This week has seen three matches – two in Cup competitions and one league match. The AMAL club was buzzing on a packed Wednesday night as visitors from Fenton (in the Open cup) and Alsager (in the U110 Perry Trophy) meant some 30 players were present overall.
Starting with the Perry Trophy match, Crewe are looking to make it a hat-trick of Cup successes and were helped by Alsager defaulting one of the four boards due to unfortunate family circumstances. However with Alsager grades being some 15-20 points higher on the top two boards, the default would be irrelevant if they could win the top two boards. Early wins for the host’s Dylan Sayers (bd 4) and the visitors Oliver Horrocks on bd 2, meant Crewe’s junior Amy Lovatt needed a draw or better to secure a home victory. The match swung to and fro as James Marshall, playing for Alsager appeared to have the ascendancy before allowing Amy to escape to victory after queening a couple of pawns. This was in fact Crewe’s Perry “A” team and the “B” team host Meir on 29th November in the remaining quarter-final.
The other cup match on Wednesday saw a thrilling 6-board match with both teams missing a key player, as the team grading totals could not have been much close at 821 for Crewe and 829 for Fenton. First to register on the score board was Rick Renegade with a 14 move demolition on bd 4, to put Crewe 1-0 in the lead before Karl Lockett on bd 2 for Crewe made it 2-0. Fenton’s man in-form, Roumanian Petru Floresc continued his brilliant winning run after two major scalps in last weekend’s 4NCL, as he put his opponent on bd 1 to the sword to reduce the deficit to 2-1 and shortly afterwards Crewe’s Doug Barnett restored the advantage to 3-1 after a hopeful minor piece sacrifice led to some unsound play. The two remaining games saw Crewe under pressure on bd 5 after a poor opening left a weak position and the loss of a pawn, while Crewe’s captain appeared to be coasting to a win on bd 3 with a three-pawn advantage. However Fenton’s team were not for giving up as firstly Kas Capatina on bd 3 found a way to attack an open King and fork David Hulme’s queen as David slid into time trouble to make the score 3-2. Finally Max Launay made Crewe pay the full price as he converted his long time gain into a win to tie the match at 3-3. With all games being won with the white pieces (a rare event it seems) and Fenton winning on bds 1,3 and 5 it meant Fenton were victorious by virtue of the board count tie-break rule. Congratulations to Fenton who go on to face Cheddleton in the semi-final.
Thursday night saw Crewe’s “A” team travel to Holmes Chapel to take on the host’s Rooks team in a NSDCA Div 2 match. The Crewe team had a distinct grading advantage of approx 20-25 pts on 4 of the 5 boards, but you would not have known it. The match seemed to be heading Crewe’s way after an early draw on bd 1 for Ola Titiloye, was soon followed by wins for David Hulme on bd 4 and Karl Lockett on bd 2. We were made to sweat for victory though as Martin Gill was being held on bd 5 and Rick Renegade was under pressure on bd 3. Martin’s experience came to the fore as he offered a draw to his lower rated opponent who was running into time trouble despite being a pawn up and positionally better. The draw was accepted and secured match victory for Crewe before Rick’s opponent Mike Lee battled to the end but could only get a draw. The final result was 3.5-1.5 for Crewe, who sit 3rd in the table with a record of Pld 4, Won 2, Drawn 2.