Just two matches this week as the league’s two biggest club went head to head for the first games in a series of five over a fortnight.
Wednesday night saw Les Hall’s D team recapture top spot in div 4 despite being held by bottom of the table Cheddleton F. Captain Les has been mis-firing since November and the team have been held to 3 consecutive draws so now have Fenton C and Chedd E breathing down their necks. They hold a slender 1 pt lead at the top of the table and remain unbeaten after this 2-2 draw with Chedd F. It looked like the D team’s unbeaten run was coming to an end after Les had lost to junior James Jones and Rick (the grenade) Renegade’s explosives failed to detonate on top board with a draw against experienced Jon Blackburn. Young Lukasz Michalek was up against “drawing-expert” Sandra Blackburn and in serious time trouble. A draw was agreed after 3-fold repitition to leave “steddy-Eddy” Neville Layhe in play. A Rook and pawn master-class followed after numerous draw offers were declined as Nev opened up the board by switching Rook from K-side to Q-side to attack backward pawns. Eventually he was able to support one runaway pawn to pick up a full point and push the D team back to the top of the table.
On Friday Simon Layhe’s Bees faced a daunting trip to div 2 leaders Chedd B. Chedd’s strength lies in the club’s wealth of junior talent with three teenagers occupying top 4 boards. It was no surprise that Jacob Boswell and Sam Parry took the top two boards for the hosts with significant grade advantages. At the other end of the tables Crewe’s Doug Barnett and junior Harry Gardiner won convincingly with their similar grade advantages to leave the match in the balance at 2-2. The remaining game on bd 3 saw both players with identical grades, with Crewe’s David Hulme having the so-called advantage of white. After a series of middle game exchanges it was 2 Knights and 6 Pawns each but David’s Knights co-ordinated better to win a pawn. After a long series of manoeuvres David had sacked his Knight on Q-side for a passed pawn and created a 4-1 pawn majority on K-side. After the final pawn exchange the 3 pawns were enough to create one winning pass-pawn to tip the matches result in favour of the Bees 3-2, who join Chedd B on 9pts but 1 board point behind. The title race remains wide open with 5 of the top 6 all easily capable of becoming div 2 champions.
Next week (commencing 10th Feb) sees 3 more matches between the two C Clubs (Crewe & Cheddleton)