For the second week in succession Calderdale League 2 took centre stage as chess clubs up and down the valley went into action. Normally I would start proceedings by recounting the deeds of our title contenders in this division, Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Today for a change let us first cast the limelight on the other two teams our club has in this division for they are both performing admirably.
‘D’ team Captain, Danny Crampton has succeeded in changing the fortunes of his “experimental” side. Traditionally the ‘D’ team has been the testing ground for our club’s junior talent and consequently results have been limited to the odd surprise game point. The format of the side remains similar this year but over the course of the last 12 months or so Danny has managed to get some consistency into his side and some positive results have started to arrive.
The change in form is due in no short order to the personal form of the Captain. Once a junior chess club member himself, Danny has begun to demonstrate that his game is beginning to mature and last season he scored quite respectably and picked up some wins albeit on the lower boards. This year he has started to build on that form. After a default bye in round one and a tough game against Neil Bamford of Hebden Bridge ‘C’ in round 2, Danny got off the mark with a win against Dave Summerskill of Halifax ‘C’ on Monday night. This result was critical to helping his side gain a very creditable draw to add to the comfortable away win scored against Courier ‘B’ in round 1.
The rest of the side also showed great promise. Father and son pairing, Craig and Kyle Sharpe, missed the round 2 derby clash with the ‘C’ team but returned for this match. Craig won against Halifax stalwart Barry Wadsworth whilst Kyle lost on this occasion to Andrew Whiteley. Kyle won his first game of the season and is still improving fast. He will surely turn over more points for his team during the rest of the season.
On board 3 Chris Greaves put last week’s traumatising nightmare behind him to draw with Glenn Roper and on bottom board another junior talent, Dylan Leggett lost out to John Nicholson but demonstrated good fighting spirit in his game. This left the final score as a draw and the result is that Hebden Bridge ‘D’ lie in a very creditable 5th place after three rounds of the new season with a win, a draw and a defeat. They show every sign of continuing to confound their opponents this season. Well done Danny and keep up the good work!
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘C’
C.Sharpe 1 — 0 B.Wadsworth
K.Sharpe 1 — 0 R.A.Whiteley
C.Greaves ½ — ½ G.Roper
D.Crampton 1 — 0 D.Summerskill
D.Leggett 0 — 1 J.Nicholson
2½ — 2½
John Kerrane’s ‘C’ team faced, what looked on paper at least, like a tricky away tie against Todmorden ‘C’ who had been panned by Hebden ‘B’ the week before and were surely out for revenge. That they didn’t get it was down to a good solid performance from the experienced members of the ‘C’ team. The captain led the way by taking advantage of a blunder by Dave Milton to win on board 1. Terry Sullivan and Neil Bamford both drew their games and Ray Deravairere turned around a difficult situation in his game when his opponent walked into a knight fork that concluded matters on the spot. On bottom board Hebden’s newest recruit lost his first match against Tom Webster. A tight win for Hebden then but the result leaves them on 4 points and in fourth place only on board points behind Courier ‘B’ and Halifax ‘B’.
The full match score card was:
Todmorden ‘C’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Milton 0 — 1 J.Kerrane
G.Bowker ½ — ½ T.Sullivan
P.Logan ½ — ½ N.Bamford
R.Pratt 0 — 1 R.Deravairere
T.Webster 1 — 0 S.Baldwin
2 — 3
So, finally to the ‘B’ team. Martin Syrett’s men have started the season like the mean business with a 4-1 and a 5-0 win. Surely they wouldn’t be able to maintain this blistering form against a Halifax ‘B’ much strengthened by the arrival of Scott Gornall on board 1 this season. Two seasons ago Howard Wood was playing on board 2 for Halifax ‘A’ in division 1. On Monday night he was playing on board 5 for the ‘B’ team in division 2 and his playing strength hasn’t changed much in the intervening period. Evidence enough of Halifax’s welcome resurgence in the last year or so.
It’s fair to say that Syrett and co were surprised themselves to handout another 5-0 humiliation. Halifax’s players did their best to help out it must be said. Uncharacteristic piece blunders by Adrian Dawson and John Aldridge handed straightforward wins to Andy Leatherbarrow and Josh Blinkhorn on boards 2 and 3 respectively. That gave Hebden a comfortable early cushion and it was not long before the result of the match was stitched up when Dave Sugden converted a solid positional advantage in fine tactical style against Pete Moss on board 4.
This just left Dave Shapland and Scott Gornall on board 1 and Martin Syrett and Howard Wood on board 5 to finish. On board 1 progess was slow early on as Scott played in unorthodox fashion and Dave searched hard to find the best way to secure first an equal position and then a small advantage. The two had spent 45 minutes each on their first 11 moves before they started to accelerate their play. First of all the tension in the centre of the board was resolved and Dave was able to put Scott on the back foot. Dave then flung his f-pawn up the board and when Scott put the “wrong” knight on e4 Dave punished him by trapping his queen in an eye-catching and unusual manner. Scott was able to salvage her majesty at the cost of a piece but Black’s initiative remained strong and shortly Scott was forced to surrender. 0-4!
The dreaded clock also played a part in the board 5 result. Howard got himself into severe difficulties on the clock even though his position over the board looked perfectly tenable. He offered Martin a draw but was politely and correctly declined on the basis that he still had someway to go to reach the time control. Martin seemed to be gaining the upper hand when Howard’s flag fell and the rout was completed.
The final match card looked like this then:
Halifax ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
S.Gornall 0 — 1 D.Shapland
A.Dawson 0 — 1 A.Leatherbarrow
J.Aldridge 0 — 1 J.Blinkhorn
P.Moss 0 — 1 D.Sugden
H.Wood 0 — 1 M.Syrett
0 — 5
In the division’s other fixture Courier ‘B’ beat Todmorden ‘D’ 4 — 1 at home to move into second place. Wins from Peter Hughes and Dave Colledge on the top two boards were added to draws on boards three and four and another win by default on board 5.
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ are flying high alone at the top of league two. Despite playing three teams who they may have expected to push them hard this season they have only lost on game. Not a bad start! Next up for them is the Hebden ‘D’ team. That will be an interesting test of just how far Danny’s lads have come. Avoiding another 5 — 0 beating will be a good result.
All of the ‘B’ team games and a selection from the other two fixtures can be found in the game viewer below.