Friday, 24 December 2010

The Chess Players' Film Festival - Christmas Competition

Graham Garden and Barry Cryer are regular
panelists on "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue"
When it’s on, I’m a regular listener of “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” on Radio 4. For those who aren’t familiar with the show contestants are invited to take part in numerous silly games. One game that features regularly is the “Book Club” or “Film Festival” idea. In this game the teams were asked to suggest titles for (for example) a “Car Mechanics Film Festival”. Titles such as “Daewoo of the Jackal” might be suggested. Listening to an old show earlier this month got me thinking about what some of the suggestions for a “Chess Players Film Festival” would be.

After coming up with a few suggestions below to get things started I decided to set readers here a festive challenge. The question is: “What films might feature at the chess players film festival” (You aren’t allowed to have films that are actually about chess!)

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Any black and white film
  • Any porn film
  • Any film by J Arthur Rank
 Some film titles that will do just as they are:
  • The Ipcress File
  • When We Were Kings
  • Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
  • Clockers
  • The French Connection
  • The Pelikan Brief
Some films titles that need a little creative amendment:
  • The Magnificent Mate in 7
  • Mating Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
  • Knight of the Living Dead
  • Dungeons and Sicilian Dragons
  • Taimanov Bandits
  • Gentle Benoni
  • Two Knights Tango in Paris
  • Kasparov the Friendly Ghost
There must be zillions more! Please post your suggestions as comments here or e-mail them to me. I am offering an exclusive book prize (kindly donated by an anonymous club member) for those who offer the most creative suggestions!

That just leaves me to say "Merry Christmas" to one and all. Have a great time and I'll see you in the New Year.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Revenge of the underdogs!

The big beasts had a real scrap on their paws in round 2!
Having been well and truly put in their place in round 1 the collective underdogs bit back in round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Chess Championship at the Trades Club on Monday night. This year’s 5 rounded event takes place on the second Monday of each month from November through to March. November’s 1st round pitted the top half of the draw (in grade order) against the bottom half and the top dogs won every game.

Round 2 always threatened to be more interesting as the grading gap between all of those players on 1 point reduced considerably and this turned out to be the case with several cases of ‘giant killing’ and a couple of ‘giant pacifications’ handed out. There is plenty of material for us to review in the games section so let me first provide you with the results of the round.

Four players exercised their right to take a half point bye and these included the tournament’s top seed, Chris Booth of Huddersfield.

Several efforts are worthy of a specific mention. First of all, Nick Sykes managed to hold a draw against the 4th seed John Morgan in one of the evening’s most interesting games. John played his trademark St George’s Defence (1…a6 and 2…b5) and Nick responded sensibly rather than trying to refute the opening outright. He maintained a potentially dangerous initiative in the early part of the game before John’s accurate play succeeded in equalising the position. The players then concluded peace with plenty of wood left on the board but never-the-less in a dead even position.

On board 5 Terry Sullivan also played well with the White pieces to keep 6th seed, Pete Olley, at bay. The opening, a Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation, has a reputation for being drawish but in fact both players tried hard to gain an advantage in a simplified position before agreeing terms.

The advantage of the white pieces also offered the underdogs with some consolation on boards 7 and 9. On board 7 Dave Sugden draw with Todmorden’s Scott Gornall and on board 9 Steven Priest read Chris Edwards his last rights.

So far so good for the underdogs, but even better was to come. First of all, James Todd scored a superb victory over Brian Corner with the Black pieces. Then, at the very end of the night, Josh Blinkhorn checkmated Mike Barnett. Showing nerves of steel Josh had only 30 seconds left on his clock to deliver checkmate with his king and queen against Mike’s bare king. Anyone who has tried to do that kind of thing in a time scramble knows how easy it is to allow a stalemate.

Elsewhere, the top dogs held sway. The board 1 clash saw two time trouble addicts slugging it out. Andy Leatherbarrow and 2nd seed Dave Wedge are both infamous for their clock-management antics and indeed, both players ended up with 5 minutes apiece to play their last 10 moves before the time control. Having made it that far in one piece, Andy then tragically blundered a knight in the end game to give Dave the win.

Finally, here are the standings after two rounds.

2 points:
D.Wedge, M.Parsons, A.Wright, R.Sutcliffe, J.Blinkhorn

1.5 points:
C.Booth, J.Morgan, P.Olley, S.Gornall, M.Wedge-Roberts, N.Sykes, T.Sullivan, A.Gonzalez, D.Sugden

1 point:
M.Barnett, A.Leatherbarrow, M.Syrett, P.Edwards, A.Dawson, S.Priest, J.Aldridge, M.Shah, N.Bamford, J.Nicholson, J.Todd, J.Whitehead, T.Webster

0.5 point:
C.Edwards, D.Milton, D.Crampton

0 points:
M.Levy, B.Corner, B.Wadsworth, P.Dearden, D.Pugh, J.Gilhooley, C.Greaves, J.P.Ellis, T.Whelan

I'm hoping to publish some photos and also more interesting positions from the round 2 games at the end of the week.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Chess Ethics - Retreat and recapture, it's the right thing to do!

Colonel Polhill consulting
a very old edition of ECO
Today I'd like to introduce (or perhaps for some of you who are very well read, reintroduce) Hebden Bridge Chess Club members to a new guest columnist; Colonel Walter Polhill (Retired). The Colonel's editorial was first published in The Independent on Sunday back in the mid to late ninties and he mainly concerned himself with the moral code associated with the game. In today's regergitated post he debates whether or not standards of decency at the board may be on the wane.

"There is an unhealthy mood of bravado laced with machismo running through modern Russian chess. In the old days, captures were met with the politeness of a recapture and any player with pretensions to be considered a gentleman would retreat a piece that his opponent had attacked. Such old formalities, however, are no longer observed, as the following game attests".

I was reminded of Colonel Polhill's articles (and this one in particular) when I played this fun game below on the website. If you want to see a game with pieces being placed and left enprise in the most outrageous fashion then there is no better opening line to study than this bloodthirsty line of the Classical Sicilian.

There is just time for me to add that the second round of the Calderdale Individual Championship takes places at the Trades Club tomorrow night. I'm very much looking forward to watching events unfold and will be reporting on proceedings next week.

Friday, 3 December 2010

You have to speculate to accumulate

On Monday night Hebden Bridge Chess Club's 'A' and 'B' teams competed in the latest round of the Calderdale Evening Chess League. Both matches featured wins for Hebden Bridge players who sacrificed material relatively speculatively in order to gain the initiative and put their opponents under pressure. Both players won but you can judge for yourself whether or not Matthew Parsons' and Dave Shapland's assessments were correct.

Hebden Bridge 'A' started the night at the top of Division 1 and they maintained their position with a comfortable away victory over Brighouse. Matthew Parsons has been on excellent form at the start of the season and continued his unbeaten run with a very fine win over Dennis Breen on board 2. Take a look at the position below and see if you can figure out the best way to proceed with the Black pieces.

Here is Nick Sykes' smooth win on board 5.

The full scorecard for the match was:

Brighouse – Hebden Bridge ‘A’
R.Broadbent 1 - 0 D.Wedge
D.Breen 0 – 1 M. Parsons
 B.Bendall ½ – ½ A. Wright
 P.Whitehouse 0 – 1 M.Wedge-Roberts
N.Hudson 0 – 1 N.Sykes
1½ – 3½

Meanwhile the 'B' team have been struggling at the other end of the table and are heavily involved in the relegation battle. They also travelled to an away fixture in Halifax where they played against this season's surprise package Belgrave who started the evening behind Courier 'A' and Hebden Bridge 'A' only on board count. The 'B' team had their strongest possible line-up and were unfortunate to go down 3-2.

Early on in the evening John Kerrane obtained an extra pawn and a bishop pair versus bishop and knight in an endgame against Angel Gonzalez. The position should have yielded a victory but unfortunately John made a critical error and lost. The bad start was made more acute when Pete Olley succumbed to Gordon Farrar on board 1. Gordon had taken the unusual (for him at least) step of playing 1.e4 and had played a Classical Variation against Pete's Dragon set up. Gordon seemed to maintain a small edge right through the opening and middle game and eventually his pressure was made to count. At 0-2 down it looked bleak for Hebden Bridge but then came the fight back.

Dave Shapland decided a tight positional battle with Les Johnson by sacrificing a knight for two connected passed pawns which turned out to be very hard to stop. Les gave back the piece but Dave maintained the advantage and was able to convert the endgame for a win. The notes in the game viewer below are Dave's.

Team Captain, Martin Syrett, conjured up another wonderful act of escapology (see his earlier effort this season against Todmorden) as he tricked Mike Barnett to equalise the score at 2-2.

With the scores level it looked like Hebden Bridge would manage to glean a much needed win as Andy Leatherbarrow was a comfortable piece up in his game on board three. But then with victory in sight he ran out of time and Belgrave won the match. Below is the agonising final position on the board when Andy's flag fell.

The match scorecard was:
Belgrave – Hebden Bridge ‘A’
G.Farrar 1 - 0 P.Olley
L.Johnson 0 – 1 D.Shapland
S.Haggas 1 – 0 A. Wright
M.Barnett 0 – 1 M.Syrett
A.Gonzalez 1 – 0 J.Kerrane
3 – 2

In the rest of the night's action Halifax 'A' caused a shock by beating high-flying Courier 'A' who were missing a board 5 player. This lifted Halifax out of the relegation places and saw Hebden Bridge 'B' supplant them there. Meanwhile at Todmorden, Huddersfield continued their resurgent run after a slow start to the season by beating Todmorden 'A' 3-2.

All this means that Hebden Bridge 'A' and Belgrave lead the league by a point from Hudderfield 'A' and two points from Courier 'A'. The last round before Christmas pits Hebden Bridge against Courier and Belgrave against Huddersfield so the top four positions could still change significantly before the mid-season break.

Hebden Bridge 'B' will host Brighouse in a match they really must win in order to get out of the relegation zone and send Brighouse down into it.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Raise a glass to the Scotch!

This type of Scotch makes for a better
picture though don't you think?
No, not the Scottish, (fine people though they be) but the Scotch. Not the single malt variety of Scotch either. No, yesterday was St Andrew's day and that seems good enough reason for this blog to celebrate the Scotch Game. It is a venerable system that is first mentioned by Ercole del Rio in 1750 but which owes its name to a correspondence game played between the Edinburgh and London chess clubs in 1824.

For a very long time the opening lay dormant and slumbering as the players of the 20th century generally thought its waters were too quite to offer the White player any sort of advantage. That assessment was changed forever when Garry Kasparov sprung it on Anatoly Karpov in their 1990 World Championship match which was played in Lyon.

Since then the Scotch has gained a new lease of life as today's Grandmasters use it as a viable alternative to the well trodden paths of the Spanish.

For me, the Scotch has been a reletively new acquaintance. For many years I exclusively played the Sicilian against 1.e4 but in the last four or five years I have started to insert 1...e5 into my repertoire and that has meant that I've had to figure out a way of meeting the Scotch. I have had some excellent results against it (in fact I don't think I've lost against it over the board), and yet I'm beginning to consider playing it with the White pieces too as an altenative to the Italian Game that I usually trot out.

Today I shamelessly offer readers of this blog a couple of my greatest hits against the Scotch which may serve either to recommend or put off members from the opening, who knows.

This first game was played over the board.

And this one was played online.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The sweatshirt of victory!

It’s old, it’s jaded, it’s a bit dirty, it’s certainly not fashionable and it’s not even that warm anymore. Yet my grey sweatshirt has been my lucky charm so far this season. I haven’t yet lost when wearing it and on Wednesday night I collected the latest piece of evidence to support the argument that this garment is my lucky charm. Having lost two games in a row I came back into form with a really nice win and I was wearing the sweatshirt.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not particularly superstitious and I normally laugh along with everyone else when I hear stories about sports people who believe that certain rituals performed before or during an event will help them to succeed. Sure, I’ve had the occasional “lucky pen” that has carried me through a streak of games and of which I have idly thought, “I’ve won the last four games writing with that pen” before promptly losing the fifth in horrendous fashion.

No, this is different. This run with the sweatshirt has actually started to influence my behaviour. For example, when I play for my other club in Leeds I normally go to the matches straight from the office. In seasons gone by I would have gone in my work clothes but this season I’ve started to take a change of clothes with me to the office so that I can change before I go to chess club. Ostensibly, I tell myself that this will make me feel more relaxed and comfortable at the board and that might be true but the reality is that the first item of clothing to get packed into my bag is the sweatshirt. To be totally honest, I’ve even thought twice about laundering it if I think it won’t be washed and dry in time for the next fixture. This is deep-seated behavioural change!

My current job role brings me regularly into contact with information analysts who produce performance indicators and so I’m only too aware of the potential pitfalls of seeing “trends” in data that isn’t comprehensive enough to support your thesis. Knowing this only too well then it is at this point in the season that I feel I have played enough games to start doing some statistical analysis of my performance with and without the sweatshirt.

The graph below plots my approximate rating gains and loses after each of my games so far this season. These results are all from competitive games and include a couple of rapidplay results.

I think this chart clearly shows that my performance with the sweatshirt is much better than without it. This Wednesday’s game gave me the strongest proof yet. After a mini-slump of two defeats in a row (admittedly to very strong players who I’d at least expect not to beat) I bounced back with a the very nice win below against a player rated marginally higher than me.

This is my first win with the White pieces since last season!

So, what next for the Sweatshirt of Victory? Well, I have a match tomorrow and I intend to wear the garment for that. Having made this crackpot theory public part of me hopes that I wear it and lose just so that I can free myself from the prison that I have now created for myself.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Has anyone seen our chess team?

This week was Division 2 week in the Calderdale Chess League. John Kerrane brings us a report on one of the last fixtures in the summer individual knockout as well as news of the 'D' team's home fixture. But first, has anyone seen our 'C' team? Pete Rawlings' men were due to play away against Todmorden 'C' on Monday night but it would appear that they did not! All the games were defaulted according to the League website. If anyone finds our 'C' team please return them to the Trades Club on Holme Street.

Now for John's report which appeared in this week's Hebden Bridge Times.

On Monday evening, the second semi-final of the Calderdale Chess League Summer Individual KO Competition was decided at Hebden Bridge Chess Club, between Dave Wedge and his son Matthew. After a close endgame, Matthew found himself in zugzwang – the only moves left to him all led to disaster – and resigned. The final of this summer competition will be an all-Hebden Bridge affair between Dave Wedge and Martin Fairhurst, and with luck, we may get it played before Christmas!

At the same time, the club’s training team, Hebden Bridge D, were playing at home against Halifax B, and found themselves outclassed by the visitors, going down ½ - 4½. The only bright spots for the home team were Dan Crampton’s draw in a crazy game on board 5, and Paul Dearden’s fine play on board 4 before he succumbed to his opponent’s greater experience.

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge 'D' - Halifax 'B'
D. Pugh 0 - 1 A. Dawson
J. Todd 0 - 1 B. Wadsworth
B. Fernley 0 -1 J. Nicholson
P. Dearden 0 - 1 D. Summerskill
D. Crampton ½ - ½ J. Gilhooly
½ - 4½

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Howell wins again in Halifax

Today I’m posting a report from Adrian Dawson about the British Rapidplay Championships 2010 which took place over the weekend at Halifax’s North Bridge Leisure Centre.

David Howell:
British Rapidplay Champion again!
Saturday and Sunday saw some of the greatest sportsmen in the country descend on Halifax to use the most important part of the human body as they competed for the title of British Rapidplay Chess Champion 2010, and the first prize of £600. Grandmaster David Howell proved why he was the strongest player there, scoring 10.5 out of 11, half a point short of a perfect score! Howell was one of 5 Grandmasters participating but there was also a good sprinkling of International Masters and a Female International Master present. Second, third and fourth places were taken by GMs Mark Hebden, Matthew Turner and IM Richard Palliser.

In total 14 local players competed with varying degrees of success. All the scores below are out of 11 except for the one day event which was played over 5 rounds.

Open: M.Parsons 6, L.Keely and D.Ursal 5.5
Major: D.Patrick 4.5, R.Clegg 1.5 (withdrew)
Intermediate: D.Colledge 6.5, A.Gonzalez, P.Whitehouse and C.Velosa 6, P.Hughes 5.5, A.Dawson 4.5, B.Donkersley 4.
Minor: T.Sullivan 6.5
One day event: J.Nicholson 1/5

Here is a game with a pleasing finish played by Halifax’s Darwin Ursal in the Open section.

Many thanks to Adrian for supplying us with that report at express speed! Special mention should be made of Hebden Bridge player Matthew Parsons, who scored more than 50% in the Open playing against the very best in the competition. I gather that this performance is rated at approximately 195! Our own Terry Sullivan also performed well in the Minor section.

In round 2 Matthew made it onto the display boards (the top 8 boards were digital and games from these were broadcast live on the Championship website) were he played, and put up good resistance against, Grandmaster Aaron Summerscale. Here is that game.

Finally, it doesn't seem right not to provide readers with one of the tournament winners games. Howell played arguably his closest rival for the title, Mark Hebden, in round 7 on the Sunday morning. Evidently he had prepared something special for his opponent over night because the game worked out very well for him as you will see below. The notes in this game are shamelessly stolen from Jon Speelman's column in The Independent!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Wright leads Hebden Bridge back to the top

In today's post John Kerrane reports on a busy night for Hebden Bridge Chess Club on Monday evening as both our 1st Division sides hosted fixtures at the Trades Club. This article also appeared in Thursday's Hebden Bridge Times.

Belgrave, from Claremount, Halifax, has been the surprise team in the Calderdale League first division this season, with a series of very good results early on in the season. However, their run came to a shuddering halt on Monday evening, when they visited Hebden Bridge Chess Club at the Trades Club, Holme Street, to play Hebden Bridge ‘A’.

Without one of their regular players, the home team still scored a resounding 4½-½ victory, with quick wins for Matthew Wedge-Roberts, Andy Leatherbarrow and Alastair Wright settling the issue early on. They only dropped half a point when Dave Wedge, on board 1, was forced to settle for a draw when he ran out of time just before checkmating his opponent in a simple endgame. This results puts Hebden Bridge ‘A’ back at the top of Division 1.

The individual results were:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ – Belgrave
D. Wedge ½ - ½ G. Farrar
A. Wright 1 – 0 Malcolm Corbett
M. Parsons 1 – 0 L. Johnson
M. Wedge-Roberts 1 – 0 M. Barnett
A. Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 A. Gonzalez
4½ – 1½

Here are some of the games from this fixture.


It was a different story for the club’s ‘B’ team, playing the mighty Huddersfield ‘A’. The visitors fielded a very strong team, and duly walloped the home side 4-1. Only Pete Olley and Dave Sugden managed creditable draws, while the rest of the ‘B’ team were easy meat for their higher-graded opponents.

The individual results were:
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ – Huddersfield ‘A’
P. Olley ½ - ½ L. Keely
D. Shapland 0 – 1 C. Booth
M. Syrett 0 – 1 D. Firth
J. Kerrane 0 – 1 R. Boylan
D. Sugden ½ - ½ R. Sutcliffe
1 – 4

There is just time for me to let you know that Courier ‘A’ doled out a 0 – 5 execution of the hapless Todmorden ‘A’. This result means that Hebden Bridge ‘A’, Courier ‘A’ and Belgrave are all on the same number of points after 5 matches with Hebden Bridge top by virtue of their superior board count. Huddersfield ‘A’ are 3 points behind the leaders but they have a match in hand to play against Halifax ‘A’. You can see the latest league standings on the Calderdale Chess League website.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Lenin vs Hitler: Who won?

Did Hitler and Lenin trade blows over this board?
Like many chess enthusiasts I was interested to see some news coverage (just over a year ago) about an etching from the 1900's of Hitler and Lenin playing chess together. Well, the story has now been resurrected from the bowels of the internet by Telegraph journalist, Guy Walters. Evidently both the etching, and the chess set that the two men are supposed to have contested said game upon, are being auctioned by Mullocks in London today. If you have a spare £10,000 or so, you might fancy bidding.

For the historians out there I suppose that the debate about the provenance of these artifacts is all very interesting but as a chess player what I'm really interested in is the missing piece of the puzzle. I am talking of course about the scoresheet for the game which would surely refute any lingering doubts about the authenticity of the other items. Not only would the missing scoresheet add exponential value to the board and the picture it would also answer the crucial questions that every chess player really wants to know the answers to. "Who won the game and what moves were played?"

Fortunately for you dear reader the answer to these tantalising questions is close at hand for, in the year or so since the story first came to my attention, I have been conducting my own investigations into this fabled over-the-board encounter. I msut confess that for a long time my best efforts were totally ineffectual but then, quite by chance only a few weeks ago, after a pleasant exchange of banter with someone I played a game against online, I stumbled across our humble blog's first exclusive scoop!

You see, the person I had been playing against turned out to be none other than Lady Cynthia Blunderboro whose Father, Horace (the 4th Duke), was instrumental in organising the game and was actually present when it was played. Most importantly of all however, he kept Hitler's copy of the score sheet! A player of no little ability herself, Lady Cynthia has kindly agreed to re-tell the story of the game and provide some commentary on the moves exclusively for this blog.

Lady Cynthia Blunderboro
“I must confess that I was rather surprised when Intermezzo mentioned the sudden appearance of the Lenin and Hitler etching and chess set during the course of our online chat. I say this only because I had hitherto assumed that the encounter was common knowledge. Daddy first told me the story when I was a teenager and I remember the morning vividly. It was the 31st of January, 1933 and Adolf Hitler had just swept to power in Germany. Daddy had almost choked on his toast when he read the story about it in that morning’s newspaper.

“Good God!” he spluttered “who would have thought it possible?”

Naturally, I had enquired as to the nature of his outbourst and he quickly explained that “young Addy” had been an acquaintance of his during his time at the British Consulate in Vienna during the early 1900’s. He went on to recount that they had met at a chess club (he forgot which!) and played a few friendly games. Despite the fact that Daddy described the then 20-year-old as “an uncouth and loutish layabout with absolutely no class whatsoever” the two of them became regular playing partners. In fact I suspect that Daddy only tolerated Hitler’s company because he was rather easy to beat.

On one such night of contemplation Hitler prevailed upon my Father on the subject of political dogma which, even then, was a favourite hobby horse of his. At some point, quite inadvertently, Daddy found himself proclaiming that some of his “best friends” were political thinkers. By the end of the evening (and, I fancy, rather too much schnapps!) Daddy found that he had agreed to introduce Hitler to Lenin the next time the latter was in town. Never one to let anyone renege on a promise, Hitler pestered my Father remorselessly until the meeting had been arranged, the more so when he discovered that Lenin was a keen and very proficient chess player.

Finally, and after much pulling of strings, Daddy managed to arrange for the pair to meet and play a game of chess as the pretext to an “intellectual discourse” on the merits of Bolshevism. I should add that in order to achieve this he had to considerably over-inflate both Hitler’s chess playing strength and his intellectual regard for Lenin. The two men met at the home of a prominent Viennese Jew who knew Lenin well and who owed my father several quite large favours. Daddy described to me that on the night of the encounter, after the exchange of some brief and rather stiff pleasantries, it was agreed that the game of chess should take place immediately.

By means of a closing remark I should mention that Daddy only saw Hitler once more after that night in 1909 and on that occasion Hitler went so far as to cross the street to avoid having to talk to him. Daddy later told me that he didn't even recall having kept Hitler's scoresheet from that night until, many years later, he was turning out the pockets of a very old smoking jacket in search of a telegram from the King that he had misplaced. His search for the telegram was unsuccessful but he did turn up two fluff covered lemon drops, a saucy picture postcard and Hitler's scoresheet."

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Underdogs put in their place

Down boy!
Last Monday evening the chess players of Calderdale gathered at Hebden Bridge Chess Club for the first round of the 2010-11 edition of the Calderdale Individual Championship. The Trades Club has hosted the Championship for a number of years now and, in the past this geographical location may have deterred some of the eligible players from further down the valley from taking part. That was certainly not the case this year however as the competition attracted the strongest field for years in terms of both quality (6 players graded over 150) and quantity (43 entrants).

Certainly the ordnance at the top end of the field is pretty impressive. Headed by the 200 rated Darwin Ursal, who is Halifax’s new recruit and then followed by Chris Booth from Huddersfield, our very own Dave Wedge, who is the reigning Champion from the last two seasons, and Matthew Parsons, Courier’s John Morgan and Alastair Wright, the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team Captain.This represents the sternest of tests and must surely produce plenty of high quality chess and bags of tension as the rounds progress.

The strength at the top of the field this year also had another consequence. It turned the first round into a bit of a procession. In the last few years there have been some notable surprises with lower ranked players drawing, and on occasion even beating, some of their so called ‘betters’. This was not the case this year as the top half of the draw won every game against the bottom half who left with not even a half point to show for their labours. To be sure there were some close run contests. John Morgan survived an almighty scare against Barrie Wadsworth and Matthew Parsons had to work very hard to grind down Brian Corner.

Sadly, your correspondent is not participating in this year's competition due to a planned vacation that will mean I am away for the final round (the only one in which a half point bye is not permitted). All this having sneakily arranged the departure for the second week in March thinking that the competition would take place (has it has done for years) on the first Monday of each month. I must have a stern word with the League fixture secretary! Ah well, at least readers of this blog will have a dedicated reporter for the duration of the tournament. I shall do my best to regale you with the story of the tournament round by round. Sadly, there was not a great deal of top quality fayre from round 1 with most games being decided by blunders or oversights. We also ran out of carbon copy score sheets and so I was only able to collect a limited number of games from the top few boards and of those a decent number were impossible to decipher!

A comprehensive list of entrants and results can be found by selecting the ‘Calderdale Individual Championships 2010-11’ tab at the top of the page. The next round is on Monday, December the 13th and we will have a brand new batch of score sheets with which to capture proceedings.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Huddersfield turn the clocks back on the Champions

Winter is well and truly here folks. The nights are dark, the weather is wet and cold and the long nights of stress and trauma at the chess board beckon beguilingly! Of course the herald of winter’s arrival is the end of British Summer time. However, this year some strange regional variations of the usual wind back seem to have occurred. For example, whilst the rest of Calderdale were busy putting their clocks back by an hour a couple of weeks ago, the chess players at Huddersfield Chess Club seem to have been busy turning their clocks back two years!

I say this because when Huddersfield arrived at the Trades Club to play our ‘A’ team a couple of weeks ago they seemed to have brought with them the kind of form they last produced when they were the unrivalled “big beasts” of Division 1 in the 2008-09 season. Last season Hebden Bridge toppled them from their thrown, less by their own efforts than by Huddersfield’s own failings it must be said, but nevertheless, our ‘A’ team were the only unbeaten team in the Division last season and that was good enough for the title.

It is hard for me not to feel partly responsible for the ‘A’ team’s painful demise for after they had blown away our ‘B’ team in the derby match a few weeks earlier I believe I may have hexed them by predicting that they would be at least two points, and possibly four points, ahead by Christmas. How I have jinxed them with my vanity!

Anyway, painful though it may be, let us gaze upon the wreckage of the defeat for amongst the smouldering ruins there were some treasures that had been left undamaged. First and foremost of these was Matthew Parsons superb demolition of Dave Firth on board two. Matthew describes it in his own words below.

“I beat Dave Firth in 19 moves. I would like to feel it was absolute genius on my part, but although neither myself nor my opponent, (nor Leo Keely who analysed it with us afterwards) could find a defence for Black in the final position, I imagine the computer will find something earlier. However, as I always try to tell people who are scared of how I played in this game, and wont play like that themselves, practical defence over the board is bloody hard, and we are not Fritz. Nor anywhere close to it.”

Matthew makes an excellent point. Often, even the best players in the league can’t find the correct method of defence when positions become terribly complicated. Ultimately, playing the kind of attack Matthew plays below comes down to whether or not you are confident enough to follow your instincts. Sometimes even when you can’t see the checkmate you can smell it!

Probably the best game I’ve seen this season that one. As I analysed it with Fritz even the computer took quite some time to reach a solid assessment of the position after 14…d6 so that indicates how deep the complications ran.

The other plus points of the match were Alastair Wright and Pete Olley’s draws on board 3 and 4. Whilst Alastair maintained his own unbeaten start to the season against the resolute defence of Richard Boylan, Pete scored for the first time in a game full of complications which I must admit I haven’t had the chance to look at in detail.

The Wedge family had a disastrous evening on the top and bottom boards. It must be said that this happens only once in a blue moon so needless to say the timing was unfortunate although their opponents deserve credit for capitalising to the fullest extent.

So this result really flings the Division 1 title race wide open again. The current leaders are Belgrave with a 100% score after 4 matches but they still have to play both Hebden Bridge sides and Huddersfield so if they still stand unbeaten at Christmas they will deserve to be in the lead. Meanwhile Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Courier ‘A’ have each lost one match. They play each other in the last match before the Christmas break and that will be a crucial encounter with Courier looking a much stronger outfit than they were last season.

That leaves Huddersfield. They have not only lost one match, but also drawn one and that puts them a further point behind Courier and Hebden Bridge (assuming they win their game in hand against Halifax). They can gain ground with a win against Belgrave and hope that the other two draw their match. If that happens then it will be very, very close indeed when we all sit down to eat our Christmas turkeys!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Celebrating the 'Magician of Riga'

Mikhail Tal (1936-92)
10 top Grandmasters are currently contesting the Tal Memorial Tournament in Moscow. Tuesday, the rest day, was the day on which, had he still been with us, Mikhail Tal would have celebrated his 74th birthday. It therefore seems entirely appropriate for this humble blog to pause for a moment’s thought and reflect on the great man’s works.

In these times of hyperbole the term “genius” seems, in a sporting context at least, to be applied to almost anyone who has had a good day at the office. Most people who don’t know any better would probably define every Grandmaster as a “genius”. However, there can’t be very many players who have been described by a fellow World Champion as a genius. Yet, iron-willed World Chess Champion, Tigran Petrosian, once said that Tal was the only living chess genius that he knew and Mikhail Botvinnik famously commented,

“If Tal would learn to programme himself properly then it would become impossible to play against him.”

This is a wonderful compliment but of course the quote also contains a veiled reference to Tal’s penchant for speculative, intuitive play. Botvinnik seemed to be suggesting that Tal’s unwillingness to “programme himself” was a weakness in his game. Personally I think that, although Botvinnik may well have been right to an extent, he was also missing the point. Tal was Tal. He just played the game the way that felt right to him. This didn’t mean that he wasn’t capable of winning arid, positional games. It just meant that, he loved to let his fertile imagination have a free reign whenever he got the opportunity. In certain types of position he was capable of doing things that no other player could do and he was also capable of stirring up mind-boggling complications in positions that were apparently benign.

In order to celebrate the “Magician of Riga’s” birthday then I’d like to post one of my favourite games of his. Most of the notes to this game are taken from “The World’s Greatest Chess Games” in which this particular encounter features. The start position in the viewer below is from the key moment in the game but I’d highly recommend that you play through the whole thing because this game certainly shows that Tal was capable of deep strategic manoeuvring as well as tactical pyrotechnics. Indeed, one of the reasons I am so fond of this game is because it demonstrates a wonderful fusion between tactics and strategy. The final sequence of moves is truly breath taking with pieces arriving from all across the board to help deliver checkmate. Please enjoy, and be inspired by, Mikhail Tal at his very best!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Syrett and company go 'trick or treating' in Todmorden

John Kerrane (left) took his cloak
off before the game began
It may have been the day after Halloween but Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were still in the mood to dispence some tricks and treats over the chess board as they travelled to Todmorden on Monday night in Calderdale League Division 1.

Had the team knocked on the door of the Todmorden Working Men’s Club in appropriate fancy dress then I propose to you that the following costumes would have been suited to their performances…

On board 1, Dave Shapland may decide to assume Joseph Blackburne’s mantle as ’The Black Death’ for he has now conducted 6 of his 7 competitive games this season with the black pieces and has an excellent score of +4 =2 -0! These statistics include his win on Monday against Chris Edwards. Unusually, Dave deployed the Sveshnikov Sicilian (which he tells me he has only played once before over the board, against the same opponent) and won by playing very actively in a Queen-less middle game. Objectively, he had no advantage, but Chris made a critical mistake as the penultimate pieces on the board were exchanged and Dave buried him clinically.

Chris left the club wondering what the dark lumps that had appeared during the course of the evening under his armpits were.

Unfortunately, Andy Leatherbarrow donned the likeness of the ‘Headless Horseman’ as he surged forwards in cavalier fashion against Scott Gornall. In the endgame a pawn race developed where Andy pushed his king’s side pawns and the monarch himself up the board and Scott countered in the centre. It looked like Andy would break through first but then, suddenly, he found that white could defend his position and obtain connected passed pawns on the 7th rank which Andy’s lone Rook could not stop.

Scott left the club looking like a man who had been for a walk in the wind, or been caught in the back draft of a high-speed train. Tousled yet invigorated.

Team Captain, Martin Syrett had a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type of night. He was thoroughly routed in the opening as Mike Huett deployed the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit against his Scandinavian Defence and profited by winning both the exchange and a pawn. However, Martin then transformed himself by means of a cunning swindle that enabled him to win a Rook for nothing and after that it was one-way traffic.

Mike left the club clutching an empty glass vial that he had found after the game by the side of the board. The label on it was written in his opponent’s script and read, “Formula X”.

On board 4 Terry Sullivan’s hapless foe must have wondered if the moon was full for he was savagely mauled by the werewolf of Hebden Bridge! Encountering a Grand Prix Attack in response to his Sicilian Defence, Terry unleashed wave after frenzied wave of tactics that all seemed to flow quite naturally from the position. His poor victim was quite unable to cope with the ferocity of his attack. This game was definitely the most exciting of the evening!

Paul left the club in a mess of bloody, ragged chunks and will have to be sewn back together before the next match.

Finally, John Kerrane, put on his longest and blackest cape as he became a be-whiskered Count Dracula and slowly sucked the life out of Bob Pratt’s game on board 5. Winning first one pawn and then another, John kept Bob’s counter play under close control before slowly strangling him in a pawn and bishop ending.

Bob left the club clutching at two strange puncture marks on his right wrist that he was sure hadn’t been there before he’d shaken hands with his opponent at the start of the evening.

The final score was an excellent 4-1 to the ‘B’s. They may yet survive in the division if they can get something out of their encounters with Belgrave and/or Brighouse in their last two matches before Christmas.

Todmorden ‘A’ – Hebden Bridge ‘B’
C.Edwards 0 – 1 D.Shapland
S.Gornall 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow
M.Huett 0 – 1 M.Syrett
P.Edwards 0 – 1 T.Sullivan
B.Pratt 0 – 1 J.Kerrane
1 – 4

Whilst all this was going in Todmorden, the ‘A’ team were engaged in mortal combat with their old adversaries Huddersfield ‘A’. I will post a full report of the match once I have all of the games available for publication. For now I will simply, and with a heavy heart, provide you with the match card.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ – Huddersfield ‘A’
D.Wedge 0 – 1 L.Keely
M.Parsons 1 – 0 D.Firth
A.Wright ½ – ½ R.Boylan
P.Olley ½ – ½ A.Aguirre
M.Wedge-Roberts 0 – 1 R.Sutcliffe
2 – 3

Friday, 29 October 2010

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings!

Today the Hebden Bridge Chess Club blog welcomes a new contributor. I recently posted on the dangers of making hasty decisions due to time trouble.  As therealparsnip shows us in this game, sometimes even Fide Masters can make the mistake of playing critical moves too quickly whether they are in time trouble or not!

A fat lady... singing (by Brad Fitzpatrick)
 “I've recently been playing a lot of 45min + 45sec increment games on ICC (Internet Chess Club). ICC is great in many ways, and the recent update of the main software Dasher, has added a 45 minute button to the menu, along with 1min, 3min, 5min, 15min, and 960 variant. Of course you can choose to play any time that you want, such as 2min 12 sec increment.

I have found the 45min 45sec option very useful as you have enough time to have a proper game, much as in evening league chess. To those not familiar with increments in time controls, you have 45 minutes to start, with 45 seconds added each move, so the game can easily last more than 2 hours.

US National Master Dan Heisman does weekly videos covering amateur games at this time control which are very interesting. In one of these recently he mentioned how some players, no matter how strong, don’t use this time properly and sometimes start playing like they were playing Blitz chess.

It's also interesting looking at chess etiquette in this format. For instance if you start one of these games, its probably fair to make sure you have the time available to actually play the game! It is not unheard of for some players to start nagging their opponents to make a move! Alas, whilst internet chess is in many ways brilliant, it does bring out the rudeness in some people that in over the board chess is generally hidden, though we do of course all have our stories!

One of the good things about this time control is that it works as very good practice and training for proper matches. There is no reason why you cant have your chess literature spread out around you whilst you are playing, helping you in the opening etc. This allows you to work and study your openings in a way you would not normally be able to do. Of course at some point in the game you are going to have rely on your own skill!

In this game I was playing with the Black pieces against Fabio Samaritani, a Fide Master with one IM Norm, who has been rated 2340. In this country would put him in the top 60 players nationally.”

"So in conclusion I was very pleased with this game. After the first 15 moves or so, when I had been using material available to me, I was on my own, and after a blunder on f5, I was able to fight in the position, defend, create counterplay, and then take advantage of my opponents blunder. My opponent like me, used plenty of time in the middle game, up until the last few moves, when presumably, feeling that the position was won, played far too quickly and allowed me to win. As such I was able to beat someone who would be seen as one of the best players in the UK, while at the same time, learning a lot about this line for the next time I get it over the board."

Many thanks to therealparsnip for this excellent and entertaining game. In this particular case it was less of a fat lady singing and more like a case of "it ain't over 'til the royal lady's pinned!"

If any other readers have taken any notable scalps in the course of their careers and would like to use this blog as an opportunity to share the secrets of their success please feel free to e-mail me your games. New contributions are always welcome.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Hebden Bridge forfeits inflict a heavy toll

This Monday saw the return to action of Hebden Bridge Chess Club's 'C' and 'D' teams as the Calderdale League Division 2 had another round of fixtures. Peter Rawlings brings us this match report for the 'C' teams encounter away to Halifax 'B'.

The C team unfortunately fielded a default, a rare event.
It was back to Lee Mount and the upstairs barn-like space, unheated of course on a cold night, but the chess was just enough to fend off rigor mortis.

For connoisseurs of these things the openings went as follows:
1. Sicilian; 2. Ruy Lopez; 3. French; 4. Orangutan.

There were dour struggles on boards 3 and 4. Josh Blinkhorn on 2 arrived at an interesting position by the time control, turned down the draw, then grabbed a free rook in order to walk into mate. Dave Sugden's game was soon in crisis and all over in 21 moves.

The match card for the fixture was as follows:

Halifax ‘B’ – Hebden Bridge ‘C’
R .Cully 1 – 0 D. Sugden
A. Dawson 1 – 0 J. Blinkhorn
B. Wadsworth 0 – 1 S. Priest
G. Cash 0 – 1 N. Bamford
J. Nicholson 1 – 0 Default
3 – 2

Meanwhile, over at the Claremount Club on the other side of Halifax, Courier ‘B’ were visiting further horrors upon our ‘D’ team which was without it’s Captain, Danny Crampton, and also missing a player on board 2 as well as the regular board 1 player, Dave Pugh. Despite this, the team did manage to increase their board wins for the season through a win on board 3 by Tim Whelan. The score card for the game is below.

Courier ‘B’ – Hebden Bridge ‘D’
D Colledge 1 – 0 M Vorstman
J Smith 1 – 0 Default
J Whitehead 0 – 1 T. Whelan
P Jacobs 1 – 0 P Deardon
R Bottomley 1 – 0 Default
4 – 1

As a casual observer of happenings in Division 2 I should perhaps be careful about making judgements… but I’m going make one anyway! It would appear to me that, with what looks like a very high volume of defaults going on across the Division, the winners will be the team who can manage to field 5 players for all their fixtures! It will be interesting to tot up the number of defaults in the Division at the end of the season in order to assess whether this situation is becoming a significant factor the league.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Fleet of steamrollers squash the 'B's

The 'A' team arrived at the Trades Club in their new team vehicles
I hope that readers will accept my apologies for the long period of radio silence on this site. Certainly the longest since I started the blog. After a prolific period of 3 or 4 posts a week and lots of sub page updates I decided that I needed a bit of a break (call it half term if you like) and so although I’ve had plenty of material to hand I decided to have a little breather. Business as usual should now resume from this point until the Christmas vacation. At any rate, I hope that this next bumper post will in some small way make up for the recent famine.

Matthew Parsons (rear) and Nick Sykes
(front) were given plenty to think about
in their games which both ended in draws

Last Monday the strongest players in Hebden Bridge Chess Club convened for the first derby match of the season between the club’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams. With Alastair Wright’s ‘A’ team currently riding high in the league and Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team languishing near the bottom of the table the outcome of the match might have been predictable. In the event the ‘A’ team ran out as comfortable victors by a score of 4-1. However, should any conspiracy theorists start speaking of collusion it ought to be pointed out that the ‘B’ team fielded their strongest side of the season so far and that, even though the ‘A’ team had the “home advantage” of all playing with the white pieces, the games were very competitively contested with three of the five finishing right at the end of the evening’s play.

Before all that though the first game of the night to finish was on board two where Matthew Parsons and Dave Shapland agreed a draw on move 21. Dave seems to be making a habit of taking an early bath as all three of his games so far this season have been the first of the night to finish and in less than 30 moves. That should not suggest that some kind of turgid, sterile, festival of wood-chopping was enacted however. The game was actually quite complex and full of interest. Both players have contributed to the commentary below.

Matthew Wedge-Roberts and Martin Syrett get re-acquainted
‘B’ team Captain, Martin Syrett, cut a dejected figure not long after this as he lost to Matthew Wedge-Roberts for the second week in a row. He even ventured to play the same line of the Scandinavian Defence that had served him well in the previous week’s Individual Knockout match (though he later went on to lose in a very tight game). This time however, Matthew got a better position from the opening and essentially decided matters with the excellent piece-winning combination shown below (the whole game can be viewed by scrolling to and clicking on the first move in the viewer). Matthew has now scored 3/3 for the season so far.

As I mentioned above, the final three encounters went right down to the wire and all of them looked to be in the balance until the end. On board 5 Nick Sykes got into some fairly serious difficulties against Dave Sugden but managed to save the draw. Commentary in the first of the games below is from Nick.

Then Dave Wedge (yet again sailing close to the wind on his clock) won his game against Pete Olley, who was making a welcome first appearance of the season for the ‘B’ team. This is the second game of the three that follow.

Finally as the clock ticked towards 11pm, Alastair Wright finally saw off Andy Leatherbarrow’s spirited resistance in an end game grind to make the winning margin look most convincing. The final game of this post starts from the crucial endgame position but you can play through the whole game as well if you like. I should add that Alastair is now also on 3/3 for the season so far.

The final match card then was:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ – Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Wedge 1 – 0 P.Olley
M.Parsons ½ – ½ D.Shapland
A.Wright 1 – 0 A.Leatherbarrow
M.Wedge-Roberts 1 – 0 M.Syrett
N.Sykes ½ – ½ D.Sugden
4 – 1

On this form the steamrolling ‘A’ team look very hard to stop indeed. They haven’t even lost a game yet and, as both Huddersfield ‘A’ and Courier ‘A’ have already stumbled to defeats, it would now appear that Belgrave are the Champions’ main rivals for the title this season as they are the only other team to have a perfect score after three rounds. The two sides meet at the Trades Club on the 15th of November by which point the ‘A’ team will also have faced Huddersfield at home. I’m going to make a bold prediction and say that the ‘A’ team will be at least 2 (and conceivably even 4!) points clear at the top by Christmas.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The French, fried!

Hebden Bridge Chess Club members who are not medieval historians may not be aware that the 15th of October is a truly auspicious date for Englishmen. Today is the 595th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt where Henry V’s English army took on a numerically superior force of Frenchmen and absolutely thrashed them. With the black pieces too!

To celebrate this auspicious occasion I hope to entertain readers with another victory over the French. In this instance however, the battlefield is the chess board and the French concerned is the opening variation and not the people.

Rozbeef 1, Froggies 0! I can feel a warm jingoistic tingle running down my spine.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Rawling's men ease past Courier

Hebden Bridge Chess Club hosted two Division 2 matches at the Trades Club on Monday night. The ‘C’ team took on Courier ‘B’ and the ‘D’ team faced Wheatley. I’ll get straight into the action with Pete Rawlings’ match report for the ‘C’ team.

We were lucky to acquire Martin Fairhurst on board 5 before he leaves the area. Everyone else moved up a board (in Terry Sullivan’s absence) and prospered on the challenge. Dave Sugden’s draw against the much higher rated John Morgan being particularly creditable.

This result continues the ‘C’ team’s best start to the season for years. At this rate we will be in danger of being offered promotion. Last season we avoided this threat by the narrowest of margins, namely one board point.

We must, I think, forgive Captain Rawlings for a slightly less exuberant match report than usual as I suspect he is still checking whether his nether regions are fully intact after Dave Wedge administered unto him a metaphorical kick in the groin of excruciating proportions in the Quarter Final of the Individual Knockout on Monday. We feel your pain Pete. Mr Wedge’s “Time Scramble Victim Support Group” grows in number with every passing week.

Anyway, here is the score card from Monday night’s match:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ – Courier ‘B’
D.Sugden ½ – ½ J.Morgan
J.Blinkhorn 1 – 0 J.Smith
S.Priest 1 – 0 J.Whithead
N.Bamford 1 – 0 P.Jacobs
M.Fairhurst 0 – 1 R.Bottomley
3½ – 1½

Manager Rawlings is quite right to give recognition to Dave Sugden’s solid display against John Morgan. His draw was very straightforwardly achieved against a player rated 37 points higher than him. Dave told me afterwards that the game “was not particularly interesting”. That may be Mr Sugden but the result certainly was interesting and therefore the game justifies full publication!

I’m also going to publish Josh Blinkhorn’s nice attacking win on board two. He developed a very strong attack before his opponent simplified matters for him by making a serious error.

Now on to the ‘D’ team’s match against Wheatley who generously turned up with only three players! John Kerrane picks up the story.

The ‘D’ team did not fare so well, going down 2-3 to a weakened Wheatley side. The experienced players which the visitors did manage to field were just too strong for the members of Hebden Bridge’s development team.

The match card for this fixture was:

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ – Wheatley
D.Pugh 0 – 1 D.Loughenbury
J.Todd 0 – 1 B.Donkersley
B.Fearnley 1 – 0 DEFAULT
D.Crampton 0 – 1 G.Roper
P.Dearden 1 – 0 DEFAULT
2 – 3

If we need to search for a silver-lining in this result it is that the ‘D’ team have trebled their overall board score with this fixture. In addition and each member of our club’s team of fresher prospects will hopefully have gained some further valuable experience from this match.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The most iconic chess set of them all

The Lewis Chess Men at The British Museum
Over the weekend I was in London and had the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places - The British Museum. I've been hankering after a visit ever since the 'History of the World in 100 Objects' series started on Radio 4 at the beginning of this year.

Of course I took in all of the sites but the artifacts that always capture my imagination the most are the Lewis Chessmen. For me they are the most iconic set of chess pieces in existence (at the very least in Europe anyway!) I first saw them when I visited the museum as a child and, even though I couldn't play the game then, those little walrus ivory pieces were so full of character that they burned themselves into my memory banks. I suspect that my romanticised notions of the medieval era and the game of chess, which played such a big part in spurring my interest in the game when I did learn to play it properly in my late teens, probably originated from that first visit to the British Museum all those years ago.

On this trip I learned something new about the Lewis Chessmen. Evidently some of the pieces used to be stained red in colour and it appears that, in the medieval period, it was common practive to have white and red pieces and a white and red checkered board. Black and white evidently only become the norm in more modern times.

Anyway, any visitor to our Hebden Bridge Chess Club website can't help but notice that I have a passion for these particular chess men and I do urge anyone of you planning a visit to London to try and squeeze in half an hour or so to visit the display in The British Museum - it's free! If you aren't going to London any time soon then you can download or listen to the 15 minute episode of the 'History of the World in 100 Objects' about the Lewis Chessmen on the BBC website.

Friday, 8 October 2010

'A' team show Europe's golfers how to drive home an advantage

Montgomerie - nervous on the sidelines
As the European Ryder Cup team crawled fretfully to victory in Wales on Monday afternoon, Hebden Bridge ‘A’ showed them how it should be done as they walloped Todmorden ‘A’ ½ - 4½ on Monday night.
How Colin Montgomerie must have wished he could have picked up his clubs and taken to the course at Celtic Manor as the Ryder Cup drew to a climactic close. When the tension reached unbearable levels I’d guess that he would much rather have been playing the course than Captaining from the side of the greens.

Wrighty - tremendous in the frontlines
There are no such problems for Alastair Wright who Captains the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team. He gets to have a direct impact on the outcome of his team’s matches and, so far this season, he has led by example with two wins out of two.

John Kerrane provides us with the match report below which is also published in this week’s Hebden Bridge Times (as was the exert from yesterday’s post on the ‘B’ team).

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ travelled to Todmorden on Monday evening to play their ‘A’ team in the first division of the Calderdale Chess League. The Todmorden club has been revived in the last two seasons and now boasts a strong line-up for it’s ‘A’ team. Hebden Bridge were missing two of their regular team members, but nonetheless, came away with a thumping 4½-½ victory. The main features of the match were Dave Shapland’s 16-move win on board 3, taking advantage of Richard Bedford’s exposed King, and Dave Wedge, on board 1, yet again getting into time trouble which would have be desperate for a lesser player, and still emerging with a win against Chris Edwards.

The individual results were:

Todmorden ‘A’ – Hebden Bridge ‘A’
C.Edwards 0 – 1 D.Wedge
S.Gornall 0 – 1 A.Wright
R.Bedord 0 – 1 D.Shapland
P.Edwards 0 – 1 M.Wedge-Roberts
G.Bowker ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow
½ – 4½

Here are some highlights from the games themselves. There are usually two sure things that you can stake your house on when the Hebden Bridge teams in Division 1 are playing
  1. Dave Wedge will get into horrendous time trouble and yet somehow get away with a result
  2. Andy Leatherbarrow will be involved in the last game of the night to finish as he tries to squeeze every drop of juice from his position
So, no surprises then when business was served as usual in this match. Dave got into horrendous time trouble against Chris Edwards but still emerged victorious and Andy Leatherbarrow played a game that finished at 11pm with just bare Kings left on the board!

Here is Dave’s game to which he has kindly added some commentary.

Now for Alastair’s game on board two. I’ve attached the whole game for your pleasure but the start position in the diagram below is at the dramatic denouement.

Finally, here is the board 3 game in which Dave Shapland served up a nice miniature. The notes are Dave’s.

In the next round of Division 1 fixtures the two Hebden Bridge teams will play one another. It will be interesting to see if the ‘B’ team can manage to score more than the half point Halifax ‘A’ and Todmorden ‘A’ have managed against the Champions so far.