Thanks to captain Nigel Gardner for this report.
……….. the E team’s title hopes faintly flickering on Friday are now seeing the first flames tentatively creeping from the depths of what was an all but dead dream.
Monday night at Meir proved a successful hunting ground for Crewe’s E team with all four boards falling to Crewe. First to finish was Julian on top board closely followed by Kobus on 3 both as white, converting early superiority gradually and carefully into unassailable positions. I followed suit on 2 after a slightly more dogged match where a one pawn advantage from early on was held throughout to become a passed pawn and ultimately indefensible. Lukasz wrapped up a successful night with a very solid win and 4 – 0 certainly helps the “goal difference” although that will still probably not be enough; however there may still be the odd twist and turn before the end of the season.
This week has seen four matches for our club; Monday – E team away at Meir B; Wednesday – B team at home to Newcastle C and F team vs Cheddleton F; Friday night C team away to Cheddleton D.
Starting with the E team they had a superb 4-0 win (see Nigel Gardner’s report separate to this news item) to stay in possible contention for the division 5 title, although will need some help from other clubs to take points from league leaders Chedd H.
The B team, currently on top of division 3 were held to a draw by a strong Newcastle team. Losses on top two boards were recovered by Simon Layhe and Chris Rhodes as the Bees strength in depth saved the day to go 2 points clear at the top of the table, while our C team had a game in hand.
The F team was intended to be the club’s first “all junior” team but a last minute illness meant Kobus Nienaber was added to the team list as what captain Nigel called “the junior team and it’s mascot”. The match was about 30 minutes old when a crash was heared as the board 4 pieces were scattered far and wide by a leg falling in on the table. Fortunately the Chedd captain was very calm as Lukasz Michalek went on a piece search to reset the position, which gathered the attention of spectators around the club not to mention the players in the B team match. When the game resumed it was not long before the F team began to accumulate the points as Lukasz invaded his opponent’s King side to set up a mating attack. Kobus Nienaber and Ben Harrison converted solid positions into winning ones while Harry Gardiner earned a good draw against the very experienced Sandra Blackburn on top board to give the F team a pleasing result of 3.5-0.5 to cement their division 5 mid table position.
Friday night saw our C team (2nd in division 3) take on Cheddleton D. The hosts proved too strong and claimed a 3-1 win, with Amy Lovatt and Dave Price chalking up draws. This puts a huge hole in Crewe’s chances of a 1,2 at the top of the table as Cheddleton’s other division 3 team (their C team) have games in hand including two matches against our Bees to overtake both Crewe sides.
Tuesday night saw our table-topping Wirral team play a home match (at Chester in this league) against second bottom of the table Hoylake 2. Captain David Hulme was confident the opposition would be weaker than normal as Hoylake’s 1st team was also in action (in division 1) who normally contribute at least two players to the second team. Unfortunately David’s hopes were squashed at the sight of the oppostion who had their normal top two. The outshot of all this was that boards 2-5 were almost identical in grades with only bd 1 being of any siginifcant advantage to us.
The match started badly with an early loss on bd 4, as the opposition’s experience capitalised on an early mistake. David H levelled the scores with a win on bd 2 to take his tally for the season to a very impressive 6/6 and a grading performance of 186 to date in the league, before our top player Bart Fajfer did the same, extending his record to 8/8 including Wirral Cup matches and even better rating performance of 198 in the WCL, to make it 2-1. Simon Layhe on bd 3 seemed to be holding position well until the loss of a pawn made it a little uncomfortable. However Simon’s good bishop with Rook and 4 pawns was enough to hold out for a draw which ensured we would not lose. This left Dave Price in play on bd 5, who seemed to be in total control with a two pawn advantage before allowing his opponent to get very active in and end game with Rook, Knight and pawns each. Dave managed to keep his concentration while many would have struggled. It was a crucial win for the team who remain top of the table with a 100% record from 6 matches. We have two matches left both in April, the first against Wallasey 4 and the latter the “potential title decider” with Wallasey 2 who also have a 100% record but have only played 4 matches to date.
Wednesday night saw the “A” team at home to Newcastle B in division 2 and the “D” team at home to Newcastle “E” in division 4.
The division 2 match was another big match at the top of the table, with both teams weighing in almost on the 725 grade limit. The home team were forced to change their line up following the release of the January grades, with Karl Lockett and David Hulme being rotated out in favour of Ola Titiloye and Simon Layhe, while the Newcastle team only had their captain’s name appearing on the scoresheet from both matches as they showed their considerable options for this division. The match started well for the top of the table Crewe team as Simon Layhe wrapped up a quick win on bd 5, before Ola and Amy Lovatt secured safe draws to make it 2-1 for the hosts. Newcastle’s bd 1, Reinhold Heinlein (grade 187) proved too much to handle and made it 2-2. The bd 4 game looked on a knife-edge with black’s king stuck on the edge of the board and cut off, and Crewe’s white king seemingly in the firing line too. It appears that Crewe’s Chris Rhodes read the position better as he was able to drop a piece to the back rank delivering a long distance check and follow-up mate, to make the final score 3-2 to Crewe, who remain top of NSDCA div 2 having Pld 7, W4, D3 but can easily be caught by any of the chasing pack Cheddleton B, Macclesfield and Newcastle B.
The other match at the Mals saw both div 4 teams equally matched as well. Les Hall won the battle of the captains for the hosts on board 4, before Newcastle’s junior Hambel Willow made it 1-1 with a top board victory. Doug Barnett was happy to earn a draw, so we could all watch the remaining game on bd 3 between Crewe’s junior Harry Gardiner and the experienced Nic Wright. Both players were disappointed to end up with a hard earned draw which saw the match finish with points shared, to leave our D team respectfully in mid table, and the visitors in 2nd place.
Report by Nigel Gardner:
“If it’s Friday night its Cheddleton” is a phrase that is
so often used it may well make it into the catchily entitled best seller “The
10 most used phrases in the English language list of phrases”
Division 5 recommenced with a visit for the E team to Cheddleton who had strengthened their normal team possibly with the aim of putting a further dent in the E team’s dwindling title ambitions. The E’s had a couple of regulars missing (Simon & Julian) and this meant the two sides were virtually identical in the grading totals; it was going to be a difficult night.
Mike Keenan was left waiting on board 4 at the start as his opponent was 10 minutes late and that time on the clock probably helped Mike as the game quickly became a very complicated tangle of pawn structures. When some of the major pieces then got swapped off the game had draw written all over it and so it transpired although it took a long time to reach the agreement. A hard earned half a point for Mike, critically as black!
Meanwhile alongside him I had been playing one of Cheddleton’s juniors, in an altogether more open game. Combination attacks were flying in all over the place from me and whilst all were not necessarily the best moves the combined weight of pressure caused the seemingly inevitable mistake and then the flood gates opened. Victory followed soon forced with an Alekhine’s cannon that I quite enjoyed! 1.5-0.5.
Boards 1 & 2 were set for the duration but Adam was slowly getting entrenched into an ever more passive position against a much higher graded opponent who is normally their top board. Materially there was very little in it but the pressure was building which also ate into Adam’s time and in the end he had to capitulate and the match was tied with just Dave Price on board 1 to finish.
Dave’s had been an interesting game for me to watch as his
captain!!!! He sacrificed a minor piece early on for nothing more certain than
a vaguely attacking-looking position……..however don’t doubt Dave the Death.
Fresh from his success at Frodsham congress and a good win in midweek in
“trying conditions” Dave wasn’t in the mood for taking prisoners. His attack
did materialise and he kept building on it. Cheddleton’s player kept going to
the last pawn hoping that Dave would take mercy or maybe be struck by
lightning, but neither was going to happen. Dave the Death administered the
coup de grace and the team had its very well deserved win; a proper team effort
from all involved.
This leaves the E team’s title hopes still faintly
flickering as they travel to Meir on Monday to try and further breathe softly
on the embers.
Congratulations to Dave Price on winning the U120 Section of the Frodsham Congress this weekend with a score of 4.5/5.
Doug Barnett came joint 8th in the U160 section with a superb score of 3/5 and only lost in Round 4 to the outright winner. Neville Layhe scored 1.5 in the same section, while congresser-in-chief Les Hall scored 2/5 to avoid Dave in the U120 section.
Crewe also won the team prize a DGT 2010 Clock
For full results Chess-Results.com
With three matches to report on this week, Monday saw our D team travel to Fenton C for a 4th division match. A superb performance without normal top board players, saw Doug Barnett elevated to bd 1 and overcome his grade 152 opponent. Junior Lukasz Michalek’s rapidly improving play saw him promoted above skipper Les Hall to bd 3 and with full justification as he added another full point together with captain Les to make it a 3-1 success. This result leaves the team mid-table with 7 pts from 8 games.
Wednesday night it was the turn of the C & E teams to play at home against Alsager “A” and Stafford B respectively.
The C team had a shocker and fell to bottom of the table Alsager leaving skipper Dave Price red faced, as they lost the chance to overtake our B team at the top of the table. Our points in the 1.5-2.5 reverse came from a draw by Karl Lockett on bd 1 and a win for Amy Lovatt on bd 2.
Meanwhile the “E” team had a comfortable night as ran out 3.5 – 0.5 winners against 3-man Stafford. A draw on bd 2 by Julian Bulbeck secured the result after the default win was added to Adam Fields’ success on bd 4 and Simon Layhe duly converted bd 1 as well. This win takes the Es to 16 pts from 10 matches in 2nd place of division 5, with a mountain to climb as they chase leaders Cheddleton H at the summit who have amassed 21 pts from 11 matches.
Lukasz Michalek and Les Hall played for the under 100 County team at Leicester on Saturday. In view of the new grades, Lukasz got promoted up the board order to no 5 and I was demoted to board 7. After 6 boards staffs were 5_1 up, with both of us Crewe boys winning
For full results U100 results
Wednesday saw the E team play Newcastle and ultimately our stronger
grades came through although it was a battle on some of the boards.
Newcastle had chosen to play a weaker team than they could have to
give people games and this gave an unbalanced appearance to the
match. Within a relatively short time Crewe had won on the even boards
as white with Dave Price and Lukasz gaining welcome wins. The remaining two games were much more protracted but eventually Julian wore down his opponent, gained an advantage and gradually tightened the screw to ensure a win in the match and a pleasing return to winning ways for him. That left Simon fighting a gritty battle on board 1 that could have gone either way but with the cleaners beginning to sweep the floor around them an honourable draw was agreed and a very solid win for the team was recorded at 3.5 – 0.5.
Friday saw an altogether different scenario with our F team travelling to
the table topping Cheddleton H. The team had been strengthened
somewhat by the inclusion of Harry on board 1 but we still expected to
be outgraded with a team total of 358. Indeed we were as Cheddleton
had significantly revised their team which totalled 398 on the night but if
it had been Monday would have weighed in at 410!
However, our mid-rating players are definitely improving and there was
a degree of confidence in our ranks as battle was joined. After a few
challenges Kobus managed to drive through his incrementing advantage
to a win on board 4 and first blood to the underdogs! On all boards 1 –
3 we were up at various occasions either in material or in Harry’s case,
in a very strong attack.
I had managed to gain a 2 pawn advantage through a series of
interesting puzzle like positions, which I am beginning to enjoy, but as
the board became more open my opponent’s greater experience was
beginning to threaten and I was possibly going to lose a pawn and was
on the defensive. I chickened out (no disrespect to any feathered
minorities intended) and offered a draw which was gratefully accepted.
This put us in a strong position at 1.5 – 0.5 with Adam up at least a
pawn and his opponent starting to get into time trouble. Things were
looking good! Unfortunately, a huge sigh was to be heard from board 1 where Harry’s strong attack had caused him to miscalculate and his opponent broke to gain a couple of pawns advantage which he continued to drive home and parity had been restored across the match. Harry had played really well and had even been declined the offer of a draw early on sensing he had a winning attack.
All eyes then switched to Adam who was now a rook to two pawns to
the good and an opponent who had less than 2 minutes on the clock.
Unfortunately the pawns were rapidly advancing and this caused a
degree of panic for Adam who was also now getting into time trouble.
To stop a promotion a rook was lost and whilst there was still moves
being made Adam was fighting a rearguard action and eventually his
clock ran out whilst he tried to avoid making a fatal mistake.
He can take a significant amount of solace from the game he played
where I’m sure on analysis he had a number of positions where he could
have forced a win in the end game but time was his opponent’s ally on
So overall, a narrow defeat against a much stronger team on paper but
it could have been 4 – 0 to us!!!!
Could have; should have; would have; ……..didn’t.
As most will know by now, the ECF has published its latest set of grades. From our club’s point of view it has seen the first published grade for Bart Fajfer our leading player at 170. Our juniors have all impressed with improved ratings. 16 y/o Amy Lovatt has jumped over the 150 mark to 152 with same aged Lukasz Michalek making big steps from 65 to 88, and 15 yr old Harry Gardiner rising 20 pts to 124. A number of our newer members have had a significant boost to their ratings with Adam Fields, Kobus Nienaber and Reinhard Haack all prominent.
The new grades may cause some changes to teams to accommodate the various team grade limits accross the NSDCA, while the Wirral team have no restrictions on eligibility.
The new grades can be seen from our player list on the RH side of our website.
Three players from Crewe travelled to Nottingham Rapid play congress over the weekend. Les had a tough day in the intermediate section. Doug had some tough games and ended with 2.5 out of 6. Neville ended with an impressive 3.5 out of 6