With all three Crewe RP teams in action this week, the clear stars of the show so far are Lee Tilton’s 3rd team. After a comfortable win against Meir in round 1, they were paired with the higher-graded Cheddleton team in round 2. Despite being put under severe early pressure and the captain being outplayed by their promising junior Joe Alcock on board 3, the rest of the team in the guise of Adam Fields, Kobus Nienaber and Nigel Gardner rounded up full points with the black pieces in game 1, to take a surprising lead 3-1. Soon it was 3-2 as Joe did the business for Chedd again, before Adam and Kobus secured the match with superb white attacks to put us 5-2 ahead. Nigel calmly headed for peace in the final game to put the team top of the table, with 4pts and a board score of 12.5-3.5. However there is a heavy price to pay for this early success as Lee’s team have been paired with big-hitters Holmes Chapel (HC) in Round 3.
HC have the strongest team in the mini-league by some distance, and after squeaking past Crewe 1 in the 1st round, were paired with Crewe 2 in the 2nd round. HC set off like a house on fire, and it did not take long for their superiority to show, as Pat Bennett (Bd 2) won two games quickly backed up by a win on board 1 from Mike Hancock and a hard fought win on board 3. Martin Gill got Crewe on the scoreboard with a solid draw in game 1, and maybe had chances of a win in game 2 before taking the second draw. On board 1 Neville Layhe had created a positional advantage with white, before allowing his opponent to pick up pawns and steal a further win. The highlight for the team was Lukasz Michalek’s performance to win the 2nd game on board 3, offering an exchange sacrifice that was turned down and then taking advantage of the material held to gain our only win of the match. Final score was 6-2 to HC, who are one of only two teams out of 10 to take maximum pts from the first two rounds.
The last match of the week saw Crewe 1 take on Newcastle. Although Crewe appeared to have a big grade advantage on lower boards, the Newcastle captain Alberto Gissi had already warned the Crewe captain that the ‘castle team had two improving juniors on the lower boards who were being coached by Welsh FM Jonathon Blackburn. Things started ominously for Crewe as Newcastle raced into an early 2-0 lead with swift victories on boards 1 and 2. Just as Crewe had levelled scores through David Hulme on bd 3 and Dave Price on bd 4 in game 1, Karl Lockett gained revenge with white on top board and then Harry Gardiner followed suit on bd 2, to put a reverse slant on the scores with Crewe in the lead 4-2. Dave Price, although captain for Crewe 2, led Crewe 1 to success as he defended a difficult position before breaking out for a quick-fire mate to give Crewe victory. Newcastle’s “Junior Prodigy” Dylan Cooper was too hot to handle for David Hulme in the 2nd game, as he exploited positional weaknesses, to find a crucial winning knight fork and take the win easily to conclude the match, as Crewe edged the final result 5-3, to leave six teams all on two pts from 2 matches.
Round 3 will be played week commencing 9th November as Crewe 3 face favourites Holmes Chapel, Crewe 2 take on Newcastle and Crewe 1 play Cheddleton. Full fixtures and tables can be seen on NSDCA Online LMS, shown on our Website Tabs.