Mar 112016
The Trades Club, Holme Street, has become something of a fortress for Hebden Bridge 'A' who haven't lost in a home fixture since September 2014.

The Trades Club, Holme Street, has become something of a fortress for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ who haven’t lost in a home fixture since September 2014.

It’s been a little while since this website last reported on the Calderdale Leagues. A combination of organising the Danny Gormally simul and some holiday down time has resulted in something of a service interruption. Time to put that right. There’s certainly been no shortage of chess going on since we last reported nearly a month ago.

League 1

League 1 first, as it should be. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ have enjoyed back to back home fixtures at the Trades Club and have taken full advantage of having White on all boards to collect a couple of valuable wins. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all we must examine the sharp end of the League 1 stick.

When we left it last we billed the top of the table clash between Halifax ‘A’ and Todmorden ‘A’ as potentially season-defining. As it stood, Tod, having won the reverse fixture at home earlier in the season, were two points clear at the top of the table and had a better board count. Halifax had kept pace with the reigning champions after their defeat but really needed to overhaul them in their home fixture to have any chance of regaining the title they won in 2014.

The two met in round 8 on the 15th of February and the big guns were all present. The home side had done everything they could to field their strongest line up as their team sheet read Ursal, Somerset, Porter, Morgan and Patrick. Todmorden meanwhile were not at their absolute strongest. They had Messrs Hamer, Cook, Clarkson, Patrick and Innes in their side. This meant that, though pretty evenly matched, Halifax had a big rating advantage on the bottom board and a slight deficit on board 3. A close match was on prospect but ultimately the ratings of the two line-ups gave no clue to the outcome of the individual encounters.

First of all David Innes beat Carlos Velosa on board 5 despite giving away over twenty rating points. If this was Tod’s potential weakness then it had not been exploited. However, that was the last full point Halifax dropped as the top four boards did the business. Darwin Ursal and Richard Porter held Martin Hamer and Andrew Clarkson respectively while Bill Somerset beat Phil Cook and John Morgan beat his Courier team mate from last season, Dave Patrick. This was Dave’s first dropped point of the season. So Halifax won 3 — 2 and moved back level on points with the champions. Game on!

Whilst all this was going on Huddersfield were dispatching Halifax ‘B’ at the same venue 1½ — 3½, Belgrave were pretty much ensuring their League 1 status for another season as they beat Brighouse away 2 — 3. Finally, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ avenged themselves on Todmorden ‘B’ who had beaten them at Todmorden earlier in the season. The Tod second string have acquitted themselves nobly this season and have a line-up that can give anyone side in the league a run for their money when they are all on their game. On this occasion Hebden took full advantage of being at home and all having the White pieces and when a mix up meant the Tod had to default the bottom board Hebden had all the trump cards the needed to secure victory.

Alastair Wright made a very welcome return to Hebden Bridge chess club after a hiatus from the game. He played on board 4 and drew without any problems against Richard Bedford. On board 1 John Allan also drew against Neil Suttie. The decisive results were on boards 2 and 3. First, Pete Leonard put the match out of the visitor’s reach when he beat Mike Huett. Then, the last game to finish saw Tod’s Mick Connor play a very good game against Dave Shapland, exploiting his one opportunity to the full to avenge himself for a painful defeat in the final round of last year’s Calderdale congress.

The final scorecard was:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs Todmorden ‘B’
J.Allan ½ — ½ N.Suttie
D.Shapland 0 — 1 M.Connor
P.Leonard 1 — 0 M.Huett
A.Wright ½ — ½  R.Bedford
M.Syrett 1 — 0 DEFAULT
3 — 2

Two weeks later the League 1 teams were in action once again, but in the meantime, it appeared that Todmorden ‘A’ and Todmorden ‘B’ were supposed to have played their postponed derby fixture. For whatever reason the ‘B’ team defaulted all boards giving their colleagues a walk-over. Whilst there may well have been a perfectly legitimate reason for this it doesn’t leave a good taste in the mouth for the ‘A’ team, no top of the league only on board count, gained 5 precious board points over their rivals Halifax. There will no doubt be accusations of collusion in the event that the title race comes down to board points and it would have been better for these two sides to have contested their fixture properly.

The long and the short of it is that League 1 has seen a steep rise in defaults this season — 21 boards so far — and an unhelpful number of fixtures have been postponed and on several occasions this has been due to teams not being able to get full line-ups out which suggests more defaults have been avoided in this way. It doesn’t bode well for the future of the league that clubs are struggling to get five players out for the scheduled fixtures so regularly. We should perhaps polish our halos by noting that Hebden Bridge is the only team in League 1 not to have defaulted a single board all season!

OK, rant over… back to the action. On February 29th a further fixture was postponed in the shape of Todmorden ‘A’ against Halifax ‘B’. This gave Halifax ‘A’ the chance to go top of the league if they could beat Hebden Bridge ‘A’ away at the Trades Club. On paper it certainly looked like Halifax had a great chance. Their team lined up with Darwin Ursal on board 1 and continued with Winston Williams (making his first appearance this season), Bill Somerset, Carlos Velosa and Sam Scurfield. Hebden meanwhile had Andy Bak on board 1 and then John Allan, Pete Leonard, Nick Sykes and Alastair Wright. To have any chance of getting a positive result Hebden would need to perform strongly on the bottom two boards and hold their own on the upper boards.

In the event that was exactly what they managed to do. Darwin overcame Andy on board 1 to give Halifax the lead but both John and Pete managed to draw against their higher rated opponents to give Hebden a chance if they could win at least one of the two remaining boards. The way for a dramatic denouement had been paved. It arrived in the form of some serious zeitnot for Sam Scurfield on board 5 during which he moved his queen, realised it was en prise and moved it again. Alastair called him on it but Sam thought he had not let go of the piece. The only eye-witness was John Kerrane, who when asked, confirmed that Sam had let go of the queen. This left the Halifax player with little choice but to resign as he had no means of contesting the game without his queen.

That levelled the scores but, as a polite but slightly noisy discussion about the board 5 result continued, Nick Sykes and Carlos Velosa were still playing their game and the result of the match now hinged upon it. Fortunately for Hebden, Nick had succeeded in winning a piece early on in the middle game so it was really a case of making sure he didn’t throw away his advantage. He didn’t and converted on move 46 to give Hebden a hard but well-earned victory and putting a major dent in Halifax’s fresh hopes of league regaining the title. They will hope that Hebden can repeat their feat of daring-do when they host Todmorden ‘A’ next Monday the 14th of March. That would ignite the championship race once again.

The final match score card was:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
A.Bak 0 — 1 D.Ursal
J.Allan ½ — ½  W.Williams
P.Leonard ½ — ½  W.Somerset
N.Sykes 1 — 0 C.Velosa
A.Wright 1 — 0 S.Scurfield
3 — 2

On the same evening that this drama was unfolding, Huddersfield were quietly continuing their recent consistent run by beating Belgrave away 2 — 3 (they won the top three boards and lost the bottom two) and Tod ‘B’ were bouncing back from their recent run of bad results by defeating Brighouse 3½ — 1½ at home (Tod won on all three of the bottom boards to take the win). It’s currently unclear why Todmorden ‘A’ did not also play their home fixture against Halifax ‘B’ but this match appears to have been postponed.

So, with 4 (or 5 for half the teams in the division who still have postponed fixtures to play) to go on the season Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ have 16 points each but Tod have two more board points and a match in hand against Halifax ‘B’. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Huddersfield are both on 12 points with Hebden third thanks to an extra half board point, though Huddersfield have a game in hand to play against Tod ‘B’. In the bottom half the relegation battle already appears to be over. Belgrave have 9 points and Tod ‘B’ have 8 which probably means they are both safe because Brighouse have just 2 draws to their names and Halifax ‘B’ have only 1.

There are a number of games from the two Hebden Bridge ‘A’ fixtures in the game viewer at the end of this post.

League 2

Now on to league 2 where eight of the scheduled ten fixtures have now been played and the title and promotion race is therefore in its final stages. The last round of fixtures was played on 22nd of February and saw a tough night for the juniors in the Hebden Bridge ‘C’ team who went down after a hard fight with their ‘basement buddies’ Halifax ’D’. John Kerrane reports:

All five junior players made a good start, and half an hour into the game, the seemed to be doing well on three out of five boards. However, gradually, blunders and errors of judgement took their toll, and once the final game, a tough struggle between Toby Dodd for Hebden and Michael Tait for Halifax, finished in a win for Tait, the visitors went home with a 0 — 5 win.

The individual scores were:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs Halifax ‘D’
O.Buchan 0 — 1 J.Nuttall
L.Curry 0 — 1 J.Nicholson
T.Dodd 0 — 1 M.J.Tait
M.Leggett 0 — 1 M.Long
G.Hughes 0 — 1 D.Rivron
0 — 5

This results condemns the Hebden ‘C’ outfit to the bottom of the table. Their results have not really been a reflection of the improvement this current crop of juniors are showing. If they keep at it then it won’t be long before the results start coming for them. Halifax ‘D’ meanwhile move onto 5 points and have now leapfrogged Courier into 6th place on board. count.

Elsewhere Courier lost narrowly to the top team Halifax ‘C’ while the Hebden Bridge ‘B’ team had a minor malfunction away at Todmorden ‘C’ as they lost 3 — 2. They have now lost contact with Halifax ‘C’ who would need to lose both their remaining fixtures and see Hebden win both of theirs for there to be any chance of Hebden winning the league.

Individual scores were:

Todmorden ‘C’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Milton ½ — ½  A.Leatherbarrow
P.Logan 0 — 1 M.Syrett
T.Webster ½ — ½  N.Bamford
B.Joyce 1 — 0 D.Crampton
I.Knagg 1 — 0 F.Exall
3 — 2

On Monday both leagues return to action as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ host current champions Todmorden ‘A’ (this match will be played at the White Lion Hotel on Bridge Gate as the Trades Club is unavailable), Hebden Bridge ‘B’ travel to Halifax ‘C’ in a match they must win to keep any hopes of winning the league alive, and finally Hebden Bridge ‘C’ host Todmorden ‘C’.

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  11 Responses to “Holme Rule”

  1. On Pete’s game against Bill,

    I really enjoy reading Pete’s notes on his closed Sicilian games. You can really see genuine improvement in Pete’s understanding of these positions from game to game. I recall when i played this system myself and was going through similar development.

    I’m also impressed by Pete’s defence in this game. A couple of casual glances i had of this game seemed to indicate that black was almost winning, however perhaps this is a good example of how a quick visual scan can be so misleading.

    On Daves game against Michael,

    If this is a line of theory then it seems to me that black must have his pluses in the position 14 moves in. Indeed whilst i understand daves note on move 15, i’m not sure that i agree over whites prospects.

    I recall that Nick said to me that night around here that he felt white was much better but i dont think its that clear. Blacks knight on b6 is’t great but it can easily reroute to c5 or f6. Blacks bishops pair control of lot of squares and give long term ideas against whites queen side pawn chain. White can place knights on d4/e6 but im not really sure what that gains for white in the position. I feel that black should try to play a5/4 and try to undermine on the queenside. Perhaps white should try to attack on the e file.

    I think the position is balanced with chances for both sides.

    On Nick’s game against Carlos,

    Whilst i disagree with Nick over his assessment of this opening for black, in that i dont think its that bad, i do agree that black has to really know what he’s doing to play it, and is always one average move away from a really bad position, and that is what happened here.

  2. Great post again Dave 🙂

    On the 5-0 default between Todmorden teams – there is a lot to be said about it. A claim was made that the venue was not available on the day, but it was found not to be true.

    A second statement came through saying that the B team was struggling to fill all boards and “it would just not be fair to default the match”, hence why it was postponed to a later date. Upon Tod A’s defeat against Halifax A, a decision was made to default anyway, giving the much needed +5 board gain (now that there was a possibility that the title could be decided on board count). Note that the also postponed match between Tod B and Huddersfield (from November) is still due to be played, which makes you wonder further. To date, Tod B had only defaulted on board 5 on 3 separate occasions. All of a sudden, they couldn’t put a team together. One big conspiracy theory one may say, but where there is smoke, there is usually a fire.

    Another curious observation, B1 for Tod A was in Gibraltar on January 25th so he could have not been available to play in the Calderdale league that evening. Still managed to make an appearance on the score Tod A vs Tod B scorecard. Just another little wood chip in the fire 🙂

    I am not happy about all of this. Far from it, but it seems like “no one broke any rules” so I have been told that nothing can or will be done about it. II foresee a rule change of some sort in order to prevent this from happening again.

    As it happens, the board count will now not make any difference in the end (I doubt that Tod A will lose any of the remaining fixtures), so focus has been somewhat shifted to the next season.

    Now enough with the rant 🙂

    With regards to my loss against D. Innes – I was actually winning the match, but to my despair, managed to take my eyes off the clock and ended up making my 36th move 2 seconds too late! Fair to say I was raging in anger as the match was critical to our title hopes. We won anyway, but my board loss meant +2 board gain for Tod A.

    Regarding my game against Nick – well done for doing your homework. I remember getting in trouble against you in the previous season hence why I was thinking of using a different opening with black. My c5 move was way too bad. It all went downhill from there. I still think Owen’s defence is good 🙂 I look forward to our next match. Might throw you a left hook type of move then

  3. Interesting thoughts Carlos,

    Remembering what happened when I suggested the league had become ‘pointless’ on this site a couple of years ago, I wonder if Carlos’ post above will have any reaction from fellow readers, leading to a huge thread again.

    More likely, there will be no comments at all.

  4. Carlos, there is smoke coming out your arse on this one mate … I have never thrown a match and I have captained for decades in Calderdale and,for more than one club … am happy to answer your scurrilous accusations in front of the League AGM if you wish to pursue matters ?

    • Mike – persuing matters at the AGM would be a pointless exercise. I did not accuse you personally for throwing a match.

      I am not alone in my thoughts and others outside the Halifax team also found the default all too convenient, especially when taking into account a number of factors such as the A team needing a high board score and the fact that another postponed match (against Huddersfield from November) is still due to be played. There is also the fact that there were and are other dates available before the end of the season, so any could have been used to play the match in question.

      I could throw the toys out of the pram but that would not achieve anything. I will just put a wet blanket over this matter and smile with a clench of teeth.

      • Sounds like you are making accusations against me personally … as I was the captain concerned .I was unable to field a team.And this was the second time we were unable to play the match.If you dare make accusations against me then either follow it through or shut up !

  5. Ok,as my comment has been pulled I will make a comment that does not involve swearing but conveys my feelings.I believe Carlos has inpugned my reputation and,my honesty.I am of the opinion it is possibly libelous.It would have been sensible to approach me and ask what happened instead of that Carlos has publicly made statements that are both insulting to me personally and,without foundation.The simple fact of the matter is that I was not able to raise a team and I informed the opposing captain with only 24 hours notice.I think the rule is in such a situation that that cost me the match.As I said before this was the 2nd attempt to play the match.Should my team be given additional rights ? If I had cancelled with such short notice against any other team in the league the outcome I am confident would have been no different.
    For the reasons set out above I feel rather maligned.

  6. Has Carlos ever heard the phrase “pots and kettles” ? What hypocracy to accuse Todmorden
    of gamesmanship,when his team use such tactics on a regular basis.Yet again in the key match
    vs Tod A,the Halifax team changed there board order at the last moment,to pick and choose John Morgan should not be playing Dave Patrick,because he is higher graded than
    players on higher boards! Exactly the same thing happened in the Courier fixtures last season.
    Good luck to Todmorden.They will win the league fair and square.
    Rob Clegg (neutral/Huddersfield).

  7. I am uncomfortable with this sort of talk. I don’t think it should be taken too seriously. There is no prize money at stake!

    Let’ draw a line under this and talk about the games!

  8. It seems Mr Milton’s influence now spreads as far as Huddersfield!!! :o)

  9. Nuff said.

    Now everyone go away and get some perspective on life. Carlos, stop winding people up! Haha!

    Thank you,

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