Mar 172017
Cook vs. Parsons. This was the final position from the last game to finish in this year's championship. White can put off the inevitable by sacrificing the exchange on d5 but Black will still be winning.

Cook vs. Parsons. This was the final position from the last game to finish in this year’s championship. White can put off the inevitable by sacrificing the exchange on d5 but Black will still be winning. Phil therefore resigned here leaving 5 players on 4 points with tie-break deciding the champion for the second year running

Another edition of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship came to a close last Monday at the Trades Club. It’s been a fascinating competition this year with a number of the top seeds dropping draws and even stumbling to defeat in a couple of cases in the early rounds of the competition. That essentially cleared the way for the fourth seed, Phil Cook of Todmorden, to reach 4/4 after three consecutive wins against players from Hebden Bridge: Martin Syrett in Round 2, Nick Sykes in Round 3 and Dave Shapland in Round 4.

In the meantime some of the other leading players had been trying to make up ground on the leader but had been foiled by his continuing string of victories. Top seed and three-time champion, Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) had overcome fifth seed John Allan (Hebden Bridge) and then drawn with sixth seed Ian Hunter (Belgrave) to stay within touching distance of the run-away leader and would now finally have the opportunity to catch him in the final round if he could beat him with the Black pieces to order. Failing to win would guarantee that Cook would win the trophy and even a defeat for the Todmorden player could still see him through on a tie-break if one or more of the other players besides Matthew Parsons reached 4 points as well.

If the top board game promised to be the most interesting game of the evening from the perspective of the final standings then some of the subsequent boards also promised some entertaining action. On board two ninth seed Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) had recovered from his surprise defeat in round 1 to beat the second seed and reigning champions Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield) in the fourth round. His reward was another tough assignment with the Black pieces against the undefeated Ian Hunter. On board 3 an all Hebden Bridge encounter between too of Phil Cook’s victims, Martin Syrett and Dave Shapland, promised to be an ‘uninhibited’ toe-to-toe encounter.

After that the draw was, unfortunately, adversely effected by a spate of final round withdrawals – which these days seem to be a disappointing inevitability in this competition. Greg Eagleton withdrew before the final round and his Huddersfield club colleague Mitchell Burke also failed to show up when he was due to play Richard Bedford (Todmorden), another of the players on 3 points.

There were a number of other match ups that promised some interesting and closely fought battles. On board 5 John Allan was paired against Steve Harrington (Belgrave) who had performed admirably to reach 2½/4. Allan played patiently in the opening against his opponent’s Accellerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence. Exploiting some inaccurate play he won first one and then a second pawn to accumulate an overwhelming endgame advantage. This meant John finished on a respectable 3½/5 having drawn with Mike Barnett (Belgrave) in round 2 and been defeated by Matthew Parsons in round 3.

On board 6 Mike Barnett and Scott Gornall (Halifax) looked on paper like they would be very evenly matched and so it proved as they played on into an end game but neither player could secure an advantage and they each drew their second game of the competition to finish on 3 points.

Board 7 saw Andy Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge) face the seventh seed, Richard Porter (Halifax). It was Leatherbarrow who had ensured the top seed’s tournament had gotten off to a slow start when he held Matthew Parsons to a draw in round 1. He’d beaten a lower ranked player in round 2 but had then stalled somewhat himself with a half point bye in round three and a draw with Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) in round 4. Richard’s tournament meanwhile had been rather more topsy-turvey after he suffered a big upset at the hands of club colleague Pete Moss in round 1 and then lost another game to a lower ranked player, Martin Syrett, in round 4.

It looked like it would be another very stiff test for the Halifax player and indeed in the early stages of the game Andy played sensible, solid chess and slowly built up a small advantage. At move 22 White still stood better but then it looked like Andy followed the wrong plan by advancing his h-pawn and in a couple of moves the advantage swung to his opponent who was able to see out the win and finish on 3 points.

On the lower boards there was still something to play for in the form of grading prizes and the Hebden Bridge junior contingent were battling it out for their prize as well.

On board 8 Pete Moss (Halifax) rounded off a fine tournament for him by beating Vivienne Webster (Halifax) with the Black pieces to reach 3 points. Barry Wadsworth and Daniel Rivron (both Halifax) fought each other to a stand-still to finish on 50% and Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield) defeated Bill Joyce (Todmorden).

Bedford vs. Dawson. White to play. He has a very promising intiative. how should he proceed? See how many of the subsequent lines you can calculate after finding White's next move.

Bedford vs. Dawson. White to play. Richard has a very promising initiative here. How should he proceed? See how many of the subsequent lines you can calculate after finding White’s next move.

The juniors were playing against each other on the bottom boards. Gwilym Hughes scored his second win of the competition against Alfie Dermo and in a battle of the siblings Joel Hadari managed to beat his sister Juliet for his first point in the competition. Martha Leggett was unlucky once again as her opponent didn’t appear and there was no-one to pair here against. She’s picked up two defaults in this fashion which is a shame.

That just leaves us with the business end of proceedings to cover off. On board 4 Richard Bedford (Todmorden) was the first of the players in with a chance of pulling level with Phil should he be defeated. He had been due to face Mitchell Burke (Hudderfield) but when Mitchell didn’t make an appearance he was re-paired with Adrian Dawson (Belgrave). That should have been an easier proposition for Richard and so it turned out to be as he played, with White, a nice Anti-Grunfeld where the players castled on opposite sides of the board. Richard’s attack was always looking quicker however and he broke through to give checkmate with some pleasing pyrotechnics. This made him the second player (after Phil) to reach 4 points.

Syrett vs. Shapland. Martin Syrett has two pawns for the exchange having just traded queens on e8. How should Black now proceed and what should the result be with best play? Find out the answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Syrett vs. Shapland. Martin Syrett has two pawns for the exchange having just traded queens on e8. How should Black now proceed and what should the result be with best play? Find out the answer in the game viewer at the end of this post.

On board 3, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and ‘B’ team captains, Dave Shapland and Martin Syrett were also battling it out to reach 4. These two are uncompromising characters at the board and their games are usually full of fight and attack. This game, full of ebb and flow, did not disappoint on that score. Dave chose to play the French Defence as a surprise weapon and Martin soon veered from the most well-trodden paths of the Tarrasch Variation to ensure the game would reach an original position early on.

Dave got himself in a tangle and soon it looked like Martin had managed to stir up an overwhelming attack. However, the Black position proved to be more resilient than it appeared and Dave was able to repulse the White pieces and launch a counter offensive. This in turn looked dangerous and provoked Martin to sacrifice an exchange for two pawns and the initiative.

With Dave’s king bobbing about in the open and Martin’s rook and queen infiltrating the Black camp it seemed Martin might have at least enough for a draw but then, late on in the evening, with both players weary from an exhausting battle, Martin chose to exchange queens not seeing that the resultant ending of bishop and five pawns versus rook and three pawns was losing for him almost immediately via a tactical trick. Dave has had a number of lucky escapes against lower rated opponents in this year’s competition but nevertheless managed to reach 4 points.

Hunter vs Leonard. Black has just played 44...f4? which unfortunately allows an attractive check mate. How long will it take you to spot it?

Hunter vs Leonard. Black has just played 44…f4? which unfortunately allows an attractive check mate. How long will it take you to spot it?

On board 2 Ian Hunter and Pete Leonard also played a very interesting and complicated game which saw Pete playing his habitual choice against the English opening 1…b6. The game then looks like it transposed in to something akin to a Catalan. Pete, like Dave, has provided extensive annotations of this game in the viewer at the end of this report and the game is well worth playing through as both players fought in uncompromising fashion for an unbalanced position that would be most likely to produce a decisive result.

At one point Pete seemed to have the advantage and Ian offered an exchange sacrifice to try and stay afloat. Pete declined it, preferring instead to lock his bishop in on b2 with his advanced a-pawn providing support. Soon after that though, as Pete admitted himself, he started to lose his way and when he declined two subsequent pawn offers by Ian, White seized the advantage by sacrificing his queen for a rook and bishop!

The subsequent play was highly complicated with Ian holding passed b and c-pawns as part of his perfectly adequate compensation for the material. Both players went astray at times in the murk that followed but it was Ian who ended up on the winning side after Pete wandered his king into an attractive mating net. With this Ian became the fourth player to reach 4 points.

All of this now meant that the battle on board 1 was irrelevant as far as deciding the destiny of the title was concerned. Phil’s ‘sum of consecutive scores’ tie break was already better than Ian, Dave or Richard’s and would also be better than Matthew’s even if he lost. Never the less, Matthew showed great fighting spirit to play for victory with Black in a game he had to try and win even though he knew even that would probably not be enough to re-take the title he last won in 2015.

Purely from an accuracy perspective, this final game of the competition was probably one of the best played in all 5 rounds. It certainly compares well with Matthew’s fine win with the Black pieces against John Allan in round 3. Once again he played it patiently and slowly took advantage of Phil’s natural desire to play it safe in a game that he only needed to draw. Even in the game notes that he has provided Matthew finds it hard to pinpoint exactly where Phil went wrong as he slow neutralised any White winning chances and then went onto the offensive.

In the end game only Black had winning chances and Matthew patiently manoeuvred his pieces, including his king to their optimum squares and then prepared a pawn break through on the queen’s side. At the end Phil could have sacrificed the exchange to limp on but it was evident that would only prolong his agony and by that stage of the evening it was evident he had won the championship in any case.

The final results show a 5-way tie for first but with Phil Cook champion on the ‘sum of progressive scores’ tie-break. Congratulations to Phil on his maiden Calderdale Individual title. Dave Shapland finished second. Ian Hunter and Matthew Parsons were the only two unbeaten players in the competition but they did each draw twice. Ian at least had the consolation of a grading prize. Matthew had to content himself with having played the best chess in the tournament and having had the toughest schedule as he beat both John Allan and Phil Cook and draw with Ian. These three players were seeded 6, 5 and 4 respectively.

The fifth player to score 4 points was Richard Bedford. He was also the lowest rated to reach this score which was a highly creditable outcome. Unfortunately, he just missed out on a grading prize as he was in the same banding as Ian who edged him on tie-break.

The other grading prizes were won by Mike Barnett, Pete Moss and Gwilym Hughes. Martha Leggett took the junior prize.

A full list of the final scores is given below:

4 points = P.Cook (1st), D.Shapland (2nd), M.Parsons, I.Hunter (Grading prize), R.Bedford
3½ points = J.Allan
3 points = R.Porter, P.Leonard, M.Syrett, S.Gornall, M.Barnett (Grading prize), P.Moss (Grading prize), M.Leggett (Junior prize)
= G.Eagleton, M.Burke, N.Sykes, A.Leatherbarrow, D.Rivron, B.Wadsworth, S.Harrington
2 = J.Lavan, R.Sutcliffe, V.Webster, N.Bamford, A.Dawson, G.Hughes
= A.Gonzalez, L.Curry, T.Dodd
1 = B.Joyce, J.Y.Hadari, B.J.S.Hadari
½ = M.J.Tait
0 = A.Dermo

Withdrew = J.Brooke, T.Sullivan, M.O’Keefe

A selection of games from the final round can be found in the game viewer below. The top three games all come with commentary from Matthew Parsons, Pete Leonard and Dave Shapland respectively.

All that remains is for us to express our gratitude to the tournament organizer and controller, John Kerrane who once again presided over a well-attended and smoothly run competition.

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Feb 132017
The last man standing this year is Phil Cook of Todmorden. But there is still one last round to go. Can he remain undefeated to become the new champion of Calderdale?

The last man standing this year is Phil Cook of Todmorden. But there is still one final round to go. Can he remain undefeated to become the new champion of Calderdale?

Last Monday night saw an enthralling and exciting fourth round of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship unfold at the Trades Club. Previous rounds and seen a number of surprising results which had led to some of the top seeds falling half a point behind the pace setters, fourth seed Phil Cook (Todmorden) and eighth seed Dave Shapland (Hebden Bridge) who started round four as the only two players on a perfect 3/3.

With these two destined to face each other on the top board it was vital that those trailing just behind on 2½ succeeded in winning so they could keep pace or possibly catch up with the two leaders should they draw. That would be no easy task for now the best players in the competition would start to get drawn against each other. On board two, top seed and triple champion from 2013-2015, Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) would take on fifth seed Ian Hunter (Belgrave) and on board three reigning champion Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield) would play Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) who was the unlucky player on two who was destined to ‘float up’ when Mitchell Burke (who was also on 2½) withdrew from the competition.

But whilst these battles on the top three boards could prove decisive in shaping the destination of the 2016-17 title, there were some equally juicy looking match ups just below them. On board 4 Richard Porter (Halifax) took on Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge) and then club colleagues Nick Sykes and Andy Leatherbarrow (both Hebden Bridge) faced off before the last two players on 2 points Richard Bedford (Todmorden) and Pete Moss (Halifax) also looked like an interesting battle.

Very often on these important and tense occasions, strong players can tend to cancel each other out and take a ‘safety first’ approach to their games. However, on this occasion the circumstances of the tournament situation really encouraged the players to take some risks and play for the full point. This resulted in some highly interesting and full-blooded contests.

On board 1, Dave Shapland, playing White took precautions to try and ensure he kept winning chances in his game as he knew that he would have to Black in the final round against a top player and felt he needed the largest points buffer he could muster to have any hope of winning the competition. For the third game in a row his opponent played 1…Nc6 against his 1.e4 opening move. In the two previous encounters he had chosen to transpose into a solid variation of the Two Knight Defence and had got nothing at all from the opening phase even though he’d scored a point and a half from them. This time, he opted for the Scotch Game which had the added benefit of taking his opponent by surprise.

If Dave had intended to keep the tension in the game with his opening choice then he certainly succeeded in doing that. Phil sensibly opted for a less well known variation beginning with 6…Qg6!? Now both players were already in unfamiliar territory and unsurprisingly, started to burn through their allocated time as a result. Dave fanned the flames further when he castled queen’s side on move 14 and the game became extremely sharp and complicated with all three results seemingly possible.

Ultimately, the player’s time shortage before the time control at move 36 proved decisive. Dave made a series of moves that didn’t really improve his position and got himself into hot water as he lost a pawn. Soon after, Phil returned the inaccuracy when he offered an exchange of queens which should have enabled Dave to equalise again. However, he missed his chance and when the time control did arrive he found himself in serious difficulties.

Dave battled on but his position became increasingly futile and his queen’s side pawns fell giving Phil a passed a-pawn. A final tactical twist that Phil had overlooked proved not to be a problem as, in exchange for a rook and knight, Phil forced home his a-pawn and then drove the White king to c5 to win the game.

With board 1 producing a result it was now even more important that the chasing pack won their games in order to keep up with Phil and give themselves a chance in the final round.

On board 2 Matthew played his habitual London System which was well met with some solid and sensible play by Ian. The game looked very much in the balance although Matthew was placing his confidence in a good knight versus bad bishop endgame scenario. Unfortunately for him, that scenario never appeared on the board for he got side-tracked and misjudged a key position on move 18 that left the game dead level with both sets of rooks and queens still on the board.

Matthew took a risk to unbalance the play by sacrificing both his rooks for Ian’s queen in the hopes that his opponent might be more likely to make an error. That didn’t happen and, if anything, it was Ian who was pressing for a win and seemed to come very close to getting one. However, Matthew just had everything under control and, despite walking the tightrope to try and win, in the end he had to settle for a draw as Ian couldn’t make progress and Matthew was able to repeat the position.

On board 3 events had also conspired in Phil Cook’s favour. Reigning champion Greg had the Black pieces against Pete Leonard and seemed to achieve a perfectly playable position in a Closed Sicilian. That is, until he overlooked a tactical nuance that would have meant he would be three pieces for a rook down. He decided not to continue and resigned as early as move 23! Kudos to Pete for taking his chance and advancing to 3 points himself.

All of this now meant that Phil was out in front on 4 points with Matthew, Ian, Dave and Pete all on 3. Would any of the others on 2 be able to join the chasing pack?

On board 4 Martin Syrett sprung a second surprise of the evening by beating Richard Porter with the Black pieces. In a complicated Kings Indian Defence Martin succeeded in launching a strong king’s side attack whilst keeping his opponent’s counter play on the other side of the board to a minimum. After the time control Richard finally cracked under pressure and Martin broke through in the centre with a discovered check tactic and successfully mopped up for an excellent win.

Nick Sykes developed a very strong attack against Andy Leatherbarrow on board 5 out of a topical variation of the Two Knights Defence with 4.d3. The position played and evolved very much like a Closed Spanish where White builds up an attack on the king’s side and Black tries for counter play in the centre and on the queen’s side. Nick may well have missed some opportunities to win the full point but Andy also defended actively and resourcefully and he held on for a draw in what was about to become a same-coloured bishops and pawns ending where he was a pawn down but Nick was going to struggle to break through.

On board 6 Richard Bedford succeeded in gaining a decisive positional advantage straight out of the opening (another King’s Indian) against Pete Moss and then proceeded to offer his opponent not the slightest glimmer of counter play as he ensured that he would be the sixth player to reach 3 points.

Further down the boards there were wins for John Allan (Hebden Bridge) against Angel Gonzalez (Belgrave), Mike Barnett (Belgrave) against Barry Wadsworth (Halifax) and Scott Gornall (Halifax) against Owen Buchan (Hebden Bridge). All these players advance to 2½ points.

Also in amongst this mid-section of the boards was a tremendous fighting draw that was the last game of the night to finish was battled out between Daniel Rivron (Halifax) and John Lavan (Hebden Bridge). The game finished with John’s king on h8 holding up passed White pawn on h7. White’s extra bishop was of no use to him because it was the wrong colour to drive the Black king away and therefore stalemate was inevitable.

The lower boards also saw some very competitive games especially between some of the junior contestants who were starting to fight it out between themselves for the junior prize. Before we get to that though, there were two more ‘all adult’ clashes to mention. In the first Adrian Dawson (Belgrave) played a nice game to overcome his higher rated opponent, Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield), and secure his second win of the competition. Neil Bamford (Hebden Bridge) also won against Bill Joyce (Todmorden) to also reach 50%.

Now to the juniors. Martha Leggett took a full point bye by default (her second of the competition unfortunately) to move onto two point. That makes her the highest scoring junior but she is being pursued by Luca Curry (who took a half point bye in round 4), Owen Buchan (who we already saw lost to Scott Gornall) and Toby Dodd (who won a long and protracted battle with Joel Hadari) who all have 1½.

Gwilem Hughes lost to Vivenne Webster (Halifax)  and we should also mention that, on board 15, Joel’s sister Juliet, won her game against Alfie Dermo to score her first win of the competition.

Here then is confirmation of the individual results from round 4:

Calderdale Individual Chess Championship 2016-17: Round 4

Dave Shapland 0 – 1 Phil Cook
Matthew Parsons ½ – ½ Ian Hunter
Pete Leonard 1 – 0 Greg Eagleton
Richard Porter   0 – 1 Martin Syrett
Nick Sykes ½ – ½ Andy Leatherbarrow
Richard Bedford 1 – 0 Pete Moss
Angel Gonzalez 0 – 1 John Allan
Daniel Rivron     ½ – ½ John Lavan
Barry Wadsworth 0 – 1 Mike Barnett
Scott Gornall 1 – 0 Owen Buchan
Adrian Dawson 1 – 0 Robert Sutcliffe
Gwilym Hughes 0 – 1 Vivienne Webster
Bill Joyce 0 – 1 Neil Bamford
Toby Dodd 1 – 0 Joel Hadari
Alfie Dermo 0 – 1 Juliet Hadari

Full point bye:  Martha Leggett
Half-point bye:  Steve Harrington, Luca Curry
Default:  Mitchell Burke, Michael Tait

The standings with one round remaining are therefore as follows:

  • 4 points – P.Cook
  • 3 points – M.Parsons, I.Hunter, D.Shapland, P.Leonard, R.Bedford, M.Syrett
  • 2½ points – G.Eagleton, M.Burke, J.Allan, N.Sykes, S.Gornall, M.Barnett, A.Leatherbarrow, S.Harrington
  • 2 points – R.Porter, J.Lavan, V.Webster, N.Bamford, D.Rivron, P.Moss, A.Dawson, B.Wadsworth, M.Leggett
  • 1½ points – A.Gonzalez, O.Buchan, L.Curry, T.Dodd
  • 1 point – R.Sutcliffe, B.Joyce, G.Hughes, J.Y Hadari
  • ½ point – M.J.Tait
  • 0 points – A.Dermo, B.J.S Hadari

13 of the 15 games played in round 4 can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

All that leaves us to consider are the permutations for round 5. It will wither be very simple, or very complicated.

Phil Cook should have draw odds with White against Matthew Parsons in the final round. A long as he doesn’t lose he will be champion.

If Phil does lose though all hell breaks lose as in that scenario, he and Matthew would both be on 4 points along with up to three other players. The tie break would then come into force. On that basis we have asked the competition controller, John Kerrane, to provide us with the tie-break rules for the competition so that everyone can be clear in advance how this would work in that eventuality.

Here they are:

Calderdale Individual Championship: Tie Break Regulations

In the event of players achieving the same scores, tie-breaks will be applied in the following order:

  1. The result of the individual game between players.
  2. Sum of progressive scores. (equivalent to Bucholtz system)
  3. Sum of opponents’ scores.
  4. Sum of opponents’ grades.
  5. Sum of opponents’ grades with progressive elimination of the grade of the lowest-graded opponent.

This is roughly equivalent to the recommended FIDE system, also recommended by the ECF, modified to allow for a low number of rounds.

In the event of more than two players achieving the same score, the tie-break will proceed directly to step 2 above.

Note: For the purposes of a tie-break only, unplayed games of players who have withdrawn before the end of the tournament will be counted as draws in section 3 above.

On this basis the following assumptions can be made:

  • Phil Cook is champion if he wins or draws in round 5
  • Matthew Parsons is champion if he beats Phil Cook in round 5 and no-one else on 3 points wins their game
  • Phil Cook is champion if he loses to Matthew but one or more other player reaches 4 points (based on the sum or progressive scores rule)

Comments and feedback on the tie-break rules and the permutations are welcome as always.

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Jan 132017
Let loose the hounds! The hunt is on to catch co-leaders Phil Cook and Dave Shapland in the Calderdale Individual Championship. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from the Cochran Library's Flickr photostream

Let loose the hounds! The hunt is on to catch co-leaders Phil Cook and Dave Shapland in the Calderdale Individual Championship. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from the Cochran Library’s Flickr photostream

The third round of five in the Calderdale Individual Championship took place on Monday night at the Trades Club. It’s at this stage of the competition, where it passes the half way mark, that a ‘sharp end’ of the standings emerges.

Before we get to the action though let us first remark that 34 players took part in round 3. That’s a pretty high proportion of the original 38 starters. In recent years there has been an unfortunate trend towards a significant number of withdrawals and so it is a most welcome development to see so many players sticking with it. If 34 players also sit down to play round 5 that would be fantastic.

At the start of round 3 there were four players on 2 points and so they were drawn against each other. On board 1 the fourth seed, Phil Cook (Todmorden) took on Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) with White and on board 2 Dave Shapland (Hebden Bridge) played another Todmorden player Richard Bedford.

Behind this quartet an unusually large mass of players were in the chasing pack on 1½. This included the remaining five of the top six seeds – 2013-14-15 Champion Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge), reigning Champion Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield), Mitchell Burke (Huddersfield), Ian Hunter (Belgrave) and John Allan (Hebden Bridge). These heavyweights were joined by John Lavan (Hebden Bridge), Scott Gornall (Halifax), Mike Barnett (Belgrave) and Andy Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge).

Andy took a half point bye in this round which left an even number of players on 1½ battling it out to maintain the chase on the leaders. It also meant that two of the big-hitters would have to face each other and the draw pitched club colleagues John Allan and Matthew Parsons against one another in what was undoubtedly the juiciest match up of the round. These two played on board 3 and below them Greg played John Lavan, Mitchell had White against Scott and Mike had White against Ian.

At the other end of the draw a number of the juniors were now drawn against each other which meant that the battle for the junior prize was well and truly on. Martha Leggett played Owen Buchan, Luca Curry faced Toby Dodd and Juliet Hadari played Gwilem Hughes.

On the top two boards the opening phase took very different turns. On board 1 Nick had spent some time considering how best to respond to Phil’s habitual English Opening (1.c4) only for Phil to confound him by playing a different move order (1.Nf3 and 2.c4) which ruled out Nick’s preparation and threw him back on his own resources at once. Somewhat dispirited, Nick drifted into a difficult position straight out of the opening and then capitulated when Phil found some brisk tactics to bring the game to a swift conclusion on move 22. Phil therefore became the first player to reach 3 out of 3.

On board 2 Dave and Richard reached a position in the Two Knights Defence that both had foreseen and considered in their preparations. Richard opted for a very solid set up where he grabbed an extra pawn but accepted some structural weaknesses in exchange. Dave didn’t play the opening phase at all well and, like Nick, drifted into an inferior position. Fortunately for him Richard had arrived 15 minutes late for the start of the game and so, when Dave later sought to complicate the position in order to change the dynamics, Richard began to get into time trouble.

Dave then threw caution to the wind on move 22 and sacrificed a second pawn as well as exposing his king in order to try and build up further pressure on Black’s vulnerable f7 square. Richard defended accurately until, on move 30, he blundered and quick as a flash Dave broke through. A shame for Richard who played very well against his higher rated opponent up until that moment.

This means that Dave and Phil will face each other on the 6th of February in round 4 to see if one of them can stay perfect and get to four points.

Probably the highest quality game of the day was seen on board 3 where Matthew slowly ground down John Alllan with Black to maintain his hops of regaining the title. In a Four Knights Game, Matthew created a structural imbalance on the queen’s side by creating doubled c-pawns for John. Then he quickly opened the a-file and took control of it. John sought the haven of simplification but Matthew maintained a marginal edge due to John’s, now isolated, doubled c-pawns. Finally as they entered a rook and pawns ending, Matthew won one of the White c-pawns, swapped of the rook and accurately finished off the king asnd pawn ending for a very nice positional win against a strong opponent.

On boards 4, 5 and 6 the higher rated players also did what was expected of them. Greg kept a small advantage out of the opening against John Lavan who was never able to equalise and eventually capitulated. Mitchell found a nice tactic against Scott to win a piece as early as move 15. He lost two (and later three) pawns in the process but the material advantage was sufficient even though it took him a while to convert it. Finally, Ian had to grind out a win in a double bishop and pawns ending against Mike who put up serious resistance. This game outlasted all the other by some margin and it seemed at one point like Mike would hold his opponent but it was an illusion as Ian eventually broek through to mate hi opponent.

In round 4 Mitchell will now likely play Matthew with Black while Ian will have White against Greg. These should be epic encounters with only two of the four maintaining winning chances after that round.

Further down the draw, two of the higher rated players who had lost in the first round continued their resurgence to get to 2 out of 3. Richard Porter won smoothly against his Halifax club colleague Vivienne Webster and Pete Leonard inflicted a second victory of the season with his Alekhine’s Defence over Neil Bamford who certainly did not lack ambition in his approach but ultimately fell victim to an opening trap.

Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge), Pete Moss (Halifax) and Steve Harrington (Halifax) also advanced to two points with wins against a trio of Belgrave players in the form of Adrian Dawson, John Brooke and Angel Gonzalez respectively. Pete’s performance in particular should be applauded as he beat his second higher rated opponent of the competition.

So too on board 12 did Halifax’s Barry Wadsworth who took down Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield) to progress on to 2 points himself. This leaves some experienced players in one point. They’ll be eager to get back to 50% in the next round against potentially weaker opponents.

Finally we should tell the story of the juniors. Alfie Dermo (Hebden Bridge) took on an adult when he was re-paired to play Daniel Rivron (Halifax). Alfie did his best but Daniel was solid and secure and outplayed his young opponent. The other junior vs. senior clash also went the way of experience as Bill Joyce (Todmorden) overcame Joel Hadari (Hebden Bridge) without too much trouble.

The all junior clashes produced the mix bag of quality and competitiveness one might expect. At one end of the scale Juliet Hadari lost what was probably the shortest game in Calderdale Individual Championship history against Gwilem Hughes. At the other end of the scale Luca Curry finally beat Toby Dodd after a much more interesting and evenly matched struggle.  Owen Buchan was the other winner over Martha Leggett.

Full results are listed below along with the standings after round 3 and some of the games in the viewer at the end of the post. I’m having some problems with the regular viewer so have had to use a different one for the moment. Hopefully it should not spoil the experience too much. Round 4 is on the 6th of February and should produce some fascinating and hard fought matches.

Calderdale Individual Championship: Round 3
Phil Cook 1 – 0 Nick Sykes
Dave Shapland 1 – 0 Richard Bedford
John Allan 0 – 1 Matthew Parsons
Greg Eagleton 1 – 0 John Lavan
Mitchell Burke 1 – 0 Scott Gornall
Mike Barnett 0 – 1 Ian Hunter
Vivienne Webster 0 – 1 Richard Porter
Neil Bamford 0 – 1 Pete Leonard
Adrian Dawson 0 – 1 Martin Syrett
Pete Moss 1 – 0 John Brooke
Steve Harrington 1 – 0 Angel Gonzalez
Robert Sutcliffe 0 – 1 Barrie Wadsworth
Alfie Dermo 0 – 1 Daniel Rivron
Martha Leggett 0 – 1 Owen Buchan
Bill Joyce 1 – 0 Joel Hadari
Luca Curry 1 – 0 Toby Dodd
Juliet Hadari 0 – 1 Gwilym Hughes

Half-point bye:  Andy Leatherbarrow
Default:  Martin O’Keeffe, Michael Tait

Standings after round 3:
3 points: P.Cook, D.Shapland
2½ points: M.Parsons, G.Eagleton, M.Burke, I.Hunter
2 points: R.Porter, P.Leonard, N.Sykes, R.Bedford, M.Syrett, A.Leatherbarrow, P.Moss, B.Wadsworth, S.Harrington
1½ points: J.Allan, J.Lavan, S.Gornall, M.Barnett, A.Gonzalez, D.Rivron, O.Buchan
1 points: J.Brooke, R.Sutcliffe, V.Webster, N.Bamford, A.Dawson, B.Joyce, L.Curry, G.Hughes, M.Leggett
½ points: M.J.Tait, T.Dodd
0 points: B.J.S Hadari, J.Y.Hadari, A.Dermo

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Dec 182016
Only four players have a maximum 2 points after the second round of this year's Calderdale Individual Chess Championship. Photo used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from bicouni's Flickr photo stream.

Only four players have a maximum 2 points after the second round of this year’s Calderdale Individual Chess Championship. Photo used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from bicouni’s Flickr photo stream.

After the turbulence of the first round a relatively normal service was resumed in Round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship as the higher rated players generally re-asserted their dominance. That wasn’t to say that there weren’t any surprises though. A couple of the underdogs put up stern resistance and manage to draw their games against top seeds.

With the champions from the last four seasons (and also the top two seeds), Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) and Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield), having only managed draws in round 1, there was an opportunity for some of their challengers to maintain a half point advantage if they could manage to win again in the second round. The first surprise of the evening happened before play had even started as the third seed, Mitchell Burke (Huddersfield) did not show up and appeared not to have informed the arbiter, John Kerrane, early enough in advance of the round to be eligible for a half point bye. We will await to see whether or not Mitchell will be given a half point. In any case, Mitchell’s absence meant that the draw had to be carried out again from scratch so the start of the round was delayed.

Once proceedings were underway it was clear that the cohort of Hebden Bridge’s junior players, all relishing the opportunity to play against more experienced opposition, where going to have a difficult evening. All eight of the juniors lost in the end and they put up varying degrees of resistance.

Owen Buchan (Hebden Bridge) faced the toughest proposition as he’d taken a half point bye in round 1 and was then drawn to face reigning champion Greg Eagleton in round 2. Owen quite sensibly chose to play a 2.c3 Sicilian line rather than wade into some theoretical debate and he succeeded in playing some interesting and unusual moves and maintained the material balance but failed to get his king to safety and was gradually out-manoeuvred until Greg broke through on move 21 to threaten mate.

Martha Leggett (Hebden Bridge) was unfortunate enough to have been the extra player in the draw in round 1. The up-side was that she got a full point. The downside was that she now faced another experienced player with half a point to his name Belgrave’s Angel Gonzalez. She also put up good resistance with some sensible play in the opening but slowly it all unraveled and Angel’s experience showed through.

The other junior who showed good fighting spirit was Luca Curry (Hebden Bridge) who took on Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge) one of the surprise losers in round 1. This was a game of hanging pawns for, while Luca kept his pieces on the board he slowly lost one pawn and then another until Pete had reached a single rook and pawns ending where he had four (!) extra pawns. Luca realized that the game was up at this stage but he had at least managed to reach an ending.

Finally, Toby Dodd also put up firm resistance against Steve Harrington (Belgrave) in an encounter that didn’t have the same gap in rating between the two players as some of the others and was therefore rather more protracted.
The remaining four Hebden Bridge juniors, Gwillem Hughes, Alfie Dermo, Julia Hadari and her brother Joel were unfortunately put to the sword in rather more summary and swift fashion by Robert Sutcliffe (Huddersfield), Vivienne Webster (Halifax), Neil Bamford (Hebden Bridge) and Adrian Dawson (Belgrave) respectively.

In the next round some of the juniors will inevitably start to get drawn against each other and this should begin the process of deciding which of them will win the junior prize in the tournament. Hopefully they are also learning and getting valuable experience from these games played against adult opposition.

Now let’s look further up the draw. The other high-profile victim of round 1 (besides Pete Leonard) was Richard Porter (Halifax). He bounced back with a win in positional style over Bill Joyce (Todmorden). Top seed Matthew Parsons won in similar fashion against Daniel Rivron (Halifax) and Andy Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge) capitalised on his excellent draw with Matthew in round 1 by beating Michael Tait (Halifax) to advance to 1½.
That just leaves us with the remaining twelve players (aside from Mitchell Burke) who had won in round 1 to cover. With Mitchell out of the draw they were all neatly paired against each.

On board 1 Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge) was up against fourth seed Phil Cook (Todmorden). Martin can be a very dangerous player and has been on decent form this season but unfortunately, on this occasion, he suffered a major malfunction. Having responded in typically ambitious fashion to Phil’s provocative opening play, Martin overlooked a tactic that gave his opponent a devastating counter-attack early in the middle game. The end was efficiently executed by Phil who compelled Martin’s resignation as early as move 21 and was the first player to reach 2/2 on the night.

Not long afterwards Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge) joined Phil on 2 as he took down one of the round 1 heroes, Pete Moss (Halifax), who had beat Richard Porter in fine style. Nick, as ever, was well versed in the opening that appeared on the board as play transposed from a King’s Indian Defence to a Maroczy Bind-type position but with some interesting nuances. Pete’s position gradually became more and more difficult until Nick was able to force a decisive breath through in the centre. He concluded the game with a nice tactic exploiting a pin on the d-file and a knight fork on c7.

It was rather later in the evening before anyone else was able to make it to the perfect score. On board 4, Dave Shapland (Hebden Bridge) faced John Brooke (Belgrave) and played energetically to set up a strong attack and put his opponent under great pressure. Dave won a piece and then another. John soldiered on but he had no counter play and was eventually forced to resign in a hopeless situation just after the players had reached time control.
Interestingly, only one more player was able to join the three now on 2 points. On board 2 fifth seed Ian Hunter (Belgrave) seemed in danger of losing to super-solid Scott Gornall (Halifax) at one point but in the end an acute time-shortage for Scott enabled Ian to escape with a draw which was the least he deserved for his efforts.

The sixth seed John Allan (Hebden Bridge) also faltered against Mike Barnett (Belgrave). Mike is a tough player to beat with Black and John didn’t manage to create any sort of complications or imbalance in the game and as a result the two chopped wood until they reached a same-coloured bishop and pawns ending which was only ever going to be a draw.

The last game of the evening to finish did finally produce a fourth player to make it to 2 points. Richard Bedford (Todmorden) took his time but did convincingly outplay Barry Wadsworth (Halifax) who put up stiff resistance but was already losing by the time he blundered both his remaining pieces in terrible time trouble at the very end of the evening.

The full list of individual results and standings after round 2 are given below. Some of the games from round 2 can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Calderdale Individual Championship: Round 2
M.Syrett 0 – 1 P.Cook
I.Hunter ½ – ½ S.Gornall
M.Barnett ½ – ½ J.Allan
J.Brooke 0 – 1 D.Shapland
N.Sykes 1 – 0 P.Moss
B.Wadsworth 0 – 1 R.Bedford
M.Parsons 1 – 0 D.Rivron
O.Buchan 0 – 1 G.Eagleton
M.J.Tait 0 – 1 A.Leatherbarrow
A.Gonzalez 1 – 0 M.Leggett
R.Porter 1 – 0 B.Joyce
P.Leonard 1 – 0 L.Curry
G.Hughes 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe
V.Webster 1 – 0 A.Dermo
B.J.S Hadari 0 – 1 N.Bamford
A.Dawson 1 – 0 JY Hadari
S.Harrington 1 – 0 T.Dodd

Default: M.Burke, M.O’Keefe
Half-point bye: J.Lavan
Withdrawn: T.Sullivan

Standings after round 2:
2 points = P.Cook, D.Shapland, N.Sykes, R.Bedford
1½ = M.Parsons, G.Eagleton, I.Hunter, J.Allan, J.Lavan, S.Gornall, M.Barnett, A.Leatherbarrow, A.Gonzalez
1 = M.R.Burke, R.Porter, P.Leonard, M.Syrett, J.Brooke, R.J.Sutcliffe, V.Webster, N.Bamford, A.Dawson, P.Moss, B.Wadsworth, S.Harrington, M.Leggett
½ = D.Rivron, O.Buchan, M.O’Keefe, M.J.Tait, T.Dodd
0 = B.Joyce, L.Curry, G.Hughes, A.Dermo, J.Y.Hadari, B.J.S Hadari

In round 3 on the 9th of January, we should see some really interesting games between the leading players as, providing no-one takes a half point bye, the four leaders should square off and then the nine on 1½

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Nov 172016

I couldn’t find a picture of an applecart actually being upset so this will have to do! At least it reflects the meltdowns some of the higher rated players had in round 1 of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championships last Monday.

The first round of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship is typically a relatively turgid affair. The draw for the opening round pits the top half of the draw against the bottom half and, with only one section in the event, you tend to see the kind of grading differences between opponents that tends to lead to a clean sweep for the favorites. Occasionally the odd half point is saved and very occasionally a top dog makes a blunder from which it is impossible to recover. But in recent year’s this has been a rare event. However, it appears that the underdogs in round 1 of this year’s championship had not read the script as we were treated to a fascinating evening full of surprise and upset.

But before we get to the action, lets briefly recite the cast of characters in this drama. 38 players registered to enter which represents a very good turn-out, although immediately 5 of those 38 took a half point bye in round 1. Unfortunately, that left young Martha Leggett without an opponent in round 1. Top seed in the draw was the champion of 2013, 2014 and 2015, Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge) who made his return after missing last year’s competition. In round 1 he was drawn to face club colleague Andy Leatherbarrow with Black pieces. Defending champion Greg Eagleton (Huddersfield) was seeded second and found himself playing with the White pieces against Angel Gonzalez (Belgrave).

The top two are both rated well into the 180’s and their opponents on Monday were rated more than 50 points lower than them. The next 4 seeds in the draw are all rated in the 170s. Mitchell Burke (Huddersfield), Phil Cook (Todmorden), Ian Hunter (Belgrave) and John Allan (Hebden Bridge) had a slightly smaller grade advantage on paper but it still looked overwhelming like the top boards would result in a clean sweep for the top seeds.

After this top half dozen we then had Richard Porter (Halifax), Dave Shapland, Pete Leonard, John Lavan and Nick Sykes (all Hebden Bridge), Richard Bedford (Todmorden) and Martin Syrett (Hebden Bridge) all rated between 140 and 169 (but mostly at the lower end of that scale). They too enjoyed grading differentials of between 40 and 50 points over their opponents.

As ever there was an excellent showing from the Hebden Bridge junior club who fielded 8 players all of whom were taking the opportunity to test themselves against more seasoned players from the league and compete for the ’Best Junior’ prize.

Let battle commence! It was great to see the Trades Club packed for round 1 of the CIC

Let battle commence! It was great to see the Trades Club packed for round 1 of the CIC

Now, to the action. Early on in the evening there didn’t appear to be much evidence to suggest any apple carts would be upset. Pretty much the first to win his game was Nick Sykes who quickly dealt with Bill Joyce (Todmorden) on board 11. On board 6 John Allan won smoothly against Adrian Dawson (Belgrave) after dealing effectively with Adrian’s pet opening, the Lowenthal Variation of the Sicilian Defence. Likewise, Ian Hunter defeated Neil Bamford (Hebden Bridge) in similarly prosaic fashion. Both Phil Cook (against Vivienne Webster) and Mitchell Burke (against Robert Sutcliffe) had to work a little bit harder to get the better of their adversaries but they did so in due course.

At the lower end of the draw there were also some quick victories as some of the juniors found themselves with too much to do against more experienced opponents. John Brooke (Belgrave) had finished his game against Julia Hadari (Hebden Bridge) pretty quickly and Scott Gornall (Halifax) also dealt with young Alfie Dermo (Hebden Bridge) in short order. Soon after the youngsters were joined in defeat by Gwillem Hughes (Hebden Bridge) who went down to Martin Syrett and Joel Hadari (Hebden Bridge) who lost to Mike Barnett (Belgrave). Of the junior contingent this just left Luca Curry battling it out with Richard Bedford beyond the half-way stage of the evening. Despite these early set-backs though, the battle for best junior in the tournament looks like it will be well contested.

Beyond the mid-point of the evening the balance of power began to shift towards the underdogs. At first it was only a minor blip as Andy Leatherbarrow (who has been having an outstanding season so far) managed to hold a draw without too many problems against the top seed on board 1. It was perhaps a greater surprise when Angel Gonzalez also held a draw against the reigning champion, mainly because he did so with Black. This was how the bottom half of the draw got off the mark.

By this point of the evening it was becoming clear that some of their number were playing well enough to have very good winning chances. On board 7 Richard Porter seemed to have secured a perfectly good position against Pete Moss (Halifax) but then he over looked an exchange sacrifice that brought about a huge attack for White. There didn’t seem to be an immediate break through, and Richard defended tenaciously, but his position looked abject. Next door on board 8, Dave Shapland was struggling with White against Terry Sullivan. Terry played carefully and accurately (although also slowly) in the opening phase of the game and Dave didn’t manage to get any kind of attack going in a Rubenstein Variation of the French Defence. Finally, Dave took too much of a risk in keeping the queens on the board when Terry offered their exchange and suddenly Black was in the ascendency which led to Terry also winning an exchange and maintaining the initiative to boot.

The next two boards were also looking interesting. Pete Leonard had gained a very pleasant position from the opening against Barry Wadsworth but then started to misplay the position and Barry, never one to decline the opportunity to attack, did just that was hanging on and started to turn the tables. John Lavan was also up against it in his game with Steve Harrington who was going for it with Black and putting his higher rated opponent under serious pressure.

In the end a couple of the stronger players had to rely on the clock to haul themselves to safety. Dave Shapland was in serious trouble but Terry, having played very deliberately earlier in the evening, didn’t seem able to raise the tempo of his game as time control loomed and allowed his clock to run down with six moves still to make. Dave let out a massive sigh of relief!

Steve Harrington’s brave effort also came to nought during the time scramble which, if the score sheet is correct seems to have involved both players over-looking a mate in 1 for White towards the end of the game. In the end, John navigated through the complexities to gain material and Steve also ran out of time. By this point in the evening Richard ‘Beaky’ Bedford had also overcome the spirited resistance of Luca Curry which ensured that the juniors drew a blank in round 1. No doubt they will begin to pick up some points in round 2.

This just left the two major upsets of the evening to play themselves out. First of all Pete Leonard went completely off the rails against Barry Wadsworth. He lost a pawn and then a piece and was in desperate time trouble to boot! In the end he felt compelled to resign soon after the time control as the queens were about to come off leaving Barry with an extra knight and two pawns in the end game.

Pete Moss’s victory came about in rather different style. Having kept his boot metaphorically on Richard Porter’s throat he slowly lost some of his control but then, just as it seemed Richard might somehow salvage something from the game, he blundered a rook and resigned on the spot. A fitting outcome for Pete’s earlier fine play. Richard was the first to congratulate his opponent and as they chatted afterwards it emerged that they had played each other before at primary school 46 years previously!! We didn’t find out who won that game but Pete left no questions about this one.

Below are the full results of round 1 with a selection of 13 of the games in the viewer at the end of the article. You can also tell us who you think will win the tournament after this slightly surprising set of round 1 results in the poll below. (The poll will close on Wednesday 23 November.)

Round 2 takes place on Monday 5th of December. Will some of the successful underdogs be able to continue showing their fine form?

Calderdale Individual Championship: Round 1
A.Leatherbarrow ½ — ½ M.Parsons
G.Eagleton ½ — ½ A.Gonzalez
R.Sutcliffe 0 — 1 M.R.Burke
P.Cook 1 — 0 V.Webster
N.Bamford 0 — 1 I.Hunter
J.Allan 1 — 0 A.Dawson
P.G.Moss 1 — 0 R.Porter
D.Shapland 1 — 0 T.Sullivan
B.Wadsworth 1 — 0 P.Leonard
J.Lavan 1 — 0 S.Harrington
B.Joyce 0 — 1 N.Sykes
R.Bedford 1 — 0 L.Curry
G.Hughes 0 — 1 M.Syrett
S.Gornall 1 — 0 A.Dermo
B.J.S Hadari 0 — 1 M.Barnett
J.Brooke 1 — 0 J.S.Hadari

Full point bye: M.Leggett
Half-point bye: O.Buchan, T.Dodd, M.O’Keefe, D.Rivron, M.J.Tait

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Dec 302014

Before we say “Goodbye” to 2014 let’s have a last look back at the chess year from a Hebden Bridge perspective. I’m going to make this a two part story (with the second half coming later in the week) and intersperse some positions from games played by Calderdale players (mostly Hebden Bridge players of course). If you feel like testing yourself with some of these positions as puzzles then you can. Alternatively if you’d like to re-live these games again in full then they are collected in the viewer at the end of this post.

Calderdale League 1

January: Parsons vs. Broadbent — Calderdale League 1. Black has just played 11…fxg6. White has a significant advantage but how should he proceed? Should he go for 12.Ng5, 12.Nh4, or something else? The solution is in the game viewer at the end of this post.

January: Parsons vs. Broadbent — Calderdale League 1. Black has just played 11…fxg6. White has a significant advantage but how should he proceed? Should he go for 12.Ng5, 12.Nh4, or something else? The solution is in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Let’s start by recollecting the tremendously exciting Calderdale League 1 title race. Of course Hebden Bridge ‘A’ started the season as champions but they knew right from the off that they would struggle to retain the title as Huddersfield, Courier ‘A’, Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ all strengthened their line ups during the 2013 summer break. Despite a very strong start that saw the champions defeat both Todmorden ‘A’ and Halifax ‘A’ before Christmas, they subsided in the December and January period with a string of disappointing results. Hebden were realistically out of the title race by the time 2014 had reached the end of its first month but the team did rally strongly towards the end of the season as they sprung a huge 1 — 4 away win on their arch-rivals Huddersfield. They ended the season respectably placed in mid-table, well clear of the relegation zone.

Sadly for HebdenBridge ‘B’, the season was extremely tough as they struggled to field a full team on numerous occasions and were out graded in most of the matches they played. Relegation was always the likely outcome for them but, despite the hardships, they did manage very creditable draws with their own ‘A’ team and Todmorden ‘B’ as well as taking a victory from their home match with Brighouse.

April: Tooley vs. Shapland — Calderdale League 1. White has just played 22.Qa3 and in the game Black replied by sacrificing his rook on f2. Is this sound? Try and calculate all of the critical lines. See game viewer for the solution.

April: Tooley vs. Shapland — Calderdale League 1. White has just played 22.Qa3 and in the game Black replied by sacrificing his rook on f2. Is this sound? Try and calculate all of the critical lines. See game viewer for the solution.

Of course the title race was very competitive indeed and came down to a four-hourse race between the aforementioned Couier ‘A’, Halifax ‘A’, Huddersfield and Todmorden ‘A’ outfits. Huddersfield looked to have the title in the bag with two rounds to play but they were derailed by HebdenBridge ‘A’ in the penultimate fixture and this allowed Halifax to take the driving seat. In round 14 they needed to beat Courier ‘A’ in a winner-takes-all encounter, whilst Huddersfield travelled to Todmorden knowing that they had an outside chance if they could win there. In the end Huddersfield slumped to another defeat and Halifax edged it against Courier to take their first title for 28 years!

Looking at Hebden Bridge’s individual scores in league 1, Dave Shapland was the highest scorer for HebdenBridge ‘A’ with 8½/11 playing predominantly on boards 4 and 5. Pete Leonard, Matthew Parsons and Andy Bak all managed at least 50% and Matthew Webb guest starred in the two matches against Todmorden ‘A’ scoring wins against Martin Hamer on both occasions. The ‘B’ team naturally struggled individually but their captain Martin Syrett scored an extremely creditable 5½/10 playing largely on the upper boards.

Calderdale League 2

April: Syrett vs. Webster — Calderdale League 1. This was a really crazy game! Black, having just played 17… Bh3 is threatening to play Ng4 next move. This looks dangerous. How should White respond? Solution in the game viewer below.

April: Syrett vs. Webster — Calderdale League 1. This was a really crazy game! Black, having just played 17… Bh3 is threatening to play Ng4 next move. This looks dangerous. How should White respond? Solution in the game viewer below.

League 2 was depleted by the loss of Todemorden’s ‘D’ team right at the outset of the season and that meant that just seven teams competed for the title. In the end most people’s favorites Belgrave won the league with a score of 21 points.  Halifax ‘B’ finished in second place with 19 and Todmorden ‘C’ were third with 16 points.

Like Hebden Bridge ‘B’ the Hebden teams in League 2 also struggled to raise full line ups from time to time as the club’s membership of active league participants dwindled. Certainly the ‘C’ team were not contenders for promotion as they have been in previous years. In the end Hebden ‘C’ were fifth with 9 points and Hebden ‘D’ finished bottom with 2 points. But what a glorious 2 points they were!

Surely the outstanding team performance anywhere in Calderdale (perhaps even anywhere in Yorkshire) in 2014 has to be our ‘D’ team’s mind-blowing win over the eventual champions Belgrave. It happened at the Trades Club on February the 17th as Danny Crampton’s ‘development’ squad took on an unbeaten Belgrave line up that out-rated most of their Hebden ‘D’ adversaries by 80 points or more.

February: Dickinson vs. Corbett — Calderdale League 2. After 22.Rxg7 by White ... Qxb3 looks like a very strong response for Black. It didn't turn out well in the game. Why not? Solution in the viewer below

February: Dickinson vs. Corbett — Calderdale League 2. After 22.Rxg7 by White … Qxb3 looks like a very strong response for Black. It didn’t turn out well in the game. Why not? Solution in the viewer below

From the off the ‘D’ team put up spirited resistance but none of the players or spectators expected anything other than a comprehensive win for the visitors. However, it didn’t work out that way as Captain Crampton on board 1, Karl Dickinson on board 2 and Dylan Leggett on board 4 all beat seasoned campaigners rated far, far above them as the ‘D’ took a famous match 3 – 2 and condemned Belgrave to their only defeat of the season.

Check this out for a score card. The ratings of each player at the time the match was played are given in brackets.

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ vs. Belgrave
D.Crampton (63) 1 – 0 G.Farrar (148)
K.Dickinson (40)  1 – 0 M.E.Corbett (144)
P.Dearden (52) 0 – 1 M.J.Barnett (126)
D.Leggett (29) 1 – 0 A.A.Gonzalez (137)
M.Leggett (91) 0 – 1 L.Johnson (133)
3 – 2

From an individuals perspective, the Hebden teams in League 2 all had a very tough season. Only John Kerrane and Neil Bamford could manage 50% for the ‘C’ team which was symptomatic of their travails and none of the ‘D’ team managed 50% even though those three musketeers from that match in February all grew their year-end ratings as a result of their deeds!

Calderdale Individual Championship

February: Ursal vs. Burke — Calderdale Individual R4. Black's just played 45… Rg8 and White, in time trouble, missed his chance to win the game. How should he have proceeded?

February: Ursal vs. Burke — Calderdale Individual R4. Black’s just played 45… Rg8 and White, in time trouble, missed his chance to win the game. How should he have proceeded?

Hebden Bridge’s Matthew Parsons retained his Calderdale Individual title in March as, after drawing in the first round with Martin Syrett in November, he beat his ‘A’ team colleagues Messrs Leatherbarrow, Shapland, Leonard and Sykes to lift the trophy ahead of a strong field that included Todmorden’s Pete Mulleady, Halifax’s Darwin Ursal (who finished second on 4 points) and Huddersfield’s Mitchell Burke. All in all the tournament was a little bit disappointing as a spectacle mainly due to the vast majority of entries coming from Hebden Bridge players. This tended to lend the competition the air of a club championship plus some special guests rather than a highly competitive tournament comprising the best players from across Calderdale duking it out for the area’s premium individual title.

Nevertheless there were some memorable highlights aside from Matthew’s impressive form. In the first round John Kerrane played extremely well against the top seed, Mitchell Burke and actually missed a mate in one that would have given him one of the best wins of his life. Breathing a huge sigh of relief Mitchell scraped through to win that game in the end. In February’s fourth round the Huddersfield board 1 was once again involved in the game of the night as he faced former champion Darwin Ursal with the Black pieces. Knowing that he needed to win to stay in touch with Matthew, Darwin threw the kitchen sink at his rival in a very sharp King’s Indian Defence and both players got into desperate time trouble as they strove to navigate their way through the complexities of the position. Eventually they agreed to a draw with only moments left on their clocks and a crowd of kibitzers straining to see what was happening at the board.

March: Shapland vs Leatherbarrow - Calderdale Individual Championship R5. It's White to move. The position is a mess and there are weaknesses everywhere on both sides. Black has just played 20...g5. What's White's best approach here?

March: Shapland vs Leatherbarrow – Calderdale Individual Championship R5. It’s White to move. The position is a mess and there are weaknesses everywhere on both sides. Black has just played 20…g5. What’s White’s best approach here?

When the final round took place in March the tournament leader dispatched the last of his ‘A’ team colleagues (in the form of Nick Sykes) to retain his title. However, this was far from a smooth victory as Nick got a perfectly playable game from the opening and Matthew felt compelled to venture a risky exchange sacrifice to unbalance the position in search of the victory he needed to guarantee first place. It looked like Nick would at least hang on for a draw in the endgame but Matthew set up a cunning mating net and Nick stumbled into it.

Meanwhile, further down the board order Dave Shapland and Andy Leatherbarrow were engaged in a game that showed all the hallmarks of two participants who no longer had anything to play for in the competition. They contrived to create a game of huge complexity with sacrifices offered and declined and the tension almost unbearable. Eventually Dave ran out the winner and this result gave him a share of third place alongside Nick Sykes and Martin Syrett on 3½/5 behind Matthew and Darwin.

Calderdale Team Lightning

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ made some amends for losing their League 1 title by powering to victory in the  Team Lightning competition which took place at the Belgrave Social Club in May. Although only six teams were entered Hebden still faced formidable opposition in the form of the reigning champions Huddersfield who had wheeled out a ferocious line up to defend the trophy. The crunch match up came as early as round 2 when Hebden ‘A’ faced the holders and, despite being out-rated on every board, they scored a tremendous 4 – 1 victory. This paved the way to their success as they scored 22½/25 with Huddersfield finishing a distant four points behind. The Hebden Bridge line up of Matthew Parsons, Andy Bak, Pete Leonard, Dave Shapland and Nick Sykes also collected four of the five individual board prizes and Hebden Bridge ‘B’s Karl Dickinson won the junior prize.

May: Matthew Parsons of Hebden Bridge 'A' (left) and Nigel Hepworth playing for Belgrave (right) battle out in the final round of the Team Lightning competition

May: Matthew Parsons of Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (left) and Nigel Hepworth playing for Belgrave (right) battle out in the final round of the Team Lightning competition

Yorkshire League

A number of Hebden Bridge players represented Calderdale ‘B’ in Yorkshire League Division 2. After a very promising start to the season with three consecutive victories the team ran out of steam and were only sure of safety from ignominious relegation when they rallied to two more wins in March. They finished 8th out of 12 with five wins and six defeats. Not a bad return in the end.

One of Calderdale ‘B’s best performers (scoring 6/7 at 86%) was Hebden’s John Allan. He only played a handful of evening league matches as he much prefers to play his chess in the daytime. On this evidence one can understand why. Hopefully he’ll continue to be available and successful for the side this year.

Andy Leatherbarrow was often wheeled out on the higher boards against very strong opposition and so his record of seven draws and three defeats was by no means a poor one. Martin Syrett also featured frequently though he had less success here than he did in the evening leagues and Calderdale Individual.

There were no Hebden players in the Calderdale ‘A’ team this season but they distinguished themselves once again in League Division 1 by finishing with a 50% record and in 6th place out of 12.

In the game viewer below you’ll find the complete games featured in the positions above (some with commentary) so you can see how you got on with the puzzles. I’ll be posting the second half of this article early in the new year when I’ll be focusing on the second half of 2014. Until then I’d like to wish all our members and readers a very happy new year!


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Nov 142014

UK_CalderdaleReports of its death are greatly exaggerated!

The 2014-15 edition of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship began on Monday night at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge. This competition follows its usual (but unusual) format of being played at the rate of one round per month between November and March…

A full round 1 report and games can be found on the Yorkshire Chess website

Mar 132014
The Calderdale crown belongs to Matthew Parsons once more. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from trainjason’s Flickr photostream

The Calderdale crown belongs to Matthew Parsons once more. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from trainjason’s Flickr photostream

Parsons keeps his crown

Last year’s Champion retained his Calderdale Individual Championship at the Trades Club on Monday night. Congratulations to Matthew on this significant achievement! Darwin Ursal of Halifax was 2nd and the grading prizes were won by Nick Sykes, Martin Syrett, Angel Gonzalez and Alex Brown. You can read a full report of how the round proceeded, see the full final standings and play through the games from round 5 over on the Yorkshire Chess website but I’ll also publish the games here later today in our game viewer for those who prefer it.


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Mar 082014
Matthew Parsons is the reigning Calderdale Champion and is set to retain his title unless Nick Sykes can stop him on round 5 on Monday.

Matthew Parsons (left) is the reigning Calderdale Champion and is set to retain his title unless Nick Sykes can stop him on round 5 on Monday.

Momentum with the Reigning Champion

The fifth and final round of this year’s individual championship takes place at the Trades Club on Monday (the 10th). Hebden team mates Matthew Parsons and Nick Sykes will be slugging it out for the honours. I’ve just posted a report of the round 4 action and all the games (except one) on the Yorkshire Chess website. For some reason the game Leonard vs. Parsons just wouldn’t load into the Chess Microbase so I’m adding it to this page in the game viewer below (along with all the others from round 4) for completeness. Good luck to both Matthew and Nick in the final round. May the best man win!


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Feb 112014
There were a good number of pairs who settled on a draw in round 3 of the championship

There were a good number of pairs who settled on a draw in round 3 of the championship

Pax ludus scacchorum

The Romans offered the ‘pax romana’ (Roman peace) to their allies, the Catholic Church granted ‘pax vobiscum’ (peace with you) to worshipers and chess players frequently agree on ‘pax ludus scacchorum’ (a draw!) and the more evenly matched the players, the more likely it will be that peace will break out. Round 4 was played at the Trades Club just last night and today the round 3 report and games were published over on the Yorkshire Chess website