I must admit that it is with a little sadness that I am tearing myself away from the Fantasy Chess Olympiad to draft this post. This is only because our great adventure on that website draws to a close on Sunday when the final round of the Istanbul Chess Olympiad is played. There’ll be some tidying up to do next week to confirm final scores and announce the prize winners and then it’s all over! It’s been fantastic fun (if rather hard work) to set this up and the chess at the Olympiad itself hasn’t been disappointing either. If you didn’t catch yesterday’s America versus Russia clash then I strongly recommend you take a look. Some quite breath-taking stuff from Messrs Nakamura and Kamsky in beating Kramnik and Grishcuk respectively to steal the match. The Nakamura vs. Kramnik endgame is quite unique (two knights and a bishop against bishop and pawns).
Meanwhile, we were back to business here in Hebden Bridge. On Monday the Trades Club hosted our traditional curtain-raiser to the new season — the Club Lightning competition. The first thing to mention was that the turnout was quite outstanding. 21 players took part this year. Certainly the highest number that I can recollect having competed. This also meant that there ws a nice range of abilities in the room too although, in the end, one player was much more able than all the others. Matthew Parsons retained his title at a canter with a perfect score of 6/6. He was two points clear of his nearest rivals!
The critical moments were in rounds 3 and 4 when Matthew faced two other members of the top 5 rated players in the tournament in the form of Dave Shapland and Matthew Wedge-Roberts. Having taken care of these two rivals he was left a point clear with one round to play and while he beat Dave Sugden in the last round to guarentee overall victory, Shapland, the only other player who could have caught him, went down in flames against John Kerrane. This ensured the margin of Parsons’ victory would be two points. No fewer than seven (!) players finished on 4 points and another seven finished a point further back on 3. Congratulations to Matthew on retaining his lightning title. The final standings were:
6 points: Matthew Parsons
4 points: Pete Leonard, Matthew-Wedge Roberts, Dave Shapland, Nick Sykes, Dave Sugden, John Kerrane, Daniel Rich
3 points: Andy Leatherbarrow, Martin Syrett, Craig Sharpe, Kyle Sharpe, Danny Crampton, Chris Greaves, Tim Wilton-Davies
2.5 points: Ray Deravairere, Terry Sullivan
2 points: Pete Rawlings, Stephen Priest
1 point: Spike Leatherbarrow, SandyO’Conner
Hopefully the Lightning competition gave everyone the chance to brush the cobwebs off their games because on Monday the new Calderdale Evening Chess League season begins!
In Division 1 Hebden Bridge ‘A’ will begin what promises to be a very challenging title defence at home to their perennial rivals Huddersfield. Hebden will hope that Huddersfield suffer from their usual slow start. They have failed to win their opening match in either of the last two campaigns. It promises to be another enthralling encounter and the league will be even more competative than last season with Courier ‘A’, Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ (aside from Hebden and Huddersfield) all looking like potential title contenders.
Meanwhile in Division 2 Hebden Bridge ‘B’ will be hoping to bounce back immediately from last season’s relegation. They stand an excellent chance but they’ll have to contend with two other Hebden Bridge teams in their division. The Trades Club will be even busier than usual with chess matches this season! One imagines that Todmorden ‘C’ will be the main rivals to Hebden ‘B’ in this division.
We’ll be back in full swing next week then. Stay tuned for games and match reports galore!