Apr 162015
This is my annual excuse to find a beautiful photograph of lightning! This year's is by Kim Seng. It is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Kim Seng's Flickr photostream.

This is my annual excuse to find a beautiful photograph of lightning! This year’s is by Kim Seng. It is used under Creative Commons terms and sourced from Kim Seng’s Flickr photostream.

The annual Calderdale Team Lightning competition will be hosted by Halifax Chess Club this year. The event will once again take place at the Belgrave Social Club on Monday the 27th of April.

All players who would like to take part are asked to arrive at the venue as close to 7.00pm as possible so that teams can be registered in time for the first round to begin at 7.30pm.

If you would like to register a team in advance of the event then please email Dave Colledge and Howard Wood at davecoll33@hotmail.com and howardwood@hotmail.com respectively. Please send your team name and the names of the five players in the line-up (this can still be changed on the night if necessary). Doing this will enable the organisers to have your team registered early but you will still need to arrive in plenty of time before the first round starts to pay your team entry fee of £2.50.

As is always the case, everyone who comes along will get to take part so even if your club don’t enter a team, or if you don’t have five players, come along anyway and the organisers will find a team for you to play for on the night or identify players to fill your squad.

The team lightning is the traditional curtain closer to the season and is a fun way for everyone in the League to get together and play. At the end of the evening the trophies for the Calderdale Evening Leagues and Calderdale Individual Championship will be handed out to the winners.  So if you can make it do come along for an excellent night of social chess and a chance to give this season’s winners a well-deserved round of applause.

Sep 302014

Once again apologies to all readers for the recent lack of timely updates on these pages. I promise it has nothing to do with my own recent string of embarrassing defeats (although I admit that doesn’t do a lot for my motivation!) Here is a brief report from John Kerrane on this year’s club lightning tournament which was played a couple of weeks ago. There will be a report on the first round of Calderdale league matches in the next day or two.

On Monday the 15th twelve players met at  the Trades Club to contest the club’s annual Lightning Competition, the traditional pre-season event on the week before the start of the Calderdale league season.

With a move every ten seconds on a buzzer, you need steady nerves and a bit of luck, as well as the usual chess-playing skills. At the beginning of the game, ten seconds seems quite manageable, but as the game wears on and the position becomes more complicated, blunders and oversights soon start appearing.

In the event, the competition produced a clear winner in John Allan, who led from the early rounds, with a final score of 5½/6. He was well ahead of the two runners-up on 4/6, Dave Shapland and Pete Leonard. Again, Dan Crampton produced the unexpected result of the evening, taking half a point from Allan in the first round.

The individual scores were:

J. Allan = 5½
P. Leonard and D. Shapland = 4
J. Kerrane and N. Sykes = 3½
D. Crampton, A. Leatherbarrow and C. Greaves = 3
T. Sullivan and M. Syrett = 2½
R. Deravairere = 1
A. Connors = 0

One of the most entertaining games of the evening was the following king hunt by Nick Sykes against… (oh look!) me. For some reason I decided to test Nick’s nerve and memory by inviting him to play the deadly dangerous Traxler Variation of the Two Knights Defense which I never play with White and he has great experience of with Black. I threw further petrol on the fire by opting for the 5.Nxf7!? line which demands complete accuracy from both players in order to avoid immediate disaster. Sadly I simply wasn’t up to the task (9.d6 was correct I believe and only then 10.c3) and Nick played in thematic fashion to draw my king out into the open and then mate him on a6!. An enjoyable romp I hope at least other readers will agree, even if I must avert my eyes.

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Sep 022014
Hebden Bridge Chess Club travelled to the Albert Hotel in Keighley for a pre-season friendly

Hebden Bridge Chess Club travelled to the Albert Hotel in Keighley for a pre-season friendly

After a nice long break for the summer I’m starting up the website again as the usual pre-season activity begins. Last week six Hebden Bridge players travelled to Keighley for a friendly match that was a return tie for last year’s equivalent which I think was played over ten boards.

Here’s John Kerrane’s match report:

The new Calderdale league season approaches, and Hebden Bridge Chess Club accepted an invitation from Keighley Chess Club to a warm up match at their home venue, The Albert Hotel, Keighley. A six-strong team from Hebden Bridge set out across the moor on Wednesday evening to take up the challenge.

The Hebden side was a little weakened since the corresponding match last year, and were surprised to find that Keighley had made a very strong addition to their line-up in the form of Greg Eagleton, one of Huddersfield’s leading players.

A couple of blunders on lower boards left the Hebden side struggling, and although the other team members fought back hard, the match slipped away from them. The last game to finish was between Eagleton and Hebden Bridge captain Pete Leonard, who put up a strong fight, but succumbed in the end, leaving the home side with a 4-2 victory.

The individual results were:

Keighley vs. Hebden Bridge
G. Eagleton 1 – 0 P. Leonard
R. Zaidman ½ – ½ N. Sykes
D. Duffton ½- ½ J. Kerrane
M. Cunningham 1 – 0 T. Sullivan
M. Boyd 0 – 1 N. Bamford
J. Nuttall 1 – 0 D. Crampton
4 – 2

Pete Leonard and Nick Sykes have annotated their games and these can be found in the game viewer at the end of this post.

Here are the important dates coming up in the month of September:

  • 8th of September: Matthew Webb Simul 
    Matty will play a 20 board simultaneous match against Hebden Bridge Chess Club players and invited guests. This will be held at the Trades Club and will begin at 7.30pm. The match will be played as a clock simul where the standard Calderdale League time limits apply on all boards (36 moves in 75 minutes + 15 minutes allegro finish). Matty has been playing in occasional matches for Hebden Bridge for the past three seasons and had a very impressive season indeed in 2013-14. He played in the Bradford A side that took the Yorkshire League Division 1 title and he represented White Rose in the 4NCL this season too. Altogether he played 23 games in Yorkshire last season winning 20 and drawing just 3! This saw his Yorkshire rating rocket to 217 and he is currently the 5th player on the YCA rating list. This will be his first ever simultaneous match and there are still a handful of places available for any Calderdale League players that might be interested. If you would like to play please email us as soon as possible to confirm your place. hebdenbridgechessclub@gmail.com
  • 15th of September: Club Lightning Competition
    We’ll be holding our traditional curtain raiser for the league season  at the Trades Club on Monday the 15th. All members are encouraged to coming along for a fun evening of high speed chess. The Lightning format of the game allows each player just 10 seconds per move with each move being played on the sound of a buzzer. There are always plenty of thrills and spills and the playing field is generally levelled with the amount of thinking time reduced.
  • 22nd of September: League 1 fixtures begin. Hebden Bridge ‘A’ are due to play Huddersfield
  • 29th of September: League 2 fixtures begin with Hebden Bridge ‘B’ playing away at Courier ‘B’ and Hebden Bridge ‘C’ playing at Todmorden ‘C’

I’ll be posting reports on both the simul and the lightning competition as well as a review of last season and a preview of the forth coming one. in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

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May 162014
Smothered checkmates don't come along all that often but in lightning chess, where blunders and sudden catastrophes occur more often, they are more likely to make an appearance. Here's one from Monday night (the position is from memory so it might not be 100% accurate).  White was worried about Black playing Bh3 so he decided on 1.Bf1 only to be punished with Nh3 mate!

Smothered checkmates don’t come along all that often. In lightning chess however, blunders and sudden catastrophes occur in most games! Here’s one from Monday night (the position is from memory so it might not be 100% accurate). In an unusual position following a wild opening phase White was worried about Black playing Bh3 so he decided to play Bf1 only to be shocked by Nh3 mate!

The Calderdale Evening Chess League held its traditional curtain closer to the season on Monday night as players gathered at the Belgrave Social Club for the team lightning competition. For the uninitiated, lightning games are played to the sound of a buzzer which goes off every 10 seconds. Players must make their move in turn on the sound of the buzzer. Checks need not be announced and kings may be captured to end the game. This format makes for some entertaining chess (see the diagram for evidence!) and surprising outcomes as the playing field between the best and the rest is levelled by the reduced thinking time.

This year only six teams entered the competition which was slightly disappointing considering last year’s excellent turn out. Still, this neatly confined the competition to an all play all over five rounds with five players per side. Despite the small number of teams representation was at least spread from clubs across the league as Huddersfield, Belgrave, Halifax, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge (with two teams) all entered sides.

Last year’s winners, Huddersfield, returned to defend their title in strength as they fielded a truly ferocious line up. Leo Keeley, Greg Eagleton and Mitchell Burke are all rated over 180 and their board 4 was Dave Keddie who is rated at 171! Their captain Robert Sutcliffe completed the line up on board 5.

Right from the start it was clear that Huddersfield’s main rivals were likely to be Hebden Bridge ‘A’ who also came with a strong team of evening league regulars. They had gathered Matthew Parsons, Andy Bak, Pete Leonard, Dave Shapland and Nick Sykes for the occasion. Many of the strongest players from the other clubs did not make an appearance. For example, new League 1 title holders Halifax only had Scott Gornall from their ‘A’ team line up. Last year’s runners up Todmorden didn’t have any of their ‘A’ team at all although they did have a good League 1 regular on board 1 in the form of Neil Suttie. League 2 champions Belgrave had most of their regular line up present too although they supplemented Gordon Farrar and Mike Barnett with Nigel Hepworth and Karim Khan. Hebden Bridge ‘B’ supplemented their line up with Todmorden’s Dave Milton.

The team lightning is decided on board scores rather than match scores and so, having both won their first matches by a margin of 4½ — ½ the crunch encounter between Huddersfield and Hebden Bridge took place as early as round 2. Despite being out-graded on every board but board 5 Hebden Bridge not only beat their rivals but outscored them by the surprising margin of 4 — 1! Only Hudderfield’s Leo Keeley took a win for the title holders.

This margin of victory gave Hebden Bridge a comfortable cushion for the remaining three rounds and put the pressure on Huddersfield to score extremely heavily if they were going to catch up. As it was Hebden barely took their feet off the gas as they scored 5 — 0, 5 — 0 and finally 4 — 1 to take the honours. Dropping only two and a half points through the whole competition was great achievement and, unsurprisingly, Hebden almost swept the board of individual medals as well.

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

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

Final scores were:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ — 22½/25
Huddersfield — 18½
Todmorden — 10½
Belgrave — 10
Halifax — 7
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ — 6½

Individual board winners were:

Board 1: Leo Keeley (Huddersfield) — 4½
Board 2: Andy Bak (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) — 4½
Board 3: Pete Leonard (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) — 5
Board 4: Dave Shapland (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) — 5
Board 5: Karim Khan (Belgrave) and Nick Sykes (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) — 4

Hebden Bridge ‘B’s Karl Dickinson won the junior medal.

The competition was organised and overseen very capably by Dave Colledge of Courier chess club.

May 242013

Moliere wasn’t known to be a chess player but his famous quote is most apposite

“Unreasonable haste is the direct route to error”
– Moliere

This quote has appeared on this website before as an introduction to a post on zeintot or time trouble. Call it what you will. The point is that it’s impossible to play high quality chess when you have very little time to think, analyse and make fine judgements. While this may be true it must be said that poor quality chess can be a great deal of fun!

Last Monday night the chess players of Calderdale arrived at the Belgrave Social Club in Halifax for the traditional season ending event  — the Team Lightning Tournament. It’s a simple format. Teams of 5 players just like in the league; a buzzer that sounds every 10 seconds and compels the next player to move; the ability to capture the king and end the game if a check goes unnoticed. The tournament winners are decided on game points rather than match points and so every single game can make a difference towards the outcome. This frantic format nearly always throws up some amusing and unusual incidents and often it is more advisable to opt for sensible ‘no-frills’ moves over complicated tactical play. Here are a couple of examples from my own games on Monday.

Black to play. Hepworth vs. Shapland, Round 3

Black to play. Hepworth vs. Shapland, Round 3

White to play. Shapland vs. Nicholson, Round 5
White to play. Shapland vs. Nicholson, Round 5

In the first one Black is clear better materially but because his last remaining pawn is due to queen on a white square and is on the edge of the board it isn’t at all straight forward to see how to convert. Even at a classical time limit I think I’d be hard pushed to figure out the method. See if you can do any better. The correct way is given in the game viewer at the end of this post. As it was I’m afraid I had a total melt-down and even managed to lose from this overwhelming position by failing to move my king out of a check! Oh dear!

The second example illustrates a different point. White is clearly much better and it seems that there should be some tactical route to checkmate. I played instinctively (always a risky thing to do!) and everything turned out well in the end . However, I’d overlooked the most straightforward way to finish the game. Can you spot it in 10 seconds? No? Take a little longer and try and figure out White’s best move. The answer is in the viewer at the end of the post.

Ok, so now to the action. Eight teams entered the competition this year which was very ably organised by Bruce Bendall of Brighouse chess club. The strongest contenders at the outset looked like league champions Hebden Bridge ‘A’, runners up Huddersfield, third placed Todmorden ‘A’ and fourth placed Halifax ‘A’. Brighouse also entered a team and Hebden, Halifax and Todmorden entered second teams to make up the eight entries.

For Hebden Bridge ‘A’ the critical round was round 3 of the 5 played when they came up against a strong Huddersfield side. Hebden had already beaten a weakened Halifax ‘A’ squad who were without Bill Somerset but still fielded Darwin Ursal on board 1. There didn’t seem to be any reason why Hebden couldn’t do well against their old nemesis but as it turned out they had a complete aberration. Nick Sykes won quickly against Richard Boylan on board 3 but the rest of the side lost and the 4 — 1 defeat put them out of the running. They went on to lose in the next round as well. This time it was Todmorden ‘A’ who beat them by a more slender margin 3 — 2.

After 4 rounds then the two Hebden sides actually had the same number of game points and there was a chance they could have been drawn against each other. It didn’t happen. The ‘B’ team were drawn against Todmorden ‘A’ who beat them 3 — 2 and the ‘A’ team swept Halifax ‘B’ aside 4 — 1.

At the end of the evening it was Huddersfield who were victorious, scoring a magnificent 20½ out of 25! Todmorden ‘A’ pipped Hebden ‘A’ to second place by half a point and Brighouse did very well to finish a further point behind.
Final stands looked like this:

1st: Huddersfield — 20½
2nd: Todmorden ‘A’ — 15
3rd: Hebden Bridge ‘A’ — 14½
4th: Brighouse — 13½
5th: Hebden Bridge ‘B’ — 12½
6th: Halifax ‘A’ — 10½
7th: Halifax ‘B’ — 8
8th: Todmorden ‘C’ — 5½

Medals were awarded to the individuals who scored the most points on each board. The winners were:

Board 1: D.Ursal (Halifax ‘A’) — 5
Board 2: D.Tooley (Huddersfield) — 5
Board 3: N.Sykes (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) — 4
Board 4: A.Gonzalez (Brighouse) — 4½
Board 5: P.Hepworth (Huddersfield) — 5

Congratulations to Huddersfield who were tremendous on the night. Well done also to the individual winners. Special mention should go to Nick Sykes who topped off his wonderful season by going undefeated with 3 wins and 2 draws on board 3. And finally a hearty “Well played!” to Halifax’s Darwin Ursal who was perfect on board 1 and defeated very strong opposition in the form of Dave Keddie, Martin Hamer, Matthew Parsons and Robert Broadbent to achieve his result. He scored almost 50% of his team’s total score!

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May 102013
It's lightning time again on Monday the 13th at the Belgrave Social Club. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and is sourced form gleasonmj's Flickr photostream

It’s lightning time again on Monday the 13th at the Belgrave Social Club. This image is used under Creative Commons terms and is sourced form gleasonmj’s Flickr photostream

The Calderdale Evening Chess League Team Lightning tournament takes place on Monday the 13th of May. The competition will again take place at the Belgrave Social Club in Halifax. Anyone wishing to take part should be sure to arrive at the venue promptly for 7.30pm in order to enable team captains to organise their squads of 5. Any players not initially allocated to a team from their home club will be used to fill vacancies in other club sides or form ad hoc squads. In this way everyone who turns up will be able to take part.

If you’ve never played lightning chess before it’s great fun. Here is a quick explaination of the rules. Normal rules of chess except that a buzzer sounds every 10 seconds and players must move in turn on the buzzer. Persistent failiure to do this can result in forfeiting the game. Also check does not have to be announced and kings can be captured to end the game if a check is overlooked.