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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the match scorecard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final match card looked like this:

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

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

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

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

The final score was 1½ – 3½.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the match scorecard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the final match card:

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

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

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

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

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Nov 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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Nov 032017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the full match scorecard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the scorecard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 262017
 
All three Hebden Bridge teams crashed to defeat on a bad night at the Trades Club last Monday. Image used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from bleggg's Flickr photo stream.

All three Hebden Bridge teams crashed to defeat on a bad night at the Trades Club last Monday. Image used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from bleggg’s Flickr photo stream.

On Monday last week all three Hebden Bridge teams took to their boards at the Trades Club as the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams played their third round League 1 fixtures (against Huddersfield ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ respectively) and the ‘C’ team played their third round fixture against Halifax ‘D’ a week early.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had started the season with a couple of wins and now faced stern opposition in the form of Huddersfield ‘A’ who had also started the season in perfect fashion. Usually, matches between Hebden and Huddersfield are super-tense and tight affairs but on this occasion Huddersfield rather cruised to victory by a margin that doesn’t really do justice to the close nature of the games.

Sadly the tone was set by ‘A’ team captain Pete Leonard who fell into an opening trap against Dave Keddie and was compelled to resign in just 10 moves as he was a piece down with no compensation. At least he retained his perspective on the loss and remained sanguine. He has even annotated the game for us in the game viewer at the end of his post. We have indeed, all been there at some point. Your correspondent blundered a mate in one earlier this season.

The night didn’t get much better. John Allan went down to Mitchell Burke on board 1. He seemed to have built himself a decent position and, according to the kibitzers, may even have overlooked some chances to press for victory. But in the end Mitchell found a way to win as he so often does from difficult positions.

Sam Swain and Neil Suttie on boards 3 and 4 also went down against Steve Westmorland and Dave Tooley respectively. Sam never really managed to equalise against Steve’s English Opening and Neil suffered when he initiated sharp play by castling on the opposite wing to Dave but found that White’s attack was fastest.

This just left Richard Bedford to salvage some pride for the home team by despatching Robert Sutcliffe with one of his trade mark off-beat opening lines, the Black Knight’s Tango. It’s a line ‘Beaky’ is an expert in and it showed as Robert struggled to get to grips with it and was defeated.

The final match score card made for grim reading for Hebden:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
J.Allan 0 – 1 M.Burke (White)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 D.Keddie (White)
S.Swain 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (White)
N.Suttie 0 – 1 D.Tooley (White)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 R.Sutcliffe (White)
1 – 4

Across the room Hebden Bridge ‘B’ did rather better but still came up short in a very close match with Halifax ‘A’ who had beeby Hebden ‘A’ in the previous round and by their own ‘B’ team in round 1. They desperately need to get off the mark and they did, but only just.

Top board for the visitors was Bill Somerset and he took on Nick Sykes. This was a highly theoretical and classically set game in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Nick equalised comfortably and the players agreed to halve the point fairly early in the game which was a great outcome for the home team as Bill is rated 30 points higher than Nick who secured a second draw against very strong opposition in two matches.

There were also draws on board 3, 4 and 5 for Andy Leatherbarrow against Carlos Velosa, John Kerrane against Sam Scurfield and Neil Bamford against David Loughenbury. John and Neil also gave away serious rating differences and Andy and Carlos were rated almost exactly the same. This represented a great battling display by the ‘B’ team.

But unfortunately their night was also due to end in disappointment as the last board to finish saw Richard Porter overcome Martin Syrett in a battle of the captains. Martin gained the exchange but afterwards his position seemed more difficult to play and eventually he felt compelled to give back a bishop to secure a dangerous passed pawn. Richard found a solution to the problems he had been set however and managed to convert his material advantage to a full point to seal Halifax’s first win of the season.

Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
N.Sykes ½ – ½ W.Somerset (White)
M.Syrett 0 – 1 R.Porter (White)
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ C.Velosa (White)
J.Kerrane ½ – ½ S.Scurfield (White)
N.Bamford ½ – ½ D.Loughenbury (White)
2 – 3

Here's an arresting position from the game between Robert Broadbent (Brighouse) and Phil Cook (Golden Lion). White has just played 39.Bh5+. Look at the fully-loaded fifth rank! The game ended in a draw and you can see it all in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Here’s an arresting position from the game between Robert Broadbent (Brighouse) and Phil Cook (Golden Lion). White has just played 39.Bh5+. Look at the fully-loaded fifth rank! The game ended in a draw and you can see it all in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Elsewhere in League 1, Golden Lion continued their perfect start to the season by demolishing 4-man Brighouse ½ – 4½. The game of the night here was undoubtedly Robert Broadbent and Phil Cook’s draw which was a keenly contested encounter with Robert showing great determination and creativity to press hard for a win only to find that Phil was equal to the task as he just managed to hang on. It was one of those games that looked like White should win but in practice finding the solution was difficult and in the end, with his clock running down, Robert decided he should at least salvage a half-point for his team.

The other three games in this match saw relatively straightforward victories for Andrew Clarkson against Paul Whitehouse, Dave Shapland against Adrian Dawson and new team member Marc Turu against Tim Pryke.

Finally, Belgrave ‘A’ defeated Halifax ‘B’ to stay in contention for the title race. The damage was done here by Dave Patrick and Richard Bowman on board 2 and 3 as they saw off Scott Gornall and Howard Wood. The other games saw the Halifax ‘B’ players make very creditable draws against higher rated opponents to limit the margin of victory to 3½ – 1½.

These results mean that Golden Lion and Huddersfield ‘A’ are now at the top of the league with 6 points. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘A’ have 4, Halifax ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ have 2 and Brighouse and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ are still on 0.
I mentioned at the beginning of the article that Hebden Bridge ‘C’ also played a match at the Trades Club. This was scheduled a week early to allow John Kerrane to organise the junior squad before going away on holiday this week. Halifax ‘D’ are, on paper, the team that the juniors should have in their sights as potential victims and indeed they did fair better than they had in their first two matches although they still went down in the end.

On board 1 the token ‘non-junior’, J.P. Ellis held Glen Roper to a draw while on board 2, Toby Dodd scored the ‘C’ team’s first board win of the season by defeating John Nicholson. Luca Curry, Martha Leggett and Alfie Dermo were all defeated. Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Halifax ‘D’
J.P.Ellis ½ – ½ G.Roper (White)
T.Dodd 1 – 0 J.Nicholson (White)
L.Curry 0 – 1 D.Rowley (White)
M.Leggett 0 – 1 E.Fynn (White)
A.Dermo 0 – 1 P.Stowe (White)
1½ – 3½

The other two matches in League 2 were played on Monday this week and saw Belgrave ‘B’ defeat Belgrave ‘C’ by 3½ – 1½ and Huddersfield ‘B’ thrashed Halifax ‘C’ 4 – 1 with a result that sees them go top of the league on their own as the only side with a perfect record. They are followed by Belgrave ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘C’ who both have 4 points, Halifax ‘C’ and Halifax ‘D’ who both have 2 points, and, at the bottom, Hebden ‘D’ who have at least managed to win their first game of the season. Maybe that will inspire the youngsters to greater heights and more rewards for their efforts.

You’ll find a good number of the games from last week in the game viewer below. Thanks to Nick Sykes for collecting and transcribing these for this report.

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

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

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

League 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the final match scorecard against Halifax:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final match scorecard looked like this:

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

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

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

League 2

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

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

Here’s the match scorecard:

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

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

Here is the full score card:

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

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

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

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

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