There was plenty of excitement at the Trades Club on Monday night as Round 3 of the Calderdale Individual Championship took place. As the evening’s play began only 5 players had perfect scores of 2 out of 2. By the end of the night just 2 of those 5 had emerged on 3 points. Dave Wedge and Matthew Parsons are Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s two highest rated players and they will now face off on the 14th of February when Round 4 takes place. The two maintained their perfect scores in very different fashions.
|Dave Wedge vs. Alastair Wright was a battle between|
two previous winners
On board 1 Dave, who is the reigning champion of the past two seasons, played with the white pieces against another former champion, Alastair Wright. Alastair has been in excellent form so far this year and had not lost a game up to Monday night. Sadly, that unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt as he somehow contrived to find himself playing an opening system that he wasn’t familiar with and which is very complex and dangerous. Dave capitalised on his opponents discomfort in ruthless fashion, finishing him off in short order. For those readers who like sharp and complicated openings I have added some notes on the system that was played in this encounter in the game viewer below.
Next door on board 2 Matthew conducted the black pieces against Robert Sutcliffe. On paper this looked to be an easier proposition than Dave’s but in the end Robert pushed Matthew very hard indeed and may very well have snatched a result on another occasion. Matthew missed a chance to get a clearly winning position in the middle game on move 35 and was forced to take a few risks in the endgame to try and provoke a mistake from Robert. Eventually the error came but Robert deserves great credit for his fighting display. The endgame was particularly hard to assess as the notes in the game below will hopefully demonstrate.
The fifth player on 2/2 after 2 rounds was Hebden Bridge’s Josh Blinkhorn. He had a very difficult task ahead of him as he played black against top seed Chris Booth. Chris took a half point bye in round 2 and that left him lurking dangerously behind the leaders. He played a very smooth positional win against Josh who simply didn’t seem to equalise at all in the game and was slowly crushed into submission.
No fewer than 9 players were sitting on 1½ out of 2. With his win Chris now moved to 2½. Surprisingly, only two of the others joined him. Fourth seed John Morgan of Courier won with White against Matthew Wedge-Roberts and Angel Gonzalez of Belgrave beat Barry Wadsworth of Halifax after the two were re-paired against each other when their opponents didn’t turn up to play and forfeited their games. The other 3 players on 1½ all drew. Scott Gornall and Nick Sykes with each other and Dave Sugden drew against Mike Barnett. Scott and Nick agreed their draw in a position that was apparently still full of play but computer analysis suggests that it was indeed about equal and clearly neither player wanted to risk pushing too hard for victory. You can assess it for yourself below.
Further down the board order there were several interesting games. Tom Webster gave Steven Priest a taste of his own medicine when he capitalised on a terrible error by the stronger player. In the previous round you may remember that Steven had done the same to Chris Edwards so perhaps good fortune does even itself up over time after all!
Also interesting was the game between Messrs Dawson and Whitehead who conducted a very sharp and complex battle which, though error strewn, was also very exciting. See if you can spot a missed opportunity from that game below. It’s Black to play. What’s the best move? (The answer can be seen in the full game commentary at the bottom of the post.)
|Dawson vs. Whitehead: Position after 19.Qxc5|
Hebden Bridge’s Martin Syrett and Andy Leatherbarrow also scored full points to take them on to 2 out of 3 at the end of the night.
|Some of the games further down the |
board order provided great entertainment
All of this leaves matters poised wonderfully for the penultimate round in February. Dave Wedge and Matthew Parsons will play off for the lead. Half a point behind them Chris Booth, John Morgan and Angel Gonzalez will have their chance to join the leaders should they draw. It is not at all inconceivable that the top four seeds could all start the final round level. That would herald the most exciting denouement to the championship in years.
Full results and standings can be found on the Calderdale Individual Championship 2010-11 page.
Finally, below is the full game from the little puzzle I set you above. See if you got the right answer.