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.