Inter Cup team KO-d in final, while “A” team finish on a high and “E” team “Marshalled” to excellent end of season victory.

Tuesday 23 May – The U1600 team (ratings that is – not age) made the short trip to Alsager for the Intermediate Cup Final, with an advantage in ratings that made us start as favourites. However the new 4 digit system is not always the best indicator and on this occasion Alsager came up trumps with the last hand. After wins by Andrew Crosby (bd 4) and Adam Fields (bd 5) we appeared to be in control, but the hosts pulled two crackers out of the hat to level the match with wins on boards 1 and 2, to leave captain Nigel with the destiny of the Cup in his hands. With the advantage of a pawn gained, it all looked so promising, but Alsager had a star in the making as junior Isaac Stanley withstood everything Nigel could throw at him. Defending superbly to earn a crucial draw, led to the result being decided by the tie-break rule of “Board Count” which worked in Alsager’s favour thanks to the wins on top two boards couting better than our two wins. Congratulations to Alsager who happen to be the first team to beat us in the NSDCA Inter Cup competition since 2015/16 season (although Covid did interupt us all) !

On the same night our champions-elect “A” team went to Fenton. Without Bart Fajfer due to work, Simon Layhe stepped into the breach on board 1, and held the higher rated Alex Richardson to a draw. Captain Martin Burns on board 2 had a pleasing win, as Harry Gardiner and Karl Lockett finished the campaign off with victories to round off a fantastic campaign for the “A” team, who ran out clear winners of the NSDCA’s 1st Division, four points clear of 2nd place – our own Crewe B team. Harry finished the season as top scorer in division 1 with 10.5 pts from 12 games.

Friday 26th May – The E team concluded their excellent season with a 3-1 win against Cheddleton D where all of the team got on the score card. There were draws for Doug Barnett (bd 2), Phil Grocott (bd 3), while Matthew Dean added a full point on bd 4. The icing on the cake came from James Marshall who was elevated to board 1, and came home with a full point. The team narrowly lost the NSDCA division 3 title to Alsager B, who were much higher rated than us, as we finished just one point behind them. The most pleasing aspect for captain Dave Price was that the team managed to give league experience to 17 members with at least half-a-dozen playing NSDCA league chess for the first time.

Wednesday 24th May, saw the penultiate night in our Club Championship competitions. In division 3, Mark Randell added another point to his tally to move on to 5 pts and secure 2nd place behind Phil Grocott. In div 2, Pawel Stanny was held to a draw by Oskar Jarzynski, and so with 5.5pts can no longer catch leader George Bulbeck who has 7 pts. Although Pawel has two games to play, the deadline of 31st May makes it impossible to catch George, who has one game remaining. Hopefully George will play his final game on 31st to remove any doubt of the rightful div 2 champion.

The Club Championship (division 1) will go down to the wire, and with 52 of the 55 possible games played, the title will be decided when Carmel Barwick takes on Dave Price. Carmel (7/9) needs a win to be outright champion by overtaking Martin Burns (7.5/10), with this result also having a big effect on the relegation battle. If Dave can add to his tally of 2pts, then Richard Fish ( 2pts) and David Hulme (2.5pts) could be relegated as they play each other in the “last chance saloon”. The only other remaining game is between Lukasz Michalek (6/9) and Jules Hawthorne (5.5/9) who have both performed well above their ratings. It promises to be a tense night at The Mals as we finish our 9 year tenure, before moving to the new Caritas Centre on Tuesday 6th June.

The South Cheshire Shield (SCS) gets underway on Wednesday 31st as our SCS A team plays at Newcastle. On Tuesday the 30th we play our 4th KO final of the season in the Major Cup (U1825) when we go to Fenton.