A quieter week on the fixture schedule has seen just three matches played. Tuesday night saw the Wirral team host Wallasey 3 in Chester, and on Wednesday the E team hosted Alsager C and the F team were sent to Newcastle.
Our Wirral team was the strongest team we’ve been able to table this season with captain David Hulme on bd 5 being higher graded than Wallasey’s top board, as our opponents were faced with having to field 4 teams on a non-club night. It was no surprise therefore that we raced into a 2-0 lead as David Hulme and Rick Renegade (bd 4) won. A fighting effort on bd 3 held Neville Layhe to a draw, before Rich Wiltshir outgunned their bd 2. Karl Lockett could not force the win on bd 1 to finish the match with a draw and a convincing 4-1 win to keep our team in the title chase. We need to win both our remaining games while hoping league leaders Atticus slip up in their last match.
The F team went to Newcastle hoping to help our E team against title rivals Newcastle E. According to skipper Dave Price we had an “off-night” with only Simon Layhe producing the goods with a fine win on bd 1. The F team wrap up their division 5 campaign with a home match against same opposition this Wednesday at the Mals club.
Also in action on Wednesday, but at home in the Mals club, was our division 5 leaders the “E” team. A superb team performance started with Chris Rhodes earning a hard-fought draw on top board, before Dylan Sayers outplayed the opposition to win on bd 4. Dylan is on a great run of form with 5 wins a row and currently heading towards a grade increase of approx 36 pts. Next to finish was the team’s “Big-hitter” junior Amy Lovatt completing her 10th successive victory (100% record) for the Es, playing maturely and using all of the time permitted to convert a pawn advantage into an overwhelming position. Last to finish (on bd 3) saw Steve Ballantyne accept a draw with the team result safely secured for 3-1 win. The E team require one point from their last two matches to win the division 5 title.
Next week sees 3 title chases coming to a climax as the Bees (B team) play their final match at Alsager on Tuesday, the Wirral team go to Mold in North Wales on Wednesday and the Es hike to Cheddleton on Friday.
It’s been a tough week for the club with five matches all played away from home, as the fixture lists have given us a run of 9 consecutive away games, to leave the MALS club with no matches for the 2nd week in a row.
The week started well for the Fabulous “F” team who went to play Meir C in a 5th division game. The scorecard showed a flattering 4-0 win for us which did not reflect the true nature of the match as wins for Simon Layhe, Dave Price, Harry Gardiner and Phil Wright brought home the match points.
Wednesday night saw the “A” team facing Newcastle B and division 5 leaders, the “E” team facing Newcastle E at the Bridge Club. The “A” team fielded two juniors for the first time ever with Amy Lovatt on bd 4 and Harry Gardiner on bd 5. Another first saw all five boards drawn to take a share of the points which took the “A” team up to 2nd in the table having completed all our fixtures. Both juniors played superbly as Harry was outgraded by nearly 40 pts and Amy was last to finish trying valiantly to go for the win where the pawn advantage was nullified by opposite colour bishops. There were tame draws for Karl Lockett on bd 1 and David Hulme on bd 3, while Neville Layhe’s powers of concentration were tested to the full in a game lasting some 85 moves.
The other match at the Bridge Club was far more important with the division 5 title up for stakes, as our “E” team played against 2nd placed Newcastle E, the only team capable of overhauling our leaders. This match started promisingly for us as Dylan Sayers had a very good win on bd 3 against a higher graded and much more experienced opponent. Steve Ballantyne on bd 4 pushed for the win but could not break through against stubborn defences to take a draw, leaving the top two boards in play. The next game to finish saw Newcastle’s youngest player, Joe Hirst overrun one of our recent recruits, Julian Bulbeck on bd 2 to level the scores. On bd 1 Chris Rhodes lost his first match of the season (on game no. 26 !) to the host’s captain Alberto Gissi as the “E” team suffered likewise with their first defeat of the season to leave the door ajar at the top of the table. The “E” team need 3 pts out of their last 3 matches to secure the division 5 title, while Newcastle have two matches remaining both of which are against our own “F” team.
Friday night saw our B & F teams take on Cheddleton E & H respectively. The Bees went into this division 3 match two pts ahead of Newcastle C but having played one more match and with level board point difference, so a win was the order of the day. However for the 2nd time this season one of our players failed to arrive to leave us with an uphill battle. The remaining trio salvaged what could be a crucial point for the Bees, with Simon Layhe (bd 4) and Karl Lockett (bd 1) gaining the necessary wins despite being under the cosh at one stage. The Bees can only hope Newcastle C drop a point or two in their final 3 matches.
The F team gained a well earned draw thanks to draws from Dave Price on bd 1 and Adam Fields on bd 3 (his first point for the club). Kobus Nienaber went one better and picked up his first win for the club while junior Harry Gardiner suffered a rare defeat on bd 2, though this may have been expected against an opponent graded 44 pts higher. In addition to the match counting boards a further graded game was played to give youngster Charlie Dodd a competitive game on a very busy night with Cheddleton hosting five matches and showing their strength in depth by avoiding defeat in all five.
Next week we have just 3 fixtures scheduled as our Wirral team chase the division 2 title, our “E” team go in pursuit of the NSDCA Division 5 title and our “F” team also in action.
Thanks to Alberto Gissi for running this year’s Newcastle Mini.
Our club provided the greatest number of entrants – A great effort from our members making up some 25% of the total entry.
Not to mention taking a bigger percentage of the prize money, with junior Harry Gardiner picking up 1st prize in the U100 and Simon Layhe a share of 1st prize in U130.
Not to forget Phil Wright collecting the “Kangaroo prize”.
Harry Simon Phil
A long-winded headline to cover this week’s three matches. Starting with the 2nd match of the week which saw our Intermediate (U130) team successfully retain the Cup trophy after a tough battle with friendly rivals Newcastle at The Bridge Club. Early draws were achieved by newcomer Julian Bulbeck on bd 4 and the ubiquitous Dave Price on bd 5. The match was tilted in our favour as Amy Lovatt used the early piece gained to trap the opponents King after utilising all but a few seconds of her time allowed, as she asked our roving reporter to record moves once she was below 5 minutes remaining. Just as Amy was about to win, success was guaranteed for the team as Doug Barnett’s draw offer was accepted on bd 1. Shortly thereafter Chris Rhodes added another win with a flourish to complete the match score at 3.5 – 1.5. This takes Chris’s unbeaten run in all NSDCA games to 25.
The Perry B team (U110) traveled to Cheddleton on Friday night as massive under-dogs. The Fabulous Four played heroically according to captain Dave Price, who acted as team chauffeur as well as non playing captain. Harry Gardiner was first to finish with a well earned draw on bd 2, having held an exchange advantage in the early middle game before coming under pressure from advancing King-side pawns and taking the draw offer. Next to finish on bd3 with another draw was our latest debutant, youngster Lukasz Michalek playing his first ever competitive match – congratulations to him on holding his own against a very experienced opponent. Steve Ballantyne battled manfully on bd 1 before losing to one of Cheddleton’s rising stars – junior Sam Parry, whose grade is currently 117 and likely to be much higher in the next grading list. Last to finish was Kobus Nienaber losing to another up and coming junior, Joe Alcock already graded 108. The final result was a loss 3-1, but the Fabulous Four were a great credit to our club playing against a team whose current grades were over 100 pts greater than ours.
The journey home was an enlightening tale as junior Harry Gardiner impressed the group with his recollection of all world champions from the late 1800s to modern times.
The other match played earlier in the week was a Wirral League encounter between our promotion chasing team and Division 2 established Chester E, played at Hoole Community Centre in Chester. This score-card showed David Hulme playing on bd 4 for Crewe and also on bd 5 for Chester !! Luckily for us our captain (Hulme) put the first point on the board with a swift win in a wild game where fortune was on our side. Neville Layhe picked up a good draw on bd 3 against a rapidly improving Chester junior already graded 142. Our bd 5 Dave Price fell victim to an attack from the other Dave Hulme to give the strange looking balance of two wins by Dave Hulme. Some while later we lost the bd 1 game, leaving the Walsall Warrior, Rich Wiltshir striving to level the match for us which he duly did in calm fashion. The result takes us to 3rd in the table and still with an outside chance of taking the division 2 title if we can win all 3 remaining matches, but the odds are against us as we have tougher matches than 2nd placed Atticus and also have to face table topping Buckley/Mold 1 in our penultimate match.
It’s been a busy week for the club with four matches played including trips to Chester, Newcastle and Cheddleton.
The first match saw our Wirral team take on a below strength Chester F team in a division 2 encounter. Early wins for Neville Layhe, David Hulme and Dave Price confirmed the points were safe before Simon Layhe and Karl Lockett agreed draws to wrap up a convincing 4-1 win, which took the team up to joint 3rd in the table with two matches in hand on the leaders. The team is very much in contention for promotion with matches to play against the top two.
Wednesday night saw our B team host Meir A in the NSDCA division 3. The Bees were in 2nd place in the table trailing leaders Newcastle C just on board points, and were soon in trouble as board 1 was won swiftly by the visitors. However the Bees are made of fighting-stock and despite appearing to be behind in two of the three remaining games, the points started to come in as Rick Renegade, Chris Rhodes and late replacement Dylan Sayers all overturned their opponents to swing the result in our favour and emerge as 3-1 victors. With this win the Bees returned to top of the table but have to wait and see if Newcastle C overtake them with their game in hand. The title looks like going to the wire with two matches left for us and three for Newcastle.
Also on Wednesday night our basement battling “C” team went to play Newcastle D in a division 4 game. Junior Harry Gardiner continued his good form with another impressive win a against a higher graded opponent on bd 4, before Doug Barnett eased a draw on bd 2. On board 3 we had our latest debutant with Adam Fields playing experienced Pete Shaw. A fine effort from Adam saw him gain an exchange before Pete’s experience proved too much and took the point for our opponents. The final game saw David Hulme taking on their captain Paul Clapham and despite David’s significant grade advantage was held to a draw by Paul’s solid play, to conclude the match with a 2-2 draw. The result took the C team off the foot of the table on board points, where our own D team have fallen to as we contest the wooden spoon.
Friday night saw our division 5 table-topping “E” team travel to Cheddleton and take on their full strength “I” team. Without regular stars Amy Lovatt and Steve Ballantyne, it was always going to be a tough match against a team that can near the maximum grade points allowed. Captain Nigel Gardner reported on the LMS as follows:
Another very enjoyable and competitive Friday evening at a busy Cheddleton club. With a couple of enforced changes to our usual line up both incomers performed admirably to force wins in tight matches. A great result from Chris again on top board and a very assured performance from our youthful debutante Julian on board 2 in a match that finished when most had left and were already at home. An excellent result for Dylan against a much higher graded opponent taking an early pawn advantage and slowly tightening the screw to reap his just rewards. Ali and I played out another draw although both enjoyed what was a challenging game. Well done to my team and many thanks to our excellent hosts.
This result takes the “E” team 4 pts clear at the top of the table. With 4 matches left to play our Es need one win and a draw to guarantee the title.
A great week for the club and special mention to our two new players Adam Fields and Julian Bulbeck.