|“And… ha, ha, hah! Here come the Hebdens!”|
The summer knockout competitions have begun. Huzzah! Well, perhaps that much enthusiasm is not quite warranted but if these contests don’t give us the chance to dress up in huge and cunbersome rubber costumes then they do at least allow some of us to keep our little grey cells ticking over during the long summer months without league competition.
For those who don’t know, the main point of interest in both the team and individual knockout contests is that they are played using a time handicap system. Basically you calculate the difference in grades between the two players and add that number to the weaker players’ clock and take the same amount of time off the stronger player. This gives the weaker players some hope of causing an upset but it does therefore also have the disadvantage of not being much of an incentive for stronger players to take part even though the games aren’t graded.
Last Monday night Hebden Bridge ‘A’ began their campaign and also began to adjust to life without Dave Wedge on board 1. They travelled to Todmorden where their hosts had put out a fairly weak team and that meant that Hebden were giving away a lot of time on most of the boards. Despite that, they still managed to produce a win, albeit by the narrowest possible margin as Alastair Wright finally vanquished the spirited challenge of Chris Edwards on board 2 at 10.45pm in the dramatic denouement below.
This anxious finale was preceded by a mixed bag of results. On the down side poor old Steve Priest was forced to play with only 10 minutes on his clock on board 5 and although he won his opponent’s queen he ran out of time before he could win the game. Meanwhile on board 1 Dave Shapland was having a disaster against Paul Edwards. Dave didn’t lose a game with Black all season in the league but in this game he got caught out in the opening and got a terrible position. Paul converted the full point very efficiently without much need for the extra time his clock afforded him.
Hebden won on boards 3 and 4 to level the score and set up the nail biting climax to the fixture. Nick Sykes and Josh Blinkhorn both won comfortably. Nick’s effort in particular was smoothly impressive.
The final scorecard for the match then was:
The individual competition has also started. Unfortunately the Calderdale League website doesn’t seem to have any of the results displayed as yet but fortunately for our readers one of our members has kindly sent me his game from the first round to share with you. Pete Leonard was unlucky enough to draw Halifax’s top player Darwin Ursal in round 1 but the difference in points between them meant that Pete was able to put his illustrious opponent under pressure. I’ll let him take up the story.
If I get drawn against Darwin in the first round of a third tournament, I shall know the draw’s been fixed! (Pete also played Darwin in round 1 of the recent Spanish thematic tournament at the club — Ed.) We actually had a very close game, spoiled by me missing a fork but redeemed by my struggling on ‘til time pressure proved too much and he offered me a draw. I have been estimated a very generous grading (for handicap purposes) of 112, which gave me 2 hours 31 minutes to his 29 minutes. And still he should have won!
I’m not sure what will happen when these two meet to replay this match with the colours reversed because since this first try the new YCA grades have come out and Pete’s grade is 158 so he may have to play with a much smaller advantage on the clock.