Another Full House

Wed 8th Feb: The club had its best ever attendance of its own members on a night when the 1st division’s top three teams were all in action at The Mals Club. League leaders Crewe “A” were playing 5th placed Holmes Chapel while 2nd placed Crewe “B” hosted 3rd placed Fenton “A” who boast the highest rated team in the NSDCA. These matches kicked off the 2nd half of the season, with only 4 pts separating the top 5 teams with the 4th and 5th placed teams having a game in hand, in what is shaping up to be the most competitive league title race the NSDCA has seen in a decade.

In the Crewe “A” match Harry Gardiner was first on the score board with his rating advantage proving too much on board 3, and Karl Lockett’s likewise advantage making it 2-0 for the hosts. These two are leading performers for the top of the table team, as Holmes Chapel fought back with wins by John Turner on board 2 and Mike Hancock on board 1, to finish the match 2-2. This meant the winners of the Crewe B vs Fenton A match could close the gap or go joint top.

The writer had a bird’s eye view of the Crewe B match from board 2 and was delighted to see first blood go in favour of the underdogs, as Lee Farrington was the beneficiary of the last blunder to fluke a mate in two when a piece down, but it must be said he was in the ascendancy before he made the first blunder on board 3. Next to finish was board 4 as Fenton’s man in form Chris Hankey managed to get his nose infront when both players queens were en-prise, as he emerged a peace ahead thanks to gaining a tempo in the wild exchanges to make it 1-1. The Bees captain (David Hulme) outrated by nearly 250 pts was putting up a challenge thinking he was about to trap Gerald Acey’s queen, but Gerald had calculated better with a crushing attack that forced resignation and put the visitors in sight of success. However the Bees have a battle-siege-mentality and Simon Layhe’s vast improvement over the past 18 months was underlined again as he found a way to deliver a killer blow against his higher rated opponent and salvage another match draw for the B team.

These results keep the “A” team one point ahead of Crewe B at the top of the league table, with Fenton “A” another point behind. These draws will suit the chasing Cheddleton “A” team who are 4 pts behind the leaders with a game in hand in 4th= place on the same points as Holmes Chapel.

With the club attendance of 36 members beating its previous record of 33, there was a large contingent of Club Championship games as well as a stack of friendly and social chess for others.

In Club Championship division 1, the only game saw Lukasz Michalek win after he had offered a draw in what he thought was a worse position, to take his tally to 3pts from 5 games, and climb the table to 3rd position.

There were 8 players involved in Division 2 games, where George Bulbeck’s win propelled him into the lead with a score of 4/5 where he remains unbeaten and half a point ahead of James Marshall who is also unbeaten on 3.5/4 with these top two yet to play. There were wins for Doug Barnett (3/5) and Pawel Stanny (2/3), while Andrew Crosby drew with Kobus Nienaber who moved to joint 3rd with 3/5 alongside Doug.

In division 3, Ben Cliffe-Kirby opened his account with a win while Matthew Dean was pleased to hold Mark Randell to a draw. The Division 3 leader Phil Grocott has a handsome lead with 4.5/5, a clear 2 pts ahead of nearest rival Matthew.

Club chairman Dave Price was on hand to lead the social and friendly aspect of the night with a number of potential new members enjoying their games in the friendly club atmosphere.