ have 3. It looks now like two of these three will go down but which of them will survive is anybody’s guess. At present Hebden ‘C’ are the only the only team in the League yet to win a match, but they’ve drawn three against some decent teams and that demonstrates that they aren’t easy to beat.

Round 8 matches took place this week and we’ll be reporting on those here very soon.

Calderdale League 2

The League fixtures page on the Calderdale Chess League’s website may have tricked some team Captains into thinking that they were not playing their seventh round of fixtures until the New Year, however, three matches were due to be played on December 17th.

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ were certainly caught napping as Huddersfield ‘C’ arrived at the Trades Club for their match and (as they were mistaken for Huddersfield ‘B’) were then mistakenly directed to the Golden Lion in Todmorden where their real ‘B’ team were already sitting down playing Hebden bridge ‘A’. All this because we Capatins are in the habit of understanding that the right-hand side of the fixture list on the website is played after Christmas!

The Brighouse vs. Belgrave ‘C’ match did not take place either, so it appears others were laboring under the same misapprehension. Gladly, Huddersfield ‘C’ were very generous in allowing their match to be re-scheduled.

The only match that did take place on the 17th was between Halifax ‘C’ and Halifax ‘B’. This was played on four boards and the ‘B’ team overwhelmed their colleagues for the lose of a single draw on board 3 where John Nicholson held Barry Wadsworth. This result allowed Halifax ‘B’ to leap frog Brighouse to reach the top of the table but Brighouse of course now have a game in hand.

Calderdale Individual Championship Round 3

John Kerrane reports on the third round of the Individual which took place on the 7th of January.

Winter ailments took their toll on the line-up for the third round of the Calderdale Chess League Individual Championship 2018/9, which took place at the Trades Club.

Although the number of players taking part was reduced, the evening produced a lot of interesting games, including a close and difficult endgame between Pete Leonard of Hebden Bridge and Richard Porter of Belgrave, which was finally won by Leonard in the last game to finish. The upset of the evening was Andy Swales’s win against considerably higher-graded John Allan, but the front runner, Phil Cook, proceeded smoothly, leaving him with the only player on a maximum 3 points with a group of others close behind on 2½.

The full results of the round can be seen on the Calderdale Chess League website. The next round is due to be held at the Trades Club on 4th February.

Thanks to all those players who have sent us games from these fixtures. They are all available to play through and download in the game viewer below.

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Jan 082019

Happy New Year to everyone!

Today we continue with our catch up on the first half of the Calderdale Evening Chess League season as we cover the matches played in Round 6 of League 1. These matches were played on the week commencing 10th of December.

Readers will recall that we left the League Champions, Hebden Bridge ‘A’, languishing at the foot of the table having managed just a single draw in their first five encounters. That said, they had lost three of those five matches by the narrowest possible score line and so it seemed entirely plausible that, with a little bit of luck, they could start to pick up points again.

In round 6 they welcomed Belgrave ‘B’ to the Golden Lion in Todmorden. Reviewing the two line-ups on paper suggested that this match really should have been straight forward for the hosts as they out graded Belgrave on every board. Hebden welcomed back Andrew Clarkson to board 1 and had Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook on board 2 and 3. All three of these players out rated their opponents, Gordon Farrar, Keith Marsh and Les Johnson by 40 points or more. On board 4, Richard Bedford made a guest appearance in the absence of both Mick Connor and Andrew Swales. He held a more modest 15-point rating advantage over Paul Edwards. Finally, on board 5, Peter Dickinson had an even smaller rating advantage over Chris Edwards.

It looked like the outcome of the match should really be determined on the upper boards and that did indeed prove to be the case as the home side won on the top four boards with varying degrees of struggle. On board 5 Chris salvaged pride for the visitors with a victory over Peter. The full match score card is given below:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Belgrave ‘B’
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 G.Farrar (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 K.Marsh (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 L.Johnson (W)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 P.Edwards (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 C.Edwards (W)
4 – 1

This match win came as a huge relief to all involved in the ‘A’ team as they looked at other match results during the week and found that they had gained ground on their relegation rivals.

At the other end of the Calder valley, in Halifax, third-placed team Halifax ‘A’, hosted Hebden Bridge ‘C’ who hovered just two points ahead of their ‘A’ team colleagues. Once again, on paper, the statistics suggested an easy win for the home team as they out rated all their opponents and Hebden made life even more difficult for themselves when they arrived with only four players.

The home team sealed their match win on the top boards as Bill Somerset beat Andy Leatherbarrow and Richard Porter beat Martin Syrett. On boards 3 and 4 however the visitors put up serious resistance as Paul Gledhill drew with Carlos Velosa on board 3 and Neil Bamford went one better and took down Sam Scurfield on board 4, a fine result for Neil. Below is the full match scorecard.

Halifax ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘C’
W.Somerset 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow
R.Porter 1 – 0 M.Syrett
C.Velosa ½ – ½ P.Gledhill
S.Scurfield 0 – 1 N.Bamford
S.Gornall 1 – 0 DEFAULT
3½ – 1½

This result meant that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had now drawn level with their ‘C’ team and were only a point behind their vanquished foes Belgrave ‘B’, who had 4 points.

Huddersfield ‘B’ were the other team on 4 points at the start of the round and they had a tough assignment away to the League leaders, Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Once again, the stats suggested that it would be a routine victory for the home team and, once again, the stats didn’t lie. Huddersfield ‘B’ also struggled with a default as one of their players was a no-show. This handed Hebden’s Sam Swain a full point on board 4.

Most of the other games were fairly straightforward wins for Hebden, even if those wins were achieved in contrasting styles. On board 1 Matthew Parsons simply outplayed Simon Anscombe and attained a winning endgame position before the halfway point of the evening had been reached.

Dave Shapland and Neil Suttie by contrast won in more percussive fashion against David Gray and Alec Ward respectively. On board 5, Neil deployed the unusual Budapest Gambit against Alec. He gained a promising position from the mainline of the variation and, when Alec miscalculated, he pounced with a nice intermezzo tactic to win the game on the spot.

Gray vs. Shapland. It’s Black to move. Can he play dxc3? The answer is in the game viewer at the end of this post.

On board 2 Dave played another gambit line against the Queens Gambit of David Gray, the Albin Counter Gambit. David seemed to be doing perfectly well when he placed his knight on c3 even though it was attacked by Dave’s pawn on d4 because the pawn was pinned to the Black queen by a White rook on d1. See the diagram on the right. However, Dave decided that he could sacrifice his queen to get his d-pawn to the b2 square and, with White’s king still in the middle of the board, the position looked very dangerous indeed. In the game David couldn’t find the best defensive line and capitulated reasonably swiftly. Further analysis of the game shows that he could have done better but the resource was not easy to find. Can you do better?

The last game of this match between Pete Leonard for Hebden and Granville Boot for Huddersfield finished in a draw as the visitors narrowly avoided a whitewash. Below is the match score card:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’
M.Parsons 1 – 0 S.Anscombe (W)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 D.Gray (W)
P.Leonard ½ – ½ G.Boot (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 DEFAULT
N.Suttie 1 – 0 A.Ward (W)
4½ – ½

The final game of round 6 took place on the 12th of December as Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted the second placed team in the division, Belgrave ‘A’. In this match Belgrave pulled together a ferociously strong line up which probably wouldn’t have been possible (or necessary) for them to have done had the match been on a Monday. However, missing some regular players who weren’t able to play on a Wednesday night Belgrave reinforced with Tony Slinger on board 3 and Colin Proctor on board 4. Two very experienced and challenging adversaries on the best of occasions but Huddersfield were themselves somewhat depleted of regular players and, as a result, they went down convincingly 1½ – 3½.

Greg Eagleton and John Morgan drew on board 1 and Dave Keddie beat Dave Patrick on board 2 but then it was a land slide for the visitors on the bottom three boards as Tony Slinger beat Nick Sykes, Colin Proctor beat Mark Rojinsky and Peter Hughes beat Brendan Briggs.

As a result of all these fixtures the top three positions in the league remained unchanged with Hebden Bridge ‘B’ on 12 points, Belgrave ‘A’ on 9 points and Halifax ‘A on 8 points. At the other end of the table the relegation scrap was made much more interesting following Hebden Bridge ‘A’s victory. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were now bottom of the league on board count and with 3 points. Hebden ‘A’ also had 3 points. Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ had 4 points each and Huddersfield ‘A’ had 5 points.

In the next post we’ll report on the final round of fixtures before the Christmas break in both divisions. These were played on the 17th of December. 

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Dec 302018

I trust that readers have enjoyed the festive period and possibly also a little break from chess. Your editor has been enjoying the coverage from the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in St Petersburg which has proved to be rather more exciting than the recent World Championship Match…

We still have quite a bit of catching up to do following the extended period when the website was out of action. In today’s post we’ll look back to the end of November when Hebden Bridge ‘A’, propping up the League 1 table, played their postponed match against Huddersfield ‘A’, who were also languishing somewhat.

We’ll also take a look at the results from Round 2 of this year’s Calderdale Individual Championship which took place on December 3rd.

First to the Golden Lion in Todmorden which was the scene for the seemingly apocalyptic clash between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘A’.

This really was a match that neither team wanted to lose and so when Huddersfield arrived with only four players the home side were given an unexpected boost. The visitors sported very strong players on boards 1 and 2 in the form of Greg Eagleton and Mitchell Burke. They were well matched by the home team however as they fielded Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook.
Steve Westmoreland and Robert Sutcliffe were the other two Huddersfield players and they were slightly stronger on paper than their counterparts on boards 3 and 4 – Mick Connor and Andrew Swales.

With a one point head start and operating the Black pieces on all boards, Martyn and Phil sensibly opted to neutralise Greg and Mitchell on the top boards and they secured relatively swift draws. However, Andrew Swales had something of a misadventure as he got his king caught in the middle of the board by Robert and suffered a swift execution.

This meant that the outcome of the match rested on the result between Mick Connor and Steve Westmoreland. Mick seemed to be more than holding his own but then allowed Steve some counterplay which resulted in him having to give up two pawns to avoid mate. It took Steve a little while to convert this advantage but convert it he did to give Huddersfield a huge boost with a 2 – 3 win. The full match scorecard is below:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ G.Eagleton (W)
P.Cook ½ – ½ M.Burke (W)
M.Connor 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (W)
A.Swales 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe (W)
P.Dickinson 1 – 0 DEFAULT
2 – 3

This result left Hebden Bridge ‘A’ adrift at the foot of the table after 5 rounds of games. They had just a single point and were two behind Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Could relegation for the title holders really be on the cards? In our next post we’ll update readers on the two rounds of fixtures played in December.

Calderdale Individual Championship Round 2

The first Monday of December saw the players gather at the Trades Club for the second round of the Individual Championship. John Kerrane reports for us on the evening’s event below:

“In this round, the winners in the first round all face each other, and matches tend to become more even. Most of the results went to form, but there were some notable exceptions. Paul Edwards’s draw on board 2 against Pete Leonard and Steve Harrington’s draw against John Allan were both achieved against much higher-graded opponents, but the biggest upset of the evening was young Luca Curry’s win against Neil Bamford, a player of twice his grade.

Going into the third round on January 7th, only two players, Phil Cook of Hebden Bridge and Angel Gonzalez of Belgrave, will be on a maximum 2 points, with a pack of players on 1½ on their heels.”

Phil Cook was kind enough to send his game through for publication and it can be found in the game viewer below. The full list of results and standings can be found on the Calderdale League website.

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