May 242013

Moliere wasn’t known to be a chess player but his famous quote is most apposite

“Unreasonable haste is the direct route to error”
– Moliere

This quote has appeared on this website before as an introduction to a post on zeintot or time trouble. Call it what you will. The point is that it’s impossible to play high quality chess when you have very little time to think, analyse and make fine judgements. While this may be true it must be said that poor quality chess can be a great deal of fun!

Last Monday night the chess players of Calderdale arrived at the Belgrave Social Club in Halifax for the traditional season ending event  — the Team Lightning Tournament. It’s a simple format. Teams of 5 players just like in the league; a buzzer that sounds every 10 seconds and compels the next player to move; the ability to capture the king and end the game if a check goes unnoticed. The tournament winners are decided on game points rather than match points and so every single game can make a difference towards the outcome. This frantic format nearly always throws up some amusing and unusual incidents and often it is more advisable to opt for sensible ‘no-frills’ moves over complicated tactical play. Here are a couple of examples from my own games on Monday.

Black to play. Hepworth vs. Shapland, Round 3

Black to play. Hepworth vs. Shapland, Round 3

White to play. Shapland vs. Nicholson, Round 5
White to play. Shapland vs. Nicholson, Round 5

In the first one Black is clear better materially but because his last remaining pawn is due to queen on a white square and is on the edge of the board it isn’t at all straight forward to see how to convert. Even at a classical time limit I think I’d be hard pushed to figure out the method. See if you can do any better. The correct way is given in the game viewer at the end of this post. As it was I’m afraid I had a total melt-down and even managed to lose from this overwhelming position by failing to move my king out of a check! Oh dear!

The second example illustrates a different point. White is clearly much better and it seems that there should be some tactical route to checkmate. I played instinctively (always a risky thing to do!) and everything turned out well in the end . However, I’d overlooked the most straightforward way to finish the game. Can you spot it in 10 seconds? No? Take a little longer and try and figure out White’s best move. The answer is in the viewer at the end of the post.

Ok, so now to the action. Eight teams entered the competition this year which was very ably organised by Bruce Bendall of Brighouse chess club. The strongest contenders at the outset looked like league champions Hebden Bridge ‘A’, runners up Huddersfield, third placed Todmorden ‘A’ and fourth placed Halifax ‘A’. Brighouse also entered a team and Hebden, Halifax and Todmorden entered second teams to make up the eight entries.

For Hebden Bridge ‘A’ the critical round was round 3 of the 5 played when they came up against a strong Huddersfield side. Hebden had already beaten a weakened Halifax ‘A’ squad who were without Bill Somerset but still fielded Darwin Ursal on board 1. There didn’t seem to be any reason why Hebden couldn’t do well against their old nemesis but as it turned out they had a complete aberration. Nick Sykes won quickly against Richard Boylan on board 3 but the rest of the side lost and the 4 — 1 defeat put them out of the running. They went on to lose in the next round as well. This time it was Todmorden ‘A’ who beat them by a more slender margin 3 — 2.

After 4 rounds then the two Hebden sides actually had the same number of game points and there was a chance they could have been drawn against each other. It didn’t happen. The ‘B’ team were drawn against Todmorden ‘A’ who beat them 3 — 2 and the ‘A’ team swept Halifax ‘B’ aside 4 — 1.

At the end of the evening it was Huddersfield who were victorious, scoring a magnificent 20½ out of 25! Todmorden ‘A’ pipped Hebden ‘A’ to second place by half a point and Brighouse did very well to finish a further point behind.
Final stands looked like this:

1st: Huddersfield — 20½
2nd: Todmorden ‘A’ — 15
3rd: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ — 14½
4th: Brighouse — 13½
5th: Hebden Bridge ‘B’ — 12½
6th: Halifax ‘A’ — 10½
7th: Halifax ‘B’ — 8
8th: Todmorden ‘C’ — 5½

Medals were awarded to the individuals who scored the most points on each board. The winners were:

Board 1: D.Ursal (Halifax ‘A’) — 5
Board 2: D.Tooley (Huddersfield) — 5
Board 3: N.Sykes (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) — 4
Board 4: A.Gonzalez (Brighouse) — 4½
Board 5: P.Hepworth (Huddersfield) — 5

Congratulations to Huddersfield who were tremendous on the night. Well done also to the individual winners. Special mention should go to Nick Sykes who topped off his wonderful season by going undefeated with 3 wins and 2 draws on board 3. And finally a hearty “Well played!” to Halifax’s Darwin Ursal who was perfect on board 1 and defeated very strong opposition in the form of Dave Keddie, Martin Hamer, Matthew Parsons and Robert Broadbent to achieve his result. He scored almost 50% of his team’s total score!

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