Jan 162015

In part two of my review of 2014 we’ll cover summer and Autumn period. With the Calderdale and Yorkshire league seasons completed in May you might have been forgiven for thinking that nothing much would have been going on in the summer but you’d be quite wrong.

ECF County Championship

July: Syrett vs. Shapland - Hebden Bridge Summer Rapidplay. Black to play. With both players in dreadful time trouble White has understandably just offered simplifications with 28.Qd2. How should Black respond? Solution in the game viewer at the end of this post.

July: Syrett vs. Shapland – Hebden Bridge Summer Rapidplay. Black to play. With both players in dreadful time trouble White has understandably just offered simplifications with 28.Qd2. How should Black respond? Solution in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Pete Leonard, Andy Leatherbarrow and Dave Shapland all took part in the Yorkshire under 160 team’s superb run to the final of the county championships. In May Dave and Pete travelled to Penrith to play their part in the demolition of Cumbria in the qualifiers. Andy joined them for the quarter final match against Essex which saw the Yorkshiremen avenge their defeat to the same side in the 2013 final. Dave missed the semi-final win against Cambridgeshire and, unfortunately, Pete was unavailable for the final which was played, along with all the other finals, in Warwick in July.

Both Andy and Dave won their games in the final against Middlesex as Yorkshire struggled on the top eight boards but swept their opponents aside on the lower boards where they scored 7/8!

Yorkshire also won the ‘Open’ section of the County Championships when they thrashed another Middlesex team 11½ – 4½. This included a fine win by HebdenBridge’s occasional guest star Matty Webb. This was just one step on the road to a fabulously successful season for Matty. 2014 saw his rating shoot up and he currently occupies the number 3 spot on the Yorkshire Chess Association rating list.

Summer competitions

September: Bak vs. Eagleton - Calderdale League. White is the exchange down but he has the initiative. Can you see a way to take advantage?

September: Bak vs. Eagleton – Calderdale League. White to play. White is the exchange down but he has the initiative. Can you see a way to take advantage?

During the summer the club held two rapidplay competitions in which particpants played each other twice with 30 minutes each on the clock. The ‘A’ group was won by Matthew Parsons who was dominant through out and only lost one game to Dave Shapland. There were a good number of highly entertaining games played in the top section.

As preparations for the new league season began some warm up activity was organised to get players back into the swing of things. First of all six of our members travelled to Keighley chess club to play in a return friendly match to the one played at the Trades Club in 2013. Keighley took revenage for their away defeat the previous year by winning this match 4 — 2. Neil Bamford was the only Hebden player to win but both John Kerrane and Nick Sykes took creditable draws.

The following week Matty Webb agreed to play a simultaneous match against all-comers at the Trades Club. Ten players took up the challenge in which Matty generously (or foolishly perhaps!) agreed to play all the games sat standard Calderdale League time limits. He still scored 9 out of 10 conceding draws to Matthew Parsons and Martin Syrett and losing just one to Danny Crampton who sneakily played at high speed and survived long enough to win the game on time when Matty didn’t notice what he was up to.

Then came the Club Lightning competition which was won in fine style by John Allan with a score of 5½/6. Pete Leonard and Dave Shapland trailled on a point and a half behind him on 4 and John Kerrane and Nick Sykes were next on 3½.

October: Leonard vs. Morgan - Calderdale League. White to play. With such a lead in development it's no surprise to find White can proceed in sacrificial style. What's his best continuation?

October: Leonard vs. Morgan – Calderdale League. White to play. With such a lead in development it’s no surprise to find White can proceed in sacrificial style. What’s his best continuation?

Calderdale League 2014-15

After the warm ups came the serious business of the new league season. The club decided to field three teams across the two leagues this year as our pool of willing league participants continued to dwindle. Most significantly Matthew Parsons made the decision to return to representing Huddersfield after a four year stint playing in the HebdenBridge ‘A’ team. That loss was keenly felt but the ‘A’ team began the season pretty solidly as they almost took advantage of Huddersfield arriving at the Trades Club with only four players in the first round and then beat Courier ‘A’ in fine style in round 2. Andy Bak on board 1, Pete Leonard on 2 and Nick Sykes on 4 all played brilliantly to beat strong opponents.

Subsequently it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the ‘A’s as they followed their surprise win over Courier with a surprise defeat to Belgrave but then beat both Brighouse and Todmorden ‘B’ before succumbing to a very strong Halifax ‘A’ team despite drawing on the top two boards.

October: Sykes vs. Clegg - Calderdale League. White to play. How did Nick cap a really fine thematic game from this position?

October: Sykes vs. Clegg – Calderdale League. White to play. How did Nick cap a really fine thematic game from this position?

League 1 is warming up to be another fascinating contest this season as the reigning champions Halifax ‘A’ have recovered from a slow start to get themselves back in contention whilst Huddersfield started tremendously but have subsequently slipped up to allow their rivals to close up on them. Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax look like the main contenders although Courier aren’t out of the race just yet.

In league 2 both the ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams have found life difficult. League 2 has just six teams in it this year and our teams occupy the 4th and 5th places at present with one win and one draw a piece. Danny Crampton has taken up the captaincy of the ‘B’ team and after beating Courier ‘B’ in the first round his side have managed only a draw against Halifax ‘C’ in the subsequent three matches.

Meanwhile John Kerrane’s ‘C’ team have performed identically to pick up the same number of match points and they trial their ‘B’ team colleagues only on game points at the moment.

Halifax ‘B’ are the dominant force in League 2 thus far and they already have a decent lead over Todmorden ‘C’ and Halifax ‘C’. The two Hebden sides are still close enough to challenge for second place here.

Yorkshire League

Calderdale ‘A’ are maintaining the same position they finished in last year by occupying the middle of the Division 1 table after 5 rounds. In League 2, Calderdale ‘B’ have started in rather lacklustre fashion with one win, one draw and three defeats so far. They’ll need to up their game to be sure of avoiding relegation this season. Hebden regulars Andy Leatherbarrow, John Allan and Martin Syrett look poised to assist in this task with John continuing his excellent form of last season in this competition.

December: Webb vs. Guramishvili, London Chess Classic FIDE Open. It's White to play. He's sacrificed a piece on d5 to open the e-file. How should he proceed to capitalise on that. This is straight out of the opening book so anyone wanting to play the Najdorf needs to know this idea!

December: Webb vs. Guramishvili, London Chess Classic FIDE Open. It’s White to play. He’s sacrificed a piece on d5 to open the e-file. How should he proceed to capitalise on that. This is straight out of the opening book so anyone wanting to play the Najdorf needs to know this idea!

London Chess Classic

In December I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the London Chess Classic and see the opening round of the main competition. Whilst I was there I was surprised but very pleased to get the opportunity to meet one of my chess heroes, Garry Kasparov! The former world champion was there for a book signing and I wasn’t going to miss out on that opportunity. Of course I spent the whole time in the queue trying to think of something meaningful to say to him and then pretty much stuffed it up when I got to the front of the queue. Never mind, I now own a signed copy of the second part of his chess biography ‘Kasparov on Kasparov’ which I can certainly recommend to anyone who’s interested in some literature on his career.

In the end I only spent a little bit of time inside the chess classic itself because I predominantly wanted to follow Matty Webb’s game in the FIDE Open that was taking place alongside. To my great delight he played a game in a theoretical line of the French that I play myself against a Grandmaster in the form of Neil McDonald. It was an interesting game that ended in a draw.

Matty played extremely well in the tournament and I’ve included a game he won against WGM Sopiko Guramishvili in round 2. Anyone who watched the recent World Chess Championship match will know that Sopiko was co-commentator with Peter Svidler so this was a high-profile scalp for Matty to take.

The full games, some with commentary, are featured in the game viewer below so that you can find the solutions to the positions given in the article as well.

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Dec 302014

Before we say “Goodbye” to 2014 let’s have a last look back at the chess year from a Hebden Bridge perspective. I’m going to make this a two part story (with the second half coming later in the week) and intersperse some positions from games played by Calderdale players (mostly Hebden Bridge players of course). If you feel like testing yourself with some of these positions as puzzles then you can. Alternatively if you’d like to re-live these games again in full then they are collected in the viewer at the end of this post.

Calderdale League 1

January: Parsons vs. Broadbent — Calderdale League 1. Black has just played 11…fxg6. White has a significant advantage but how should he proceed? Should he go for 12.Ng5, 12.Nh4, or something else? The solution is in the game viewer at the end of this post.

January: Parsons vs. Broadbent — Calderdale League 1. Black has just played 11…fxg6. White has a significant advantage but how should he proceed? Should he go for 12.Ng5, 12.Nh4, or something else? The solution is in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Let’s start by recollecting the tremendously exciting Calderdale League 1 title race. Of course Hebden Bridge ‘A’ started the season as champions but they knew right from the off that they would struggle to retain the title as Huddersfield, Courier ‘A’, Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ all strengthened their line ups during the 2013 summer break. Despite a very strong start that saw the champions defeat both Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ before Christmas, they subsided in the December and January period with a string of disappointing results. Hebden were realistically out of the title race by the time 2014 had reached the end of its first month but the team did rally strongly towards the end of the season as they sprung a huge 1 — 4 away win on their arch-rivals Huddersfield. They ended the season respectably placed in mid-table, well clear of the relegation zone.

Sadly for HebdenBridge ‘B’, the season was extremely tough as they struggled to field a full team on numerous occasions and were out graded in most of the matches they played. Relegation was always the likely outcome for them but, despite the hardships, they did manage very creditable draws with their own ‘A’ team and Todmorden ‘B’ as well as taking a victory from their home match with Brighouse.

April: Tooley vs. Shapland — Calderdale League 1. White has just played 22.Qa3 and in the game Black replied by sacrificing his rook on f2. Is this sound? Try and calculate all of the critical lines. See game viewer for the solution.

April: Tooley vs. Shapland — Calderdale League 1. White has just played 22.Qa3 and in the game Black replied by sacrificing his rook on f2. Is this sound? Try and calculate all of the critical lines. See game viewer for the solution.

Of course the title race was very competitive indeed and came down to a four-hourse race between the aforementioned Couier ‘A’, Halifax ‘A’, Huddersfield and Todmorden ‘A’ outfits. Huddersfield looked to have the title in the bag with two rounds to play but they were derailed by HebdenBridge ‘A’ in the penultimate fixture and this allowed Halifax to take the driving seat. In round 14 they needed to beat Courier ‘A’ in a winner-takes-all encounter, whilst Huddersfield travelled to Todmorden knowing that they had an outside chance if they could win there. In the end Huddersfield slumped to another defeat and Halifax edged it against Courier to take their first title for 28 years!

Looking at Hebden Bridge’s individual scores in league 1, Dave Shapland was the highest scorer for HebdenBridge ‘A’ with 8½/11 playing predominantly on boards 4 and 5. Pete Leonard, Matthew Parsons and Andy Bak all managed at least 50% and Matthew Webb guest starred in the two matches against Todmorden ‘A’ scoring wins against Martin Hamer on both occasions. The ‘B’ team naturally struggled individually but their captain Martin Syrett scored an extremely creditable 5½/10 playing largely on the upper boards.

Calderdale League 2

April: Syrett vs. Webster — Calderdale League 1. This was a really crazy game! Black, having just played 17… Bh3 is threatening to play Ng4 next move. This looks dangerous. How should White respond? Solution in the game viewer below.

April: Syrett vs. Webster — Calderdale League 1. This was a really crazy game! Black, having just played 17… Bh3 is threatening to play Ng4 next move. This looks dangerous. How should White respond? Solution in the game viewer below.

League 2 was depleted by the loss of Todemorden’s ‘D’ team right at the outset of the season and that meant that just seven teams competed for the title. In the end most people’s favorites Belgrave won the league with a score of 21 points.  Halifax ‘B’ finished in second place with 19 and Todmorden ‘C’ were third with 16 points.

Like Hebden Bridge ‘B’ the Hebden teams in League 2 also struggled to raise full line ups from time to time as the club’s membership of active league participants dwindled. Certainly the ‘C’ team were not contenders for promotion as they have been in previous years. In the end Hebden ‘C’ were fifth with 9 points and Hebden ‘D’ finished bottom with 2 points. But what a glorious 2 points they were!

Surely the outstanding team performance anywhere in Calderdale (perhaps even anywhere in Yorkshire) in 2014 has to be our ‘D’ team’s mind-blowing win over the eventual champions Belgrave. It happened at the Trades Club on February the 17th as Danny Crampton’s ‘development’ squad took on an unbeaten Belgrave line up that out-rated most of their Hebden ‘D’ adversaries by 80 points or more.

February: Dickinson vs. Corbett — Calderdale League 2. After 22.Rxg7 by White ... Qxb3 looks like a very strong response for Black. It didn't turn out well in the game. Why not? Solution in the viewer below

February: Dickinson vs. Corbett — Calderdale League 2. After 22.Rxg7 by White … Qxb3 looks like a very strong response for Black. It didn’t turn out well in the game. Why not? Solution in the viewer below

From the off the ‘D’ team put up spirited resistance but none of the players or spectators expected anything other than a comprehensive win for the visitors. However, it didn’t work out that way as Captain Crampton on board 1, Karl Dickinson on board 2 and Dylan Leggett on board 4 all beat seasoned campaigners rated far, far above them as the ‘D’ took a famous match 3 – 2 and condemned Belgrave to their only defeat of the season.

Check this out for a score card. The ratings of each player at the time the match was played are given in brackets.

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Belgrave
D.Crampton (63) 1 – 0 G.Farrar (148)
K.Dickinson (40)  1 – 0 M.E.Corbett (144)
P.Dearden (52) 0 – 1 M.J.Barnett (126)
D.Leggett (29) 1 – 0 A.A.Gonzalez (137)
M.Leggett (91) 0 – 1 L.Johnson (133)
3 – 2

From an individuals perspective, the Hebden teams in League 2 all had a very tough season. Only John Kerrane and Neil Bamford could manage 50% for the ‘C’ team which was symptomatic of their travails and none of the ‘D’ team managed 50% even though those three musketeers from that match in February all grew their year-end ratings as a result of their deeds!

Calderdale Individual Championship

February: Ursal vs. Burke — Calderdale Individual R4. Black's just played 45… Rg8 and White, in time trouble, missed his chance to win the game. How should he have proceeded?

February: Ursal vs. Burke — Calderdale Individual R4. Black’s just played 45… Rg8 and White, in time trouble, missed his chance to win the game. How should he have proceeded?

Hebden Bridge’s Matthew Parsons retained his Calderdale Individual title in March as, after drawing in the first round with Martin Syrett in November, he beat his ‘A’ team colleagues Messrs Leatherbarrow, Shapland, Leonard and Sykes to lift the trophy ahead of a strong field that included Todmorden’s Pete Mulleady, Halifax’s Darwin Ursal (who finished second on 4 points) and Huddersfield’s Mitchell Burke. All in all the tournament was a little bit disappointing as a spectacle mainly due to the vast majority of entries coming from Hebden Bridge players. This tended to lend the competition the air of a club championship plus some special guests rather than a highly competitive tournament comprising the best players from across Calderdale duking it out for the area’s premium individual title.

Nevertheless there were some memorable highlights aside from Matthew’s impressive form. In the first round John Kerrane played extremely well against the top seed, Mitchell Burke and actually missed a mate in one that would have given him one of the best wins of his life. Breathing a huge sigh of relief Mitchell scraped through to win that game in the end. In February’s fourth round the Huddersfield board 1 was once again involved in the game of the night as he faced former champion Darwin Ursal with the Black pieces. Knowing that he needed to win to stay in touch with Matthew, Darwin threw the kitchen sink at his rival in a very sharp King’s Indian Defence and both players got into desperate time trouble as they strove to navigate their way through the complexities of the position. Eventually they agreed to a draw with only moments left on their clocks and a crowd of kibitzers straining to see what was happening at the board.

March: Shapland vs Leatherbarrow - Calderdale Individual Championship R5. It's White to move. The position is a mess and there are weaknesses everywhere on both sides. Black has just played 20...g5. What's White's best approach here?

March: Shapland vs Leatherbarrow – Calderdale Individual Championship R5. It’s White to move. The position is a mess and there are weaknesses everywhere on both sides. Black has just played 20…g5. What’s White’s best approach here?

When the final round took place in March the tournament leader dispatched the last of his ‘A’ team colleagues (in the form of Nick Sykes) to retain his title. However, this was far from a smooth victory as Nick got a perfectly playable game from the opening and Matthew felt compelled to venture a risky exchange sacrifice to unbalance the position in search of the victory he needed to guarantee first place. It looked like Nick would at least hang on for a draw in the endgame but Matthew set up a cunning mating net and Nick stumbled into it.

Meanwhile, further down the board order Dave Shapland and Andy Leatherbarrow were engaged in a game that showed all the hallmarks of two participants who no longer had anything to play for in the competition. They contrived to create a game of huge complexity with sacrifices offered and declined and the tension almost unbearable. Eventually Dave ran out the winner and this result gave him a share of third place alongside Nick Sykes and Martin Syrett on 3½/5 behind Matthew and Darwin.

Calderdale Team Lightning

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ made some amends for losing their League 1 title by powering to victory in the  Team Lightning competition which took place at the Belgrave Social Club in May. Although only six teams were entered Hebden still faced formidable opposition in the form of the reigning champions Huddersfield who had wheeled out a ferocious line up to defend the trophy. The crunch match up came as early as round 2 when Hebden ‘A’ faced the holders and, despite being out-rated on every board, they scored a tremendous 4 – 1 victory. This paved the way to their success as they scored 22½/25 with Huddersfield finishing a distant four points behind. The Hebden Bridge line up of Matthew Parsons, Andy Bak, Pete Leonard, Dave Shapland and Nick Sykes also collected four of the five individual board prizes and Hebden Bridge ‘B’s Karl Dickinson won the junior prize.

May: Matthew Parsons of Hebden Bridge 'A' (left) and Nigel Hepworth playing for Belgrave (right) battle out in the final round of the Team Lightning competition

May: Matthew Parsons of Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (left) and Nigel Hepworth playing for Belgrave (right) battle out in the final round of the Team Lightning competition

Yorkshire League

A number of Hebden Bridge players represented Calderdale ‘B’ in Yorkshire League Division 2. After a very promising start to the season with three consecutive victories the team ran out of steam and were only sure of safety from ignominious relegation when they rallied to two more wins in March. They finished 8th out of 12 with five wins and six defeats. Not a bad return in the end.

One of Calderdale ‘B’s best performers (scoring 6/7 at 86%) was Hebden’s John Allan. He only played a handful of evening league matches as he much prefers to play his chess in the daytime. On this evidence one can understand why. Hopefully he’ll continue to be available and successful for the side this year.

Andy Leatherbarrow was often wheeled out on the higher boards against very strong opposition and so his record of seven draws and three defeats was by no means a poor one. Martin Syrett also featured frequently though he had less success here than he did in the evening leagues and Calderdale Individual.

There were no Hebden players in the Calderdale ‘A’ team this season but they distinguished themselves once again in League Division 1 by finishing with a 50% record and in 6th place out of 12.

In the game viewer below you’ll find the complete games featured in the positions above (some with commentary) so you can see how you got on with the puzzles. I’ll be posting the second half of this article early in the new year when I’ll be focusing on the second half of 2014. Until then I’d like to wish all our members and readers a very happy new year!


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Jul 162013
This year's AGM will take place at the White Lion on Monday the 22nd of July

This year’s AGM will take place at the White Lion on Monday the 22nd of July

The Hebden Bridge Chess Club Annual General Meeting will take place next Monday the 22nd of July. Please note that the meeting will NOT take place at the Trades Club on Holme Street but at the White Lion Hotel on Bridge Gate.

All members are encouraged to come along and take part. This is an important event and gives you the chance to have your say in how the club is run. After the AGM is finished there will be an opportunity to play some chess!

The Agenda for the meeting is as follows:

  1. Minutes of the A.G.M. 2012 (view last year’s minutes)
  2. Matters arising
  3. Reports:
    – Secretary
    – Treasurer
    – A Team
    – B Team
    – C Team
    – D Team
    – Junior Section
  4. Teams and Election of officers
  5. Website
  6. Recruitment
  7. Venue and Subscriptions
  8. Any other business


Jun 192013
'Performance review time again' by jmlawlor. Need I say more? Time to step into the manager's office and find out what he thinks of you! This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from jmlawlor's Flickr photostream

‘Performance review time again’ by jmlawlor. Need I say more? Time to step into the manager’s office and find out what he thinks of you! This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from jmlawlor’s Flickr photostream

At the end of the season it has become customary for this website to review and analyse the performance of Hebden Bridge’s teams and their players. In fact, this year, I’ve been asked by several players ‘when’ the review will be published. Well, dear readers, you need wait no longer. Today I’m publishing the first part of the review and I’ll be starting with a player review for League 1

Sadly there was only one Hebden Bridge team in the top division this year owing to Hebden Bridge ‘B’s relegation last season. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were the champions in 2011-12 but as we began our title defence it must be said that our expectations were not high. There were two reasons for this. First of all our team felt like it was a little bit weaker without the scintillating Darwin Ursal who, along primarily with Matthew Parsons, had carried the team to the title the previous year. Darwin’s ‘season-long-loan’ from Halifax came to an end as Halifax ‘A returned to the top flight.

The second reason for our pessimism was that the other main contenders for the title appeared to have become even stronger. Todmorden ‘A’ had almost pipped us in 2011/12 and had the same super strong top order this time round. Huddersfield ‘A’ had their usual strong line up and deep reserves to call upon. Courier had bolstered their lower order and now the returning Halifax ‘A’ looked very menacing with two 180’s on their top two boards.

Of course, we all know that the outcome at the end of the season was a title-retaining triumph for Hebden Bridge. Not only that but they won by three points. Despite losing the services of Matthew Webb less than half-way through the season it was comfortable. How could this be? The answer, I think is in this scoreline — 3-2! Put simply, after an early upset at the hands of Huddersfield we managed to keep winning matches by the narrowest possible margin. In every fixture someone pulled a result out of the bag when it mattered and, unlike last season, everyone in the team played a part somewhere along the line. This season was the proof that fielding a consistent, determined and focused side capable of scoring heavily on the lower boards and holding their own on the top boards is the key to winning the title. When our rivals faltered, we took full advantage.

Here then are my player reviews for Hebden Bridge ‘A’s team of conquering heroes. The statistics below only represent results from League 1. They don’t include any League 2 games or any of the Calderdale Individual Championship games played

2012-13 player review Matthew Parsons

Last season Matthew performed excellently and possibly did not receive the credit he deserved for his contribution simply because Darwin did even better. This season there is no doubt that he stepped up to the task of leading the side from board 1. Facing the league’s ‘big beasts’ he did himself great credit and can most certainly now be named amongst their number! He backed this up further by winning the Calderdale Individual Championship comfortably with a score of 4½/5.

In the league he scored 9/14 (64%), losing just twice and winning 6 times. He also clinched a few absolutely critical games when the team needed a result. None were more so than the game I’ve given at the foot of this post as his best of the season, when he stared down Halifax ‘A’s Bill Somerset to help his side win a championship deciding encounter by a score of… 3-2.

2012-13 player review Pete LeonardPete’s second season playing for the ‘A’ team saw him playing slightly less frequently (10 games to last season’s 13) but making an incremental improvement on his performance with 5½/10 (55%) to last season’s 50%. Last year he had a dreadful run towards the end of the season but this time round he was consistent throughout the year having moved up to play on boards 2 and 3 rather than 3 and 4 as he had last year. Pete also won some match-deciding encounters. The most important of these was his stylish win against Dave Firth of Huddersfield in Hebden’s first win over their nemesis in a VERY long time. Of course the final score was 2-3!

Despite the critical nature of that victory I have not chosen this as Pete’s best game, an indication of a surfeit of good material! Instead I’d consider his very attractive win over Dave Sugden in round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship to be his finest. Witness the instinctive sacrifice and entertaining king hunt that ensues. Simply one of the best games of the season!

2012-13 player review Dave Shapland
Dave had every reason to be disappointed with his personal contribution to the team’s victory last season. Like Pete, he had a terrible run of form at the end of the year that could have cost his side the title. This year solidity was his top priority and he certainly achieved that with no less than seven (!) draws from thirteen games, more than any other player in the side and certainly not a statistic you’d expect from such an uncompromising player. Dave was particularly solid with the Black pieces. He didn’t lose in League 1 with Black although his form with White was poor and cost him rating points overall.

Many of Dave’s best results were draws. He drew twice with Todmorden’s Andrew Clarkson (and twice more in the team knockout!) and had comfortable draws with Huddersfield’s Dave Tooley and Courier’s Robert Clegg to help his side win the matches in question. He did also score a couple of critical wins including the game I’ve given in the viewer below. A sharp and complicated win against Brighouse’s Bruce Bendall in a match that Hebden eventually won… 2-3.

2012-13 player review Nick Sykes
The ‘Syko’ was as determined and belligerent as ever this season. He made a major contribution to his team’s success last season with a score of 65% on board 5. This season he was equally effective. That he ended the season on 62% merely reflects his promotion up the board order towards the end of the year when other members of the team were unavailable and his own good form merited a crack at the big boys. His only defeats were both on board two to Darwin and Courier’s Dave Patrick. Although he gained few rating points in the league his excellent performance in the Calderdale Individual Championship, where he finished in joint 2nd-4th place with 4 points, bolstered his grade at the end of the season to 155 and he beat team mates Shapland and Leonard in that competition.

Nick’s solid and positional style means that many of his wins require him to invest a lot of time at the board to squeeze victory from theoretically advantageous positions. I’ve picked his win against Mike Huett of Todmorden ‘B’ for his best game because I think it best demonstrates Nick’s style across all areas of the game. He is knowledgable and flexible in the opening from which he rarely emerges at a disadvantage. His middle game his solid and shows a good positional sense and his endgame technique is robust and dependable. Mike can be a dangerous player to face but Nick is never in peril in the game below. Instead he slowly applies pressure until his opponent’s resistance breaks.

2012-13 player review Matty Webb
Having debuted with two wins from two games last season, Matty was earmarked as the long-term replacement for Darwin on board 1 or 2. Unfortunately not everything went to plan. After an early loss to Huddersfield’s Mitchell Burke in the first match of the year, Matty then started a new job which effected his availability to play in Calderdale as well his ability to give the levels of energy at the board that he would have liked. He did score two wins from his five games but he wasn’t happy with this return and chose to stand aside to focus on his work commitments. At the time this felt like a major set back but In the end his decision probably allowed the team to go on to achieve their best results. Of course we wish Matty well with his endeavours and hope that one day he might come back to play the game competitively.

For his best game I’ve picked this typically smooth win over Todmorden ‘B’s Alastair Wright who has a superb record with the White pieces but was here swept aside quite comfortably by Matty.

2012-13 player review Andy Leatherbarrow
Having been a fringe player in 2011/12, Andy stepped into the space left by Matty and was immediately very effective. He won four and drew two of his eight games only dropping his losses later on in the season including in the last match of the year when the match outcome was irrelevant. The fact that his rating for league 1 fixtures is showing a deficit is primarily down to the level of opposition he was facing. Even a draw can cost you dearly on board 5 if you have a aspirations to increase your grade over the season. Fortunately, Andy’s excellent performance in league 2 and in the Yorkshire League meant that his end of year grade increased on last year’s appreciably.

Andy was another player who performed very strongly in the Calderdale Individual Championship and he effectively ended the chances of top seed Mitchell Burke by beating him with Black as early as round 2. That game is given at the end of this post and shows Andy’s expert handling of the Scandinavian Defence, one of his favourite opening lines. Mitchell doesn’t cause him enough problems in the opening, loses concentration for a moment and is dispatched in fine style by Andy who is rated more than 30 points lower than him.

Enjoy some the entertaining games below. Next time we’ll review the performance of some of the players in league 2.

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Aug 042012

Today I’ll be drawing our end of season review to a close by posting individual player statistics for last season. I’ll begin in this post by looking at the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams’ most utilised players and will publish a post covering the ‘C’ and ‘D’ teams next week.

First of all, a few notes on the player statistics below. I have only examined league games played by the individuals in question. Yorkshire League matches, matches in other leagues, congresses and the Calderdale Individual Championships have not been included because the aim of the exercise is to show how a player has performed for the club over the last 12 months. An indication as to the player’s year round performance can be gleaned from the change in their end of season rating from last year to this which I have included. I’ve also included a file of ‘best games’ for each of the players below and some of these do include stand out examples from the Calderdale Individual Championships.

Matthew’s performance for his team this season was absolutely outstanding. In nine games he was unbeaten and he won two thirds of those contests. He spent the entire season battling it out with the toughest opposition in the league and he performed superbly. As always his opening repertoire was the foundation for his success because he is so difficult to catch off guard in this phase of the game. His favoured opening systems (the London System with White and the Sniper with Black) are also pretty much impossible to avoid and so his preparation always finds an expression over the board. What all this means is that he is virtually never playing at a disadvantage in the middle game and that is where his he usually finds a way to out play his opponents.

For his best game I’ve selected his critical last round win with Black against Courier’s Dave Patrick. It’s a typical example of how he utilises the flexibility of the Sniper System to great effect. Matt has a wonderful feel for this opening and he scored very heavily with it last year (four wins and one draw). Matthew will be a critical factor in Hebden Bridge ‘A’s attempt to hang on to the league title in the forth coming season.

It’s hard to come up with anything new to say about “Draw Win” because it feels like it’s all been said before. Last season he was simply unstoppable. He was unbeaten in both the League and in the Individual Competitions (hence the nickname) and his percentages outstripped even Matthews. As well as bagging the League title with Hebden he also won the Calderdale Individual Championship and the Individual Knockout competition.

Perhaps the most important aspect of his game from the perspective of the team was his ability to conjure up results when positions seemed sterile and/or when our backs were against the wall.  Despite getting into difficulties out of the opening on several occasions he always managed to wriggle out of trouble in the middle game and often upgraded level positions to victories simply by putting his opponents under acute pressure.

There were many candidates for best game but the one that left the most indelible mark for me was his win with Black against Robert Broadbent of Brighouse. Darwin was the last board to finish, the match was tied, he was short of time and the position was complex. Never the less he always seemed to be in total control of the situation and got the result the team needed. This contribution was repeated again and again over the course of the season. Darwin’s return to Halifax for next season is their gain and Hebden’s loss.

Not a vintage year from a personal perspective. A percentage score of less than 50% was the lowest in the team but Dave was an ever present in the side and took his satisfaction from selecting and organising the Championship winning side as Captain. In the previous season Dave was unbeaten with the Black pieces despite playing some very challenging opponents on board 1 and 2 with the ‘B’ team. This season his Black score was much less impressive and although his repertoire held up well in the opening he made too many errors in the middle game. Perhaps this was a lack of concentration on his own games as he kept an eye on his team mates or perhaps it was a desire to push too hard for the full point when a draw would have been satisfactory. Whatever the reason, Dave will hope to make a better contribution over the board next season and with Darwin moving on, he’ll need to!

I’ve selected a game from the Calderdale Individual Championship for his game of the season which perhaps says all it needs to about his league form.

It’s never easy to return to competitive chess after a prolonged lay off but last year Pete did just that as he began playing for Hebden Bridge ‘C’ and scored heavily. This season was always going to be a much tougher challenge and he generally acquitted himself very well and demonstrated that he is now operating at the right level for his abilities. For any returning player the opening phase of the game is usually the hardest to reinvigorate as assessments of favourite opening systems may have changed during one’s absence. It appeared to me that this was sometimes the case for Pete as usually when he got into difficulties it was as a result of an opening inaccuracy of a technical nature rather than a dreadful tactical blunder.

Pete would be the first to admit that he is a ‘grinder’ and likes to stay in control of his games of chess. His best efforts then are generally positional in nature. I’ve therefore selected a game that I would imagine would be his own favourite which was his round three victory in the Calderdale Individual Championship against the incumbent champion John Morgan. Pete went on to score an excellent 4 out of 5 in the competition and finished second behind Darwin.

All in all a good year for Pete that he’ll look to build on further next season.

Playing the lower boards in a side that is challenging for the title can be a thankless task. Often you will find yourself playing lower rated players than yourself and will be expected to extract the full point more often than not. This duty requires will power, determination and the ability to forget quickly about any occasional mishaps and bounce back immediately. Nick ‘Syko’ Sykes demonstrated all these worthy attributes in spades this season. With only two defeats from thirteen and an undefeated record at home he was critical to the team’s success. His games are often long slogs and I was particularly impressed with his record of closing out games with wins or draws when he was the last to finish and we needed a result

I’ve picked one such example of his determination for his best game in the viewer below. He had been disappointed to only draw when in time trouble in our previous match and when his game with Paul Whitehouse looked to all the kibitzers like it was headed for a draw he simply didn’t agree with the assessment and saw victory home in a highly technical end game. It may not be the most interesting game he played this year but it perfectly sums up his contribution. We’ll need more of the same next season.

When it appeared that Matthew Parsons might have to miss much or all of the season due to work commitments our search for an interim board one took us to Matty’s door. Although in the end he only turned out twice he did exactly what was required of him and his win over Peter Mulleady in our home match against Todmorden ‘A’ was a critical to securing a signal victory. This game features in the viewer below and I was hugely impressed with the way he controlled the game out of the opening and into the middle game as he maintained a modest advantage which he converted by never letting his opponent off the hook. We hope he’ll be available more frequently next season.

Now lets take a look at the ‘B’ team.

Poor old Andy was in the hot seat this season. Top board for a ‘B’ team playing in Division 1 is the toughest assignment of them all. He was out graded in pretty much every match he played in. I know from personal experience that you can play your best chess every week and still end up losing a lot. Andy seemed to revel in the challenge and was at his obstinate best all year round. A 46% return for a player graded 140 at the start of last season was a great achievement and he actually managed 50% with the Black pieces. I should mention that he represented the ‘A’ team on board five once last year and won that game which is included in the stats given here.

Andy has developed a winning habit against Courier’s top board, John Morgan. He beat him last season and he beat him with the Black pieces this season in the game given at the end of this article

The ‘B’ team Captain can always be relied upon to maintain a cheerful continence regardless of his side’s situation. For the last few years he has been leading a team struggling against relegation but he never complains and always does his best to help his team perform. This season, sadly, he lost the service of too many players to be able to mount the kind of challenge he would have liked. The ‘B’s lost quite a few matches by the odd point and drew a few more they could have won. Such is the way of things when your luck is out.

From a personal perspective Martin was forced to occupy a higher board than he would usually operate as a result of the absences and his percentage score reflects his struggles. By nature he tends to play aggressively and sharply and that tends to lead to a positive result one way or another and against higher rated opposition that uncompromising approach can lead to danger. However, Martin did pick up some highly creditable draws with much stronger players than himself. The game I’ve chosen for Martin is a typically combative effort dealt out to Huddersfield’s Stuart Oliver when the ‘B’ team hosted Huddersfield ‘B’.

Dave Sugden

Dave stepped up from representing the ‘C’ team on board one in the second division last season and, although he was clearly capable of operating confidently in division one, he seemed to find it challenging at times this season. Certainly he wasn’t helped by being drafted in to the high pressure environment of the ‘A’ team for four games early in the season and had to recover from a tricky run of form at about this time. In the end he did recover and re-find his confidence later in the season and his results for the ‘B’ team, 3 out of 6, was a very creditable return.

Dave’s opening repertoire his highly combustible and, although I’ve selected a drawn game for these pages don’t let that trick you into thinking that the game is uninteresting. This was a very exciting and complicated draw with a player rated considerably higher than himself.

I sometimes marvel that John is able to find time to play league chess because he organises the junior club, Captain’s the ‘C’ team and pretty much looks after all the administrative functions of the club. This season he was called upon to play rather more games than I suspect he would have liked. This was purely down to the dwindling numbers of ‘B’ team players which forced Martin Syrett to draft in John and Neil Bamford on a frequent basis.

The statistics above therefore represent John’s performance for both the ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams. His 50% score does him credit and he almost managed to Captain the ‘C’ team to promotion, pipped as they were at the post by a Halifax team that had reinforced itself drastically in the second half of the season.

In my view John’s best game of the season was his nice win against Dave Milton in a battle between the team Captains from when Hebden ‘C’ hosted Todmorden ‘B’.

Neil had an outstanding year this season emphasising his continued improvement as a player. He was a valuable asset on board 5 for the ‘B’ team and also played a big role in the ‘C’ team’s promotion challenge as he played 23 games in the season — more than any other Hebden Bridge player in the Calderdale league. He gained 9½ rating points from his league matches and the only reason that isn’t reflected in his end of season increase (of 5 points) was because he struggled to replicate his league from in the Calderdale Individual Championships.

I’ve picked out his excellent victory over club colleague Nick Sykes from the derby clash between Hebden Bridge’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams. Neil actually scored 2 points for the ‘B’s across these derby fixtures as he also beat Dave Sugden in the return clash. The game below lurches from favouring one side to the other and Nick’s opening choice contributed to a hugely entertaining game full of interest and excitement. In the end Neil won because he managed to ensure he made the next to last mistake of the game!

It was great to be able to deploy Matthew twice this season despite his departure to Cambridge University in September. He made his appearances for the ‘B’ team on top board and drew with Robert Broadbent and John Morgan, two very solid players. I given his game with John in the viewer below. Hopefully we’ll be able to make similar use of Matthew next year.

Josh is another player who struggled a little for consistency this year. On his best days he is capable of bamboozling the best players in the league but he is also prone to occasionally over extending himself against players of a lower grade than himself.  That is generally because his style his hugely ambitious. He loves complications and he takes risks to initiate them. That means his games are always interesting to watch.

This season he finished on 50% after playing games for both the ‘B’ and ‘C’ team. It may seem harsh for me to pick a game that he has lost in the viewer below but I genuinely think this game was an excellent achievement played as it was against a player graded 180 whom he very nearly beat through his wonderful feel for the initiative. Such a shame that he missed a couple of winning chances in time pressure at the end but a really nice snap shot of Josh’s capabilities. He’ll improve further next season I predict.

I’m sure that there will be plenty of club members who will want to share their own views on my reviews, opinions and game choices. Don’t hold back if you feel I’ve dealt with someone unjustly or feel that I’ve overlooked a critical factor. Leave a comment. We love debate and opinion on this website!

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Jul 232012

What's the secret recipe for success?

Prior to the beginning of this last league season, as I pondered my new duties as a team Captain, I had a hunch that there were three critical characteristics that were common to recent title winning sides in the Calderdale League. Now that the season is ended I’ve had the time to extrapolate some of the trends from the last 4 or 5 league seasons to test my theories and I think I can say that my instincts were pretty much correct. See what you think.

1.) Use a medium sized pool of players

The theory:
My feeling was that if you use too many players (say more than 10) during a season then your side loses cohesion and can lack team spirit. A Captain who has had to use a large pool suggests to me that he is struggling to put out his best team often enough to make effective and consistent use of them. Conversely a Captain who has used a small pool of players (7 or less) may become over reliant on his best players to perform and could suffer disproportionately as a result if one or two are occasionally unavailable or lose form.

The evidence:
Looking at the championship winning sides from the last four seasons’ I noticed that they used 9 (Hebden ‘A’ this season), 10, 8 and 9 players respectively. That Huddersfield ‘A’ used 16 players in their ‘A’ team this season (as opposed to 10 when they won the league last season and 9 in 2008-09) tells you all you need to know about their struggle to field a consistently strong side throughout the year.

It seems that all successful sides need a solid and strong core of players who are committed to playing in pretty much every match in the season. However, they also need a decent shortlist of reserves who can be called upon to step in when, as is inevitable from time to time, one of the regulars is unavailable.

2.) The team with the highest average rating wins

The theory:
It seems obvious that the Captain who can deploy 5 boards with the highest average rating across the season should win the league. This characteristic is closely aligned to the first one of course. It is all very well having super-strong players at your club but if they don’t play in enough matches they can’t affect the final outcome.

The evidence:
I looked at the top four sides from the last four seasons and worked out which five players they had used the most frequently during the campaign. Then I looked up their grades for that season and calculated a five player average in each case. Here are the results from the 2008/09 campaign.

1st Huddersfield ‘A’ — average rating 168
2nd Hebden Bridge ‘A’ — 153
3rd Courier ‘B’ — 150
4th Huddersfield ‘B’ — 133

Huddersfield used 9 players during the 08/09 campaign and their average rating was much stronger than everyone else’s. No surprises that they won the league then.

The sequence continues after that. In 2009/10 Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were the winners. Their 5 most frequently deployed players averaged 158. Huddersfield ‘A’, in second, averaged 156. Incidentally, Huddersfield used 17 players in that season and Hebden used 8. In 2010/11 Huddersfield ‘A’ re-took the title and averaged a rating of 164. Hebden ‘A’ were second with an average of 155.

So it’s that simple. If your 5 most frequently fielded players have the highest average rating compared to your rivals in the league you’ll win, right? Wrong! This season Hebden Bridge ‘A’ bucked the trend. Take a look at the chart below and see the top 4 teams’ average ratings from this season:

This chart shows the average rating of each of the top 4 teams in the last 4 league seasons. It also shows the average rating of those 4 teams over the season and therefore provides a guide to the strength of the top 4 from 1 year to the next

Hebden’s average was much lower than either of the two teams (just!) below them. Of course there are some mitigating factors. Our star performer, Darwin Ursal, ended the season with a much higher rating than he began and I used grades from May 2011 to do my calculations. However, even using his end of season grade our average only rises to 162. So it would appear that having the highest average grade is not necessarily a guarantee of success but it increases your odds.

3.) Draw on upper boards and win on the lower ones

The theory:
I have always reasoned that, generally speaking, the top players in the league are pretty much evenly split across the all the sides in the league. This is probably because the best players want to compete with their peers and therefore if they are in danger of being demoted down the board order in one team they will be tempted to swap to another.

The result of this even distribution of top players tends to lead to very evenly matched resources being deployed against each other on boards 1 and 2 in many matches. Any mismatches in playing strength between two sides are more likely to be found further down the board order and so, as a result, the teams with strength in depth tend to win the league and most of the points contribution comes from the lower order of their team. It stands to reason.

The evidence:
Again I tested this assumption by looking at the last five league 1 title winning sides and calculating the percentage of their board points secured on each board. I looked at the percentage of points contributed by boards 1 and 2 versus the percentage contributed by boards 3, 4 and 5. In a perfectly balanced expression of effort one would expect to see one fifth (20%) of the points scored on each board in a team. That would indicate that boards 1 and 2 should contribute 40% of all board points scored in a season and boards 3, 4 and 5 should contribute 60%. Here’s what I found:

Going back to 2007-08, 08-09 and 09-10 we can see that boards 3, 4 and 5 were contributing 64% of the title winning side’s board points. In other words they were contributing 4% more than you would expect in a perfectly balanced scenario. This scenario did occur in 2010-11 when Huddersfield ‘A’ won the title. Of course at an individual level some variance in effort did occur but when adding up 1 and 2 and 3, 4 and 5 a balanced contribution appeared. This identical set of results from 07-08 to 09-10 certainly supports my hunch that the lower boards need to contribute a higher percentage of points than the top two in order to win the title.

But then we get to this season and something remarkable happens. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ scored as many points from board 1 and 2 as they did from 3, 4 and 5! This swung the percentage contribution from these boards massively (by 14%) compared to the 09-10 results. That speaks volumes about the form of Darwin Ursal, Matthew Parsons and Matthew Webb. Indeed, Hebden only lost two games on the top two boards all season. Both were on board 2 and the culprits were Dave Shapland and Pete Leonard!

4.) Beat your closest rivals

The theory:
One final observation that seems too obvious to justify any sort of historical analysis, but was particularly important this season, is the need to take points off the other teams at the top end of the table. It seems a no brainer but this season the league’s strength in depth increased significantly (witness the average rating of the top four teams increasing from 154 in 2010/11 to 163 in 2011/12) and this meant it was much tougher than usual for the top teams to beat one another consistently.

The evidence:
Check out the mini-league table I developed below which shows how this season’s top four faired against each other.

The significant factor was that although Hebden didn’t win any more games than the other three they didn’t lose any games at all. In fact their one defeat in the season was to Belgrave who finished 5th.

Now check out the results of the top four from 2010-11.

Clearly, Huddersfield were able to dominate their closest rivals in a way that none of the top four were really able to do this year.

I suspect that, if the league continues to operate at a similar strength next season not losing to your nearest rivals will continue to be more important than winning some and losing some. I guess that requires a consistent team available and performing well.


So, what have we learned about the winning formula required for our league?

  1. The statistics do suggest that teams using between 8 and 10 players in a season are more likely to be successful than those using more than 10 or less than 8
  2. It is also evident that, whilst one would normally expect the team with the highest average rating to win the league, it won’t always be the case. Teams with a lower rating are capable of beating the odds just as in any competition or an individual game
  3. Title winning sides do generally seem to require a greater contribution of points from their lower boards than the top two boards but again, this trend can be bucked. 
  4. Beating your closest rivals is pretty much a guarantee of success if you can do it consistently but when there are several title contenders not losing may become a more essential factor

“All a bit sad!” I hear you cry. You may well be right but what do you think of these statistics? Do they reveal anything to you that I’ve missed, do you agree with my reasoning? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Jul 092012

All of last year’s team Captains will be giving their end of year reports at this week’s club AGM so it seems a fitting moment to begin our end of year retrospective. In today’s article, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ Captain, Dave Shapland kick’s off a series of posts reviewing the 2011-12 season.

Dave Shapland's 'A' team often struggled to get results but they were only beaten once

This year Calderdale League 1 served up the most enthralling title race for years (possibly ever) as the battle between the top teams in the valley ebbed and flowed from one week to the next and culminated in the tightest possible photo finish. Today I’m going to review the season and try to identify the critical moments where the battle for the title was won and lost. There were so many. First though, let me briefly remind you how our club’s two League 1 teams stood at the outset of the season…

It’s always been a firm belief of mine that the ‘A’ team represents Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s ambitions to win silverware and that therefore the objective for the team is the league title. The ‘A’ team finished second to arch rivals Huddersfield in the 2010-11 championship. This represented a good result in my view as I prepared to take the reigns from Alastair Wright as team Captain. Unfortunately, extensive personnel changes over the summer break meant that it wasn’t at all clear how well we’d challenge in this year’s competition. Out went seasoned board 1 veteran Dave Wedge and his son Matthew who had played brilliantly on board 5 in the last campaign. Out too went the captain, Alastair Wright, who sloped off to play for Todmorden ‘A’. In their place I returned as Captain (having spent the previous season in the ‘B’ team) and new arrivals Pete Leonard and Darwin Ursal also slotted in. On paper the side looked even stronger than the 2010-11 team but then, so many other teams had strengthened their line ups too. No-one really knew what to expect.

Unfortunately Martin Syrett was often unable to get his strongest team out this season

My old chums in Hebden Bridge ‘B’ appeared to be in decent health too although, as always, their ambition was simply to remain in the division at the end of the season. We’d just survived at the expense of Halifax in 2010-11. Could Martin Syrett guide them to safety once again? With Andy Leatherbarrow, Pete Olley, Martin himself, Dave Sugden and Josh Blinkhorn as the first draft selection it seemed to me that they would stand a good chance. These first 5 were all graded within a few points of each other. In reserve they had John Kerrane, Terry Sullivan, Steven Priest and Neil Bamford. Surely there was enough talent here to give them a good chance of staying up?

Rather than go through the season round by round in great detail (which would make for a very long article) I’ve tried to identify the critical moments in the season for both our League 1 sides. I have added hyperlinks into each round’s summary though so if you want to re-live the action by reading the report (or look at the games) from that round you can do it easily.

Round 1: Half full or half empty?
Todmorden ‘A’ 2½ – 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 1 — 4 Courier ‘A’
Top of the League: Brighouse and Courier ‘A’ with 2 points.

Away to serious title contenders Tod, Hebden lead with one board left to finish but Nick Sykes loses to Derek Innes and the match is drawn. The ‘B’ team appear to have a good chance on paper at home to Courier but the lower boards all capitulate to leave them bottom after round 1.

Round 2: Special Delivery from Courier
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 4½ – ½ Huddersfield ‘B’
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 1 — 4  Todmorden ‘A’
Top of the League: Brighouse and Courier ‘A’ with 4 points

Round 3: Brave ‘B’s hold their own
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 2½ – 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Top of the League: Brighouse and Courier ‘A’ with 6 points

A brilliant fighting performance by the ‘B’ team who led the match with one board to finish before Nick Sykes defeated Steven Priest to secure a nervous draw for the ‘A’s. This felt like a point lost for us at the time and it could have been critical to the final league outcome for both sides.

Round 4: Hebden and Huddersfield serve up another epic duel
Huddersfield ‘A’ 2½ – 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Hudderfield ‘B’ 2½ – 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Top of the League: Brighouse and Courier ‘A’ with 7 points

In a savage scrap at Huddersfield the ‘A’ team’s match again hangs on the outcome of the last board to finish. Darwin Ursal clings on despite being a pawn down to draw against Mitchell Burke on board 1 and the match is tied.

Meanwhile blunders on boards 3 and 5 cost the ‘B’ team a precious victory against a side they would ordinarily have expected to beat.

Round 5: Remorseless ‘A’s Grind On
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 3 — 2 Belgrave
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 2 — 3 Huddersfield ‘A’
Top of the League: Courier ‘A’ with 9 points

Yet again the last board to finish is decisive and Hebden ‘A’ survive another very close call. Again the match is level with one game to be decided but this time Pete Leonard appears to be simply lost against Mike Barnett before a blunder by the Belgrave board 3 hands a crucial victory to the home side.

Round 6: Hebden Survive Brighouse Bloodbath
Brighouse 2 — 3 Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Belgrave 4 — 1 Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Top of the League: Courier, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Todmorden with 9 points

Frantic, agonising moments for a weakened ‘A’ team as they lose on boards 2 and 5 early in the evening. Wins by Leonard and Sykes set up yet another decisive last board finish and Darwin Ursal secures the win with a brilliant victory over Robert Broadbent. Phew!

The ‘B’ team travel to the bottom side, Belgrave, knowing that they have a chance to haul themselves clear of the relegation zone but they have an unmitigated disaster losing all but Josh Blinkhorn’s board 3 in short order.

Round 7: Two Horse Race? Not Likely!
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 3 — 2 Courier ‘A’
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 2 — 3 Brighouse
Top of the League: Todmorden and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 11 points

Finally, here was a match for the ‘A’s that was wrapped up before the final board is completed as they eased to victory over the league leaders and go clear at the top with Todmorden for the first time.

The ‘B’ team miss a golden opportunity against Brighouse as they default two boards but score 2 points from the other 3, as the club struggles to field 20 players across both divisions on the same night.

Round 8: Hebden Hit the Front
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 4 — 1 Todmorden ‘A’
Courier ‘A’ 2½  —  2½ Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Top of the League: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 13 points

The return match against title rivals Todmorden was the highlight of Hebden ‘A’s season. Drafting in additional strength and exploiting a slight weakening in Tod’s line up the ‘A’s crushed the enemy with a series of emphatic victories to sweep to the top of the table on their own.

The ‘B’ team raised hopes that they might yet be able to escape relegation by drawing away to Courier in a result that did great damage to the home side’s title hopes as well.

Round 9: Captain Syrett and Crew Cut Adrift
Huddersfield ‘A’ ½ — 4½ Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Todmorden ‘A’ 4 — 1 Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Top of the League: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 15 points

Round 10: Shapland’s Men Show Rivals a Clean Pair of Heels
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 1 — 4 Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Top of the League: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 17 points

A fourth consecutive comfortable victory rounds off a purple patch for Hebden ‘A’ who pull four points clear at the top when Todmorden slump to a second defeat in three matches at Huddersfield ‘A’. This result sadly left the ‘B’ team with virtually no chance of escaping the drop as the ‘A’s extracted brutal revenge for the earlier drawn match between these two.

Round 11: Invincible Spirit of the Sole Survivors
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 2½ — 2½ Huddersfield ‘A’
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 4½ —  ½ Huddersfield ‘B’
Top of the League: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 18 points

Yet another gripping encounter with the Huddersfield nemesis. Can anyone remember the last time Hebden ‘A’ beat Huddersfield ‘A’? Huddersfield led by a point with one board to play but Darwin Ursal once again converted a positional advantage with apparent ease. This time Dave Keddie was the victim and the escapologists had done it again.

Round 12: Look Behind You
Belgrave 3 — 2 Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Huddersfield ‘A’ 4½ — ½ Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Top of the League: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 18 points

It had to happen eventually. Hebden ‘A’s run of near misses came to an end as they lost their first match of the season and their momentum in the title race at Belgrave. Again they were a point down with one game to finish and this time Nick Sykes was trying to save their bacon. He had winning chances against Les Johnson but couldn’t graft anything more than draw in time trouble.

At Huddersfield, Hebden ‘B’ got squashed and saw their relegation to division 2 confirmed.

Round 13: Nine Lives Required to Win This Year’s Title
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 3½ — 1½ Brighouse
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ 2 — 3 Belgrave
Top of the League: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 20 points

This score line at home to Brighouse flattered Hebden ‘A’ who swindled a point on board 5 and another half point on board 3 from two completely lost positions. The match could easily have been lost and with it, the title. However, Nick Sykes and Darwin Ursal helped save their bacon once again as they both scored wins.

Round 14: Close, Closer, Closest!
Courier ‘A’ 2½ — 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘A’
Brighouse 3 — 2 Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Champions: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ with 21 points (44 game points)

When the final reckoning came the ‘A’ team were once again forced to sweat as they only managed a draw against Courier ‘A’. Yet again they trailed with one game to finish and yet again Darwin Ursal saved them by squeezing out a win from nothing, against John Morgan, with Black! This result meant they had to wait and see if Todmorden ‘A’ could inflict a 5 — 0 whitewash on Huddersfield away. They almost did it but in the end it was 4 — 1.

This image seems the most fitting symbol of Hebden 'A's title winning season. It was hardwork but they got there in the end! (Image sourced from of NJ...'s Flickr photostream)

The ‘B’ team were the nearly men of the league this year having lost no fewer than four matches by a score of 3 — 2. They also drew three matches. More than ever this season small margins marked the boundary between success and failure. The ‘B’ team will be favourites for promotion next season. Let’s home we can welcome them back to the top flight very soon.

What can I say about this title winning team of whom I was proud to have been Captain for the season? Well, I think that the characteristic that was most prevalent and important in helping us to win the title was our ability to perform well under the most severe pressure. All in all we played eight out of fourteen matches in which the last board to finish was critical to the result. In seven of those we were either level pegging at 2 — 2 or we were behind. Our score in those 8 games was won 5, drew 1, lost 2. We were at our most dangerous when our backs were against the wall and that resilience proved decisive.

I’ll be looking at individual player performances in a future post which will include best games from the season for every participant.

Dec 022011

This French Knight Sheesham mahogany shess set is the fabulous prize!

It may seem a trifle early for a festive feature but I was keen to give participants as much time as possible to submit their entries and I also wanted to give our generous prize sponsors as much exposure as I could without going completely wild!

For this year’s Christmas Quiz I have selected interesting positions from 10 games played by Hebden Bridge Chess Club members during the course of 2011. All you have to do is figure out what the next move should be and provide any key variations that are required to justify the answer.

I will be drawing a winner from all the correct answers that I receive and that lucky person will receive a beautiful new wooden chess set (the one in the picture) courtesy of our Christmas Quiz sponsors www.chesssets.co.uk. This mahogany set is high quality and retails at just under £80 – so it is well worth having! The company has a broad range of sets, clocks and computers so if you are still short of a Christmas present  for a chess playing friend you could do much worse than to pay them a visit.

Now, here is the collection for you to puzzle over. The positions range from very easy to quite challenging but I reckon any club player should be able to solve most of them if they are prepared to put the time into studying them carefully. To stop the slide show simply select the game you want to look at from the drop down list below.

The viewer above is a little small for careful study so I’ve also enabled you to view the positions in pop up windows. The first 5 are here and numbers 6-10 can be viewed here. For reasons that are too dull to explain I’ve had to split them into two chunks.

Finally, for those who have Microsoft Silverlight (for those who don’t I recommend you download it – it’s free and if you follow the link you’ll be prompted to download it) you can follow this link to the Chessbase Viewer which will let you download the positions so you can set them up at home and work out the variations.

Happy solving!

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.