Nov 102015
Unfortunately for Hebden Bridge 'A' it's now three lemons in a row. Hopefully they can break their losing streak next time out. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Nils Ohman's Flickr photo stream.

Unfortunately for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ it’s now three lemons in a row. Hopefully they can break their losing streak next time out. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Nils Ohman’s Flickr photo stream.

Time for another update on the Calderdale League 1 season as round 4 took place last week.

The first thing to note is the alarming absence of completed fixtures involving Huddersfield.  They should now have played four matches but the league website only gives one result! What on earth is going on? Well, the grapevine suggests that the round 2 fixture they had slated to play at home against Halifax ‘B’ was postponed due to Halifax not having a full team available (and when did that ever stop a match from going ahead?) The round 3 match at home to Belgrave has not been entered on the league website yet (why?) though we understand it was played. And the round 4 match away to Todmorden ‘B’ was postponed due to a scheduled late night road closure in Hebden Bridge that prevented the away team from getting back to Huddersfield via that route after 10pm.

Fair enough on this last perhaps, but Hebden themselves were playing at Todmorden and managed to get not one but two teams to the Todmorden Working Men’s Club only to find that Todmorden themselves had failed to get a team together for a handicap team match that was scheduled for the same evening as the league 1 matches. I imagine that Captain John Kerrane will seriously consider extracting a full default from his opponents for allowing a team, predominantly comprising juniors, to travel to Todmorden without cause.

But enough of my moaning. I’m getting cantankerous in my middle-age. Let’s get down to business. Title holders and league leaders Todmorden ‘A’ were hosting Hebden Bridge ‘A’ whilst Halifax ‘B’ took on Belgrave at home and Halifax ‘A’ played Brighouse. The two matches involving Halifax both ended in the same score but with opposing outcomes as Halifax ‘A’ beat Brighouse 4 — 1  (Brighouse defaulted a board for the third match in a row but at least they turned up!) while Halifax ‘B’ fell by the same score line to Belgrave.

The match at Todmorden should have been a breeze for the home side if you looked at the raw statistics. Despite missing Pete Mulleady, Todmorden ‘A’ still out-graded Hebden ‘A’ on every board except board 5. And yet, Hebden, up against top-class opposition for the second successive match, acquitted themselves pretty nobly and fought hard on every board. In fact, by mid-evening they were more than holding their own.

The first game to finish was on board 3 where Heben’s Dave Shapland beat Andrew Clarkson. Todmorden lose very few games at home so this was a notable achievement. The more so as Dave was under great pressure for most of the game and was only able to pounce on a single chance given to him when Andrew misjudged a complicated variation where Dave offered his queen in exchange for a bishop and rook. This was one occasion when the player with the advantage should have held his positional pressure rather than cashing it in for material, but such decisions are notoriously hard to assess and on this occasion, Andrew got it wrong.
Soon after, Pete Leonard also managed to extricate himself from what looked like a pretty dreadful position to draw against Phil Cook. The game turned a little messy and Pete managed to coordinate some counter play which saved his bacon. This was another over-turning of the statistical odds and Hebden found themselves a point up with three boards in play.

Any hopes of a stunning and unexpected victory were soon dispelled however when Dave Innes beat Martin Syrett with the White pieces for the second time in three fixtures (he also won the board 5 game when Hebden met Tod ‘B’ recently). This levelled the match score, but there were two close games still being played.

On board 1 Hebden’s Andy Bak was a pawn down against Martin Hamer having been made to suffer positionally from a very early stage in the game. He battled gamely to hold his own and at a few moments it seemed he might even be able to hang on for a draw. However it wasn’t to be as Martin played a rook and minor piece ending with great precision to bring home the full point.

The final nail in Hebden’s coffin came when Dave Patrick put an end to Andy Leatherbarrow’s spirited resistance. This was a very tight game. Andy had made a mistake in the middle game to give Dave a pawn’s advantage but with queens, a rook and a minor piece each still on the board it looked like Andy might have some chances to hold. It was predominantly through attrition and persistence that Dave finally ground his opponent down. Finally, winning a second pawn and simplifying the position was curtains for Andy who had also used almost all of his available time to fight to the death.

The final match scorecard was:

Todmorden ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘A’
M.Hamer 1 — 0 A.Bak
P.Cook ½ — ½ P.Leonard
A.Clarkson 0 — 1 D.Shapland
D.Patrick 1 — 0 A.Leatherbarrow
D.Innes 1 — 0 M.Syrett
3½ — 1½

Unfortunately that result meant that Hebden Bridge lost three matches in a row for the first time in almost two years. Their next match is at home against the bottom side in the league Halifax ‘B’, so hopefully they can end their losing run. In the game viewer below you will find Andy Bak’s game against Martin Hamer, Pete Leonard’s game against Phil Cook and two versions of Dave Shapland’s game against Andrew Clarkson. Andrew has very generously sent his thoughts on what was a painful defeat and it is interesting to compare the two players thinking during the course of their encounter.

Last night the Trades Club hosted round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship. Look out for a report on that here soon.

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  7 Responses to “Losing streak continues”

  1. Hi Dave,

    Every effort was made by me to raise a team for the Huddersfield vs Halifax ‘B’ match. We only had one ‘B’ team player and two ‘C’ team players available – and any ‘C’ team player playing on board 2 for us would then not be eligible to play for the ‘C’ team later in the season; transport was also a problem.

    I offered to forfeit the match but a postponement was agreed upon. The future result seems like a foregone conclusion but, if we can get a team out, we may win a board – which may be significant in the final analysis.

    Anyway, that’s what happened.


    • Hi Scott,

      Apologies for not approving your comment sooner. Normally I get a notification to say that there is a comment waiting to be approved but for some reason I didn’t get one on this occasion.

      I appreciate you letting readers know the situation with your match. I certainly sounds like you did everything you should have done and let us commend the sportsmanship of our Huddersfield colleagues for not enforcing the forfeit you offered to make. I hope that you get your match rearranged.

      All the best,


  2. It was a good idea to publish the two accounts of our game Dave. I would be delighted to hear any comments from other players about our decisions around moves 21 / 22. I drew with Black against Martyn Hamer tonight in the East Lancashire league, and that has restored some faith in my ability after that painful defeat. Many thanks for your excellent running commentary on the Calderdale league.

  3. In relation to Andrew and Davids game, I’ve already looked at this game, and spoken to David about but ill put some of my thoughts here as well.

    I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I think the result of the match is simply out of the control of the players. ‘Chess wins’ and it has nothing to do with either side.

    What i mean by this is that the game is just too complicated to see all outcomes. Its too complicated for magnus carlsen so its certainly too complicated for us.

    In andrews position therefore, say you look at 22. Be7 and you analyse up to move 26 and see that you have a queen for a rook and bishop. Well white should be winning, white has a material advantage. These would be my thoughts if i had the same position and analysed this line.

    Now its easier to say that Andrew should have ‘looked deeper’ but the reality it is that we (andrew, myself, anyone in the league, are simply not good enough to go this far and be able to make an accurate assessment. All we can do is play on our best judgement. So at times, you will play some moves, and maybe even your opponent has looked at the same line, but then you end up in a position/inbalance, that in reality is totally different to what you had perhaps expected.

    This is what i mean when i say that sometimes ‘chess wins’ and the players have nothing to do with the outcome.

    As such andrew should not be too harsh on himself. I dont think that this is something he ‘missed,’ again, none of us are good enough to see all.

    I had a similar instance against john morgan a couple of years ago. What appeared to my thinking to be a fairly simply game played to a winning advantage for me, suddenly fell into a forced draw when i was a piece up. Now neither myself or john had seen this in advance, indeed I had played the moves we both thought was right. I could have looked as much as I wanted, I wouldn’t have been able to see the draw in the position. Why? Because i’m not good enough,

    So andrew, if you are reading this, dont be hard on yourself. I think this was a well played game, sometimes its out of your hands!

    • Thanks Matthew. Your comments are so valuable to myself and anybody else who finds themselves in a similar position. Perhaps the moral of the story is that chess is a dangerous game! Listen everybody. Be careful at the board and keep your fingers crossed. See you all soon but don’t let this end the discussion.



  4. Thank for your kind words Andrew!
    Glad to hear you got a good result this week. I also got my first draw of the season last night though it was something of a roller coaster as you’d expect.

    I think there is one further point to add about the assessments we both made in the key position. You were looking at it and thinking you could cash in on your positional advantage and turn it into a material one. The complications were clear to see but you suspected they were navigable and justified your decision to grab the material in that way. Perfectly reasonable.

    I on the other hand, having suffered for most of the game in an inferior position saw an opportunity to enter complications that were unclear and decided that, even if they worked out badly for me, I’d rather go down fighting than suffer positional torture for the next hour and half.

    We both entered the complications willingly but rationalised our decisions to do so on very different grounds. Generally, Matthew is right, this was a pretty well played game by both of us.

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