E’s keep cruisin’ on

Wednesday night saw another two matches at the AMAL, with the “A” team taking on Cheddleton C in division 2, and top of division 5 “E” team hosting Meir B.

The “E” team were hot favourites to keep up their 100% record and duly did the business. Junior Amy Lovatt continued her perfect record for the team and set the wheels in motion with a win on bd 2 before Steve Ballantyne made it 2-0 to retain his unbeaten record. Chris Rhodes then followed in Steve’s shoes to make it 3-0 before skipper Nigel Gardner earned a draw. All four players are currently unbeaten for the “E” team this season who have a healthy 5 point lead at the top of the table. They have a crucial run of three matches in 8 days starting on 31st January against their title contenders.

The “A” team returned to winning ways as Rick Renegade, David Hulme and Karl Lockett all gained victories as Ola Titiloye did all the hard work on top board holding out for a draw against his 178 grade opponent. The team is fighting to stay in the top half of the division 2 table with a record of 8pts from 7 matches.

Friday night saw our C team travel to take on Cheddleton F in a division 4 match with the opposition holding a 100% record. Amy Lovatt completed another win to give us hope of toppling the league leaders, but the team narrowly failed by 2.5-1.5 as only Dave Price could add to our score with a draw.

Next week should see another full house at the AMAL with the “A” team hosting Holmes Chapel Rooks and the C team playing the D in a division 4 derby where hopefully there will be some extra games played for grading purposes.

“E”s cruise to another win as “A” team sink again !

The new year started with two matches at the AMAL last night. In division 2 the “A” team hosted league leaders Cheddleton “B”, while the “E” and “F” teams fought out a division 5 derby.

The top of the table “E” team were out-graded on paper due to the vagaries of estimated grades and F-grades employed under league rules and were set for a tough challenge. The first game to finish was the junior battle on board 4 where Harry Gardiner comfortably defeated his opponent to put the “E” team in the lead. Next to finish was the E’s other junior as Amy Lovatt won the bd 2 game against Les Hall. Amy kept up her 100% record for the team and has now scored 10/12 in all games since the South Cheshire Shield started. Both Harry and Amy are improving rapidly and it is expected both players grades should jump when the new grades are released around the end of January. The remaining games were close affairs before Chris Rhodes capitalised on errors in the bd 1 game to make it 3-0. The final game to finish saw Phil Wright hold Nigel Gardner to a draw. This result leaves the E team four points clear at the top of the table (with a maximum 12 pts from 6 matches), although lower down Meir C are the closest challengers (with 5 pts from just 4 matches). The “E” team are at home to Meir B next week.

The “A” team put up a good fight against runaway leaders Cheddleton B, with David Hulme (bd 4) and Rick Renegade (bd 5) winning, while there were losses incurred on boards 1 and 3 to leave the match delicately poised at 2-2 with Karl Lockett playing Bill Armstrong on bd 2. These two have met a number of times in the last couple of seasons and usually their games “go the distance” and last night was no exception. This was a hum-dinger of a game as advantage went too and fro with both players deep into increment time. One  moment it looked like Karl had the upper hand with approx 5 minutes left against Bill’s 2 minutes around the 40 move mark. As the players thrashed out a further 30 moves or so Bill’s experience allowed him to gain a secure winning advantage to leave Karl forced into resignation. So for the second consecutive match, Cheddleton B beat Crewe A to effectively eliminate the “A” team from the title race. The “A” team are at home to Cheddleton C next week.

 

Bees blow 100% record at Meir

With only one match this week for Crewe, the “B” team had a chance to extend their lead at the top of the division 3 table when they went to face Meir’s “A” team. The team found themselves at a disadvantage as our leading scorer failed to turn up causing a default on bd 2. We managed to score 50% from the three players there with Neville Layhe picking up a win on top board covering for regular player Karl Lockett, while Chris Rhodes gained a draw on bd 4 extending his unbeaten run in the NSDCA this season to 11 games, which is something our writer can only dream about !

This win for Meir has really opened up the door at the top of division 3 with several teams all within 2 pts of our B team.

It was a shame for the B team to lose their 100% record this way, but who knows if it would have made any difference in any case.

 

“A” team fall down at Cheddleton

The weather was the main winner this week as our two home matches were postponed and our brave soldiers from the “A” team took on the challenge of getting to Cheddleton on a freezing Friday night.

The opposition (Cheddleton B) were riding high at the top of division 2 before the match, with our “A” team sitting in 3rd place but with games in hand to catch the leaders. The late arrival of our top two players unsettled our captain as the match began. First blood went to the hosts as junior Sam Parry found a way to break through against previously unbeaten Neville Layhe on bd 5 after Sam had offered the draw. Matters got worse when our big-hitter Rick Renegade was battered into submission by the experienced Jon Blackburn on bd 3. A superb performance on bd 1 from Ola Titiloye gained a draw against the highest graded player (194) in the division despite starting down approx 15 minutes on the clock, to leave Karl Lockett on bd 2 and David Hulme on bd 4 looking for wins. David was in a dominant position and exchange ahead before blundering back the exchange in another moment of chess blindness as he attempted an illegal move when in check. Allowing himself into a time trap he was put to the sword by Sandra Blackburn who must have been delighted with her best of season result which confirmed Chedd B would win the match. Karl Lockett on bd 2 went on to win a fine game and continue his good run of recent form.

This was the “A” team’s first defeat of 2017 and should have been avoided had our captain not blundered or we had accepted the draw offers given to us on bottom two boards. At least we get chance for revenge as the return match is scheduled first week in the New year.

Next week is a quiet week for matches with only the B team playing at Meir before the Christmas break.

Three wins and a draw this week

After a couple of quiet weeks for club matches, four teams have been in action over 3 days.

Monday night saw Nigel Gardner’s “E” team take on Meir B. Our team was strengthened a little to give us a near 70 grade pts advantage, but the hosts pushed us all the way. Hard fought victories for Steve Ballantyne and Nigel on bds 3 and 4 were added to Chris Rhodes’s draw on top board to ensure a narrow win by 2.5-1.5. This result puts the “E” team four points clear at the top of Division 5 for now, as the team looks forward to its last game of 2017 against Cheddleton’s I team next week.

On the same night another 5 players ventured to the end of the Wirral to take on Wallasey’s 4th team in a Wirral League Div 2 match. A crushing win by Ola Titiloye on bd 1, set us on our way as Rick Renegade was held to a draw on bd 3, before David Hulme had a comfortable win on bd 4. Dave Price secured a draw on bd 5 to ensure team success before Neville Layhe completed the 3 hour endurance test with the third draw. The 3.5-1.5 win is the first ever win by Crewe CC at Wallasey, to put the team back to the top of the table with a perfect 3/3 for now. There are stiff challenges to face in the new year with trips to Atticus (Liverpool city centre) and Mold in North Wales during February.

Wednesday night saw another full house at the AMAL, with the “B” team playing Newcastle C and the “F” team playing Alsager C. Some dozen or so members including Rich Wiltshir played friendly chess in the background, with the two matches taking centre stage.

The Bees made it 5 wins out of 5, and all with the same 2.5-1.5 score line as they overtook Newcastle at the top of the Division 3 table to go two pts clear and with a game in hand. Rick Renegade on bd 2  continued his fine run to put the first win on the scoreboard and keep up his 100% winning record for the Bees. A loss on bd 3 was followed much later by a draw on bd 1 for Karl Lockett. Chris Rhodes brought the bacon home for the Bees as his positional play and pawn advantage proved too much on bd 4 with his opponent in time trouble. The Bees travel to Meir for their next match to finish 2017.

The F team did well to draw the Div 5 encounter. After an early loss on bd 2, junior Harry Gardiner again gained all the plaudits as he dismantled his grade 62 opponent on bd 3 to add to his growing list of victims. Hopefully Harry’s rapid improvement in play will soon be rewarded with a promotion in board order. Nic Bolide put up a brave fight on bd 4 before eventually resigning to leave skipper Dave Price needing a win to save the team. Dave duly managed this as opponent and former Crewe player, James Marshall put himself in familiar time trouble, often with less than 15 seconds to go, before allowing Dave to swap off Rooks and leave an easy win that would have been awkward had Rooks stayed on the board. Overall another pleasing result for the F team to gain a draw.

Bees are buzzin’ at the double

Another fantastic night at the AMAL saw the club host two matches with the B team playing Cheddleton E in division 3 and the Perry Cup B team playing Meir.

Martin Gill’s Bees went into the Division 3 match with a 100% record but knew they had a battle on their hands against the experienced Chedd team with Mr & Mrs Blackburn being accompanied by Bill Armstrong and skipper David Hallen. It was no surprise then when the bd 4 game could find no winner as David Hallen kept Chris Rhodes at bay. The match swung Crewe’s way when Rick Renegade extended his superb unbeaten run with a win on bd 2 after another explosive attack was mishandled by the opposition. Rick has now scored 8.5 out of 9 in the NSDCA, with his only defeat this season coming in the Wirral League knockout when the whole team was outgraded by Chester’s big guns. Captain Martin Gill on bd 3 seemed to have found the way to win a tough game with Sandra Blackburn when he made a crushing blunder to hand the full point over and leave the match all square with just the bd 1 game to finish. This saw Karl Lockett in command for the Bees as he gained the necessary win to edge the team over the line 2.5-1.5. The B team have so far won all four of their matches by this same narrow score line and would have been further pleased by the news as the top of the table Newcastle C lost their 100% record as they were narrowly beaten by Alsager’s  B team to leave our B team in 2nd place with a game in hand on the same number of match points.

The other match at the club saw our Perry B team as massive underdogs against Meir. With Nic Bolide making his first competitive appearance for the club he put a spirited fight against Anthony Cooling before being last to finish. Earlier on had seen Richard Hind get into a promising position before Stuart Green’s wealth of experience proved too much to give the visitor’s the early lead. On bd 2 junior Harry Gardiner played a mature game to hold a pawn advantage and then control the only open file with his Rook. Having gained central dominance he was able to pick up a further pawn with his active rook and so give Crewe their first point and a glimmer of hope in the match. The bd 1 battle saw an even contest tip Crewe’s way when Phil Wright gained a minor piece for a pawn. With a Rook each and several pawns including an ominous looking g pawn for his opponent the game was too close to call until Phil engineered a huge advantage by giving back his minor piece for the threatening g-pawn and allow his rook to get amongst his opponents undefended queenside pawns to pull off a superb win. As the dust settled it emerged that Crewe’s Perry B team had got through to the semi-final by virtue of the board count tie-break rule after the 2-2 draw. This was an inspired performance by our under-dogs as Phil Wright gained his first ever win for the club and junior Harry Gardiner added another scalp to his growing list of higher graded opponents. Overall a superb effort by the team as they were outgraded by approx 140 points ! They will face either Cheddleton or Fenton in the 2nd semi, with our Perry “A” team travelling to Newcastle in the other semi-final.

One win, one loss and a breakdown !

There were two matches in NSDCA Division 4 at the AMAL on Wednesday, with the C team hosting Stafford B and the D team playing Fenton C.

The C team were on the back foot after two early losses on boards 3 & 4. Doug Barnett summoned all his conjuring skills on board 1 to defeat his higher graded opponent after promoting two pawns while his king slid to safety. Meanwhile skipper Dave Price on bd 2 found it impossible to avoid a draw which left the team losing narrowly 1.5-2.5.

The other match saw the D team come out victorious where teams were evenly matched grade wise despite the artificial grading limits showing otherwise. Lukasz Holcman was first over the winning line on bd 1 as his attack was too much for his opponent. Teenager Dylan Sayers beat his higher graded opponent on bd 4 with a smooth conversion of material gain to end up delivering check mate after chasing the opposition King from its king-side castled position out into the open. Skipper Les Hall guaranteed the D team’s first win of the season after a draw on bd 3. Martin Gill could not quite see off his stubborn opponent who finished up with a further draw to complete a 3-1 success for the D team.

Reference to the breakdown, saw our Wirral team’s match at Hoylake postponed as skipper David Hulme’s car hit a super-size pot hole while trying to get out of town causing a big puncture ! “E” team skipper Nigel Gardner came up with the following witty ditty:   I believe the team were feeling a bit deflated and tyred after the latest match? However I’m sure this won’t puncture their enthusiasm and if they carry on down the right road further success will inflate their esteem. Shame Jack wasn’t on the team as he might have helped lift everyone.

Cup Fever at Crewe

This week has seen three matches – two in Cup competitions and one league match. The AMAL club was buzzing on a packed Wednesday night as visitors from Fenton (in the Open cup) and Alsager (in the U110 Perry Trophy) meant some 30 players were present overall.

Starting with the Perry Trophy match, Crewe are looking to make it a hat-trick of Cup successes and were helped by Alsager defaulting one of the four boards due to unfortunate family circumstances. However with Alsager grades being some 15-20 points higher on the top two boards, the default would be irrelevant if they could win the top two boards. Early wins for the host’s Dylan Sayers (bd 4) and the visitors Oliver Horrocks on bd 2, meant Crewe’s junior Amy Lovatt needed a draw or better to secure a home victory. The match swung to and fro as James Marshall, playing for Alsager appeared to have the ascendancy before allowing Amy to escape to victory after queening a couple of pawns. This was in fact Crewe’s Perry “A” team and the “B” team host Meir on 29th November in the remaining quarter-final.

The other cup match on Wednesday saw a thrilling 6-board match with both teams missing a key player, as the team grading totals could not have been much close at 821 for Crewe and 829 for Fenton. First to register on the score board was Rick Renegade with a 14 move demolition on bd 4, to put Crewe 1-0 in the lead before Karl Lockett on bd 2 for Crewe made it 2-0.  Fenton’s man in-form, Roumanian Petru Floresc continued his brilliant winning run after two major scalps in last weekend’s 4NCL, as he put his opponent on bd 1 to the sword to reduce the deficit to 2-1 and shortly afterwards Crewe’s Doug Barnett restored the advantage to 3-1 after a hopeful minor piece sacrifice led to some unsound play. The two remaining games saw Crewe under pressure on bd 5 after a poor opening left a weak position and the loss of a pawn, while Crewe’s captain appeared to be coasting to a win on bd 3 with a three-pawn advantage. However Fenton’s team were not for giving up as firstly Kas Capatina on bd 3 found a way to attack an open King and fork David Hulme’s queen as David slid into time trouble to make the score 3-2. Finally Max Launay made Crewe pay the full price as he converted his long time gain into a win to tie the match at 3-3. With all games being won with the white pieces (a rare event it seems) and Fenton winning on bds 1,3 and 5 it meant Fenton were victorious by virtue of the board count tie-break rule. Congratulations to Fenton who go on to face Cheddleton in the semi-final.

Thursday night saw Crewe’s “A” team travel to Holmes Chapel to take on the host’s Rooks team in a NSDCA Div 2 match. The Crewe team had a distinct grading advantage of approx 20-25 pts on 4 of the 5 boards, but you would not have known it. The match seemed to be heading Crewe’s way after an early draw on bd 1 for Ola Titiloye, was soon followed by wins for David Hulme on bd 4 and Karl Lockett on bd 2. We were made to sweat for victory though as Martin Gill was being held on bd 5 and Rick Renegade was under pressure on bd 3. Martin’s experience came to the fore as he offered a draw to his lower rated opponent who was running into time trouble despite being a pawn up and positionally better. The draw was accepted and secured match victory for Crewe before Rick’s opponent Mike Lee battled to the end but could only get a draw. The final result was 3.5-1.5 for Crewe, who sit 3rd in the table with a record of Pld 4, Won 2, Drawn 2.

F team go down fighting

With only one match to report on this week, it has been a contrast to recent weeks where four or five teams have been in action. Wednesday saw a division 5 encounter between our F team and visitors Meir C. First impressions looked like all players were keen to get home early as three draws were agreed by 9pm. On board 1 Lukasz Holcman held David Fuller and on bd 2 Phil Wright earned a good draw against opposition captain Ray Rhodes. The scoreboard highlight for Crewe saw junior Harry Gardiner get the third draw against an opponent 50 grading point higher. All eyes then settled on the bd 4 game between Richard Hind and Stuart Green, with Richard being almost 50 grading points lower. What an exciting tussle developed as both players battled valiantly to get the win required for team victory. This final game was watched by a dozen or more onlookers so added pressure on to the two players involved who made sure News at Ten was half finished by the end of the game ! After a topsy-turvy battle Stuart ended up as the victor to give Meir the narrow win by 2.5-1.5.

Captain Dave Price reported ” The top 3 boards finished early and nearly an hour later and the board 4 players were still fighting for a win.
It was by far the best game watched at Crewe as both players had chances and both teams would have been happy with a draw.
The players deserve the most respect for playing to the end that proved the most exciting game to watch. In the end, it is a shame one player had to lose. I would like to thank both teams for a great night and a special thanks to the board 4 players”

Two wins and two draws

Another fine set of results this week was started with the C team travelling to Fenton on Monday to take on their C team in a 4th division match. With Fenton close to the 460 team grade limit our team did well to pick up a share of the points in a 2-2 draw. Steve Ballantyne continued his unbeaten run this season with a steady draw on bd 4. Dave Price leveled the match with a win on bd 2, after we had lost on bd 3 to leave Doug Barnett in play on bd 1. Doug was almost certain to win on time when he sportingly offered a draw to Max Launay to finish the match.

Tuesday saw the Bees playing against local team Alsager B in a div 3 match. Rick Renegade won his 5th consecutive NSDCA game on bd 2 as Martin Gill won the bd 3 battle of the skippers. Chris Rhodes extended his unbeaten run to six games with a draw on bd 4 to make sure the team won narrowly 2.5-1.5. This keeps the B team with a 100% record so far as they sit 2nd in the league table trailing leaders Newcastle C who have a similar record of 3/3 but have the better board count.

Wednesday saw two games at the AMAL with our “A” team playing a div 2 match vs Fenton A and the E team hosting Cheddleton H in division 5.

The “A” team were held to a draw by Fenton who are currently top of the table. A fine win from Ola Titiloye on bd 1, added to Neville Layhe’s solid draw on bd 4. Rick Renegade yet again found a way to win when he faced a material deficit on bd 5 to extend his winning run to 6 games and ensure the “As” got the draw, to leave them in 2nd place in the table with 4 pts from 3 matches and unbeaten so far.

Nigel Gardner’s “E” team continue to set the pace in division 5 with their 100% record in tact after 4 matches. Steve Ballantyne and Nigel both won as their grading advantages would have indicated with Steve now unbeaten in 6 games this season. Chris Rhodes took his unbeaten run to 7 as he gained the necessary draw to get the team over the line in what captain Nigel reported as “This went right down to the wire and then some. ” The “E” team sit on a 2 point lead at the top of division 5 currently.