Wed 1st Feb: It was another packed playing room at The Mals Club this week as the Fabulous F team hosted the Excellent E team in a repeat 10 board thriller. Teams were arranged with the E team having the upper hand on higher boards and the F team holding the advantage in rating on a couple of the lower boards.
Like the early season encounter the match was much closer than might have been expected. The first board decided was between two members making their league debuts, as the club increased the number to 44 of players representing the club in the league this season, and it was all smiles from Ben Cliffe-Kirby as he put the F team on the scoreboard first. In the chaos of last minute changes the wrong colours were used, meaning the F team had 6 blacks and only 4 whites. It did not take long for Matthew Dean to level the scores as his opponent was suffering from Self-Assessment deadline fatigue – just like the writer. After this the E team began to exercise its authority on the match as Kobus Nienaber, James Marshall and skipper Dave Price all produced the goods to show their rating superiority and take the Es into a comfortable looking 4-1 lead. However the F team are made of fighting stock and began a counter offensive as Steve Ballantyne and Pawel Stanny reduced the arrears to 4-3. With George Bulbeck in the ascendancy for the F team on board 1, a key result was obtained on board 8 as Peter Kanalos the underdog in the E team camp held out for a draw against the more experienced George Jellis and with George B converting his game, it was all level at 4.5pts each with Doug Barnett playing Julian Bulbeck on board 3. Doug had gained a couple of pawns but had the potential for slip ups as the game went on late past 10 o’clock but ultimately held his nerve to steer the E team home to success by the narrowest of margins to give the final score of 5.5 to 4.5.
The league division 3 table shows Alsager B still out in front on 11pts from 7 matches, with our F & E teams in joint 2nd along with Cheddleton’s C & D teams all sitting on 8pts, but the E team have a crucial game in hand on the leaders.
With 20 players involved in the match there will still another dozen members playing a mixture of friendly and rated games. In Club Championship Division 1 Julian Hawthorne outplayed the higher rated David Hulme as the game went the full distance before Julian eventually put David out of his misery, with a controlled master-class of good Knight vs Bad bishop endgame to maintain a 100% record in the early stages of his campaign.
Bart Fajfer and Karl Lockett played out a complicated draw, where Karl had a couple of pawns advantage against a more active attacking set of minor pieces before Bart regained the material to leave things level.
All in all, another superb club night with the highlight being the league debuts of Ben Cliffe-Kirby and David Vasinc as 32 members attended and the E team just pipped the F team