Jan 272011
Non-playing ‘C’ team Captain Peter Rawlings

Hebden Bridge Chess Club teams have honoured themselves against our nearest geographical foe so far this season. Todmorden have been resurgent this year as they have fielded three teams across the two divisions, but Hebden Bridge have done them few favours, particularly when they have travelled the few miles west to launch devastating raids into enemy territory.

In Division 1 both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams won convincingly away to Todmorden ‘A’ conceding only 1½ points out of a possible 10. In Division 2 the results had been far less appetising with Hebden Bridge ‘D’ getting pummelled 4-1 to Todmorden ‘B’ and then the ‘C’ team gifting Todmorden ‘D’ a 4-0 victory when they failed to show up for their match at the end of November. Pleasingly, normal service has now been resumed as, last Monday, Peter Rawling’s ‘C’ team travelled to the Todmorden Working Men’s Club to match up against Todmorden ‘C’. They emerged with a 2-3 victory. Pete told this blog that

“A fine victory over Todmorden ‘B’ lifted the ‘C’ team to the top of Division 2. Our new recruit, Pete Leonard, swept away his opponent without much ado but the others had doughty struggles. This is a good team. Division 1 beckons.”

The full match score card looks like this

Todmorden ‘B’ — Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Innes 1 — 0 D.Sugden
L.Innes 0 — 1 J.Blinkhorn
D.Milton 1 — 0 S.Priest
R.Pratt 0 — 1 N.Bamford
G.Bowker 0 — 1 P.Leonard
2 — 3

Meanwhile. at the Trades Club, the ‘B’ and ‘D’ teams were involved in a pair of very challenging struggles. John Kerrane summarises the ‘D’ teams match below.

“The ‘D’ team were up against strong opposition in the form of Huddersfield ‘B’. and in fact were out-graded by about 40 points on every board. Despite some determined play, especially from James Todd and Matt Levy on the top two boards, the Huddersfield side came away w
ith a 0-5 win.”

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ — Huddersfield ‘B’
J.Todd 0 — 1 J.Lavan
M.Levy 0 — 1 S.Oliver
P.Dearden 0 — 1 C.Stratford
C.Greaves 0 — 1 B.Corner
D.Crampton 0 — 1 M.Rojinsky
0 — 5

Finally, the ‘B’ team continued their battle against relegation as they hosted Courier ‘A’ who have one of the strongest teams in the Division. All of their top three boards are graded over 160 and in the end this proved to be the critical difference in the tie.

On board 1 Pete Olley stumbled into a particularly Machiavellian opening trap set for him by Robert Clegg who punished Pete mercilessly for a long time before the end came. After the game Robert confided that the stem position comes from a game played in 1935 so he’d obviously done his homework! The game was very impressive.

On board 2 Dave Shapland steered the opening into a line of the French Defence Tarrasch Variation that he knows very well and had even prepared especially for his opponent, Dave Patrick. He told me afterwards that he had had the position after White’s 19th (!) move on his board at home the night before the match and had fully expected to reach that position. Unfortunately, even such deep preparation can’t mitigate against a down right blunder and Dave’s 22nd move was exactly that. As Dave explained to me afterwards.

“My idea was to coax Black into capturing on b2 in order to get my own queen to the a4 square so as to get in behind the Black king. Unfortunately, I completely overlooked that after the Black queen captures on b2 the only piece preventing it from next capturing on f2 with check was my own queen. It was my queen that was tied to defence, not Blacks. A stupid mistake!”

Following this error Dave lost both his a and b pawns for no real compensation and, although Black perhaps complicated matters for himself more than he should have, White never really had an opportunity to get himself back into the game. At the end 36.Ke1?? blundered into mate. Afterwards both players felt that White might still have had a chance after 36.Kg2 Qxd4?! But, as long as Black had found 36…Nf4+ he would have maintained his winning advantage. The brief notes in the viewer below are Dave Shapland’s.

While Dave Shapland was blotting his copy book with only his second defeat of the season in the league, Andy Leatherbarrow was on the road to redemption as he beat the, so far, invincible John Morgan in the game below.

In an irony that will not have been lost on Andy (who has persistently found himself in time trouble this season), John managed to lose on time in the final position below despite having a clearly won position. This result will have given hope to some of Hebden Bridge’s ‘A’ team who were hoping to catch up with John in the battle for the League’s individual performance prize. The results will also have given Andy a timely confidence boost as he had an awful sequence of results before Christmas.

Team Captain, Martin Syrett, was annoyed with himself after blundering on move 27 in the game below. He was never doing worse than a draw until that point.

Finally, John Kerrane, also in need of a confidence booster, managed to grind down his opponent on board 5 in a long and tense struggle.

The final score card was very disappointing for the ‘B’ team, who had looked like they might pull off an unlikely victory that would have been a big stride towards safety. At least both John and Andy will now feel more optimistic about the rest of their seasons having ended their mini-slumps. If the team can all perform to the best of their abilities in the same match then they are capable of an upset against even the best in the division. Next up are Halifax away in another critical encounter.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ — Courier ‘A’
P.Olley 0 — 1 R.Clegg
D.Shapland 0 — 1 D.Patrick
A.Leatherbarrow 1 — 0 J.Morgan
M.Syrett 0 — 1 D.Colledge
J.Kerrane 1 — 0 G.Thompson
2 — 3

On a final note it is worth mentioning that the ‘A’ team’s match against Halifax was postponed so they now have a game in hand on their rivals Huddersfield who moved into top spot by a point with a 3-2 win over Brighouse.

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