With the shortened week due to Good Friday, this week’s report is produced a little earlier than normal. There are three matches to report on as the “A” team played at Fenton on Monday, with the “D” and “E” teams at home to Stafford B and Newcastle D respectively.
The week started extremely well as the “A” team managed to overcome Fenton “A”, who are destined to be Division 2 champions. The match was unexpectedly tipped in Crewe’s favour when Karl Lockett won the battle on board 1 early in the evening as he out-manouevered Fenton’s star player (graded 183 and previously unbeaten 9.5/11), to put us in the lead 1-0. Better news arrived swiftly as Doug Barnett took advantage of his opponents passive opening to force the second win before Fenton fought back with a win for Glyn Valentine on bd 2. Amy Lovatt on bd 4 ensured the team were guaranteed at least a draw when she picked up a draw with a forced repitition. She was rather disappointed not to have won after being a piece up and then sacrificing it back for what looked like a forced mating attack, but her opponent escaped the net. A strange game finished on bd 3 with a draw as David Hulme clawed back material against Kas Capatina, after blundering a rook for nothing. Fortunately Kas was so short on time, David managed to steal a draw for the team to win 3-2 and put the expected champions champagne on ice for another week or two.
Wednesday night saw another packed clubhouse with two matches and another 12-15 members playing friendly chess. The division 4 encounter between our “D” team and Stafford “B” was a close run match. Our roving reporter did not arrive early enough to see the outcome of the games on boards 2-4 but found we were trailing 2-1, with our win coming from Dylan Sayers with a good result on bd 2, with losses for captain Les Hall and newcomer Kobus Nienabar who only lost to Pete Evans (the league treasurer) after a spirited fight in only his second league match. The match was decided by the outcome of the top board game which looked to be heading for a draw until Neville Layhe found a way to snare his opponent into a pawn mating net as the King went to attack Neville before getting stranded and cut-off. The match drawn at 2-2 saw the “D” team rise one place up to 4th in the league table.
The “E” team were playing a top of the table division 5 clash with Newcastle “E”. Going into this match our Es were leading the table by 2 pts and with 2 matches in hand, although it is likely Newcastle will extract maximum points from their remaining games to keep the pressure on our “E” team. With two of our regular players missing including captain Nigel Gardner it meant the team needed reinforcing and was likely to be heavily outgraded on the bottom board. This match unfolded with a draw on bd 3 with Chris Rhodes being held by Brian Wagstaff before the Es “big-hitter” Amy Lovatt forced a material gain to take the full point on bd 2. Newcastle hit back with an equally devasting win on bd 4 to leave the match level and the bd 1 game in progress. Although Doug Barnett had a pawn advantage, it was not enough to beat the battling chairman of Newcastle, Alberto Gissi and after Alberto forced a repetitive threat peace was agreed and the match points shared to leave the status quo at the top of the division 5 table with one match less each to play. For our E team Amy continues to be the lead performer with a perfect 9/9, while chief support act Chris Rhodes moved on to 6.5/9 and extends his unbeaten run in the NSDCA this season.
It’s been a busy week for the club with four matches all played away from home. The club was packed on Wednesday night with some more new faces amongst the 18 or so there, while another 4 members were at Newcastle.
The week started promisingly as the “E” team continued their assault on the division 5 title. They went to face Meir C with just a hand-full of grading points separating the two teams. Skipper Nigel Gardner seemed content as the first three games all shared the points. Chris Rhodes playing on bd 1 took his unbeaten run to 20 matches in all NSDCA competitions this season, with his draw. The other draws came from Steve Ballantyne and Nigel (taking his score to an unbeaten 7/9 for the Es). The match was to be settled by the outcome of the board 2 game featuring our star junior Amy Lovatt. As usual Amy played coolly to build up a decisive advantage and ultimately win the game and the match (2.5-1.5) to give the “Es” a further cushion at the top of the table. Amy’s record for the E team is a superb 8/8.
Tuesday night saw the “F” team take on Alsager C in a division 5 match. Although the team were soundly beaten 3-1, skipper Dave Price was very proud as the team introduced another new member to competitive league chess as Kobus Nienaber made his debut and became the 13th player to represent our new F team this season. Our single point was won by former Alsager-player Les Hall.
Wednesday night saw our high-flying Bees travel to Newcastle to play a top of the table clash with the host’s C team. Unfortunately the team lost for only the second time this season by the narrowest of margins 1.5-2.5. There were draws for Karl Lockett on bd 1, Chris Rhodes on bd 3 (extending his run to 21 unbeaten) and Simon Layhe.
A really entertaining battle on bd 2 decided the match in Newcastle’s favour as their captain Alan Paling reported on the LMS site ” This top of the table clash was extremely tight with three draws leaving the result of the match in the hands of Hambel and Rick on Board 2. Hambel had an advantage but was short of time and played the majority of her moves towards the end with less than a minute (and often seconds) left. Despite Rick complicating things Hambel held her nerve and eventually took the full point. This means Newcastle C can catch Crewe B at the top of the table if they win their match in hand.”
The final match of the week for us saw our Wirral team facing Atticus (of Liverpool) at a neutral Wallasey venue to reduce our travelling commitment. This division 2 battle started with our team on 100% with 3/3 wins and our opponents with 3/4 wins. However there was an ominous start to the night when team lists were exchanged to show Steve Kee graded 196 was on top board for Atticus and two of the other four boards were graded much in their favour. Our main hope would be for Rick Renegade to attack with gusto on bd 3 with the white pieces, to try and compensate for the anticipated negative result on bd 1 with the remaining players hoping for at least a share of the points. Alas it was not be as our 100% record was firmly extinguished as we lost on bds 1 and 3 early on. The other three games all ended in draws with Dave Price and Simon Layhe performing extremely well, while David Hulme escaped with a very fortunate draw. The final result of 1.5-3.5 might prove to be useful in the final reckoning if we can pick up positive results in our next two or three matches.
Sorry for the boring headline as your writer was absent from the club this week. There were just two matches played with the “A” team hosting Newcastle B in division 2 and the “D” team travelling to Newcastle D in division 4.
The “A” team were missing regulars Neville Layhe and David Hulme, but still managed a narrow win 3-2. Ola Titiloye earned a draw with black on top board against his 184 grade opponent, while Rick Renegade continued his strong run to win on bd 3. Doug Barnett picked up a draw on bd 5 and all eyes were left to watch Amy Lovatt finishing last on bd 4. With both players running short of time Amy kept her composure to build up enough pressure to convert the game into a full point and ensure the “A” team went back to 3rd in the table.
Meanwhile down at The Bridge Club the “D” team came home empty handed following a narrow loss 2.5-1.5. Draws from Neville, Dylan Sayers and Harry Gardiner were not quite enough as the team made it a hat-trick of successive narrow reverses.
A quiet week for the club has just seen two matches played. The “A” team were hosting Cheddleton D in division 2, while our “Perry A” team were trying to defend the Under 11o Cup, in the first semi-final against Newcastle.
The Perry team suffered a knock-out blow, going down 4-0 against a strong Newcastle team. Outgraded by 130 pts, Newcastle were just too strong with an average grade of 99 compared to our 65 average, it was no disgrace the team came home empty handed. Our “Perry B” team face an equally tough semi-final away to Cheddleton in due course. Congratulations to Newcastle on reaching the final.
The other match saw our “A” team scrape a 3-2 win. Two early (grand-master ?) draws were taken by David Hulme and Neville Layhe, before Rick Renegade converted his one pawn advantage into a clear win on bd 4, and Cheddleton’s junior star Jacob Boswell outgunned us on bd 1 to level the score at 2-2. Both captains were happily encouraging their player to take a draw, but despite offers being made by Crewe’s junior Amy Lovatt the draw was declined. No doubt the Cheddleton player was regretting their choice to play on as Amy broke through decisively on the King-side to set up a match winning attack and carry the team over the line. Amy’s record is a most impressive 19 wins from 21 games, and no draws, since (the South Cheshire Shield started on) 12th July. This win took the “A” team one place up the table to 3rd, just ahead of Macclesfield on board points, but still well adrift of the leading teams (Fenton A and Chedd B). The “A” team are back in action on Wednesday against Newcastle B.
On monday this week the D team traveled to Fenton for a division 4 match before the big freeze took hold. However we came off 2nd best as a spirited Fenton C gained their first victory of the season. A win from Neville Layhe on top board and a draw from young Harry Gardiner on board 4 were not quite enough to salvage any points from the match as the team lost narrowly (score 2.5 – 1.5 to Fenton).
By Wednesday with the freezing weather gripping the country all but one match in the NSDCA was postponed, with the only surviving fixture being our B team at home to Alsager A in division 3. Due to horrific conditions on the road one of the Alsager team got stranded in Congleton and another player arrived too late and lost by default. The two players that beat the elements were left to carry the flag for the visitors. It must have seemed as cold inside the AMAL as it was outside as the Bees froze out their opponents with Ola Titiloye playing superbly on Bd 1 and Amy Lovatt on board 4 to complete a 4-0 win, that does not reflect the great efforts made by Steve and James from Alsager to try and save their team. This result gives the B team a 5 point lead at the summit of division 3 ahead of Newcastle C who have two matches in hand as well as the head to head with our Bees.
Our Wirral team had to postpone the long journey to Buckley/Mold and have re-arranged the fixture for Wed 2nd May.