This way to the polling station! Time for you to decide on your ‘Game of the Decade’. Photo: kcivey
We’ve reached the end of our short series covering some of the best, most interesting, exciting and memorable chess games played in Hebden Bridge or by Hebden Bridge Chess Club players. Now it’s time for us to reveal our short list and for readers to decide which one they think is their ‘Game of the Decade’.
Just as with the long list I really agonised over which games to select. There are so many factors to weight up and, in the end, the selection is subjective. The least I can do is explain the criteria that I used to weigh up the long list candidates so that readers can understand how I reached this short list of five games, even if they don’t agree with my choice.
How accurate was the play in general?: although there were some games on the long list in which the general standard of the play was not that high, I felt they merited inclusion because of one interesting moment or because they were particularly dramatic. However, those games have not been carried forward to the shortlist as I felt the games here should be considered as being ‘well played’ by the majority of our readership. All of the games on this short list would be torn to shreds by chess engine’s but we aren’t computers and so the engine’s assessment didn’t come into my thinking so much. It’s also fair to say that really complicated games tend to contain more moves that engines would class as ‘inaccurate’ but that, for us mere mortals, would be hard to criticize. So the complexity of the game was considered in conjunction with the standard of play.
Was the game was a genuine contest?: I eliminated some games from my consideration because I felt they were too one-sided. Sometimes even games that were well played by one player were ruled out because the defender had capitulated too easily or missed an obvious improvement
Was the game exciting or unusual in any outstanding way?: I felt all the games on this shortlist should have some exciting or interesting moments in them. That didn’t mean they had to be sacrificial, tactical or complicated but I felt they needed to have some kind of ‘X-factor’ in them.
Here then is my shortlist for readers to vote on:
In the game viewer below I have published the five shortlisted games again for those who wish to refresh their memory before making their decision.
This poll will be open for 1 week only. Everyone is welcome to vote (you don’t have to be a Hebden Bridge Chess Club member or even a UK resident!) Voting is anonymous and please note that you’ll only be allowed to vote once by the poll, so choose carefully! I’d also very much like to hear from any readers who would like to share the reasons for why they chose a particular game and whether or not they thought the right games made both the longlist and the shortlist. Do please leave comments at the end of this post and let everyone hear your opinions. You can post comments anonymously if you wish to.
Maybe the craziest position of the decade? This is from Syrett vs. Webster. White just played 7.Kh1. Find out how this happened and what came next in the game viewer at the end of this post.
Today’s post covers five more games from the archive that made my ‘long list’ for Hebden Bridge’s ‘Game of the Decade’. Interestingly, all five of today’s games were played in 2014. It seems that this was a vintage year for interesting and exciting chess games in the Calder valley. Was it something in the water I wonder? Who knows?
As with Friday’s post, I’m going to give a short description of each game and why I selected it plus, at the end of the post, all the games are published with some notes.
5. Dickinson vs. Corbett, Calderdale League 2, 17th of February, 2014
The 17th of February, 2014 should be memorialised in our collective psyches in the same way that the dates of some of England’s most famous battlefield triumphs are memorialised. Why? Well, the date marks what amounts to the most improbable, unlikely and surprising match result ever in the Calderdale League. That’s not hyperbole. The occasion in question was our Hebden Bridge ‘D’ junior team, without a win to their names approaching the end of the season and rooted to the foot of the table, hosting Belgrave ‘B’ who were top of Division 2 and undefeated. No one expected anything other than a rout for the hugely out-gunned home side and yet the juniors triumphed 3 – 2.
This game from board 2 was my pick of three startling wins by our juniors but I should also mention that Dan Crampton beat Gordon Farrar and Dylan Leggett defeated Angel Gonzalez (both excellent wins) in a blood bath where all five games were decisive. I felt compelled to pick one game from this match and I chose this one primarily because of the dramatic turning of the tables at the end. Karl Dickinson was being comprehensively dismantled by Malcolm Corbett whose main problem appeared to be choosing between the different ways to win the game. In the end the one he chose back fired horribly and Karl found the narrow path he needed to tread to force victory. The only shame is that he missed a very beautiful checkmate right at the end which would have crowned his startling achievement. But this game is certainly the most memorable giant-killing of the past decade.
6. Shapland vs. Leatherbarrow, Calderdale Individual Ch. – Round 5, 10th of March, 2014
Let’s get this one out of the way as it’s one of mine! Generous colleagues suggested a few of my own games as candidates but not this one. However, when I weighed them all up, I felt this game was the most special and I remember a lot of the kibitzers after the game remarking on how interesting it was. It’s hard to disagree, this is a most unusual game. It should also be said that Andy played a full part it too, competing with creativity and bravery in a game that was ultimately a bit of a dead rubber for both of us as neither of us could challenge for the Championship in the final round.
The game develops out of a Scandinavian Defence and, in a moment of improvisation, I decided to play on both sides of the board rather than in the centre. This makes for a very unusual and chaotic position but somehow, I always felt that I managed to maintain the initiative. This is one of those games with a dizzying complex of variations some of which the players considered and calculated and others that were unearthed with the help of an engine afterwards. I’m relatively satisfied however, that both of us played the game well enough for it to be on this list and as your archivist, I have to permitted one indulgence surely?!
7. Syrett vs. Webster, Calderdale League 1, 14th of April, 2014
Another game made memorable by its total mayhem. I seem to recall that I was playing in another match at the Trades Club on the night in question, took an early walk to see what was happening on the other boards and nearly fell over with surprise when I saw this one. By the time Martin had played his seventh move he was missing his f, g and h-pawns and Tom had a pawn on h2 that the White king was taking shelter behind. On move 7 mark you!
That this position is reasonably well known in King’s Gambit theory is bye the bye, there aren’t many players that would agree to reach this position in a serious game. If White has the audacity to play the King’s Gambit, generally Black players will try to spoil his fun in some way by declining it or playing the Falkbeer Counter Gambit. Here though we have a full-blooded King’s Gambit Accepted – a rare jewel that both Martin and Tom immerse themselves in to the full.
To be fair, this game is rather one-sided after Tom makes a couple of mistakes early on. It gallops on in a similar vein with some striking moments along the way before Martin finally finds a route through to Tom’s king. This game can be torn to shreds under the scrutiny of an engine, but that’s rather missing the point. It’s pure entertainment from start to finish.
8. A.Bak vs. Eagleton, Calderdale League 1, 22nd of September, 2014
I was keen to have a feisty draw on the long list, and this is one of the feistiest I can remember. It’s more chaos and complexity but is different from the previous two games in that this one is rather more theoretical in nature as the platform for it is one of the most heavily analysed branches of the Najdorf Sicilian, the infamous Poisoned Pawn variation.
The game develops much as you’d expect it to with Black collecting White’s b2 pawn at the cost of giving his opponent a serious development advantage. With his queen getting kicked around, Greg fights to find ways to simplify the position whilst Andy strives to keep pieces on and open lines towards the Black king.
I remember both players got into serious time trouble in this game, which is no surprise when you consider the level of complexity they were dealing with. However, neither man backs down and both play some creative and resourceful chess. Later in the game Greg plays an inaccuracy that hands Andy the advantage but he in turn fails to find the most effective way to prosecute his attack and the game hurtles on.
At the end, realizing that both their flags had fallen and not knowing who’s had dropped first, the exhausted fighters agreed to a draw. A game full of fight and commitment.
9. Sykes vs. Clegg, Calderdale League 1, 6th of October, 2014
‘And now’, as Monty Python famously said, ‘for something completely different! Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of excitement to enjoy here, but this is a silky smooth and predominantly positional win from Nick where all the tactics fall into place for him behind his single-minded strategy. It’s a classic win against Robert’s King’s Indian Defence with White attacking on the queen’s side and trying to break through before Black can get to his king.
The fact that the result never seems to be in doubt should not disguise the fact that Robert played quite well himself in this game, it’s just that Nick played pretty much perfectly to best him. At the end White is just a pawn up but the position is completely winning.
A really fine effort from both players which bestows even more kudos on the winner.
It’s traditional to celebrate special occasions with a display of fireworks. As this website celebrates its tenth anniversary and marks the and of the 21st century’s teenage years, we have a fireworks display of our very own. 14 of the best and most exciting games played by Hebden Bridge players or in Hebden Bridge over the last ten years. Photo:Robert Hensley
As the calendar flips inevitably over to the beginning of another new year the natural tendency of many writers, historians, commentators, journalists, philosophers, TV presenters, sociologists, pundits and yes, even chess players, is to turn back to reflect on the events of the previous year to try an identify the important moments of interest for them. As 2019 ended and we entered a new decade, we had even greater cause to reflect than usual.
Now then seems an appropriate time for us to think back over the last ten years of recording chess events in Calderdale and of course Hebden Bridge in particular. This little website started life just over ten years ago itself. The 10th of September, 2009 was the date of the first post to be exact. I initially set it up as a personal chess blog but quickly moved it on to become a website for the chess club, reporting on the matches and exploits of our players and our friends and rivals participating in Calderdale chess.
Recently I was trying to think of a suitable way to celebrate reaching such a landmark anniversary. I don’t know how many posts there are on this website or how many games I’ve published here, but I’ve invested an enormous amount of time into documenting our club’s activity, recording our successes and failures, greeting our new members and remembering some who are no longer with us. I felt like I ought to do something to celebrate.
It was then that it struck me that the website’s 10th anniversary and the passing of the present decade might enable me to run something like a ‘Best Games’ poll to enable us to enjoy again some of the most accurate, complicated, tense, stressful, beautiful, competitive and entertaining games from the first ten years of this website’s existence.
Making that decision was the easy part. I then had the dilemma of deciding which games to select and trying to figure out which deserved a place in the pantheon of the ‘greatest’ of the past ten years. When I reflect on my own games from that time there have been so many memorable and interesting battles that I could probably make a very long list of my own efforts quite easily. It was going to be too hard a task to compile a list of candidate games on my own. So, I reached out to club colleagues from the past ten years and some of the strongest players from other clubs in Calderdale to ask for suggestions.
I expected a few suggestions primarily from current team-mates and a few players who I see regularly. What I got was an unexpectedly enthusiastic response, both to the concept of a ‘Games of the Decade’ list and also contributions suggesting games for the list. In fact, I got so many suggestions that I realised I would quickly have to set out some entry criteria to help me home in on a longlist to present to you. Here are those criteria:
First of all I decided that all the games on the list must include at least one Hebden Bridge Chess Club combatant and have been played in a Calderdale Evening Chess League competition or have been played in by two non-club members in Hebden Bridge under the auspices of the club, for example in the Calderdale Individual Championship.
Secondly, after some agonising, I decided that I would only allow individuals to appear in the list once as a game winner, meaning they could only feature in a second or third game if they were on the losing side. This criteria has enabled me to showcase the best endeavors of a pretty broad range of players, some of whom are no longer active in the league.
Finally, I would only allow games that had been played between 2009 and the present day.
Using those guidelines, I was able to whittle down the list of candidates I had received, but I still had rather a lot, and, in some cases, players were appearing in multiple games. The next job then was to go through the games again myself, often having to decide which of a number of candidate games suggested for a particular player were my favorites. I use the word ‘favorite’ very specifically because I didn’t really feel that I could be the sole arbiter for the ‘best game’.
And that brings me to the final dilemma. After much soul searching and contemplation, I have created what still amounts to a longlist of 14 of my favorite games that I’d like to celebrate again with you. There’s that word ‘favorite’ again. I’ve used it because I think this will ultimately be more of a popularity contest than a judgment of quality. If we were only aiming to seek out the best on the basis of the ‘most accurately played’ game, then we’d probably end up selecting a contest between two of the strongest players in league that ends up as a draw with some relatively hard to understand strategic manoeuvring along the way.
My list of 14 still has plenty of games played by the strongest players in the league, but we’ve also got a few games that are not, and they deserve their place on this list in my opinion. Some games are extraordinarily complicated and that usually means that the accuracy levels go down and the number of mistakes (at least from a chess engine’s perspective) go up. Others are memorable because they involve high stakes or high drama and were played under the greatest competitive pressure. Others still are on the list for aesthetic reasons because there is something strikingly beautiful about them. There are also some games that are outstanding for technical reasons and that can therefore be considered as instructive. What they all are, I hope, is entertaining.
I’ll present all 14 games over the course of three posts and then in a fourth post I’ll give you my shortlist of five games and present a poll to ask readers to choose their favorite which will be crowned ‘game of the decade’. You can do so on any or all of the grounds given above. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone is entitled to their opinion.
I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the time to reflect on their games and the games of others and send me their suggestions. Every game was considered but ultimately this initial long list is my own selection so I apologise if my opinion doesn’t reflect your own.
Without further ado then, let’s rip the lid gleefully off pandora’s box and take a look at our first four games as we progress through the list in chronological order.
Game 1: D.Firth vs. D.Wedge, Calderdale Team Knockout Competition, 13th July, 2009
This first game actually predates the website but it fits the entry criteria and I was keen to have an example of Dave Wedge’s play in the list as he was, without doubt, the strongest player at the club at the turn of the decade. Here, Dave faces Huddersfield’s top board of the day who plays the most aggressive and uncompromising set up against the Modern Benoni. Dave knows how to handle this and sets about neutralising White’s attack before going on the counter offensive. His opponent continues to hit out and go for the kill as the position opens up and becomes very complicated.
I’m guessing that the end of this game was played in mutual time pressure as both players miss chances that I’d have expected them to spot with time in hand. However, aside from a moment at the very end when Dave allowed his opponent a gilt-edged chance to steal the game that was in turn overlooked, this was a typically fearless win for Dave in fine counter attacking style.
Game 2: Breen vs. Parsons, Calderdale League 1, 29th November, 2010
Matthew has been one of the dominant players in the Calderdale League for much of the last ten years. That being the case it was no surprise to find that there were a significant number of his games that could easily have made it into this collection. There were several that made my ‘Parsons shortlist’, but in the end I picked this one as my personal favorite because the sacrificial idea that swings the game is, in my opinion, quite hard to concieve.
Using one of his favorite weapons with Black, the Sniper, Matthew plays ambitiously and creates a very double-edged position against Dennis Breen of Brghouse. The critical moment comes at move 15 when Matthew invites Dennis to invade on the queen’s side with his knight via b5 to c7 in order to give himself the time to launch a king’s side attack from what seems an unlikely position. Even the chess engines take quite a long time to figure out that this approach is viable. Dennis misses what amount to a couple of pretty difficult chances to improve his play and Matthew sweeps him aside. I find this to be a highly creative and powerful performance.
Game 3: Webb vs. Ursal, Calderdale League 1, 8th October, 2012
Two of the strongest players in the league at the time go toe to toe in this slugfest. Matty Webb opts for the offbeat Mengarini Variation (2.a3!?) against Darwin Ursal’s Sicilian Defence. He’s hoping to confuse Darwin with such an unusual variation and, early in the game, the strategy appears to be paying off as the game develops down an unorthodox route. Darwin weathers the early storm however and, when Matty goes astray he takes his chance to initiate a ferocious counter-attack that quickly lands him the full point.
The engine assessment will tell you there were a number of better moves available to the combatants in this game, but, as Matty says in his game commentary, ‘your opponent is NOT a perfect calculating machine, you should try to line up as many problems and lines to analyse as possible to allow them to go wrong!’ Unfortunately for him, in this encounter it was Darwin who calculated more accurately.
This was a heavy weight encounter with lots of interesting ideas in it and it also has Darwin’s finger prints all over it. He often sails quite close to the wind in his games, but he often ends up coming out on top even from seemingly desperate situations.
Game 4: Leonard vs. Sugden, Calderdale Individual Ch. Round 4, 2nd November, 2013
A good king hunt is always a pleasure to witness and this game made my list primarily because of the stylish way Pete concludes it. The game builds quite slowly to begin with as Pete deploys his favourite Bishop’s Opening against 1…e5 and Dave responds with a critical set up for Black. Pete proceeds to use strategic ideas commonly seen in the Ruy Lopez to initiate a dangerous king’s side assault and Dave is unable to find the antidote.
At the end Pete finds some attractive tactics to draw Dave’s king out of his lair and then hunts him across the board to check mate him. That Pete was able to find these ideas in the pressurised situation of the fourth round of the Calderdale Individual Championship is all-the-more impressive. This game made a big impression on me at the time and it was a pleasure to re-discover it again as I researched games for this poll.
You’ll find all four of the games mentioned above in the game viewer below with notes by the combatants (mostly). I hope you will enjoy these and the subsequent games to come in two further posts.
In today’s post we finish our catch up on the month of December with an article outlining the results of the final round of fixtures from before Christmas when both divisions of the Calderdale League met on December 17th.
Calderdale League 1
The juiciest match up in League 1’s final round of the first half of the season took place at the Trades Club where league leaders Hebden Bridge ‘B’ welcomed Halifax ‘A’, the team in third place.
Hebden have been able to field a very stable line up this season and that has certainly been a contributing factor in their success so far. For this match they were missing Neil Suttie on board 5 but replaced him with Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford to ensure that their team was just as strong as usual. The other team members were Matthew Parsons, Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard and Sam Swain.
Halifax conversely were slightly weaker than they might have been without Winston Williams on board 1. They therefore lined up with Bill Somerset, Richard Porter, Carlos Velosa, Vivienne Webster and Sam Scurfield. This was a team that looked likely to give Hebden a run for their money and so it proved to be.
The night began badly for the hosts as Matthew Parsons fell victim to some very clever opening preparation by Bill Somerset. Bill had seen a game Matthew had played recently in the Bradford League and found a subtle means to improve White’s play in a line of the Philidor’s Defence. It took a little while for Matthew to realise the true severity of his situation and he tried to limp on an exchange down in an end game, but he never really had a chance of saving himself. Bill’s fine win gave Halifax lead.
Hebden struck back on board 4 where Sam Swain, who’s had a magnificent season for them so far, beat Vivienne Webster fairly comfortably after grabbing a pawn in the opening and hanging onto it. The match was tied but the situation on the remaining three boards didn’t look great for the hosts. On board 5 Beaky seemed to be in a bit of a tangle against Sam, on board 2, Dave was similarly in a difficult situation against Richard, but on board 3, Pete Leonard appeared to have the better of it against Carlos. Hebden would need at least a point and a half from these three board, but in the end they only managed a single draw.
First of all, Beaky capitulated as Sam forced home his advantage. Next Pete made tactical mistake against Carlos and slipped from being better to a defeat. Dave did at least manage to salvage a draw from Richard but that was only because his opponent played a few inaccurate moves in the run up to time control.
So, Hebden Bridge ‘B’ dropped their first points of the season to Halifax ‘A’ who closed the distance between the two sides to 2 points. Here is the match scorecard:
Hebden’s slip up gave second-placed Belgrave ‘A’ a chance to close the gap at the top to a single point. To do this they needed to beat the back markers, Hebden Bridge ‘C’ at home. Belgrave didn’t make things easy for themselves when they defaulted board 5 and gave the visitors a point’s head start. However, the remaining four players all performed admirably to ensure that Belgrave’s didn’t miss their chance.
John Morgan and Richard Bowman drew on boards 1 and 4 with Andy Leatherbarrow and John Kerrane respectively and Dave Patrick and Tony Slinger beat Martin Syrett and Paul Gledhill on boards 2 and 3 to clinch a crucial victory for the hosts.
These simple stats don’t tell the entire story of the match though because Martin was beating Dave hands down and then resigned when he thought head over looked a mating attack. In fact, both players had missed that Martin had a flight square for his king and that it looked the best Dave could do was draw. But Dave’s win gave Belgrave a 3 – 2 win in a match they could very easily have lost. Now they look set to mount a serious challenge for the title this season having seemingly strengthened their line up over the last few matches.
Here is the scorecard from that match:
Belgrave ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ J.Morgan ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (W) D.Patrick 1 – 0 M.Syrett (W) A.Slinger 1 – 0 P.Gledhill (W) R.Bowman ½ – ½ J.Kerrane (W) DEFAULT 0 – 1 N.Bamford (W) 3 – 2
Meanwhile, in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ were trying to continue their revival against Huddersfield ‘B’. Having been anchored to the foot of the table until their round 5 win against Belgrave ‘B’, they had a chance to get some more points on the board and over take their opponents in the table at the same time. They too did not make life easy for themselves as a last-minute withdrawal meant they also had to default a board.
In this match the top three boards were critical as Hebden had their famous triumvirate of Andrew Clarkson, Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook all present and correct. Both Martyn and Phil had substantial rating advantages over Simon Anscombe and Granville Boot, but on board 1, Leo Keely was a much closer match for Andrew to have to take on.
Happily, for the home team, the top three all did their jobs as they swept the boards. It was a good job too for, on board 4, Pete Dickinson succumbed to David Gray which meant that the margin of victory was the narrowest possible. Nevertheless, it was enough to see Hebden ‘A’ climb to 5 points in the league and take them further away from the danger of relegation.
In the final match of the round Belgrave ‘B’ went down heavily to Huddersfield ‘A’. Greg Eagleton beat Gordon Farrar on board 1 and Steve Westmoreland and A.Hossain did the same to Steve Harrington and Paul Jacobs on boards 4 and 5. Dave Keddie and Nick Sykes dropped half points to Les Johnson and Dave College as Huddersfield went undefeated.
With half the season now gone both ends of the table are tantilisingly poised. At the top Hebden Bridge ‘B’ have 12 points, Belgrave ‘A’ have 11 and Halifax ‘A’ have 10. It would now seem that these three teams are the only ones who can challenge for the title unless something remarkable occurs. Next in the table come Huddersfield ‘A’ on 7 points and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ on 5 points. On their day, either of these teams could beat the top three teams and so, although the first half of their seasons have been sub-par, they could yet have a influence on the title race. On the other hand, both could get drawn back into the relegation dog fight if they aren’t able to continue their recent runs of form.
At the bottom, Huddersfield ‘B’ and Belgrave ‘B’ have 4 points each and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ have 3. It looks now like two of these three will go down but which of them will survive is anybody’s guess. At present Hebden ‘C’ are the only the only team in the League yet to win a match, but they’ve drawn three against some decent teams and that demonstrates that they aren’t easy to beat.
Round 8 matches took place this week and we’ll be reporting on those here very soon.
Calderdale League 2
The League fixtures page on the Calderdale Chess League’s website may have tricked some team Captains into thinking that they were not playing their seventh round of fixtures until the New Year, however, three matches were due to be played on December 17th.
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ were certainly caught napping as Huddersfield ‘C’ arrived at the Trades Club for their match and (as they were mistaken for Huddersfield ‘B’) were then mistakenly directed to the Golden Lion in Todmorden where their real ‘B’ team were already sitting down playing Hebden bridge ‘A’. All this because we Capatins are in the habit of understanding that the right-hand side of the fixture list on the website is played after Christmas!
The Brighouse vs. Belgrave ‘C’ match did not take place either, so it appears others were laboring under the same misapprehension. Gladly, Huddersfield ‘C’ were very generous in allowing their match to be re-scheduled.
The only match that did take place on the 17th was between Halifax ‘C’ and Halifax ‘B’. This was played on four boards and the ‘B’ team overwhelmed their colleagues for the lose of a single draw on board 3 where John Nicholson held Barry Wadsworth. This result allowed Halifax ‘B’ to leap frog Brighouse to reach the top of the table but Brighouse of course now have a game in hand.
Calderdale Individual Championship Round 3
John Kerrane reports on the third round of the Individual which took place on the 7th of January.
Winter ailments took their toll on the line-up for the third round of the Calderdale Chess League Individual Championship 2018/9, which took place at the Trades Club.
Although the number of players taking part was reduced, the evening produced a lot of interesting games, including a close and difficult endgame between Pete Leonard of Hebden Bridge and Richard Porter of Belgrave, which was finally won by Leonard in the last game to finish. The upset of the evening was Andy Swales’s win against considerably higher-graded John Allan, but the front runner, Phil Cook, proceeded smoothly, leaving him with the only player on a maximum 3 points with a group of others close behind on 2½.
I trust that readers have enjoyed the festive period and possibly also a little break from chess. Your editor has been enjoying the coverage from the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in St Petersburg which has proved to be rather more exciting than the recent World Championship Match…
We still have quite a bit of catching up to do following the extended period when the website was out of action. In today’s post we’ll look back to the end of November when Hebden Bridge ‘A’, propping up the League 1 table, played their postponed match against Huddersfield ‘A’, who were also languishing somewhat.
We’ll also take a look at the results from Round 2 of this year’s Calderdale Individual Championship which took place on December 3rd.
First to the Golden Lion in Todmorden which was the scene for the seemingly apocalyptic clash between Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Huddersfield ‘A’.
This really was a match that neither team wanted to lose and so when Huddersfield arrived with only four players the home side were given an unexpected boost. The visitors sported very strong players on boards 1 and 2 in the form of Greg Eagleton and Mitchell Burke. They were well matched by the home team however as they fielded Martyn Hamer and Phil Cook. Steve Westmoreland and Robert Sutcliffe were the other two Huddersfield players and they were slightly stronger on paper than their counterparts on boards 3 and 4 – Mick Connor and Andrew Swales.
With a one point head start and operating the Black pieces on all boards, Martyn and Phil sensibly opted to neutralise Greg and Mitchell on the top boards and they secured relatively swift draws. However, Andrew Swales had something of a misadventure as he got his king caught in the middle of the board by Robert and suffered a swift execution.
This meant that the outcome of the match rested on the result between Mick Connor and Steve Westmoreland. Mick seemed to be more than holding his own but then allowed Steve some counterplay which resulted in him having to give up two pawns to avoid mate. It took Steve a little while to convert this advantage but convert it he did to give Huddersfield a huge boost with a 2 – 3 win. The full match scorecard is below:
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Huddersfield ‘A’ M.Hamer ½ – ½ G.Eagleton (W) P.Cook ½ – ½ M.Burke (W) M.Connor 0 – 1 S.Westmoreland (W) A.Swales 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe (W) P.Dickinson 1 – 0 DEFAULT 2 – 3
This result left Hebden Bridge ‘A’ adrift at the foot of the table after 5 rounds of games. They had just a single point and were two behind Hebden Bridge ‘C’. Could relegation for the title holders really be on the cards? In our next post we’ll update readers on the two rounds of fixtures played in December.
Calderdale Individual Championship Round 2
The first Monday of December saw the players gather at the Trades Club for the second round of the Individual Championship. John Kerrane reports for us on the evening’s event below:
“In this round, the winners in the first round all face each other, and matches tend to become more even. Most of the results went to form, but there were some notable exceptions. Paul Edwards’s draw on board 2 against Pete Leonard and Steve Harrington’s draw against John Allan were both achieved against much higher-graded opponents, but the biggest upset of the evening was young Luca Curry’s win against Neil Bamford, a player of twice his grade.
Going into the third round on January 7th, only two players, Phil Cook of Hebden Bridge and Angel Gonzalez of Belgrave, will be on a maximum 2 points, with a pack of players on 1½ on their heels.”
Phil Cook was kind enough to send his game through for publication and it can be found in the game viewer below. The full list of results and standings can be found on the Calderdale League website.
Last Monday night Hebden Bridge Chess Club hosted round 1 of the 2018-19 Calderdale Individual Championship at the Trades Club. Coverage of this year’s event will be somewhat diminished in stature given that your editor is not participating in this year’s competition. Nevertheless we still intend to bring you a brief summary of the round and the results. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get hold of some of the games as well.
The competition organiser, John Kerrane, sent us this short over view of round 1.
The first round is always the easiest for the stronger players, and toughest for the less experienced, and so it proved on the night, with all the games leading to decisive results, and all going to grade. The nearest to an upset was in the last game to finish in which 16-year-old Toby Dodd gained a piece advantage in an endgame against much higher-graded Richard Porter. However, with both players in serious time trouble, Dodd could not find a winning line, and Porter’s cool head saw him through to a win with only seconds remaining on the clock.
The full list of results of the round and overall standings can be found on the Calderdale Chess League website. The next round, when stronger players will face each other, will take place at the Trades Club on 3rd December.
Below are all the individual results. The game viewer at the end of this post contains Pete Leonard’s game against Adrian Dawson. Many thanks to Pete for sending this through. If any players in this competition would like to have their games published please email PGN files to email@example.com
Last night the fourth round of Calderdale League 2 was played and some significant results were played out.
Leaders Brighouse suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Halifax ‘B’. Robert Broadbent won on board 1 against Carlos Velosa but defeats on boards 4 and 5 for Ron Grandage and Tim Pryke against Howard Wood and Daniel Rowley respectively saw the visitors go down 3 – 2.
At the same venue, Halifax ‘C’ went down to Huddersfield C’ by 1½ – 3½ and this result means that Huddersfield, Brighouse and Halifax ‘B’ are now joint top of the league on 6 points. Huddersfield have the best board score.
Belgrave ‘C’ moved on to 4 points when they successfully saw off the Hebden Bridge ‘D’ team 0 – 5. Once more John Kerrane provides a brief report on this match.
Belgrave ‘C’ arrived with an unusually strong line-up to take on the youngsters of Hebden’s training team, and, once again, experience was the deciding factor. Despite playing well, the junior players made strategic errors which their opponents were able to exploit, although Gwilym Hughes, on board 5, played well to get into a winning position, only to let victory slip from his grasp. The match ended with a 5-0 win to Belgrave ‘C’.
The individual results were:
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Belgrave ‘C’
T. Dodd 0 – 1 D. Colledge (W)
L. Curry 0 – 1 A. Gonzalez
Z. Sandhu 0 – 1 P. Edwards
J. Edmondson 0 – 1 C. Edwards
G. Hughes 0 -1 S. Harrington 0 – 5
Steve Harrington’s win on board 5 for the visitors means he is now the only remaining player in the league to have played and won in all four rounds so far.
Cook vs Leonard. Black to move. How would you proceed here? See how the game continued and what the best continuation was in the game viewer at the end of this post.
Apologies for the recent radio silence on this website. Your editor has been in the throes of leaving one job and starting another and therefore there has been even less time than usual to keep on top of the website. Hopefully we can catch up quickly so expect a few posts in the coming weeks to get our league reports back up to date. Before all of that though…
The fifth and final round of the 2017-18 Calderdale Individual Championship took place at the Trades Club just over a month ago on Monday 5th of March. Given the adverse meteorological impact of the ‘Beast from the East’ at the end of the previous week and weekend, arbiter John Kerrane was probably very relieved that transport conditions had improved enough to ensure players could reach the venue.
The final round usually promises some tense and exciting chess as the prizes are decided both at the head of the tournament and, also for grading prizes and the junior prize. On this occasion there was certainly tension and a great deal of fighting chess. However, despite this, the top three boards all ended in draws which leant the denouement of this year’s championship something of an anti-climactic feel.
Let’s start with the title decider. Defending champion Phil Cook (Golden Lion) was the only player on a perfect score at the beginning of the evening. He was drawn to play White against Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) who was on 3½ and needed to win to overhaul the leader. Last season Matthew Parsons had managed to do just that but as he was a point behind Phil he was unable to snatch the title from his grasp.
The other player in with a shot of overtaking Cook was Mike Barnett (Belgrave) who was also on 3½. He had the White pieces against Richard Porter (Halifax) who was on 3 points. Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) was the other player on 3 but he had contracted the same flu bug that had damaged the ranks in rounds 3 and 4 and was therefore absent.
Both the top two boards featured hard fought battles, but both ended in draws. Phil and Pete’s game developed in an interesting fashion as Phil deployed an unusual line of the Reti Opening advancing his b and c pawns in the first three moves. Pete responded well by taking direct action against the advanced queen’s side pawns and then striking in the centre as well before Phil could get developed. This allowed Pete to equalise comfortably, but it also led to some simplifications that suited Phil’s objective of drawing to retain his title.
Pete missed a brief window of opportunity to snatch a pawn on move 16 (see the diagram above) and instead it was Phil who bagged a pawn. Pete seemed to have dangerous threats in exchange for the material, but Phil had it all under control and simplified the position to the point where he had an extra passed a-pawn which looked extremely dangerous. Pete just had enough counter play to regain the pawn and hold the position but no more and when Phil allowed Pete to win back the pawn to force further simplifications the players agreed to peace with Phil retaining his title. This draw was also enough to secure Pete the prize for second place.
The board 2 encounter was a completely different in character in all respects except that the opening set up selected by Mike Barnett was similar to the one chosen by Phil (Mike played c4 on move two and fianchettoed his king’s bishop). In this game the players chopped wood relentlessly until they reached an endgame where they both had isolated d-pawns and Mike had a bishop and knight versus Richard’s bishop pair.
It was only now that the game really began. Richard seized the initiative and won first one and then a second pawn. Around time control though he also missed a couple of clear cut winning chances and instead Mike defended tenaciously however and found a tricky resource that enabled him to swap a pair of bishops and advance his c-pawn to the seventh rank tying down Richard’s remaining bishop down in the process. However, Mike then had to give up his knight to remove one of Richard’s passed pawns and a foot race between Richard’s passed a-pawn and Mike’s king and f-pawn ensued with the two pawns queening on successive moves. It still looked like Black might win but in fact it wasn’t possible for Richard to make progress with just a queen and bishop against the queen and, at the very end of the evening the two men signed a truce. This was a fascinating endgame and some notes on it have been provided in the game viewer at the end of this article.
Mike has certainly had his money’s worth in this year’s competition as he’s been involved in the last game to finish in at least three of the five rounds! He finished on 4/5 (level on points with Pete) and won a grading prize. An excellent result for Mike.
Gledhill vs Shapland. Black to move. Find the killer blow that White had overlooked. Answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.
Richard finished on 3½ where he was joined by Dave Shapland (Golden Lion) and Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge). Dave took full advantage of an opening error by Paul Gledhill to win his game with a nice tactic (see the diagram on the right) while Martin took a while longer to overcome the spirited resistance of Vivienne Webster.
Sandwiched in between the top two boards and these two were Nick Sykes and John Allan. They also played out a draw where Nick also played 1.Nf3 and 2.c4 but the game later transposed into a Maroczy Bind type position. John knew how to equalise and worked to towards engineering the key pawn break of b5 on move 19. After this the game petered out and the players agreed a draw on move 24.
On board 6, Geoff Ainsley and Steve Harrington (Belgrave), with nothing much to play for acquiesced to a three-fold repetition as early as move 15. But then on board 7 there came a critical encounter between two juniors, Zora Sandhu and Toby Dodd (both Hebden Bridge). Toby needed to beat his young opponent to catch him on 2½ and beat him he did, but only after a feisty struggle ending only after Zora overlooked a sneaky discovered check that cost him his queen. This result enabled Toby to snatch the junior prize from Zora but there was a consolation in the form of a grading prize for the youngster.
The rest of the games saw wins for Scott Gornall aginst Martin O’Keeffe, Marc Turu against Jon-Paul Ellis, Luca Curry against Gwilym Hughes, Bill Joyce against Fred Bortoletto, Martha Leggett against Joel Hadari and Alfie Dermo against Juliet Hadari.
Most of the games from the final round are featured in the game viewer at the end of this post. But first here are the final standing and prize winners.
4½ points: Phil Cook (First)
4 points: Pete Leonard (Second), Mike Barnett (Grading prize)
3½ points: Richard Porter, Dave Shapland, Martin Syrett
3 points: Matthew Parsons, John Allan, Nick Sykes, Angel Gonzalez (Grading prize)
2½ points: Geoff Ainsley, Scott Gornall, Vivienne Webster, Steve Harrington, Paul Gledhill, Toby Dodd (Best Junior), Zora Sandhu (Grading prize), Marc Turu (Grading prize)
2 points: Neil Bamford, Jon-Paul Ellis, Richard Bottomley, Luca Curry, Bill Joyce, Martha Leggett
1½ points: Richard Bedford, Martin O’Keeffe, Juliet Hadari
1 point: Fred Bortoletto, Gwilym Hughes, Juliet Hadari, Joel Hadari
Any excuse for a silly headline and lead image! Phil Cook is, once again, the only player with a perfect score after 4 rounds in this years Calderdale Individual Championship.
Round 4 of the 2017-18 Calderdale Individual Chess Championship took place at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge on Monday the 5th of February. The competition has reached the sharp end of proceedings and the leaders at the top of the standings took each other on to decide who would remain in contention when the final round takes place in two week’s time. But before we dive into round 4, let’s first quickly re-cap what happened in round 3 as we didn’t report on that at the beginning of January.
This round was substantially affected by the burgeoning cold and flu epidemic as no fewer than five players were forced to take half point byes due to ill health or being on vacation. That meant that, although there were four players on 2 points at the end of round 2, only two were present to contest round 3 as Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) was unwell and Dave Shapland (Golden Lion) was on holiday.
This meant that reigning champion Phil Cook (Golden Lion) and Richard Porter (Halifax) were flung together. They’d met in the league earlier in the season and Cook had prevailed. He managed to repeat the feat after successfully navigating a wild and highly unusual opening phase of the game where both players appeared to be ignoring the orthodox principles of chess at times. The champion was on 3 points alone. The question was now, how many of those on 1½ could keep pace with him to stay in touch.
There were a couple of surprises in round 3, notably on board 2 where Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge) profited from a tactical oversight by his club colleague John Allan late on in an interesting and unbalanced endgame. John seemed to be better for much of the game but suddenly fell into a mating net and Martin pounced to reach 2½.
On board 4 too there was a rating upset as Geoff Ainsley held Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) to a draw in a game that looked very much like Geoff could have won if he’d carried on playing. Nick annotates the game in the viewer at the end of this post.
But the story of the night (almost) unfolded on board 5 where there was almost an upset of colossal proportions. Top seed Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) had an objectively lost position at one point in his game against Steve Harrington (Belgrave). Matthew had rating advantage of over 70 points so a defeat would have been cataclysmic. However, he showed both his character and experience by knuckling down and forcing his opponent to continue to find the best moves and plans to seal the deal. Little by little Steve’s advantage subsided until, finally, he made a more significant mistake and suddenly the game was in the balance again. Matthew was not going to give Steve another chance as he converted to keep his slim hopes of re-capturing the title he last won in 2014-15 alive.
The only other players to reach 2½ were Mike Barnett (Belgrave) who defeated Jon-Paul Ellis (Hebden Bridge) in clinical fashion despite having to navigate some seriously murky waters and Paul Gledhill (Hebden Bridge) who continued a recent run of good form to beat Marc Turu (Golden Lion).
Of the eight juniors competing in the round only Zora Sandhu (against Juliet Hadari) and Fred Bortoletto (against Joel Hadari) were able to win their games.
Eight of the twelve games in round 3 can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.
Just as they did last year, Dave Shapland and Phil Cook faced each other in Round 4 of the Calderdale Individual Championship. The result of the game was the same as last season too! [Photo: Matthew Parsons]
On top board Phil Cook was now the only remaining player on 3 out of 3 when the night started and he was pitted against the highest rated of the players on 2½. This turned out to be the same opponent he’d beaten in round 4 of last year’s competition, Dave Shapland, also of Golden Lion Who’d taken a half point bye in round 3.
This game was keenly contested and, although Dave made a mistake early on which gifted his opponent a pawn, he did get some active play in compensation as was able to rustle up a dangerous looking attack. However, Phil defended calmly in time trouble, saw off the attack, consolidated his position and was then able to simplify into an end game which was easily won for him. It was déjà vu for both players as Dave subsided to defeat once more but Phil marched on to 4 out of 4 just as he did last season.
Unlike last year however, when no one else made it to within a point of Phil, this time two players managed to make it to 3½ out of 4. Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) beat his club colleague Martin Syrett. He too won a pawn early in the game but in this instance, Martin had no compensation and Pete converted smoothly.
Meanwhile on board three, Mike Barnett defeated Paul Gledhill with Black in the last game of the night to finish. Paul put up spirited resistance, but Mike was too good for him in the end. Pete and Mike are now the only players who have any chance of overhauling Phil and one of them will face him in the final round needing to win to steal the crown from him.
On board 4 Matthew Parsons had a much easier ride than he had in round 3 and cruised to victory with White against Geoff Ainsley. He’s paid the price for defaulting in round 2 as he’s a full point behind the leader with no chance of winning the title back this year.
Position from Porter vs. Gonzalez after 14.b3 Qf5. How would you proceed with White here? See what actually happened in the game viewer at the end of this post.
Richard Porter was again involved in one of the most interesting games of the round following on from the extraordinary sequence of moves that featured in the opening phase of his game with Phil in the round 3. This time he found a very unusual tactical idea to lay a trap for Angel Gonzalez. Richard’s concept wasn’t flawless, but Angel didn’t play as accurately as he needed to, and he finally lost a piece for a pawn. Normally this would have resulted in an easy win for Richard, but he found his rook to be very passive in the ending whilst Angel’s was completely free to roam at will. Richard had to play very deliberately to finally liberate his game and carve out a hard-earned victory.
Further down the board order Zora Sandhu put one hand on the junior prize by defeating Luca Curry to move onto 2½ out of 4. Zora is one of no fewer than seven players on that score and will almost certainly be challenged with an opponent of much greater strength in the final round. However, the only other two juniors with any chance of catching up are Joel Hadari and Toby Dodd. One of them must win and home that Zora loses in order to draw level.
Below are a list of all the results from round 4 and the game viewer below that contains a number of games from the round.
Calderdale Individual Championship Round 4
Dave Shapland 0 – 1 Phil Cook
Pete Leonard 1 – 0 Martin Syrett
Paul Gledhill 0 – 1 Mike Barnett
Matthew Parsons 1 – 0 Geoff Ainsley
Richard Porter 1 – 0 Angel Gonzalez
Neil Bamford 0 – 1 Vivienne Webster
John Allan 1 – 0 M.O’Keeffe
Marc Turu ½ – ½ Scott Gornall
Bill Joyce 0 – 1 Steve Harrington
Martha Leggett 0 – 1 Jon-Paul Ellis
Richard Bottomley 1 – 0 Joel Hadari
Luca Curry 0 – 1 Zora Sandhu
Fred Bortoletto 0 – 1 Toby Dodd
Alfie Dermo 0 – 1 Gwilym Hughes
The leading scorers after 4 rounds are:
Phil Cook (Golden Lion) – 4
Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge), Mike Barnett (Belgrave) – 3½
Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge), Richard Porter (Halifax) – 3
Round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship saw more than its fair share of miniatures and none of them were of the type shown in the picture!
On Monday the 4th of December Round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship took place at the Trades Club. From a kibitzers perspective it was probably a joy to behold as no fewer than five of the fifteen games played ended in bloodshed in fewer than twenty moves. Another three games ended in fewer than thirty moves. From the point of view of a participant however, such a paucity of genuinely competitive encounters was a disappointment.
Sadly, the evening got off to a bad start when arbiter John Kerrane was forced to do a repairing when the top seed, Matthew Parsons and the second seed, Mitchell Burke, didn’t turn up. Matthew had gotten his diary mixed up it later transpired but no one knows what happened to Mitchell. Both have now withdrawn from the competition.
The result of this early set back was that Martin Syrett and Mike Barnett were re-paired to face each other instead of their more illustrious rivals. This at least produced one of the games of the night as, with reduced time on the clock and a complex position on the board, these two fought until the very end of the evening’s play and were the last to finish. Mike had a decisive advantage on the board but had hardly any time left on the clock and felt compelled to offer Martin a draw, which of course he accepted.
Elsewhere the action was over all too swiftly. On board 3 Angel Gonzales, normally such an obdurate adversary, made a hash of his opening and then blundered a mate in one on move eleven against Dave Shapland. Steve Harrington mated young Freddie Bortoletto on move fourteen and Bill Joyce resigned to Neil Bamford on move thirteen when he overlooked a skewer of his queen to his king. Alfie Dermo also blundered into a mate in one on move twelve against his junior team mate Luca Curry. These four games were over in under 30 minutes.
There were a few other games that were completed not too long after that as well! At move eight Toby Dodd seemed to have an unexciting but perfectly acceptable position against Martha Leggett but he completely self-destructed and resigned just 10 moves later with his position a smoldering ruin. This was an excellent result for Martha who finished the game clinically. Similarly, Martin O’Keefe seemed to be doing just fine against Richard Bedford until he over looked a tactic which cost him a piece and then, as often happens, one mistake followed another as Martin resigned on move twenty-one with his position overrun. Finally, the game was also prematurely terminated by a blunder in the match up between Richard Porter and Marc Turu. This time Marc went for an attack on Richard’s queen overlooking a nasty intermezzo which forced checkmate in three moves.
All of the games mentioned above can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post. A couple of games for which we don’t have the score were also over reasonably swiftly. Jon-Paul Ellis’ win against Gwilem Hughes and Juliet Hadari’s draw with Richard Bottomley (she should really have won that game which would have been an outstanding result) were also complete before half the evening’s play had expired.
By now the number of games still in play were pretty thin on the ground. These though were the more competitive and interesting encounters in the round. Geoff Ainsley (returning to Calderdale Chess after a number of years away) brought his game to conclusion satisfactorily against another member of the junior contingent and Nick Sykes found himself unable to get anything more than a draw with the Black pieces out of Paul Gledhill.
The remaining games lasted much longer into the evening. John Allan slowly ground down Chris Edwards who of course had given Matthew Parsons such a tough game in round 1. John collected a couple of pawns and then simply exchanged off material to convert an endgame. Phil Cook’s win over Scott Gornall was slightly more tactical in nature as he a rook and two pawns for two pieces and the initiative. After that he went pawn hunting and soon had four connected passed pawns on the king’s side. This was more than enough to seal the deal.
Finally, Vivienne Webster and Pete Leonard played out a topsy-turvey game with the advantage switching frequently from one side to the other. In the end it was Vivienne who committed the last mistake of the game when she allowed Pete to double his rooks on the seventh rank in the end game. She could still have put up spirited resistance but instead, in a moment that was rather symbolic for this round of matches, Vivienne blundered a mate in one on move fourty-seven.
All of this means that there are just four players on 2 points after two rounds. Reigning champion Phil Cook, last year’s runner-up Dave Shapland, Richard Porter and Pete Leonard. These four are followed by another seven players on 1½.
Below are the full results for round 2 and at the foot of the post is the game viewer.
M Barnett ½ – ½ M Syrett
S Gornall 0 – 1 P Cook
D Shapland 1 – 0 A Gonzales
V Webster 0 – 1 P Leonard
R Porter 1 – 0 M Turu
P Gledhill ½ – ½ N Sykes
J Allan 1 – 0 C Edwards
M O’Keeffe 0 – 1 R Bedford
G Ainsley 1 – 0 Z Sandhu
S Harrington 1 – 0 F Bortoletto
B Joyce 0 – 1 N Bamford
JP Ellis 1 – 0 G Hughes
T Dodd 0 – 1 M Leggett
JS Hadari ½ – ½ R Bottomley
A Dermo 0 – 1 L Curry
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.