Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are the current holders of the Calderdale Summer Team Knock Out Competition having beaten Halifax ‘A’ in last year’s final. On Monday night they got their title defence underway by playing… Halifax ’A’. The venue for this year’s contest was different, as the match took place at the Lee Mount Club in Halifax, but the result was the same; a win for Hebden Bridge.
The personnel involved had changed a little too. Seven of last year’s ten finalists remained. Halifax deployed one of their new recruits, Tony Ibbitson, on board 3 (in the place of Ray Cully who played on board 4 last seasons) whilst Hebden drafted in Matthew Wedge Roberts (who had returned home after his first year at Cambridge University) and Steve Priest to replace the missing Pete Leonard and Alastair Wright.
In the summer knockout competition the games are handicapped by using the difference in rating between each pair of combatants to give the lower rated player a time advantage on the clocks. With Hebden Bridge being a weaker side than last season and Halifax a little stronger this meant that the time differential between the two sides was somewhat reduced. Never-the-less, Hebden Bridge gave away time to their opponents on all boards except board 1.
In fact board 1 was the first of the evening to yield a result. Hebden’s Matthew Parsons had correctly divined the opening variation that his opponent, Darwin Ursal, would play against his King’s Indian set up and was quickly able to secure a comfortable game where he sacrificed a pawn for the bishop pair and some active piece play. He also had a dangerous looking passed pawn on d3 and eventually Darwin was forced to concede that had no way of playing for a win without taking great risks. A draw was agreed and the two rivals de-camped to the end of the room to play blitz whilst their team mates sweated out the result.
The remaining boards were all closely contested and took some time to resolve. When the results did come, they came in a flurry. First of all Steve Priest extracted full value from the pawn he won with a nice tactic he spotted in the opening. John Aldridge tried to wriggle but when he lost a knight in the end game Steven just had to be careful not to fall into any traps. He didn’t and the game was won.
On board 4 Nick Sykes had White against Adrian Dawson and deployed his latest secret weapon, the English Opening. Nick was up against the greatest time handicap of the evening and was forced to play fairly swiftly. Even still he built up a considerable positional advantage from the opening and, despite missing a few tactical shots, he also converted the full point in an end game with a few minutes left on his clock.
Hebden Captain Dave Shapland was the next to finish on board 3. He gave away 30 minutes on his clock against his Leeds Chess Club colleague Tony. The first surprise was Tony’s selection of the Scotch Opening beginning with 1.e4. Up until the end of last season he has been faithful to his Larsen’s Opening of 1.b3. The line selected by Tony led to an early exchange of queens and Dave was soon able to equalise. However, he then tried to squeeze for an advantage and overlooked a tactic which allowed Tony to win a pawn and secure a positional advantage as well. Stubborn as ever, Dave dug in to try and hold the game. Tony’s technique proved equal to the task as he steadily increased the pressure but then, just as victory seemed certain, he lost his concentration and put his rook en prise to Dave’s bishop. Another lucky win for Dave against a Halifax player.
The result was now secure but Matthew Wedge Roberts was still playing against Carlos Velosa. This game also saw an early exchange of queens but in this case it was beneficial for Matthew whos play was a model for the “accumulation of small advantages” technique. By exchange queens early he displaced his opponent’s king. He developed his pieces quickly and was then able to gain the bishop pair in an open position and when Carlos put his knight offside on h5 Matthew grabbed the open d-file and was able to win a pawn. He then created a distant passed pawn and the rest was simplicity itself the result never in doubt. You can view Matthew’s game and three of the other games from the match in the game viewer below.
The final scorecard for the match was:
Halifax ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
(w) D.Ursal ½ — ½ M.Parsons
C.Velosa 0 — 1 M.Wedge Roberts (w)
(w) T.Ibbitson 0 — 1 D.Shapland
A.Dawson 0 — 1 N.Sykes (w)
(w) J.Aldridge 0 — 1 S.Priest
½ — 4½
Hebden will now face Todmorden ‘A’ in the second semi-final. The first semi-final between Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge Juniors also took place on Monday night and the result will appear here soon.