Monday, 4 April 2011

Blink and you'll miss it

Last Monday night it was the turn of Hebden Bridge Chess Club’s League Division 2 teams to wade into action. Hebden Bridge ‘C’ had a home fixture against Todmorden ‘C’ and our ‘rookie’ squad, the ‘D’ team played away against Halifax ‘B’.

Our ‘D’ team mostly comprises players who are taking their first steps in competitive chess and so it is no surprise to learn that they have struggled this season and are bottom of the league. Last Monday, Halifax’s team of seasoned campaigners was too strong for our chaps and ran out 5-0 winners. The full match scorecard is given below:

Halifax ‘B’ – Hebden Bridge ‘D’
B.Wadsworth 1 – 0 J.Todd
J.Aldridge 1 – 0 T.Whelan
J.Nicholson 1 – 0 M.Levy
D.Summerskill 1 – 0 K.Sharpe
J.Gilhooly 1 – 0 D.Crampton
5 – 0

It is worth noting that our club’s most promising junior, Kyle Sharpe, played his first match for the ‘D’ team and is beginning to get some experience of playing against adult opponents. This will no doubt act as further spring board for his burgeoning ability. News of his exploits in the world of junior chess can be found in the “Juniors” section of this site.

Now, onto the ‘C’ team. Non-player Captain, Peter Rawlings had been optimistic of the side’s promotion chances prior to the match against Todmorden last week. Unfortunately, he was compelled to put out a slightly weakened line up and the side paid a heavy price against a useful Todmorden ‘C’ team. The only winner of the night for Hebden Bridge was Steve Priest on board 3 and, although both Josh Blinkhorn and Dave Sugden took draws against decent opposition on the top two boards, boards 4 and 5 were (as they so very often are) decisive with the visitors taking two wins to seal a tight match. This result is something of a set back for the ‘C’s who had been on an excellent run of form. Promotion now looks unlikely, but is still a possibility. Here is the match card:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ – Todmorden ‘C’
D.Sugden ½ - ½ D.Milton
J.Blinkhorn ½ - ½ R.Stoelman
S.Priest 1 – 0 J.P.Ellis
P.Leonard 0 – 1 T.Webster
P.Dearden 0 – 1 B.Joyce
2 – 3

After the match, despite his disappointment, Pete couldn’t hide his delight in telling me about Josh Blinkhorn’s game on board 2. Josh has had a pretty good season this year and his playing standard is developing progressively. Many of his games bare the hallmarks of his aggressive attacking style and Monday’s effort was no different. I’ve published the game in full in the viewer below but the starting position is a key moment in the game.

Early in the game Josh overlooked the threat behind 8…Qc7 and lost material as a result. This pretty much left him with only one option. Do or die attack. Pete told me that Josh had a 20 minute think before playing 20.Nf3! in the position below. It was certainly well worth spending the time for it transpires that the rook on h1 cannot be taken. To Ruud Stoelman’s great credit he spotted the trap and side-stepped it. Moment’s later the players had agreed a draw although it looks like Black’s king could have escaped the checks according to Fritz.

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