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.

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