Tuesday night saw Crewe take on the challenge of playing Malpas in an online match over 13 boards, using the 4NCL time control of all moves in 45 minutes plus 15 second increments from move 1.
The fun started before the first pawn was pushed as both teams made last minute substitutions which meant new notifications had to be sent to players to make sure they played the correct opponent. With Malpas calling on players accross the Globe a glitch occurred when one player was not online (not surprising as it was about 3am in India !) and so the novel idea of the Malpas captain playing two boards was allowed in the spirit of the game.
When the team lists were exchanged over 24 hours earlier, it was evident Malpas would be massive favourites as the top 11 boards all showed they were approx 40 ECF grade points higher per board, with Crewe’s chances on the bottom two boards (12 & 13) even higher with bigger grade advantage. So we came up with another novel idea to have a team handicap (along the lines of Chester & District Cup KO rules), and agreed a 3.5 pts handicap to Crewe on the basis of Malpas having an overall grade advantage of just over 400 grade pts.
As the match got underway it was not long before Crewe had taken the bottom two boards as predicted with Mike Keenan and Les Hall being victorious. The first of several bonuses came Crewe’s way as Kobus Nienaber gained a superb draw on board 9. Meanwhile at the top end Malpas were running riot with wins on boards 2, 4,5 and 8 and galloped into the lead. Nigel Gardner on board 11 ruined the bookies predictions with a masterful performance to gain a pawn advantage and then activate minor pieces to great effect and convert into a win against the grades to put Crewe on 3.5 pts (or 7 with the handicap) against Malpas’s 4.5 pts. With 5 boards remaining Malpas needed a further 4 pts. Then came the next surprise as Andrew Crosby got a further draw for us on board 7. Malpas then edged towards their target with a hard fought win on board 3, to take the score to 6-4 for Malpas and just 3 boards remaining. Next to finish was board 10 when Ben Harrison gained a most unexpected draw against opposition captain graded 74 pts higher, although their player must have had time struggles playing two boards earlier ! So it came to the final two boards and Malpas duly collected the next point on board 6, to make the score 7.5-4.5 to Malpas without the handicap. Fittingly it was board 1 that finished last and Karl Lockett was facing a rampaging pair of pawns but had two displaced minor pieces due to time trouble. Karl used his experience to save the game by giving up both pieces to deny the pawns from queening, but I am sure if he had a little more time would have found a way to win by holding onto his last pawn, but gave this up in the tight time scramble.
To summarise the final score, Malpas won 8-5 and Crewe claim success thanks to the 3.5 pts handicap. Crewe’s outstanding performances came from Nigel Gardner’s win and excellent draws from Karl, Andrew, Kobus and Ben and supplemented by Les and Mike’s anticipated victories.
Captain David Hulme is hoping to have a rematch with Malpas later in the summer as both teams thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience of a 13-board-online challenge.
|1||Brian Whyte||189||0.5||0.5||Karl Lockett||149|
|2||David Friedgood||184||1||0||David Hulme||143|
|3||Mehmet Nuri Altınsoy||175||1||0||Simon Layhe||137|
|4||Bob Taylor||174||1||0||Harry Gardiner||135|
|5||Charles Higgie||169||1||0||Neville Layhe||121|
|6||Tim McMahon||165||1||0||Dave Price||119|
|7||Adrian Bailey||143||0.5||0.5||Andrew Crosby||96|
|8||Peter Fisher||138||1||0||Lee Tilton||96|
|9||Phillip Beckett||136||0.5||0.5||Kobus Nienaber||95|
|10||Charles Higgie||169||0.5||0.5||Ben Harrison||95|
|11||Tudor Rickards||135||0||1||Nigel Gardner||88|
|12||Graeme Campbell||42||0||1||Les Hall||88|
|13||Cathryn Woodall||e10||0||1||Mike Keenan||67|