A tough start in 4NCL online League

We have now played two matches in the newly formed 4NCL online league, with teams comprising of 4 boards.

The 4NCL Management team decreed we should play in division 3, and were seeded in 28th place out of 32 teams in the division. However the seedings assumed we would have a team with much higher grades then we are selecting and so we are probably going to find it difficult to avoid relegation in our new venture.

Our first match (April 7th) started promisingly against 4th seeds, Warley Mighty Quins after Neville Layhe got a solid draw on board 4 and Amy Lovatt played serenely to find a superb win on board 2. However the two remaining games against higher grades did not bring any points despite  valiant efforts.

Our second match (April 14th) against 29th seed Falmouth & Truro found us significantly outgraded on top 3 boards. However Neville Layhe again got us off to a flying start with a Stonewall Demolition on board 4, with a beautiful King-side attack that put us in a 1-0 lead. The oppositions strength slowly began to strangle the life out of our positions despite two of the games going deep into the session.

We have a squad of 8 for the competition but have kept the same line up for the first two matches of Karl Lockett, Amy Lovatt, Harry Gardiner and Neville Layhe. The other members keeping the bench warm are Jim Grange, David Hulme, Rick Renegade and Dave Price. It is expected some squad rotation will be deployed as there are 10 matches to be played over the next couple of months.

We got blitzed by Chester tonight !

We played our first online club match tonight, taking on the might of Chester in a Blitz Battle, consisting of games played with a time limit of 5 mins plus 3 secs increment per move.

The scorecard makes for harsh reading as we came second by a long way with Chester running out as big winners by the score of 134-76. Our chances were hampered by the last minute withdrawal of our top player plus another member not joining in who had signed up to play.

Our leading performer was Harry Gardiner (aka gingerninja2003) who clocked up an impressive 12 pts from 12 games. Martin Gill made a virtual return and scored 10 pts from 9 games, while Karl Lockett scored likewise from 11 games. Lukasz Michalek gained 9 pts from 7 games to be our highest percentage scorer on the night. A group of players scored 8 being chairman Dave, alongside Nigel Gardner and Kobus Nienaber. Les Hall would have been delighted to outscore the secretary with 5 pts and Martin Frisher made a cameo performance to help cover for our missing duo, picking up 4 pts from just 5 games, with Dave H (the secretary) performing abysmally to score 4pts from 8 games (with 2 pts awarded for a won game).

Thanks to everyone who joined in and took on the challenge.

Lichess … to the rescue ?

With the short term prospects for a return to OTB chess looking pretty grim, the club are looking to keep interest going through online chess for those that want to.

Our initial actions have been to contact Chester CC to arrange an event in the next few days as a challenge match.

We are intending to open a “club event” on Wednesday evenings which may start this week (25th March) if we can possibly get it ready.

Further contact has been made with Wallasey CC to gauge interest in another battle.

Once we have a little experience of how things work,  we can then look further a field with a view to organising some more matches with our friends from other NSDCA clubs.

Anyone interested please contact secretary David Hulme or chairman Dave Price.

In the meantime please take care of yourselves and all your families and friends through this unprecedented time.

 

NSDCA League Matches suspended

The major news to report is that all NSDCA League Matches have been suspended until further notice. It is intended to review this position at the end of March.

We managed to fulfil all the scheduled fixtures in this past week, which included a Wirral League match at Wallasey on Monday, The D team at home to Stafford and E team against Meir B on Wednesday, with the G team playing Newcastle F at The Bridge Club on Friday.

Our Wirral team went in to their match as division 2 league leaders with 100% record against bottom of the league Wallasey 5 who had not registered a point in all their previous matches and already confirmed in relegation slot. You would not have known as a mighty shock was on the cards after an early draw on board 2 and then followed a loss on board 4. Cool hand Lukasz Michalek on board 5 brought us back to parity with a comfortable win, before our leading player junior Harry Gardiner wrapped up another full point on board 3. Our skipper on board 1 could have taken a draw to get the team back on the road home for the 50 mile return journey but all the team were happy to wait to allow David Hulme to convert his unstoppable advantage and conclude a sound team victory 3.5-1.5 where all the whites were dominant for us. The team has a huge cushion at the top of the table and would be expected to complete their promotion push in due course.

On Wednesday night, the division 4 title chasing D team came unstuck as they were beaten for this first time this season. Only skipper Les Hall picked up a full point on baord 4, with Lukasz gaining a draw. This division is now much more competitive with a number of teams in the chasing pack, although Les’s team have it in their own control if they win all remaining matches including an end of season clash against leaders Cheddleton E.

Also at home on Wednesday were Nigel Gardner’s E team. Nigel took the opportunity to give games to players who had played fewer matches than others, with a notable win for Pawel Stanny playing in division 5 for the first time after previous division 6 introduction to league chess. Nigel’s report can be seen under “Nigel’s Match Reports” column.

Friday night saw a seriously understrength division 6 G team make the short trip to Newcastle. With all top 3 boards unavailable the team put up a spirited fight before going down 3-1 to suffer their first defeat of the season too (like the D team). As captain David Hulme observed the standard of chess was considerably higher than expected for teams limited to a maximum grade of 80. There were two major highlights for us from this match. Firstly junior Safwan Khan played a mature game to win after a superb exchange and discovered attack with check to gain a Queen and bishop for a Rook. The other highlight was to see Mark Randell make his debut on baord 4 and become the 8th Crewe player to be introduced to league chess this season !

 

 

U130 Cup team through to Final (again, again, again and again)

No….. it’s not a line from an old Status Quo song, but just to say Dave Price’s team made it through to their 5th consecutive final, being the Cup Holders for the last 3 years and runners-up in 2015/16. Thanks to the skipper Dave Price for his account of the semi-final.

On Monday night this Intermediate Cup team travelled down the A500 to face Fenton in what was always going to be a close match. We were probably slight favourites with just 34 grading points separating the 5-board teams in our favour. The top two boards were almost identically graded as Fenton shaded the score here. The first game to fall was board two where Steve Emmerton gave Fenton the lead.  But it didn’t take long for Crewe to equalise as Julian (the midnight Mule) Bulbeck had a superb win on board 5. The captain was disappointed as Julian had promised to do a cabaret dance had he lost but it is not surprising he won as he is on superb form, going into this clash with 8.5/10 and his only defeat so far this season against a 135-rated opponent in a division 5 match (with a max grade permitted of 125). Next to finish was Junior Lukasz Michalek who is heading to higher levels and is enjoying a rich vein of form and provided the necessary win on bd 4. Shortly afterwards Dave P was offered a draw looking like a forced repetition hence a draw was agreed. This meant either team had a chance to progress to the final. Julian (Hawthorn) needed a win for Fenton but Rick (the grenade) Renegade only needed a draw to win the match for us. Rick was under huge pressure and had hoped the captain had played on for a win just in case he made a mistake. All eyes were on the game as both players made full use of their time. The pressure was on and the result could  have gone either way. Looking round the room at spectators expressions it looked like Rick had made a few bad moves and was going to lose. A few moves later everyone could see Ricks plan and under emmence pressure he forced a draw  but a single wrong move by either player and zugzwang the game would be lost. Rick produced the goods yet again when the club needed it most with the crucial draw. The final score being a narrow 3-2 win for us.

Our Cup holders will face the winners of Cheddleton/Newcastle semi-final taking place this Friday. The final is scheduled for Wednesday 22nd April assuming there is no other cup final fixture clash for either of the potential opponents.

So far this calender year the club has been fortunate to enjoy a phenomenal series of results, almost comparable to Liverpool’s premier league season. Ignoring club derbies we have played 22, Won 15, Drawn 6 and Lost 1. No doubt this amazing run will come to a shuddering halt before too long, but let’s enjoy it while we can. Well done to every member who has contributed to this run of results …. Cheers.

Busy Bees Flying High

After the previous week’s full schedule of five matches, we embark on a quiet period for a fortnight. This week has seen the club involved in just two matches. Wednesday night was the Perry Trophy (U110) semi-final as Nigel Gardner’s “B” team narrowly beat Les Hall’s “A” team to make it through to the final where they will face Fenton, who have a very strong team in this competition and will mean Nigel’s team can adopt his favourite role as “underdogs”. Nigel’s full report on this match can be seen under his much more exciting “Nigel’s Match Reports” tab on the website.

The other match to take place this week saw Simon Layhe’s Buzzing Bees make the short trip to Holmes Chapel Rooks in a division 2 encounter. The B team went into the match unbeaten since November and having toppled league leaders Cheddleton B in their previous outing. The loss of top board Bart Fajfer due to illness meant the team could not be at full strength, but thanks to junior Amy Lovatt playing at short notice, the team was still able to comfortably outgrade the Rooks. Karl Lockett (board 2), Harry Gardiner (3) and Neville Layhe (5) all converted their grade advantages into maximum points. Captain Simon (on 4) was able to take a draw as the team won 3.5-1.5 to jump to top of the table for 24 hours before Chedd B won last night to go ahead of our Bees by virtue of having scored 23 board pts from 8 matches, compared to 22 board pts for Simon’s team. With two matches remaining it looks like the title will go to the wire and possibly decided by boards scored as any of the top 5 can still win the division.

What a wonderful week that was with a Fabulous Five out of Five !

Thanks to Nigel Gardner for the following write up:

Dear All

After a week of almost unprecedented success for Crewe Chess Club I thought it appropriate to acknowledge where we have reached.

It started last weekend at Newcastle mini congress where Harry won the U160, Lukasz won the U130 and Rick picked up a third in the same section. Its great to note that these are all from the younger end of our membership (yes even you Rick) and each scored great results against some challenging opponents.

Then came Monday and our F team won 4-0 away to Newcastle putting them in a very strong position to win division 5; which for Crewe would be the third year in succession (not counting chickens yet; still plotting!!) again with a strong element of the slightly less “mature” players.

On Tuesday David Hulme’s Wirral team won their fourth straight match putting them clear at the top of the division 2 table and again built on a cornerstone of younger players.

Wednesday saw our A team record their first ever win in Division 1 with some welcome new blood – Dr Jim Grange ; and some returning old, but young blood – Amy. This was a great result and fantastic that we were able to field a board 5 graded at 159!!!!

On the same night Les Hall’s D team tightened their grip at the top of division 4 with a sound victory over Kidsgrove.

Finally Dave Price’s C team won on Friday and re-invigorated their challenge in division 3. This broke the trend towards youth but again Harry was a key component in the team’s success.

All in all a fantastic week for Crewe Chess Club. However there is a somewhat quieter week ahead; or so they thought!!!!!!!!!!

Ringside tickets Tickets for Wilder v Fury might be impossible to get but the better option is surely to be seen at The Mals on Wednesday in the Perry Cup semi-final where Les’s red hot favourites “The A team” take on my also rans “The B team”. Whilst we appreciate we are there just to make up the numbers we might be able to come up with our version of “rope a dope” to make it interesting!!!!!! Entrance is free but make sure you leave a clear passage for the ambulance when they come to remove the bodies………………….

And finally; going off at a massive tangent. I thought some of you may be interested in my latest attempt to shorten my own life expectancy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NigelG

2020 Unbeaten run comes to an end

We suffered our first external defeat of the new year after an unbeaten run of 10 matches. With 3 matches taking place over this week (ending 14th Feb) against the biggest club in the NSDCA, it was Cheddleton who had the upper hand. Wednesday saw our division 5 E team host title chasing Chedd G, while our own table topping G team hosted their H team in a division 6 encounter and on Friday our Major Cup team (U150) went to defend the Cup at Cheddleton.

The E team exploits can be read under Nigel’s Match Reports.

The division 6 match saw our visitors bring a team comprising four very young juniors and just one adult on the top board. It is quite an effort for any club to get so many young players involved in travelling for a midweek night match which could only happen thanks to great parental support and the efforts of their captain Ali Arshad. The match was a joy to watch as the mix of youth and maturity went into battle. Cheddleton started with the advantage as the lone junior from Crewe’s team was unable to play and so we had to default a board. Russell Smithers retrieved the score for Crewe with an early success on board 4 before Cheddleton’s junior proved too strong on board 5 to put them back in the lead 2-1. Pawel Stanny seemed to be cruising to victory a piece to the good as another junior fought hard to trap Pawel’s Queen. However a clever counter-attack from Pawel forced the win and back to parity at 2-2. Mike Keenan held his nerve on board 2 to give Crewe the lead before the visitor’s Peter Hiscock out manoevred our top player to finish the match in a 3-3 draw. This result leaves the G team unbeaten and still top of division 6 with two matches to go.

The following notes were added to the League’s Result system by our captain “An unfortunate last minute withdrawal by Crewe’s board 6, brought a great response from Cheddleton captain Ali to somehow get a message to save a long unnecessary journey for Richard and his parent. A special thank you goes to all the visiting parents that brought the young Cheddleton team on a mid-week night. A very friendly match ended in a fair draw with excellent wins on top and bottom boards for Cheddleton, while Crewe edged the others.”

Friday night saw our U150 Cup Team try to defend their trophy at Cheddleton. This was always going to be a tall order as our opponents would outgrade us on most boards. Neville Layhe on board 5 held out for a useful draw before we lost the crucial board 1 game as David Hulme fell into severe time trouble with Karol Gryzbowski gaining a fine win and using his time far better. Doug Barnett managed another draw on board 4 and then Simon Layhe did likewise in a tough encounter on board 2. The final game (with Cheddleton already guaranteed progress) ended with Harry Gardiner delivering a snap mate as his opponent blundered with a wrong piece recapture. Cheddleton go through to the final to face the winner of Fenton vs Stafford, by virtue of the board count tie break following the drawn match.

D team held by Chedd F in Div 4 and Bees sting the leaders in Div 2.

Just two matches this week as the league’s two biggest club went head to head for the first games in a series of five over a fortnight.

Wednesday night saw Les Hall’s D team recapture top spot in div 4 despite being held by bottom of the table Cheddleton F. Captain Les has been mis-firing since November and the team have been held to 3 consecutive draws so now have Fenton C and Chedd E breathing down their necks. They hold a slender 1 pt lead at the top of the table and remain unbeaten after this 2-2 draw with Chedd F. It looked like the D team’s unbeaten run was coming to an end after Les had lost to junior James Jones and Rick (the grenade) Renegade’s explosives failed to detonate on top board with a draw against experienced Jon Blackburn. Young Lukasz Michalek was up against “drawing-expert” Sandra Blackburn and in serious time trouble. A draw was agreed after 3-fold repitition to leave “steddy-Eddy” Neville Layhe in play. A Rook and pawn master-class followed after numerous draw offers were declined as Nev opened up the board by switching Rook from K-side to Q-side to attack backward pawns. Eventually he was able to support one runaway pawn to pick up a full point and push the D team back to the top of the table.

On Friday Simon Layhe’s Bees faced a daunting trip to div 2 leaders Chedd B. Chedd’s strength lies in the club’s wealth of junior talent with three teenagers occupying top 4 boards. It was no surprise that Jacob Boswell and Sam Parry took the top two boards for the hosts with significant grade advantages. At the other end of the tables Crewe’s Doug Barnett and junior Harry Gardiner won convincingly with their similar grade advantages to leave the match in the balance at 2-2. The remaining game on bd 3 saw both players with identical grades, with Crewe’s David Hulme having the so-called advantage of white. After a series of middle game exchanges it was 2 Knights  and 6 Pawns each but David’s Knights co-ordinated better to win a pawn. After a long series of manoeuvres David had sacked his Knight on Q-side for a passed pawn and created a 4-1 pawn majority on K-side. After the final pawn exchange the 3 pawns were enough to create one winning pass-pawn to tip the matches result in favour of the Bees 3-2, who join Chedd B on 9pts but 1 board point behind. The title race remains wide open with 5 of the top 6 all easily capable of becoming div 2 champions.

Next week (commencing 10th Feb) sees 3 more matches between the two C Clubs (Crewe & Cheddleton)

Bees begin to Fly again, and Fabulous F team extend lead

There were two matches last week (ending 31st Jan) for the club. Tuesday night the division 5 leaders (F team) made the short journey to Alsager while on Wednesday the Bees hosted title chasing Macclesfield.

The F team’s exploits can be read under Nigel’s Match Report Section.

The B team faced a tough challenge against Macclesfield with both teams within 1 point of each other on a total grade basis. As your reporter arrived about one hour into the match, Rick “the grenade” Renegade had set off the early explosives and the Bees were 1-0 up already, before “steady eddy” Neville Layhe secured a draw to keep us in the ascendancy. On board 2 Karl Lockett was a pawn down but with opposite colour bishops the draw was always the favourite result and so this transpired. Skipper Simon Layhe held a solid draw with black on board 3. The winning hit came from Bart Fajfer on top board to underline his grade advantage and ensure the team climbed the table with a final result of 3.5-1.5.

The Bees next match is against table toppers Cheddleton B.