Nov 142010

Winter is well and truly here folks. The nights are dark, the weather is wet and cold and the long nights of stress and trauma at the chess board beckon beguilingly! Of course the herald of winter’s arrival is the end of British Summer time. However, this year some strange regional variations of the usual wind back seem to have occurred. For example, whilst the rest of Calderdale were busy putting their clocks back by an hour a couple of weeks ago, the chess players at Huddersfield Chess Club seem to have been busy turning their clocks back two years!

I say this because when Huddersfield arrived at the Trades Club to play our ‘A’ team a couple of weeks ago they seemed to have brought with them the kind of form they last produced when they were the unrivalled “big beasts” of Division 1 in the 2008-09 season. Last season Hebden Bridge toppled them from their thrown, less by their own efforts than by Huddersfield’s own failings it must be said, but nevertheless, our ‘A’ team were the only unbeaten team in the Division last season and that was good enough for the title.

It is hard for me not to feel partly responsible for the ‘A’ team’s painful demise for after they had blown away our ‘B’ team in the derby match a few weeks earlier I believe I may have hexed them by predicting that they would be at least two points, and possibly four points, ahead by Christmas. How I have jinxed them with my vanity!

Anyway, painful though it may be, let us gaze upon the wreckage of the defeat for amongst the smouldering ruins there were some treasures that had been left undamaged. First and foremost of these was Matthew Parsons superb demolition of Dave Firth on board two. Matthew describes it in his own words below.

“I beat Dave Firth in 19 moves. I would like to feel it was absolute genius on my part, but although neither myself nor my opponent, (nor Leo Keely who analysed it with us afterwards) could find a defence for Black in the final position, I imagine the computer will find something earlier. However, as I always try to tell people who are scared of how I played in this game, and wont play like that themselves, practical defence over the board is bloody hard, and we are not Fritz. Nor anywhere close to it.”

Matthew makes an excellent point. Often, even the best players in the league can’t find the correct method of defence when positions become terribly complicated. Ultimately, playing the kind of attack Matthew plays below comes down to whether or not you are confident enough to follow your instincts. Sometimes even when you can’t see the checkmate you can smell it!

Probably the best game I’ve seen this season that one. As I analysed it with Fritz even the computer took quite some time to reach a solid assessment of the position after 14…d6 so that indicates how deep the complications ran.

The other plus points of the match were Alastair Wright and Pete Olley’s draws on board 3 and 4. Whilst Alastair maintained his own unbeaten start to the season against the resolute defence of Richard Boylan, Pete scored for the first time in a game full of complications which I must admit I haven’t had the chance to look at in detail.

The Wedge family had a disastrous evening on the top and bottom boards. It must be said that this happens only once in a blue moon so needless to say the timing was unfortunate although their opponents deserve credit for capitalising to the fullest extent.

So this result really flings the Division 1 title race wide open again. The current leaders are Belgrave with a 100% score after 4 matches but they still have to play both Hebden Bridge sides and Huddersfield so if they still stand unbeaten at Christmas they will deserve to be in the lead. Meanwhile Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Courier ‘A’ have each lost one match. They play each other in the last match before the Christmas break and that will be a crucial encounter with Courier looking a much stronger outfit than they were last season.

That leaves Huddersfield. They have not only lost one match, but also drawn one and that puts them a further point behind Courier and Hebden Bridge (assuming they win their game in hand against Halifax). They can gain ground with a win against Belgrave and hope that the other two draw their match. If that happens then it will be very, very close indeed when we all sit down to eat our Christmas turkeys!

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