With two weeks of the new year under our belts the club has seen all of our NSDCA League teams in action except for the “A” team.
In chronological order the new year kicked off with a division 5 double header at Meir. The F team won 4-0 and the E team won 3-1 with a wonderful full report under Nigel’s Match Reports. The C team hosted Cheddleton D in division 3 on Wednesday 8th and were victorious by the score of 3-1 thanks to wins by Rick Renegade and Harry Gardiner backed up by draws from Doug Barnett and Dave Price.
On Monday 13th the B team shared the spoils in a division 2 encounter with Fenton B to move up to 3rd in the table. Just 1 point separate the top 5 teams in this division. Captain Simon Layhe dropped himself to allow Rick Renegade to play (as Rick does not get many opportunities) who managed a superb result with a win on board 3 alongside Karl Lockett’s win. Karl is enjoying a rich vein of form this season with his only defeats being in division 1 against players graded 189 or higher !! Neville Layhe got the draw on board 5 to keep the B team in outside contention for the title.
On the same night the G team for players graded under 81, saw 6 of our members head off to Meir for a “top of the table clash” in division 6. Unbelievably both teams graded an identical 401 pts with a difference of no more than 5 grade pts on any board. A superb match followed as captain David Hulme reported on the LMS “A brilliant match finished on a knife-edge with great sportsmanship from Bob Perry. With one minute left on the clock for Crewe’s board 2, Bob allowed me to tell our player he could stop recording moves with the opponent having some 8 minutes left. Thanks to this the Crewe player had just enough time to get a draw by repitition and tilt the result in Crewe’s favour. With the highest grade difference betwen players of just 5 pts it was always going to be a close match.And thanks to Dave Price for providing additional transport that allowed Crewe to take 6 players to Meir.”
Special mention should be made for youngster Safwan Khan who played maturely to secure an excellent win on board 5 which made a huge difference in the final score as we edged home to victory with Reinhard’s dogged draw on board 2 after wins from Phil Wright on bd 1 and George Jellis on bd 4, who filled in at the last minute as Pawel was too ill to travel.
More details to follow on tonight’s draws for division 3 C team and Les Hall’s table toppers – the division 4 D team.
We have 3 matches to report on this week as the curtain comes down on the 2019 calender year. Monday saw the D team head off to Fenton for a division 4 top of the table clash. Wednesday it was the “A” team who hosted Holmes Chapel A in division 1 and on Thursday the Wirral team went to face division 1 supremos Hoylake & Great Meols in the Knock-out.
Les Hall’s D team went into the top of the table clash against Fenton C with junior Harry Gardiner leading the fight on board 1 with regular players Neville Layhe, another junior Lukasz Michalek and Les having a 100% record. The match was expected to be close and it certainly was. Skipper Les suffered his first reversal of the season for the D team playing against friendly foe Ernie Wilkinson. Neville and Lukasz fought hard to earn draws to keep the match in the balance. It was left to young Harry to preserve the unbeaten team’s record as he managed to overcome a very experienced opponent and regular congress player to level the scores and conclude the match 2-2. So Les’s D team have 9 pts from 5 matches and lead the table by 3pts from Fenton C who are also unbeaten (Pld 5 W1 D4), while all of the chasing pack are at least 2 further points behind having played one match less.
Wednesday was a bit of calamity for our “A” team as they faced the highest graded team in the league. Holmes Chapel “A” put out the strongest side in the NSDCA this season with an average grade of 188.4 over the five boards. With a massive grade advantage it was men against boys, as captain Karl Lockett found 2 of his intended team missing on the night ! Thanks to Doug Barnett and Harry Gardiner filling in while expecting a quiet night of social chess. The visitors could have expected to win by a white-wash but junior Harry Gardiner performed heroics on board 5 against his 170 grade opponent to salvage our only half-point. So after four matches playing in the first division for the first time (since our club was formed in 2014) we find ourselves well and truly rooted to the wooden spoon position adrift by 3pts and having played one more match than all other teams in the division.
Thursday night we took 7 players for a “David & Goliath” match against Hoylake. Captain David Hulme found himself without 13 of the top 15 players listed on our own website, as we went to play the 2018 Wirral League Champions. It would have been easy to concede the match but the club’s members have a great spirit and decided to fulfill the fixture knowing it was “mission impossible”. With one player missing at the last minute Nigel Gardner stepped up to recruit a 7th player while the captain was stuck at work. Despite losing 7-0, David was extremely proud of all those that took on the challenge and a few came close to picking up unexpected draws. It should be noted that we had a deficit of approx 320 grading points ranging from 64 on board 1 to a minimum of 39 on the penultimate board 6.
We have no matches in the week 16th-20th December and all members are invited to our last night of the year on Wednesday 18th. This is one night of the year where the chess sets are locked up as we all meet in the bar for a social night of playing cards, darts or pool.
Finally. the committee woud like to take this oportunity to wish all our members and their families a Merry Xmas and a Prosperous New Year !
The week started with the E team going to face Meir B in a division 5 encounter. Both teams were well below the 400 grade limit allowed, with the Es tipping the scales at 318 vs the hosts 247. Captain Nigel Gardner held his own for a draw on bd 1, while Ben Harrison and Phil Wright provided the full point each on boards 2 and 3 to secure narrow victory 2.5 – 1.5.
Tuesday night the Wirral team faced contenders Wrexham. Christmas work schedules dictated that Wrexham’s top player was unavailable and this gave us an unexpected grade advantage. However Wrexham pushed us all the way with wins against the grades on boards 1 and 3. We had strengthened our line up considerably and this helped significantly as Karl Lockett won on bd 2, shortly after Harry Gardiner had done likewise on 5. The key success came on bd 4 as Simon Layhe fought his way out of a tight position to give us victory. With a break until February, the Wirral team head the league table as firm favourites for promotion.
Wednesday night saw the Mals Club hosting two matches. In division 2 it was our B team against Cheddleton B, and in division 5 it was the top of the table clash between our F team and Chedd G.
The division 2 match was predictably tough and tight. With white having the grade advantage on the top 4 boards, all games went in that colour favour. Karl Lockett made it two wins in two nights, and Rick Renegade provided the usual explosives on bd 4. The one game not to go in favour of white was the board 5 game where Neville Layhe with black held out for the draw which meant the match was drawn. The B team currently lie in 4th position in the table, but are only 2 pts behind the league leaders – Chedd B.
The division 5 match was expected to be equally tight. The F team found themselves without key player Julian Bulbeck due to illness which caused a shuffling of the team. Chedd’s experience on top two boards proved vital as Colin Abell and David Rose tipped the match in their favour with two wins. Ben Harrison managed a good draw on board 3, while Kobus Nienaber gained our only full point on bd 4. Accordingly Cheddleton G were victorious 2.5-1.5 and lept over our F team to top the table. These two teams are putting daylight between them and the chasing pack with leaders Chedd G on 9pts, just one pt ahead of the F team.
The headline is almost the same as last week except we only had two matches this week compared to four last week. The two matches that took place were Fenton “A” vs Crewe “A” in division 1 on Monday and Crewe vs Alsager in the Intermediate Cup (U130) Quarter-Final.
The “A” team arrived at Fenton to find our rivals without two of their top three players, so on paper we were favourites to win this battle for the Division 1 Wooden Spoon. As we all know results are not dictated purely by grades, and we soon found ourselves 1-0 down as Julian Hawthorne profited from a blunder on bd 5 to give Fenton an early lead. Worse was to follow as the hosts Steve Emmerton won the exchange before winning against the grades on board 4. What looked to be at least a draw on board 1 with an exchange advantage for a pawn, turned out not be so and it was 3-0 to Fenton as Petru Floresc won the board 1 game. With the match already settled David Hulme threw caution to the wind and picked up a very fortunate win following a time induced blunder on bd 3 to reduce the deficit to 1-3. Captain Karl Lockett added a bit more respectability to the scoreboard with another point to finish the match 2-3. This result left us as clear favourites for the wooden spoon as we look forward to the toughest challenge of all next time when we face Holmes Chapel “A”.
Wednesday night saw our U130 Cup Team start their campaign as Cup Holders. With grade advantages on every board (some insignificant and others not so) we would have been favourites. An early attack from Rick the “grenade” Renegade blasted open the doors to the first victory on board 2. Neville Layhe provided solidity on top board to get the draw that helps towards any tie-break scenario. Captain Dave Price (on bd3) offered a draw but the offer was declined. Not long after Dave had a back row mate, making the score 2.5 – 0.5, allowed us guaranteed progress to the semi-final. Shortly after Julian Bulbeck delivered another back-rank knockout on bd 5 as we led 3.5-1.5. Alsager’s James Marshall gained a consolation win for the visitors on bd 4. Crewe will face a trip to Fenton in the semi-final in due course.
We have four matches to report on this week. Monday it was our Perry Cup B team (u110) that travelled to Meir. Tuesday the division 3 C team made the short trip to Alsager. Wednesday the Perry “A” team hosted defending holders Newcastle and on Friday the division 2 B team went to the Bridge Club to take on leaders Newcastle B.
The Perry B team exploits can be read from the entertaining “Nigel’s Match Report” section.
The C team came unstuck against Alsager “A” as the black colours dominated. Sam Throsby on bd 2 was our shining light with our sole win, while captain Dave Price could only draw. Both of our white games ended in defeat.
Wednesday saw Les Hall’s Perry “A” team start with the advantage as Newcastle fielded only three players having provided early notice they would default a board. Ben Harrison (bd3) and Adam Fields (bd2) both held experienced players to a draw and with the lead at 2-1, all eyes fell on the crucial board 1 game. If Newwcastle could win this game, they would go through on board count and indeed this looked most likely as Julian trailed by a couple of pawns. Fortunately for Les’s team the last game ended in a stalemate and so Crewe “A” go on to the next round, where they face a derby against Nigel’s “B” team !
Friday’s match proved unsuccessful for our Bees who seem to suffer with our weather. Bart Fajfer and Karl Lockett picked up draws on top two boards, and the only other scoreboard contribution came from youngster Lukasz Michalek, who appears to be making solid progress up the grading scale.
We have three matches to report on this week. The “E” team went to play Newcastle E in division 5 on Monday; the “D” team hosted Cheddleton E in division 4 and the Open Cup team travelled to Chedd on Friday.
The E team were underdogs on Monday with 20-30 grading point deficits on top two boards while the other boards were closely matched. Captain Nigel punched above his weight as usual to pick up a top board draw and Ben Harrison went one better on board 2 with our only win as the team lost narrowly 1.5-2.5
The D team would have been favourites against Chedd’s E team as the visitors arrived with a team approx 30 grading pts lower than their previous away match. Captain Les Hall maintained his recent form with an early win on bd 4. Neville Layhe cemented the lead with another win on bd 2 before son Simon added the third point with an impressive performance on top board before the visitors grabbed a consolation on bd 3. This result put further daylight at the top of the table as the Ds made it 4 from 4 for a maximum of 8pts to date opening up a 4 pts gap to 2nd placed Fenton C who have a game in hand.
On Friday our Open Cup team faced a daunting trip to Cheddleton. Doug Barnett got us off the mark with an early draw before the wheels started to fall off. David Hulme on bd 3 was too slow to generate a King side attack as opposition captain Simon Edwards strolled to victory barely using 20 minutes on the clock in a 41 move game. As David went to analyse his game with Simon he returned to find the match had been convincingly won by Cheddleton as we lost on boards 1,2 and 5 as well. The only glimmer of light came from a superb game by Amy Lovatt on bd 4 who seemed to be in control after a clever tactical opening gained two pawns. Amy was made to work hard as she went into increment time before securing our only win in a 1.5-4.5 reverse.
We have 3 matches to report on this week as the F team went to Meir on Monday, the Major Cup side went to Alsager on Tuesday and the G team hosted Newcastle F on Wednesday.
The F team had a wonderful 4-0 win against Meir C in division 5 to cement their position at the top of the table. Nigel’s superb report can be seen under the “Nigel’s News tab” section.
The Major Cup team for U150 commenced their defence of the trophy without two of last year’s squad as Karl and Amy’s grades jumped above 150. As last season we were again drawn away to Alsager in the quarter-finals but this time the match was too close for comfort. Harry Gardiner went for the early “grand-master draw” option which was agreed with little chance of a result either way before Simon Layhe (on bd2) seized the opportunity to grab a gifted Queen leading to immediate resignation. Alsager then levelled the score and took the key board 1 as John Booth’s defence proved to good for David Hulme’s piece sacrifice. At this point Crewe needed 1.5 pts from the last 2 boards otherwise Alsager would win by virtue of board count if the match was drawn. Doug Barnett (on bd5) took advantage of his bigger grade by accumulating several pawns to put Crewe in the ascendancy with a sound win. All eyes then fell on bd 3 where Sam Throsby was playing just his second game for the club. Sam seemed to have all the play but his opponent Tim Twentyman was going to make Sam sweat for some considerable time. Although Tim was down to less than 5 minutes after approx 30 moves and Sam had over 20 minutes, Tim defended brilliantly holding material equality while Sam searched and searched for a big break. Eventually after approx 80 moves Sam offered the draw to which Tim had little choice but to accept and so we ran out winners 3-2. The semi-final is scheduled for St Valentine’s day away at Cheddleton who are favourites to win this cup.
Wednesday saw our G team play its second ever match against Newcastle in the newly formed division 6 for players with a maximum grade of 80. The visitors were unfortunately disadvantaged when one of their team failed to arrive but this did nor deter from the friendly atmosphere generated by both teams. Newcastle drew first blood as Andrew Lowe beat our latest debutante, young Koray Stanny. Koray had forged a massive material gain but failed to secure his King’s safety as Andy’s Queen and last remaining piece joined forces to mate the King stranded at home. Adrian Howells playing only his second ever match managed a win on bd 4 against a Newcastle junior playing their first league game. Congratulations to Adrian on his first win. The final game saw Reinhard Haack battle against another Newcastle junior on bd 1. Reinhard’s solid play allowed him to round up a piece advanatage and then hunt down the King to deliver a mating attack and ensure the team won 3-1. Thanks to opposing captain Alberto Gissi who agreed to play against Safwan to make up for the missing player.
It is great to see division 6 allowing new players to play league chess as Crewe, Cheddleton, Meir and Newcastle have introduced approx 10 new competitiors to the noble game in just 3 matches.
We’ve had 4 matches this week. On Wednesday it was Crewe C vs Newcastle C in div 3 and Crewe F vs Newcastle E in div 5, while on Friday it was Newcastle A vs Crewe A in div 1 and Cheddleton F vs Crewe D in division 4.
Nigel has already produced a fantastic account of the F team’s scary match which leaves them with a perfect start to the season after 3 matches.
Meanwhile the C team had a tough encounter with Newcastle’s C team. There were two highlights for us while we suffered a 3-1 reverse. Junior Harry Gardiner got our only win and is far and away the C team’s leading performer having notched up 50% of the team’s board points so far this season. The other highlight for the club was the introduction of new player Sam Throsby making his debut and being the 5th member introduced to league chess by us after just 5 weeks of the new season.
Friday night showed our resources being stretched as 3 of the regular 9 team members of the A&D teams were unavailable. The “A” team were always going to struggle and things were made harder for us when the Newcastle hosts added Thivyaa Rahulan on top board pushing down the rest of their team. Early losses on boards 3 and 5 ruined any chances we might have of gaining some points before Bart Fajfer on bd 1 and Simon Layhe on bd 4 earned good draws. Karl Lockett was last to finish putting up a spirited fight against Alex Richardson (their 189 grade board 2) and was unlucky to lose as we ended beaten 4-1.
Meanwhile down at Cheddleton, Les Hall’s D team picked up a superb win. Draws by Neville Layhe (bd2), Nigel Gardner (bd 3) and Les Hall (bd4) were the solid foundation as Harry Gardiner provided the icing on the cake with the only win to edge the result in our favour 2.5-1.5. The “D” team have made an excellent start to the season with 3 wins from 3 to sit top of the early season division 4 table.
It’s been a long week for our News Reporter starting with the long trek to Wallasey on Monday night. Due to venue unavailability we moved the Wirral fixture from our home at Chester to Wallasey to take on one of the top division 2 teams. The captain’s heart was beating a bit faster when the opposition team sheet was thrust in front of him to reveal another player on top board allowing all of the expected opponents to drop a level. Despite being slightly outgraded on board 4 Dave Price put our team on the front foot with a superb win with the white pieces. A central pawn attack dislodged the Knight in front of the castled King and opened spaces for two long range bishops to add to the fire power. An exchange and a pawn gained together with an overwhelming position induced resignation to put us in the 1-0 lead. Simon Layhe on board 2 then maintained our 100% success record with white as his game seemed to split into a game of two halves with Simon dominating the Q-side while most opposition pieces were loaded on the K-side. Simon’s push came first and with doubled “A” pawns charging down the board with support on the 7th and 8th rank proved decisive and made it 2-0. Board 5 saw a player who was graded over 150 when I last played him, and although only recently returning to the game was too good for us and got one win back for Wallasey 3. David Hulme then trapped a Knight on board 1 before gaining more material to make it 3-1 for us. Harry Gardiner fought hard on bd 3 to get a draw when it looked difficult to hold on, to conclude the match with 3.5-1.5 win and take us top of the early league table.
On Wednesday our B team hosted Holmes Chapel Rooks in NSDCA Div 2. With a decent grading advantage we were distinct favourites but the Rooks put up a stiff challenge. Rick Renegade on bd 4 and Neville Layhe on bd 5 were held to draws while board 3 went in favour of the visitors to leave us trailing 2-1. Karl Lockett on bd 2 restored the match for us with a sound win before Bart Fajfer’s endgame skill proved decisive on top board to give us a narrow victory 3-2. The B team are on 3 pts from 2 matches along with Cheddleton B and Newcastle B near the top of the table.
Friday night saw our Glorious G team Gunning to victory in their first ever match in division 6 of the NSDCA. This is a new team with a maximum permitted player grade of 80. We managed to send a team of 8 players to Cheddleton and had a big grade advantage overall. A number of players on both sides were making the league debuts and it was noted that Chedd’s team had 7 juniors out of 8 players, while Crewe had 7 adults out of 8 ! Congratulations to 13 yr old Safwan Khan, Pawel Stanny and Russell Smithers on their victories and to Adrian Howells for playing his first ever competitive match. Our higher graded top four experienced players were all successful with George Jelliss, Mike Keenan, Reinhard Haak and Phil Wright all beating youthful opposition.
We have three matches to report on this week, featuring the “A” team making their 1st division debut against Cheddleton “A”, the “C” team away at Holmes Chapel Bishops in div 3 and the “D” team hosting Meir “A” in division 4.
It was a baptism of fire for the “A” team as Chedd’s heavy artillery came to the Mals with top board grades of 192, 196 and 173 considerably outgrading our top 3 of 174, 153 and 152 respectively. The bottom two boards were much closer grades as Cheddleton were missing several stronger options. Surprisingly first blood went to us as the underdogs with Simon Layhe (board 5) completing a neat win involving a Knight mating move in the centre of board as the opponents King was cut off by a combination of Rook and blocked in by own pieces. More good news arrived as David Hulme overcame a 2 pawn loss to prevent the opposition from developing both Rooks and a Q-side Bishop and then overpowering on the King side to finish with a clever Rook sac and an immediate mate not seen (on bd 4). Meanwhile Chedd’s heavy artillery had won the bd 2 battle and then equalised the score as predicted on bd 3. The remaining game saw Bart Fajfer with a pawn advantage and decent time saving to raise hopes of a possible shock result. However Chedd’s young star Jacob Boswell created a lot of activity despite only having two minutes on the clock and rounded up some pawns before invading Crewe’s defences with a Q&B vs 2 Rooks. Eventually the stronger team proved their superiority and won 3-2.
Strangely enough the division 4 match playing alongside was scoreless when four of the 1st division boards were finished. The two teams were very evenly matched so it was no surprise that it was long time before the first result came in. Captain Les Hall was as usual first to finish, somehow grabbing a win from the jaws of defeat. In Les’s own words he was fortunate to finish first with a Rook mate after the game swung too and fro. Top board Rick Renegade was next to finish with another swash-buckling effort to make it 2-0. Experienced Neville Layhe then did enough to get the team over the line with a hard earned draw on bd 2 before Meir had the consolation of their sole win in the final game on bd 3 and to conclude the match with a 2.5-1.5 win for the D team. The skipper likes the look of the current league table sitting pretty on top at this premature stage of the season.
Thursday night saw the C team travel to Holmes Chapel to take on the Bishops in a division 3 encounter and it is pleasing to see Holmes Chapel adding this team to the league. Looking at the team sheets before the match the visiting Crewe team would have been red-hot favourites. However the hosts provided the first and unexpected blow of the night as the relatively inexperienced Liam McIlveen delivered an early mate on board 2. Harry Gardiner restored parity with his 40+ pts grade advantage in evidence on board 3 to level the scores for us. David Hulme was held comfortably to a draw by George Scattergood on board 1 and we had a while to wait for the board 4 game result to be decided. As a spectator it was fun to watch as white sacrificed a couple of K-side pawns to unleash an attack on our castled King while moving their own King to safety on the Q-side. A smashing game unfolded and as white increased the pressure on the King side left the door open for a back rank invasion duly applied by our Adam Fields to release the pressure and force the victory by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5. Captain Dave Price was absent for this match and should be pleased to see his team pick up their first points of the season.
Next week sees our B team at home while our new “G” team play their first ever match at Cheddleton hoping to give new players the chance to play in the league. Also in action are the Wirral team who face the long trip to take on Wallasey’s 3rd team.