Happy New Year to everyone!
Today we continue with our catch up on the first half of the Calderdale Evening Chess League season as we cover the matches played in Round 6 of League 1. These matches were played on the week commencing 10th of December.
Readers will recall that we left the League Champions, Hebden Bridge ‘A’, languishing at the foot of the table having managed just a single draw in their first five encounters. That said, they had lost three of those five matches by the narrowest possible score line and so it seemed entirely plausible that, with a little bit of luck, they could start to pick up points again.
In round 6 they welcomed Belgrave ‘B’ to the Golden Lion in Todmorden. Reviewing the two line-ups on paper suggested that this match really should have been straight forward for the hosts as they out graded Belgrave on every board. Hebden welcomed back Andrew Clarkson to board 1 and had Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook on board 2 and 3. All three of these players out rated their opponents, Gordon Farrar, Keith Marsh and Les Johnson by 40 points or more. On board 4, Richard Bedford made a guest appearance in the absence of both Mick Connor and Andrew Swales. He held a more modest 15-point rating advantage over Paul Edwards. Finally, on board 5, Peter Dickinson had an even smaller rating advantage over Chris Edwards.
It looked like the outcome of the match should really be determined on the upper boards and that did indeed prove to be the case as the home side won on the top four boards with varying degrees of struggle. On board 5 Chris salvaged pride for the visitors with a victory over Peter. The full match score card is given below:
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Belgrave ‘B’
A.Clarkson 1 – 0 G.Farrar (W)
M.Hamer 1 – 0 K.Marsh (W)
P.Cook 1 – 0 L.Johnson (W)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 P.Edwards (W)
P.Dickinson 0 – 1 C.Edwards (W)
4 – 1
This match win came as a huge relief to all involved in the ‘A’ team as they looked at other match results during the week and found that they had gained ground on their relegation rivals.
At the other end of the Calder valley, in Halifax, third-placed team Halifax ‘A’, hosted Hebden Bridge ‘C’ who hovered just two points ahead of their ‘A’ team colleagues. Once again, on paper, the statistics suggested an easy win for the home team as they out rated all their opponents and Hebden made life even more difficult for themselves when they arrived with only four players.
The home team sealed their match win on the top boards as Bill Somerset beat Andy Leatherbarrow and Richard Porter beat Martin Syrett. On boards 3 and 4 however the visitors put up serious resistance as Paul Gledhill drew with Carlos Velosa on board 3 and Neil Bamford went one better and took down Sam Scurfield on board 4, a fine result for Neil. Below is the full match scorecard.
Halifax ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘C’
W.Somerset 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow
R.Porter 1 – 0 M.Syrett
C.Velosa ½ – ½ P.Gledhill
S.Scurfield 0 – 1 N.Bamford
S.Gornall 1 – 0 DEFAULT
3½ – 1½
This result meant that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had now drawn level with their ‘C’ team and were only a point behind their vanquished foes Belgrave ‘B’, who had 4 points.
Huddersfield ‘B’ were the other team on 4 points at the start of the round and they had a tough assignment away to the League leaders, Hebden Bridge ‘B’. Once again, the stats suggested that it would be a routine victory for the home team and, once again, the stats didn’t lie. Huddersfield ‘B’ also struggled with a default as one of their players was a no-show. This handed Hebden’s Sam Swain a full point on board 4.
Most of the other games were fairly straightforward wins for Hebden, even if those wins were achieved in contrasting styles. On board 1 Matthew Parsons simply outplayed Simon Anscombe and attained a winning endgame position before the halfway point of the evening had been reached.
Dave Shapland and Neil Suttie by contrast won in more percussive fashion against David Gray and Alec Ward respectively. On board 5, Neil deployed the unusual Budapest Gambit against Alec. He gained a promising position from the mainline of the variation and, when Alec miscalculated, he pounced with a nice intermezzo tactic to win the game on the spot.
On board 2 Dave played another gambit line against the Queens Gambit of David Gray, the Albin Counter Gambit. David seemed to be doing perfectly well when he placed his knight on c3 even though it was attacked by Dave’s pawn on d4 because the pawn was pinned to the Black queen by a White rook on d1. See the diagram on the right. However, Dave decided that he could sacrifice his queen to get his d-pawn to the b2 square and, with White’s king still in the middle of the board, the position looked very dangerous indeed. In the game David couldn’t find the best defensive line and capitulated reasonably swiftly. Further analysis of the game shows that he could have done better but the resource was not easy to find. Can you do better?
The last game of this match between Pete Leonard for Hebden and Granville Boot for Huddersfield finished in a draw as the visitors narrowly avoided a whitewash. Below is the match score card:
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Huddersfield ‘B’
M.Parsons 1 – 0 S.Anscombe (W)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 D.Gray (W)
P.Leonard ½ – ½ G.Boot (W)
S.Swain 1 – 0 DEFAULT
N.Suttie 1 – 0 A.Ward (W)
4½ – ½
The final game of round 6 took place on the 12th of December as Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted the second placed team in the division, Belgrave ‘A’. In this match Belgrave pulled together a ferociously strong line up which probably wouldn’t have been possible (or necessary) for them to have done had the match been on a Monday. However, missing some regular players who weren’t able to play on a Wednesday night Belgrave reinforced with Tony Slinger on board 3 and Colin Proctor on board 4. Two very experienced and challenging adversaries on the best of occasions but Huddersfield were themselves somewhat depleted of regular players and, as a result, they went down convincingly 1½ – 3½.
Greg Eagleton and John Morgan drew on board 1 and Dave Keddie beat Dave Patrick on board 2 but then it was a land slide for the visitors on the bottom three boards as Tony Slinger beat Nick Sykes, Colin Proctor beat Mark Rojinsky and Peter Hughes beat Brendan Briggs.
As a result of all these fixtures the top three positions in the league remained unchanged with Hebden Bridge ‘B’ on 12 points, Belgrave ‘A’ on 9 points and Halifax ‘A on 8 points. At the other end of the table the relegation scrap was made much more interesting following Hebden Bridge ‘A’s victory. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were now bottom of the league on board count and with 3 points. Hebden ‘A’ also had 3 points. Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ had 4 points each and Huddersfield ‘A’ had 5 points.
In the next post we’ll report on the final round of fixtures before the Christmas break in both divisions. These were played on the 17th of December.