Friday, 13 May 2011

Grease lightning!

Looks like they had 5 player teams in Grease as well!
For several weeks now every time I’ve heard or made mention of the annual Calderdale Chess League Team Lightning Competition my internal juke box has been playing the same tune. It’s one that I’m sure you all know. So here it is then, my new lyrics for the eponymous number from the musical “Grease”. Cue John Travolta…

On Monday night down to Tod Workin’ Mens Club we all went
(Some drove there whoa some walked it)
To play in the Calderdale team lightnin’ we were hell bent
(We’re ready, yeah we’re ready)
The guys were ready for the fight it was goin’ to be some night
We all mustered up our darin’ while Dave Milton did the pairin’
It’s team lightnin!
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go.

Have a go at team lightnin but you’ve only got ten seconds a move
(Team lightning go team lightning)
Whoa it’s frightnin when you haven’t got a clue what to do
(It’s frightnin, oh it’s frightnin!)
You must be quick, for the clock ticks
At team lightnin!

If you leave your king enprise then your opponent can take it
Oh yeah!
And if you don’t move in time then you can be defaulted
Oh yeah!
Attempting skewers, pins and forks we try not to play like dorks
And we mask our apprehension though we’re tremblin’ from the tension
Team lightnin!

Have a go at team lightnin you know you’ve got somthin’ to prove
(Team lightning, oh team lightning)
Whoa it’s frightnin when you haven’t got a clue what to do
(It’s frightnin, oh it’s frightnin!)
Get in the groove and make your move
It’s team lightnin!

Todmorden Working Men' Club
Well, I think that’s quite enough of that. I don’t believe I have any future in the song writing business! Anyway, as readers will have gathered from this tomfoolery, the Calderdale Team Lightning Competition did indeed take place on Monday night at Todmorden Working Men’s Club. The competition is the traditional curtain closer to the league season and provides a good opportunity for players from all clubs to get together for a bit of fun. The event is deliberately informal and although a number of clubs brought enough players along for several teams there were plenty of surplus players who were slotted in wherever there was a shortage and that made for some interesting temporary alliances on the night.

Before I go any further perhaps some readers would appreciate a brief summary of the format. It goes like this:
  • Teams have 5 players who are arranged roughly in strength order
  • Pairings are based on the swiss system (i.e. you play a team on the same or a similar score in each round)
  • Colours are alternated on each board and decided by a coin toss
  • There are no chess clocks used. Instead a tape is played with a beeper sounding every 10 seconds
  • Players move on the sound of the beeper and persistent moving before or after the sound can result in forfeiture of the game
  • Check does not need to be announced and kings left enprise can be captured to win the game
  • The winning team is the one with the highest board count at the end of 5 rounds

A team Captain showdown between
Alastair Wright and Martin Syrett is
regarded intently by Nick Sykes at
the end of Round 1
Hebden Bridge Chess Club entered four teams into the competition this year and the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team closely resembled the side who had swept to victory at last year’s event collecting a record points haul of 24/25 and winning the individual prizes on all 5 boards! The only change from that side was the replacement of Nick Sykes on board 5 with Matthew Wedge-Roberts.

The competition however threatened to be a much more severe test for Hebden Bridge ‘A’ this year with their league rivals Huddersfield (who missed last year’s event) fielding two strong teams. In addition competitive line-ups were sported by Halifax and Todmorden (who both put together two teams), Belgrave and also a pretty handy Hebden Bridge ‘B’ side.

In the first round tournament organiser Dave Milton deliberately paired teams from the same clubs against one another in order to avoid any potential whiff of collusion in the latter stages. The pairings and results for each round are given below. When known the teams named first played with the White pieces on boards 1, 3 and 5.

From round 2 onwards the numbers in brackets refer to that team’s cumulative score from previous rounds.

Round 1
Huddersfield ‘A’ 4 – 1 Huddersfield ‘B’
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ 3 – 2 Hebden Bridge ‘B’
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ 2 – 3 Hebden Bridge ‘D’
Todmorden ‘A’ 4½ – ½ Todmorden ‘B’
Halifax ‘B’ 1 – 4 Halifax ‘A’
Belgrave 5 – 0 BYE
Round 2
Belgrave (5) 2 – 3 Todmorden ‘A’ (4½)
Halifax ‘A’ (4) 3½ – 1½ Huddersfield ‘A’ (4)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (3) 2 – 3 Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (3)
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (2) 0 – 5 Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (2)
Huddersfield ‘B’ (1) 5 – 0 Halifax ‘B’ (1)
Todmorden ‘B’ (½) 5 – 0 BYE

Round 3
Halifax ‘A’ (7½) 2 – 3 Todmorden ‘A’ (7½)
Belgrave (7) 2½ – 2½ Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (7)
Huddersfield ‘B’ (6) ½ – 4½ Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (6)
Huddersfield ‘A’ (5½) 3½ – 1½ Todmorden ‘B’ (5½)
Halifax ‘B’ (1) 3 – 2 Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (5)
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (2) 5 – 0 BYE

Round 4
Todmorden ‘A’ (10½) 1 – 4 Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (10½)
Halifax ‘A’ (9½) 3 – 2 Belgrave (9½)
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (9½) 1 – 4 Huddersfield ‘A’ (9)
Todmorden ‘B’ (7) 4 – 1 Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (7)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (7) 1 – 4 Huddersfield ‘B’ (6½)
Halifax ‘B’ (4) 5 – 0 BYE

Round 5
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ (14½) 3½ – ½ Huddersfield ‘A’ (13)
Todmorden ‘B’ (11) 2 – 3 Halifax ‘A’ (12½)
Todmorden ‘A’ (11½) 3 – 2 Hebden Bridge ‘B’ (10½)
Huddersfield ‘B’ (10½) 2 – 3 Belgrave (11½)
Halifax ‘B’ (9) 4 – 1 Hebden Bridge ‘C’ (8)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ (8) 5 – 0 BYE

At the end of the night Hebden Bridge 'A' had retained their title to see their top board player, Dave Wedge, off to pastures new in fine style. (He leaves the area to take up a new job in Cambridge over the summer and was given a “Good Luck” card signed by many of the players before the start of round 5.)
The kibitzers gather like vultures as a tense
encounter between Halifax 'A' and
Huddersfield'A' draws to a close

The manner of the ‘A’ team’s victory could not have been in starker contrast to last year’s cruise however. The team (1.Dave Wedge, 2.Matthew Parsons, 3.Alastair Wright, 4.Dave Shapland and 5.Matthew Wedge-Roberts) actually started the evening in a rather sluggish fashion with a tight 3-2 win over their colleagues in the ‘B’ team (1.Pete Olley, 2. Nick Sykes, 3.Martin Syrett, 4.Neil Bamford, 5,Terry Sullivan) in which Dave lost to Neil and Alastair to Martin.

Then in round 2 they made similarly heavy weather of a Hebden Bridge 'D’ side (1.Andy Leatherbarrow, 2.Ruud Stoelman, 3.Kyle Sharpe, 4.Spike Leatherbarrow, 5.Hephzi Leatherbarrow) consisting largely of promising juniors effectively combined with a pair of seasoned campaigners. This time young Kyle Sharpe claimed the excellent scalp of Alastair Wright when Alastair placed his rook enprise in a rook and piece ending and Ruud Stoelman beat Matthew Parsons.

However, once the ‘A’s got into their stride their was no stopping them as they first crushed Huddersfield 'B' 4½-½ in round 3 and then hammered the leaders Todmorden 'A' 4-1 in round 4. This enabled them to start the final round leading by 1½ points from Huddersfield 'A', who had not enjoyed a comfortable evening themselves, and who needed to win by a margin of 3½-1½ in order to overhaul them. In the event Hebden beat them by the same scoreline to pull even further clear.

Halifax 'A' performed excellently to finish in second place having beaten Huddersfield ‘A’ themselves in round 2 and after that (as you can see below) it was all a bit bunched up.

Final Standings
Hebden Bridge ‘A’ = 18 (5/5 match points)
Halifax ‘A’ = 15½ (4/5)
Todmorden ‘A’ = 14½ (4/5)
Huddersfield ‘A’ = 14½ (3/5)
Belgrave = 14½* (2½/5)
Halifax ‘B’ = 13* (3/5)
Todmorden ‘B’ = 13* (2/5)
Hebden Bridge ‘D’ = 13* (2/5)
Huddersfield ‘B’ = 12½ (2/5)
Hebden Bridge ‘B’ = 12½ (1½/5)
Hebden Bridge ‘C’ = 9* (1/5)

(Teams with an * next to them all received 5-0 match byes as part of their scores. This does distort the final standings somewhat as there were only two other whitewashings in the whole evening!)

Board 5 Prize Winner, Matthew
Wedge-Roberts (front right) finishes off
Jon Hughes of Huddersfield 'B', his
3rd round victim.
Hebden Bridge certainly didn’t have it their own way this year when it came to the individual prizes. These were awarded to the players recording the highest scores on each board. Prize winners were as follows:

Board 1 winner = Andrew Clarkson 5/5 (Todmorden ‘A’)

Board 2 winners = Carlos Velosa (Halifax ‘A’) and Matthew Parsons (Hebden Bridge ‘A’) 4/5

Board 3 winners = Neil Suttie (Todmorden ‘A’), Les Johnson (Belgrave), Richard Boylan (Huddersfield ‘A’) 4/5

Board 4 winner = Dave Innes (Todmorden ‘B’) 4½/5

Board 5 winner = Matthew Wedge-Roberts (Hebden Bridge ’A’) 5/5

Special mention should go to Andrew Clarkson and Matthew Wedge-Roberts who were the only two players with perfect scores at the end of the night. Andrew’s feat was particularly impressive as it was achieved on board 1 and therefore he had to beat some of the best players in the competition including Darwin Ursal, Leo Keely and Dave Wedge in order to attain his score.

Recognition and thanks must also go to Dave Milton and the Todmorden Chess Club for hosting and organising this year’s event. The hospitality was first class and the event an unqualified success.

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