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

Thanks to Nigel Gardner for the following write up:

Dear All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ringside tickets Tickets for Wilder v Fury might be impossible to get but the better option is surely to be seen at The Mals on Wednesday.

Les’s red hot favourites “The A team” take on my also rans “The B team”. Whilst we appreciate we are there just to make up the numbers we might be able to come up with our version of “rope a dope” to make it interesting!!!!!! Entrance is free but make sure you leave a clear passage for the ambulance when they come to remove the bodies………………….

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

2020 Unbeaten run comes to an end

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bees next match is against table toppers Cheddleton B.

C Team climb table, F take derby Honours

Only two matches to report on this week, as the C team hosted Alsager “A” in division 3 and the division 5 return derby took place between the Es and Fs.

The C team have enjoyed January and a win last night moved the team from 2nd bottom to 2nd top of the table ! A solid all round performance saw Rick Renegade and Harry Gardiner pick up full points while the senior citizens Doug Barnett and Dave Price backed it up with draws. With a four week break before they play again, they could easily be back to 2nd bottom as only 1 point separates five teams with Cheddleton C having 3 games in hand.

The F team had a healthy grade advantage over the E team and all results went with the grades for a 4-0 result that reinforces the F team’s position at the top of the table but closely pusued by Cheddleton’s G team who are only 2 pts behind with a game in hand. The F team winners were Lukasz Michalek, Julian Bulbeck, Kobus Nienaber and Phil Wright.

Last week’s report failed to mention the D team’s continued unbeaten run at the top of division 4. A tough match as Stafford was expected and so it proved as the D team were held to a 2-2 draw. Thanks to Neville Layhe and Lukasz Michalek gaining vital wins on board 2 and 3 respectively. The D team have a narrow 2 pts lead at the top of the table with Fenton C and Chedd D in close contention.

7 matches and 6 teams unbeaten so far in 2020, as G team go for Glory !

With two weeks of the new year under our belts the club has seen all of our NSDCA League teams in action except for the “A” team.

In chronological order the new year kicked off with a division 5 double header at Meir. The F team won 4-0 and the E team won 3-1 with a wonderful full report under Nigel’s Match Reports. The C team hosted Cheddleton D in division 3 on Wednesday 8th and were victorious by the score of 3-1 thanks to wins by Rick Renegade and Harry Gardiner backed up by draws from Doug Barnett and Dave Price.

On Monday 13th the B team shared the spoils in a division 2 encounter with Fenton B to move up to 3rd in the table. Just 1 point separate the top 5 teams in this division. Captain Simon Layhe dropped himself to allow Rick Renegade to play (as Rick does not get many opportunities) who managed a superb result with a win on board 3 alongside Karl Lockett’s win. Karl is enjoying a rich vein of form this season with his only defeats being in division 1 against players graded 189 or higher !! Neville Layhe got the draw on board 5 to keep the B team in outside contention for the title.

On the same night the G team for players graded under 81, saw 6 of our members head off to Meir for a “top of the table clash” in division 6. Unbelievably both teams graded an identical 401 pts with a difference of no more than 5 grade pts on any board. A superb match followed as captain David Hulme reported on the LMS “A brilliant match finished on a knife-edge with great sportsmanship from Bob Perry. With one minute left on the clock for Crewe’s board 2, Bob allowed me to tell our player he could stop recording moves with the opponent having some 8 minutes left. Thanks to this the Crewe player had just enough time to get a draw by repitition and tilt the result in Crewe’s favour. With the highest grade difference betwen players of just 5 pts it was always going to be a close match.And thanks to Dave Price for providing additional transport that allowed Crewe to take 6 players to Meir.”

Special mention should be made for youngster Safwan Khan who played maturely to secure an excellent win on board 5 which made a huge difference in the final score as we edged home to victory with Reinhard’s dogged draw on board 2 after wins from Phil Wright on bd 1 and George Jellis on bd 4, who filled in at the last minute as Pawel was too ill to travel.

More details to follow on tonight’s draws for division 3 C team and Les Hall’s table toppers – the division 4 D team.

Ds Top Table while As Prop Table and Wirral team KOd for Xmas !

We have 3 matches to report on this week as the curtain comes down on the 2019 calender year. Monday saw the D team head off to Fenton for a division 4 top of the table clash. Wednesday it was the “A” team who hosted Holmes Chapel A in division 1 and on Thursday the Wirral team went to face division 1 supremos Hoylake & Great Meols in the Knock-out.

Les Hall’s D team went into the top of the table clash against Fenton C with junior Harry Gardiner leading the fight on board 1 with regular  players Neville Layhe, another junior Lukasz Michalek and Les having a 100% record. The match was expected to be close and it certainly was. Skipper Les suffered his first reversal of the season for the D team playing against friendly foe Ernie Wilkinson. Neville and Lukasz fought hard to earn draws to keep the match in the balance. It was left to young Harry to preserve the unbeaten team’s record as he managed to overcome a very experienced opponent and regular congress player to level the scores and conclude the match 2-2. So Les’s D team have 9 pts from 5 matches and lead the table by 3pts from Fenton C who are also unbeaten (Pld 5 W1 D4), while all of the chasing pack are at least 2 further points behind having played one match less.

Wednesday was a bit of calamity for our “A” team as they faced the highest graded team in the league. Holmes Chapel “A” put out the strongest side in the NSDCA this season with an average grade of 188.4 over the five boards. With a massive grade advantage it was men against boys, as captain Karl Lockett found 2 of his intended team missing on the night ! Thanks to Doug Barnett and Harry Gardiner filling in while expecting a quiet night of social chess. The visitors could have expected to win by a white-wash but junior Harry Gardiner performed heroics on board 5 against his 170 grade opponent to salvage our only half-point. So after four matches playing in the first division for the first time (since our club was formed in 2014) we find ourselves well and truly rooted to the wooden spoon position adrift by 3pts and having played one more match than all other teams in the division.

Thursday night we took 7 players for a “David & Goliath” match against Hoylake. Captain David Hulme found himself without 13 of the top 15 players listed on our own website, as we went to play the 2018 Wirral League Champions. It would have been easy to concede the match but the club’s members have a great spirit and decided to fulfill the fixture knowing it was “mission impossible”. With one player missing at the last minute Nigel Gardner stepped up to recruit a 7th player while the captain was stuck at work. Despite losing 7-0, David was extremely proud of all those that took on the challenge and a few came close to picking up unexpected draws. It should be noted that we had a deficit of approx 320 grading points ranging from 64 on board 1 to a minimum of 39 on the penultimate board 6.

We have no matches in the week 16th-20th December and all members are invited to our last night of the year on Wednesday 18th. This is one night of the year where the chess sets are locked up as we all meet in the bar for a social night of playing cards, darts or pool.

Finally. the committee woud like to take this oportunity to wish all our members and their families a Merry Xmas and a Prosperous New Year !

Two wins, One Draw and One Loss

The week started with the E team going to face Meir B in a division 5 encounter. Both teams were well below the 400 grade limit allowed, with the Es tipping the scales at 318 vs the hosts 247. Captain Nigel Gardner held his own for a draw on bd 1, while Ben Harrison and Phil Wright provided the full point each on boards 2 and 3 to secure narrow victory 2.5 – 1.5.

Tuesday night the Wirral team faced contenders Wrexham. Christmas work schedules dictated that Wrexham’s top player was unavailable and this gave us an unexpected grade advantage. However Wrexham pushed us all the way with wins against the grades on boards 1 and 3. We had strengthened our line up considerably and this helped significantly as Karl Lockett won on bd 2, shortly after Harry Gardiner had done likewise on 5. The key success came on bd 4 as Simon Layhe fought his way out of a tight position to give us victory. With a break until February, the Wirral team head the league table as firm favourites for promotion.

Wednesday night saw the Mals Club hosting two matches. In division 2 it was our B team against Cheddleton B, and in division 5 it was the top of the table clash between our F team and Chedd G.

The division 2 match was predictably tough and tight. With white having the grade advantage on the top 4 boards, all games went in that colour favour. Karl Lockett made it two wins in two nights, and Rick Renegade provided the usual explosives on bd 4. The one game not to go in favour of white was the board 5 game where Neville Layhe with black held out for the draw which meant the match was drawn. The B team currently lie in 4th position in the table, but are only 2 pts behind the league leaders – Chedd B.

The division 5 match was expected to be equally tight. The F team found themselves without key player Julian Bulbeck due to illness which caused a shuffling of the team. Chedd’s experience on top two boards proved vital as Colin Abell and David Rose tipped the match in their favour with two wins. Ben Harrison managed a good draw on board 3, while Kobus Nienaber gained our only full point on bd 4. Accordingly Cheddleton G were victorious 2.5-1.5 and lept over our F team to top the table. These two teams are putting daylight between them and the chasing pack with leaders Chedd G on 9pts, just one pt ahead of the F team.

Cup success and League Loss (No….. You are not seeing double)

The headline is almost the same as last week except we only had two matches this week compared to four last week. The two matches that took place were Fenton “A” vs Crewe “A” in division 1 on Monday and Crewe vs Alsager in the Intermediate Cup (U130) Quarter-Final.

The “A” team arrived at Fenton to find our rivals without two of their top three players, so on paper we were favourites to win this battle for the Division 1 Wooden Spoon. As we all know results are not dictated purely by grades, and we soon found ourselves 1-0 down as Julian Hawthorne profited from a blunder on bd 5 to give Fenton an early lead. Worse was to follow as the hosts Steve Emmerton won the exchange before winning against the grades on board 4. What looked to be at least a draw on board 1 with an exchange advantage for a pawn, turned out not be so and it was 3-0 to Fenton as Petru Floresc won the board 1 game. With the match already settled David Hulme threw caution to the wind and picked up a very fortunate win following a time induced blunder on bd 3 to reduce the deficit to 1-3. Captain Karl Lockett added a bit more respectability to the scoreboard with another point to finish the match 2-3. This result left us as clear favourites for the wooden spoon as we look forward to the toughest challenge of all next time when we face Holmes Chapel “A”.

Wednesday night saw our U130 Cup Team start their campaign as Cup Holders. With grade advantages on every board (some insignificant and others not so) we would have been favourites. An early attack from Rick the “grenade” Renegade blasted open the doors to the first victory on board 2. Neville Layhe provided solidity on top board to get the draw that helps towards any tie-break scenario. Captain Dave Price (on bd3) offered a draw but the offer was declined. Not long after Dave  had a back row mate, making the score 2.5 – 0.5, allowed us guaranteed progress to the semi-final. Shortly after Julian Bulbeck delivered another back-rank knockout on bd 5 as we led 3.5-1.5. Alsager’s James Marshall gained a consolation win for the visitors on bd 4. Crewe will face a trip to Fenton in the semi-final in due course.

Cup successes and League Losses

We have four matches to report on this week. Monday it was our Perry Cup B team (u110) that travelled to Meir. Tuesday the division 3 C team made the short trip to Alsager. Wednesday the Perry “A” team hosted defending holders Newcastle and on Friday the division 2 B team went to the Bridge Club to take on leaders Newcastle B.

The Perry B team exploits can be read from the entertaining “Nigel’s Match Report” section.

The C team came unstuck against Alsager “A” as the black colours dominated. Sam Throsby on bd 2 was our shining light with our sole win, while captain Dave Price could only draw. Both of our white games ended in defeat.

Wednesday saw Les Hall’s Perry “A” team start with the advantage as Newcastle fielded only three players having provided early notice they would default a board. Ben Harrison (bd3) and Adam Fields (bd2) both held experienced players to a draw and with the lead at 2-1, all eyes fell on the crucial board 1 game. If Newwcastle could win this game, they would go through on board count and indeed this looked most likely as Julian trailed by a couple of pawns. Fortunately for Les’s team the last game ended in a stalemate and so Crewe “A” go on to the next round, where they face a derby against Nigel’s “B” team !

Friday’s match proved unsuccessful for our Bees who seem to suffer with our weather. Bart Fajfer and Karl Lockett picked up draws on top two boards, and the only other scoreboard contribution came from youngster Lukasz Michalek, who appears to be making solid progress up the grading scale.