A full house at the AMAL Club watched with baited breath as the B team under-dogs blew open the South Cheshire Shield (SCS) title race with a stunning 3.5-0.5 win over the “A” team. First off the mark was Rich Hind on board 4 (grade 25) with a blistering king-side attack to blow away the defences of his 105 grade opponent to put the B team in a surprising lead. On board 3, junior Harry Gardiner played his most patient game of his youthful career to make it 2-0 for the Bees. On board 2 Nigel Gardner appeared under pressure before breaking the shackles and eventually making it 3-0 for the B team. It is likely these three wins for Rich, Harry and Nigel represent their personal bests. Only Neville Layhe with a draw against Martin Gill on top board prevented a whitewash. This news will put a spring in the steps of Newcastle players who lead the table.
Meanwhile there was a superb attendance at the club with 22 members present in total with some enjoying friendly games, newcomers getting to use “chess-clocks” for the first time, and a hand full of games played in the club’s summer Rapid-play tournament.
Next week sees the club with no SCS league fixture while the British Chess Congress takes place in Llandudno, North Wales.
Our “A” team played its second South Cheshire Shield match last night, hosting title favourites Newcastle. With skipper Dave Price absent (at the Wirral AGM) it was left to Les Hall to marshall the troops. The team line up remained the same as last week and there were wins for Neville Layhe (Bd 1), Chris Rhodes (bd 3) and another impressive result for junior Amy Lovatt (on bd 4) who beat an opponent graded 100, as the match concluded in a 3-1 success for us.
The “A” team’s next match is against our own “B” team before the vital return matches with Newcastle and Alsager.
Both of our SCS teams were in action last night, with the B team travelling to Newcastle after last week’s stunning draw, and the A team hosting Alsager.
This time the B team could not prevent Newcastle from winning as their higher graded team did the expected business, but only by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5. A predictable draw between our Martin Gill and John Day on top board looked like being our only score until Nigel Gardner took advantage of his opponent forgetting to press the clock and winning on time.
The “A” team commenced their SCS campaign with a resounding 3.5-0.5 win. Neville Layhe secured a top board draw with the black pieces, while junior Amy Lovatt had an early convincing win on board 4 before Chris Rhodes ensured the team victory with another win on board 3. All eyes then fell on board 2, where Rick Renegade was making his debut for the club and produced a very solid middle game turning a one pawn advantage into an overwhelming two passed-pawns and duly won.
Next week sees the “A” team host top of the table Newcastle.
Our South Cheshire Shield campaign eventually got underway last night as our B team hosted competition favourites Newcastle. A splendid team effort earned a share of the points despite being significantly outgraded on 3 of the 4 boards. Martin Gill on top board held a draw, while skipper Les Hall played a captain’s sacrificial role on board 2. A good result for Nigel Gardiner held the experienced Nic Wright to a draw on board 3, but the highlight of the night was a win for David Taylor beating an opponent with a grade of 100 which is David’s best result for Crewe to date.
Next Wednesday sees the return match for our B team at Newcastle while our A team host Alsager for their first match of the campaign.
Crewe entered one team in the under 130 Newcastle jamboree last night. On paper we were out graded against most teams. The underdogs Doug,Dave P,Les and Nigel had a good start in the first round with 2 wins and a draw putting the team on 2.5 points out of a possible 4. In the second round it was a fight between Crewe, Fenton and the host Newcastle. The Crewe team were fantastic in the second round and won all their games. This put Fenton third on 4.5 points Newcastle Second on 5 points. Crewe were clear winners on 6.5 points and win another trophy to add to our collection.
Last night at the club saw 16 members battling for the 2017 Time & Point Handicap. The Walsall Warrior (Rich W) emerged triumphant after an Armageddon style play-off with rapidly improving junior Amy Lovatt as they had completed 5 rounds with scores of 5/5 for Rich and 3/5 for Amy with a 2.5 handicap to take her score to 5.5. The rules stated that anyone scoring 100% would get at least a share of 1st place in the event of any handicap increasing a score above 5 pts.
The scene was set in round 5 with top seed Rich (4/4) playing unbeaten Neville Layhe (3.5/4) on board 1 and Amy Lovatt playing Dylan Sayers on board 2. Rich needed to beat Nev to secure 5/5, and the winner out of Dylan and Amy would end up with 5.5 pts with their handicaps. If Nev could hold Rich to a draw then either Amy or Dylan would be the outright winner. As their games unfolded Rich pounced on a stray queen to beat Nev and Amy picked up small gains to beat Dylan.
Winner: Rich Withshir (5/5) + play-off win.
Runner-up: Amy Lovatt (3/5 + 2.5pts hcap)
3rd: Dylan Sayers (2.5/5+ 2 pts hcap)
Friday night saw the first annual challenge match between Crewe and Cheddleton, played at St Andrew’s Methodist Church. Crewe were grateful for the host team’s patience as two cars got delayed en-route meaning the match did not get under way until shortly after 8pm. First blow was struck by Chedd with choice of colours going in their favour in the 13 board match. Captain Caroline (Mountford) had sportingly picked a team to match Crewe’s much lower based club grades, selecting 7 juniors in their team while Crewe had only 3 juniors available.
First game to finish was a draw on bd 12 between juniors Harry Gardiner and Emma Scotchford before Chedd’s junior James Jones won another junior battle on bd 13. Les Hall soon leveled the match for Crewe with a win on bd 9. Next to finish were juniors Joe Alcock and Josh Brown both picking up wins for Chedd to put the hosts in a commanding position before Amy Lovatt played very patiently to win the bd 11 game and keep Crewe in close arrears.
The match turned decisively in Cheddleton’s favour as Colin Abell and Roger Edwards won their games with black pieces in convincing fashion. Draws for father and son Neville and Simon Layhe (grade 97) were good rewards, especially in Simon’s case saving the game where a piece appeared to be trapped against his grade 133 opponent. Karl Lockett won a fine game for Crewe on board 1 to notch up our only success on the top 8 boards. David Hulme was last to finish when battered into submission by Bill Armstrong to leave the final score at 8-5 to Cheddleton.
Immediately the match finished just after 10.45pm Crewe’s captain congratulated Cheddleton on their win in a match played in a fantastic and friendly spirit and laid down the challenge for Cheddleton to reciprocate the event in 2018.
Many thanks to Caroline at Cheddleton for arranging this first challenge match between the two clubs.
Wednesday saw the final match of the NSDCA league season take place with the Division 5 re-arranged match between our E team and Cheddleton’s youthful I team who were sharing bottom rung on the league ladder.
A below normal strength E team put up a spirited fight to hold the visitor’s I team to a draw. Skipper Les came off the substitutes bench to pick up an early draw on board 2. Next to finish was junior Amy Lovatt on board 4 with a win against another junior. James Marshall outgraded by nearly 50 points on board 1 played really well before a slip up cost him a piece and the game. Last to finish was Nigel Gardner with a draw on board 3 to leave the match level and for both teams to end the season on 11 pts from 14 matches, which is far away the best scores in the league for any team propping up a division.
There was good news for Crewe players at last weekend’s Rhyl Congress.
Mart Gill, Les Hall, Dave Price and Chris Rhodes all represented our club and managed to take a share of the team winners prize with local club Rhyl.
Even better was the news that chairman Dave won 1st prize with a score of 4.5/5 in the Minor Section. Mart came joint 3rd with a score of 3.5, while Chris got 1.5 pts. Apparently Les did better in the drinking competition causing him to pick up just the single point.
The D team fielded another new player last night in their final division 5 match of the season against Cheddleton I. Captain Les Hall continues to provide match experience for newcomers that want to take up the challenge with Phil Wright making his debut on board 2.
With Chedd I fielding three juniors and our D team sporting two more juniors both clubs show their commitment to the development of junior talent which is vital for the future of our game.
The match was drawn 2-2 as Chris Rhodes and Phil Wright won on top two boards for Crewe, while Chedd’s juniors Daniel Cooper and Josh Brown gained full points to ensure match spoils were shared.
The D team concluded their season with 15 pts from 14 matches to finish 3rd in the table – a creditable effort indeed !