Jul 192011

Today I’m posting the final part of my 2010-11 season round up and in this chapter I’ll be focusing entirely on the Calderdale Individual Championships of 2010-11.

The competition took place between November and March with each of the 5 rounds being played on the first or second Monday of the month at Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s home venue, the Trades Club. This edition of the championships was, in terms of both strength and depth, the most competitive I can recall with a good range of entrants from across Calderdale taking part. John Kerrane organised the event with his customary aplomb and round 1 took place on Monday the 8th of November.

If readers are interested in the individual results from each round or the original reports then you can read them by clicking on the hyperlinks embedded in the appropriate sub-heading below.

Round 1: Underdogs put in their place

Down boy!

On paper it looked like the most open competition in years with the top 6 players all rated over 150 and a lengthy tale beneath that of 37 contestants. Naturally as the competition progressed some of the competitors dropped out. In particular we missed both Darwin Ursal who entered but never actually took part and Chris Booth, who did play in the early rounds but was unavailable for the final rounds. The absence of these two effectively thinned the list of favorites down to the reigning champion Dave Wedge, Matthew Parsons and previous winner Alastair Wright (all of Hebden Bridge) and John Morgan of Courier.

However, while all of these players seemed to possess the consistency and quality required to win, it also seemed certain that some of them would slip up against lower ranked opposition because this competition always produces the odd upset or two along the way.

That didn’t happen in round 1 where, quite unusually, all of the higher rated players succeeded in overcoming their opponents. Statistically this was always likely but in reality the result was quite unusual. Many of the games were decided by blunders or totally dominated by the higher ranked players but some of the underdogs did bite savagely before being reduced to submission. In particular the two players who would become the tournament’s dominant forces had to struggle late into the evening to secure their first points. John Morgan survived a substantial scare against Halifax’s Barry Wadsworth in a game that unfortunately I do not have available to publish, and Matthew Parsons had to grind down Huddersfield’s Brian Corner in an endgame that meant their game was the last to finish.

Two of the other top seeds however showed their dominance with crushing victories.

Priest vs. Booth is game 1 in the viewer at the end of this post
Wedge vs. Dawson is game 2 in the viewer

Round 2: Revenge of the underdogs!

The underdogs bite back!

The second round took place on the 13th of December and on this occasion the lower graded players were in no mood to roll over for their superiors. Having won every single game in the first round the top half of the draw found circumstances to be rather more challenging as they set their sights on maintaining their perfect start.

Aside from Chris Booth, who took a half point bye in round 2, all the top seeds were in action and the highest profile casualty was the eventual winner of the tournament, John Morgan. The fourth seed could only hold a draw against Nick Sykes despite having a considerable grading advantage over him. John deployed an old favorite opening line of his with the Black pieces playing 1…a6 and 2…b5. On this occasion Nick managed to neutralise it fairly easily and even overlooked some chances to maintain a decent advantage before the game finally simplified into an equal endgame. This was to be the only blot on an otherwise clean sheet during the tournament for John whilst Nick drew several more times in later rounds but remained the only other unbeaten player in the whole competition.

Sykes vs. Morgan is game 3 in the viewer at the end of this article

Other notable instances of overturning of the odds were attained by Terry Sullivan who held a draw against the sixth seed, Pete Olley; Dave Sugden who also held a draw against Todmorden’s Scott Gornall and Steve Priest who managed to purloin a win from Chris Edwards when his opponent committed an atrocious blunder in time trouble. In addition to this win the underdogs also secured victories when Josh Blinkhorn beat Belgrave’s Mike Barnett (the runner up last year) and, most satisfying of all, Hebden Bridge ‘D’ team’s James Todd scored a full point from Brian Corner who had troubled Matthew Parsons so grievously in round 1. This game deserves another publication in recognition of the achievement.

Corner vs. Todd is game 4 in the viewer

The other top seeds maintained their momentum. On board 1 Dave Wedge dispatched a Hebden Bridge colleague and former champion, Andy Leatherbarrow. Matthew Parsons made light work of Martin Syrett and Alastair Wright beat Paul Edwards. These results left Dave, Matthew and Alastair on perfect scores along with Josh Blinkhorn and Huddersfield’s Robert Sutcliffe who overcame Dave Milton in the last game of the night to be completed.

Round 3: Parsons toils to set up showdown with champion

Dave Wedge beat Alastair Wright in the
board 1 clash of round 3

Things began to get really interesting in round 3 as the number of leaders dwindled setting up more evenly matched contests full of promise and intrigue. At the end of the night just two players had managed to maintain their 100% records and they were Hebden Bridge’s top two players, reigning champion Dave Wedge and Matthew Parsons. That they achieved their perfect scores by very different methods was really the story of the round.

Dave seemed to have been handed the more difficult task when the draw pitted him (for the second round in a row!) against a club colleague and former champion in the form of Alastair Wright. Alastair has a track record of taking points off Dave in this competition and everyone fully expected a dour and merciless struggle. In the event it was all over rather swiftly and in savage fashion as Alastair, playing Black made the fateful decision not to play the Alekhine’s Defence (1.e4 Nf6!?). This opening has been a favorite play-thing of his in the past but it had also recently been adopted by his opponent. Alastair was obviously wary of what preparation Dave may potentially have made and decided to meet 1.e4 with Nc6 instead. However, he then somehow managed to transpose in the Max Lange Attack which is a well known graveyard for the ill-prepared. Alastair soon selected the wrong continuation in a forcing line and was summarily dispatched in brutal fashion.

Wedge vs. Wright is game 5 in the viewer at the end of this post

This early evening execution meant that Dave was able to observe first hand the discomfort of his neighbour for, on board 2, Matthew was being taken the full distance by the spirited Robert Sutcliffe. It seems that, having missed an opportunity to secure a decent advantage in the middle game, Matthew had allowed his opponent to get back into the contest. As the late evening settled in the two arrived at a very complicated endgame position with little time to assess it. In these sorts of situations instinct tends to be very important and Matthew’s blitz skills carried him to victory as he seemed to sense the right moments to take risks in search of the full point.

Sutcliffe vs. Parsons is game 6 in the viewer

The fifth player with a score of two before the round began was Josh Blinkhorn. He had the misfortune to be drawn against the returning top seed Chris Booth who finished him off in clinical fashion. On board 4, John Morgan attoned for his draw in round 2 by defeating Matthew Wedge-Roberts and he now joined Chris and Belgrave’s Angel Gonzalez on 2½/3. Meanwhile the rest of the large group that had been on 1½/2 were surprisingly peaceable as a series of draws left them a little further adrift of the leaders.

Round 4: Chess lovers mate on Valentine’s night!

Let us be clear that a bacchanalian orgy did NOT take place
at the Trades Club on Valentine’s night

While Calderdale’s canoodling couples cosied up for a romantic evening on Monday February the 14th, the competitors for the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship title took their seats for another climactic battle. Of course the scheduling of the fourth round meant that there were some absentees. Most notable of these was Chris Booth, who, having already takena half point bye, now forfeited a full point and, now out of contention, he withdrew from the final round as well. This left the way clear for the rest of the leading pack to slug it out for the title.

It was no surprise that most of the attention was focused on the board one clash where Dave Wedge defended his title against Matthew Parsons. A win for Dave would have left him needing only a draw in the final round to defend his crown, a win for Matthew and we would have a new champion. In the event of a draw John Morgan and Angel Gonzalez were lurking half a point behind them preparing to pounce. The match up didn’t disappoint and the pair struggled long into the night. In the end Matthew emerged victorious to take sole lead of the competition on 4/4.

Parsons vs. Wedge is game 7 in the viewer at the end of this post

On board 2 John secured his opportunity to shoot for the title with a fairly straightforward victory over Angel.

Gonzalez vs. Morgan is game 8 in the viewer

These results meant that John would play White against Matthew in the final round and would need to win that game to lift the title. A draw for Matthew would be enough for him to take it.

Behind these two there was now a chasing pack of 5 players on 3/4. Dave Wedge was one of these and he was joined by one of his victims from earlier in the tournament, former champion Andy Leatherbarrow, Todmorden’s Scott Gornall, Huddersfield’s Robert Sutcliffe and Hebden Bridge’s Martin Syrett. Robert in particular had shown impressive form in reaching this score having taken the tournament leader to the brink in round 3 and then beating the in form Dave Sugden in round 4.

Sugden vs. Sutcliffe is game 9 in the viewer

Round 5: Morgan picks Parson’s pocket for the title

And so, it all came down to one last heavy weight encounter. With Chris Booth and Dave Wedge now withdrawn or trailing in their wake respectively, John Morgan and Matthew Parsons settled down to slug it in the final round out at the Trade’s Club on the 14th of March. With so much at stake and with Matthew needing only a draw it is little wonder that John stayed true to his style and maintained a tense and strategically complex game for as long as he possibly could. In the end he was able to create a passed pawn and finally the pressure was too much for Matthew and he had to concede the championship to John.

Morgan vs. Parsons is game 10 in the viewer at the end of this post

Elsewhere the minor places were being decided. On board 2 Dave Wedge tore Robert Sutcliffe apart to claim the top grading prize and finish the tournament on a creditable score of 4/5. Scott Gornall and Andy Leatherbarrow drew on board 3 which enabled Martin Syrett to beat Alastair Wright and claim the next grading prize by finishing level on points with the dethroned champion. The last two grading prizes were claimed by Hebden Bridge’s Josh Blinkhorn and Todmorden’sTom Webster who both won their last round fixtures.

Syrett vs. Wright is game 11 in the viewer

So for the first time in a long time the Timeform Trophy left Hebden Bridge and now resides with John Morgan at Courier until next year’s championship kick’s-off. Congratulations to John on his achievement because this year’s championship was as competitive, if not more, than any I have ever taken part in.

Games Viewer

If you can’t see the game viewer below then you may need to download Java. Your web browser should prompt you to do this but if it doesn’t then you can get it from www.java.com – it’s free.

Final Standings of all players are given below.

Jul 112011

Welcome to the Hebden Bridge Chess Club website’s 100th post! As we pass this auspicious milestone we also enter the second half of our four-part end-of-season review where we will cover the performance of Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s league 2 teams. Here are the final standings in the league table.

It was a bit of a roller-coaster for the ‘C’ team and the ‘D’ team (‘D’ stands for “Development”) struggled as much as had been expected and ended the season on a doughnut.

Peter Rawlings guided his
team resolutely as always

The ‘C’ team’s “none-player-Captain”, Pete Rawlings, has kindly provided us with his perspective on the performance of his charges during the season.

“It was a happy season, with some impressive results, very impressive individual records and a respectable third place in division 2.

Todmorden ‘C’, who finished the season beneath us, were our downfall, beating us 4-0 and 3-2, though we managed to beat their ‘B’ team, winners of the division, once. Huddersfield ‘B’, second in the division, we beat twice, 3½-1½ and 3-2.

This year’s ‘C’ team was notable for being so reliable: they scarcely needed to be reminded of the next fixture. Then they all turned up early and played in a sporting manner. Each one is also a good loser although this quality was not sorely tested as you can see from their results below.

Much intelligent chess was played, along with some effectively dogged stuff, while a calm inscrutable manner and largely well-managed clocks, prevailed on our side of the board.”

Individual performances excelled. These were:

Dave Sugden — Board 1

Rating (at start of season): 127
New 2011 Rating: 137
Score: 11½/16

Dave’s score in league 2 (9½/13 – one result was a default) placed him third in the end of season individual standings. This result also meant he was the highest board 1 scorer in the league. In particular Dave showed excellent form with the White pieces as he scored 7½/9. He also contributed a score of 2/3 for the ‘B’ team in division 1 and these results are also represented in the table below (I haven’t included the default). A really good season for Dave who I imagine may well get a berth in the ‘B’ team next season as a result of his excellent performance this year.

Analysis of Dave Sugden’s league games in 2010-11

As his best game I’ve selected this spirited draw with Nick Sykes which he might well have won on another day. I know that Nick was certainly very concerned about his position for much of this game and felt lucky to escape with the draw.

Josh Blinkhorn — Board 2

Rating: 121
New 2011 Rating: 136
Score: 8½/13

Another good performance from Josh in this his second season of competitive play. His style is sharp and he does particularly well in complicated positions. As a result many of his games are interesting to watch. This style also means that he doesn’t tend to play many draws and this is reflected in his results for the season which also show that he has performed equally well with both colours even though, from a grading perspective, his White results have netted him more points. I should also mention that Josh had a decent run in the Calderdale Individual Championships where he scored 3/5 losing only to top seed Chris Booth in the first round and then Scott Gornall in round 4. Excellent results in other competition’s he has participated in outside Calderdale have led to him increasing his grade by 15 points this season. That’s no mean feat. If he can keep improving at his current rate Josh really will be a force to be reckoned with in another few years.

Analysis of Josh Blinkhorn’s league games in 2010-11

I have once again selected a draw in order to best demonstrate Josh’s style of play. His Captain waxed lyrically and at length to me about this game after it had finished and so I didn’t feel I could shirk from publishing it. It is indeed very exciting and well calculated.

Stephen Priest — Board 3

Rating: 121
New 2011 Rating: 120
Score: 11/15

Stephen must be the club’s busiest player. As well as participating in the Calderdale league he also plays in the Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield competitions. This season alone he has played 84 (!!) competitive games. Here in Calderdale league 2 his individual score (10/13) was good enough to place him second behind Tom Webster (Todmorden) in the end of season individual standings. He also secured 1/2 for the ‘B’ team in league 1. This represents an excellent contribution from Stephen. The reason for his relatively modest points gain in the table below is due simply to the volume of games he has played this season. The more you play the smaller the increments of loss or gain on your rating as increasing quantities of data enable the rating system to lower it’s margin for error.

Analysis of Stephen Priest’s league games in 2010-11

I’ve selected his win from round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship as his best game although he may well have played several others. I only have a limited base to chose from. In this game he plays nicely against his higher graded opponent and capitalises brutally on a terrible error to put the game away.

Neil Bamford — Board 4

Rating: 108
New 2011 Rating: 112
Score: 8½/13

Neil also put in a solid and workmanlike performance this season scoring heavily for his team and ending the year on 7½/11 in league 2 and 1/2 for the ‘B’ team in league 1. He is another player who seems to do better with the Black pieces than he does with the White ones and his rating certainly suffered as a result of his defeats with White. That said, his performance with Black has lifted his results and Neil will continue to do stirling service for which ever team he is selected for next season.

Analysis of Neil Bamford’s league games in 2010-11

In this game he defeated a higher rated player in the form of Ray Cully from Halifax and thereby helped the ‘B’ team gain a valuable and much needed drawn fixture.

Pete Leonard — Board 5

Rating: UG
New 2011 Rating: 158
Score: 6/7

What can we say about Pete’s season? He joined the club late in the campaign and Captain Rawlings used him to devastating effect on the bottom board of the ‘C’ team. It was always going to be hard to gauge his true strength after a (very!) lengthy sabbatical from competative chess but the club is certainly pleased to have him. Pete is dedicating himself to reaching his previous rating heights when he managed to acheive a rating in the 170’s. His results for the ‘C’ team were blemished only by a defeat to Tom Webster of Todmorden and this has led to a new rating that will be put to the sternest of tests in the new season, whichever team he is selected for.

Analysis of Pete Leonard’s league games in 2010-11

Pete provided glimpses of his historical strength on several occasions during the season and I’ve selected this utter rout of Huddersfield’s dependable Stuart Oliver as his best of the year.

It should also be mentioned that several others contributed points to the ‘C’ team’s cause this year. Terry Sullivan scored 1/2 and Pete Rawlings and Trevor DeLuca both scored 1/1.

As far as the ‘D’ team goes, very little was expected of them this season. As I mentioned above our ‘D’ team has traditionally been the place to blood club players who are new to league chess and still developing their game. The team performance was always going to be fairly humble and so it would seem unfair to focus too much attention on each individual’s performance for the year. Instead let me quickly record each hard won point gleaned by our spirited and determined squad.
  • ‘D’ team Captain Danny Crampton scored 2½ points this season. The best score in the squad.
  • The team’s board 1, James Todd, beat Brian Corner in round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championships and also Brian Donkersley in the league.
  • Dave Pugh also scored a full point on board 1 against L.Innes of Todmorden ‘C’.
  • Matt Levy beat J.P Ellis, also of Todmorden ‘C’ in the league.
  • Chris Greaves drew with Richard Bottomley.

The pick of these results must be James Todd’s win against Brian Corner.

Hopefully these results will give all of these players some further confidence for next season. We’ll see whether they can improve enough to climb off the bottom of the table which just might be possible if Wheatley field another team this year.

Thanks to all those who contributed content to this post. Please do feedback your comments on the performances of the two teams and their players as all of this will help us to pick the teams for next season.

Jul 042011
“And… ha, ha, hah! Here come the Hebdens!”

The summer knockout competitions have begun. Huzzah! Well, perhaps that much enthusiasm is not quite warranted but if these contests don’t give us the chance to dress up in huge and cunbersome rubber costumes then they do at least allow some of us to keep our little grey cells ticking over during the long summer months without league competition.

For those who don’t know, the main point of interest in both the team and individual knockout contests is that they are played using a time handicap system. Basically you calculate the difference in grades between the two players and add that number to the weaker players’ clock and take the same amount of time off the stronger player. This gives the weaker players some hope of causing an upset but it does therefore also have the disadvantage of not being much of an incentive for stronger players to take part even though the games aren’t graded.

Last Monday night Hebden Bridge ‘A’ began their campaign and also began to adjust to life without Dave Wedge on board 1. They travelled to Todmorden where their hosts had put out a fairly weak team and that meant that Hebden were giving away a lot of time on most of the boards. Despite that, they still managed to produce a win, albeit by the narrowest possible margin as Alastair Wright finally vanquished the spirited challenge of Chris Edwards on board 2 at 10.45pm in the dramatic denouement below.

This anxious finale was preceded by a mixed bag of results. On the down side poor old Steve Priest was forced to play with only 10 minutes on his clock on board 5 and although he won his opponent’s queen he ran out of time before he could win the game. Meanwhile on board 1 Dave Shapland was having a disaster against Paul Edwards. Dave didn’t lose a game with Black all season in the league but in this game he got caught out in the opening and got a terrible position. Paul converted the full point very efficiently without much need for the extra time his clock afforded him.

Hebden won on boards 3 and 4 to level the score and set up the nail biting climax to the fixture. Nick Sykes and Josh Blinkhorn both won comfortably. Nick’s effort in particular was smoothly impressive.

The final scorecard for the match then was:

Todmorden ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
P.Edwards 1 — 0 D.Shapland
C.Edwards 0 — 1 A.Wright
M.Huett 0 — 1 N.Sykes
J.P.Ellis 0 — 1 J.Blinkhorn
B.Joyce 1 — 0 S.Priest
2 — 3

The individual competition has also started. Unfortunately the Calderdale League website doesn’t seem to have any of the results displayed as yet but fortunately for our readers one of our members has kindly sent me his game from the first round to share with you. Pete Leonard was unlucky enough to draw Halifax’s top player Darwin Ursal in round 1 but the difference in points between them meant that Pete was able to put his illustrious opponent under pressure. I’ll let him take up the story.

If I get drawn against Darwin in the first round of a third tournament, I shall know the draw’s been fixed! (Pete also played Darwin in round 1 of the recent Spanish thematic tournament at the club — Ed.) We actually had a very close game, spoiled by me missing a fork but redeemed by my struggling on ‘til time pressure proved too much and he offered me a draw. I have been estimated a very generous grading (for handicap purposes) of 112, which gave me 2 hours 31 minutes to his 29 minutes. And still he should have won!

I’m not sure what will happen when these two meet to replay this match with the colours reversed because since this first try the new YCA grades have come out and Pete’s grade is 158 so he may have to play with a much smaller advantage on the clock.

Jun 292011

The Yorkshire Chess Association released their new 2011 grading list earlier this week. These new ratings are based on all games played between 1st of June 2010 and 31st of May 2011. I’ve collected (and slightly edited) the list for Hebden Bridge Chess Club members below. You can also go to the YCA’s website and have a rummage around for even more details.

I’ve edited the list above in order to remove any inactive players. Here are some points and comments about this list points that I think are worth making as team captains start to plan for next year’s league campaigns.

  • Both Dave Wedge and Matthew Wedge-Roberts will not be available as Dave is now working down in Cambridge during the week and Matthew is off to university. We wish them both the best of luck

  • The highest new entry on the club list is Pete Leonard who makes an appearance near the top with a brand new grade of 158! Whilst it must be said that this grade has been calculated from a relatively low volume of data (7 games) we must congratulate Pete on this excellent result and also provide a well-meant word of warning to him that next season is likely to provide him with a much greater challenge as this new number will propel him into the upper reaches of the ‘A’ or ‘B’ team. I’m sure this will be something he will look forward to.

  • Josh Blinkhorn takes the prize for “Most Improved Player” of the season increasing his rating by 15 points from 121 to 136. Congratulations to Josh for this result and I fancy there is still more improvement to come from him in the coming years.

  • Other players with double digit improvements were Matthew Wedge-Roberts (+13), Dave Shapland (+11) and Dave Sugden (+10). Trevor De Luca improved by 14 points but that is based on only one game played last season.

  • I should also mention Matthew Parson’s increase of 8 points which is significant because it elevates him to the lofty heights of 174 and places him amongst the elite players in the Calderdale league operating above the 170 mark. For the record these players are:
  1. Leo Keely (Huddersfield) 175
  2. Matthew Parsons (HebdenBridge) 174
  3. David Keddie (Huddersfield) 174
  4. John Morgan (Courier) 173
  5. Chris Booth (Huddersfield) 172
  6. David Firth (Huddersfield) 170

All I can say about this list is that I hope Huddersfield ‘A’ aren’t able to field all 4 players that fall into this bracket on a regular basis next season. There must be something in the water over there! Incidentally the 5th Huddersfield player on the list is John Lavan and his new grade is 169! That’s a pretty frightening Huddersfield ‘A’ team they might have there.

In my view this new annual list and the ongoing live ratings (Jon Griffiths the YCA Grader has announced his intention to publish monthly lists next season as well!) raise some interesting questions about how league teams should be selected and organised for the coming season. At present the Calderdale League guidelines states that…

“All players must be listed in order of known playing strength. Yorkshire grades used for reference.”

The quandary is should captains be using the live ratings or the 2011 ratings to help them determine this? Which should take precedence? Bare in mind that at the outset of the new season both the annual rating and the live rating will be the same but as the season progresses the live rating will change and become a more accurate reflection of a player’s current strength than the 2011 rating and the more games a player plays the greater the potential disparity between the two. Should captains therefore swap players around during the course of the year based on live ratings or continue to use the 2011 rating to guide board order regardless of current from?

Let me provide an example of how this current ‘static’ system of selection can affect both teams and individuals during the course of the year. Last season Hebden Bridge ‘B’ correctly deployed Pete Olley on board 1 because his 2010 rating was higher by a 10 point margin than the team’s board 2, Dave Shapland. However, Pete struggled on board 1 and as his live rating dropped and his colleague’s grades rose it might have made sense to swap the board order to reflect the form. We decided not to do that because we wanted to be consistent and use the 2010 grade to decide board order as we would have done in previous seasons despite what the live grades told us. There was nothing wrong with that approach but as a result Pete endured a tough and dispiriting season and his rating plummeted. This season he will operate at a different level but the point remains that the live grading system could allow team captains to modify their board order to reflect the form of their players.

The second related issue becomes apparent when we consider those players who have grades that have been calculated from a small base of games in the previous season and here I will use the other Pete (Leonard) as an example because it illustrates the point neatly. On the basis of 7 games played last season he has a new grade of 158 which should dictate that he must be deployed in the upper reaches of the either the club’s ‘A’ or ‘B’ team next season despite the fact that he hasn’t yet played a rated game against opposition graded higher than 140. Now, it may well be that Pete will acquit himself with great ability in this rarified atmosphere (as I happen to think he may) and completely justify this new rating. Alternatively he might struggle against the standard of opposition he will be compelled to meet and have no way of dropping down the board order to operate at a level that suits his live rating and allows him to rebuild his form and confidence.

At the heart of the matter is the fact that the current grading system doesn’t express a preference for the number of games it believes are required to calculate a robust rating. I seem to remember that in days gone by players who had played less than 10 rated games in the previous season got an ‘E’ (for estimated) placed after their grade and this enabled team captains and tournament organisers some room for latitude as they assessed the player’s strength. Now that we don’t have this standard it appears that there is a danger some new players will have to be thrown in at the deep end before they are ready and at the expense of more experienced players who perhaps should be playing further up the board order.

Having considered all of the points above it seems to me that neither of these issues (having two ratings and the lack of a minimum games standard) will really cause a problem if teams are required to use the live ratings as a means of deciding their board order. If this regulation is put in place then (hyperthetically) if Pete Leonard did struggle next season and performed poorly then he could drop down the board order and find the right level to play at instead of being trapped on a high board for the whole season getting walloped. The same regulation could have allowed Pete Olley some relief last season as well. I’ve been in that position before myself and it isn’t a nice experience.

Of course the subject of gradings and how they are calculated and applied always stirs up passionate debate amongst chess players and it is certainly no different in Calderdale. For the record my opinion is that live ratings are a good idea but I also believe we need to adapt our league regulations and guidelines to reflect the new system. Specifically I think it is important that all team captains in the league use the same criteria to select their team order. They should all use the live rating or all use the annual grade and the regulations should be amended to enforce the preference.

I would be very interested to hear readers views on the subject of ratings or feedback on the new club list.

Jun 082011
Round 1 of the Brighouse Rapidplay gets underway with the tournament’s eventual winner, Ben Hague, sitting on the left of the table nearest the camera

Today Halifax’s Adrian Dawson reports on the 20th edition of the Brighouse Rapidplay tournament which took place last Saturday. By way of an appetiser I’d like to offer readers a tasty morsel of an endgame from the final round of that tournament to get their juices flowing. In the position below White is a pawn up in a simple ending and should convert to a win easily enough if he can figure out how to get his king past the Black barricade. What is the simplest and most clinical way to do this? The solution is at the end of this post.

White to play from Shapland vs. Mahoney,
Brighouse Rapidplay 2011 – Round 6

Hebden Bridge’s Matthew Parsons (right) had a difficult
start to the day but bounced back with a strong finish

Saturday saw Brighouse celebrate the 20th anniversary of their highly successful Rapidplay Chess Tournament, which is “Open” to all-comers and was once again well attended by both local players and players from further afield. All in all 39 players competed, 19 of whom represented clubs from Calderdale or play for one of the Calderdale teams in the Yorkshire League.

The outright winner was Ben Hague (rated 229) from Oldham who scored an excellent 5½/6. Ben has now won the competition for three consecutive years and his patronage is widely appreciated. Second and third places went to local players Phil Watson (203) and Dave Shapland (180) of Hebden Bridge who both scored 5/6. Phil picked up the second prize on the tie-break mechanism of totting up the sum of the players’ round-by-round scores. Despite missing out on the prize money this result was an excellent achievement by Dave Shapland as he was seeded 6th in the draw.

Hebden’s Nick Sykes (left) deployed his
trademark Schliemann variation of the
Spanish Opening successfully in round 1

 There were four grading prizes distributed. Dave Firth (169) from Huddersfield won Grading Prize ‘A with a score of 4/6’; Eric Davies (118) won Grading Prize ‘B’ with the same score. Grading Prize ‘C’ was won by young Peter Hepworth (101) from Huddersfield also with a score of 4/6. This was a tremendous achievement for Peter who will, no doubt, go on to achieve more such results with his attacking play. Grading Prize ‘D’ was won by John Light (76) of Leeds with a score of 3/6. Further results and photos can be found on the tournament website.

The Brighouse Chess Club extended it’s gratitude to the Salvation Army who hosted the event at their Citadel in the centre of Brighouse. The competitors were grateful to Bill Bardelang and Bruce Bendall for running the event so successfully and also to the event’s Director, Ronnie Grandage.

In addition to Adrian’s report I’d just like to make special mention of the other Hebden Bridge player’s who participated in the event. Matthew Parsons made an excellent recovery after a disappointing start to the event and scored 4/6. Nick Sykes conversely started off like a speeding bullet with 3/3 but then lost his remaining games to finish on that score. Dave Sugden scored 3½/6 and Terry Sullivan scored 2½/6.

I’d like to sign off by giving Dave Shapland’s best result of the day in his round 2 match against Barnsley’s Andy Drabble.

Puzzle answer: 1.a4+! the point being that if Black captures the proferred pawn with 1…Kxa4 then 2.Kc4 deploys that most deadly of endgame tactics, zugswang! Black is compelled to play his only legal move 2…f5 whereupon 3.exf5 will lead to a straight forward win for White. Black could instead retreat his king with 1…Kc6 for example but then the White king will also advance, or White will play 2.b4 and the king will infiltrate with decisive effect.

Jun 022011

Today I’m continuing with the end of season review. This time I’ll be focusing on Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Here’s how they finished in League Division 1.

It must be said that this result constitutes a pretty good performance from the ‘B’s whose main objective this year was always going to be to escape relegation. As the season kicked off it appeared that they were well placed to do that for the team looked reasonably strong on paper. With a new grade of 158 Pete Olley took up board 1 duties and Dave Shapland returned from a two year sojourn with the ‘A’ team to occupy board 2. The regular side was completed by Andy Leatherbarrow on 3, team Captain, Martin Syrett on board 4 and John Kerrane on board 5.

Sadly, in the early part of the season Captain Syrett wasn’t able to put out his best team. On match day one the team were away at Courier ‘A’ but they travelled without Pete Olley, who was unavailable. Due to the oddities of the fixture schedule all four Hebden Bridge teams were playing on that day and so Martin was unable to find a replacement the result being that the team defaulted on board 5 in a 4-1 defeat.

Circumstances were even more challenging on match day two. This time Alastair Wright nabbed both Dave Shapland and Andy Leatherbarrow to replace missing members of his ‘A’ team and Pete Olley was again unavailable. This led to Martin having to promote himself from board 4 to board 1 in the home fixture against Halifax ‘A’ and also having to draft in emergency support in the form of Terry Sullivan, Dave Sugden and Steve Priest. Baring in mind the make shift nature of the side a tied match against Halifax was a good result.

It was ironic that when Martin was finally able to put out his best side it should be against one of the best teams in the league. The third round saw the two Hebden Bridge teams in League 1 go head to head and, inevitably, the ‘A’ team run out 4-1 winners. Dave Shapland (on board 2) and Dave Sugden (deputising for John Kerrane on board 5) managed to draw their games.

Finally, good news followed for the ‘B’s as they travelled to fellow strugglers Todmorden on November the 1st and scored their first victory of the season by a convincing 4-1 margin. After this match the team lost at home to Huddersfield ‘A’ and then, disappointingly, away to Belgrave in a tight match that they seemed to have under control at one point. This just left Brighouse left to play in the first half of the season and it finally seemed that some good fortune would come the ‘B’ team’s way as Brighouse arrived with only 3 players. Despite this Hebden made terribly heavy weather of the fixture and only just wheezed over the line when Dave Shapland beat Bruce Bendall on board 2 to secure victory by the narrowest possible margin.

The team started the second half of the season just above the relegation zone and needing to get themselves an early win to steady the ship and settle the nerves. Sadly they were singularly unable to achieve this as they first let a promising match position slip away at home to Courier and then managed only a draw away to Halifax when once again a victory seemed to be on the cards. Another heavy defeat at home to Hebden Bridge ‘A’ followed before what now appeared to be a critical fixture at home to the bottom side, Todmorden.

This fixture took place on the 7th of March. Todmorden confounded Hebden first by bringing a very much stronger line up to the match then they had managed to present at the home fixture and then by winning comfortably 1½ – 3½. This result seemed to cast the ‘B’s into something of a despondent mood for they almost failed to get a team together for the next match away at Huddersfield. In the end Dave Shapland managed to draught in some emergency replacements from Leeds Chess Club to help out and a full team of 5 players ran a depleted Huddersfield side terribly close losing 3-2 in a tense fixture.

Finally, this Dunkirk spirit seemed to galvanise the team for the run in and, needing to win both their remaining fixtures to have any hope of survival, they managed to do just that. First of all Martin Syrett secured a nail-biting 3-2 home victory against Belgrave and then Dave Shapland carried the day with a decisive victory over Robert Broadbent on board 1 in the final match away to Brighouse. In the end Halifax went down in flames in the final set of fixtures against the already relegated Todmorden to give Hebden Bridge an even more comfortable margin of safety.

It’s been a hard (and at times desperate) slog against relegation this season for the ‘B’s. However, in the end, when disaster loomed, the team performed well and did enough to merit their survival. Quite what the team will look like next year remains to be seen.

Below is a player by player summary of the ‘B’ team’s performance this season. A quick note on the players stats below before we dive in. All the numbers refer only to the Calderdale League matches and the ratings differential is based on accumulating the YCA live rating scores for each league game played. The end-of-season ratings are calculated in a slightly different way. Live ratings only provide a transient flavour of a players form rather than a solid assessment of their entire season so readers should view the stats below as a guideline only.

Pete Olley — Board 1
Rating (at the start of the season): 158
Score: 1½/10

It’s been a tough and dispiriting season for Pete who picked up board 1 responsibilities due to his clearly superior rating at the start of the season rather than because he coveted the job. That said, he fought hard in every game he played and managed up a couple of good draws against Leo Keely and Darwin Ursal. It should also be pointed out that he scored a further half point on board 5 for the ‘A’ team when he was ‘promoted’ up to their ranks. Never-the-less I’m sure Pete will have learned from his games this season and will be looking forward to a less high profile role next season as well as a chance to re-build his confidence.

Analysis of Pete Olley’s league games in 2010-11

As his best game I’ve selected this smooth and work-man-like draw against Darwin Ursal.

Dave Shapland — Board 2
Rating: 148
Score: 8½/14

It was something of an anus mirabilis for Dave this season. Certainly he was sometimes guilty of being “over enthusiastic” with the White pieces and to prove this it should be noted that his two White wins both came against players rated lower than himself. However, his form with Black certainly merited the nom de guerre afforded to him in these pages earlier this season in honour of Halloween (and Joseph Blackburne!) — The Black Death. His unbeaten record with Black assumes even more impressive proportions when you consider that four of those eight games were played on board 1 and he turned out two wins and two draws in that position.

Analysis of Dave Shaplan’d league results in 2010-11

Dave certainly contributed to the end of season spurt that secured the team’s status in League 1 and I’m giving his final “Hurrah!” against Robert Broadbent as his best effort of the year.

Andy Leatherbarrow — Board 3
Rating: 139
Score: 4½/12

Pardon the pun but it was a checkered history for Mr Leatherbarrow in 2010-11! In the first half of the season he was a pitiful shadow of his usual self as he lost one game after another in ever more desperate and creative fashions. Time trouble usually played a part in his downfall. For long periods of games he seemed to do himself excellent justice only to fall apart or blunder at a critical moment in the end game. Ultimately he did manage to get himself together and achieved the considerable feat of taking a whole point off John Morgan (albeit via a time forfeit) in the first match of the second half of the season. Following this result he then steadied the ship in an admirable fashion by resolutely drawing his remaining games to score +1 in the second half of the season. He also scored 1½/2 for the ‘A’ team.

Analysis of Andy Leatherbarrow’s league results in 2010-11

Andy certainly salvaged himself some pride and contributed to the home run resurgence that carried the team through its troubles to safety. Here is his aforementioned victory against John Morgan.

Martin Syrett — Board 4
Rating: 137
Score: 5½/13

It wasn’t a vintage year for Captain Syrett in the league as he’d be only too willing to admit himself. That two of the five wins in the table below were garnered through defaults explains why his live rating has dropped slightly over the season. Once again the Calderdale Individual Championship was a happy hunting ground for Martin though as he picked up a grading prize by scoring 4/5. In achieving this he shared second place with such illustrious companions as Mathew Parsons and Dave Wedge. This excellent result will no doubt carry his end of season rating upwards and counteract his league form somewhat. Martin also made a critical contribution to the ‘B’ team’s survival by claiming the decisive victory in the penultimate fixture at home against Belgrave.

Analysis of Martin Syrett’s league results in 2010-11

I’ve chosen to give this game against Mike Barnett as Martin’s best of the season. From a purely aesthetic perspective many of Martin’s victories are pleasing to the eye but this one has the additional impact of being delivered under great pressure.

John Kerrane — Board 5
Rating: 125
Score: 5½/10

John did stirling work for the ‘B’ team this season particularly in the early part of the schedule when Andy and Martin were struggling with their form. Although one of his victories was a default the remainder of his results exhibit a pleasing symmetry: three wins, three draws and three defeats. John’s style is based on a solid positional understanding and his trade mark English Opening has once again served him well this season.

Analysis of John Kerrane’s league results in 2010-11

I could give any one of his smooth victories as his best game of the season but instead I’m going to replay his draw against Matthew Wedge-Roberts in the second derby fixture of the year because I think John brought his very best play to this encounter and should probably have won against a player who finished second highest in the points scoring list for the season.

Some of the challenges faced by Martin Syrett in getting a regular team of 5 players together are expressed only too vividly by the lengthy supporting cast of players who stepped in to help out. Let me do them honour by concluding this post with a recording of their contributions:

Dave Sugden 2/3
John Mahoney 1/1
Neil Bamford 1/2
Steve Priest 1/2
Terry Sullivan 1/2
Tony Ibbitson ½/1
Phil Rhami ½/2

I hope that readers will offer their opinions about the ‘B’ team’s performance this season. I’m sure the players themselves will have plenty to say! Who do you think we should have playing in the ‘B’ team next season? Please do post your comments below for others to see and consider.

May 172011

Today we begin a review of the 2010-11 season which I’m aiming to cover off in several parts. We start with Hebden Bridge ‘A’s title challenge in Calderdale League Division 1. Here are the standings in the final table.

Ultimately this result spelt out disappointment for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ who lost their title to Huddersfield, and jubilation for Hebden Bridge ‘B’ who escaped relegation from the top flight.

Of course the story is much more complicated than that. The ‘A’ team seemed to be strong contenders to retain their title right from the start of the season and on paper it appeared that Huddersfield would be their main rivals with Courier ‘A’ looking like potential dark horses as they sported very competitive players on their top 3 boards.

The reigning champions fielded almost exactly the same side they had finished the previous season with. The exception was that Matthew Wedge-Roberts replaced Dave Shapland on board 4 as Dave moved into the ‘B’ team. This made virtually no difference to the team on paper and indeed the ‘A’ team started the season with a string of powerful and conclusive victories as they raced to 3 wins out of 3 and 13 board points out of a possible 15!

Meanwhile, Huddersfield had started very sluggishly as they drew at home to Brighouse in their first match and then lost at home to Courier in their second. This surprising upset seemed to signify the arrival of the Courier team as serious title contenders until they themselves slipped to a home defeat in the very next round against Belgrave. After 3 matches it was Belgrave and Hebden Bridge who topped the table with perfect records.

Round 4 took place on the November the 1st and Hebden Bridge hosted Huddersfield knowing that if they could defeat them they would almost certainly end their rival’s title hopes on the spot. It was on this night that Huddersfield started to show their steel as they clinched a tight match 2-3. Matthew Parsons’ glittering victory over David Firth on board 2 (see below) was scant consolation for the rare defeats suffered by Dave Wedge on board 1 and Matthew Wedge-Roberts on board 5. Suddenly, Huddersfield were back in the title race 1 point behind Hebden Bridge as Belgrave took sole leadership of the table by extending their unbeaten run to four matches with a win at Halifax.

By the mid-season interval however, normal service had been resumed. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ took out the league leaders and then defeated Courier at home in the last match before Christmas. However, Huddersfield had kept up the pace behind them by beating Hebden Bridge ‘B’, Todmorden and Belgrave to move into second place.

The second half of the season saw the two leaders remain locked together as they pulled away from the rest of the teams in the division. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ continued to put away their opponents in a more convincing style than Huddersfield as the racked up an increasingly impressive board count but, try as they might, they couldn’t extend their points lead. In the end the title race came down to the second fixture between the two sides on the 10th of March, this time with Huddersfield having the home advantage.

Sadly, this was where the wheels came off for Hebden Bridge as they fell to a humiliating 4½ – ½ defeat. Dave Wedge dropped down to board 2 for the match and was the only player preventing a total whitewash as he drew with Chris Booth. The rest of the team all capitulated and the disappointment was palpable.

To give Alastair Wright’s team credit, they then lifted themselves to win their remaining fixtures and keep the pressure on Huddersfield but unfortunately their rivals, despite some close run contests, didn’t make any mistakes. In the end the ‘A’ team’s season came down to those two clashes with Huddersfield and on those nights, they didn’t do enough. Let us congratulate Huddersfield however for recovering from their awful start to get through the rest of the season with a perfect record.

Here are the man-for-man statistics for the ‘A’ team this season. A quick note on the players stats below before we dive in. All the numbers below refer only to the Calderdale League matches and the ratings differential is based on accumulating the YCA live rating scores for each league game played. The end-of-season ratings are calculated in a slightly different way. Live ratings only provide a transient flavour of a players form rather than a solid assessment of their entire season so readers should view the stats below as a guideline only.

David Wedge — Board 1

Rating (at the start of the season): 168
Score: 8/14

An interesting contrast in fortunes for Dave this season depending on which colour he played. He scored only 3/7 with White but managed 5/7 with Black. The stats might suggest that he was overambitious with White but, having looked at his games this season, I’d tend to suggest that perhaps he was sometimes not ambitious enough and didn’t manage to put his opponents under enough pressure. That’s just my opinion. I suspect he would say that four defeats in one season is not a vintage year for him but he was the third highest points scorer on board 1 behind Huddersfield’s Leo Keely and Belgrave’s Gordon Farrar. That’s no mean feat. He actually scored the same number of points as Gordon but dropped to board 2 for the away fixture against Huddersfield (which means he scored 7½ of his 8 points on board 1) where he scored the team’s solitary half point.

Analysis of Dave Wedge’s league games in 2010-11

Here is Dave at his best, punishing his own team Captain for having the temerity to play a Max Lange Attack against him in the Calderdale Individual Championship. Alastair makes one mistake and is buried.

Matthew Parsons — Board 2

Rating: 167
Score: 10½/13

It was a really tremendous season for Matthew who lost only one game when he played on board 1 away against Huddersfield. He also swapped places with his Captain for the two ties against Belgrave and therefore scored 2 of his points on board 3. Otherwise he made 8½/10 on board 2 which is an awesome accumulation! All these exploits enabled him to increase his live rating by nearly 4 points over the season. Add to this his excellent run in the Calderdale Individual Championship where he was only stopped in the last round by Courier’s John Morgan and Matthew can be very happy with his performance this season although he will no doubt be disappointed to finish second in both the team and individual competitions. Board 1 beckons for Matthew next season.

Analysis of Matthew Parsons’ league results in 2010-11

I’ve chosen his mind bendingly complicated game against Dave Firth for his best game of the season, although in truth, there were several candidates.

Alastair Wright — Board 3

Rating: 160
Score: 9½/14

Team Captain Alastair Wright is another player who shows contrasting form with each colour. With the White pieces he was indestructible scoring 5/7 but with Black he showed some frailty. Both his loses this season occurred when he was playing Black. Unfortunately for him, playing on board 3 (except for the two matches with Belgrave and one against Todmorden when he played on board 2) and having a relatively high grade for his board position meant that his high score of 9½ only yielded him a neutral live rating score for his league fixtures. As a Captain he continued to discharge his duties in an exemplary fashion and, as a result, the ‘A’ team were always able to sport a strong side even when regular team members were missing.

Analysis of Alastair Wright’s league results in 2010-11

Alastair is pretty open about bemoaning his poor form with Black but, as this game shows, he is also capable of winning nice games when conducting them. This positional annihilation of Todmorden’s Scott Gornall is a case in point.

Matthew Wedge-Roberts — Board 4

Rating: 144
Score: 11/14

Matthew finished the season as the second highest points scorer in the Division behind John Morgan of Courier. Even though two of his 10 wins were defaults he still deserves great credit for this score. A successful team in the league will always require their lower boards to score heavily and he certainly delivered in this regard. Unfortunately his two defeats came at the hands of Huddersfield players in the critical encounters of the season but, other than those lowlights, he should be delighted with the way things went for him this year and his grade must be heading in a northerly direction once more for next year.

Analysis of Matthew Wedge-Roberts league results in 2010-11

Many of Matthew’s wins are pretty destructive. I’ve chosen this game from the few of his that I have on my database for the year (Matthew doesn’t keep any of his score sheets — the shame, the shame!) as a good illustration of the combustible style that has yielded him a bucket load of points against the lower board opponents he has been required to dispatch.

Nick Sykes — Board 5

Rating: 135
Score: 7½/11

Playing bottom board in a good team is always a bit of a thankless task. This is because, if you’re a decent player, you are expected to win pretty much every game you play and any defeat can be costly both for the team and individually. Nick has managed to amass a good scoring percentage in the matches he played in this season but nevertheless he has paid a heavy price for his defeats and draws and ends the season with a negative live rating for his league games despite scoring +4! It must be said that he had a good run out in the Calderdale Individual Championships ending the tournament as the only unbeaten player apart from the winner, John Morgan. Hopefully the end of season ratings will reward him more suitably for his efforts.

Analysis of Nick Sykes’ league results in 2010-11 

Here is Nick’s interesting round 2 draw against John in the Calderdale Individual Championship. Baring in mind John only dropped a point and a half all season in the league, this smooth draw represented a great result for Nick.

I hope that readers will offer their opinions about the ‘A’ team’s performance this season. I’m sure the players themselves will have plenty to say! Who do you think we should have playing in the ‘A’ team next season when Dave Wedge and Matthew Wedge-Roberts are gone? Please do post your comments below for others to see and consider.

May 132011
Looks like they had 5 player teams in Grease as well!

For several weeks now every time I’ve heard or made mention of the annual Calderdale Chess League Team Lightning Competition my internal juke box has been playing the same tune. It’s one that I’m sure you all know. So here it is then, my new lyrics for the eponymous number from the musical “Grease”. Cue John Travolta…

On Monday night down to Tod Workin’ Mens Club we all went
(Some drove there whoa some walked it)
To play in the Calderdale team lightnin’ we were hell bent
(We’re ready, yeah we’re ready)
The guys were ready for the fight it was goin’ to be some night
We all mustered up our darin’ while Dave Milton did the pairin’
It’s team lightnin!
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go.

Have a go at team lightnin but you’ve only got ten seconds a move

(Team lightning go team lightning)
Whoa it’s frightnin when you haven’t got a clue what to do
(It’s frightnin, oh it’s frightnin!)
You must be quick, for the clock ticks
At team lightnin!

If you leave your king enprise then your opponent can take it

Oh yeah!
And if you don’t move in time then you can be defaulted
Oh yeah!
Attempting skewers, pins and forks we try not to play like dorks
And we mask our apprehension though we’re tremblin’ from the tension
Team lightnin!

Have a go at team lightnin you know you’ve got somthin’ to prove

(Team lightning, oh team lightning)
Whoa it’s frightnin when you haven’t got a clue what to do
(It’s frightnin, oh it’s frightnin!)
Get in the groove and make your move
It’s team lightnin!

Todmorden Working Men’ Club
Well, I think that’s quite enough of that. I don’t believe I have any future in the song writing business! Anyway, as readers will have gathered from this tomfoolery, the Calderdale Team Lightning Competition did indeed take place on Monday night at Todmorden Working Men’s Club. The competition is the traditional curtain closer to the league season and provides a good opportunity for players from all clubs to get together for a bit of fun. The event is deliberately informal and although a number of clubs brought enough players along for several teams there were plenty of surplus players who were slotted in wherever there was a shortage and that made for some interesting temporary alliances on the night.

Before I go any further perhaps some readers would appreciate a brief summary of the format. It goes like this:

  • Teams have 5 players who are arranged roughly in strength order
  • Pairings are based on the swiss system (i.e. you play a team on the same or a similar score in each round)
  • Colours are alternated on each board and decided by a coin toss
  • There are no chess clocks used. Instead a tape is played with a beeper sounding every 10 seconds
  • Players move on the sound of the beeper and persistent moving before or after the sound can result in forfeiture of the game
  • Check does not need to be announced and kings left enprise can be captured to win the game
  • The winning team is the one with the highest board count at the end of 5 rounds

A team Captain showdown between
Alastair Wright and Martin Syrett is
regarded intently by Nick Sykes at
the end of Round 1

Hebden Bridge Chess Club entered four teams into the competition this year and the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team closely resembled the side who had swept to victory at last year’s event collecting a record points haul of 24/25 and winning the individual prizes on all 5 boards! The only change from that side was the replacement of Nick Sykes on board 5 with Matthew Wedge-Roberts.

The competition however threatened to be a much more severe test for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ this year with their league rivals Huddersfield (who missed last year’s event) fielding two strong teams. In addition competitive line-ups were sported by Halifax and Todmorden (who both put together two teams), Belgrave and also a pretty handy Hebden Bridge ‘B’ side.

In the first round tournament organiser Dave Milton deliberately paired teams from the same clubs against one another in order to avoid any potential whiff of collusion in the latter stages. The pairings and results for each round are given below. When known the teams named first played with the White pieces on boards 1, 3 and 5.

From round 2 onwards the numbers in brackets refer to that team’s cumulative score from previous rounds.

Round 1
Huddersfield ‘A’ 4 — 1 Huddersfield ‘B’
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 3 — 2 Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ 2 — 3 Hebden Bridge ‘D’
Todmorden ‘A’ 4½ — ½ Todmorden ‘B’
Halifax ‘B’ 1 — 4 Halifax ‘A’
Belgrave 5 — 0 BYE
Round 2
Belgrave (5) 2 — 3 Todmorden ‘A’ (4½)
Halifax ‘A’ (4) 3½ — 1½ Huddersfield ‘A’ (4)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (3) 2 — 3 Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (3)
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (2) 0 — 5 Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (2)
Huddersfield ‘B’ (1) 5 — 0 Halifax ‘B’ (1)
Todmorden ‘B’ (½) 5 — 0 BYE

Round 3
Halifax ‘A’ (7½) 2 — 3 Todmorden ‘A’ (7½)
Belgrave (7) 2½ — 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (7)
Huddersfield ‘B’ (6) ½ — 4½ Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (6)
Huddersfield ‘A’ (5½) 3½ — 1½ Todmorden ‘B’ (5½)
Halifax ‘B’ (1) 3 — 2 Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (5)
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (2) 5 — 0 BYE
Round 4
Todmorden ‘A’ (10½) 1 — 4 Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (10½)
Halifax ‘A’ (9½) 3 — 2 Belgrave (9½)
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (9½) 1 — 4 Huddersfield ‘A’ (9)
Todmorden ‘B’ (7) 4 — 1 Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (7)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (7) 1 — 4 Huddersfield ‘B’ (6½)
Halifax ‘B’ (4) 5 — 0 BYE
Round 5
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (14½) 3½ — ½ Huddersfield ‘A’ (13)
Todmorden ‘B’ (11) 2 — 3 Halifax ‘A’ (12½)
Todmorden ‘A’ (11½) 3 — 2 Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (10½)
Huddersfield ‘B’ (10½) 2 — 3 Belgrave (11½)
Halifax ‘B’ (9) 4 — 1 Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (8)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (8) 5 — 0 BYE

At the end of the night Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had retained their title to see their top board player, Dave Wedge, off to pastures new in fine style. (He leaves the area to take up a new job in Cambridge over the summer and was given a “Good Luck” card signed by many of the players before the start of round 5.)
The kibitzers gather like vultures as a tense
encounter between Halifax ‘A’ and
Huddersfield’A’ draws to a close

The manner of the ‘A’ team’s victory could not have been in starker contrast to last year’s cruise however. The team (1.Dave Wedge, 2.Matthew Parsons, 3.Alastair Wright, 4.Dave Shapland and 5.Matthew Wedge-Roberts) actually started the evening in a rather sluggish fashion with a tight 3-2 win over their colleagues in the ‘B’ team (1.Pete Olley, 2. Nick Sykes, 3.Martin Syrett, 4.Neil Bamford, 5,Terry Sullivan) in which Dave lost to Neil and Alastair to Martin.

Then in round 2 they made similarly heavy weather of a Hebden Bridge ‘D’ side (1.Andy Leatherbarrow, 2.Ruud Stoelman, 3.Kyle Sharpe, 4.Spike Leatherbarrow, 5.Hephzi Leatherbarrow) consisting largely of promising juniors effectively combined with a pair of seasoned campaigners. This time young Kyle Sharpe claimed the excellent scalp of Alastair Wright when Alastair placed his rook enprise in a rook and piece ending and Ruud Stoelman beat Matthew Parsons.

However, once the ‘A’s got into their stride their was no stopping them as they first crushed Huddersfield ‘B’ 4½-½ in round 3 and then hammered the leaders Todmorden ‘A’ 4-1 in round 4. This enabled them to start the final round leading by 1½ points from Huddersfield ‘A’, who had not enjoyed a comfortable evening themselves, and who needed to win by a margin of 3½-1½ in order to overhaul them. In the event Hebden beat them by the same scoreline to pull even further clear.

Halifax ‘A’ performed excellently to finish in second place having beaten Huddersfield ‘A’ themselves in round 2 and after that (as you can see below) it was all a bit bunched up.

Final Standings
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ = 18 (5/5 match points)
Halifax ‘A’ = 15½ (4/5)
Todmorden ‘A’ = 14½ (4/5)
Huddersfield ‘A’ = 14½ (3/5)
Belgrave = 14½* (2½/5)
Halifax ‘B’ = 13* (3/5)
Todmorden ‘B’ = 13* (2/5)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ = 13* (2/5)
Huddersfield ‘B’ = 12½ (2/5)
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ = 12½ (1½/5)
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ = 9* (1/5)

(Teams with an * next to them all received 5-0 match byes as part of their scores. This does distort the final standings somewhat as there were only two other whitewashings in the whole evening!)

Board 5 Prize Winner, Matthew
Wedge-Roberts (front right) finishes off
Jon Hughes of Huddersfield ‘B’, his
3rd round victim.

Hebden Bridge certainly didn’t have it their own way this year when it came to the individual prizes. These were awarded to the players recording the highest scores on each board. Prize winners were as follows:

Board 1 winner = Andrew Clarkson 5/5 (Todmorden ‘A’)

Board 2 winners = Carlos Velosa (Halifax ‘A’) and Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) 4/5

Board 3 winners = Neil Suttie (Todmorden ‘A’), Les Johnson (Belgrave), Richard Boylan (Huddersfield ‘A’) 4/5

Board 4 winner = Dave Innes (Todmorden ‘B’) 4½/5

Board 5 winner = Matthew Wedge-Roberts (Hebden Bridge ’A’) 5/5

Special mention should go to Andrew Clarkson and Matthew Wedge-Roberts who were the only two players with perfect scores at the end of the night. Andrew’s feat was particularly impressive as it was achieved on board 1 and therefore he had to beat some of the best players in the competition including Darwin Ursal, Leo Keely and Dave Wedge in order to attain his score.

Recognition and thanks must also go to Dave Milton and the Todmorden Chess Club for hosting and organising this year’s event. The hospitality was first class and the event an unqualified success.

Apr 202011

I can offer readers a veritable tumult of reports and games because today we chronicle the heroic efforts of all four of Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s teams as they rode gallantly into battle for the last time this season on Monday night. The fixtures secretary has thrown some curve balls at us this year including the playing of all four of our derby matches on dates other then the opening nights of each half of the season; round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championships on Valentine’s night; and, most testing of all, the opening and closing fixtures in both divisions played on the same night. This meant that our hard pressed Captains had to find 20 players between them and even for a club of our size, that is no easy task when it’s school holiday week. I’m delighted to report that all four teams did sport full line-ups even though we had to tap into all sorts of rarely plumbed resources!

I’ll start with Hebden Bridge ‘B’ who, you may remember, managed a tense 3-2 victory in their match with Belgrave two weeks ago to haul themselves out of the relegation zone. They needed to match Halifax ‘A’s result at bottom side Todmorden ‘A’ in order to be sure of safety and a draw in conjunction with a Halifax win would have left the teams needing to be separated by their board count. John Kerrane reports for us on the unfolding of the night’s events at Brighouse.

“With both sides missing key stronger players, it was an unusual match, but in the end, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ avoided relegation in fine style with a 3-2 win, led by Dave Shapland on board 1, who played his favorite Classical Defence against Robert Broadbent’s Spanish Opening, and conducted a vigorous attack culminating in a very attractive mate.”

The individual results were:

Brighouse — Hebden Bridge ‘B’
R.Broadbent 0 — 1 D.Shapland
B.Bendall ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow
P.Whitehouse 1 — 0 J.Kerrane
N.Hudson ½ – ½ P.Rhami
Default 0 — 1 M.Syrett
2 — 3

It was a noble decision by Captain Martin Syrett to stand aside and let Phil Rhami play a game. But, as the ‘B’ team struggled to put together a full side themselves Phil (who also stepped in to play the away fixture against Huddersfield) travelled from Leeds to take part in the tie and therefore deserved his spot. Essentially he was the hero of the hour for, by turning up and playing a game, he essentially scored Hebden 1½ points. His draw with Nick Hudson was resourcefully played after a highly provocative opening treatment almost got him into very hot water.

The second game to finish was Dave Shapland’s effort against Robert Broadbent. He equalised fairly swiftly and then capitalised on his opponents manouevring play before connecting at the end with a destructive mating combination utilising two bishops and two rooks. The notes in the game viewer below are Daves.

Next John Kerrane succumbed to Paul Whitehouse after a long struggle and this left the match in the balance with just Andy Leatherbarrow’s game against Bruce Bendall to finish. Most club members will know about Andy’s predilection for long distance affairs and his dalliance with time trouble. He stayed true to his code in this game as he used up all but one minute of his time to get to move 36 and then a good deal of his remaining 15 minutes to get to the end of the game. All the while poor Martin Syrett tried to calm his palpitations as he looked on from the sidelines! In the end Bruce decided that he could not make any progress and offered Andy a draw which Andy accepted and the match was won for the ‘B’ team.

This excellent result meant that the ‘B’s were safe and could go home in a happy mood. As it turned out, Todmorden beat Halifax by the surprising margin of 4-1 and so even a defeat would not have damaged Hebden Bridge’s status. Never-the-less congratulations are in order for when the proverbial ordure hit the fan this season the ‘B’ team showed their Dunkirk spirit and did their jobs in their last two matches of the season. Each player has done his bit to keep them up. Well done ‘B’s!

So now to the ‘A’ team who needed to beat Courier ‘A’ away to keep their faint title hopes alive. On paper this was a tough final round fixture for Hebden Bridge as Courier have performed solidly all season and are comfortably anchored in third place in the league. In addition, all three of their top boards are rated in the 160’s and that puts them on a parr with the big beasts at Huddersfield and Hebden Bridge. Only their weaker lower boards have prevented them from competing for the title.

In the event however, Courier were victims of the fixture secretary’s scheduling as they were only able to field 3 players and were missing their talisman, John Morgan who has secured this year’s “Most Valuable Player Award” by scoring 11½ points in 13 games as well as becoming the Calderdale Individual Champion. Regardless of their opponents charity, Hebden Bridge exacted the fullest of penalties by inflicting a traumatising 5-0 whitewash on their opponents.

Individual scores were as follows:

Courier ‘A’ — Hebden Bridge ‘A’
R.Clegg 0 — 1 D.Wedge
D.Patrick 0 — 1 M.Parsons
D.Colledge 0 — 1 A.Wright
Default 0 — 1 M.Wedge-Roberts
Default 0 — 1 N.Sykes
0 — 5

Dave Wedge was performing his swan song for Hebden Bridge as he leaves us this summer to pursue a new career opportunity down in Cambridge. He has been the side’s top board stalwart for many years and will be sorely missed. Fittingly he smote down Robert Clegg with his customary aplomb as his “Good bye” present.

On board 2 Matthew Parsons demonstrated his readiness to fill Dave’s very large shoes next season by doubling up on Dave Patrick for the season. Here is his game.

Team Captain, Alastair Wright completed the rout with a win against Dave Colledge.

The ‘A’ team must now sit tight and await news from Huddersfield on Maundy Thursday when the league leaders host Belgrave for the curtain closing fixture in League 1. Could it be the holiday season will deplete the resources available to one or both sides? There might yet be a one more twist in the title race. Of course we will keep our ears to the ground and let you know the result as soon as we possibly can.

Normally I’d be ending my report here but today I must ask readers to gird their loins for even more! Both of the club’s Division 2 sides were also in action on Monday. First of all, Pete Rawlings gives us news of the ‘C’ team’s home match against Huddersfield ‘B’.

“Our final match of the season gave us the double over Huddersfield ‘B’, quite a feat considering that they will beat us to second place in division 2. (Only if they win their game in hand against Halifax ‘B’: Ed.) Trevor Deluca played his first match of the season to gain us a bital point and Pete Leonard continued his near-perfect run. A great performance by the team in a good season. It would be nice to keep this team together as a unit, says their sentimental old captain.”

As Captain Rawlings rightly points out, Pete Leonard has had a superb run for the ‘C’s scoring 6 wins from 7 games. In the game below he inflicted an eye-watering humiliation upon Stuart Oliver.

The ‘C’ team match scorecard looks like this then:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ — Huddersfield ‘B’
D.Sugden 1 — 0 N.Hepworth
S.Priest 0 — 1 R.Sutcliffe
P.Leonard 1 — 0 S.Oliver
N.Bamford 0 — 1 C.Stratford
T.DeLuca 1 — 0 E.Mellor
3 — 2

Last, but by no means least, the ‘D’ team travelled to Todmorden for their last match of the season against Todmorden ‘C’. Danny Crampton’s team have suffered greatly this season as a result of sticking to their policy of fielding a side full of rookies to league chess. Encouragingly there were signs here that the side is starting to see the fruits of their patient approach as, for the first time this season, they scored two wins in a match. Matt Levy and Danny Crampton scored the points.

The individual results were:

Todmorden ‘C’ — Hebden Bridge ‘D’
R.Stoelman 1 — 0 P.Dearden
G.Bowker 1 — 0 K.Sharpe
J.P.Ellis 0 — 1 M.Levy
T.Webster 1 — 0 C.Greaves
B.Joyce 0 — 1 D.Crampton
3 — 2

With young Kyle Sharpe getting his third outing in adult competition on board 2 and other team members continuing to gain good experience it would seem that the green shoots of growth and development are starting to emerge and that the ‘D’ team can be optimistic about next season. Let’s hope that the summer programme of activities and handicapped competitions will enable these players to develop their games even further.

That’s all for now folks. I’d just like to say “Thank you” to all those players who submitted games and result to me so quickly. It isn’t easy gathering everything together in two days but with your help we did it! Watch this space for details of the up and coming summer programme of informal competitions and game tutorials and don’t forget the team Lightning tournament takes place in Todmorden on the 9th of May. By way of a final word I can confirm that there will be a chess club meeting on Monday the 2nd of March when John Kerrane plans to hold an informal Lightning Competition to give players the chance to practice at this format of the game.

Apr 152011

These words of wisdom from Emanuel Lasker came back to me this week as I analysed a game that I played in the Leeds League on Wednesday. Take a look at the position below. It’s Black to move. What would you play?

I think that the real point behind Lasker’s motto is that if you think you’ve found a good move then it follows that your position must be reasonable and that usually means there are numerous possibilities. If there are numerous possibilities then that might mean you’ve missed an even better option. How many times do we miss killer moves because we think we’ve found the best move in the position and stopped looking?

Ok, that’s today’s lecture over. Now, let’s move on to the latest league results from Monday night. John Kerrane picks up the tale.

“With the end of the Calderdale Chess Evening League approaching, Hebden Bridge Chess club’s two second division sides found themselves drawn against each other at the Trades Club.

The ‘D’ team put up a valiant struggle, with Matt Levy on board 3 taking Steve Priest to the very end of time allowed, but the greater strength of the senior team told and the ‘C’ team came away with a 5-0 victory.

This match also saw the second outing for the ‘D’ team’s new junior prospect, 9-year-old Kyle Sharpe. Although he did not win, he did enough to show that he will be a serious problem to senior players in a year or two.”

The full score card is given below:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ — Hebden Bridge ‘C’
J.Todd 0 — 1 D.Sugden
P.Dearden 0 — 1 J.Blinkhorn
M.Levy 0 — 1 S.Priest
K.Sharpe 0 — 1 P.Leonard
D.Crampton 0 — 1 P.Rawlings
0 — 5

Next week sees the season end hove into view as all four teams will be in action. Both our Division 1 teams are playing away with the ‘A’ team still hoping that their rivals Huddersfield will slip up and allow them to retain their title and the ‘B’ team hoping they can hold their nerve against Brighouse and stay in the top flight.

Meanwhile the ‘C’ team are the only ones at home as they face Huddersfield ‘B’ needing a win to keep alive any hopes of promotion and the ‘D’ team finish off the season against Todmorden ‘C’ as they aim to score a few more board points to offer them some encouragement for next year. Of course full results and, hopefully some games, will appear right here as soon as they are available. Anyone wanting to see current league standings ahead of the last round can do so at the Calderdale Chess League website (their is a link on the tool bar on the right).