|John Kerrane (left) took his cloak|
off before the game began
It may have been the day after Halloween but Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were still in the mood to dispence some tricks and treats over the chess board as they travelled to Todmorden on Monday night in Calderdale League Division 1.
Had the team knocked on the door of the Todmorden Working Men’s Club in appropriate fancy dress then I propose to you that the following costumes would have been suited to their performances…
On board 1, Dave Shapland may decide to assume Joseph Blackburne’s mantle as ’The Black Death’ for he has now conducted 6 of his 7 competitive games this season with the black pieces and has an excellent score of +4 =2 -0! These statistics include his win on Monday against Chris Edwards. Unusually, Dave deployed the Sveshnikov Sicilian (which he tells me he has only played once before over the board, against the same opponent) and won by playing very actively in a Queen-less middle game. Objectively, he had no advantage, but Chris made a critical mistake as the penultimate pieces on the board were exchanged and Dave buried him clinically.
Chris left the club wondering what the dark lumps that had appeared during the course of the evening under his armpits were.
Unfortunately, Andy Leatherbarrow donned the likeness of the ‘Headless Horseman’ as he surged forwards in cavalier fashion against Scott Gornall. In the endgame a pawn race developed where Andy pushed his king’s side pawns and the monarch himself up the board and Scott countered in the centre. It looked like Andy would break through first but then, suddenly, he found that white could defend his position and obtain connected passed pawns on the 7th rank which Andy’s lone Rook could not stop.
Scott left the club looking like a man who had been for a walk in the wind, or been caught in the back draft of a high-speed train. Tousled yet invigorated.
Team Captain, Martin Syrett had a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type of night. He was thoroughly routed in the opening as Mike Huett deployed the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit against his Scandinavian Defence and profited by winning both the exchange and a pawn. However, Martin then transformed himself by means of a cunning swindle that enabled him to win a Rook for nothing and after that it was one-way traffic.
Mike left the club clutching an empty glass vial that he had found after the game by the side of the board. The label on it was written in his opponent’s script and read, “Formula X”.
On board 4 Terry Sullivan’s hapless foe must have wondered if the moon was full for he was savagely mauled by the werewolf of Hebden Bridge! Encountering a Grand Prix Attack in response to his Sicilian Defence, Terry unleashed wave after frenzied wave of tactics that all seemed to flow quite naturally from the position. His poor victim was quite unable to cope with the ferocity of his attack. This game was definitely the most exciting of the evening!
Paul left the club in a mess of bloody, ragged chunks and will have to be sewn back together before the next match.
Finally, John Kerrane, put on his longest and blackest cape as he became a be-whiskered Count Dracula and slowly sucked the life out of Bob Pratt’s game on board 5. Winning first one pawn and then another, John kept Bob’s counter play under close control before slowly strangling him in a pawn and bishop ending.
Bob left the club clutching at two strange puncture marks on his right wrist that he was sure hadn’t been there before he’d shaken hands with his opponent at the start of the evening.
The final score was an excellent 4-1 to the ‘B’s. They may yet survive in the division if they can get something out of their encounters with Belgrave and/or Brighouse in their last two matches before Christmas.
Whilst all this was going in Todmorden, the ‘A’ team were engaged in mortal combat with their old adversaries Huddersfield ‘A’. I will post a full report of the match once I have all of the games available for publication. For now I will simply, and with a heavy heart, provide you with the match card.