We have three matches to report on this week, featuring the “A” team making their 1st division debut against Cheddleton “A”, the “C” team away at Holmes Chapel Bishops in div 3 and the “D” team hosting Meir “A” in division 4.
It was a baptism of fire for the “A” team as Chedd’s heavy artillery came to the Mals with top board grades of 192, 196 and 173 considerably outgrading our top 3 of 174, 153 and 152 respectively. The bottom two boards were much closer grades as Cheddleton were missing several stronger options. Surprisingly first blood went to us as the underdogs with Simon Layhe (board 5) completing a neat win involving a Knight mating move in the centre of board as the opponents King was cut off by a combination of Rook and blocked in by own pieces. More good news arrived as David Hulme overcame a 2 pawn loss to prevent the opposition from developing both Rooks and a Q-side Bishop and then overpowering on the King side to finish with a clever Rook sac and an immediate mate not seen (on bd 4). Meanwhile Chedd’s heavy artillery had won the bd 2 battle and then equalised the score as predicted on bd 3. The remaining game saw Bart Fajfer with a pawn advantage and decent time saving to raise hopes of a possible shock result. However Chedd’s young star Jacob Boswell created a lot of activity despite only having two minutes on the clock and rounded up some pawns before invading Crewe’s defences with a Q&B vs 2 Rooks. Eventually the stronger team proved their superiority and won 3-2.
Strangely enough the division 4 match playing alongside was scoreless when four of the 1st division boards were finished. The two teams were very evenly matched so it was no surprise that it was long time before the first result came in. Captain Les Hall was as usual first to finish, somehow grabbing a win from the jaws of defeat. In Les’s own words he was fortunate to finish first with a Rook mate after the game swung too and fro. Top board Rick Renegade was next to finish with another swash-buckling effort to make it 2-0. Experienced Neville Layhe then did enough to get the team over the line with a hard earned draw on bd 2 before Meir had the consolation of their sole win in the final game on bd 3 and to conclude the match with a 2.5-1.5 win for the D team. The skipper likes the look of the current league table sitting pretty on top at this premature stage of the season.
Thursday night saw the C team travel to Holmes Chapel to take on the Bishops in a division 3 encounter and it is pleasing to see Holmes Chapel adding this team to the league. Looking at the team sheets before the match the visiting Crewe team would have been red-hot favourites. However the hosts provided the first and unexpected blow of the night as the relatively inexperienced Liam McIlveen delivered an early mate on board 2. Harry Gardiner restored parity with his 40+ pts grade advantage in evidence on board 3 to level the scores for us. David Hulme was held comfortably to a draw by George Scattergood on board 1 and we had a while to wait for the board 4 game result to be decided. As a spectator it was fun to watch as white sacrificed a couple of K-side pawns to unleash an attack on our castled King while moving their own King to safety on the Q-side. A smashing game unfolded and as white increased the pressure on the King side left the door open for a back rank invasion duly applied by our Adam Fields to release the pressure and force the victory by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5. Captain Dave Price was absent for this match and should be pleased to see his team pick up their first points of the season.
Next week sees our B team at home while our new “G” team play their first ever match at Cheddleton hoping to give new players the chance to play in the league. Also in action are the Wirral team who face the long trip to take on Wallasey’s 3rd team.