Nov 142017
 
The fashionable score in round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship where there were no draws this year.

The fashionable score in round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship where there were no draws this year. Photo used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Duncan C’s Flickr photostream

Last Monday night saw round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Championship for 2017-18 take place at the Trades Club. The reigning champion, Phil Cook was back to defend his crown, as were three of the other four players who finished on the same score (4) as Phil last season. Dave Shapland, Richard Bedford and Matthew Parsons were all on the entry list. Entries were slightly down on the 38 participants of last season with 32 players registered – six of whom took a half point bye for round 1.

The field is also a shade weaker this season as last year there were nine players rated over 150 with six of these were rated above 170. In this year’s edition there are eight rated above 150 and three over 170. One constant factor however is the strong proportion of junior entries which highlights the main benefit of playing the event at the Trades Club. Nine of the entries this year are members of the Hebden Bridge Junior club and this competition provides them all with an excellent opportunity to play against adults from across both Calderdale Leagues.

Of course with one section and a huge range in abilities from the top to the bottom of the draw the first round is always likely to see it’s fair share of flat-track bullying. Last season’s first round was exceptional in that there were a serious number of upsets with lower rated players drawing (including draws against the top two seeds) and even winning two games. This time around normal order was restored with all the results going the way of the favorites and no drawn games. It was zeros and ones all the way down the draw.

The common theme in many of the games was tactics involving the loss of the queen – and of course, these games ended pretty swiftly. Nick Sykes is on great form at the moment and he won Luca Curry’s queen with a bishop fork on move 16. Luca resigned three moves later. On the board next door Martin Syrett was up to his old tricks with the Kings Gambit and he succeeded in pulling off a family knight fork of king, queen and rook against Bill Joyce to win on move 18. Interestingly, Paul Gledhill pulled off a mirror image of Martin’s family fork against Joel Hadari on board 13. The main difference in the two games being that, as opposed to resigning on the spot like Bill, Joel toiled on for 20 more moves and forced Paul to mate him.

By way of a variation on the theme, Dave Shapland thought he’d found a combination to win Neil Bamford’s queen for two pieces on board 3. It turned out that he’d miscalculated however and in fact Neil won a rook, knight and bishop for his queen and a pawn. This is altogether a different assessment and, when the dust had settled, it was clear that Neil had a mathematically winning advantage. But of course it’s never that easy to win a game like this with such unusual material imbalances and Neil wasn’t able to find the right method to consolidate and activate his pieces. Dave then laid a nasty trap and Neil fell into it meaning that this game too was also over early in the evening and in under 30 moves.

Elsewhere in the room the lower rated players put up spirited resistance without ever really looking like they were going to cause an upset. The battle of the Richards (Bottomley and Porter) on board 5, went into an endgame before Richard Bottomley fell to a nasty bishop skewer of his rook to his king at the end of an exchange sequence.
On board 6 newcomer to Calderdale chess, Mark Turu, was taken deep into the end game by Toby Dodd who defended resiliently despite being a pawn down for much of the game. Mark was forced to grind out the result as he carefully traded off pieces to reach a five pawns versus four pawns and same coloured bishops ending. Finally, the bishops came off too and Mark’s passed a-pawn diverted the Black king to allow White’s to hoover up Blacks remaining pawns. A patient victory for Mark and staunch resistance from Toby who will surely be served well by this type of form if he plays like this in his league matches too.

Young Gwilym Hughes also forced his opponent, Mike Barnett into a drawn-out affair that finished in a win for Mike on move 55. In this game Gwilym paid the price for having too many weak pawns and Mike efficiently took everything that he was offered and gave nothing in return until his own pawns advanced relentlessly on White’s king right across the board like space invaders.

Juliet Hadari (against Scott Gornall), Martha Leggett (against Vivienne Webster) and Alfie Dermo (against Angel Gonzales) all saw the junior participants put up spirited resistance but ultimately ended in failure.

This just leaves us with three of the top four boards to report on. First of all on board 4 Pete Leonard seemed to be romping to an early win against J-P.Ellis but, just at the moment when a check mate looked inevitable, J-P found a way to give up an exchange and a pawn to stave off Pete’s attack and he was forced instead to consolidate his advantage and win more slowly. Sure enough, the engines show there were some swifter paths to victory, but, having been surprised in the opening round of this tournament last season Pete, quite rightly, chose a risk-free route to accumulate the full point.

The reigning champion, Phil, was up against Steve Harrington on board 2. He had the benefit of the White pieces too but again, the underdog resisted stubbornly. Not only that, but to his great credit, Steve also tried to play actively. Bit by bit, Phil accumulated one positional advantage after another and squeezed his opponent on the queen’s side of the board where the half open b-file was proving to be White’s avenue into the Black position. Eventually, on move 26, Steve overlooked, or was forced to accept the loss of a pawn and his position simply collapsed after that and he resigned just as he was about to go three pawns down into a same-coloured bishops end game.

Undoubtedly the game of the round was on board 1 however as previous winner and number 1 seed, Matthew Parsons took on Chris Edwards in a struggle which became an epic encounter and lasted until the very end of the evening’s play. Last season Matthew had been held to a draw in the first round with the Black pieces but he didn’t alter his approach which was to play solidly and aim to outplay his opponent in the middle and endgame.

Chris chose the Panov-Botvinnik Attack of the Caro-Kan as the battleground for the game but he mis-handled the opening somewhat and lost a pawn. That said, Matthew’s extra pawn was both passed and isolated on the d-file so his margin for error as he exchanged off into a double rook endgame was slim. Chris hunkered down to his task and Matthew then went slightly astray himself as he opted to activate his king when, as he says himself in the game notes, he would have done better to first develop his second rook. By move 22 he admitted that he was not really any better and would ‘have to win the position again’.

Chris’s more active rook, doubled on the d-file, were the key to his defensive chances but then it seems he over-reached himself and started playing for a win when it would have been more prudent to harass the White king with his rooks and ask Matthew to find a winning method. Finally, Matthew activated his king’s rook and, although he was compelled to give back his extra pawn, the players were now in a time scramble and it was Chris who eventually cracked under pressure to hand Matthew a very hard-earned win.

Here is a full list of all the results:

C.Edwards 0 – 1 M.Parsons
P.Cook 1 – 0 S.Harrington
N.Bamford 0 – 1 D.Shapland
P.Leonard 1 – 0 J-P.Ellis
R.Bottomley 0 – 1 R.Porter
M.Turu 1 – 0 T.Dodd
L.Curry 0 – 1 N.Sykes
M.Syrett 1 – 0 B.Joyce
G.Hughes 0 – 1 M.Barnett
S.Gornall 1 – 0 J.S.Hadari
M.Leggett 0 – 1 V.Webster
A.Gonzales 1 – 0 A.Dermo
B.J.S.Hadari 0 – 1 P.Gledhill

Half point byes:
M.Burke, J.Allan, R.Bedford, G.Ainsley, M.O’Keefe, Z.Sandu

All but one of the games from round 1 can be found in the game viewer below.

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Nov 032017
 

BouncebackabilityRound 4 of Calderdale League 1 took place on Monday this week and, after a disappointing showing in round 3, both Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were hoping to demonstrate their powers of recovery.

Pete Leonard’s Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team were put to the sword in brutal fashion by Huddersfield ‘A’ in their last match. Now, in a strange quirk of the fixture list this season, they were set to play their fourth consecutive home match of the season – they will in fact play six of their seven matches in the first half of the season at home. This schedule should give all the ‘A’ team members plenty of practice playing with the Black pieces before Christmas!

On Monday night they were up against a resurgent Belgrave ‘A’ side who have bolstered their line up considerably this season with the inclusion of John Morgan and Dave Patrick. The visitors have also shown an impressively consistent line up so far this season using only six players to date. On Monday they brought Ian Hunter, Morgan, Patrick, Malcolm Corbett and Karim Khan to the Trades Club. Pete meanwhile had strengthened his team compared to the one he’d fielded for the Huddersfield defeat. Andy Bak returned to play on board 1 and Nick ‘Syko’ Sykes was back on board 5 after performing strongly on top board for the ‘B’ team in the last two rounds.

As the two teams gathered for the match it was clear that the outcome was completely in the balance. On paper both sides had exactly the same average rating. Would the possession of the White pieces in these circumstances tip the balance in favour of the visitors?

The match turned out to be just as tight as the statistics would have suggested. On board 2, though the Johns Morgan and Allan played out an interesting and intricate dance with John Allan relinquishing a pawn in exchange for active piece play, the game ultimately ended in a draw at the point when it seemed inevitable that Black would win the pawn back.

On board 4, Neil Suttie seemed well set to open Hebden’s account as he got the better of Malcolm Corbett in the opening, winning first one, than a second pawn. However, in reaching out for a third he missed a tactic and had to relinquish a piece. The players reached an endgame in which Malcolm had a rook, bishop and two pawns against Neil’s rook and five pawns. The situation still looked dicey for White but Malcolm managed to stabiles the situation and, finally, they repeated moves and agreed a draw although the engine assesses the final position to be decisively in White’s favour with accurate play.

Andy Bak lost out to Ian Hunter on board 1 but Hebden struck back decisively with wins on boards 3 and 5 to secure the narrowest possible victory. Pete Leonard’s win demonstrated most aptly the natural justice inherent in the game as, having succumbed to an opening trap in horrifying fashion last time out against Huddersfield, he this time sprung a trap of his own to secure a decisive advantage, winning a piece. That he was able to do this against a player as well prepared as Dave Patrick just goes to show that it really can happen to anyone!

Meanwhile on board 5 the Syko was doing his dark work against one of his favourite customers, Karim Khan. Karim tends to play a hybrid Reti-Larsen’s opening system (with 1.Nf3 and 2.b3) when he thinks he’s facing a well booked-up opponent. The approach has worked for him in the past no doubt, but when you are up against someone as well versed in theory as Nick, playing offbeat lines can sometimes back fire. In this instance, even though he’d expected to face 1.e4, Nick wasn’t surprised by Karim’s opening choice and was able to gain a very comfortable position early on in the game as a result.

The middle game developed along purely positional lines and Nick gradually improved his position and simply outplayed Karim who was eventually forced into desperate measures as he gave up a whole rook for just two pawns. The hoped-for initiative never manifested itself and Nick simply handed back an exchange and defused White’s activity to win the game and secure the match for Hebden.

Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Belgrave ‘A’
A.Bak 0 – 1 I.Hunter (White)
J.Allan ½ – ½ J.Morgan (White)
P.Leonard 1 – 0 D.Patrick (White)
N.Suttie ½ – ½ M.Corbett (White)
N.Sykes 1 – 0 K.Khan (White)
3 – 2

This excellent win put’s Hebden Bridge ‘A’ on three wins out of four. They are still most definitely in the title chase and will next play away at Golden Lion in Todmorden on the 13th of November.

Now to Martin Syrett’s Hebden Bridge ‘B’ team who, despite putting up good resistance in all three of their matches before this one, had failed to score a match point. They too were playing at home on Monday night against fellow back-markers Brighouse. This match represented Hebden’s best opportunity yet to get off the mark.

Brighouse brought pretty much their strongest line up of the season for a match that was vitally important for them too. On board 1 was Robert Broadbent, a player able to take on anyone in the league. Then came Nick Hudson, playing his first game of the season on board 2, Captain Paul Whitehouse on board 3 and Adrian Dawson and Tim Pryke on boards 4 and 5. To meet this team Martin fielded Andy Leatherbarrow, himself, Paul Gledhill, Neil Bamford and Terry Sullivan. With rating advantages on board 2, 3 and 5 and an evenly matched encounter in prospect on board 4, it looked like Hebden might have the edge.

Of course rarely do all the games in a match go according to the ratings. Such was the way of things in this one as Andy Leatherbarrow succeeded in drawing with Black against Robert Broadbent on board 1 despite giving away more than 25 rating points.

It was on the middle boards, where the games were most closely matched, that Hebden did their damage. Neil Bamford dispatched Adrian Dawson on board 4 and on board 3, new player Paul Gledhill took down Paul Whitehouse’s London System in confident fashion. He played sensibly until Paul misjudged a tactic that cost him a piece. The rest was pretty straight forward.

Finally, Captain Syrett won a nice game on board 2. For once it was his turn to face a gambit line as Nick Hudson met his Sicilian Defence with the Smith-Morra Gambit. It’s not in Martin’s nature to play passively to hang on to material and so he didn’t as he prioritized development and placed his pieces on active squares. He also hung onto the gambit pawn with the only cost being that his king remained in the centre of the board uncastled for a pretty long time. It turned out to be the safest place for it as Paul allowed Martin to exchange bishop for knight on g4 and opened the g-file by re-capturing with his g-pawn.

Martin continued to prioritise piece activity until move 22 when he finally decided it was safe for him to castle king’s side. By this time he had a strong positional advantage as well as an extra pawn. Finally, it was Martin and not Nick who got an unstoppable king’s side attack as he pushed his pawns with his opponent pretty much a passive by-stander. At the end Martin broke through decisively with his queen to finish the game in his favour. This gave Hebden ‘B’ their first win of the season.

Here is the scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Brighouse
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ R.Broadbent (White)
M.Syrett 1 – 0 N.Hudson (White)
P.Gledhill 1 – 0 P.Whitehouse (White)
N.Bamford 1 – 0 A.Dawson (White)
T.Sullivan 0 – 1 T.Pryke (White)
3½ – 1½

So, with both Hebden teams showing their ‘bouncebackability’ and keeping their respective hopes for the title and avoiding the drop alive, heads now turned to Halifax chess club where the other four teams in League 1 were gathered.

Halifax ‘A’ took on Huddersfield ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ welcomed Golden Lion. Both visiting sides were the only ones left undefeated in the league at the start of the night and, by the end of the evening, they both still were.

Huddersfield ‘A’ are perennial challenges for the title. In recent years though they have failed to get their strongest line up out consistently across the whole season. So far this time they have gotten stronger and stronger. Having defeated Hebden Bridge ‘A’ last time out now they were out to add Halifax ‘A’ to their list of victims and they fielded Greg Eagleton, Mitchell Burke and Dave Keddie together for the first time this season to help them do it.

In fact, in the end it was made to look easy as Greg beat Bill Somerset, Mitchell beat Richard Porter and Dave beat Carlos Velosa. Dave Tooley then beat Sam Scurfield and Steve Westmoreland took down Mac Randhawa to record the League’s first whitewash of the season.

Golden Lion meanwhile were given a head start as, for the second match in a row, their opponents defaulted a board to them. It could have been another overwhelming victory at the Lee Mount Club but in the end the visitors made hard work of it as they lost their first board of the season on board 5 where Marc Turu had a perfectly viable position against Ray Cully only to blunder to instant defeat.

The visitors did manage to win the remaining three games but they certainly didn’t have everything their own way. On board 2 Phil Cook was forced to toil and grind late into the evening against Scott Gornall before he finally converted a rook and pawn ending where he had an extra pawn. On board 3, Andrew Clarkson defeated Howard Wood quickly but realized the outcome could have been different if Howard had spotted a tricky defence that could have netted him a piece.

Finally, Dave Shapland won a piece very early in his game against Vivienne Webster but then played too casually and lost it back before going on to win the game for a second time in a tough knight, rook and pawns endgame when Vivienne got her knight trapped in enemy territory. The final score was 1 – 4.

All of this means that Golden Lion stay on top of the league table by just half a board point over Huddersfield ‘A’. Both have 8 points. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are in third place with 6 points, Belgrave ‘A’ have 4 and then Halifax ‘A’, Halifax ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ all have 2, while Brighouse stay rooted to the foot of the table and have yet to score.

A number of games from this week’s fixtures can be found in the game viewer below. Thanks again to Nick Sykes for collecting and transcribing many of them for publication.

Next week sees the start of the 2017-18 edition of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship. As in recent years, all rounds will take place at the Trades Club on the first Monday of the months of November, December, January, February and March. John Kerrane is the tournament organiser. If you haven’t yet entered and you would like to please call (01422 842 426) or email (kerranerie@btinternet.com) John before the end of the day on Sunday 5th of November.

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Oct 262017
 
All three Hebden Bridge teams crashed to defeat on a bad night at the Trades Club last Monday. Image used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from bleggg's Flickr photo stream.

All three Hebden Bridge teams crashed to defeat on a bad night at the Trades Club last Monday. Image used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from bleggg’s Flickr photo stream.

On Monday last week all three Hebden Bridge teams took to their boards at the Trades Club as the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams played their third round League 1 fixtures (against Huddersfield ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ respectively) and the ‘C’ team played their third round fixture against Halifax ‘D’ a week early.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had started the season with a couple of wins and now faced stern opposition in the form of Huddersfield ‘A’ who had also started the season in perfect fashion. Usually, matches between Hebden and Huddersfield are super-tense and tight affairs but on this occasion Huddersfield rather cruised to victory by a margin that doesn’t really do justice to the close nature of the games.

Sadly the tone was set by ‘A’ team captain Pete Leonard who fell into an opening trap against Dave Keddie and was compelled to resign in just 10 moves as he was a piece down with no compensation. At least he retained his perspective on the loss and remained sanguine. He has even annotated the game for us in the game viewer at the end of his post. We have indeed, all been there at some point. Your correspondent blundered a mate in one earlier this season.

The night didn’t get much better. John Allan went down to Mitchell Burke on board 1. He seemed to have built himself a decent position and, according to the kibitzers, may even have overlooked some chances to press for victory. But in the end Mitchell found a way to win as he so often does from difficult positions.

Sam Swain and Neil Suttie on boards 3 and 4 also went down against Steve Westmorland and Dave Tooley respectively. Sam never really managed to equalise against Steve’s English Opening and Neil suffered when he initiated sharp play by castling on the opposite wing to Dave but found that White’s attack was fastest.

This just left Richard Bedford to salvage some pride for the home team by despatching Robert Sutcliffe with one of his trade mark off-beat opening lines, the Black Knight’s Tango. It’s a line ‘Beaky’ is an expert in and it showed as Robert struggled to get to grips with it and was defeated.

The final match score card made for grim reading for Hebden:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’
J.Allan 0 – 1 M.Burke (White)
P.Leonard 0 – 1 D.Keddie (White)
S.Swain 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (White)
N.Suttie 0 – 1 D.Tooley (White)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 R.Sutcliffe (White)
1 – 4

Across the room Hebden Bridge ‘B’ did rather better but still came up short in a very close match with Halifax ‘A’ who had beeby Hebden ‘A’ in the previous round and by their own ‘B’ team in round 1. They desperately need to get off the mark and they did, but only just.

Top board for the visitors was Bill Somerset and he took on Nick Sykes. This was a highly theoretical and classically set game in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Nick equalised comfortably and the players agreed to halve the point fairly early in the game which was a great outcome for the home team as Bill is rated 30 points higher than Nick who secured a second draw against very strong opposition in two matches.

There were also draws on board 3, 4 and 5 for Andy Leatherbarrow against Carlos Velosa, John Kerrane against Sam Scurfield and Neil Bamford against David Loughenbury. John and Neil also gave away serious rating differences and Andy and Carlos were rated almost exactly the same. This represented a great battling display by the ‘B’ team.

But unfortunately their night was also due to end in disappointment as the last board to finish saw Richard Porter overcome Martin Syrett in a battle of the captains. Martin gained the exchange but afterwards his position seemed more difficult to play and eventually he felt compelled to give back a bishop to secure a dangerous passed pawn. Richard found a solution to the problems he had been set however and managed to convert his material advantage to a full point to seal Halifax’s first win of the season.

Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
N.Sykes ½ – ½ W.Somerset (White)
M.Syrett 0 – 1 R.Porter (White)
A.Leatherbarrow ½ – ½ C.Velosa (White)
J.Kerrane ½ – ½ S.Scurfield (White)
N.Bamford ½ – ½ D.Loughenbury (White)
2 – 3

Here's an arresting position from the game between Robert Broadbent (Brighouse) and Phil Cook (Golden Lion). White has just played 39.Bh5+. Look at the fully-loaded fifth rank! The game ended in a draw and you can see it all in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Here’s an arresting position from the game between Robert Broadbent (Brighouse) and Phil Cook (Golden Lion). White has just played 39.Bh5+. Look at the fully-loaded fifth rank! The game ended in a draw and you can see it all in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Elsewhere in League 1, Golden Lion continued their perfect start to the season by demolishing 4-man Brighouse ½ – 4½. The game of the night here was undoubtedly Robert Broadbent and Phil Cook’s draw which was a keenly contested encounter with Robert showing great determination and creativity to press hard for a win only to find that Phil was equal to the task as he just managed to hang on. It was one of those games that looked like White should win but in practice finding the solution was difficult and in the end, with his clock running down, Robert decided he should at least salvage a half-point for his team.

The other three games in this match saw relatively straightforward victories for Andrew Clarkson against Paul Whitehouse, Dave Shapland against Adrian Dawson and new team member Marc Turu against Tim Pryke.

Finally, Belgrave ‘A’ defeated Halifax ‘B’ to stay in contention for the title race. The damage was done here by Dave Patrick and Richard Bowman on board 2 and 3 as they saw off Scott Gornall and Howard Wood. The other games saw the Halifax ‘B’ players make very creditable draws against higher rated opponents to limit the margin of victory to 3½ – 1½.

These results mean that Golden Lion and Huddersfield ‘A’ are now at the top of the league with 6 points. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Belgrave ‘A’ have 4, Halifax ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ have 2 and Brighouse and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ are still on 0.
I mentioned at the beginning of the article that Hebden Bridge ‘C’ also played a match at the Trades Club. This was scheduled a week early to allow John Kerrane to organise the junior squad before going away on holiday this week. Halifax ‘D’ are, on paper, the team that the juniors should have in their sights as potential victims and indeed they did fair better than they had in their first two matches although they still went down in the end.

On board 1 the token ‘non-junior’, J.P. Ellis held Glen Roper to a draw while on board 2, Toby Dodd scored the ‘C’ team’s first board win of the season by defeating John Nicholson. Luca Curry, Martha Leggett and Alfie Dermo were all defeated. Here is the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Halifax ‘D’
J.P.Ellis ½ – ½ G.Roper (White)
T.Dodd 1 – 0 J.Nicholson (White)
L.Curry 0 – 1 D.Rowley (White)
M.Leggett 0 – 1 E.Fynn (White)
A.Dermo 0 – 1 P.Stowe (White)
1½ – 3½

The other two matches in League 2 were played on Monday this week and saw Belgrave ‘B’ defeat Belgrave ‘C’ by 3½ – 1½ and Huddersfield ‘B’ thrashed Halifax ‘C’ 4 – 1 with a result that sees them go top of the league on their own as the only side with a perfect record. They are followed by Belgrave ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘C’ who both have 4 points, Halifax ‘C’ and Halifax ‘D’ who both have 2 points, and, at the bottom, Hebden ‘D’ who have at least managed to win their first game of the season. Maybe that will inspire the youngsters to greater heights and more rewards for their efforts.

You’ll find a good number of the games from last week in the game viewer below. Thanks to Nick Sykes for collecting and transcribing these for this report.

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Oct 162017
 
White to play from Velosa vs. Swain (Hebden Bridge 'A' vs Halifax 'A') Black has grabbed a hot pawn. Can you see how White took advantage to press home the attack? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

White to play from Velosa vs. Swain (Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs Halifax ‘A’) Black has grabbed a hot pawn. Can you see how White took advantage to press home the attack? Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Both Calderdale Evening Chess Leagues have now played two rounds of fixtures, so we’ve plenty of action to catch up on in this post.

League 1

Let’s catch up on round 2 of League 1 first of all. Most of the fixtures took place on Monday 2nd of October with Golden Lion’s first home fixture against Hebden Bridge ‘B’ postponed until Monday the 9th.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ took on Halifax ‘A’ at home in their second match of the season. In recent years these two sides have fought out some epic encounters full of twists and turns and almost always very tight indeed. Hebden had the better of things last season but for this fixture both sides sported line ups that looked very different to the corresponding fixture last season.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ had fielded Messrs Parsons, A.Bak, C.Bak, Shapland and Leonard on the 3rd of April when they edged a tight match 3 – 2. This time out the side was Andy Bak, John Allan, Sam Swain, Neil Suttie and Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford. Team Captain Pete Leonard was away and stand-in Captain, Nick Sykes, elected to play his strongest five available players which meant no place for him in the line up.

Halifax ‘A’ also had four different players to the April match. Last season they had Winston Williams, Darwin Ursal, John Morgan, Richard Porter and Sam Scurfield. This time out it was Bill Somerset, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa, David Loughenbury and Barry Wadsworth. With this line up the visitors were out-graded on every board to a greater or lesser extent. On paper it looked it should have been easy for Hebden but it turned out to be anything but.

On Board 1 Andy Bak and Bill Somerset continued their theoretical discussion of the Semi-Slav (this time the Anti-Moscow Variation as opposed to the Botvinnik Variation). This opening lends itself to mind boggling complications and generally both sides make inaccurate moves. On this occasion it was Andy with Black who came out on top.

Board 2 saw Richard Porter play the London System against John Allan. John’s had plenty of practice of playing against this system from his recent games against Matthew Parsons and Richard didn’t play the most ambitious lines. Never the less the game did get pretty complicated. However, with plenty of life still in the position, the players agreed to a draw on move 25.

Halifax struck back on board 3 where Carlos Velosa was up to his old tricks with Bird’s Opening (1.f4). Sam Swain handled the unorthodox opening system perfectly well but Carlos is a dangerous tactician and, when Sam grabbed a hot pawn on move 26, Carlos seized the opportunity and found a pretty forcing sequence (see the puzzle at the top of the post). Sam missed the point and resigned when he saw mate in two coming.

Loughenbury versus Suttie on board 4 was another London System. Here too Black seemed to equalise fairly easily and the game simplified quickly to a double rook, knight and six pawns each endgame. The players decided as early as move 22 that the position was sterile and shook hands. Of course the engine has an opinion of its own and suggests White was better with potential to play against a vulnerable Black a-pawn.

This meant that the match was decided on board 5 where Hebden had the largest rating advantage of any of the encounters. However, Richard Bedford had toiled with the Black pieces to take down Barry Wadsworth in round 2 of last year’s Calderdale Individual Championship so the conclusion was by no means forgone. On this occasion however, Beaky made lighter work of the task when, in the middle game he managed to create and exploit a pin on the d-file. Barry had a fleeting opportunity to release the pin on move 26 when Bc5 or Bd4 (see the game in the viewer at the end of this post) may have enabled him to hang on. But after the game move 26.Re3 and, soon after, the critical mistake 28.h4? he first lost a piece and then his queen with check mate to follow shortly.

Thus did Hebden manage to win a tight match 3 – 2. Bizarrely they have been scheduled to play 6 out of the first 7 matches this season at home (!!) which means they are going to get some practice with the Black pieces and may be able to make a strong surge when the have the reverse fixtures after Christmas.

Here is the final match scorecard against Halifax:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Halifax ‘A’
A.Bak 1 – 0 W.Somerset (White)
J.Allan ½ – ½ R.Porter (White)
S.Swain 0 – 1 C.Velosa (White)
N.Suttie ½ – ½ D.Loughenbury (White)
R.Bedford 1 – 0 B.Wadsworth (White)
3 – 2

On the same evening Belgrave ‘A’ bounced back from their opening fixture defeat against Golden Lion to thrash Brighouse ½ – 4½. The home side were without their top board Robert Broadbent and this exposed the rest of the squad. Only the Brighouse Captain, Paul Whitehouse, saved a walk over for the visitors when he held John Morgan to a draw on board 2 – a highly creditable outcome considering the rating difference of almost 60 points.

Then, on Wednesday last week, Huddersfield ‘A’ took on Halifax ‘B’ who had surprisingly opened their account by beating their own ‘A’ team in the first fixture. Huddersfield defaulted their third board and Ray Cully held Steve Westmoreland to a draw on board 5 but the other three games went the way of the home side as Huddersfield won 3½ – 1½.

To complete the second round of fixtures, Golden Lion and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ played their match this last Monday, the first at the eponymous venue of the home side. It must be said that not everything went perfectly smoothly (the venue was noisy) but the necessary steps have already been taken to ensure better conditions for future matches and five new visitors to the league turned up for some social chess which was very encouraging.

The match itself swung the way of the home side all too quickly. On board two Hebden’s Andy Leatherbarrow blundered a piece early in the game and, although he battled on for some time after that, the outcome was never in doubt and Andrew Clarkson converted to the full point.

By this time though the match was already in the bag. Dave Shapland beat Neil Bamford on board 3 in the first match to finish as Neil got his pieces into a tangle, gave up the exchange for a pawn to try and sort himself out only to drop a piece to a tactic shortly after.

On board 4 the manner of victory was rather different as Golden Lion’s David Innes ground down Terry Sullivan finally swapping down to a king and pawn ending where he had an extra pawn and a sure win. Terry resigned rather than suffer further.

Finally, on board 5, Golden Lion’s new recruit Peter Dickinson played a complicated draw out against Paul Gledhill. There was plenty of complexity and excitement in this one but in the end the players decided to agree peace terms with the situation at the board still rather unclear.

With the match now decided Hebden’s Nick Sykes was able to offer a draw to Martyn Hamer in the confidence that he was at least no worse and possibly even slightly better against his much higher rated opponent. Certainly Martyn was happy enough to grant the request given that trying for anything more would have involved a good deal of risk and a very long and drawn out evening’s effort to boot.

The final match scorecard looked like this:

Golden Lion vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
M.Hamer ½ – ½ N.Sykes (White)
A.A.Clarkson 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow (White)
D.Shapland 1 – 0 N.Bamford (White)
D.Innes 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (White)
P.Dickinson ½ – ½ P.Gledhill (White)
4 – 1

With all teams now having played two matches, Golden Lion top the table with 4 match points and 7½ board points. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are in second place with the same match points and 7 board points and Huddersfield are in third, also with two wins from two matches but 6½ match points. Belgrave ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’ have one win and one defeat to their names and at the bottom, Brighouse, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ and, surprisingly Halifax ‘A’, are yet to score any points.

In round 3 next (matches played tonight) both Hebden Bridge teams will be at home with Hebden Bridge ‘A’ playing Huddersfield ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ hosting Halifax ‘A’. These should be fascinating match ups. Elsewhere Golden Lion host Brighouse and Belgrave ‘A’ will play Halifax ‘B’.

League 2

John Kerrane’s (predominantly junior) Hebden Bridge ‘C’ team played their first round match on the 25th of September and their second round match last Monday.

In round 1 they faced Belgrave’s new ‘C’ team outfit. Unfortunately, Hebden were missing one of their youngsters when Martha Leggett had to take an emergency trip to the dentist at the last minute. The largely junior line up was up against it any way as Belgrave fielded an experienced side who were more than a match for the hosts on this occasion.

Here’s the match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
J.Kerrane ½ – ½ D.Colledge (White)
L.Curry 0 – 1 A.Gonzales (White)
T.Dodd 0 – 1 S.Harrington (White)
G.Hughes 0 – 1 P.Jacobs (White)
Default 0 – 1 R.Bottomley (White)
½ – 4½

Then, last week, Hebden fielded a similar line-up against Belgrave’s ‘B’ team (this match was an away fixture but Belgrave had kindly agreed to play it at the Trades Club so that transportation for the juniors was not a difficulty. This time the juniors faced a side that in no small part reflected the line up of the Belgrave ‘A’ team that had participated in League 1 a few years ago. Once again Hebden managed just a single draw and this time it was provided by one of Todmorden’s refugees welcomed into the club to play in League 2 – J.P Ellis who scored a very fine draw with Gordon Farrar on board 1.

Here is the full score card:

Belgrave ‘B’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’
G.Farrar ½ – ½ J.P.Ellis (White)
M.Barnett 1 – 0 T.Dodd (White)
L.Johnson 1 – 0 L.Curry (White)
P.Edwards 1 – 0 J.S Hadari (White)
C.Edwards 1 – 0 B.J.S Hadari (White)
4½ – ½

All of this means that Hebden ‘C’ are still awaiting their first win of the season. Maybe it will be ‘third time lucky’ as they take on Halifax ‘D’ at the Trades Club this evening (this match is being played a week ahead of schedule).

In League 2, Belgrave ‘C’ and Huddersfield ‘B’ top the table with two wins out of two. Halifax ‘C’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have one win each and Hebden and Halifax ‘D’ are yet to score.

You’ll find a number of recent games in the game viewer below. Our thanks to Nick Sykes for collecting and transcribing the Hebden Bridge games.

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Sep 222017
 
The chess players of Calderdale got saddled up for the new chess season as round 1 matches in League 1 took place this week. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from John Maddin's Flickr photostream

The chess players of Calderdale got saddled up for the new chess season as round 1 matches in League 1 took place this week. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from John Maddin’s Flickr photostream

Monday night saw the first convention of the 2017-18 Calderdale Evening Chess League. But, before we dive into the match reports and results, let’s ring the changes from last season as there have been several of significance and this website has lain dormant over the summer so there’s lot’s to catch up on.

Let’s start on a positive note! There are eight teams taking part in League 1 this season after last season began with Todmorden ‘B’s last moment withdrawal. This is a very welcome state of affairs.

The other significant change in League 1 concerns the current (and three-time consecutive champions) Todmorden ‘A’. Todmorden chess club folded over the summer but a chess team based in Todmorden has been salvaged and will be based at the Golden Lion in Fielden Square. The team primarily comprises former Todmorden ‘A’ players and it is hoped that, by moving the team to the Golden Lion (a community pub with an interest in hosting and promoting a range of local clubs) that some fresh blood might be attracted and new administrators be found for a club in Todmorden to be established there.

In the meantime, some of Todmorden’s members have joined Hebden Bridge Chess Club and been welcomed with open arms as they have bolstered our numbers to the extent that we can be far more confident about being able to consistently field three teams across the two divisions this season. That hasn’t been the case in recent years.

Some consolidation and expansion has occurred elsewhere in the league too. Belgrave have seen John Morgan and Dave Patrick return to their ranks (a few years ago they represented Courier at the same venue but when Courier was discontinued they joined Halifax and Todmorden respectively) and this has enabled them to enter two teams into League 2 this season as former ‘A’ team regulars are now available for the ‘B’ team and ‘B’ teamers for the ‘C’ team.

Finally, League 2 has also welcomed back a Huddersfield ‘B’ team this season. It’s been a while since Huddersfield has had two teams in the league and this too is a very heartening development. It is worth mentioning to readers that, (PLEASE NOTE) whilst Huddersfield ‘A’ will continue to play their home matches at the Lindley Club on a Wednesday night, the ‘B’ team will play their home matches at the Honley Club in Holmfirth on a Monday night.

League 1, round 1 fixtures took place on Monday and Wednesday night this week. Here’s a quick re-cap of all the teams playing in League 1 this season:

  • Golden Lion (formerly Todmorden ‘A’ – League 1 Champions 2016-17)
  • Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (League 1 Runners-Up 2016-17)
  • Halifax ‘A’ (League 1 3rd place 2016-17)
  • Huddersfield ‘A’
  • Belgrave ‘A’
  • Halifax ‘B’
  • Hebden Bridge ‘B’
  • Brighouse (promoted as League 2 Champions 2016-17)

And so, to the action. Tradition holds that any derby matches between teams from the same club are held on the 1st and 8th rounds of the league season. This meant that Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were pitted against each other and so were Halifax ‘A’ and Halifax ‘B’. Additionally, Belgrave ‘A’ hosted Golden Lion and, on Wednesday evening, Huddersfield ‘A’ played Brighouse.

Last season Hebden Bridge ‘A’ only managed to draw against their ‘B’ team in the opening match of the season when they were playing at home (i.e. they all had the Black pieces). This time around although the ‘B’ team once again had the White pieces, the eventual outcome of the fixture more closely resembled the return match up from 2016-17 when Hebden Bridge ‘A’ won 4½ – ½.

One factor that had certainly changed since last season was the team line ups. Gone from the ‘A’ team line up on the 23rd of January were their top three boards, Matthew Parsons, Chris Bak and Dave Shapland. In their stead appeared John Allan (a ‘B’ team player last season), Pete Leonard (the team Captain this season) and Sam Swain (a welcome new arrival this summer). The side was completed by Neil Suttie (a Todmorden refugee) and ‘A’ team regular Nick Sykes.

Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team also saw some changes from the last time these two sides played with John Allan stepping up to the ‘A’ team and John Kerrane stepping out of the line up to make way for fresh blood. Martin was joined by Andy Leatherbarrow on board 2, a returning friend from Keighley Mark Stollery on board 3, a new member Paul Gledhill on board 4 and a familiar friend Terry Sullivan on board 5.

With the ‘B’ team out-graded by at least 20 points on each board, they could have anticipated a tricky evening and so it proved as the stronger ‘A’ team squad drew two and won three of the games despite all operating the Black pieces.
On board 1, ‘B’ team Captain Syrett ventured his favorite King’s Gambit against John Allan. John took and kept the gambit pawn but as the game eventually simplified down to a rook and three pawns versus rook and two pawns ending it became clear that it wasn’t so easy for Black to convert his extra pawn and finally the players agreed to a draw.

Andy Leatherbarrow played an English Opening to counteract Pete Leonard’s favoured Grunfeld set up on board 2 and a very closely contested and finely balanced game ensued which eventually was agreed drawn. However, the kibitzing Matthew Parsons thought Andy might have had a winning ending when the result was agreed.

The game on board 3 between Mark Stollery with White and Sam Swain with Black developed into one of the evening’s sharper battles after the agreed upon the Meran variation of the Semi-Slav as their chosen terrain for the opening phase. It appeared that Sam built up a good deal of pressure but the assessment of the position was still unclear. Later on Mark sacrificed a piece for an attack but Sam defended stoutly and was able to consolidate and win the game with the extra material.

On board 4 the ‘A’ team’s Neil Suttie faced a new member, Paul Gledhill who has just arrived in the Calder Valley from Manchester. He set out his chess-playing style by essaying the Urusov Gambit. Neil responded cautiously and carefully before building an attack on the White king that led him to win first a piece and then the game.

Finally, on board 5, Nick Sykes played the Nimzo-Indian against Terry Sullivan and gained a god position from the opening before both players overlooked a strong tactical idea for White that would have kept Terry in the game. Once he’d missed his chance Nick didn’t give him another and won the game soon after.

Here are the full match details:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
J.Allan ½ – ½ M.Syrett (White)
P.Leonard ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (White)
S.Swain 1 – 0 M.Stollery (White)
N.Suttie 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (White)
N.Sykes 1 – 0 T.Sullivan (White)
4 – 1

A good start for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ then and they look to have a very compact line up with all players rated within a 20 point range. With occasional appearances from the likes of Matthew Parsons and the Bak brothers, they will certainly be in the running for the league title again this season.

The other derby match at Halifax threw up a great surprise as Halifax ‘B’ beat their ‘A’ team colleagues rather handily. To be sure, the ‘A’ team does not look as strong as it has done in recent years with John Morgan moving back across town to Belgrave and Darwin Ursal and Winston Williams both missing. Never the less, the line up on paper should have been sufficient to have gotten the job done, but derby matches can be strange affairs, especially when it’s the first match of the season and blunders are perhaps more likely.

In any case, with the ‘A’ team all having the Black pieces, the statistical advantage was diminished and on the night Pete Hughes overcame Bill Somerset on board 1 and Vivienne Webster and John Nicholson beat Sam Scurfield and David Loughenbury respectively overturning significant rating differences in the process. The bottom board was drawn which left only the ‘A’ team captain, Richard Porter, to salvage a consolation point for his team by beating his counterpart Scott Gornall on board 2.

The third match to take place on Monday night was between Belgrave ‘A’s new beefed up side and Golden Lion. This was probably the heavy weight encounter of the round in terms of teams who may be vying for the title at the end of the season. Golden Lion’s top three boards (Martyn Hamer, Pete Mulleady and Andrew Clarkson) have done the business for Todmorden ‘A’ over the course of the last three seasons, but on this occasion they were matched by Belgrave’s Ian Hunter, John Morgan and Dave Patrick. Of these three boards perhaps only Andrew Clarkson will feel he should have achieved more than a draw for his efforts.

This match was sealed for the ‘Champions’ by wins on the bottom two boards. On board 4 Dave Shapland over whelmed Malcolm Corbett’s Pirc when his opponent chose swift expansion on the queen’s side over piece development and then played inaccurately at a crucial moment to allow Dave a mating attack. Later, David Innes saw off Karim Khan in a game that was typical of his street fighting style. The opening was off beat, the tactics obscure and, although it appeared at one point that Karim had the upper hand, shortly afterwards he found himself a whole rook down for just two pawns and the rest was fairly straight forward for David.

On Wednesday evening Huddersfield ‘A’ hosted neighbors Brighouse in the final match of round 1. Again on paper this looked like a total mis-match as Huddersfield out-rated the visitors 45 points or more an all of the bottom four boards! That they only won by the narrowest possible margin was down largely to the efforts of Brighouse’s top board, Robert Broadbent who drew with Greg Eagleton, their team Captain Paul Whitehouse who drew with Andrew McFadden and a new Brighouse player, journeyman Adrian Dawson who has joined the club to help bolster their dwindling numbers, who dispatched Dave Tooley on board 4. Dave Keddie and Steve Westmoreland restored order for Huddersfield by winning on boards 2 and 5 to see the home side over the line.

At the end of round 1, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are top of the opening league table having been the only side able to win by a margin of 4 – 1. Golden Lion and Halifax ‘B’ are just behind them on board count with Huddersfield in fourth. Based on the first round of match one would have to conclude that the title honours will be fought out between Golden Lion, Hebden Bridge ‘A’, Huddersfield and probably Belgrave ‘A’. We’ll have to wait and see but the league certainly looks like it will once again be very competitive this season.

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