It’s been a busy week for the club with four teams in action, plus two not in action picking up titles without pushing a pawn. It all started on Monday night as our Wirral team did the 100 mile round trip to Wallasey for the 3rd time this season this time for the division 2 shoot-out between ourselves and favourites 2nd placed Wallasey 2. Captain David Hulme was a little bemused as the opponents fielded a team including their 1st team captain on board 3, when their 1st team were also in action in a potential division 1 title match. Oddly enough (and unfairly in my opinion) this meant the Wallasey 2 team outgraded their 1st division team, and showed a clear intent of Wallasey’s priority to achieve promotion. As always our Wirral team fought bravely and at one stage looked like we might achieve the required draw to win the league as Junior Harry Gardiner played a superb game on board 5 against a very strong opponent. Harry was dominating the game but allowed his player to recover enough to get a draw. Meanwhile our leading star Bart Fajfer had set up enough traps and duly converted the board 1 game to put us in the lead. The big grading advantage on board 4 proved too much for us as Mike O’Mahony equalised the score. The board 3 game involving their 1st team captain looked like it could go against the grain but alas our player could not unravel the complex position and fell down. This left board 2 as the title decider with David Hulme on the back foot needing to win, having lost a crucial central pawn and under time pressure David tried desperately to create an attack with his Rook, Knight and minority pawn but could not prevent Steve Lee from swapping bishop for knight before gaining another pawn. David battled to the end but at 10.40 with just seconds left was forced into a neat mating net with King, Rook and pawns overwhelming him. A deserved win for the stronger Wallasey 2 left us as runners-up. A tough finale to the season where we massively exceeded our expectations. A special mention of the “player of the year award” is due as Bart Fajfer scored a fantastic 7.5/8 to finish ahead of David Hulme 7/8.
Wednesday night saw the D team at home to Stafford A in division 4. Captain Les Hall stood down to give other members a chance to play and with a much weaker team than normal. Outgraded on bottom 3 boards it was no surprise that we lost narrowly 1.5-2.5. The highlight for us came when 17 y/o Ben Harrison won on board 4, with Doug Barnett getting a draw on top board.
Also on Wednesday night our C team went to play Newcastle C in a division 3 contest. The C team had the unlikely task of having to win 4-0 to gain a share of the title with our own B team. Under the inspired captaincy of chairman Dave Price the miracle was nearly achieved as his report shows below:
It was not my normal team talk but we needed to win 4-0. Amy was first to finish she was low on time but went a piece up and John resigned. Second to finish was myself (Dave P) when all else fails sack and attack. I was already a Pawn down looking at a lost game. I had 6 Pawns a Bishop, a knight and a Rook v 2 Bishops a Rook and seven Pawns. All of Pete’s Pawns were connected and all his pieces active. I had doubled pawns and all pieces protecting the king. It was all or nothing, I gave up my Knight for 3 pawns and not satisfied I then gave my Rook away for Pete’s white Bishop. Now for the Pawn storm. Pete miscalculated and allowed me to Queen on the white square with a check and shortly after he resigned.
Now 2-0 to Crewe and Julian looked round and the pressure was on. It wasn’t long and another Newcastle player resigned to make it 3-0 and all eyes were on Karl (board 1) and the pressure was rising. It proved too much and unfortunately Karl’s efforts were not enough to stop Alan and left the final result 3-1 to Crewe.