A WINTER’S TALE
The new North Staffs season is now well underway and Crewe have entered 8 teams across the four leagues. Easily, one of the more Enigmatic of the Crewe Entries is the Esoteric “E” team.
We ply our trade in the darker regions of the 3rd division. We have a squad of 5 Experienced Essayers and 1 Eager Entrant who shall, hereafter, be called Joe; because that’s his name.
So far in, the school report might read “Trying hard and has potential”.
We’ve played 2 matches; lost one, won one. Upcoming are series of 4 more matches in the space of 4 weeks. This should be a season defining period as we will have reached halfway through our 12 match total and have no games in December.
The first is set for Halloween; no need to worry……………….or is there?
Is it safe????
IN FRANTIC FRIDAY FINALE
Crewe D travelled to play Stafford with a changed board order following the late inclusion of Karl to replace Julian who was unavailable.
Following our victory at Fenton there was still a glimmer of hope that we could win the league but we expected a difficult game as Stafford are probably the favourite for the league and I knew they would play a strong line up. For a change; I wasn’t wrong. Even with Karl’s rating boosting our overall strength Stafford out rated us by 670 points. Based purely on the rating that team would have been strong for Division 1!!!
For a change the stats weren’t wrong. We had an “interesting” journey to Stafford’s new venue (didn’t we Lukasz!). Again, a total unique environment to play chess in; which had a character that couldn’t be replicated. A very high ceiling and an old wooden floor, as we played in an historic badminton court in Stafford Grammar School. The atmosphere was augmented by the echoey noises emanating from the adjacent squash courts that were in use.
We competed well in each of the 4 matches but that was where it ended. On most boards we were behind either positionally or in material from early on; and players of Stafford’s ability don’t tend to let that slip. All fought well into the night but one by one George Lukasz and finally Karl succumbed.
Considering we had the creator of Star Wars in our midst, unfortunately, the force was not strong with us. (Work it out but there is no prize giving!!)
I ploughed on in what I had foolishly assumed was a “locked out” position and thought it was a certain draw. However I hadn’t allowed for my opponents tenacity. He beavered away gradually exploiting my very “bad bishop” (you were a very naughty bishop!!!). Slowly he unpicked my supposedly locked out pawn structure and I was staring the guillotine well and truly in the face.
He’d spent so long trying to work out a way through he was down to less than 2 minutes and I had 20+. I played quickly so that he couldn’t use my time to think, tried setting a couple of traps so he couldn’t just rush it and when he got to 20 seconds to go he offered the draw which I gratefully accepted. It was some small consolation as we licked our wounds on the return journey.
Two apparent positive from the day were
- Lukasz keeps his rating down ahead of the congress (his words)
- No bloody potholes!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE IN GOTHIC REVIVAL ENIGMATIC MASTERPIECE
Crewe D travelled to play Fenton B with all their original starting squad from the beginning of the season in October. Lukasz on 1; myself on 2; with George & Julian Bulbeck, respectively on 3 & 4.
There was a remote and very unlikely chance that we could still win the league. However, to do so meant winning our two remaining games; and an extremely unlikely series of other results, going our way. We entered this match knowing we could only influence that which is possible and then leave the rest to the fates!
As the evening light began to dim when we pulled up near Fenton’s new venue we were met by an impressive, Victorian edifice (no not Steve E before anyone says) which is now their home; or is it lair? As we mounted the steps to the imposing front door I half expected………………………………..
The building’s interior didn’t disappoint and we settled down in the spacious cafe and the games began in earnest; (which was very good of Mr Wilkinson as he was having an internal club game at the time).
As the evening light dimmed it became apparent that the lighting within the cafe was designed to be in keeping with the Gothic building and a slightly eerie glow, descended over the boards.
The silence was broken only by the occasional, muted chatter from Fenton’s club games and the infrequent, but less-muted spluttering of the Cappuccino machine on the cafe counter.
The games pushed on. As black on 2 I played Steve Emmerton and after a dozen moves I felt tired and could see a long, turgid evening ahead. I felt I would slowly slip into the Slough of Despond, and meet an inauspicious end, as the murky depths engulfed me.
Enough of that I thought!!! So, I sacked a Bishop for 2 pawns and an attack with my Queen and Knight which I knew shouldn’t go anywhere. In fact, on analysis afterwards Steve said to me that he knew the sack was not going to go anywhere! Guess what 5 moves later I’d won!!!!!!
Hoorah. Steve had the choice of 3 moves to get out of my attack and two really bad ones that would have caused him quite a bit of trouble. However, he managed to find an even worse one that gave him the choice of losing his Queen and/or being mated.
Maybe the sack wasn’t so bad as I was now able to relax with some chocolate and a coffee whilst the team played on. I had an extra helping of smugness with my coffee making it taste even better.
The other games were destined for the wee small hours. All were very evenly poised and at one point I could see us losing all 3. In a very sarcastically surprising sort of way George had gotten himself into time trouble……………………………………again! But remember George you said you play better when under time pressure!!!!!
In fact, he was in so much time trouble he even let me record for him in my ancient, Sumerian, cuneiform script.
Despite being well in the game the time pressure was so intense George began to crumble. In fact, at one point Steve E asked me why I was recording when George had 8 minutes on his clock: Steve; I said” Those are seconds”. Unfortunately, the end came swiftly and George’s opponent who is relatively new to league chess chalked up a well deserved win and it was 1-1.
Meanwhile on 1 Lukasz was having a battle royale with Chris Hankey, who is significantly higher-rated. Eventually, Lukasz admitted, he ran out of attacking ideas and the game petered out to a well earned draw; keeping the match very much on tenterhooks.
Julian on 4 had a very complicated position and was a piece down but had two, connected passed pawns on the 6th and 7th ranks. Both players looked like they were going to win at different stages but after an exchange of some of the minor pieces the past pawns gave Julian the advantage. He wasn’t able to promote them but they drew his opponent’s King to the wrong side of the board and resignation swiftly followed.
A great win for the D team which was never in the bag until Julian did his impression of a fat lady singing!!!!
Next up is Stafford away. The dream is alive although it could have been a Gothic Nightmare!
CREWE V CHEDDLETON – INTER CUP-FRIDAY 28TH JANUARY 2023
In a 5 board match that was so evenly balanced on ratings the 5th board was exactly equal this was a night that went down to the wire; and then some. Crewe’s merry band of 5, traipsed around the Staffordshire Moorlands knowing that they were in for a challenging night. And so it transpired.
As a man much better qualified than me was heard to say about this match………………………
“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint * Crispin’s day.”
All 5 games began in earnest (although he did complain a bit).
It was obvious by the deathly hush, that each player was aware of the importance of their contribution; nothing was going to be a “gimme”.
Our board order was George B, Doug, Nigel, James M & Andrew and after 30 minutes only 2 games seemed to have made any significant progress; Doug had established a strong position on 2 whilst Andrew had the onset of a flamboyant attack; and it wasn’t a medical condition
Meanwhile, James and George had decided that they were pseudo Time lords, and would occasionally disappear into time vortices to eventually reappear and find another 15 minutes gone off their clocks!!!!!
I plodded on; building a firm base and occasionally giving my opponent a gentle nudge in his metaphorical ribs to test the water.
Boards 2 and 5 now took a turn. Doug had seemed to have built control but in his own words his second blunder was the costly one and his opponent was not one to let him off the hook; resignation soon followed. Andrew meanwhile had two passed pawns creeping down the centre of the board and was gradually ripping his opponent’s position apart. However, with his King trapped in a corner there was always the possibility of a bank rank mate if he blundered. It would be fair to say all my digits were crossed. Please don’t do it Andrew!!!!!!!!!!! He didn’t and a win swiftly followed. Match score 1-1.
By now both James and George had less than 5 minutes on their clocks and their opponents could have used sundials for their time. Both are well used to such positions; indeed, George even postulated that he might deliberately get into such a situation because he enjoys the buzz more………… comments to Master Bulbeck please.
James held his nerve, kept himself in the game and, eventually, his opponent offered the draw which James gladly accepted; in terms of the match an important half as black. Match score 1½ -1½.
George had developed a marginal advantage but was now under a minute; I had continued to jab in the ribs and eventually broke some skin; air was seeping out! I had zoned into my game knowing I was to play to the death if we were to win the match; if the scores had been equal we would have lost on board count. Apparently George had ONE SECOND on his clock at one stage but was still managing to keep an eye on my board! I was attacking all over the place and eventually promoted.
Seeing this; George instantly offered a draw which his opponent jumped at; possibly not the best idea bearing in mind the match position! Within 5 minutes I had delivered the final uppercut to the jaw and we ran out 3 -2 winners to march on to the final.
*FYI – St Crispin’s day should hereafter be known as St George’s Day
2022 Season Starts
On Wednesday 5th October Crewe D narrowly lost their opening fixture of the 2022 season to Newcastle.
Looking at the grades there was an element of David v Goliath to be expected.
Newcastle averaged over 125 point per board advantage with a particular weighting in favour of boards 1 & 2. That however just increased the jeopardy and the challenge. At the off we all started with an equal number of pieces.
Crewe took to their task with a quiet determination and after about half an hour or so a quick glance round the room seemed to show us, at least, on even terms on each board. Every game was closely contested and it seemd like an upset might be on the cards as we took slight advantages in a couple of games.
First to finish was myself on board 1. We’d had a very tight game but I’d gradually developed an attack. Rather than trying to force it through I just kept building the pressure. It didnt seem to be going anywhere but it tied up all my opponents pieces. A draw was offered by me and accepted.
I was happy but in the closing minutes I’d noticed in a couple of the games things hadnt quite gone to plan and Newcastle’s players had turned even positions into their advantage.
George on 2 and Lukasz on 3 were playing on but unfortunately the end was in sight and finally the coups de grace were delivered, moving the match score to 2 ½ – ½; and it was lost.
Julian however on 4 was having none of that and kept pushing the advantage home to force a fine win for himself and to make the match score much more respectable at 2 ½ – 1 ½.
All in all everyone was pleased to get back to league chess. It was good to meet up with faces not seen for a while and to revisit an old haunt again. Well done to all of the D team and thanks to Newcastle for being great hosts.
It was a case of nearly…….. but not quite. We shall lick our wounds re-focus for the congress and come out fighting.
POLICE APPEAL FOR WITNESSES!
Sometimes it is important to realise that some matters are more important than Chess; although this may be hard to come to terms with for many.
Such were the events at the MALS club on Wednesday night.
Whilst there was a very interesting and tense match between Crewe’s B and D teams a serious incident occurred, of which not many were aware!
One of our members was involved in an incident that had the potential to leave him with life-altering injuries.
On board 4 Steve Ballantyne and Nigel Gardner were involved in a topsy turvy game where both made errors and the fortunes swung to and fro. In the middle game Nigel missed an opportunity and put himself in a precarious position. (So precarious that on later analysis on Lichess it was around -7).
It was at this point that the incident occurred.
Steve offered Nigel a draw…………………….Nigel struggled to stop himself saying “Really”……………. then didn’t just bite Steve’s hand off…………………………………. but most of his lower arm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is possible that Steve will make a recovery from the physical damage, but I feel the mental trauma engendered may be long lasting.
So, after the first game to finish the score was ½ a point a piece.
Meanwhile the remaining 4 games continued, and each was a protracted struggle for supremacy with no one certain to be a winner.
The next game to conclude was on board 2, where David Lambton & Simon were fighting a rematch of the previous week. David had guested for the A team on board 2 as Black. Déjà vu. That had been a very tense and difficult battle ending with the honours even. This week seemed to be following a similar direction although David appeared to have gained a marginal advantage. So it transpired; playing with great control and resilience he forced home for a win to the Ds.
1 ½ – ½
Board 5 went right down to the wire. Pawel was white against Reinhard and as it entered the endgame seemed to have a marginal advantage. However, Reinhard fought back, and it was 3 pawns and a rook a piece looking more and more like a draw. Pawel was also getting close to time difficulties which has been his occasional downfall recently. The tension was palpable.
Pawel kept his nerve and didn’t seem to contemplate offering a draw. He gained a pawn and in a very delicate series of moves this gradually advanced. Reinhard was in danger of either being mated or allowing the promotion and resignation ensued. A great win for Pawel and an excellent game played by both.
2 ½ – ½
Julian on board 3 had developed a positional advantage but his opponent was in very, very, very deep, time trouble.
Unperturbed, James is familiar with this position and continued to play some exceptionally cool-headed moves. He was beginning to feel the pressure and offered a draw on a couple of occasions. Julian was torn between pushing on and forcing the win or accepting the draw and taking one for the team.
He decided that a draw was sufficient on the night and did not wish to risk an unlikely blunder as the pieces were still even.
3 ½ – 1 and the match was won for the D team.
Board 1 continued. Rick was white against the B team captain David Hulme. I had missed the early exchanges but on becoming an intermittent spectator, it appeared Rick had a very strong attack underway, and I wrongly assumed the game was up. David used his time wisely and found an escape and somewhat turned the tables on Rick. He now had to work out an escape and it seemed to take an eternity.
Both were playing in the knowledge the match result was settled.
Neither seemed to be interested in a draw and both probed for the winning series of moves with Rick eventually achieving a passed pawn that sealed the game for him.
The D team are currently living the dream.
Two wins from two matches, each 4 – 1, puts big targets on our backs for the other teams to shoot at. Bring it on.
LEAGUE CHESS SEEN AGAIN IN CREWE. HOORAH!
Wednesday 11th March 2020 was the last day Crewe teams played at home in League chess.
Over 19 months later battle was resumed!!!! Wednesday 27th October 2021 saw 4 Crewe teams playing league chess at the Mals which, in the terms of what has transpired between times, was a moment to note and savour.
It was the first round of fixtures in the NSDCA, VMS division. I would like to challenge anyone outside of local chess to try to work out what these 8 letters represent! We know, because we are that chess player pictured above, emerging into a new reality.
Whether things will continue to “improve” or whether further setbacks are to be encountered who knows. But I think it worthwhile standing back to appreciate the here and now, and, in the phrase that a certain voice from the past liked to iterate; CARPE DIEM.
The details of the night and the results are not too important. The facts that 20 Crewe players sat down to play OTB team chess and simultaneously there were a number of other competitive and friendly games being played served to underline how Crewe Chess Club has actually grown during its period of enforced hibernation.
On the night all 8 games were competitive, interesting and enjoyed by everyone; that included being able to watch how your teammates were progressing as well as being absorbed in your own successes and failures.
As captain of the D team I must comment on an exceptional team performance. We are as yet undecided as to what the D represents?
Suggestions include –
Development, Defiant, Determined, Damaged, Dynamic, Dream, Dumb, Dim, Defensive, Daunting, Dilettantes, Dreadnoughts, Dogs, Damned, Dirty, et al (whoever he is).
I’m sure different people will have their own ideas.
In our first match we had drawn the A team. The teams’ grades matched, but as the home team we had the disadvantage of being black in 3 of the 5 games. It was going to be a battle from the off and so it transpired.
It didn’t take long for each game to develop complicated positions that offered hope to both sides. Every time I wandered around the games it was far too hard to assess who was on top. Difficult questions were being asked and some unusual positions were encountered; viz
The first game to finish was board 2. This was signalled to all by Lukasz’s (A-team) exasperated cry of anguish. This, presumably, signalled his realisation of an oversight and shortly afterwards the D team’s Dangerous David notched up the first point of the match on board 2.
My game on 4 had developed into a scene of carnage with a couple of instances of multiple exchanges. These had been prompted by Kobus’s adventurous attack early on; in which he opened up my centre but meant he lost a knight for two pawns. As the ensuing slaughter progressed I managed to retain the slim advantage into the end game.
Ultimately, my bishop being the only minor piece on the board proved decisive stopping Kobus’s pawn progression whilst I was heading for queen. 2 – 0 to team D!!!!!!!!!!!!
But these were the two games where we had white so all was not yet done and dusted for the Dees.
From my vantage, Julian’s game with Lee on board three had, in some respects, been similar to mine. He had gained an early advantage but then was under a lot of pressure to maintain it, as Lee pressed on with an attack…………..
……………and it did!!!!!! Julian came through with the all important third point assuring team D of victory on the night.
Meanwhile on boards 1 & 5 the games went on ….and on …..and on. Both were very interesting to watch and I am sure, stressful to play and in both cases time started to become a factor.
As black on 1, Rick had initially feared the worst against the A team captain, Martin. However, he played in his usual, original style from which a series of interesting and intense positions developed.
One critical move in the mid game swung the advantage Rick’s way, he fought feverishly to defend it ultimately achieving a very well-deserved and satisfying victory. A very unexpected 4 – 0 lead.
On 5, Pawel was playing black against an ever improving George Bulbeck. With most of the club watching the game moved into the final few minutes and appeared very evenly poised. George was running out of time but both players had some attack potential but had some stout defending to balance. Despite some extremely tenacious play Pawel eventually succumbed but an excellent game to round off an excellent match.
This leaves the D team precariously poised at the top of a very early league table but as I’m sure some will point out there’s only one way from the top; maybe its D for Downwards??
Finally, I think that the pictures below succinctly summarise the real world on occasion…
(Sat 21st March)
Nutty Nigel from Nantwich goes the extra mile and then some when it came to self isolating on Saturday!!
As there’s no chess news at the moment i thought I’d update anyone who is interested (i.e. no one) on my intended shot at doing a marathon. I’d entered Manchester with my daughter which was due on the 5th April. After the first three weeks of training I tore my calf muscle. No problem as I’d done it before and still had plenty of time. A few days complete rest then some very long sessions on the cross trainer (up to 3 hours). Then back to running and gradually building up the distance until two weeks ago I did 20 miles. Then its tapering part of which involved three half marathons on 3 consecutive days. All going well until last Thursday evening I hear Manchester is cancelled and over the following three days every other long run in the country was cancelled.
Nil desperandum. I resolve to run it myself on my own this Saturday starting at my gym in Crewe and doing laps of the Weston road trading estate until I’d done 26.2 miles!!!
That was until Friday when all gyms were shut!
Nil desperandum. I worked out a route from my home which involved 6 ½ laps of a reasonably flat course. No rain and reasonably warm apart from the biting easterly wind!
Things were going well until after 35.5 kms my son’s Garmin watch (which tracks your time and distance) lost the GPS signal although I didn’t realise it. When it reacquired it after a long time it took the shortest distance between two points and so I suddenly realised I didn’t know how far I’d really run. I thought there’s only one way to do this and I kept going until I’d done 42.2 km on the watch. Therefore I’d definitely done the marathon and hopefully justified the various people who kindly agreed to sponsor me.
However the last couple of miles were really hard and I ended up walking. The reason became obvious when I was home and had time to calculate and assess what had happened. I had actually run a PB for the marathon. But I’d also run a PB for the 46km I had covered in total; no wonder the last 2kms were hard!!!!!!
Anyway I’m sure a couple of people doing their gardens must have got a bit freaked out by the nutter who kept going past every 35 minutes or so for 5 ¼ hours!!!!
(Wed 3rd March 2020) Crewe E promise late surge!!!!
With their counterparts in division 5 (Crewe F) vying with Cheddleton for the title, Crewe E took on Meir B at the Mals on Wednesday.
Next to bottom of the table, this was the start of a long end to the season for the EEs as they have had several games postponed. With no more games against the top two teams there is a definite opportunity to climb the table.
However, this was the first test.
The teams were evenly matched with only 2 grading points per board difference (on average).
Nigel, George, Mike and Pawel started on time and battle was enjoined. George seemed to be making good progress on board 2 beside me whilst, as black, I was slowly suffocating the life breath out of my game!
When I realised George was significantly up and had a strong attack underway, I offered my opponent a draw that he gladly accepted. Within 20 minutes George had converted his advantage and we were now up by 1 ½ to ½. A strong win by George against a higher graded opponent and a good omen for his coming weekend at Blackpool.
The remaining two games were much closed affairs although on 4 Pawel making his debut in division 5 had been testing his opponent from early in the opening. Both players were being very deliberate, and this was going to play to the finish.
Meanwhile Mike on 3 had developed a strong position as his game moved from the middle to end game. Each player had two rooks and a few pawns, but Mike’s rooks had become active first resulting in him being a pawn up. His opponent offered a draw and Mike was tempted by decided to persevere. Then the game moved to a phase where each player had both rooks at their opponents end of the board and one mistake would lose the game. Gradually Mike advance his spare pawn and despite some knife-edge moments eventually made it tell and his opponent graciously resigned before the coup de gras.
2 ½ – ½ and the match was won.
Pawel scented blood though, not for him a tepid draw. On and on he pressed and gradually built an overwhelming attack using most of his pieces, squeezing the space and options for his opponent. The end was inevitable and a great win for Pawel and the team was secured.
2 points in the bag and the table’s ascent has now begun in earnest (although I hope Mr Wilkinson doesn’t mind!)
Recently, a chess master has died of the Corona Virus– after a few days, his friend heard a voice; it was him!
“What’s it like, where you are now?” the friend asked.
“What do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?”
“Please tell me the good news first”
“Well, it’s fantastic here. There are tournaments and blitz sessions going on all the time. Morphy, Alekhine, Lasker, Tal, Capablanca, Botvinnik, they’re all here, and you can play them.”
“Fantastic!” the friend said…… “and what’s the bad news?”
“You have Black against Capablanca on Saturday.”
(Wed 26th Feb 2020) HIGH NOON AT HIGHTOWN, AS THE B TEAM ARE PICTURED ARRIVING FOR THE GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL!!Wednesday saw the Perry Trophy semi-shootout at the Mals, with our A team against our B team. Les’s A team (hereafter known as the Allstars) took on Nigel’s B team (known as the Bandits) for a position in the final against Fenton.
There was a degree of rivalry evident and reports that Adam has now achieved the 100m qualifying time for the UK Olympic team are a slight exaggeration. However, it was quite amusing to see the speed he raced up the steps when someone told him the clocks had been started, whilst he was still downstairs in the bar. Also, the teasing variations of what was to be the Bandits starting line-up, did provide an element of pre-match entertainment for some present!!
Anyway, 7.40 came and the first shots rang out. On board 1 the Bandits’ Kobus Krackshot was slugging it out with Julian the Just and early casualties were lined up alongside the board. Both had sorties into enemy territory with Krackshot trying to force the pace. A standoff seemed to have been reached when Krackshot walked into The Just’s well laid ambush and was duly mown down in a hail of bullets. 1 – 0 to the Allstars.
Meanwhile the other three boards were more strategic, with sharpshooting vantage points being sought, and more than once was the long range “take-out” was only narrowly avoided.
On board 3 Gunslinger George (Bandits) had taken a few early hits from Lethal Les (Allstars Captain) and was seeking some respite. However, he had laid a few traps of his own which Lethal kindly walked into and very soon Lethal was an ex-player and the score was 1 – 1.
Over to board 4 where Fiery Phil (Bandits) was in a tense struggle with Patient Pawel (Allstars). Being relatively new to the battlefield Pawel stood his ground well and for a long-time parity was maintained. Slowly but surely, he took a few too many hits as he was outflanked by Phil and eventually died in an onslaught of Fiery’s Fearsome Firepower.
2 – 1 to the Bandits; but the cup doesn’t do draws. So, if Adam Ant of the Allstars
overcame Noxious Nigel (IL Bandito Capitano) on board 2 the Allstars would be declared winners under obscure rule 527z (subsection 47r) !!!!!!
On the battle raged……and on……and on. At this point we might have benefitted from a break whilst night vision goggles were provided; as the tumbleweeds were beginning to blow down the centre of the club room.
Both players knew their roles Adam was adamantly playing for a win whilst Noxious knew a draw would suffice. Both players missed potentially lethal shots, and both clung on for survival. Unfortunately for the adamant one, he had massively eaten into his time and with around 3 minutes left (against 17 for Noxious) a few misjudgements put him in an extremely perilous position. Never missing a chance to kick a man when he was down, Noxious offered a draw that he knew couldn’t be refused and peace finally descended on the battlefield. All parties retreated to lick their wounds with the Bandits victorious 2.5 – 1.5 and set to regroup for the final.
All in all, four great games played in a very competitive, but enjoyable, spirit with the result having the potential to go either way throughout.
(Wed 12th Feb 2020)
On Wednesday the E team hosted Cheddleton in another division 5 match between the two clubs that was destined to be closely contested.
This Crewe team had nothing to lose as they can’t win the league now; however, they had plenty to gain as the opponents are the main challengers to our F team for the League title.
Cheddleton arrived with their usual four players nudging the team’s grading limit and being 10 points per player higher than Crewe. All the pointers were to a relatively easy win for Cheddleton.
However, Chess is life in miniature. Chess is a struggle, chess battles. The Crewe team were up for a battle and sprung a couple of surprises with an unexpected board order and a welcome guest return from Dylan who is away at University in his second year.
It is useful to take the opponent on to unknown grounds. A game of chess is not an examination of knowledge; it is a battle of nerves. And so, having taken Cheddleton to unknown grounds the first battle had been edged, slightly by Crewe.
All games were fairly balanced and cagey to start with and on a cursory glance after 20 minutes no great progress had been made. Dylan was playing well on 3 beside me, had repelled his opponent’s initial attacks and was beginning to make inroads though all was square. However, his opponent has a penchant for early finishes and suddenly offered a draw, Dylan consulted and decided to accept as there was no clear-cut option for an attack.
Les and I were battling doggedly on 1 & 2 against our much higher graded opponents; my game was 50-50 whilst Les was coming under some pressure and was slightly behind on material. As he progressed into the end game a very delicate position developed with one side of the board open and controlled by a Cheddleton rook. The other side consisted of opposing pawns that temporarily obstructed each other although there were all sorts of possible sacrifices available with one slight miscalculation from either player leading to a passed pawn, a queen and a loss. Les played extremely well to continually counter his opponent’s threats whilst maintaining some of his own and eventually a truce was called.
Two matches down, all square and a possible upset in sight.
My game was all even; I had some advanced pawns we had two rooks and a knight each and the game was finally balanced although I was pushing and gradually starting to squeeze his space out of the board. I’d offered a draw twice thinking that if we could get three in the bag Phil would be ok on board 4 against his lower graded opponent for at least a half. Eventually my pushing forced my opponent into an oversight, and I forked his King and Rook with my knight. He would get my knight back, but I would be a rook to a knight up with a possible win in sight. Suddenly I saw something else on the board which I totally misread and panic mode kicked in.
Instead of sitting on my hands and working the problem I had a knee jerk reaction (emphasis on the word jerk) and again offered a draw which my opponent, disbelievingly, bit my hand off for.
It may be a fair comment to say I put the “I” into IDIOT in a big way.
What I had also overlooked was that on board 4 Phil had managed to get behind and although his much younger opponent was under the beginnings of some time pressure she held her nerve, gradually advanced her passed pawn and eventually forced Phil to resign and win the match for her team.
A great result for Isabelle who deserves much credit for persevering and keeping her cool.
If at the end of the season Cheddleton pip our F team to the title, a combination of my generosity (aka stupidity) and Isabelle’s calm, last Wednesday night, will have contributed in a large part to that.Well done Cheddleton, but also well done to all in the Crewe team who yet again gave an account well above their combined grading level and were ………..so near and yet so far.
(Tue 28th Jan 2020) TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK,
On Tuesday the F team travelled back through time to bygone eras when they visited Alsager !
Firstly, they entered the Ice Age when entering the building as it took a while for the heating to kick in and as a result of the cold most of Alsager’s electronic clocks were struggling to work. All but one game was played therefore,with analog clocks. For some this conjured up fond memories of early times where all was more sedate and not everything needed electricity; for others (who’d never used an analog clock before) the tick tocking became like a weevil gradually devouring their brain.
And so, not that long after the matches had started, Kobus had managed to record a slightly surprising loss with only 19 moves played. Suddenly a match that had seemed slightly easier than anticipated when we arrived due to Alsager not fielding their strongest possible team, became much more challenging.
Was it possible that this was where Crewe F’s season went into freefall?
The other 3 games continued, and all seemed reasonably even until my opponent kindly decided to give me a knight and then around 10 moves later his queen and very soon after the match. I had quite enjoyed the metronomic clock at my side although it was only afterwards I realised they had all been out of sync, a fact Kobus was only too well aware of!!!!!!!
1 – 1, and all to play for. Dave’s game on board 1 was very close and time was beginning to stack up against him but Adam on 3 was beginning to put the squeeze on and had won a rook for free. This augured well and relatively soon afterwards he had forced the win.
2 – 1, and all on Dave’s shoulders to take maximum points. I was trying to use telepathy to ask him to offer a draw (and give the team a narrow win) as the negative vibes were trying to convince me he had forgotten there were no increments with analog, and he would lose on time.
Dave was having none of it and used his mind block powers to shut me out and drive home his apparently slight advantage to seal his win and a 3 – 1 victory for the team. A great result for all (bar KN !) and this keeps the Fs at the top of the table with a couple of big matches coming up.
Thanks to all the team for a successful and enjoyable evening and thanks to Alsager for hosting warm but chilly evenings chess!!
(Mon 6th Jan 2020) CREWE F & E v MEIR; 2020 – A NEW YEAR – A VISION TO BEHOLD
The New Year started with a Division 5 double header at Meir. After some personnel changes in the week beforehand, all seemed set for two relatively strong Crewe teams to take to the boards…….
that was until we discovered F team board 1, Lucasz was, apparently, otherwise occupied with his modelling job (see above), and he had disappeared.
A hectic and stressful car journey ensued with Dave Price acting as an essential link at base, on the phone, trying to co-opt others to fill the now vacant slot. This was to no avail, and we were resigned to playing a man down, as I tried to work on some damage limitation by revising the team make-ups. A great start to 2020!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Two minutes from Meir, a phone call from Dave, and Lukasz had managed to get time off his latest photo shoot and was en route. Hoorah!!! The saviour is coming and will be met with great joy, much gratitude and a significant amount of sarcasm.
With 8 from Crewe seated at the start, a positive aura exuded from the Crewe players and battle commenced.
In relatively, rapid fashion Kobus had dispatched his opponent and the F team led 1- 0 with Kobus on his way back down the A500, with a good job well and truly done. Not too long afterwards Lucasz, Adam and Julian had followed Kobus’ lead and a well deserved 4-0 victory was inked in, signalling a fantastic start to 2020.
Meanwhile on the other side of the room the more mature, sedate and gentlemanly (!!!!!) E team were savouring their chess and not rushing something that didn’t need to be rushed. Even Les was taking his time!!!!
(Mon 6th Jan 2020) CREWE F & E v MEIR; 2020 – A NEW YEAR – A VISION TO BEHOLD
After some gentle squeezing and cautiously aggressive play first Les then myself on boards 2 & 1 forced wins putting us in an unassailable 2 – 0 position. This left George on three and newbie Russell on 4. Both games were going to go the distance although Russell, despite putting up some great resistance was beginning to feel fate’s icy fingers around his metaphorical throat.
So it came to pass that he could defend no more and the score rested at 2-1 with George in the ascendancy but his opponent unwilling to capitulate. George had time on his side and was making his material and chronological advantage tell but couldn’t finish the job.
And so we waited……………………………………………………………….
Eventually George triumphed, the team had won 3 – 1 and all went home to relive their battles and…………………
(Mon 18th Nov 2019) Crewe B or not Crewe B; that was the question?
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles; And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,No more; and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; to sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause—there’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life.For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
……….and so the scene was set!
A cup match where one triumphs, and one dreams of what may have been; the choice was ours.
Monday saw Crewe’s four wandering players travel to Meir, for the first act of what may yet contort itself into a three-act masterpiece known as the Perry Trophy.
Board 1 – white – Kobus
Board 2 – black – The author?
Board 3 – white – George
Board 4 – black – Mike
And so this few; this band of brothers, gave battle on the boards at Meir; and triumphed. Hoorah!
But hush; whilst the end is easily told the rub is in the reaching. Kings and Queens and righteous Bishops did give battle, to defend their Castles with their noble steeds; and paeons toiled hard to support their betters. Many were to fall but gentlemen in Crewe then a-bed
shall think themselves accurs’d they were not there.
The author was the first to finish having dragged his opponent into a turgid morass which sapped his opponent’s time and energy; where gradually he lost the will to continue the fight. At the offer of a draw from my opponent an eye cast round the other boards told a close but overall positive story; and a decision that, on balance, a draw as black was most likely to be the more secure option to for a team win. So ½ point each after around two hours played.The three remaining boards were all close but taking material and position we were marginally up on bd 1, marginally up on bd 3 and slightly down on 4.
However, Kobus had the heat of the Veldt on his back and fresh from the Boks triumph in Japan he was not going to take “geen” for an answer. A series of rapid, probing attacks exploring his opponent’s flanks turned the screw on his opponent. He exposed some weaknesses and the sands of time began to stack up massively in Kobus’s favour. Eventually it all came together, and mate soon followed.
Not only did this give us a 1 ½ to ½ lead but, under the rules of the cup, having the lead on the top two boards, together with a lower grading total, gave Crewe a massive advantage; meaning we only need a draw from one of the other two games.
Meanwhile on Board 3 George was rampaging through his opponent’s defences.
He had a kingside attack that had been long in the making, but his queen and a pawn were well advanced and storming the opponents king and castles. The pressure told; and in defending his position with a rook, the opponent overlooked his other rook that was now available for George’s queen to snaffle up. The end was nigh, and George won his game and the match for Crewe.
This left Mike fighting bravely and, although behind in material, he had a strong attack developing. However, slowly his opponent shored up his defences and gradually reached a position where he could simplify. Although this clawed back most of the material advantage it left Mike facing a strong pawn attack, gradually inching up the board and eventually causing resignation. Both players had minimal time left and after a very long performance the curtains closed on the first act of the Perry Trophy saga.
Crewe B can now sit back and watch their clubmates in the A team try to follow in their footsteps on Wednesday. We can enjoy the fruits of our hard-won victory, ready to gird our loins for what will be a stiffer test in the semi-final. Bring it on………….. &
(Mon 11th Nov 2019) Nigel Ben Phil & George travel to Newcastle to play in what turned out to be an unpredictable evening. Newcastle significantly outgraded Crewe but as the matches were progressing it was obviously going to be a tight affair. There wasn’t a distinct advantage on any board but then as Phil and George’s games entered the end game both gradually lost parity and within 5 minutes we were 2-0 down. Both these games had been won by opponents who are relatively new to league chess and whose grades are definitely on the way up (although they are at slightly different ends of the age spectrum!).
This left us in a perilous position as Ben & I we were also under pressure on boards 2 & 1 and a whitewash was looking a distinct possibility!
Ben was playing a very attacking game as black against an opponent graded 20+ above him. There were all sorts of traps and pins being set and just as his opponent thought he had got out of one pincer movement, he was walking into another one. Eventually, a very composed Ben managed to make one of these attacks tell and he pushed home his advantage to get the win, which was well earned. This was particularly well played as he was also up against mounting time pressure.
Meanwhile on one I was giving Alberto a run for his money! I always seemed to be just behind but never too far and 3o minutes after all other games had finished a truce was agreed. There appeared no way to force the win we needed and having analysed it since this was the right call.
Overall we walked away with a 1 ½ – 2 ½ defeat which had been hard won by Newcastle. However the underlying story was of the three relatively new players to league chess (2 from Newcastle and Ben) really beginning to turn in some good results and all will no doubt be getting grade rises by the end of the season.
(Mon 4th Nov 2019) Fireworks at Meir as Crewe F Sparkles
(Wed 30th Oct 2019) Crewe F v Newcastle E Halloween Eve Scary Game time
Was that the trees a rustling, or the hinges of the gate, or Adam’s ghostly goldtops a rattling in their crate? No; it was probably an awful lot of squeaky bums in what turned out to be a very tense, scary and edge of the seat Wednesday night at the Mals club this week.
Crewe’s F team consisted of Julian, Lukasz, Adam and Kobus and the team were sitting on 2 from 2. Based on grades they were looking very strong for the night 399 against a maximum 400! However, without wishing to be too repetitive, grades don’t decide chess matches.
All games started on time, teams appeared evenly matched and so it transpired.
The first game to make a development was Julian’s on board 1 where he thwarted a sacrifice from his opponent winning a minor piece for a pawn and came out with a stronger position. Soon afterwards he had won another minor piece and gradually built pressure pushing out of defence. However, a point was reached when a simple queen swop was available, but Julian took what seemed like, for a tense onlooker (me!), an eternity to decide to remove the queens. Apparently, he was trying to work out a complicated mating sequence, but it was hidden in a cloak of invisibility; so he followed the simpler route and victory followed not too long afterwards.
This was a great win for Julian as black on board 1 against an opponent who was graded marginally higher, but who has been on a great run recently. Having a point in the bag gave the rest of the team a confidence boost which they all needed as the 3 remaining games headed slowly into a boggy quagmire shrouded in an impenetrable fog.
The next game to show significant progress was Kobus on board 4 playing an opponent who on paper had a much lower grade as he is a relative newcomer. However, his results and undoubted ability indicate he is in line for a significant grade revision as he gains more experience. This suddenly developed into a very open game and quite a few pieces disappeared from the board. Kobus seemed to have the upperhand positionally, with a strong pawn structure, and then proceeded to try and get behind his opponent. This worked but it also seemed to leave his rook and knight somewhat isolated with his opponent having a passed pawn that at one time looked like it was going to walk to a promotion. A very protracted series of moves followed any one of which could have lost the match if a mistake was made. In the end it all got a bit too scary for both parties and an honourable was agreed; leaving Crewe 1 ½ – ½ up and looking good…………………………… or so I thought.
The other two boards were extremely even, with Lukasz in very studious mood on 2 and Adam in a strange game on 3 which I will return to shortly. Both these matches had been playing for over 2 hours and were even on pieces and apparently also in position. Then, within two minutes of each other, both Crewe players apparently agreed to make a mistake each and blunder a piece. I assumed they had some sort of accumulator arranged with Bet 365 that depended on them both losing within a predetermined 10 second window. Our lead was not looking so strong now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This, however, was not the end.
APPARENTLY, Lukasz’s blunder was not a blunder but a cunning plan. This opened up his opponent and after some very careful manoeuvring he eked out parity and then gained the upper hand to force a very strong win that I would imagine will be interesting to analyse.
2 ½ – ½; and a win in the bag for Crewe.
What a good job because Adam’s blunder was a blunder and though he fought valiantly he couldn’t recover the loss of a piece and eventually resignation had to follow. This game though had to be looking to set some sort of record?
After around 80 minutes no pieces had been taken, only 12 moves had been made by each and the whole centre of the board was like a House of Commons, Brexit stalemate. Neither side was going to break out, no-one was going to make a mistake, and no one had any room to manoeuvre as the whole of the central ground was occupied by a mass of pieces that didn’t know where to go!
Eventually a large exchange sequence followed which culminated in Adam’s opponent making an intermezzo move (thanks Karl!) that resulted in the eventual downfall of the Crewe sitting member. By now the match was firmly resolved in Crewe’s favour and all were able to retire and lick their respective wounds. (not each other’s).
Fortunately, we managed to get the following action shot of Adam’s match as it entered the most exciting stage……………………………………………………………………….
Division 5 Report from ACE Reporter (and captain) Nigel Gardner
(Wed 2nd Oct 2019) and (Fri 4th Oct 2019)
All eyes were on division 5 this week – Interesting, Indefatigable, Intense, Intrepid & Idiosyncratic
This week the new division 5 season started in earnest; and in Crewe and in Cheddleton! On Wednesday at the Mals the F team entertained a very “experienced” Alsager whilst Friday saw the E team travel to Cheddleton.
Both games were tight and very evenly contested. Crewe eked out a hard fought win at home and Friday saw a heavily outgraded E team secure a great draw and had, at one point, looked on for a possible win.
Julian, Lukasz, Nigel & George joined battle with Alsager and all games were close matches. On three I opened cautiously inviting my opponent to attack me on a number of fronts which he duly did. This caused a degree of discomfort and the club adage of sitting on my hands was never more relevant. Eventually two counter attacks appeared, one on each flank and I was able to press home the opportunity and we had our first point on the board.
Meanwhile George had a slight advantage over his opponent, whilst the top two boards were very difficult to call.
Julian eventually succumbed despite putting up a very valiant and stoic performance which, at one point, looked as though it might be successful. This was against a relatively new opponent who appears to be a strong addition to Alsager’s ranks and destined for a rising future! It was very much appreciated that Julian was happy to take on the challenge of black on board one enabling the team to offer more potential as a whole.
This left the match at 1 – 1 but George was now in the ascendancy and by gradually building the pressure eventually forced home his advantage to secure the win and we were now 2 – 1 up. Another great result for George, on top of a very successful weekend at Crewe congress and at the moment the force is strong with Mr Jelliss!
This left Lukasz in a titanic struggle on 2 that was into the end game and although all appeared even his opponent had some pressure up the middle but Lukasz had a passed pawn that if got the opportunity would prove fatal. A long series of very careful moves proceeded with Alsager realising that a draw in the game would mean a loss in the overall match. However, Lukasz played exceptionally well, with all eyes on him, and eventually a draw was offered which, on reflection, was the right result in the game, but gave Crewe our overall win. Well done to all the Crewe team in what was most definitely a team performance.
In a similar vein our E team travelled to Cheddleton expecting a very tough match and we were not to be disappointed! We were outgraded on every board, and by an average of over 17 points. However there was an air of determination about the team. Nigel, Les, Phil and Mike arrived in good time and good spirit and the clocks were started.
Trying to lead from the front on board 1 I had a few “squeaky bum” moments in the opening but took time, worked out the solutions and after only 21 moves most major pieces had been removed. At this point I had a quick wander around to see that our positions looked promising on the other 3 boards with Phil in particular in the ascendancy with numerical and positional advantage. I returned to offer a draw causing my opponent to then also go to look at the other boards. Unbeknownst to me in the few minutes between the wanders Phil had managed to lose a rook so my opponent then gladly accepted my offer and we retired to the analysis whilst the others continued.
Phil had played a great game against a higher-graded and difficult opponent but unfortunately the loss of the rook proved fatal and shortly afterwards his demise was sealed and we had our backs to the wall.
In the meantime, Mike had taken the ascendancy, both in position and material, and a win looked sure to follow. Les was in a grinding battle and played in a conservative and considered fashion that was definitely required against his significantly higher graded opponent. He had also managed to gain a large time advantage over his opponent who was beginning to feel the pressure of the clock. A draw was offered and accepted and a great result for Les was secured which put the team in with a chance of a result.
Mike’s game soon moved into the end game phase and after an interesting series of moves he managed to queen and all looked over. Or so we all thought…………………………………………………..
I think I had missed the observer from the Guinness Book of records being present, in what was obviously a very strong contender for the world record of moves in an end game!!!! After about another lifetime Mike had lost his Queen but then he managed to Queen another pawn and the game continued, and continued , and continued ………………until sanity (mainly mine) was restored, mate was achieved, Mike was the hero and we were able to enjoy the drive home with a very creditable draw in the bag.
If Chess were too predictable we wouldn’t bother playing it and Friday night’s games were strong evidence of this. It was another enjoyable night for all concerned and a successful end to a long but strong week.