Division 5 Report from ACE Reporter (and captain) Nigel Gardner

All eyes were on division 5 this week – Interesting, Indefatigable, Intense, Intrepid & Idiosyncratic  

This week the new division 5 season started in earnest; and in Crewe and in Cheddleton! On Wednesday at the Mals the F team entertained a very “experienced” Alsager whilst Friday saw the E team travel to Cheddleton.

Both games were tight and very evenly contested.  Crewe eked out a hard fought win at home and Friday saw a heavily outgraded E team secure a great draw and had, at one point, looked on for a possible win.

Julian, Lukasz, Nigel  & George joined battle with Alsager and all games were close matches. On three I opened cautiously inviting my opponent to attack me on a number of fronts which he duly did. This caused a degree of discomfort and the club adage of sitting on my hands was never more relevant. Eventually two counter attacks appeared, one on each flank and I was able to press home the opportunity and we had our first point on the board.

Meanwhile George had a slight advantage over his opponent, whilst the top two boards were very difficult to call.

Julian eventually succumbed despite putting up a very valiant and stoic performance which, at one point, looked as though it might be successful. This was against a relatively new opponent who appears to be a strong addition to Alsager’s ranks and destined for a rising future! It was very much appreciated that Julian was happy to take on the challenge of black on board one enabling the team to offer more potential as a whole.

This left the match at 1 – 1 but George was now in the ascendancy and by gradually building the pressure eventually forced home his advantage to secure the win and we were now 2 – 1 up. Another great result for George, on top of a very successful weekend at Crewe congress and at the moment the force is strong with Mr Jelliss!

This left Lukasz in a titanic struggle on 2 that was into the end game and although all appeared even his opponent had some pressure up the middle but Lukasz had a passed pawn that if got the opportunity would prove fatal. A long series of very careful moves proceeded with Alsager realising that a draw in the game would mean a loss in the overall match. However, Lukasz played exceptionally well, with all eyes on him, and eventually a draw was offered which, on reflection, was the right result in the game, but gave Crewe our overall win. Well done to all the Crewe team in what was most definitely a team performance.

In a similar vein our E team travelled to Cheddleton expecting a very tough match and we were not to be disappointed! We were outgraded on every board, and by an average of over 17 points. However there was an air of determination about the team. Nigel, Les, Phil and Mike arrived in good time and good spirit and the clocks were started.

Trying to lead from the front on board 1 I had a few “squeaky bum” moments in the opening but took time, worked out the solutions and after only 21 moves most major pieces had been removed. At this point I had a quick wander around to see that our positions looked promising on the other 3 boards with Phil in particular in the ascendancy with numerical and positional advantage. I returned to offer a draw causing my opponent to then also go to look at the other boards. Unbeknownst to me in the few minutes between the wanders Phil had managed to lose a rook so my opponent then gladly accepted my offer and we retired to the analysis whilst the others continued.

Phil had played a great game against a higher-graded and difficult opponent but unfortunately the loss of the rook proved fatal and shortly afterwards his demise was sealed and we had our backs to the wall.

In the meantime, Mike had taken the ascendancy, both in position and material, and a win looked sure to follow. Les was in a grinding battle and played in a  conservative and considered fashion that was definitely required against his significantly higher graded opponent. He had also managed to gain a large time advantage over his opponent who was beginning to feel the pressure of the clock. A draw was offered and accepted and a great result for Les was secured which put the team in with a chance of a result.

Mike’s game soon moved into the end game phase and after an interesting series of moves he managed to queen and all looked over. Or so we all thought…………………………………………………..

I think I had missed the observer from the Guinness Book of records being present, in what was obviously a very strong contender for the world record of moves in an end game!!!! After about another lifetime Mike had lost his Queen but then he managed to Queen another pawn and the game continued, and continued , and continued ………………until sanity (mainly mine) was restored, mate was achieved, Mike was the hero and we were able to enjoy the drive home with a very creditable draw in the bag.

If Chess were too predictable we wouldn’t bother playing it and Friday night’s games were strong evidence of this. It was another enjoyable night for all concerned and a successful end to a long but strong week.


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