Apologies for the lack of reports since xmas as your writer has been sidelined by work commitments for an extended period due to Covid impact on reporting deadlines.
Last week saw all three of Crewe’s teams in the NSDCA Rapidplay. On Wednesday Crewe 3 comfortably came out winners over Kidsgrove. Kobus Nienaber has proved to be an online sensation and won both of his top board games, while skipper Lee Tilton scored 50% in his games against colleague Andrew Crosby. Nigel Gardner ensured success for the team as he emulated Kobus with two points, and relative newcomer Pawel Stanny did well to score 50% against a much more experienced opponent, to give a final glowing score of 6-2.
Crewe 1 had the toughest task possible of playing against Holmes Chapel who had a 100% record over two seasons going into this match. Top two boards were significantly outgraded as Rick Renegade played superbly to pick up 1 pt on board 2. On board 3 Harry Gardiner played Colin Mills who has a briliant record in the online format, but Harry pulled out all the aces to win two exciting and tough games, which kept the match in the balance. On board 4 Simon Layhe having won the first game, needed a draw to give us an improbable team win, but alas he over-extended a King side attack and dropped a piece in the melee, which allowed Malcolm Roberts to achieve an equal share of the points and leave the match drawn at 4-4, which is the first points dropped by HCCC.
Crewe 2 playing on Thursday faced a strong Stafford outfit. Top board Lukasz Holcman was another player to be outgraded but scored a vital half point in his two games, while Neville Layhe and Lukasz Michalek shared the points in their games on boards 2 and 3. It was left to skipper, Dave “Baldrickprice” to apply the coup-de-grace as he steam-rollered his way to two points on board 4, to ensure the team edged the contest by the narrowest of margins 4.5-3.5 and send Crewe 2 to joint second place in the table.
The five round tournament concludes next week (16th-18th March) with Crewe 2 in title contention as they finish with a derby against Crewe 3. Holmes Chapel face Macclesfield in the final round and could be outgraded for the first time if Macc play their strongest team. Cheddlton play Stafford in their final game and have a chance to take the title if other results work in their favour, while Macclesfield have a slim chance too, but need to beat the defending champions by better than 7-1 and that the two teams above them fail to win !! So it’s a 4-way shoot out for the title with Holmes Chapel as favourites to retain it, after dropping their only point in round 4 against Crewe 1 who are lowest placed of our club teams.