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
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.