The week started with the E team going to face Meir B in a division 5 encounter. Both teams were well below the 400 grade limit allowed, with the Es tipping the scales at 318 vs the hosts 247. Captain Nigel Gardner held his own for a draw on bd 1, while Ben Harrison and Phil Wright provided the full point each on boards 2 and 3 to secure narrow victory 2.5 – 1.5.
Tuesday night the Wirral team faced contenders Wrexham. Christmas work schedules dictated that Wrexham’s top player was unavailable and this gave us an unexpected grade advantage. However Wrexham pushed us all the way with wins against the grades on boards 1 and 3. We had strengthened our line up considerably and this helped significantly as Karl Lockett won on bd 2, shortly after Harry Gardiner had done likewise on 5. The key success came on bd 4 as Simon Layhe fought his way out of a tight position to give us victory. With a break until February, the Wirral team head the league table as firm favourites for promotion.
Wednesday night saw the Mals Club hosting two matches. In division 2 it was our B team against Cheddleton B, and in division 5 it was the top of the table clash between our F team and Chedd G.
The division 2 match was predictably tough and tight. With white having the grade advantage on the top 4 boards, all games went in that colour favour. Karl Lockett made it two wins in two nights, and Rick Renegade provided the usual explosives on bd 4. The one game not to go in favour of white was the board 5 game where Neville Layhe with black held out for the draw which meant the match was drawn. The B team currently lie in 4th position in the table, but are only 2 pts behind the league leaders – Chedd B.
The division 5 match was expected to be equally tight. The F team found themselves without key player Julian Bulbeck due to illness which caused a shuffling of the team. Chedd’s experience on top two boards proved vital as Colin Abell and David Rose tipped the match in their favour with two wins. Ben Harrison managed a good draw on board 3, while Kobus Nienaber gained our only full point on bd 4. Accordingly Cheddleton G were victorious 2.5-1.5 and lept over our F team to top the table. These two teams are putting daylight between them and the chasing pack with leaders Chedd G on 9pts, just one pt ahead of the F team.