Oct 082021
 

This position appeared in the game between Matthew Parsons and Leo Keely in the second round of the Calderdale 30 on Monday night. It’s White to play. How should he continue? You’ll find the answer and the rest of the game in the viewer at the end of this post.

The Calderdale Evening Chess League launched a brand new competition on Monday this week as 30 players from across the region met at the Belgrave Social Club in Halifax to play three rounds of chess at a time limit of 30 minutes each. This tournament will see ten teams of three players participating in a round robin team format over four evenings from this week through to March next year. League positions will be determined not by match points but by points scored on each and every board and that means every single game has a potential bearing on the outcome with up to three points available in every match.

It was great to see so many chess players all in one place on Monday and almost half of them were representing Hebden Bridge Chess Club as we entered four teams to take part. They joined two teams from Belgrave, two from Huddersfield, one from Halifax and another team of ‘Nomads’ made up of players from various clubs who didn’t have a berth in any of the other teams. Hebden chose to distribute their strength across all four of their teams in order to try and make the whole tournament as competitive as possible. Their fours teams were led on the top boards by Matthew Parsons, Phil Cook, Martyn Hamer and Jamie Heritage whilst their bottom boards were occupied by four players who joined the club either just before or just after the COVID lockdown, Cobus Daneel, Jeremy Butts, Chris Marsden and Sam Giles.

By the end of the evening two of Hebden’s teams had taken an early lead and were well clear of the pack. Here is a round by round breakdown of the scores.

Round 1

Hebden Bridge A (Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland and Cobus Daneel) beat the Nomads side (Richard Porter, Vivienne Webster and Angel Gonzalez) by 2½-½. Matthew and Cobus won fairly comfortably but a rusty Dave missed a hanging piece in the middle game and then blundered the exchange in his game but somehow managed to hang on for a draw in the end game with Vivienne’s time running out.

Hebden Bridge B (Phil Cook, Nick Doody and Chris Marsden) beat Halifax (Andrew Whiteley, Barry Wadsworth and John Nicholson) 2 – 1 though they didn’t lose a game as both boards two and three were drawn whilst Phil won on board 1.

Huddersfield B (Leo Keely, David Gray and Alec Ward) whitewashed Huddersfield A (Nick Sykes, Robert Mitchell and Colin Frank) 3-0.

Belgrave A (Dave Patrick, Robert Clegg and Chris Edwards) beat Belgrave B (Dave Colledge, Les Johnson and Steve Harrington) 2½ – ½.

But the result of the round was undoubtedly Hebden Bridge D’s (Jamie Heritage, Sam Swain and Sam Giles) pasting of Hebden Bridge C (Martyn Hamer, Paul Gledhill and Jeremy Butts) 3-0 with Jamie’s win over Martyn on board one serving further notice that he is going to be a major force to be reckoned with in Calderdale this season.

Round 2

Hebden Bridge D continued their perfect form with a 3-0 thrashing of the Nomads in round 2. Just half a point behind them were Hebden Bridge A who also managed to beat Huddersfield B 3-0. Matthew Parson’s beautiful game against Leon Keely on board 1 is given in the game viewer at the end of this post and is well worth taking a look at, while Dave Shapland survived another scare before turning the tables on David Gray and new-comer Cobus Daneel took down the Huddersfield Captain Alec Ward in fine attacking style.

Hebden B beat Belgrave A 2-1 in a tight match with Nick Doody’s win over Robert Clegg on board two proving to be decisive as Phil Cook drew with Dave Patrick and Chris Marsden drew with Chris Edwards on boards 1 and 3 respectively. This put the B team two points behind the D team and one and a half behind the A team after two rounds.

Hebden C bounced back from their first round defeat by the D team to beat Halifax 2-1. Martyn and Paul won their games on boards 1 and 2 against Andrew Whiteley and Barry Wadsworth while Jeremy on board 3 also had much the better of the game against John Nicholson before running out of time in a completely winning position.

In the last of the round 2 matches, Belgrave B lost 1-2 to Huddersfield A.

Round 3

Hebden Bridge D assured themselves of the top spot in the league after 3 rounds by carrying out their third demolition of the evening, this time against Halifax. This rounded off an extremely impressive evening from all three of their players.

Hebden Bridge A lost a little bit more ground in their chase as they won 2½-½ for the second time in the evening against Belgrave B. This time it was Matthew on board 1 who was impressively held to a draw by Dave Colledge. Meanwhile Dave and Cobus both did what they needed to against Les Johnson and Steve Harrington respectively. Cobus finished the night on 3 out of 3 – another very impressive performance.

Hebden Bridge B lost their final match of the evening 1-2 to Huddersfield A. Phil beat Nick Sykes on board 1 but Nick and Chris both lost their games to Robert Mitchell and Colin Frank respectively.

Hebden Bridge C continued their recovery with a fine 2-1 win over Belgrave A. The hero here was Jeremy who recovered from two painful losses on time to dispatch the experienced Chris Edwards on board 3. This win, along with Phil’s win over Dave Patrick on board 1 was enough to counteract Paul’s loss to Robert Clegg on board 2.

The final match of round 3 saw the evening’s only tied match as Huddersfield B and the Nomads fought themselves to a standstill. Leo Keely beat Richard Porter on the top board but Angel Gonzalez beat Alec Ward on the bottom board whilst the game between David Gray and Vivienne Webster was a draw.

League Table after 3 rounds

Hebden Bridge D – 9 points
Hebden Bridge A – 8
Hebden Bridge B – 5
Huddersfield B – 4½
Belgrave A – 4½
Hebden Bridge C – 4
Huddersfield A – 4
Nomads – 2
Belgrave B – 2
Halifax – 2

This competition is a welcome addition to the calendar and there was a great atmosphere at the Belgrave Club with so many players all in one place and lots of exciting games being played. Whilst two of the Hebden teams are currently riding high, neither of them have played the strongest teams in the competition yet and so there is plenty of time over the remaining six rounds for the other to haul them in, and, with some missing players due to return for the next night of fixtures, there is every chance that fortunes may change.

Instructions for using the PGN Viewer

For the benefit of those who are uninitiated, the game viewer above contains one of the games played last Monday night. It will automatically scroll through it unless you tell it to stop by clicking on the ‘=’ button below the board. You can navigate forwards and backwards using the arrow buttons beneath the board or click on the moves in the text box on the right.

Sep 262021
 

Sometimes, when a match is in the balance, you need the heavy hitters to tip the scales in your favour. That was exactly what happened on Monday night as the top 3 boards helped Hebden Bridge 2 edge past Huddersfield 2. Photo Credit: Janet Ramsden’s Flickr photo stream

On Monday night the first of the round 2 matches in this season’s Calderdale Evening Chess game were played. As we return tentatively to over the board chess in the wake of the COVID pandemic, there is just one division of eight teams this season and each round of fixtures is played across two weeks. This has been done to allow clubs the opportunity to share players between teams should they be suddenly have squad members becoming unavailable due to a positive test and self-isolation or illness.

On Monday, Hebden Bridge 2 hosted Huddersfield 2 at the Trades Club. Both sides had done well against their first teams in the first round of matches with Hebden, as reported here last week, drawing their match with Hebden Bridge 1 whilst Huddersfield 2 went one better and beat their first team. However, while Huddersfield selected the exact same five players that had done the job for them the previous week, Hebden rang the changes in order to try and get as many members of their squad as possible a game. Their board 1 for the derby match, Phil Cook, took a week off and out too went Cobus Daneel. They were replaced by Nick Doody and Sam Swain both playing their first matches of the season and, in Nick’s case, his first match for the club.

This was an absorbing, tense and very close match with the result in doubt right until the last moves were played. Looking at the ratings beforehand it seemed that Hebden Bridge would be favourites primarily owing to their superior strength on the lower boards, but that was actually where they struggled most. Chris Marsden and Sam Swain both made blunders to help Bryn Charlesworth and Alec Ward overturn the odds on boards 4 and 5.

This left Hebden’s top three boards to do the heavy lifting. Nick Doody, returning to chess after several years away, demonstrated he was in great shape with a nice win against David Gray on board 3 before Andrew Clarkson finally triumphed over Leo Keely on board 1 in a long encounter that saw Leo go a piece down early on but then provide obdurate resistance.

The last game to finish was the one on board 2 between young Jamie Heritage of Hebden Bridge and Granville Boot of Huddersfield. This was a fascinating encounter with a very unusual material balance that kept onlookers speculating about the outcome right to the end. Granville had a rook for four pawns in the endgame and caused Jamie all sorts of problems before the 15-year old finally found a way to stop his pawn storm and seal the win for Hebden Bridge at the death.

A great match! Here is the final match score card which saw Hebden 2 move into 2nd place in the fledgling league table just behind Belgrave 2 on board points as they tied with Halifax 1 on Monday night.

Hebden Bridge 2 vs. Huddersfield 2
(B) A.Clarkson 1 – 0 L.Keely
(B) J.Heritage 1 – 0 G.Boot
(B) N.Doody 1 – 0 D.Gray
(B) S.Swain 0 – 1 A.Ward
(B) C.Marsden 0 – 1 B.Charlesworth
3 – 2

Instructions for using the PGN Viewer

For the benefit of those who are uninitiated, the game viewer above contains some of the games played last Monday night. It will automatically scroll through all of them one after the other unless you tell it to stop by clicking on the ‘=’ button below the board. To select the game you wish to view click on the ‘…’ symbol in the white box above the board. This will reveal a dropdown menu for you to choose from and when you select your game will appear. You can navigate forwards and backwards using the arrow buttons beneath the board or click on the moves in the text box on the right.

Sep 182021
 

Hebden 1 and Hebden 2 kicked off the new season playing against each other. Who got their calculations right on the night? Read on to find out. Photo credit: litherland’s Flickr photo stream

On March 16th 2020 I played on board 1 for Hebden Bridge ‘C’ as they hosted Huddersfield ‘B’ in the Calderdale Evening Chess League. That was a round 11 match and we’d almost reached the end of the season. Sadly, we didn’t make it to the very end. Little were any of us playing that night to know that this would be the last competitive over the board chess we would play for the best part of 18 months. The COVID lockdown came into effect the following week and all our activity ground to a halt.

Much has changed since that Monday night in 2020. Lockdown life has afforded many people the opportunity to discover the pleasures of playing chess for the first time or has given those who used to play years ago the chance to renew their appreciation of the game. The Queen’s Gambit series on Netflix has glamourised the world of chess and challenged the generally held stereotypes people had of chess players and chess itself. Online chess has boomed significantly and the number of online competitions available to us has expanded as a result – but we’ve also been confronted by an epidemic of online cheating that has damaged the reputation of the game.

A few weeks ago, we were able to start up our face-to-face meetings at the Trades Club again and we’ve been blessed with a steady influx of new members as well as an enthusiastic return to action by our existing membership base. As long as the world can stay COVID secure in the near future and activity is not abruptly curtailed again, it would appear that the pandemic has had a silver lining for the chess community.

Last Monday night Hebden Bridge 1 and Hebden Bridge 2 met for the first match of a brand new Calderdale Evening League season. It was great to be back at the board playing competitive chess again. However, the match was not completely free from the impact of the COVID pandemic. For a start, several of the players who had originally been selected to play either came down with the virus or were anxiously awaiting the results of tests to see if they could leave their homes. The Trades Club was unavailable for the match because they had a gig scheduled that night but our back up venue (the Golden Lion in Todmorden) was unable to open as planned due to staff shortages. Indeed, the match between Halifax’s two teams was postponed as their usual venue was also unavailable.

Riding to our rescue came our friends at Belgrave Chess Club who agreed to host our derby match at their venue so that we could proceed as planned. In recent seasons our top two teams have been selected based on the geography of their player bases with those players from the upper Calder Valley and East Lancashire playing in one team based at the Golden Lion and the those based all points west of Hebden Bridge playing at the Trades Club. Generally, the two sides have been fairly evenly matched and they’ve dominated League 1 in recent times.

This season, there is only one division and all four clubs (Hebden Bridge, Halifax, Belgrave and Huddersfield) have fielded two teams in it. With all our home games taking place at the Trades Club we’ve taken the opportunity to split the strength of our pool of players evenly across the two teams. Thus, on Monday the strongest two players available faced each other on board 1 and then the next two strongest on board 2 and so on across the 5 boards with just a small change on the bottom two boards. The idea was to try and create genuine competition between the two sides and, based on the evidence from Monday, it seems to have worked well. The match was tied with competitive and tense games on all five boards.

Both teams fielded a blend of experienced league players, more recent league players with fewer games under their belts and brand new members who’d never played in the Calderdale League before. Right from the start of the evening it was clear that the match was going to be tight. Board 4 was the first game to finish when Andy Leatherbarrow (playing for the first team) took down Cobus Daneel (one of the two new members) with the Black pieces. This was followed shortly after by a draw on board 2 between Andrew Clarkson (playing for the second team) and Martyn Hamer. These two have faced each other many times before and, despite entering a promisingly complicated line of the Sicilian Richter Rauser, they sensibly decide not to risk too much and signed peace terms in a roughly equal position.

Having fallen behind, Hebden 2 then struck back mid-evening when 15-year old Jamie Heritage beat Dave Shapland to level the scores for the second team. Dave had prepared a line of the French Tarrasch Variation as a bit of a surprise but Jamie coped with it superbly and played accurately to maintain some pressure. Dave committed the first major imprecision of the game and followed it immediately with a more serious blunder which led to a terminal loss of material.

The second team then took a 2½ – 1½ lead when Chris Marsden, who had been steadily turning the screw against the second new player in the match, Jeremy Butts, won a piece and then converted his advantage without too much fuss. That result meant Matthew Parsons (playing for the first team) needed to beat Phil Cook with the Black pieces to tie the match up. That he succeeded in doing this only at the very end of the evening should reveal that this game was very tight, very well played and extremely tense. At the end, Matthew won on time but it appeared he had won endgame anyway. Subsequent analysis with an engine revealed that in fact, Phil could have held the balance but only with a very accurate sequence.

So, the match ended tied which is probably a slightly better result for the first team given they were all playing Black. The final match scorecard is below:

Hebden Bridge 1 vs. Hebden Bridge 2
M.Parsons 1 – 0 P.Cook
M.Hamer ½ – ½ A.Clarkson
D.Shapland 0 – 1 J.Heritage
A.Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 C.Daneel
J.Butts 0 – 1 C.Marsden
2½ – 2½

You can view some of the game played on Monday in the game viewer below.

 

Instructions for using the PGN Viewer

For the benefit of those who are uninitiated, the game viewer above contains some of the games played last Monday night. It will automatically scroll through all of them one after the other unless you tell it to stop by clicking on the ‘=’ button below the board. To select the game you wish to view click on the ‘…’ symbol in the white box above the board. This will reveal a dropdown menu for you to choose from and when you select your game will appear. You can navigate forwards and backwards using the arrow buttons beneath the board or click on the moves in the text box on the right.