Three teams from Hebden Bridge Chess Club began their league seasons last night. I hope to be able to publish some match reports and games from each of these encounters at some stage during the week as well as coverage of Hebden Bridge ‘D’s season opener at Huddersfield which takes place on Thursday.
Let’s begin a busy week of coverage with Hebden Bridge ‘B’s visit to Courier A. Things didn’t get off to a great start when it became apparent that the ‘B’ team were going to be casualties of a league schedule which dictated that both divisions would begin on the same day. Normally, team Captain Martin Syrett would have been able to draw on reserves from the ‘C’ team but, as they were playing a home fixture, he was unable to field a full side.
Courier ‘A’ have been significantly strengthened by the return of John Morgan after a year away from the league. He is a board 1 strength player but this year he will play on board 3 due to the continued presence of Dave Patrick and Robert Clegg who both have marginally higher grades. The strength of this line up would have made the away fixture difficult for the ‘B’s at the best of times but the absence of a board 5 player made the encounter very difficult indeed.
Unusually, it was the top board that finished first. Robert Clegg and Dave Shapland raced through the opening as they banged out 10 moves of mainline Sicilian Dragon theory reaching the position below.
|Clegg vs. Shapland|
Position after 10…Nxd5
At this juncture Robert departed from the most orthodox approach (11.Nxc6 bxc6) by opting for 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 and 12.c4. This move selection put the question to the black Queen on d5 and impeded any plans black might have had to send his a and b pawns flying up the board to attack the white king position. After this Dave went mildly astray immediately with 12…Qa5?! (12…Qd7 was better) which handed White some initiative after 13.Qxa5 Nxa5 14.Nb5 Be6 15.Nc7 Rac8 16.Nxe6 allowing him to disrupt black’s compact pawn structure. For the rest of the game White maintained a decent advantage. But, in the end, he couldn’t find the best way to turn it into a full point and a truce was agreed.
|Colledge vs. Kerrane. |
Position after 7.Qa4?!
This gave John the opportunity to win a pawn with 7…Qxa4 8.Nxa4 bxc4 and now white can’t recapture on c4 with the bishop due to 9.Bxc4? b5 forking Bishop and Knight. Having missed this opportunity John never the less built up a perfectly pleasant position before slowly allowing Dave to equalise and agreeing to a draw at time control.
Meanwhile, on boards 2 and 3 respectively Andy Leatherbarrow and Martin Syrett were struggling to stay in touch with strong opponents. John Morgan put Martin out of his misery fairly swiftly after Martin’s light squared bishop got itself into hot water fairly early on in one of those strange flank opening’s that John like’s to play (1.f4 and later 4.b4!? on this occasion). However, Andy made Dave work very hard on board 2, forcing his opponent to chart a course through a labyrinth of forcing lines before finally snuffing out Andy’s desperado attack late in the evening.
The final score card is given below. On this evidence Courier ‘A’ could be very competitive indeed if they can get Peter Hughes out regularly on board 4 and Dave Colledge on board 5. For the ‘B’ team, better times will lie ahead but they are going to have to score well in their home fixtures where they will be able to put out their strongest line-up.