Wednesday was another full house, as the chess games generated plenty of heat to take the chill out of the playing room. With four teams in action, there was the usual additional contingent of Club Championship games taking place alongside the two matches.
The NSDCA division 1, saw its first ever “Crewe derby” as we have grown so much that we can now field two teams in the top tier of our league. With the “A” team at full strength, they were overwhelming favourites to beat the B team, outrating them by approx. 500 points over the four boards. Early indications showed the A’s in the ascendancy on the top 3 boards, while board 4 looked double-edged. First blow came from the underdogs, as Dave Lambton on board 3 took advantage of an uncastled King to win a piece in the centre of the board after a pin and doubled rooks attacked a lonely bishop, having been completely outplayed in the opening. In the process he broke the 100% league record of his opponent. But it wasn’t long before the A’s levelled the score as Harry Gardiner conjured up a win from the complicated board 4 game. The top two boards seemed to be gaining traction for the A’s, as Bart Fajfer (on board 1) was a piece up for 2 or 3 pawns that could not get moving. A mistaken capture of another pawn led to a knight forking Queen and Rook, where there would be no exchange, causing immediate resignation to put the A’s 2-1 up, and leaving the two captains in play on the remaining board. Martin Burns was holding all the aces with active minor pieces dominating the board, while the Bees captain (David Hulme) was coming under more and more time pressure trying to hold the ship afloat. David found some excellent counter play to push Martin into time trouble (to a lesser extent), but Martin found a way to get to the end game with a Rook and 3 f-pawns against just a Rook. After a time scramble with a lot of poor play a blunder allowed David to pick up the Rook for free and escape to victory, and thereby save the match to finish 2-2 and put a dent in the A team’s title hopes.
The league table shows Crewe A on top with 7 pts from 5 games, and the B team just behind on 6ps, but Cheddleton A now have the advantage with 6 pts from just 3 matches. With Crewe B travelling to Cheddleton A next week, the A’s will be hoping the Bees can keep flying.
The division 2 league derby saw Crewe C take on the D team, and were hot favourites with a rating advantage of over 600 pts. However the D team just love the title of underdogs and took the challenge to the C team, with captain Nigel Gardner mixing up the playing order despite the last minute withdrawal of a key player due to illness. The C team was playing without captain Dave Lambton (on duty for the Bees) and another last minute absentee due to illness. This created an opportunity for Carmel Barwick to return to the club after a period of approx 6 years making her debut for the joint top of the table C team. She smoothly racked up the first point on board 4 before Dave Price made it 2-0 on board 3. On board 1 the D team’s dogged fighter – captain Nigel – was punching above his weight to hold a draw. On balance the C team were happy to secure the match, which proved to be a good decision as Lukasz Michalek completed a fine win on board 2 for the Ds. The final result of 2.5-1.5 for the C team takes them to 5 pts from 3 matches in a division where all teams have dropped points after just two matches, indicating it will be a cut and thrust title chase for all teams.
The Club Championship saw 3 more games played in division 2. There was a good win for George Jelliss, while points were shared between Steve Ballantyne and Jakub Grabowski, as well as Doug Barnett and James Marshall.
Unfortunately a division 3 game was abandoned when the Events officer discovered the game was not being recorded in accordance with FIDE rules.
A further rated rapidplay game saw Andrew Crosby yield a full point, where members need to leave the club by 9pm, so do not have time to play a full game.
Next week sees Rounds 1 and 2 of the Swiss Rapidplay Competition, played over 8 rounds in total. Rounds 3 and 4 are scheduled for 14th December, with later rounds to be played after 1st February on dates to be announced.