“Fs Fail to Find Fortune as Finger Fumbles Form Finality”

Thanks again to Nigel Gardner for the following division 5 match report.

Crewe’s F team travelled, again, optimistically, to play Newcastle F on Wednesday. The evening ended with a narrow 2.5-1.5 defeat which the hosts fully deserved.

The evening seemed to be one for blunders (or being kind, forced oversights).

The highlight of the evening for Crewe was probably the result of the game on board 4 where Ben, playing his first league game away and his first one as black, overcame a much more experienced opponent. From what I could see Ben had a series of attacks, constantly probing, until eventually his opponent let out an anguished groan. He had overlooked something in one of Ben’s attacks and the end quickly came for a very pleasing result putting Crewe 1-0 up.

On board 2 I was in a very interesting game which had massively opened up after a cautious opening. I had gained my opponent’s queen for the loss of a couple of pawns and a minor piece with a tempting sacrifice. However, he had 2 passed pawns and my queen and rook were side-lined, so not as rosy as it may have looked, but still a certain win for me so long as I didn’t blunder. Guess what; his 2 knights and 2 rooks complicated the position and he gleefully accepted the gift of my queen when I overlooked what in hindsight what was an obvious fork with his rook! A few moves later I offered a draw and was delighted that it was accepted as he had the slight upper hand.

Whilst this had been going on, Kobus on board 1 had been playing a great game against a much higher graded opponent and all seemed equal. However, he then decided not to be left out in the blunder stakes and overlooked his opponent’s fork on his two rooks with a knight. Despite the writing being on the wall he followed an unusual path to try and save the game using attack as the best form of defence and at one point it seemed as though it might work. Experience eventually told and eventually Kobus had to concede leaving the match score all square.

Board 3 saw Mike playing a very tight game in which he gradually gained the upper hand and whilst not a bolt on win well into the end game if anyone looked like a winner it was him. Unfortunately, Mike’s old enemy, the clock, was on the side of his opponent and in a complicated pawn position he had around 7 minutes left. At this point, whilst still very much with the upper hand he touched a pawn then realised it was the one protecting his remaining rook and he was forced to move it losing the rook and shortly after losing a game that was at worst a draw.

In every game Crewe played well but oversights cost us. To move forward in chess, as in life, we should aim to learn from our mistakes; so there were plenty of learning opportunities at Newcastle!

Nil desperandum. Ut severis seges.

Weird Wednesday walkabout warmup !

Thanks to captain Nigel Gardner for the following division 5 Match report: 

Crewe’s F team travelled, optimistically, to play Stafford on Monday expecting a hard match. Little did they know that finding the venue would be an unexpectedly challenging task. Firstly, an extended, guided tour of Stafford by car, followed by an equally “de-stressing” (not) walking tour of the back streets of Stafford, ably guided over the phone by Stafford captain’s wife (many thanks to Mrs Evans)!!   

Anyway, it had taken our mind off the games ahead. They were soon, sharply refocussed when we arrived to find Stafford had gone for broke with their team selection, being 1 point short of the maximum 400 for the team total. It was suggested that we may as well just concede on all four boards and go home considering our paltry team’s total grade of 325; down over 18 points a board on average.

However, I don’t think the rest of the team could cope, immediately, with another hour of my driving so we decided we may as well play the match and see what would transpire!  

In a very conducive venue and a cordial atmosphere battle commenced and all four games soon advanced with the opening series of moves happening more quickly than is often the case. There were no obvious advantages gained although Adam on board 2, from a fairly turgid position, suddenly entered a piece exchange that saw 8 of the major and minor pieces disappear in the space of a couple of minutes, greatly advancing the game, opening up the board and significantly helping Adam with his time management!

Debuting on board 1 Reinhard had played very solidly against an unfamiliar opening and the game was becoming enmeshed in a web from which neither side could see an escape. Stafford offered a draw and Reinhard gladly accepting. This recorded a half point against an opponent graded 21 points higher; off to the bar for Reinhard then, with a job well done!

Meanwhile on board 3 I had tried to force the game, always taking the more aggressive option which had pinned my opponent back and advanced two passed pawns down the queenside. Now an impasse was reached as I had 2 rooks, a knight and a queen behind the pawns and my opponent had the same forces defending them. Although there were possible ways forward any positive move by either side now had an air of high risk attached and again, we agreed a draw and the match remained all square.

By this time things were looking less than rosy on boards 2 and 4 for Crewe. Both Adam and Lukasz were a minor piece down although Adam did have two passed pawns in the centre. Not long after this Lukasz found me to confirm that he was certain all was lost, and we were doomed!!  I advised him that it was a long walk home and to go back and battle to the death, never knowing what may transpire. 20 minutes later he found me again to inform me that he had just won; is it Lukasz or Lazarus? However, Lukasz did put a caveat on the good news saying that Adam was a dead man walking……but at this stage we were up 2-1. Lukasz and I went in to watch what we assumed to be the death throes of Adam’s match and the match score would then be tied.

In the meantime, Adam’s two passed pawns had managed to cause the material to be equalised and with 5 pawns and a rook apiece left an honourable, yet surprising, draw was agreed.

This gave Crewe a victory in the match 2.5-1.5 against all the odds and against the flow of the match throughout the evening. The good news was nobody had to walk home, and it goes to show grades don’t necessarily mean that much when the real games start; its just two players facing each other with 16 pieces each on the board and the best player/team on the night gets the decision. A great set of results both for all four individuals and for the team.

Quod erat demonstandum, carpe diem.

“A” team halted, Bees on the brink, and F team flourish !

Last week’s match reports are a bit later than usual due to our Newscaster been away at the Blackpool Congress with a number of our members. Three matches to report on include the “A” team away at Macclesfield last Monday, with the “B” team at home to Meir A on Wednesday and the F team away at Stafford.

The “A” team suffered its first defeat of the season at the hands of Macclesfield. The captain shoulders the responsibility for this after shuffling the board order to try and be clever which backfired spectacularly as the opposition noted. The first result saw a win for Macc on board 4 going with grade advantage, before Doug Barnett romped to a storming win on bd 5 to level matters. David Hulme (the guilty captain) was outplayed on bd 2 by Geoff Laurence as David battled in vain to survive the incoming tide, playing over 50% of the game with under 5 minutes left on his clock before duly falling. The shock news then came when Macc won on bd 3, where David had given white to our higher grade player only to fall for a back-rank mate and condemn the As to defeat. Bart Fajfer battled to the very end to pick up a consolation win on top board to finish the match 3-2 to the hosts. The A team remain top of division 2, but have played 3 more games than Cheddleton B who are 4 points behind, and Macc have a game in hand just 2 pts behind with a similar board count.

On Wednesday the brilliant Bees took themselves to the brink of retaining the division 3 title, with a superb team effort. As with the “A” team the first result went to the opposition on board 1, before Neville Layhe got us on the scoreboard with a solid draw on bd 2. It was left to the engine room of the team on boards 3 and 4 where Chris Rhodes and Simon Layhe underlined the strength in depth of the Bees as they swarmed to success on both boards to complete a match win by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5, to ensure this division will be won by one of the two Crewe teams (B or C). The Bees just need a draw from their final match to be certain of retaining the title, while the C team would need to win both of their remaining matches by big scores (and the Bees to lose) to overtake the Bees on board scores.

The F team match is covered by a separate report from captain Nigel Gardner.

Bees swarming towards title, with C team in pursuit and D team fall to title favourites

Three matches to report on this week effecting Div 3 and 4 title chases. Wednesday night it was  the turn of our C team to challenge at the top of division 3 in 2nd place, with a home match against 4th placed Meir “A”. Skipper Dave Price set the ball rolling with a comfortable win on bd 4, before Karl Lockett added a crucial win on top board. Julian Bulbeck (fully aware of the match position) then offered a draw which was gladly accepted before the opponent realised it would determine the match result to give the C team a narrow 2.5-1.5 win, to take them level on match points with leaders Crewe B.

The other match on Wednesday was our D team taking on division 4 leaders Newcastle D at The Bridge Club. The D team went into this match with a superb record away from home with two wins and three draws but could not stop the hosts from extending their lead at the top of the table. Both teams were close to the 460 grade limit but Newcastle proved too strong, as they ran out 3-1 winners, with Crewe’s Doug Barnett and Harry Gardiner both claiming draws.

Friday no longer means “it’s time for Cracker-jack” but “chess at Cheddleton” as one of our teams travelled to Leek for the 10th time this season. This time it was the turn of B team (the Bees) to play a crucial top of the table clash, with Cheddleton C in 3rd place taking on the league leaders and defending champions. The Bees are in no mood to relinquish their hold on the title as they swarmed to a win 2.5-1.5. Skipper Rick Renegade on board 1 and Chris Rhodes on bd 3 took advantage of the white pieces to win their games, while Neville Layhe salvaged the only contribution with black for the all important draw. The Bees are at home next Wednesday against Meir “A” and avoiding defeat will ensure the division 3 trophy stays in Crewe.

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

Thanks to Nigel again for the following report:

The E team’s somewhat wishful title hopes continue to have their flames fanned by Dave the dragon’s fiery performances and Simon the scorcher’s sparky successes.

At one point this match against a very strong Cheddleton G appeared all over; we were in trouble on 3 of the boards, yet this was a match we had to win to have any chance of maintaining any title aspiration.

All games were into the end game when suddenly on board 2, Dave who had fought against some considerable pressure, cast a magic spell on his opponent causing him to hallucinate and think his rook was a queen and could move diagonally!! Guess what, it couldn’t; but as he had touched the piece he had to move it which gave Dave the opportunity to launch a thrusting counter attack giving him victory within 3 moves. Alongside him on board 1 Simon had compiled a couple of very clever sequences to unlock his opponent’s very sound defence and in the second and most telling of these the inclusion of a discovered check proved crucial to powering him to success. Within 15 minutes we had gone from staring into the abyss to being 2-0 up. However that was only half the job. Lukasz had been in trouble on board 4 almost from the first few moves and at one point had been 3 pawns down with his opponent’s queen all over him.

However he showed a great degree of maturity to work through the problems and gradually find a way back. First, getting one pawn, then fending off the queen, then getting another pawn and breaking out with his own attack. It looked at this stage like the force was with the young Jedi master. However from here on in his opponent hardly put a foot wrong and gradually forced a win promoting a passed pawn to bring the match back to 2-1.

This left Julian a pawn down to an opponent who he had fought a very hard draw with a few weeks ago and under a lot of pressure. Eventually all other matches had finished and these two slugged it out until neither had anything left. Neither could break through, neither looked like making a mistake and despite the opposing bishop and knight dancing around the few remaining pawns a draw was destined to be the result.

And so it finished, Julian the Just came home with the half point the team needed for the win that momentarily takes them back to the top of the table. They have though, played 2 more games than Cheddleton H, and still look destined to finish runners up. However a spark neglected can make a mighty fire!

Nil desperandum.

Monday’s Meir Madness

Thanks to Nigel Gardner for this report on Meir C vs Crewe F:

Crewe’s F team travelled, optimistically, to play Meir C on Monday expecting a hard match against much higher graded opponents. So it eventually transpired with a 2.5-1.5 defeat although at one stage it seemed a shock was on the way. All 4 games appeared to be close but on board 3 Reinhard was gradually building an advantage and with some passed pawns eventually overwhelmed his opponent to get the first point on the board. Seeing this alongside me and having just taken the advantage in my game I quickly offered my opponent a draw, which he accepted immediately, knowing the other 2 games were close. With the benefit of hindsight I made a mistake as if I had examined my position more closely I was in a better position than I had at first thought and should probably have been able to force a win. However I didn’t…………………

Kobus had asked for a challenging game and he was getting it on top board! It was very close but his opponent always seemed to have the upper hand and despite fighting right to the end he eventually capitulated tying the overall match. This left Mike on board 4 who had played a very sound game throughout which had become complicated in the mid-game and he had used a significant amount of time. Probably on analysis he could have won the match but a draw seemed a very real probability until time started to become a problem for him. Unfortunately under the pressure he forgot to press the clock 3 times which ate further into his time and also meant his opponent wasn’t under the same pressure. Eventually that told in a very complicated ending, when Mike eventually lost a rook and had to resign.

However despite the defeat 4 enjoyable games and apologies to my team for a rushed decision that I almost immediately regretted

Division 5 title race, Intermediate Cup success and friendly with new club from Madeley.

We have four matches to report on this week. Monday – Div 5 F team away at Meir C, Wednesday U130 Cup match vs Stafford and friendly vs Madeley, Friday – Div 5 E team away at Cheddleton G.

The division 5 matches are covered by captain Nigel Gardner – see separate report.

The Intermediate Cup is for players with a max grade of 130, and Stafford produced a very competitive match for this semi-final not reflected in the final score. We had a big grade advantage on bottom board (No 5) and Martin Fisher playing only his second game of the season gave the team a solid start with notching up a good win with black. The lead was extended when Doug Barnett added victory on bd 1, before captain Dave Price secured the match with a further win on bd 4, then Simon Layhe added another to make it 4-0 before the visitors gained a consolation to finish the match with a 4-1 win to Crewe, who will face Cheddleton in the final after their semi-final was clinched on board count.

With just one match taking place, the club took the opportunity to host recently formed Madeley in another 5-board encounter. On this occasion it was the visitors who ran out 4-1 winners as they proved to be much stronger than expected. Our sole success came from George Jelliss playing his first match for our club since his recent arrival.

Div 5 Match report   “Fanning the flames??”

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.

Nil desperandum.

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.

 

Division 3 & 5 title chases are on … as Crewe introduce the “Collapsing Table Gambit”

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.

Crewe chasing two division 2 titles, while D team draw

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.