What a week it’s been for our club with 5 matches taking place.
The first match saw Dave Price’s C team travel to face Meir “A” on Monday night. The team was strengthened by the addition of Amy Lovatt on board 2 as she made a return after a short study break. Julian Bulbeck (bd3) and Dave Price picked up good draws on the bottom boards against the grades before Karl Lockett extended his unbeaten run with another strong performance on bd 1 to win and take his current rating for the season to over 180. With just a draw needed from Amy to secure the match she played confidently to go the distance and pick up the full point to make the final score 3-1, and move the C team top of division 3 with their 3rd win and 100% record.
Tuesday night it was the turn of our Wirral League team as they travelled to Chester’s Town Crier Hotel to play against Chester F. An early loss on bd 2 was soon equalized by skipper David Hulme on bd 3. Matters progressed smoothly as Chris Rhodes won shortly thereafter and Simon Layhe won comfortably to ensure match victory. This left Bart Fajfer in play on board 1 who used up nearly all of the maximum 3 hours allowed with his opponent, before trapping a piece to give us a final score of 4-1. After 3 matches we trail leaders Wallasey 2 on board scores, as both teams currently have 100% records.
Wednesday night saw the Mals club buzzing with activity again with approx 15 members turning up for the early 6.30 session. With the E team playing away at Newcastle F, there was still another 28 chess players in attendance including the opposition teams as matches commenced. The “A” team hosted Macclesfield in division 2 and the “D” team hosted Newcastle “D” in division 4.
The “A” team had the club’s top 3 players available for the first time this season as Bart (163) and Ola Titiloye (162) allowed Karl Lockett (149) to play on board 3 for the first time since 2015. Captain David Hulme (135) could not play due to the minimum counting grade rule, which allowed Simon Layhe and Chris Rhodes to makeup the team. The match started ominously as we lost on bd 4, before Ola got us on the scoreboard with a draw on bd 2. Bart Fajfer outgunned his opponent to level the scores with a win on top board. The match was to go deep into increment time and was delicately balanced. Chris Rhodes on bd 5 played a beautiful endgame under extreme time pressure, with less than one minute left (against his opponent’s 20 mins) around the 40 move mark, he forced the win after another 30-odd moves. The bd 3 game was still in play although Karl had engineered pass-pawns on both sides of the board in a difficult endgame of opposite colour bishops. After much perseverance Karl duly completed his win and take the team to 3.5-1.5 win, which shows us as league leaders at this premature stage after two matches.
The “D” team faced an experienced Newcastle “D” team and could not find a path to victory on any of the four boards. Just two draws were all we had to show on the scorecard as Doug Barnett (bd2) and Harry Gardiner (bd3) both drew as the team was defeated 3-1. Captain Les Hall will be hoping for a better performance when they face his former club, Alsager, next week.
The third match for us on the night saw captain Nigel Gardner take his “E” team troops to face Newcastle “F”, without his top player Simon Layhe who was required for “A” team duties. Fortunately Newcastle fielded a weaker than expected team that gave us a big grade advantage on bottom two boards which allowed Adam Fields (bd3) and captain Nigel Gardner to gain two wins before Dave Price enjoyed a win on bd 2. Julian Bulbeck outgraded by approx 20 pts on top board battled long and hard before falling to the Newcastle captain, Alberto Gissi. The final score was 3-1 as the “E” team made it 3 out of 3 in pursuit of the division 5 title defence.
In the club’s Rapid-play Division 2 section, junior Lukasz Michalek added another point from two games to extend his lead at the top of the table with 8/12, as Nigel (6/10) and Kobus Nienaber (5/8) were occupied in matches.
Next week sees another busy schedule, with a preview of the division 3 derby between our C and B teams to follow over the weekend !