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.
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!!
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!!!!
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…………………
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………….. &
Monday the 11th saw 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.
Fireworks at Meir as Crewe F Sparkles
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.