Wednesday night was a quieter night at the Mals as holiday season kicked in with 18 members in attendance. The main event of the evening was the South Cheshire Shield Derby between our A and B teams which was brought forward by five weeks from the schedule to ensure fair play was observed in the league.
Junior Harry Gardiner started the ball rolling for the “A” team with a win against B team captain Les Hall on board 4. It seems young Harry is learning to use his allotted time better as for the first time (witnessed by club reporter) he used more time on his clock than the opponent. His patience was rewarded after a level middle game turned to his advantage with a kingside break through to make the score 1-0. Simon Layhe on board 3 doubled the A’s advantage as he exploited his opponents over exuberant attack by chasing the king out into the open. When faced with the chance to win Queen for a major piece, Simon coolly turned this down as his King hunt was completed four moves later with a combination of two rooks and a Knight delivering the mate. The B team did their best to put a dent in the A team’s title efforts when Neville Layhe won the board 2 battle to leave Rick Renegade (B team) and Amy Lovatt in play on board 1. Rick’s usual aggressive play led to a huge imbalance as he held Q,R,B and 7 pawns vs Amy’s RRBBN and 4 pawns. As the game developed Amy was able to co-ordinate all of her heavy artillery before Rick could muster his forces together and ended the game with a superb mating attack against the king-side castled position to ensure the A team won 3-1.
A look at the league table on the LMS shows Newcastle still leading the way with 11 pts (P6 W5 D1 and board difference of +10) while our “A” team have 8 pts (P5 W3 D2 and bd diff of +8). It seems the title will most likely go down to the last match of the season on 19th September when Newcastle host our “A” team unless of course we have some slip ups in the meantime.
The remaining club members played a mixture of long-play and rapid-play competition games as well as a hand full of friendlies.
With both of our South Cheshire Shield teams in action over the last 7 days we were hoping to make good progress in our efforts to retain the League Trophy. However things did not go to plan for either team. First up the B team entertained Newcastle, the league leaders at the Mals Club on Wednesday. Les Hall the captain reported that the game was played in a great spirit as the visitors took the spoils with a 3-1 win to extend their lead at the top of the table. Our only success came with a win by Neville Layhe on board 2. It is apparent that our Bees are wilting in the summer sun as they now prop up the league table.
Thursday night saw our A team head off to Stafford to defend their unbeaten record. They came back home with a share of the match points following the 2-2 draw, as all players won with the white pieces. For us, it was Amy Lovatt and Simon Layhe with the wins on boards 1 and 3, that ensured the As remain unbeaten.
The table is headed by Newcastle with 9pts from 5 matches, and our A team in 2nd place with 6pts from 4 matches. It would appear the title is a two horse race, although Stafford and Alsager would like to put dents in anyone else’s title aspirations. Full details of all matches can be seen from clicking on the link on the right-hand side of this site.
Wednesday night saw the club room packed to the rafters as our South Cheshire Shield “A” team hosted league leaders Newcastle. Our visitors brought along an additional member to their 4-player team to enjoy some friendly chess with our own players.
The match itself was a classic as both sides slugged it out in attempt to gain supremacy in the race for the Shield title. First out of the traps to put a point on the scorecard was our quickfire junior Harry Gardiner with a hard earned win on board 4 which could so easily have ended up in defeat. Next to finish was a rare defeat for another of our juniors – Amy Lovatt. Promoting her to board 1 will reap its rewards in due course with tough games, but on this occasion the experienced campaigner (and newly elected NSDCA Honorary Prseident) John Day took advantage of Amy’s clock management to bring her downfall in a game she would surely have won with a few more seconds in hand as a tricky Rook and pawn endgame needed careful attention. Next to finish was the board 2 battle where Newcastle’s even younger star Joe Hirst (age 11) fought toe-to-toe with our Chris Rhodes. With both players well into increment time peace was agreed with a draw to leave the match still in the balance. The board 3 game was a delight to watch as Simon Layhe tried desperately to find a winning line with a pawn advantage, while stuck on the end of a “mate-in-one” threat from his wily opponent Alberto Gissi. After much tussling Alberto found a purpeptual check to ensure the match was drawn 2-2. It would seem the league title will be decided when the teams meet again in the last scheduled fixture in September.
As mentioned in the opening sentence the club was packed with nearly 30 players in attendance, including the 5 from Newcastle on a Summer’s night with scorching temperatures. Our own members played a mixture of Summer Rapid-play and Long-play tournament games as well as friendlies for those that preferred less competition. However what makes us so proud was the following message picked up by chairman Dave Price from Newcastle’s David Ashby which read:
I would like to share with you all a comment I have just received from one of the Newcastle players.
New grades have just been released by the ECF on 26.07.18
These will normally be used for the NSDCA playing season 2018/19.
Except F grades will be amended when the January 2019 list is published.
Our players grades can be seen on the “Players List” shown on the right hand side of the website.
The major highlights for the club include superb increases from two or our juniors as Amy Lovatt (age 16) jumps from 115 to 144 to become third highest grade in the club and Harry Gardiner (age 15) jumped from 76 to 105.
Apologies for this late report as your writer was absent from the club last Wednesday attending the Wirral League AGM.
The “A” team emerged with a big win by the score of 3.5-0.5, to keep them in contention for the South Cheshire Shield title. Despite being significantly outgraded on top two boards, Amy Lovatt picked up a full point and Chris Rhodes took a share of the spoils against Rick Renegade. Lower down the order the grades distinctly favoured the team as Simon Layhe won on board 3 and Harry Gardiner also did likewise on board 4. The “A” team face a tough match against title contenders Newcastle this Wednesday (25th), before both of our teams play on consecutive nights next week with the B team hosting Newcastle before the A’s travel to Stafford on Thursday.
The news from the Wirral AGM is that we have a 7-board knock-out match in the 1st round against Frodsham, while the league (division 2) sees a new team from Wrexham admitted (and expected to be very strong), while Atticus go up to division 1, and Wallasey 2 (relegated from div 1) join us in division 2. We have one less league fixture as last year’s division 3 champions were granted permission to remain in division 3 in order to improve the balance of overall numbers in each division.
News has just arrived to say Crewe teams were joint winners of the Open Section and outright winners of the U130 section at tonight’s Jamboree Event. Congratulations to both teams.
The Open team pulled a rabbit out of the hat by including Newcastle’s top player Alex Richardson (grade 182 rapid) alongside Rick Renegade, Chris Rhodes and Doug Barnett.
The U130 team included juniors Lukasz Michalek, Harry Gardiner and Amy Lovatt as well as club chair Dave Price (who was probably carried along by the youthful exuberance of his team mates)
Our third team consisted of Neville Layhe, Simon Layhe, Nigel Gardner and Les Hall
Thanks to secretary Les Hall for getting the message through to your News Reporter so promptly.
Wednesday night saw another full house at the Mals Club, as we hosted Cheddleton in a match contested over 13 (unlucky for us) boards on a glorious summer evening in Mediterranean like temperatures. Teams were arranged so that grade totals were pretty even overall.
The early skirmishes showed Crewe taking an early 2-1 lead following wins for Josh Cross with his first ever win for the host club, and Cheddleton’s junior Charles Swinson levelling matters before Crewe’s rising star Harry Gardiner upset the grades with another swift win. The next hour or so saw the visitors gradually take control commencing with another upset as Jamie Jones won against the grades on board 11 before the first draw of the match on board 10 to keep the scores level. Cheddleton took the lead as Sandra Blackburn took advantage of an unsound sacrifice on board 4 before Crewe were outgunned on boards 6 as 7 with two debutants coming unstuck against experienced opposition. Crewe’s only further success came from Adam Fields on board 9 where three queenside pawns created an extra queen. Rick Renegade tried a piece for a pawn sacrifice with his Bishop, knight and four pawns vs 2 knights and 4 pawns on board 2, but ultimately left both sides without sufficient mating material for a draw. Simon Layhe could not unlock the board 5 game without making matters worse so agreed a draw to leave Cheddleton securely in the lead 7-5. The final game to finish saw Jacob Boswell (Cheddleton’s 16 year old star graded 183) outplay David Hulme on board 1 as he converted a 2 knights and 5 pawns vs 2 bishops and 4 pawns into a comfortable win to make the final score 8-5 to Cheddleton, coincidentally an identical score to the 2017 Challenge.
Congratulations to Cheddleton and thanks to Caroline Mountford for bringing her team from their club. Crewe will be trying hard next year to register their first success in the Annual Chedd Challenge.
The score card can be seen on the League Management System at:
The South Cheshire B team got off to an inauspicious start to their Summer campaign coming off decidedly second best at Newcastle on Wednesday night. What looked to be an even match on paper was off course played over the board. We could only muster one draw through Rick Renegade’s effort on top board against Newcastle’s draw master as we were well beaten by 3.5-0.5 as the hosts take an early lead in the table with two wins from their opening two matches.
Meanwhile back at the Mals Club, there was a busy night of Rapid-play games with 14 players in attendance. Simon Layhe has made an impressive start in division 1 scoring an unbeaten 5/6 and leads comfortably from David Hulme (4/8) and David Price on 3/6. Defending champion Rick Renegade has made a sold start with 2.5/3, with junior Harry Gardiner just behind on 2.5/4.
This week sees the “Cheddleton Challenge Match” as the biggest club in the North Staffs League visit Crewe for a return match. We are hoping this year’s match over 14 boards is as keenly contested as last year’s first Challenge which went in Cheddleton’s favour by the score of 8-5.
Wednesday night saw our first South Cheshire Shield Match of 2018, with our “A” team (the defending champions) hosting Alsager. On paper this looked too close to call with the visitors having a big grade advantage on top board, while we had grade advantage on boards 2 & 3, and Alsager a smaller plus on board 4. The match progressed much in our favour as Harry Gardiner won on board 4 before Simon Layhe did likewise on board 3. We were guaranteed victory as Chris Rhodes picked up a draw on board 2, before Amy Lovatt gained her best ever club result with a further win.
In the background the club was a hive of activity as a number of members continued playing Summer tournament games in our Internal Rapid-play, alongside a number of friendly games for our newest members.
This week saw the club’s Annual General Meeting attended by over half of the members – a very unusual event in itself. With the South Cheshire Shield fixtures due to start next week (20th June) this was a rare opportunity to be at the club with no league matches taking place.
The highlight of the AGM was the presentation of awards, as chairman Dave Price presented the trophies.
The first two awards went to (the absent) Rick Renegade whose first season at the club has been a huge success. His first award was for the 2017 Summer Rapid-play where he beat a field of 23 players to score 13.5/17 and pip runner-up Neville Layhe on 12.5/18. His second trophy was for his recent victory in the club’s Annual time & point handicap, where he defeated runner-up Julian Bulbeck in an Armegeddon-style play-off after scoring a perfect 5/5.
The remaining trophies were hoovered up by 16 year-old Amy Lovatt as she collected both the “junior” and “whole club” Player of the Year awards with a spectacular score of 77%, as a result of scoring 30/39 in all counting games including summer rapid-play, time and point handicap, and club matches in the 2017 South Cheshire Shield, 2017/18 NSDCA season and Wirral League. Amy was unbeaten for the “A” team with 4/5, scored 3/5 for the “C” team and had perfect 100% scores for the “B” team (2/2), NSDCA Cups (3/3), 2017 south Cheshire (3/3) and an inspired 11/11 for the “E” team helping them to the NSDCA division 5 title.
Chairman Dave Price was very proud of the club’s achievements in winning NSDCA’s Division 3 and 5 titles, together with the Intermediate Cup (U130) and the 2017 South Cheshire Shield.
Dave took great satisfaction from the fact that we have grown to be the 2nd largest club in the NSDCA running 6 teams, with 27 members representing the club through the NSDCA season and introducing 9 new players to competitive league chess in the last 12 months.
After the AGM, several games were played in the club’s 2018 Summer Rapid-play, which is now well under way and runs until December alongside the club’s long-play tournaments.