A’s stay top; Bees fly to the top and F team put dent in “E” team title hopes !

Three matches to report on this week, started with the Bees traveling to Alsager “A” in division 3. With our B team outgrading the hosts by nearly 80 points the form book was not upset as we ran out winners 3.5-0.5 to overtake our “C” team at the top of the table. Wins by captain Rick Renegade on bd 1, Chris Rhodes on bd 3 and Simon Layhe on bd 4, were supplemented with a draw from Neville Layhe. The Bees and C team have opened quite a gap at the top of the table now, with the Bees leading on 13 pts from 8 matches, the C team in 2nd with a game in hand trailing by one point, and Meir “A” in 3rd on 6 pts from 6 matches.

The Mals Club saw two matches, starting with the division 2 “top of the table clash” between our “A” team and Cheddleton “B”. Both of these teams went into the match unbeaten alongside Newcastle B. On paper the match was too close to call with just a hand-full of grade points separating the two teams, with Crewe edging four of the games, while Cheddleton had the biggest advantage on bd 1. By the time our reporter had arrived, Crewe had the upper hand following a win by Amy Lovatt on bd 3, with winning advantages on bds 4 & 5, trailing on bd 1 and looking tough on bd 2. Board 1 went to the visitors, soon followed by Karl Lockett holding out for a draw on bd 2. Our advantage evaporated on bd 4, as the opposition’s junior Sam Parry played a very mature endgame to pick up a win despite having just seconds on his clock at various stages to put Cheddleton in command at 2.5-1.5 before Chris Rhodes converted his advantage in the final game to level the score for the hosts. So both teams emerge with unbeaten records, which leaves the title wide open as a 4-team battle with Macclesfield very much in the mix alongside the unbeaten trio of Crewe “A”, Chedd “B” and Newcastle “B”.

The remaining match was a division 5 “derby” between our “E” and “F” teams with captain Nigel Gardner ensuring both teams were evenly matched. Ben Harrison in his debut game for Crewe ensured a tough battle developed after putting the F-team in the lead with an early win. Bd 1 saw the E team’s Les Hall held to a draw by Nigel. Mike Keenan then secured the match for the F team with a good win on bd 3. The final game did not finish until well after the division 2 match ended, with Adam Fields slugging it out against Lukasz Michalek. Both players acquitted themselves superbly as the game went well into increment time, before Adam found a way to force the win against Lukasz’s resourceful efforts as the match concluded 2.5 – 1.5 for the F team and prevent the “E” team from overtaking leaders Cheddleton H.

Lukasz and Les in County action

Thanks to secretary Les Hall for letting us know about exploits in the Midland’s County Championship U100 today. Staffordshire were playing Nottinghamshire and narrowly lost out in the 12 board match by the closest margin possible of 5.5 – 6.5. The positive news from Les was that 16 year old Lukasz Michalek made his county debut and managed a win, while Les himself managed a good result with a draw against an opponent grade 98.

E team report by Nigel Gardner

Thanks to Nigel for providing the following report:

Monday Mayhem Makes Meir Mournful whilst Cheery Crewe Continue Championship Challenge 

Monday evening at Meir for our E team was a chance to rebound from their first narrow defeat of the season at Cheddleton, just before Christmas. It was never going to be easy as Meir C have generally put out a strong competitive team and Monday proved to be an extreme example of this!

From the normal E team line up Julian was missing as he inexplicably prioritised his wife’s birthday over Chess!? Adam and myself were added to the normal Simon and Dave on the top two boards to make a team total grade of 393 against a maximum of 400; however we were significantly out graded by Meir!

After a cagey start on board 4, there was sudden flurry of activity with pieces being exchanged to leave virtual parity but little opportunity and a draw was soon agreed. Now having the opportunity to observe matters more closely it was close on all 3 boards with Adam marginally up and Simon and Dave slightly behind. However, by this stage I had realised that Meir had miscalculated when composing their team and the reason it appeared strong was it actually exceeded the grading limit with a total of 408. Unfortunately for Meir this means that they actually lost board 4 and would also be penalised a point but at this stage they were blissfully unaware of the reality, as were our team.

Simon was battling hard on top board but his exertions of the 3 previous days were beginning to take their toll and he was starting to struggle against a very strong opponent. Adam was now in command but in significant time trouble and Dave was under massive pressure but under even greater time pressure. It was not looking good………With around a minute on his clock and his King under attack Dave used attack as defence which progressed to his knight forking the king and rook some very rapid piece exchanges and his opponent resigning in the space of around 30 seconds.

This proved inspirational to Adam who was also into the last minute or so but he continued to press home his advantage and forced a resignation. This put us 2 clear points up on the night with one game to play which despite Simon nearly managing to promote a pawn eventually went the way of Meir. On the night therefore the score was 2.5 – 1.5 to us but after the adjustments were subsequently made this has been altered to 3 – 0 which is a strange result for a 4 board match!

It was all in another enjoyable evening for all but the Meir captain, Ray, who had to take some stick from all present for his inability to add up!! The upshot of this is that Crewe E have gone back to the top of the table although this is likely to be short-lived as Cheddleton H have a number of fixtures over the next 2 weeks, one against our F team. Next Wednesday sees the Es play the Fs at The Mals Club in what should prove a very interesting evening.

Great start to new Year

After just 10 days of the new year the club has already played six matches in the NSDCA.

In division 2, the “A” team retained their position at the top of the table after a 3-2 win at Fenton B on Monday. Bart Fajfer demolished his 184 grade opponent on board 1, before Doug Barnett smashed his way to another win on board 5. Draws by Karl Lockett (bd 3) and Chris Rhodes (bd 4) were enough to spare captain David Hulme’s blushes after he lost on bd 2.

Division 3 has seen both B & C teams play two matches. The C team first played Cheddleton C on 2nd January, and won the match with 2.5-1.5 scoreline thanks to Karl Lockett and Martin Frisher (making his season debut) with wins and Julian Bulbeck gained the necessary draw.

Friday night (4th January), saw the B team visit Cheddleton D without skipper Rick Renegade and regular Chris Rhodes. Thanks to Doug Barnett (with a win) and Harry Gardiner (a draw) for deputising for the team to allow Simon Layhe to play board 3 and gain another win which gave the team an unexpected win 2.5-1.5 and take the Bees to the top of the table.

Last night saw a fiercely contested derby between the top of the table Bees and 2nd-placed C team. The result was not in much doubt as Karl Lockett and Dave Price won convincingly with white pieces for the C team before David Hulme fluked a further win for the Cees and Julian Bulbeck followed captains orders to not lose in the other game. An unexpected win for the C team by 3.5-0.5 meant they leap-frog the Bees to go top of division 3 for now.

The “D” team playing in division 4 had to travel to Stafford on the 2nd day of the new year and came away with a useful draw as both teams tipped the scales at 459 pts, just 1 below the maximum permitted. Doug Barnett and Harry Gardiner were the successful players in this match.

The last match to report on was the division 5 clash played on Monday 7th, as our “E” team went to face Meir C. A solid team effort saw a win by 2.5-1.5, as captain Nigel Gardner clawed out a draw before Dave Price was fortunate to win on board 2, and Adam Fields played a superb endgame when down to just one minute remaining to pick up a further win. After the match it was noted that Meir had exceeded the permitted grade totals and the final score was adjusted to 3-0 for our “E team, who went back to the top of the table, leading Cheddleton H by just one point, who have one match in hand on Nigel’s team

Bart Fajfer and Lukasz Michalek win 2018 Club Rapid-plays.

Congratulations to newcomer Bart Fajfer on taking the division one RP title, and to 16 year-old Lukasz Michalek for his success with the division two title.

Bart took the 1st division award after an outstanding performance scoring 15.5/17 with just one defeat against Karl Lockett and one further draw denting what would have been a 100% record. Bart finished streets ahead of 2nd placed David Hulme scoring 11/21, with 15 year-old Harry Gardiner finishing a creditable 3rd place with 9/17.

Lukasz won the 2nd division title by a hair’s width scoring 11/16, just pipping Nigel Gardner’s score of 11/17, reflected in their head-to-head score of 1-1. Club secretary Les Hall came with a late flurry to finish 3rd with a score of 8.5/14.

Full details of all Rapid-play results can be found from the links on the right side of the website under Internal competitions.

With the conclusion of the 2018 Rapid-play, all members are encouraged to take part in the club’s long-play tourneys that will continue until 31st May.

 

E team toppled as Time waits for no man !

Thanks to captain Nigel Gardner for the following report:
Our E team had a late Friday night, top of the table encounter, at Cheddleton and both teams were tipping the points scales at virtually the maximum 400. It was anticipated as a titanic battle and so it transpired. After 30 minutes all 4 games were very close but then Reinhard on board 4 initiated an exchange that left him marginally up in piece and position.
He proceeded to capitalise and it seemed the tide was definitely in his favour. After 90 minutes he had driven home his advantage and his younger opponent resigned to give Reinhard and Crewe first blood. An excellent win for him and a great fillip for the rest of the team. Within minutes on board 1 Simon swapped off Queens in a very tight game and a draw was agreed leaving the match score 1.5 – 0.5 and the winning line beckoned!!!
Simon’s was a very good result against an opponent who until very recently had been graded in the mid 130s.
The remaining 2 games were both complicated with Julian appearing to be under massive pressure but defending doggedly. Dave became involved in a game where both players appeared to have attacking opportunities at various points but unfortunately his opponent was the first to “draw blood”, going a minor piece up.
Boards 2 & 3 continued, and continued, and………eventually Dave had to capitulate having fought to the bitter end. It was now all square with just Julian against Caroline left. Julian had long been a pawn down and defending stoically. Time was now also becoming an issue with him only having 3 minutes left to Caroline’s 14.
However he fought on, and on and as the game time was approaching 3 hours he had managed to virtually equalise the time remaining at around 3 minutes each. He was still marginally down on material but still had 4 minor pieces on the board and had partially broken out. All other games had finished (there were other matches going on) and the remainder-men became spectators and you feel the tension.
There followed an unfortunate sequence of events, involving an illegal move that required a two minute penalty to be applied, that were nobodies fault as neither player knew how to adjust the clock, but caused significant delay to the game. The outcome from this was the tide, that had been flowing in Julian’s direction, reversed dramatically, as his concentration had been broken. Minutes later it was all over and Cheddleton ran out worthy winners.
A great evening’s competition and our E team are going to have to regroup, lick their wounds and come out fighting in the new year.    

Bees go top; Wirral KO’d; and Es overtaken

Three matches this week, started with the B team hosting Alsager “A” in division 3, at the same time we had a seven board Wirral KO match at Buckley/Mold. Friday night saw our “E” team take on Cheddleton “H” in a division 5 top of the table clash.

The Bees flew to the top of division 3 table with a 3-1 win. Led by captain Rick Renegade’s success on bd 1, there were further wins by Doug Barnett and Harry Gardiner, both covering for usual team members involved in the Wirral KO match. The team now lead by 1 point from our own C team.

The Wirral team had a tough match and were outgraded on 6 of the 7 boards. Despite putting up a valiant fight we were beaten 5-2, with leading player Bart Fajfer our only victor as he kept up his superb 100% record in Wirral matches, with draws being earned by Chris Rhodes and Dave Price.

The E team faced Cheddleton H last night as both teams neared the 400 point team grade limit. See captain Nigel Gardner’s separate report for full details (to follow shortly)

One win, one loss and one postponement

After a glut of matches in November, the club has a quieter couple of weeks in the run up to Christmas. This week’s schedule included a Wirral League match against Chester E, with both teams on 100%; a North Staffs division 4 match between our D team and Kidsgrove, and our first postponement of the season (Crewe F vs Cheddleton F in div 5).

The Wirral team retained the same line up as the previous match with junior Harry Gardiner making a positive contribution to the squad, and faced a stronger than expected Chester E team. David Hulme won the captains battle of bd 2 for Crewe, before Chester’s namesake was battered into submission by our junior star on bd 5 – Harry to make it 2-0. Dave Price was well placed until leaving his Queen en-pris against Chester’s Joe Nemcek (winner of Crewe’s Intermediate congress). Bart Fajfer on bd 1 came out of a sticky position to emerge triumphant and keep up his 100% record in the Wirral League with a stunning performance rating of 200 to date, to ensure victory for Crewe, before Chester’s grade advantage on bd 3 completed the result with a 3-2 scoreline to us. The next league match is not until February for our table-topping team, but we do face a difficult KO quarter-final next week.

Last night at the Mals Club our D team suffered an unexpected reverse against Kidsgrove. In a close run match, we were narrowly beaten by 2.5-1.5 with Doug Barnett picking up our sole win and Neville Layhe the draw. The D team have slipped down the table since a superb win in their first match and now lie in 6th place in the table, but only 2 pts adrift of the leaders.

The club Rapid-plays are nearing conclusion now with Bart Fajfer assured of the division 1 title with a convincing score of 15.5/17, identical to the 2016 record of Rich Wiltshir.

Division 2 of the Rapid-play could not be closer as 16 y/o Lukasz Michalek seems certain to win the trophy with a score of 11/16,just edging out Nigel Gardner’s effort of 11/17. Les Hall missed a chance to gazump the trophy after two losses left him just of the frame with 8.5/14. With Lukasz and Nigel playing in the Wirral KO next week, the competition has effectively been decided. Well done to Bart & Lukasz.

Rapid-play Division 2 Title Race

16 year old Lukasz Michalek picked up two vital points on Wednesday, with Nigel Gardner in close pursuit adding one more point to his tally. With just two more club nights to go before the competition closes, it looks like these two have broken away from the rest of the pack. Lukasz leads with 11/16 while Nigel has scored 10/16. With very few games left to play for these two it will be difficult for Nigel to overhaul Lukasz. Les Hall is currently 3rd with 6.5/10 and Kobus Nienaber just behind on 6/10. These two could make a late challenge if they can find enough opponents to close the gap, but that seems unlikely now. Full details of all internal competitions can be seen on the League Management System or from the links on the right hand site of the website.

Three Matches on One Night

After playing almost a match a day last week, this week we had the challenge of playing three matches on Wednesday night, including two teams away at the Newcastle Bridge Club.

Starting with the “A” team, they came away with a fortunate match draw in the division 2 clash with Newcastle B. After early defeats on top two boards, Amy Lovatt had to settle for a draw on bd 4 against rising junior Joe Hirst when she could not force a decisive break through. David Hulme on bd 3, when offering a draw in a dire position, was lucky to trap an opponents piece later, to get an unexpected win. On bd 5, Chris Rhodes battled deep into increment time to find another excellent win to save the match for the “A” team who are currently sitting on top of division 2.

The other match at the Bridge Club also turned out to be drawn between our “D” team and Newcastle’s “E” team. Draws on bd 1 by Rick Renegade and Doug Barnett on bd 2, were enough with junior Harry Gardiner’s win on bd 3.

At the Mals Club, it was our “E” team hosting Meir’s “B” team in division 5. With a significant team grade difference in our favour, the result went according to book-maker’s expectations, although Meir’s under-dogs put up a competitive fight according to captain Nigel Gardner. Crewe ran out victors by score of 3.5-0.5 thanks to a draw from Julian Bulbeck on top board and wins from Dave Price, Adam Fields and Kobus Nienaber. The result stretched the E team’s lead to 3 pts at the top of the league table, with 2nd placed Cheddleton H having a game in hand, with the prospect of two matches to come against each other.