What a Great Week for Our Club.

With four league matches last week plus a few internal games it was a busy week for many. The overriding feeling from those I spoke to was that it was good to get back to League chess, seeing old faces and venues, playing as a team and against opponents we may not have even played before. As well as a Crewe teams first ever win against Holmes Chapel there were also notable good results for Simon and Nigel.

Thanks to Dave Hulme, Dave Lambton, Nigel Gardner and Martin Burns, the captains of the teams in question, for providing the below reports of their team’s exploits. (The D teams ‘Nigel’s Match Reports‘)

The B team kicked-off the league season on behalf of the club on Monday, with a division 1 match at Fenton. Our team had a small rating advantage of about 130 points over the four boards as the hosts were missing a couple of their first choice squad. Fenton probably got more than expected with two wins on boards 2 and 3, but were held to a draw thanks to Dave Lambton’s victory on board 4, and a superb performance from Simon Layhe on board 1 to topple their 2050 rated player to save the match. Simon had gained a pawn in the middle game and had to use all of his time to convert the win as his opponent created two connected king-side pass pawns just too late as Simon queened first on the queenside.

On Wednesday our C team travelled to Stafford for their first game. Missing two of the original line up Dave Price and Doug stood in as reserves. Board 4 was Doug and the first to secure a win for the C team. Our board 2 fell to Stafford making it 1 -1 the captain was watching board 3 and after a while a draw was agreed. No surprise the last game playing was Dave P against Ken McNulty and all eyes watching. Ken was in difficult time trouble having spent a lot of time looking at a knight sac. Ken kept his cool throughout the game with 4 marching pawns blocked by an isolated pawn and the king. Ken had a rook and 5 pawn Dave have a Rook, Bishop and 3 pawns. The last few moves were hectic as Dave Price marched the central Pawn forcing the opponents king to follow and block. Following a combination of checks and a Rook sac. This allowed the pawn to promote and secured the 1.5 – 2.5 victory to Crewe.

I don’t know about you, but to me it felt like we had been waiting for ages for the league season to start; and what a start we had! 

The intrepid “A” team took the short trip to Holmes Chapel, a team that doyens of Crewe chess club tell me we had never beaten in a league match. The match started well. on board 1 Bart played John Turner. Bart got the better of a Queen’s gambit, and after fewer than 20 moves he had distilled the game into a rook and bishop v rook and knight ending, where he had all the initiative. he went on to win a pawn and then trap John’s knight. it seemed an almost effortless performance from Crewe’s highest rated player, and Bart has to be the match ball winner. On board 3 Harry “H” came out of a tactical scrap a bishop up for 2 pawns. Perfectionist Harry seemed in despair but always looked like winning, and sure enough he got the full point eventually. in a tense position on board 2, where both players were low on time, Martin offered Pat Bennett a draw; the offer was accepted; Crewe had won the match. On board 4 Karl had not finished though. Karl won a pawn, then another, and though Mr Hicks tried to set a couple of traps, but incredible Karl craftily coerced the concession.

We had won the match 3.5 to 0.5. Well done team, and thanks to Holmes Chapel for being gracious hosts.

This all meant that the club night was quiet with only 12 members present. Even so there were internal tournament games in each division. In division 1, Martin Burns drew with Harry Gardiner in a rook and pawns endgame. In Division 2, ten-year-old Oskar played the longest game of his life against Steve Ballantyne. Steve was a piece and passed pawn up in an endgame but with only 3 minutes on his clock he sportingly offered Oskar a draw which was quickly accepted. In Division 3 Phil Grocott beat Vicky Kelsall in a game which had looked a draw. There were also a couple of graded rapidplay friendlies. Martin Frischer beat Karl Lockett and of the new youngsters Ben beat Malaki in what was their first rated game.

As the Chairman wrote in an email ‘What a great week for our club’.

Next Wednesday the E and F teams play each other and Dave Hulme is trying to arrange it so as many as possible members, other than the normal 4 team players, get a graded game.