Wed 26th April – It’s been a quieter week than many, with just two matches taking place for the club, with our two division 3 teams both at home as the E team hosted Cheddleton D and the F team hosted league leaders Alsager B.
The E team had a straight forward task as Cheddleton arrived with two players missing, and after an early win from James Marshall on board 1 the match was secured before 9pm. This allowed Adam Fields to except an offer an early draw on board 4, so the two Cheddleton players could head home early, as the E team bagged the two points to stay in the title chase.
The F team faced the league leaders and were confronted by a team rated at 6600, massively outrating our ” Fabulous Fighting F team”, as they played their strongest team of the season, which would have outrated most teams in division 2, let alone div 3. Undeterred our team were not prepared to lie down despite an early set back, when Alsager won quickly on board 3. Aware of the chance to help our E team, the F team were bolstered on board 1 where Jarek Czyz was available to play just his 3rd game of the season. This was the only board where we closely matched the opposition, as Jarek provided an unexpected win on board 1 to level the scores. Board 4 saw us as underdogs again and Alsager’s player here won an exchange early on before converting to an easily won end game. This left George Bulbeck on board 2 (also outrated by some 150 pts) to try and salvage the result, and boy did he do it in style, typically using every available second on his clock as he played a superb Knight and pawn ending to force victory in a manner suited to division 1 standards. So the final result was a 2-2 draw, as the F team held the title favourites for the second time this season.
All of which means, Alsager lead the table with 19pts and one match remaining, while our E team are in pursuit with 17pts and a game in hand. If Alsager win their last game as expected, our E team can share the title if they win both remaining matches. The F team are 3rd in the table and cannot be overtaken, sitting on 16pts which is a brilliant return for a team whose main purpose is to allow as many as possible to play – and has done this with pride as 17 of our members have now played for them.
Alongside the two matches it was another hectic night, with the Mals packed to the rafters again with another batch of new faces. There was a big match in the Club Championship Div 1 where No 1 seed Martin Burns was held to a draw by possible favourite Carmel Barwick. Martin is now in the joint lead with 6.5 pts with Harry Gardiner, but has one more game to play while Harry has completed his schedule. Carmel now has 5/7 with 3 games to play. Julian Hawthorne is on 5.5/8 and will have a big say in the competition as his two remaining games are against Carmel and Lukasz Michalek (5/8). There is a 5-way dogfight to avoid relegation with Davids Hulme, Lambton and Price in the mire with Richard Fish and Neville Layhe.
In division 3 of the Club Championship Mark Randell continued his fine recent form with another win to move into 2nd place on 3.5pts, but with no realistic chance of catching the runaway leader Phil Grocott who has a majestic 7pts from 8 games.