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.

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