Crewe crushed in International Challenge

Thanks to Popeye (aka Andrew Crosby) we embarked on a new online challenge taking on the might of Kenya’s Nairobi Club using the Chess.com platform this afternoon. It was a match of 10 boards x two games of Rapid-play (25 mins + 10 secs increments)

The opposition outgraded us significantly as is common in these matches, and our top players all seemed to go AWOL, as secretary  David Hulme was offered as the board 1 sacrificial lamb. The only positive for David was that he managed to go the distance in both games, hoping his opponent might fall asleep at the screen.

The most positive news came from Martin Frisher, playing on board 2 as he grabbed the bull by the horns, and came through with two wins – a superb and lonely effort. A number of our squad failed to disturb the scorers, but there were four players who came out with great credit all managing to pick up one win in their pair of games with contributions from chairman Dave on board 5, Kobus the slayer on 6, Lee the aggressor on 8, and Nigel the blitzer on 9.

The final score was 14-6 to Nairobi, with many of our team playing their first games on Chess.com, which was quite an experience after playing on Lichess for nearly 12 months.

Whitevanman saves the Whitewash, while B team cruise to victory

Tuesday night saw the start of Season 3 in the 4NCL online league. Crewe A were up against familiar opposition Preston South End, while the B team faced Cornish Wreckers. It was another tough night among many for the A team as despite expecting to play in division 4, they were reinstated in division 3 at short notice, having twice finished bottom of division 3 where they should have dropped a division. With Karl Lockett and Rick Renegade being heavily outgraded on top two boards it was no suprise that Preston were two games to the good early on. Lukasz Holcman made his 4NCL debut for the club on board 3 and faced a similar outcome, leaving Neville Layhe (aka Whitevanman) on board 4 to save our blushes as yet again he produced the only positive result for the team with a comfortable draw. And so the A(OL) team concluded their first match losing by 3.5-0.5.

The BOL team however proved far more successful in their division 6 encounter. Our youthful team comprised two 17 year olds, Harry Gardiner, Lukasz Michalek plus Adam Fields and Kobus Nienaber. The latter two rattled off quick wins to set the team on their route to victory and soon the match was secure as Harry made it 3-0. Meanwhile Lukasz defended an exchange loss soundly with an extra couple of pawns to allow a draw. The final score being 3.5-0.5 to the B team.

Thursday saw some games in the 1st Round of the NSDCA 5-round congress with our club providing 14 of the 34 players involved. Other games have yet to be played.

In the Open section David Hulme lost to the top seed.

In U160, Neville won with Harry and Lukasz’s H & M all drawing

In U130, Kobus won.

In U100, Mark Randell and Pawel Stanny won.

 

It was 15-a-side in the Stroud Challenge

A fantastic effort co-ordinated by chairman Dave saw Crewe play its biggest ever match tonight in a Lichess Rapid-play Challenge against 4NCL outfit Stroud from Gloucestershire. The opposition assembled their complete compliment of online players, with 15 in total and higher graded than ourselves on every single board !! . We were handicapped by the late withdrawal of two of our top six players and still managed to find members willing to cover from the subs bench so we fielded a weaker team than planned.

It was expected Stroud would be the dominant team, especially as they have two teams in the 4NCL who finished higher than our 1st team, and another team of experienced Lichess players in division 6 like our 2nd team. It was therefore no surprise that Stroud had built up a healthy lead in the first set of games, where all Crewe players had the black pieces. We managed four wins and one draw out of the first set of 15 games.

With white pieces we had slightly more success with four wins and four draws to take our total score to 10.5 pts, with Stroud being victorious collecting 19.5 pts.

There were some notable performances with Rick Renegade, Lukasz Michalek and Dave Price all “doing the double” and gaining both points. Lukasz Holcman and Simon Layhe both won 1/2, with Adam Fields being the only Crewe player to draw both. The other scorecard contributions were half points earned by Harry Gardiner, Nigel Gardner and Pawel Stanny.

It should be noted that Stroud’s grade advantages told significantly at the top and bottom ends as we only scored 0.5/6 on top three boards and 1/8 on bottom four boards. We can therefore claim a moral victory by discounting these boards, and saying we won 9-7 on the middle boards (No 4-11) despite being outgraded on every single board.

All in all, another superb night as Crewe Chess Club continue to develop, and are delighted to have given George Bulbeck his club debut and thank you for standing in at very short notice. It fantastic that we continue to attract new members even in this strange era of Covid-19.

Thanks to all players supporting the club in another of our “Challenge Adventures”, and especially to chairman Dave Price for pulling the big team together on this occasion.

Full results see link below

Crewe v Stroud

Crewe 2 pip Crewe 1 as Runners-up in NSDCA Online RP League

This week has seen an exciting finish to the NSDCA Online Rapidplay with Crewe providing three of the ten teams in the competition. With our own David Hulme organising the fixtures, he came up with a novel idea for the final round of pairing teams with their closest rival rather than the normal swiss system of finding new opponents. This created the toughest task for Crewe 1 in 2nd place facing the 100% -ers from Holmes Chapel, while Crewe 2 had another derby but with Crewe 3 on this occasion.

As always Crewe 3 put up a great fight against the higher graded Crewe 2, and with Kobus Nienaber on top form the underdogs picked up two early points. Lukasz Michalek ensured parity as he won both games on bd 3. Martin Gill’s experience was decisive as he played the end games superbly. The games on bd 1 saw two epic battles as Neville Layhe managed to bring home the bacon for Crewe 2 who ran out winners 6-2.

On Thursday the final matches were played as Crewe 1 had the near impossible task of trying to beat Holmes Chapel. Our team put up a valiant effort, with Simon Layhe gaining an excellent 1.5 pts and the outstanding performance of the season from Karl Lockett picking up two wins un board 2. Despite best efforts we could not stop the 100%-ers, who concluded the season with their narrowest victory 4.5-3.5 for the second time against our 1st team.

The final League table showed Holmes Chapel as the runaway winners with 10pts from 5 matches, with Crewe 2 finishing 2nd on 6pts just ahead of Crewe 1 on board score and Stafford also with 6 pts. Crewe 1 faced the winners twice thanks to the original pairings of the writer. Just behind these teams Crewe 3 finished on 5 pts which was a great finish considering they were ranked 8th at the start of the campaign and due to early successess had to play the top two teams.

It is hoped a new Online League will commence in January, with a new individual tournament to be played during intermittent weeks.

We have our final challenge match of the year on Tuesday 15th when we play Stroud in a 12-board Rapid-play.

4NCL Online – Crewe AOL crash to relegation and BOL climb the table

Tuesday night saw round 7 (the final round for us) take place. Crewe AOL faced a crucial relegation fight against Morriston Alekhine in div 3, while BOL played St Andrew’s White Cross in div 6.

Things started badly for the A team as Rick (the grenade) Renegade self detonated early on with the loss of his lady – an unintended literal Queens Gambit no doubt. Young Harry Gardiner soon fell off his horse too to leave Karl Lockett and David Hulme looking for wins to salvage the shipwreck. Karl appeared to have a great chance when having a piece for a pawn in an endgame with B,N and 2P vs N & 3P, but got overrun as connected pawns supported the N got to the queening square without loss. David was likewise a Rook ahead for 2 pass-pawns but developed a blindness in time trouble, when a simple winning defence was missed and allowed an extra Queen for his opponent to conclude the 4-0 drubbing. All in all, a poor end to a season that started promisingly with 4 pts from the first 3 matches, but drawing blanks in the last four matches to slide from 3rd to 7th in the mini-division and end up in the relegation booth. To be fair we should have been in division 4 anyway, but only stayed in div 3 due to the withdrawal of some teams.

Dave Price’s B team had no such problem and made light work of their Round 7 opponents. It was plain sailing as Kobus Nienaber and Andrew Crosby overran their junior opponents very swiftly. “Steady-eddy” Neville Layhe did the necessary to secure a draw on board 1 so the team got over the winning line. Lukasz Michalek was heading to victory on the last board but decided to be generous after turning down several draw offers, and dropped a rook for nothing in an oversight. The B team won 2.5-1.5 and climbed to 24th in the table out of 68, to finish with a very decent 8 pts from 7 matches.

It might not be long before AOL meet BOL !!

Wednesday night saw a superb club night as 14 members joined in the 5-round rapid-play of 10 mins + 3 secs increments. Your modest reporter was lucky to win with 5/5, but the highlight for the club was the arrival of another new member – George Bulbeck – who joined in with the good banter in the Lichess chat room.

Kobus saves the Lambs from Slaughter

We have been playing in Round 3 of the NSDCA Online Rapidplay this week, where Crewe 3 were involved with the top of the table clash with Holmes Chapel. There was much banter among the team before this big match as Nigel Gardner started off a superb chain of messages starting with a picture of:

Despite being outgraded by some 240 pts, Lee Tilton’s Crewe 3 put up a stubborn fight against the competition favourites. An incredible performance from Kobus Nienaber (grade 98) won his 1st game against a very experienced player graded 168. The remaining players all battled hard and pushed opposition players all the way, but in the end the sheer strength and ability proved conclusive as Holmes Chapel ran out to win 7-1. Their captain Mike Hancock told our reporter that “the result did not do justice to Crewe’s efforts, and that our club is breath of fresh air in the League !”

Crewe 1 played Cheddleton on Wednesday, without Karl Lockett and David Hulme to allow some squad rotation. It was great to see Simon Layhe back in the team after a few months break, with Rick Renegade, Harry Gardiner and Dave Price making up the team. A solid team effort produced a comfortable 6-2 win to take the team up the table to 3rd. This was an expected result with our grade advantage of approx 20 pts per board, coupled with our much greater experience of playing online.

On Thursday night Crewe 2 played Newcastle, who like Crewe 1 decided to employ a system of squad rotation. Accordingly Newcastle’s team grades were significantly lower than previous rounds, and it was not too long before Crewe secured the match. However Newcastle did not lie down and put up some strong resistance that held the top two boards to a 2-2 score, but Lukasz Michalek and Martin Gill gained all 4 points on bottom two boards to ensure a 6-2 final result.

At the end of Round 3, all Crewe teams have won 2 lost 1, and are separated by board scores of 14.5, 14 and 13.5 pts in team order.

In Round 4 we have our first “derby” as Crewe 1 play Crewe 2 on Wednesday 25th, and then Crewe 3 play Newcastle the following night.

4NCL Online – A game of snakes and ladders !

There were two more matches for Crewe in season 2 of 4NCL this week, with our AOL team facing 100% high-flyers Kent Kestrels, and the BOL team against Ashby Ivanhoe.

Starting with the good news, the BOL team were inspired as they turned in the club’s best ever result in 4NCL with a 4-0 demolition. The first two games were over in very quick time as Lee Tilton and Kobus Nienaber were just too strong, and the match was soon in the bag as Lukasz Michalek kept up his outstanding record of being unbeaten as he overturned the grades on board 1 to make it 3-0. Meanwhile Adam Fields used all of his time to get the upper hand in a clever ending with good Knight vs bad bishop when it was looking pretty grim at one stage. After a 2 hour battle, Adam emerged victorious to put the icing on the cake. The BOL team have climbed up the ladder to 38th position, with a 50% score from 6 matches.

Meanwhile the AOL team were sliding down their table as they fell to the table-topping Kent outfit. The captain David Hulme set the tone with a “shocker” on board 2, allowing his Queen to get trapped early on, having to give up a Bishop or knight to save the lady. As his opponent went to capture the knight with the h pawn, there was a mouse slip as the h pawn moved on to h4 instead of capture on g4. Good sportsmanship prevailed as David permitted a “take-back” and resigned a few moves later in a hopeless position after dropping a 2nd piece ! Harry Gardiner got the team off the mark with a draw, before Kent won the board 1 game to secure the points. Neville Layhe again put up a solid performance on bd 4 to gain a comfortable draw. So after 6 rounds, the AOL team sit one place above the relegation zone but in a perilous position as the Warwick Bears team in 7th have a guarantee 4-0 win coming in the final round. The AOL team play Morriston Alekhine in the last round in the knoweledge that a win secures division 3 status, a loss means relegation, but a draw could mean either depending on other results. It was thought a draw would leave us safe, but the game pts previously used in the league tables do not apply ! This was only acknowledged by the League Controller after our captain had requested clarity on the tie-break rules, which had not been properly reflected in the tables published.

Also taking place this week was our Monthly Challenge Night, which featured our 2nd Chess960 competition. Unfortunately we only had 7 members participate mainly because so many had played 4NCL the previous night. This competition was won by Martin Frisher who scored a perfect 5/5 despite being up against our best 960 players.

Next week it is time for Round 3 of the NSDCA’s Online Rapid-play where our stars from Crewe 3 play Holmes Chapel in the top of the table clash; with Crewe 1 against Cheddleton and Crewe 2 vs Newcastle.

Crewe 3 fly to the top of the NSDCA RP Online League (for now) !

With all three Crewe RP teams in action this week, the clear stars of the show so far are Lee Tilton’s 3rd team. After a comfortable win against Meir in round 1, they were paired with the higher-graded Cheddleton team in round 2. Despite being put under severe early pressure and the captain being outplayed by their promising junior Joe Alcock on board 3, the rest of the team in the guise of Adam Fields, Kobus Nienaber and Nigel Gardner rounded up full points with the black pieces in game 1, to take a surprising lead 3-1. Soon it was 3-2 as Joe did the business for Chedd again, before Adam and Kobus secured the match with superb white attacks to put us 5-2 ahead. Nigel calmly headed for peace in the final game to put the team top of the table, with 4pts and a board score of 12.5-3.5. However there is a heavy price to pay for this early success as Lee’s team have been paired with big-hitters Holmes Chapel (HC) in Round 3.

HC have the strongest team in the mini-league by some distance, and after squeaking past Crewe 1 in the 1st round, were paired with Crewe 2 in the 2nd round. HC set off like a house on fire, and it did not take long for their superiority to show, as Pat Bennett (Bd 2) won two games quickly backed up by a win on board 1 from Mike Hancock and a hard fought win on board 3. Martin Gill got Crewe on the scoreboard with a solid draw in game 1, and maybe had chances of a win in game 2 before taking the second draw. On board 1 Neville Layhe had created a positional advantage with white, before allowing his opponent to pick up pawns and steal a further win. The highlight for the team was Lukasz Michalek’s performance to win the 2nd game on board 3, offering an exchange sacrifice that was turned down and then taking advantage of the material held to gain our only win of the match. Final score was 6-2 to HC, who are one of only two teams out of 10 to take maximum pts from the first two rounds.

The last match of the week saw Crewe 1 take on Newcastle. Although Crewe appeared to have a big grade advantage on lower boards, the Newcastle captain Alberto Gissi had already warned the Crewe captain that the ‘castle team had two improving juniors on the lower boards who were being coached by Welsh FM Jonathon Blackburn. Things started ominously for Crewe as Newcastle raced into an early 2-0 lead with swift victories on boards 1 and 2. Just as Crewe had levelled scores through David Hulme on bd 3 and Dave Price on bd 4 in game 1, Karl Lockett gained revenge with white on top board and then Harry Gardiner followed suit on bd 2, to put a reverse slant on the scores with Crewe in the lead 4-2. Dave Price, although captain for Crewe 2, led Crewe 1 to success as he defended a difficult position before breaking out for a quick-fire mate to give Crewe victory. Newcastle’s “Junior Prodigy” Dylan Cooper was too hot to handle for David Hulme in the 2nd game, as he exploited positional weaknesses, to find a crucial winning knight fork and take the win easily to conclude the match, as Crewe edged the final result 5-3, to leave six teams all on two pts from 2 matches.

Round 3 will be played week commencing 9th November as Crewe 3 face favourites Holmes Chapel, Crewe 2 take on Newcastle and Crewe 1 play Cheddleton. Full fixtures and tables can be seen on NSDCA Online LMS, shown on our Website Tabs.

Tough going in 4NCL Online League

This week has seen Crewe AOL play Stroud Oldies in div 3, and Crewe BOL play Calstock Killers.

The A team were outmuscled by the senior Stroud team, but put up a determined fight. Captain David Hulme offered himself as the sacrificial lamb playing aginst Gloucestershire’s 2019 County champion on board 1 and was well beaten. Karl Lockett generated one of his typical positions and seemed to have good chances, before being snuffed out by resolute play from his opponent. In fact the tables turned and Karl was facing a lost endgame until a mistake gave Karl the upper hand back. However sound defence stopped Karl from winning to finish with a draw. On board 3 Rick (the grenade) Renegade seemed determined on self-destruction early on, but somehow emerged victorious from the wreckage and general chaos he created. Board 4 saw an early loss and so we ended up narrowly beaten 2.5-1.5. Our chances of staying in division 3 remain intact as we remain 3 pts above the relegation places and may have just enough points alreadt to finish above the trap-door. Time will tell and Round 6 will let us know what we have to do in the final round.

The B team found themselves without star player Lukasz Michalek after play was due to start. However Dave Price’s swift actions enabled us to call up a reserve in Lee Tilton on board 2. However opposition Calstock Killers had a much stronger team averaging 227 FIDE points more per board, equivalent to 30 ECF grade points, so it was no surprise we came off second best. The only scoreboard contribution came from “steady Eddy” Neville Layhe who was happy to play for a draw facing much higher opposition. The team have slipped to 45th place out of 68 teams in the division, but still have a very creditable 4pts from 5 games.

Next week sees the 2nd Round of the New NSDCA Rapid-play League where all three of our teams should be in action.