What a busy week we’ve had, or two nights to be more accurate as Tuesday saw us playing two 4NCL Online League matches at the same time our “A” team made the short trip to Alsager and Wednesday had four teams in League action on a brilliant night at The Mals.
So was history made on Tuesday night ? The Alsager team fielded a weaker team than normal, but had a line up with an age difference of more than 80 years between their oldest and youngest team members. Without divulging too much detail, Richard Martin who is approx 95 years young was in a line up with Isaac Stanley who is a junior player. Enquiries are being made to see if this is a record for age difference in a league team within the ECF !!
Whatever the results of the research, the score line showed that our “A” team had a resounding 5-0 win, although the team maybe renamed as “Nomads A” with only two of the nominated squad available; Martin Burns had to dig deep to find five eligible players. Thanks to the supporting cast of Julian and George Bulbeck as well as Nigel Gardner, who backed up squad members Martin and Phil Wright to win all five boards.
We also had our two online teams playing in the 4NCL on Tuesday. Our AOL team was heavily outgraded by Dundee, as their bottom board 4 was rated 80 points higher than our top board. Despite the one sided expectation, we put up a brave fight to lose narrowly 1.5 – 2.5 as skipper David Hulme clocked up a rare win after a dodgy piece sacrifice, and Simon Layhe played more sensibly to earn a draw in a tight double-edged position. Meanwhile the BOL team had an even stiffer task with an average rating deficit of just over 200 pts and a massive 490 point shortfall on board 4. It was no surprise that defeat was to come, as skipper Dave Price avoided the whitewash with a draw, but our lower boards put up terrific fights.
Wednesday night at The Mals was another busy night as more members returned to the club with the easing of Covid related issues. We had 28 in attendance, as four teams played in the League and everyone else had some coaching. According to my records the club has hosted 50 different potential members this season, with 35 now having fully paid memberships.
The two matches were very closely fought between C and E in one match and D vs B in the other. The E team have a settled batch of players and had a small advantage over the C team, especially as skipper Dave Price elected to drop himself in favour of coaching the growing number of newcomers. The “E” team notched up a 3-2 win to move up to 2nd in the league, with wins from Neville Layhe, Julian Bulbeck and 9 year old Oskar Jarzynski. The “C” team were grateful to guest players Martin Burns and Kobus Nienaber for their two wins.
The other match saw league leaders – Nigel Gardner’s D(ream) team take on what was their nearest challengers – David Hulme’s B(ees) team. The early skirmishes proved decisive as Nigel and Pawel Stanny outmanoeuvred the Bumbling Bees on boards 4 and 5, before Simon Layhe brought the Bees back into contention with a win on board 2. On board 3 Adam Fields (D) and James Marshall (B) had a long duel before peace was agreed with a draw that meant the D team could not be beaten. The final game saw David on board 1 trying to engineer an end game advantage against Rick Renegade. Rick superbly created a counter attack with a supported passed b-pawn that was enough to prevent David’s King providing support to two passed pawns on the “e” and “g” files. However Rick’s King was able to hold the two pawns as neither could push on past the 6th rank. Rick held the position despite behind down to seconds on his clock on several occasions and ensure the D team retain their 100% record as they continue to dominate the VMS (Voluntary Mask Section of the League) after this 3-2 scoreline and put further daylight between them and the chasing pack.