Thursday, 27 January 2011

Rawling’s raiders plunder more Todmorden booty

Non-playing 'C' team Captain Peter Rawlings
Hebden Bridge Chess Club teams have honoured themselves against our nearest geographical foe so far this season. Todmorden have been resurgent this year as they have fielded three teams across the two divisions, but Hebden Bridge have done them few favours, particularly when they have travelled the few miles west to launch devastating raids into enemy territory.

In Division 1 both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams won convincingly away to Todmorden ‘A’ conceding only 1½ points out of a possible 10. In Division 2 the results had been far less appetising with Hebden Bridge ‘D’ getting pummelled 4-1 to Todmorden ‘B’ and then the ‘C’ team gifting Todmorden ‘D’ a 4-0 victory when they failed to show up for their match at the end of November. Pleasingly, normal service has now been resumed as, last Monday, Peter Rawling’s ‘C’ team travelled to the Todmorden Working Men’s Club to match up against Todmorden ‘C’. They emerged with a 2-3 victory. Pete told this blog that

“A fine victory over Todmorden ‘B’ lifted the ‘C’ team to the top of Division 2. Our new recruit, Pete Leonard, swept away his opponent without much ado but the others had doughty struggles. This is a good team. Division 1 beckons.”

The full match score card looks like this

Todmorden ‘B’ – Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Innes 1 – 0 D.Sugden
L.Innes 0 – 1 J.Blinkhorn
D.Milton 1 – 0 S.Priest
R.Pratt 0 – 1 N.Bamford
G.Bowker 0 – 1 P.Leonard
2 – 3

Meanwhile. at the Trades Club, the ‘B’ and ‘D’ teams were involved in a pair of very challenging struggles. John Kerrane summarises the ‘D’ teams match below.

“The ‘D’ team were up against strong opposition in the form of Huddersfield ‘B’. and in fact were out-graded by about 40 points on every board. Despite some determined play, especially from James Todd and Matt Levy on the top two boards, the Huddersfield side came away w
ith a 0-5 win.”

Hebden Bridge ‘D’ – Huddersfield ‘B’
J.Todd 0 – 1 J.Lavan
M.Levy 0 – 1 S.Oliver
P.Dearden 0 – 1 C.Stratford
C.Greaves 0 – 1 B.Corner
D.Crampton 0 – 1 M.Rojinsky
0 – 5

Finally, the ‘B’ team continued their battle against relegation as they hosted Courier ‘A’ who have one of the strongest teams in the Division. All of their top three boards are graded over 160 and in the end this proved to be the critical difference in the tie.

On board 1 Pete Olley stumbled into a particularly Machiavellian opening trap set for him by Robert Clegg who punished Pete mercilessly for a long time before the end came. After the game Robert confided that the stem position comes from a game played in 1935 so he’d obviously done his homework! The game was very impressive.

On board 2 Dave Shapland steered the opening into a line of the French Defence Tarrasch Variation that he knows very well and had even prepared especially for his opponent, Dave Patrick. He told me afterwards that he had had the position after White’s 19th (!) move on his board at home the night before the match and had fully expected to reach that position. Unfortunately, even such deep preparation can’t mitigate against a down right blunder and Dave’s 22nd move was exactly that. As Dave explained to me afterwards.

“My idea was to coax Black into capturing on b2 in order to get my own queen to the a4 square so as to get in behind the Black king. Unfortunately, I completely overlooked that after the Black queen captures on b2 the only piece preventing it from next capturing on f2 with check was my own queen. It was my queen that was tied to defence, not Blacks. A stupid mistake!”

Following this error Dave lost both his a and b pawns for no real compensation and, although Black perhaps complicated matters for himself more than he should have, White never really had an opportunity to get himself back into the game. At the end 36.Ke1?? blundered into mate. Afterwards both players felt that White might still have had a chance after 36.Kg2 Qxd4?! But, as long as Black had found 36…Nf4+ he would have maintained his winning advantage. The brief notes in the viewer below are Dave Shapland’s.

While Dave Shapland was blotting his copy book with only his second defeat of the season in the league, Andy Leatherbarrow was on the road to redemption as he beat the, so far, invincible John Morgan in the game below.

In an irony that will not have been lost on Andy (who has persistently found himself in time trouble this season), John managed to lose on time in the final position below despite having a clearly won position. This result will have given hope to some of Hebden Bridge’s ‘A’ team who were hoping to catch up with John in the battle for the League’s individual performance prize. The results will also have given Andy a timely confidence boost as he had an awful sequence of results before Christmas.

Team Captain, Martin Syrett, was annoyed with himself after blundering on move 27 in the game below. He was never doing worse than a draw until that point.

Finally, John Kerrane, also in need of a confidence booster, managed to grind down his opponent on board 5 in a long and tense struggle.

The final score card was very disappointing for the ‘B’ team, who had looked like they might pull off an unlikely victory that would have been a big stride towards safety. At least both John and Andy will now feel more optimistic about the rest of their seasons having ended their mini-slumps. If the team can all perform to the best of their abilities in the same match then they are capable of an upset against even the best in the division. Next up are Halifax away in another critical encounter.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ – Courier ‘A’
P.Olley 0 – 1 R.Clegg
D.Shapland 0 – 1 D.Patrick
A.Leatherbarrow 1 – 0 J.Morgan
M.Syrett 0 – 1 D.Colledge
J.Kerrane 1 – 0 G.Thompson
2 – 3

On a final note it is worth mentioning that the ‘A’ team’s match against Halifax was postponed so they now have a game in hand on their rivals Huddersfield who moved into top spot by a point with a 3-2 win over Brighouse.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Parsons toils to set up showdown with Champion

There was plenty of excitement at the Trades Club on Monday night as Round 3 of the Calderdale Individual Championship took place. As the evening’s play began only 5 players had perfect scores of 2 out of 2. By the end of the night just 2 of those 5 had emerged on 3 points. Dave Wedge and Matthew Parsons are Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s two highest rated players and they will now face off on the 14th of February when Round 4 takes place. The two maintained their perfect scores in very different fashions.

Dave Wedge vs. Alastair Wright was a battle between
two previous winners
On board 1 Dave, who is the reigning champion of the past two seasons, played with the white pieces against another former champion, Alastair Wright. Alastair has been in excellent form so far this year and had not lost a game up to Monday night. Sadly, that unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt as he somehow contrived to find himself playing an opening system that he wasn’t familiar with and which is very complex and dangerous. Dave capitalised on his opponents discomfort in ruthless fashion, finishing him off in short order. For those readers who like sharp and complicated openings I have added some notes on the system that was played in this encounter in the game viewer below.

Next door on board 2 Matthew conducted the black pieces against Robert Sutcliffe. On paper this looked to be an easier proposition than Dave’s but in the end Robert pushed Matthew very hard indeed and may very well have snatched a result on another occasion. Matthew missed a chance to get a clearly winning position in the middle game on move 35 and was forced to take a few risks in the endgame to try and provoke a mistake from Robert. Eventually the error came but Robert deserves great credit for his fighting display. The endgame was particularly hard to assess as the notes in the game below will hopefully demonstrate.

The fifth player on 2/2 after 2 rounds was Hebden Bridge’s Josh Blinkhorn. He had a very difficult task ahead of him as he played black against top seed Chris Booth. Chris took a half point bye in round 2 and that left him lurking dangerously behind the leaders. He played a very smooth positional win against Josh who simply didn’t seem to equalise at all in the game and was slowly crushed into submission.

No fewer than 9 players were sitting on 1½ out of 2. With his win Chris now moved to 2½. Surprisingly, only two of the others joined him. Fourth seed John Morgan of Courier won with White against Matthew Wedge-Roberts and Angel Gonzalez of Belgrave beat Barry Wadsworth of Halifax after the two were re-paired against each other when their opponents didn’t turn up to play and forfeited their games. The other 3 players on 1½ all drew. Scott Gornall and Nick Sykes with each other and Dave Sugden drew against Mike Barnett. Scott and Nick agreed their draw in a position that was apparently still full of play but computer analysis suggests that it was indeed about equal and clearly neither player wanted to risk pushing too hard for victory. You can assess it for yourself below.

Further down the board order there were several interesting games. Tom Webster gave Steven Priest a taste of his own medicine when he capitalised on a terrible error by the stronger player. In the previous round you may remember that Steven had done the same to Chris Edwards so perhaps good fortune does even itself up over time after all!

Also interesting was the game between Messrs Dawson and Whitehead who conducted a very sharp and complex battle which, though error strewn, was also very exciting. See if you can spot a missed opportunity from that game below. It’s Black to play. What’s the best move? (The answer can be seen in the full game commentary at the bottom of the post.)

Dawson vs. Whitehead: Position after 19.Qxc5
Hebden Bridge’s Martin Syrett and Andy Leatherbarrow also scored full points to take them on to 2 out of 3 at the end of the night.

Some of the games further down the
board order provided great entertainment
All of this leaves matters poised wonderfully for the penultimate round in February. Dave Wedge and Matthew Parsons will play off for the lead. Half a point behind them Chris Booth, John Morgan and Angel Gonzalez will have their chance to join the leaders should they draw. It is not at all inconceivable that the top four seeds could all start the final round level. That would herald the most exciting denouement to the championship in years.

Full results and standings can be found on the Calderdale Individual Championship 2010-11 page.

Finally, below is the full game from the little puzzle I set you above. See if you got the right answer.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Express Report - Calderdale Individual Championships: Round 3

Morning all. Please find below a report from John Kerrane on the 3rd round of the Calderdale Individual Championship along with full results and standings at the close of the evening. I'll be posting some of the games from yesterday's action later in the week.

"Hebden Bridge Chess Club started the New Year at the Trades Club, Holme Street on Monday evening with a busy event, the third round of the Calderdale Individual Championships 2010/2011.

At this stage, players are usually facing others of similar strengths, and giant-killing is rare, but Tom Webster (Todmorden), John Whitehead (Courier) and Chris Greaves (Hebden Bridge) all had good wins against higher-graded opponents.

However, the most exciting match of the evening was the last to finish, on board 2, where Robert Sutcliffe of Huddersfield matched the much higher graded Matthew Parsons of Hebden Bridge, who is on tremendous form at the moment, all through the opening and the middle game, and, with both players in time trouble, got into a very double-edged endgame. Tragically, a miscalculation by Sutcliffe in the dying seconds just gave the win to Parsons, who emerged from the round as one of only two players, along with Dave Wedge, also of Hebden Bridge, on a maximum 3 points out of 3. A pack of other players, led by Chris Booth (Huddersfield), are close on their heels with 2½/3, leaving fascinating possibilities as the players go into the fourth round, which will be held at Hebden Bridge on 14th February."

Standings after Round 3
3 points: D.Wedge, M.Parsons
2½ points: C.Booth, J.Morgan, A.Gonzalez
2 points: A.Wright, A.Leatherbarrow, S.Gornall, R.Sutcliffe, M.Syrett, N.Sykes, P.Edwards, D.Sugden, J.Blinkhorn, J.Aldridge, J.Whitehead, T.Webster
1½ points: P.Olley, M.Wedge-Roberts, M.Barnett, D.Milton
1 point: A.Dawson, M.Shah, N.Bamford, J.Nicholson, J.Todd, S.Priest, J.Gilhooley, C.Greaves
½ point: C.Edwards, D.Crampton, D.Pugh
0 points: M.Levy, B.Corner, B.Wadsworth, P.Deaden, J.P.Ellis, T.Whelan
Withdrawn: T.Sullivan, D.Ursal, M.Webster, H.Webb, C.Velosa

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Round 2 round up!

The early stages of round 2 with
Steve Priest vs. Chris Edwards in the foreground
Tomorrow night the Calderdale Individual Championship 2010/11 will reach its third round stage and there will no doubt be some excellent and interesting clashes as 5 players remain on a perfect score and there is also a large chasing pack on 1.5/2.

To whet readers’ appetite for these contests I’ve spent some of the Christmas vacation rooting through some of the most interesting and instructive games from round 2 having already provided you with an express report immediately after that round took place in December. Here is my selection.

I mentioned that Nick Sykes and John Morgan played out an interesting contest and gave the moves of the game in my earlier report. I’ve done a bit more analysis on that game now. It appears that Nick may have missed a couple of opportunities to cement a lasting advantage but John played resourcefully at key moments in order to neutralise the threats. Here is there game.

There were numerous upsets amongst the results in round 2. The foremost of these was probably James Todd’s win against Brian Corner. Brian blundered into a check mate at the end but this was preceded by some interesting and ambitious play from James even if it wasn’t exactly sound.

Steve Priest was also victorious against Chris Edwards in another game where the better player committed an atrocious blunder although I believe in this case that Chris may have been in serious trouble when he dropped a piece for nothing.

For readers who enjoy instructive manoeuvring-type positions I include the game between Robert Sutcliffe and Dave Milton. The early part of the game was relatively quiet but I’ve fast-forwarded to the final stages in the game viewer below and have added in plenty of computer analysis which I think is particularly interesting. Some of the analysis lines are well worth ruminating over.

Leatherbarrow vs. Wedge was the board 1 encounter
The board one encounter between a former champion and the current champion was typically tense and enthralling. Both combatants have a habit of getting into time trouble and I fancy that the last 10 moves or so before time control were played in a great hurry by both players. Andy Leatherbarrow played very well to maintain the better part of the game for a long time against Dave Wedge but sadly, he then threw away all his hard work with a simple miscalculation which led to the loss of a piece and immediate ruin.

Finally, I’d like to present an amusing micro-scrap from the lower reaches of the tournament. The two combatants seem to be playing some kind of hybrid version of the game in which only knights, pawns and queens are permitted to move. The result is an entertaining punch line to our round 2 coverage.

News from round 3 will be brought to you early next week. Ciao for now!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Festive cheer for our League 1 teams

Santa paid an unexpected visit to the
Trades Club and dispenced some 'gifts'
On the Monday before Christmas the Calderdale Evening Chess League season reached its halfway mark. Hebden Bridge Chess Club played host to two fixtures from Division 1 as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ faced Courier ‘A’ and Hebden Bridge ‘B’ took on Brighouse. The two teams entered into this last round of 2010 fixtures in very different situations. Alastair Wright’s ‘A’ team were sitting pretty at the top of the league whilst Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team writhed uncomfortably in the relegation zone.

Courier ‘A’ might be considered to have had something of an enigmatic season so far this year. They have swept away many of the weaker teams and also managed a superb away win at Huddersfield but have also fallen to some surprising defeats to both Belgrave and Halifax. The away side were at full strength on their top 3 boards where Roberts Clegg, Dave Patrick, and in particular John Morgan, have been the engine room of their title challenge. These three were joined by Messrs Colledge and Whitehead on boards 4 and 5 respectively.

It seemed that the key to the match would be the outcome of the bottom two boards and indeed this turned out to be the case as both Nick Sykes and Matthew Wedge-Roberts notched up comfortable wins for the home side against their lower rated opponents. Matters were much more unclear on the top three boards where the spoils were divided equally. On board 3 Alastair Wright faced up to John Morgan. Both players began the evening undefeated in the league and in contention for the division’s individual prize for the season’s highest scorer. The game was keenly fought but ultimately petered out to a draw on move 23. Evidently neither player wanted to put their superb records at risk.

On board 2, Matthew Parsons has had an excellent season so far and also started the night unbeaten and with only one draw preventing a perfect score (he lags behind John Morgan in the individual scoring charts only because he has played one game less than the Courier player). Perhaps more impressive than the results themselves has been the manner of them however as Matthew has brushed aside strong opponents without too much trouble at all. In this match he knocked over Dave Patrick in such a fashion that the result never seemed in doubt.

Meanwhile the fight on the top board turned out to be the longest of all the games. Ultimately Hebden Bridge’s Dave Wedge succumbed to Robert Clegg after a razor sharp theoretical discussion of the French Defence Winawer Variation had unravelled into an unbalanced endgame in which Dave was always struggling to hold the draw.

This result and the Division’s other big clash between Belgrave and Huddersfield (which the latter won 3-2) leaves Hebden Bridge ‘A’ one point clear of Huddersfield in second place at the half way mark. At the moment it very much looks like the away fixture against Huddersfield will prove to be the title decider although the ‘A’ team also have tough away fixtures to both Belgrave and Courier in the second half of the season.

In the evening’s other match Hebden Bridge ‘B’ were given the best possible early Christmas present when Brighouse arrived at the Trades Club with only 3 players. Despite this set back they almost snatched a most unlikely result by winning two of the three remaining games and running the home side very close in the third. Fortunately that third game, the board 2 clash between Dave Shapland and Bruce Bendall was the first game to finish and so the match was already decided before the games on boards 1 and 3 had been completed.

Dave found himself playing against one of his own favourite opening variations and was able to manoeuvre the game into a line that he knew to contain a good degree of poison for Black. Inaccuracies were committed by both sides as the struggle become complicated and Bruce found an interesting way to continue by giving up both his rooks and a knight for Dave’s queen and two pawns. Theoretically, this should have been a straightforward victory for the pieces against the queen and pawns, but it’s never as simple as that and as Dave struggled to find the correct plan Bruce missed a couple of opportunities to create some serious problems for White. In the end Dave managed to get his rooks and bishops into the Black position and Bruce overlooked a check mate. The notes given in the game below are Dave's.

Meanwhile on board 3 Andy Leathbarrow looked once again like he was going to break his duck for the ‘B’ team this season only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for the second match running. This time he entered an endgame a pawn up but the advantage dissipated and then, apparently from no where Andy found himself in a mating net from which he could find no escape. Chess can be a cruel game and it turned out that Andy resigned when he still had a method of drawing. He has had a rotten run of luck so far this season. Hopefully 2011 will bring better fortune for him.

Finally, on board 1 Pete Olley built up a significant special advantage against Robert Broadbent. However, the advantage came at a price and Pete fell into time trouble. Robert is a resilient opponent and he just clung on and clung on until eventually Pete, unable to find a way through Black’s defences had to exchange off the pieces into an unfavourable king and pawn endgame. The endgame was probably a theoretical draw but Pete would have needed to play very accurately and with his clock ticking he was unable to hold on.

The full results of both matches are given below:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ – Courier ‘A’
D.Wedge 0 - 1 R.Clegg
M.Parsons 1 – 0 D.Patrick
A.Wright ½ - ½ J.Morgan
M.Wedge-Roberts 1 – 0 D.Colledge
N.Sykes 1 – 0 J.Whitehead
3½ - 1½

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ – Brighouse
P. Olley 0 - 1 R.Broadbent
D. Shapland 1 – 0 B.Bendall
A.Leatherbarrow 0 – 1 R.Grandage
M. Syrett 1 – 0 DEFAULT
J. Kerrane 1 – 0 DEFAULT
3 – 2

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Chess players - know thyself

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi where the famous
aphorism was inscribed
Happy New Year chess friends! I hope that you enjoyed the festive period and didn't get too many chess withdrawal symptoms. As 2011 dawns many of us will be reflecting on the year just gone and the new one that is ahead. In that spirit of reflection (and baring in mind the wise words of the Oracle of Delphi - "Know thyself"today I offer readers a timely opportunity to assess their chess style in preparation for the battles that await.

At this blog we do our upmost to bring Hebden Bridge Chess Club members the very finest and most interesting chess related curios from wherever they may be found. A little while ago I stumbled upon this survey which is designed to help you test your aggression levels at the chess board. It was originally published in chess magazine ‘The Gambit’ (the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Chess Association) in the May-June,1990 issue. To spice the fun up further I’ve added in some fun chess cartoons that I accumulated recently.

“We all know that chess is a war game, and while some of us go at it on the boards like cerebral Rambos (nice oxymoron, that) others play like, well, George McGoverns. Just how aggressive are you? Do you go for broke or wait for your opponent to make that big mistake? The following test is scientifically designed to rank your aggressive tendencies on the board. Total the numbers at the end of the text to put yourself between Morphy and Steinitz.”

1.) Early in the game, your opponent collapses of an apparent heart attack. His wife and children gather round, and after exchanging tearful farewells with them, he looks up, and with life fading from his eyes, asks you for a draw. In response, you:

a.) Accept immediately
b.) Analyze the position on the board first
c.) Ask the TD to get a doctor to confirm that he isn’t faking it
d.) Tell him that you wouldn’t give a draw to your dying mother, whom you love
e.) Try to push him over the edge by announcing mate in three

cheSS by Gamez
2.) When psyching yourself up for a game, you visualise yourself:

a.) Crushing your opponent’s pieces with a hammer
b.) Rolling hand grenades into your opponent’s king’s side
c.) Strangling your opponent with your bare hands
d.) Ransacking his village and carrying off his women

3.) You view your opponent’s pawns as:

a.) Potential queens
b.) The shape of his position
c.) Juicy morsels to be gobbled up
d.) Speed bumps

4.) You view your own pawns as:

a.) Potential queens
b.) An integral part of your strategy
c.) Expendables in your king’s side attacks
d.) Howitzer shells

5.) You will consider a pawn rush only:

a.) When you have safely castled on the opposite wing
b.) When playing a lower rated player
c.) When you have more than a piece advantage
d.) When it’s your turn to move

6.) Endgames are:

a.) When the queens are off the board
b.) Sometimes unavoidable
c.) When your opponent won’t resign
d.) For weenies who can’t finish off their opponents in the middlegame

From Cartoon Stock
7.) You are playing an 8 year old, who leaves his queen hanging in a complex position. He begins to cry. Your response is:

a.) Offer to stop the clock while he regains his composure
b.) Capture the queen without comment
c.) Pick up the queen with a chuckle and remark, ”Won’t be long now!”
d.) Call the child’s mother over and tell her to take her baby home, because he’s not ready to be a chess player

8.) After leaving your own queen hanging against an 8 year old you would:

a.) Resign gratefully and offer congratulations for a great win
b.) Smile knowingly and bluff him into not capturing her
c.) Announce mate in nine
d.) Tell him of an obscure rule about taking back moves that he’s too young to know about

Chess by Jan Tomaschoff
9.) You will only sacrifice your queen only:

a.) When you see a forced mate
b.) As a last attempt in a lost position
c.) For an overwhelming positional advantage
d.) When she hasn’t been active enough (use it or lose it baby!)

10.) For an open file on your opponent’s king’s side you would sacrifice:

a.) A pawn
b.) A minor piece
c.) A major piece
d.) Your soul

11.) You might consider playing Alekhine’s Defence (1.e4 Nf6) when:

a.) Playing against 1.e4
b.) Playing against someone you knew was unbooked
c.) Playing a non-tournament game
d.) You’ve had a mind-crippling stroke

Chess by tinotoons
12.) When you first spot a winning combination, you:

a.) Look for ways your opponent can get out of it
b.) Look at your clock to see how much time you can spend checking it out
c.) Giggle uncontrollably
d.) Drool

Now that you've picked your answers tally up your score by selecting the appropriate value for each of your answers.

1: A=0, B=1, C=2, D=4, E=7
2: A=2, B=3, C=3, D=5
3: A=0, B=1, C=3, D=6
4: A=0, B=1, C=2, D=5
5: A=0, B=2, C=3, D=5
6: A=0, B=3, C=4, D=6
7: A=0, B=1, C=4, D=5
8: A=0, B=1, C=3, D=4
9: A=0, B=1, C=3, D=5
10: A=0, B=1, C=3, D=5
11: A=0, B=1, C=2, D=4
12: A=0, B=1, C=3, D=5

Now find out what kind of player you are below.

Score of 0-10: You are a Conscientious Objector
You are a pacifist in the war game of chess. Negotiating a draw is your biggest thrill. Should you accidentally win, you feel obliged to buy them lunch or give them some other form of foreign aid.

Score of 11 to 30: You are an Innocent Bystander
You’ll pick up wins if they fall into your lap (and happen to stick). You look for traps in a mate in one.

Score 31 to 50: You are a Reluctant Aggressor
The George Bush (post thyroid treatment) of the Royal Game. You’ll do the “aggression thing” when backed into a corner, or when your wife tells you its time to leave and you can finish your stupid game. (Yes dear).

Score 51 to 62: You are a Psycho
A danger to yourself and others. You don’t play defences, just offenses minus the tempo. You like lines with names like “the can opener”, “the beserker” or “the long whip variation”. At home you kill small animals or unrated players for fun.