Last Monday saw the first of Crewe’s 2018 club challenge matches. Our opponents from Meir hosted this 10-board adventure for it’s maiden voyage. The idea was to try and match up team grades as close as possible, but we could not avoid taking a sight advantage due to unavailability of players on both teams.
Taking up the challenge in true “gung-ho” fashion was junior Harry Gardiner who posted the first result of the night with a blitz-type game in under 20 minutes. He must have thought we were still playing in our Handicap Event which took place a few days earlier, as we took an early 1-0 lead. Phil Wright took advantage of said grade difference to put us 2-0 in the lead around the hour mark. Meir chalked up their first win as Martin Chadwick played nicely to win on board 9, before a couple of draws were agreed on boards 5 and 7 to leave the match delicately poised. Nigel Gardner extended Crewe’s lead with a neat win on board 8 to take Crewe near the winning line. Meir’s top player Steve Hill found a way to escape against Doug Barnett’s gambit to narrow the scores to 4-3. Dave Price then converted his pressure on board 3 against promising junior Ewan Haas into the full point to ensure Crewe could not lose. Adam Fields confirmed our victory when both players feared pushing for the win would lead to defeat, agreed to a draw on board 4. The final game was quite something to watch as Simon Layhe squeezed the experienced Pete Windows into defeat deep into increment time to give Crewe the flattering final score of 6.5-3.5.
Thanks to Meir for the very pleasant buffet provided and for being excellent and sporting hosts. Captain Bob Perry was very keen to ensure the match goes ahead next year with a named trophy up for grabs !