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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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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Nov 132018
 

Round 1Last Monday night Hebden Bridge Chess Club hosted round 1 of the 2018-19 Calderdale Individual Championship  at the Trades Club. Coverage of this year’s event will be somewhat diminished in stature given that your editor is not participating in this year’s competition. Nevertheless we still intend to bring you a brief summary of the round and the results. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get hold of some of the games as well.

The competition organiser, John Kerrane, sent us this short over view of round 1.

The first round is always the easiest for the stronger players, and toughest for the less experienced, and so it proved on the night, with all the games leading to decisive results, and all going to grade. The nearest to an upset was in the last game to finish in which 16-year-old Toby Dodd gained a piece advantage in an endgame against much higher-graded Richard Porter. However, with both players in serious time trouble, Dodd could not find a winning line, and Porter’s cool head saw him through to a win with only seconds remaining on the clock.

The full list of results of the round and overall standings can be found on the Calderdale Chess League website. The next round, when stronger players will face each other, will take place at the Trades Club on 3rd December.

Below are all the individual results. The game viewer at the end of this post contains Pete Leonard’s game against Adrian Dawson. Many thanks to Pete for sending this through. If any players in this competition would like to have their games published please email PGN files to hebdenbridgechessclub@gmail.com

1.) N.Bamford 0 – 1 P.Cook
2.) P.Leonard 1 – 0 A.Dawson
3.) T.Dodd 0 – 1 R.Porter
4.) M.Syrett 1 – 0 Z.Sandhu
5.) L.Curry 0 – 1 M.Barnett
6.) P.Gledhill 1 – 0 B.Joyce
7.) J.Edmondson 0 – 1 P.E.Edwards
8.) A.Gonzales 1 – 0 G.Hughes
9.) A.Dermo 0 – 1 C.Edwards
10.) A.Swales 1 – 0 B.J.S.Hadari

Half point bye:

J.Allan, S.Harrington, J.Morgan, M.Parsons


League 2 update

Last night the fourth round of Calderdale League 2 was played and some significant results were played out.

Leaders Brighouse suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Halifax ‘B’. Robert Broadbent won on board 1 against Carlos Velosa but defeats on boards 4 and 5 for Ron Grandage and Tim Pryke against Howard Wood and Daniel Rowley respectively saw the visitors go down 3 – 2.

At the same venue, Halifax ‘C’ went down to Huddersfield C’ by 1½ – 3½ and this result means that Huddersfield, Brighouse and Halifax ‘B’ are now joint top of the league on 6 points. Huddersfield have the best board score.

Belgrave ‘C’ moved on to 4 points when they successfully saw off the Hebden Bridge ‘D’ team 0 – 5. Once more John  Kerrane provides a brief report on this match.

Belgrave ‘C’ arrived with an unusually strong line-up to take on the youngsters of Hebden’s training team, and, once again, experience was the deciding factor. Despite playing well, the junior players made strategic errors which their opponents were able to exploit, although Gwilym Hughes, on board 5, played well to get into a winning position, only to let victory slip from his grasp. The match ended with a 5-0 win to Belgrave ‘C’.

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
T. Dodd 0 – 1 D. Colledge (W)
L. Curry 0 – 1 A. Gonzalez
Z. Sandhu 0 – 1 P. Edwards
J. Edmondson 0 – 1 C. Edwards
G. Hughes 0 -1 S. Harrington
0 – 5

Steve Harrington’s win on board 5 for the visitors means he is now the only remaining player in the league to have played and won in all four rounds so far.

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Apr 062018
 

Cook vs Leonard. Black to move. How would you proceed here? See how the game continued and what the best continuation was in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Cook vs Leonard. Black to move. How would you proceed here? See how the game continued and what the best continuation was in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Apologies for the recent radio silence on this website. Your editor has been in the throes of leaving one job and starting another and therefore there has been even less time than usual to keep on top of the website. Hopefully we can catch up quickly so expect a few posts in the coming weeks to get our league reports back up to date. Before all of that though…

The fifth and final round of the 2017-18 Calderdale Individual Championship took place at the Trades Club just over a month ago on Monday 5th of March. Given the adverse meteorological impact of the ‘Beast from the East’ at the end of the previous week and weekend, arbiter John Kerrane was probably very relieved that transport conditions had improved enough to ensure players could reach the venue.

The final round usually promises some tense and exciting chess as the prizes are decided both at the head of the tournament and, also for grading prizes and the junior prize. On this occasion there was certainly tension and a great deal of fighting chess. However, despite this, the top three boards all ended in draws which leant the denouement of this year’s championship something of an anti-climactic feel.

Let’s start with the title decider. Defending champion Phil Cook (Golden Lion) was the only player on a perfect score at the beginning of the evening. He was drawn to play White against Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) who was on 3½ and needed to win to overhaul the leader. Last season Matthew Parsons had managed to do just that but as he was a point behind Phil he was unable to snatch the title from his grasp.

The other player in with a shot of overtaking Cook was Mike Barnett (Belgrave) who was also on 3½. He had the White pieces against Richard Porter (Halifax) who was on 3 points. Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) was the other player on 3 but he had contracted the same flu bug that had damaged the ranks in rounds 3 and 4 and was therefore absent.

Both the top two boards featured hard fought battles, but both ended in draws. Phil and Pete’s game developed in an interesting fashion as Phil deployed an unusual line of the Reti Opening advancing his b and c pawns in the first three moves. Pete responded well by taking direct action against the advanced queen’s side pawns and then striking in the centre as well before Phil could get developed. This allowed Pete to equalise comfortably, but it also led to some simplifications that suited Phil’s objective of drawing to retain his title.

Pete missed a brief window of opportunity to snatch a pawn on move 16 (see the diagram above) and instead it was Phil who bagged a pawn. Pete seemed to have dangerous threats in exchange for the material, but Phil had it all under control and simplified the position to the point where he had an extra passed a-pawn which looked extremely dangerous. Pete just had enough counter play to regain the pawn and hold the position but no more and when Phil allowed Pete to win back the pawn to force further simplifications the players agreed to peace with Phil retaining his title. This draw was also enough to secure Pete the prize for second place.

The board 2 encounter was a completely different in character in all respects except that the opening set up selected by Mike Barnett was similar to the one chosen by Phil (Mike played c4 on move two and fianchettoed his king’s bishop). In this game the players chopped wood relentlessly until they reached an endgame where they both had isolated d-pawns and Mike had a bishop and knight versus Richard’s bishop pair.

It was only now that the game really began. Richard seized the initiative and won first one and then a second pawn. Around time control though he also missed a couple of clear cut winning chances and instead Mike defended tenaciously however and found a tricky resource that enabled him to swap a pair of bishops and advance his c-pawn to the seventh rank tying down Richard’s remaining bishop down in the process. However, Mike then had to give up his knight to remove one of Richard’s passed pawns and a foot race between Richard’s passed a-pawn and Mike’s king and f-pawn ensued with the two pawns queening on successive moves. It still looked like Black might win but in fact it wasn’t possible for Richard to make progress with just a queen and bishop against the queen and, at the very end of the evening the two men signed a truce. This was a fascinating endgame and some notes on it have been provided in the game viewer at the end of this article.

Mike has certainly had his money’s worth in this year’s competition as he’s been involved in the last game to finish in at least three of the five rounds! He finished on 4/5 (level on points with Pete) and won a grading prize. An excellent result for Mike.

Gledhill vs Shapland. Black to move. Find the killer blow that White had overlooked. Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Gledhill vs Shapland. Black to move. Find the killer blow that White had overlooked. Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Richard finished on 3½ where he was joined by Dave Shapland (Golden Lion) and Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge). Dave took full advantage of an opening error by Paul Gledhill to win his game with a nice tactic (see the diagram on the right) while Martin took a while longer to overcome the spirited resistance of Vivienne Webster.

Sandwiched in between the top two boards and these two were Nick Sykes and John Allan. They also played out a draw where Nick also played 1.Nf3 and 2.c4 but the game later transposed into a Maroczy Bind type position. John knew how to equalise and worked to towards engineering the key pawn break of b5 on move 19. After this the game petered out and the players agreed a draw on move 24.

On board 6, Geoff Ainsley and Steve Harrington (Belgrave), with nothing much to play for acquiesced to a three-fold repetition as early as move 15. But then on board 7 there came a critical encounter between two juniors, Zora Sandhu and Toby Dodd (both Hebden Bridge). Toby needed to beat his young opponent to catch him on 2½ and beat him he did, but only after a feisty struggle ending only after Zora overlooked a sneaky discovered check that cost him his queen. This result enabled Toby to snatch the junior prize from Zora but there was a consolation in the form of a grading prize for the youngster.

The rest of the games saw wins for Scott Gornall aginst Martin O’Keeffe, Marc Turu against Jon-Paul Ellis, Luca Curry against Gwilym Hughes, Bill Joyce against Fred Bortoletto, Martha Leggett against Joel Hadari and Alfie Dermo against Juliet Hadari.

Most of the games from the final round are featured in the game viewer at the end of this post. But first here are the final standing and prize winners.

  • 4½ points: Phil Cook (First)
  • 4 points: Pete Leonard (Second), Mike Barnett (Grading prize)
  • 3½ points: Richard Porter, Dave Shapland, Martin Syrett
  • 3 points: Matthew Parsons, John Allan, Nick Sykes, Angel Gonzalez (Grading prize)
  • 2½ points: Geoff Ainsley, Scott Gornall, Vivienne Webster, Steve Harrington, Paul Gledhill, Toby Dodd (Best Junior), Zora Sandhu (Grading prize), Marc Turu (Grading prize)
  • 2 points: Neil Bamford, Jon-Paul Ellis, Richard Bottomley, Luca Curry, Bill Joyce, Martha Leggett
  • 1½ points: Richard Bedford, Martin O’Keeffe, Juliet Hadari
  • 1 point: Fred Bortoletto, Gwilym Hughes, Juliet Hadari, Joel Hadari
  • ½ point: Mitchell Burke
  • 0 points: Chris Edwards


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Feb 212018
 

Any excuse for a silly headline and lead image! Phil Cook is, once again, the only unbeaten player after 4 rounds in this years Calderdale Individual Championship.

Any excuse for a silly headline and lead image! Phil Cook is, once again, the only player with a perfect score after 4 rounds in this years Calderdale Individual Championship.

Round 4 of the 2017-18 Calderdale Individual Chess Championship took place at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge on Monday the 5th of February. The competition has reached the sharp end of proceedings and the leaders at the top of the standings took each other on to decide who would remain in contention when the final round takes place in two week’s time. But before we dive into round 4, let’s first quickly re-cap what happened in round 3 as we didn’t report on that at the beginning of January.

Round 3

This round was substantially affected by the burgeoning cold and flu epidemic as no fewer than five players were forced to take half point byes due to ill health or being on vacation. That meant that, although there were four players on 2 points at the end of round 2, only two were present to contest round 3 as Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) was unwell and Dave Shapland (Golden Lion) was on holiday.

This meant that reigning champion Phil Cook (Golden Lion) and Richard Porter (Halifax) were flung together. They’d met in the league earlier in the season and Cook had prevailed. He managed to repeat the feat after successfully navigating a wild and highly unusual opening phase of the game where both players appeared to be ignoring the orthodox principles of chess at times. The champion was on 3 points alone. The question was now, how many of those on 1½ could keep pace with him to stay in touch.

There were a couple of surprises in round 3, notably on board 2 where Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge) profited from a tactical oversight by his club colleague John Allan late on in an interesting and unbalanced endgame. John seemed to be better for much of the game but suddenly fell into a mating net and Martin pounced to reach 2½.

On board 4 too there was a rating upset as Geoff Ainsley held Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) to a draw in a game that looked very much like Geoff could have won if he’d carried on playing. Nick annotates the game in the viewer at the end of this post.

But the story of the night (almost) unfolded on board 5 where there was almost an upset of colossal proportions. Top seed Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) had an objectively lost position at one point in his game against Steve Harrington (Belgrave). Matthew had rating advantage of over 70 points so a defeat would have been cataclysmic. However, he showed both his character and experience by knuckling down and forcing his opponent to continue to find the best moves and plans to seal the deal. Little by little Steve’s advantage subsided until, finally, he made a more significant mistake and suddenly the game was in the balance again. Matthew was not going to give Steve another chance as he converted to keep his slim hopes of re-capturing the title he last won in 2014-15 alive.

The only other players to reach 2½ were Mike Barnett (Belgrave) who defeated Jon-Paul Ellis (Hebden Bridge) in clinical fashion despite having to navigate some seriously murky waters and Paul Gledhill (Hebden Bridge) who continued a recent run of good form to beat Marc Turu (Golden Lion).

Of the eight juniors competing in the round only Zora Sandhu (against Juliet Hadari) and Fred Bortoletto (against Joel Hadari) were able to win their games.

Eight of the twelve games in round 3 can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Round 4

Just as they did last year, Dave Shapland and Phil Cook faced each other in Round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship. The result of the game was the same as last season too! [Photo: Matthew Parsons]

Just as they did last year, Dave Shapland and Phil Cook faced each other in Round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship. The result of the game was the same as last season too! [Photo: Matthew Parsons]

On top board Phil Cook was now the only remaining player on 3 out of 3 when the night started and he was pitted against the highest rated of the players on 2½. This turned out to be the same opponent he’d beaten in round 4 of last year’s competition, Dave Shapland, also of Golden Lion Who’d taken a half point bye in round 3.

This game was keenly contested and, although Dave made a mistake early on which gifted his opponent a pawn, he did get some active play in compensation as was able to rustle up a dangerous looking attack. However, Phil defended calmly in time trouble, saw off the attack, consolidated his position and was then able to simplify into an end game which was easily won for him. It was déjà vu for both players as Dave subsided to defeat once more but Phil marched on to 4 out of 4 just as he did last season.

Unlike last year however, when no one else made it to within a point of Phil, this time two players managed to make it to 3½ out of 4. Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) beat his club colleague Martin Syrett. He too won a pawn early in the game but in this instance, Martin had no compensation and Pete converted smoothly.

Meanwhile on board three, Mike Barnett defeated Paul Gledhill with Black in the last game of the night to finish. Paul put up spirited resistance, but Mike was too good for him in the end. Pete and Mike are now the only players who have any chance of overhauling Phil and one of them will face him in the final round needing to win to steal the crown from him.

On board 4 Matthew Parsons had a much easier ride than he had in round 3 and cruised to victory with White against Geoff Ainsley. He’s paid the price for defaulting in round 2 as he’s a full point behind the leader with no chance of winning the title back this year.

Position from Porter vs. Gonzalez after 14.b3 Qf5. How would you proceed with White here? See what actually happened in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Position from Porter vs. Gonzalez after 14.b3 Qf5. How would you proceed with White here? See what actually happened in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Richard Porter was again involved in one of the most interesting games of the round following on from the extraordinary sequence of moves that featured in the opening phase of his game with Phil in the round 3. This time he found a very unusual tactical idea to lay a trap for Angel Gonzalez. Richard’s concept wasn’t flawless, but Angel didn’t play as accurately as he needed to, and he finally lost a piece for a pawn. Normally this would have resulted in an easy win for Richard, but he found his rook to be very passive in the ending whilst Angel’s was completely free to roam at will. Richard had to play very deliberately to finally liberate his game and carve out a hard-earned victory.

Further down the board order Zora Sandhu put one hand on the junior prize by defeating Luca Curry to move onto 2½ out of 4. Zora is one of no fewer than seven players on that score and will almost certainly be challenged with an opponent of much greater strength in the final round. However, the only other two juniors with any chance of catching up are Joel Hadari and Toby Dodd. One of them must win and home that Zora loses in order to draw level.

Below are a list of all the results from round 4 and the game viewer below that contains a number of games from the round.

Calderdale Individual Championship Round 4

Dave Shapland 0 – 1 Phil Cook
Pete Leonard 1 – 0 Martin Syrett
Paul Gledhill 0 – 1  Mike Barnett
Matthew Parsons 1 – 0  Geoff Ainsley
Richard Porter 1 – 0  Angel Gonzalez
Neil Bamford 0 – 1 Vivienne Webster
John Allan 1 – 0 M.O’Keeffe
Marc Turu ½ – ½  Scott Gornall
Bill Joyce 0 – 1 Steve Harrington
Martha Leggett 0 – 1 Jon-Paul Ellis
Richard Bottomley 1 – 0 Joel Hadari
Luca Curry 0 – 1 Zora Sandhu
Fred Bortoletto 0 – 1 Toby Dodd
Alfie Dermo 0 – 1 Gwilym Hughes

The leading scorers after 4 rounds are:

Phil Cook (Golden Lion) – 4
Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge), Mike Barnett (Belgrave) – 3½
Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge), Richard Porter (Halifax) – 3

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Dec 222017
 

Round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship saw more than its fair share of miniatures.

Round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship saw more than its fair share of miniatures and none of them were of the type shown in the picture!

On Monday the 4th of December Round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship took place at the Trades Club. From a kibitzers perspective it was probably a joy to behold as no fewer than five of the fifteen games played ended in bloodshed in fewer than twenty moves. Another three games ended in fewer than thirty moves. From the point of view of a participant however, such a paucity of genuinely competitive encounters was a disappointment.

Sadly, the evening got off to a bad start when arbiter John Kerrane was forced to do a repairing when the top seed, Matthew Parsons and the second seed, Mitchell Burke, didn’t turn up. Matthew had gotten his diary mixed up it later transpired but no one knows what happened to Mitchell. Both have now withdrawn from the competition.

The result of this early set back was that Martin Syrett and Mike Barnett were re-paired to face each other instead of their more illustrious rivals. This at least produced one of the games of the night as, with reduced time on the clock and a complex position on the board, these two fought until the very end of the evening’s play and were the last to finish. Mike had a decisive advantage on the board but had hardly any time left on the clock and felt compelled to offer Martin a draw, which of course he accepted.

Elsewhere the action was over all too swiftly. On board 3 Angel Gonzales, normally such an obdurate adversary, made a hash of his opening and then blundered a mate in one on move eleven against Dave Shapland. Steve Harrington mated young Freddie Bortoletto on move fourteen and Bill Joyce resigned to Neil Bamford on move thirteen when he overlooked a skewer of his queen to his king. Alfie Dermo also blundered into a mate in one on move twelve against his junior team mate Luca Curry. These four games were over in under 30 minutes.

There were a few other games that were completed not too long after that as well! At move eight Toby Dodd seemed to have an unexciting but perfectly acceptable position against Martha Leggett but he completely self-destructed and resigned just 10 moves later with his position a smoldering ruin. This was an excellent result for Martha who finished the game clinically. Similarly, Martin O’Keefe seemed to be doing just fine against Richard Bedford until he over looked a tactic which cost him a piece and then, as often happens, one mistake followed another as Martin resigned on move twenty-one with his position overrun. Finally, the game was also prematurely terminated by a blunder in the match up between Richard Porter and Marc Turu. This time Marc went for an attack on Richard’s queen overlooking a nasty intermezzo which forced checkmate in three moves.

All of the games mentioned above can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. A couple of games for which we don’t have the score were also over reasonably swiftly. Jon-Paul Ellis’ win against Gwilem Hughes and Juliet Hadari’s draw with Richard Bottomley (she should really have won that game which would have been an outstanding result) were also complete before half the evening’s play had expired.

By now the number of games still in play were pretty thin on the ground. These though were the more competitive and interesting encounters in the round. Geoff Ainsley (returning to Calderdale Chess after a number of years away) brought his game to conclusion satisfactorily against another member of the junior contingent and Nick Sykes found himself unable to get anything more than a draw with the Black pieces out of Paul Gledhill.

The remaining games lasted much longer into the evening. John Allan slowly ground down Chris Edwards who of course had given Matthew Parsons such a tough game in round 1. John collected a couple of pawns and then simply exchanged off material to convert an endgame. Phil Cook’s win over Scott Gornall was slightly more tactical in nature as he a rook and two pawns for two pieces and the initiative. After that he went pawn hunting and soon had four connected passed pawns on the king’s side. This was more than enough to seal the deal.

Finally, Vivienne Webster and Pete Leonard played out a topsy-turvey game with the advantage switching frequently from one side to the other. In the end it was Vivienne who committed the last mistake of the game when she allowed Pete to double his rooks on the seventh rank in the end game. She could still have put up spirited resistance but instead, in a moment that was rather symbolic for this round of matches, Vivienne blundered a mate in one on move fourty-seven.

All of this means that there are just four players on 2 points after two rounds. Reigning champion Phil Cook, last year’s runner-up Dave Shapland, Richard Porter and Pete Leonard. These four are followed by another seven players on 1½.

Below are the full results for round 2 and at the foot of the post is the game viewer.

M Barnett ½ – ½ M Syrett
S Gornall 0 – 1 P Cook
D Shapland 1 – 0 A Gonzales
V Webster  0 – 1  P Leonard
R Porter  1 – 0  M Turu
P Gledhill ½ – ½  N Sykes
J Allan 1 – 0 C Edwards
M O’Keeffe 0 – 1 R Bedford
G Ainsley 1 – 0 Z Sandhu
S Harrington 1 – 0 F Bortoletto
B Joyce 0 – 1  N Bamford
JP Ellis 1 – 0 G Hughes
T Dodd 0 – 1 M Leggett
JS Hadari ½ – ½ R Bottomley
A Dermo 0 – 1 L Curry

Full point bye:  BJS Hadari

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Nov 142017
 

The fashionable score in round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship where there were no draws this year.

The fashionable score in round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship where there were no draws this year. Photo used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Duncan C’s Flickr photostream

Last Monday night saw round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship for 2017-18 take place at the Trades Club. The reigning champion, Phil Cook was back to defend his crown, as were three of the other four players who finished on the same score (4) as Phil last season. Dave Shapland, Richard Bedford and Matthew Parsons were all on the entry list. Entries were slightly down on the 38 participants of last season with 32 players registered – six of whom took a half point bye for round 1.

The field is also a shade weaker this season as last year there were nine players rated over 150 with six of these were rated above 170. In this year’s edition there are eight rated above 150 and three over 170. One constant factor however is the strong proportion of junior entries which highlights the main benefit of playing the event at the Trades Club. Nine of the entries this year are members of the Hebden Bridge Junior club and this competition provides them all with an excellent opportunity to play against adults from across both Calderdale Leagues.

Of course with one section and a huge range in abilities from the top to the bottom of the draw the first round is always likely to see it’s fair share of flat-track bullying. Last season’s first round was exceptional in that there were a serious number of upsets with lower rated players drawing (including draws against the top two seeds) and even winning two games. This time around normal order was restored with all the results going the way of the favorites and no drawn games. It was zeros and ones all the way down the draw.

The common theme in many of the games was tactics involving the loss of the queen – and of course, these games ended pretty swiftly. Nick Sykes is on great form at the moment and he won Luca Curry’s queen with a bishop fork on move 16. Luca resigned three moves later. On the board next door Martin Syrett was up to his old tricks with the Kings Gambit and he succeeded in pulling off a family knight fork of king, queen and rook against Bill Joyce to win on move 18. Interestingly, Paul Gledhill pulled off a mirror image of Martin’s family fork against Joel Hadari on board 13. The main difference in the two games being that, as opposed to resigning on the spot like Bill, Joel toiled on for 20 more moves and forced Paul to mate him.

By way of a variation on the theme, Dave Shapland thought he’d found a combination to win Neil Bamford’s queen for two pieces on board 3. It turned out that he’d miscalculated however and in fact Neil won a rook, knight and bishop for his queen and a pawn. This is altogether a different assessment and, when the dust had settled, it was clear that Neil had a mathematically winning advantage. But of course it’s never that easy to win a game like this with such unusual material imbalances and Neil wasn’t able to find the right method to consolidate and activate his pieces. Dave then laid a nasty trap and Neil fell into it meaning that this game too was also over early in the evening and in under 30 moves.

Elsewhere in the room the lower rated players put up spirited resistance without ever really looking like they were going to cause an upset. The battle of the Richards (Bottomley and Porter) on board 5, went into an endgame before Richard Bottomley fell to a nasty bishop skewer of his rook to his king at the end of an exchange sequence.
On board 6 newcomer to Calderdale chess, Mark Turu, was taken deep into the end game by Toby Dodd who defended resiliently despite being a pawn down for much of the game. Mark was forced to grind out the result as he carefully traded off pieces to reach a five pawns versus four pawns and same coloured bishops ending. Finally, the bishops came off too and Mark’s passed a-pawn diverted the Black king to allow White’s to hoover up Blacks remaining pawns. A patient victory for Mark and staunch resistance from Toby who will surely be served well by this type of form if he plays like this in his league matches too.

Young Gwilym Hughes also forced his opponent, Mike Barnett into a drawn-out affair that finished in a win for Mike on move 55. In this game Gwilym paid the price for having too many weak pawns and Mike efficiently took everything that he was offered and gave nothing in return until his own pawns advanced relentlessly on White’s king right across the board like space invaders.

Juliet Hadari (against Scott Gornall), Martha Leggett (against Vivienne Webster) and Alfie Dermo (against Angel Gonzales) all saw the junior participants put up spirited resistance but ultimately ended in failure.

This just leaves us with three of the top four boards to report on. First of all on board 4 Pete Leonard seemed to be romping to an early win against J-P.Ellis but, just at the moment when a check mate looked inevitable, J-P found a way to give up an exchange and a pawn to stave off Pete’s attack and he was forced instead to consolidate his advantage and win more slowly. Sure enough, the engines show there were some swifter paths to victory, but, having been surprised in the opening round of this tournament last season Pete, quite rightly, chose a risk-free route to accumulate the full point.

The reigning champion, Phil, was up against Steve Harrington on board 2. He had the benefit of the White pieces too but again, the underdog resisted stubbornly. Not only that, but to his great credit, Steve also tried to play actively. Bit by bit, Phil accumulated one positional advantage after another and squeezed his opponent on the queen’s side of the board where the half open b-file was proving to be White’s avenue into the Black position. Eventually, on move 26, Steve overlooked, or was forced to accept the loss of a pawn and his position simply collapsed after that and he resigned just as he was about to go three pawns down into a same-coloured bishops end game.

Undoubtedly the game of the round was on board 1 however as previous winner and number 1 seed, Matthew Parsons took on Chris Edwards in a struggle which became an epic encounter and lasted until the very end of the evening’s play. Last season Matthew had been held to a draw in the first round with the Black pieces but he didn’t alter his approach which was to play solidly and aim to outplay his opponent in the middle and endgame.

Chris chose the Panov-Botvinnik Attack of the Caro-Kan as the battleground for the game but he mis-handled the opening somewhat and lost a pawn. That said, Matthew’s extra pawn was both passed and isolated on the d-file so his margin for error as he exchanged off into a double rook endgame was slim. Chris hunkered down to his task and Matthew then went slightly astray himself as he opted to activate his king when, as he says himself in the game notes, he would have done better to first develop his second rook. By move 22 he admitted that he was not really any better and would ‘have to win the position again’.

Chris’s more active rook, doubled on the d-file, were the key to his defensive chances but then it seems he over-reached himself and started playing for a win when it would have been more prudent to harass the White king with his rooks and ask Matthew to find a winning method. Finally, Matthew activated his king’s rook and, although he was compelled to give back his extra pawn, the players were now in a time scramble and it was Chris who eventually cracked under pressure to hand Matthew a very hard-earned win.

Here is a full list of all the results:

C.Edwards 0 – 1 M.Parsons
P.Cook 1 – 0 S.Harrington
N.Bamford 0 – 1 D.Shapland
P.Leonard 1 – 0 J-P.Ellis
R.Bottomley 0 – 1 R.Porter
M.Turu 1 – 0 T.Dodd
L.Curry 0 – 1 N.Sykes
M.Syrett 1 – 0 B.Joyce
G.Hughes 0 – 1 M.Barnett
S.Gornall 1 – 0 J.S.Hadari
M.Leggett 0 – 1 V.Webster
A.Gonzales 1 – 0 A.Dermo
B.J.S.Hadari 0 – 1 P.Gledhill

Half point byes:
M.Burke, J.Allan, R.Bedford, G.Ainsley, M.O’Keefe, Z.Sandu

All but one of the games from round 1 can be found in the game viewer below.

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Mar 172017
 

Cook vs. Parsons. This was the final position from the last game to finish in this year's championship. White can put off the inevitable by sacrificing the exchange on d5 but Black will still be winning.

Cook vs. Parsons. This was the final position from the last game to finish in this year’s championship. White can put off the inevitable by sacrificing the exchange on d5 but Black will still be winning. Phil therefore resigned here leaving 5 players on 4 points with tie-break deciding the champion for the second year running

Another edition of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship came to a close last Monday at the Trades Club. It’s been a fascinating competition this year with a number of the top seeds dropping draws and even stumbling to defeat in a couple of cases in the early rounds of the competition. That essentially cleared the way for the fourth seed, Phil Cook of Todmorden, to reach 4/4 after three consecutive wins against players from Hebden Bridge: Martin Syrett in Round 2, Nick Sykes in Round 3 and Dave Shapland in Round 4.

In the meantime some of the other leading players had been trying to make up ground on the leader but had been foiled by his continuing string of victories. Top seed and three-time champion, Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) had overcome fifth seed John Allan (Hebden Bridge) and then drawn with sixth seed Ian Hunter (Belgrave) to stay within touching distance of the run-away leader and would now finally have the opportunity to catch him in the final round if he could beat him with the Black pieces to order. Failing to win would guarantee that Cook would win the trophy and even a defeat for the Todmorden player could still see him through on a tie-break if one or more of the other players besides Matthew Parsons reached 4 points as well.

If the top board game promised to be the most interesting game of the evening from the perspective of the final standings then some of the subsequent boards also promised some entertaining action. On board two ninth seed Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) had recovered from his surprise defeat in round 1 to beat the second seed and reigning champions Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield) in the fourth round. His reward was another tough assignment with the Black pieces against the undefeated Ian Hunter. On board 3 an all Hebden Bridge encounter between too of Phil Cook’s victims, Martin Syrett and Dave Shapland, promised to be an ‘uninhibited’ toe-to-toe encounter.

After that the draw was, unfortunately, adversely effected by a spate of final round withdrawals – which these days seem to be a disappointing inevitability in this competition. Greg Eagleton withdrew before the final round and his Huddersfield club colleague Mitchell Burke also failed to show up when he was due to play Richard Bedford (Todmorden), another of the players on 3 points.

There were a number of other match ups that promised some interesting and closely fought battles. On board 5 John Allan was paired against Steve Harrington (Belgrave) who had performed admirably to reach 2½/4. Allan played patiently in the opening against his opponent’s Accellerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence. Exploiting some inaccurate play he won first one and then a second pawn to accumulate an overwhelming endgame advantage. This meant John finished on a respectable 3½/5 having drawn with Mike Barnett (Belgrave) in round 2 and been defeated by Matthew Parsons in round 3.

On board 6 Mike Barnett and Scott Gornall (Halifax) looked on paper like they would be very evenly matched and so it proved as they played on into an end game but neither player could secure an advantage and they each drew their second game of the competition to finish on 3 points.

Board 7 saw Andy Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge) face the seventh seed, Richard Porter (Halifax). It was Leatherbarrow who had ensured the top seed’s tournament had gotten off to a slow start when he held Matthew Parsons to a draw in round 1. He’d beaten a lower ranked player in round 2 but had then stalled somewhat himself with a half point bye in round three and a draw with Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) in round 4. Richard’s tournament meanwhile had been rather more topsy-turvey after he suffered a big upset at the hands of club colleague Pete Moss in round 1 and then lost another game to a lower ranked player, Martin Syrett, in round 4.

It looked like it would be another very stiff test for the Halifax player and indeed in the early stages of the game Andy played sensible, solid chess and slowly built up a small advantage. At move 22 White still stood better but then it looked like Andy followed the wrong plan by advancing his h-pawn and in a couple of moves the advantage swung to his opponent who was able to see out the win and finish on 3 points.

On the lower boards there was still something to play for in the form of grading prizes and the Hebden Bridge junior contingent were battling it out for their prize as well.

On board 8 Pete Moss (Halifax) rounded off a fine tournament for him by beating Vivienne Webster (Halifax) with the Black pieces to reach 3 points. Barry Wadsworth and Daniel Rivron (both Halifax) fought each other to a stand-still to finish on 50% and Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield) defeated Bill Joyce (Todmorden).

Bedford vs. Dawson. White to play. He has a very promising intiative. how should he proceed? See how many of the subsequent lines you can calculate after finding White's next move.

Bedford vs. Dawson. White to play. Richard has a very promising initiative here. How should he proceed? See how many of the subsequent lines you can calculate after finding White’s next move.

The juniors were playing against each other on the bottom boards. Gwilym Hughes scored his second win of the competition against Alfie Dermo and in a battle of the siblings Joel Hadari managed to beat his sister Juliet for his first point in the competition. Martha Leggett was unlucky once again as her opponent didn’t appear and there was no-one to pair here against. She’s picked up two defaults in this fashion which is a shame.

That just leaves us with the business end of proceedings to cover off. On board 4 Richard Bedford (Todmorden) was the first of the players in with a chance of pulling level with Phil should he be defeated. He had been due to face Mitchell Burke (Hudderfield) but when Mitchell didn’t make an appearance he was re-paired with Adrian Dawson (Belgrave). That should have been an easier proposition for Richard and so it turned out to be as he played, with White, a nice Anti-Grunfeld where the players castled on opposite sides of the board. Richard’s attack was always looking quicker however and he broke through to give checkmate with some pleasing pyrotechnics. This made him the second player (after Phil) to reach 4 points.

Syrett vs. Shapland. Martin Syrett has two pawns for the exchange having just traded queens on e8. How should Black now proceed and what should the result be with best play? Find out the answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Syrett vs. Shapland. Martin Syrett has two pawns for the exchange having just traded queens on e8. How should Black now proceed and what should the result be with best play? Find out the answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

On board 3, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and ‘B’ team captains, Dave Shapland and Martin Syrett were also battling it out to reach 4. These two are uncompromising characters at the board and their games are usually full of fight and attack. This game, full of ebb and flow, did not disappoint on that score. Dave chose to play the French Defence as a surprise weapon and Martin soon veered from the most well-trodden paths of the Tarrasch Variation to ensure the game would reach an original position early on.

Dave got himself in a tangle and soon it looked like Martin had managed to stir up an overwhelming attack. However, the Black position proved to be more resilient than it appeared and Dave was able to repulse the White pieces and launch a counter offensive. This in turn looked dangerous and provoked Martin to sacrifice an exchange for two pawns and the initiative.

With Dave’s king bobbing about in the open and Martin’s rook and queen infiltrating the Black camp it seemed Martin might have at least enough for a draw but then, late on in the evening, with both players weary from an exhausting battle, Martin chose to exchange queens not seeing that the resultant ending of bishop and five pawns versus rook and three pawns was losing for him almost immediately via a tactical trick. Dave has had a number of lucky escapes against lower rated opponents in this year’s competition but nevertheless managed to reach 4 points.

Hunter vs Leonard. Black has just played 44...f4? which unfortunately allows an attractive check mate. How long will it take you to spot it?

Hunter vs Leonard. Black has just played 44…f4? which unfortunately allows an attractive check mate. How long will it take you to spot it?

On board 2 Ian Hunter and Pete Leonard also played a very interesting and complicated game which saw Pete playing his habitual choice against the English opening 1…b6. The game then looks like it transposed in to something akin to a Catalan. Pete, like Dave, has provided extensive annotations of this game in the viewer at the end of this report and the game is well worth playing through as both players fought in uncompromising fashion for an unbalanced position that would be most likely to produce a decisive result.

At one point Pete seemed to have the advantage and Ian offered an exchange sacrifice to try and stay afloat. Pete declined it, preferring instead to lock his bishop in on b2 with his advanced a-pawn providing support. Soon after that though, as Pete admitted himself, he started to lose his way and when he declined two subsequent pawn offers by Ian, White seized the advantage by sacrificing his queen for a rook and bishop!

The subsequent play was highly complicated with Ian holding passed b and c-pawns as part of his perfectly adequate compensation for the material. Both players went astray at times in the murk that followed but it was Ian who ended up on the winning side after Pete wandered his king into an attractive mating net. With this Ian became the fourth player to reach 4 points.

All of this now meant that the battle on board 1 was irrelevant as far as deciding the destiny of the title was concerned. Phil’s ‘sum of consecutive scores’ tie break was already better than Ian, Dave or Richard’s and would also be better than Matthew’s even if he lost. Never the less, Matthew showed great fighting spirit to play for victory with Black in a game he had to try and win even though he knew even that would probably not be enough to re-take the title he last won in 2015.

Purely from an accuracy perspective, this final game of the competition was probably one of the best played in all 5 rounds. It certainly compares well with Matthew’s fine win with the Black pieces against John Allan in round 3. Once again he played it patiently and slowly took advantage of Phil’s natural desire to play it safe in a game that he only needed to draw. Even in the game notes that he has provided Matthew finds it hard to pinpoint exactly where Phil went wrong as he slow neutralised any White winning chances and then went onto the offensive.

In the end game only Black had winning chances and Matthew patiently manoeuvred his pieces, including his king to their optimum squares and then prepared a pawn break through on the queen’s side. At the end Phil could have sacrificed the exchange to limp on but it was evident that would only prolong his agony and by that stage of the evening it was evident he had won the championship in any case.

The final results show a 5-way tie for first but with Phil Cook champion on the ‘sum of progressive scores’ tie-break. Congratulations to Phil on his maiden Calderdale Individual title. Dave Shapland finished second. Ian Hunter and Matthew Parsons were the only two unbeaten players in the competition but they did each draw twice. Ian at least had the consolation of a grading prize. Matthew had to content himself with having played the best chess in the tournament and having had the toughest schedule as he beat both John Allan and Phil Cook and draw with Ian. These three players were seeded 6, 5 and 4 respectively.

The fifth player to score 4 points was Richard Bedford. He was also the lowest rated to reach this score which was a highly creditable outcome. Unfortunately, he just missed out on a grading prize as he was in the same banding as Ian who edged him on tie-break.

The other grading prizes were won by Mike Barnett, Pete Moss and Gwilym Hughes. Martha Leggett took the junior prize.

A full list of the final scores is given below:

4 points = P.Cook (1st), D.Shapland (2nd), M.Parsons, I.Hunter (Grading prize), R.Bedford
3½ points = J.Allan
3 points = R.Porter, P.Leonard, M.Syrett, S.Gornall, M.Barnett (Grading prize), P.Moss (Grading prize), M.Leggett (Junior prize)
= G.Eagleton, M.Burke, N.Sykes, A.Leatherbarrow, D.Rivron, B.Wadsworth, S.Harrington
2 = J.Lavan, R.Sutcliffe, V.Webster, N.Bamford, A.Dawson, G.Hughes
= A.Gonzalez, L.Curry, T.Dodd
1 = B.Joyce, J.Y.Hadari, B.J.S.Hadari
½ = M.J.Tait
0 = A.Dermo

Withdrew = J.Brooke, T.Sullivan, M.O’Keefe

A selection of games from the final round can be found in the game viewer below. The top three games all come with commentary from Matthew Parsons, Pete Leonard and Dave Shapland respectively.

All that remains is for us to express our gratitude to the tournament organizer and controller, John Kerrane who once again presided over a well-attended and smoothly run competition.

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Feb 132017
 

The last man standing this year is Phil Cook of Todmorden. But there is still one last round to go. Can he remain undefeated to become the new champion of Calderdale?

The last man standing this year is Phil Cook of Todmorden. But there is still one final round to go. Can he remain undefeated to become the new champion of Calderdale?

Last Monday night saw an enthralling and exciting fourth round of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship unfold at the Trades Club. Previous rounds and seen a number of surprising results which had led to some of the top seeds falling half a point behind the pace setters, fourth seed Phil Cook (Todmorden) and eighth seed Dave Shapland (Hebden Bridge) who started round four as the only two players on a perfect 3/3.

With these two destined to face each other on the top board it was vital that those trailing just behind on 2½ succeeded in winning so they could keep pace or possibly catch up with the two leaders should they draw. That would be no easy task for now the best players in the competition would start to get drawn against each other. On board two, top seed and triple champion from 2013-2015, Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) would take on fifth seed Ian Hunter (Belgrave) and on board three reigning champion Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield) would play Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) who was the unlucky player on two who was destined to ‘float up’ when Mitchell Burke (who was also on 2½) withdrew from the competition.

But whilst these battles on the top three boards could prove decisive in shaping the destination of the 2016-17 title, there were some equally juicy looking match ups just below them. On board 4 Richard Porter (Halifax) took on Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge) and then club colleagues Nick Sykes and Andy Leatherbarrow (both Hebden Bridge) faced off before the last two players on 2 points Richard Bedford (Todmorden) and Pete Moss (Halifax) also looked like an interesting battle.

Very often on these important and tense occasions, strong players can tend to cancel each other out and take a ‘safety first’ approach to their games. However, on this occasion the circumstances of the tournament situation really encouraged the players to take some risks and play for the full point. This resulted in some highly interesting and full-blooded contests.

On board 1, Dave Shapland, playing White took precautions to try and ensure he kept winning chances in his game as he knew that he would have to Black in the final round against a top player and felt he needed the largest points buffer he could muster to have any hope of winning the competition. For the third game in a row his opponent played 1…Nc6 against his 1.e4 opening move. In the two previous encounters he had chosen to transpose into a solid variation of the Two Knight Defence and had got nothing at all from the opening phase even though he’d scored a point and a half from them. This time, he opted for the Scotch Game which had the added benefit of taking his opponent by surprise.

If Dave had intended to keep the tension in the game with his opening choice then he certainly succeeded in doing that. Phil sensibly opted for a less well known variation beginning with 6…Qg6!? Now both players were already in unfamiliar territory and unsurprisingly, started to burn through their allocated time as a result. Dave fanned the flames further when he castled queen’s side on move 14 and the game became extremely sharp and complicated with all three results seemingly possible.

Ultimately, the player’s time shortage before the time control at move 36 proved decisive. Dave made a series of moves that didn’t really improve his position and got himself into hot water as he lost a pawn. Soon after, Phil returned the inaccuracy when he offered an exchange of queens which should have enabled Dave to equalise again. However, he missed his chance and when the time control did arrive he found himself in serious difficulties.

Dave battled on but his position became increasingly futile and his queen’s side pawns fell giving Phil a passed a-pawn. A final tactical twist that Phil had overlooked proved not to be a problem as, in exchange for a rook and knight, Phil forced home his a-pawn and then drove the White king to c5 to win the game.

With board 1 producing a result it was now even more important that the chasing pack won their games in order to keep up with Phil and give themselves a chance in the final round.

On board 2 Matthew played his habitual London System which was well met with some solid and sensible play by Ian. The game looked very much in the balance although Matthew was placing his confidence in a good knight versus bad bishop endgame scenario. Unfortunately for him, that scenario never appeared on the board for he got side-tracked and misjudged a key position on move 18 that left the game dead level with both sets of rooks and queens still on the board.

Matthew took a risk to unbalance the play by sacrificing both his rooks for Ian’s queen in the hopes that his opponent might be more likely to make an error. That didn’t happen and, if anything, it was Ian who was pressing for a win and seemed to come very close to getting one. However, Matthew just had everything under control and, despite walking the tightrope to try and win, in the end he had to settle for a draw as Ian couldn’t make progress and Matthew was able to repeat the position.

On board 3 events had also conspired in Phil Cook’s favour. Reigning champion Greg had the Black pieces against Pete Leonard and seemed to achieve a perfectly playable position in a Closed Sicilian. That is, until he overlooked a tactical nuance that would have meant he would be three pieces for a rook down. He decided not to continue and resigned as early as move 23! Kudos to Pete for taking his chance and advancing to 3 points himself.

All of this now meant that Phil was out in front on 4 points with Matthew, Ian, Dave and Pete all on 3. Would any of the others on 2 be able to join the chasing pack?

On board 4 Martin Syrett sprung a second surprise of the evening by beating Richard Porter with the Black pieces. In a complicated Kings Indian Defence Martin succeeded in launching a strong king’s side attack whilst keeping his opponent’s counter play on the other side of the board to a minimum. After the time control Richard finally cracked under pressure and Martin broke through in the centre with a discovered check tactic and successfully mopped up for an excellent win.

Nick Sykes developed a very strong attack against Andy Leatherbarrow on board 5 out of a topical variation of the Two Knights Defence with 4.d3. The position played and evolved very much like a Closed Spanish where White builds up an attack on the king’s side and Black tries for counter play in the centre and on the queen’s side. Nick may well have missed some opportunities to win the full point but Andy also defended actively and resourcefully and he held on for a draw in what was about to become a same-coloured bishops and pawns ending where he was a pawn down but Nick was going to struggle to break through.

On board 6 Richard Bedford succeeded in gaining a decisive positional advantage straight out of the opening (another King’s Indian) against Pete Moss and then proceeded to offer his opponent not the slightest glimmer of counter play as he ensured that he would be the sixth player to reach 3 points.

Further down the boards there were wins for John Allan (Hebden Bridge) against Angel Gonzalez (Belgrave), Mike Barnett (Belgrave) against Barry Wadsworth (Halifax) and Scott Gornall (Halifax) against Owen Buchan (Hebden Bridge). All these players advance to 2½ points.

Also in amongst this mid-section of the boards was a tremendous fighting draw that was the last game of the night to finish was battled out between Daniel Rivron (Halifax) and John Lavan (Hebden Bridge). The game finished with John’s king on h8 holding up passed White pawn on h7. White’s extra bishop was of no use to him because it was the wrong colour to drive the Black king away and therefore stalemate was inevitable.

The lower boards also saw some very competitive games especially between some of the junior contestants who were starting to fight it out between themselves for the junior prize. Before we get to that though, there were two more ‘all adult’ clashes to mention. In the first Adrian Dawson (Belgrave) played a nice game to overcome his higher rated opponent, Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield), and secure his second win of the competition. Neil Bamford (Hebden Bridge) also won against Bill Joyce (Todmorden) to also reach 50%.

Now to the juniors. Martha Leggett took a full point bye by default (her second of the competition unfortunately) to move onto two point. That makes her the highest scoring junior but she is being pursued by Luca Curry (who took a half point bye in round 4), Owen Buchan (who we already saw lost to Scott Gornall) and Toby Dodd (who won a long and protracted battle with Joel Hadari) who all have 1½.

Gwilem Hughes lost to Vivenne Webster (Halifax)  and we should also mention that, on board 15, Joel’s sister Juliet, won her game against Alfie Dermo to score her first win of the competition.

Here then is confirmation of the individual results from round 4:

Calderdale Individual Chess Championship 2016-17: Round 4

Dave Shapland 0 – 1 Phil Cook
Matthew Parsons ½ – ½ Ian Hunter
Pete Leonard 1 – 0 Greg Eagleton
Richard Porter   0 – 1 Martin Syrett
Nick Sykes ½ – ½ Andy Leatherbarrow
Richard Bedford 1 – 0 Pete Moss
Angel Gonzalez 0 – 1 John Allan
Daniel Rivron     ½ – ½ John Lavan
Barry Wadsworth 0 – 1 Mike Barnett
Scott Gornall 1 – 0 Owen Buchan
Adrian Dawson 1 – 0 Robert Sutcliffe
Gwilym Hughes 0 – 1 Vivienne Webster
Bill Joyce 0 – 1 Neil Bamford
Toby Dodd 1 – 0 Joel Hadari
Alfie Dermo 0 – 1 Juliet Hadari

Full point bye:  Martha Leggett
Half-point bye:  Steve Harrington, Luca Curry
Default:  Mitchell Burke, Michael Tait

The standings with one round remaining are therefore as follows:

  • 4 points – P.Cook
  • 3 points – M.Parsons, I.Hunter, D.Shapland, P.Leonard, R.Bedford, M.Syrett
  • 2½ points – G.Eagleton, M.Burke, J.Allan, N.Sykes, S.Gornall, M.Barnett, A.Leatherbarrow, S.Harrington
  • 2 points – R.Porter, J.Lavan, V.Webster, N.Bamford, D.Rivron, P.Moss, A.Dawson, B.Wadsworth, M.Leggett
  • 1½ points – A.Gonzalez, O.Buchan, L.Curry, T.Dodd
  • 1 point – R.Sutcliffe, B.Joyce, G.Hughes, J.Y Hadari
  • ½ point – M.J.Tait
  • 0 points – A.Dermo, B.J.S Hadari

13 of the 15 games played in round 4 can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

All that leaves us to consider are the permutations for round 5. It will wither be very simple, or very complicated.

Phil Cook should have draw odds with White against Matthew Parsons in the final round. A long as he doesn’t lose he will be champion.

If Phil does lose though all hell breaks lose as in that scenario, he and Matthew would both be on 4 points along with up to three other players. The tie break would then come into force. On that basis we have asked the competition controller, John Kerrane, to provide us with the tie-break rules for the competition so that everyone can be clear in advance how this would work in that eventuality.

Here they are:

Calderdale Individual Championship: Tie Break Regulations

In the event of players achieving the same scores, tie-breaks will be applied in the following order:

  1. The result of the individual game between players.
  2. Sum of progressive scores. (equivalent to Bucholtz system)
  3. Sum of opponents’ scores.
  4. Sum of opponents’ grades.
  5. Sum of opponents’ grades with progressive elimination of the grade of the lowest-graded opponent.

This is roughly equivalent to the recommended FIDE system, also recommended by the ECF, modified to allow for a low number of rounds.

In the event of more than two players achieving the same score, the tie-break will proceed directly to step 2 above.

Note: For the purposes of a tie-break only, unplayed games of players who have withdrawn before the end of the tournament will be counted as draws in section 3 above.

On this basis the following assumptions can be made:

  • Phil Cook is champion if he wins or draws in round 5
  • Matthew Parsons is champion if he beats Phil Cook in round 5 and no-one else on 3 points wins their game
  • Phil Cook is champion if he loses to Matthew but one or more other player reaches 4 points (based on the sum or progressive scores rule)

Comments and feedback on the tie-break rules and the permutations are welcome as always.

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Jan 132017
 

Let loose the hounds! The hunt is on to catch co-leaders Phil Cook and Dave Shapland in the Calderdale Individual Championship. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from the Cochran Library's Flickr photostream

Let loose the hounds! The hunt is on to catch co-leaders Phil Cook and Dave Shapland in the Calderdale Individual Championship. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from the Cochran Library’s Flickr photostream

The third round of five in the Calderdale Individual Championship took place on Monday night at the Trades Club. It’s at this stage of the competition, where it passes the half way mark, that a ‘sharp end’ of the standings emerges.

Before we get to the action though let us first remark that 34 players took part in round 3. That’s a pretty high proportion of the original 38 starters. In recent years there has been an unfortunate trend towards a significant number of withdrawals and so it is a most welcome development to see so many players sticking with it. If 34 players also sit down to play round 5 that would be fantastic.

At the start of round 3 there were four players on 2 points and so they were drawn against each other. On board 1 the fourth seed, Phil Cook (Todmorden) took on Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) with White and on board 2 Dave Shapland (Hebden Bridge) played another Todmorden player Richard Bedford.

Behind this quartet an unusually large mass of players were in the chasing pack on 1½. This included the remaining five of the top six seeds – 2013-14-15 Champion Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge), reigning Champion Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield), Mitchell Burke (Huddersfield), Ian Hunter (Belgrave) and John Allan (Hebden Bridge). These heavyweights were joined by John Lavan (Hebden Bridge), Scott Gornall (Halifax), Mike Barnett (Belgrave) and Andy Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge).

Andy took a half point bye in this round which left an even number of players on 1½ battling it out to maintain the chase on the leaders. It also meant that two of the big-hitters would have to face each other and the draw pitched club colleagues John Allan and Matthew Parsons against one another in what was undoubtedly the juiciest match up of the round. These two played on board 3 and below them Greg played John Lavan, Mitchell had White against Scott and Mike had White against Ian.

At the other end of the draw a number of the juniors were now drawn against each other which meant that the battle for the junior prize was well and truly on. Martha Leggett played Owen Buchan, Luca Curry faced Toby Dodd and Juliet Hadari played Gwilem Hughes.

On the top two boards the opening phase took very different turns. On board 1 Nick had spent some time considering how best to respond to Phil’s habitual English Opening (1.c4) only for Phil to confound him by playing a different move order (1.Nf3 and 2.c4) which ruled out Nick’s preparation and threw him back on his own resources at once. Somewhat dispirited, Nick drifted into a difficult position straight out of the opening and then capitulated when Phil found some brisk tactics to bring the game to a swift conclusion on move 22. Phil therefore became the first player to reach 3 out of 3.

On board 2 Dave and Richard reached a position in the Two Knights Defence that both had foreseen and considered in their preparations. Richard opted for a very solid set up where he grabbed an extra pawn but accepted some structural weaknesses in exchange. Dave didn’t play the opening phase at all well and, like Nick, drifted into an inferior position. Fortunately for him Richard had arrived 15 minutes late for the start of the game and so, when Dave later sought to complicate the position in order to change the dynamics, Richard began to get into time trouble.

Dave then threw caution to the wind on move 22 and sacrificed a second pawn as well as exposing his king in order to try and build up further pressure on Black’s vulnerable f7 square. Richard defended accurately until, on move 30, he blundered and quick as a flash Dave broke through. A shame for Richard who played very well against his higher rated opponent up until that moment.

This means that Dave and Phil will face each other on the 6th of February in round 4 to see if one of them can stay perfect and get to four points.

Probably the highest quality game of the day was seen on board 3 where Matthew slowly ground down John Alllan with Black to maintain his hops of regaining the title. In a Four Knights Game, Matthew created a structural imbalance on the queen’s side by creating doubled c-pawns for John. Then he quickly opened the a-file and took control of it. John sought the haven of simplification but Matthew maintained a marginal edge due to John’s, now isolated, doubled c-pawns. Finally as they entered a rook and pawns ending, Matthew won one of the White c-pawns, swapped of the rook and accurately finished off the king asnd pawn ending for a very nice positional win against a strong opponent.

On boards 4, 5 and 6 the higher rated players also did what was expected of them. Greg kept a small advantage out of the opening against John Lavan who was never able to equalise and eventually capitulated. Mitchell found a nice tactic against Scott to win a piece as early as move 15. He lost two (and later three) pawns in the process but the material advantage was sufficient even though it took him a while to convert it. Finally, Ian had to grind out a win in a double bishop and pawns ending against Mike who put up serious resistance. This game outlasted all the other by some margin and it seemed at one point like Mike would hold his opponent but it was an illusion as Ian eventually broek through to mate hi opponent.

In round 4 Mitchell will now likely play Matthew with Black while Ian will have White against Greg. These should be epic encounters with only two of the four maintaining winning chances after that round.

Further down the draw, two of the higher rated players who had lost in the first round continued their resurgence to get to 2 out of 3. Richard Porter won smoothly against his Halifax club colleague Vivienne Webster and Pete Leonard inflicted a second victory of the season with his Alekhine’s Defence over Neil Bamford who certainly did not lack ambition in his approach but ultimately fell victim to an opening trap.

Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge), Pete Moss (Halifax) and Steve Harrington (Halifax) also advanced to two points with wins against a trio of Belgrave players in the form of Adrian Dawson, John Brooke and Angel Gonzalez respectively. Pete’s performance in particular should be applauded as he beat his second higher rated opponent of the competition.

So too on board 12 did Halifax’s Barry Wadsworth who took down Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield) to progress on to 2 points himself. This leaves some experienced players in one point. They’ll be eager to get back to 50% in the next round against potentially weaker opponents.

Finally we should tell the story of the juniors. Alfie Dermo (Hebden Bridge) took on an adult when he was re-paired to play Daniel Rivron (Halifax). Alfie did his best but Daniel was solid and secure and outplayed his young opponent. The other junior vs. senior clash also went the way of experience as Bill Joyce (Todmorden) overcame Joel Hadari (Hebden Bridge) without too much trouble.

The all junior clashes produced the mix bag of quality and competitiveness one might expect. At one end of the scale Juliet Hadari lost what was probably the shortest game in Calderdale Individual Championship history against Gwilem Hughes. At the other end of the scale Luca Curry finally beat Toby Dodd after a much more interesting and evenly matched struggle.  Owen Buchan was the other winner over Martha Leggett.

Full results are listed below along with the standings after round 3 and some of the games in the viewer at the end of the post. I’m having some problems with the regular viewer so have had to use a different one for the moment. Hopefully it should not spoil the experience too much. Round 4 is on the 6th of February and should produce some fascinating and hard fought matches.

Calderdale Individual Championship: Round 3
Phil Cook 1 – 0 Nick Sykes
Dave Shapland 1 – 0 Richard Bedford
John Allan 0 – 1 Matthew Parsons
Greg Eagleton 1 – 0 John Lavan
Mitchell Burke 1 – 0 Scott Gornall
Mike Barnett 0 – 1 Ian Hunter
Vivienne Webster 0 – 1 Richard Porter
Neil Bamford 0 – 1 Pete Leonard
Adrian Dawson 0 – 1 Martin Syrett
Pete Moss 1 – 0 John Brooke
Steve Harrington 1 – 0 Angel Gonzalez
Robert Sutcliffe 0 – 1 Barrie Wadsworth
Alfie Dermo 0 – 1 Daniel Rivron
Martha Leggett 0 – 1 Owen Buchan
Bill Joyce 1 – 0 Joel Hadari
Luca Curry 1 – 0 Toby Dodd
Juliet Hadari 0 – 1 Gwilym Hughes

Half-point bye:  Andy Leatherbarrow
Default:  Martin O’Keeffe, Michael Tait

Standings after round 3:
3 points: P.Cook, D.Shapland
2½ points: M.Parsons, G.Eagleton, M.Burke, I.Hunter
2 points: R.Porter, P.Leonard, N.Sykes, R.Bedford, M.Syrett, A.Leatherbarrow, P.Moss, B.Wadsworth, S.Harrington
1½ points: J.Allan, J.Lavan, S.Gornall, M.Barnett, A.Gonzalez, D.Rivron, O.Buchan
1 points: J.Brooke, R.Sutcliffe, V.Webster, N.Bamford, A.Dawson, B.Joyce, L.Curry, G.Hughes, M.Leggett
½ points: M.J.Tait, T.Dodd
0 points: B.J.S Hadari, J.Y.Hadari, A.Dermo

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