Ds Dominant as Es suffer and a Cup KO

We have three matches to report on this week. The “E” team went to play Newcastle E in division 5 on Monday; the “D” team hosted Cheddleton E in division 4 and the Open Cup team travelled to Chedd on Friday.

The E team were underdogs on Monday with 20-30 grading point deficits on top two boards while the other boards were closely matched. Captain Nigel punched above his weight as usual to pick up a top board draw and Ben Harrison went one better on board 2 with our only win as the team lost narrowly 1.5-2.5

The D team would have been favourites against Chedd’s E team as the visitors arrived with a team approx 30 grading pts lower than their previous away match. Captain Les Hall maintained his recent form with an early win on bd 4. Neville Layhe cemented the lead with another win on bd 2 before son Simon added the third point with an impressive performance on top board before the visitors grabbed a consolation on bd 3. This result put further daylight at the top of the table as the Ds made it 4 from 4 for a maximum of 8pts to date opening up a 4 pts gap to 2nd placed Fenton C who have a game in hand.

On Friday our Open Cup team faced a daunting trip to Cheddleton. Doug Barnett got us off the mark with an early draw before the wheels started to fall off. David Hulme on bd 3 was too slow to generate a King side attack as opposition captain Simon Edwards strolled to victory barely using 20 minutes on the clock in a 41 move game. As David went to analyse his game with Simon he returned to find the match had been convincingly won by Cheddleton as we lost on boards 1,2 and 5 as well. The only glimmer of light came from a superb game by Amy Lovatt on bd 4 who seemed to be in control after a clever tactical opening gained two pawns. Amy was made to work hard as she went into increment time before securing our only win in a 1.5-4.5 reverse.

Fabulous F, Glorious G and Marvellous Major Teams !

We have 3 matches to report on this week as the F team went to Meir on Monday, the Major Cup side went to Alsager on Tuesday and the G team hosted Newcastle F on Wednesday.

The F team had a wonderful 4-0 win against Meir C in division 5 to cement their position at the top of the table. Nigel’s superb report can be seen under the “Nigel’s News tab” section.

The Major Cup team for U150 commenced their defence of the trophy without two of last year’s squad as Karl and Amy’s grades jumped above 150. As last season we were again drawn away to Alsager in the quarter-finals but this time the match was too close for comfort. Harry Gardiner went for the early “grand-master draw” option which was agreed with little chance of a result either way before Simon Layhe (on bd2) seized the opportunity to grab a gifted Queen leading to immediate resignation. Alsager then levelled the score and took the key board 1 as John Booth’s defence proved to good for David Hulme’s piece sacrifice. At this point Crewe needed 1.5 pts from the last 2 boards otherwise Alsager would win by virtue of board count if the match was drawn. Doug Barnett (on bd5) took advantage of his bigger grade by accumulating several pawns to put Crewe in the ascendancy with a sound win. All eyes then fell on bd 3 where Sam Throsby was playing just his second game for the club. Sam seemed to have all the play but his opponent Tim Twentyman was going to make Sam sweat for some considerable time. Although Tim was down to less than 5 minutes after approx 30 moves and Sam had over 20 minutes, Tim defended brilliantly holding material equality while Sam searched and searched for a big break. Eventually after approx 80 moves Sam offered the draw to which Tim had little choice but to accept and so we ran out winners 3-2. The semi-final is scheduled for St Valentine’s day away at Cheddleton who are favourites to win this cup.

Wednesday saw our G team play its second ever match against Newcastle in the newly formed division 6 for players with a maximum grade of 80. The visitors were unfortunately disadvantaged when one of their team failed to arrive but this did nor deter from the friendly atmosphere generated by both teams. Newcastle drew first blood as Andrew Lowe beat our latest debutante, young Koray Stanny. Koray had forged a massive material gain but failed to secure his King’s safety as Andy’s Queen and last remaining piece joined forces to mate the King stranded at home. Adrian Howells playing only his second ever match managed a win on bd 4 against a Newcastle junior playing their first league game. Congratulations to Adrian on his first win. The final game saw Reinhard Haack battle against another Newcastle junior on bd 1. Reinhard’s solid play allowed him to round up a piece advanatage and then hunt down the King to deliver a mating attack and ensure the team won 3-1. Thanks to opposing captain Alberto Gissi who agreed to play against Safwan to make up for the missing player.

It is great to see division 6 allowing new players to play league chess as Crewe, Cheddleton, Meir and Newcastle have introduced approx 10 new competitiors to the noble game in just 3 matches.

D&F top the tables while C&A struggle

We’ve had 4 matches this week. On Wednesday it was Crewe C vs Newcastle C in div 3 and Crewe F vs Newcastle E in div 5, while on Friday it was Newcastle A vs Crewe A in div 1 and Cheddleton F vs Crewe D in division 4.

Nigel has already produced a fantastic account of the F team’s scary match which leaves them with a perfect start to the season after 3 matches.

Meanwhile the C team had a tough encounter with Newcastle’s C team. There were two highlights for us while we suffered a 3-1 reverse. Junior Harry Gardiner got our only win and is far and away the C team’s leading performer having notched up 50% of the team’s board points so far this season. The other highlight for the club was the introduction of new player Sam Throsby making his debut and being the 5th member introduced to league chess by us after just 5 weeks of the new season.

Friday night showed our resources being stretched as 3 of the regular 9 team members of the A&D teams were unavailable. The “A” team were always going to struggle and things were made harder for us when the Newcastle hosts added  Thivyaa Rahulan on top board pushing down the rest of their team. Early losses on boards 3 and 5 ruined any chances we might have of gaining some points before Bart Fajfer on bd 1 and Simon Layhe on bd 4 earned good draws. Karl Lockett was last to finish putting up a spirited fight against Alex Richardson (their 189 grade board 2) and was unlucky to lose as we ended beaten 4-1.

Meanwhile down at Cheddleton, Les Hall’s D team picked up a superb win. Draws by Neville Layhe (bd2), Nigel Gardner (bd 3) and Les Hall (bd4) were the solid foundation as Harry Gardiner provided the icing on the cake with the only win to edge the result in our favour 2.5-1.5. The “D” team have made an excellent start to the season with 3 wins from 3 to sit top of the early season division 4 table.


Three out of three ain’t bad ! (As Meat Loaf would sing)

It’s been a long week for our News Reporter starting with the long trek to Wallasey on Monday night. Due to venue unavailability we moved the Wirral fixture from our home at Chester to Wallasey to take on one of the top division 2 teams. The captain’s heart was beating a bit faster when the opposition team sheet was thrust in front of him to reveal another player on top board allowing all of the expected  opponents to drop a level. Despite being slightly outgraded on board 4 Dave Price put our team on the front foot with a superb win with the white pieces. A central pawn attack dislodged the Knight in front of the castled King and opened spaces for two long range bishops to add to the fire power. An exchange and a pawn gained together with an overwhelming position induced resignation to put us in the 1-0 lead. Simon Layhe on board 2 then maintained our 100% success record with white as his game seemed to split into a game of two halves with Simon dominating the Q-side while most opposition pieces were loaded on the K-side. Simon’s push came first and with doubled “A” pawns charging down the board with support on the 7th and 8th rank proved decisive and made it 2-0. Board 5 saw a player who was graded over 150 when I last played him, and although only recently returning to the game was too good for us and got one win back for Wallasey 3. David Hulme then trapped a Knight on board 1 before gaining more material to make it 3-1 for us. Harry Gardiner fought hard on bd 3 to get a draw when it looked difficult to hold on, to conclude the match with 3.5-1.5 win and take us top of the early league table.

On Wednesday our B team hosted Holmes Chapel Rooks in NSDCA Div 2. With a decent grading advantage we were distinct favourites but the Rooks put up a stiff challenge. Rick Renegade on bd 4 and Neville Layhe on bd 5 were held to draws while board 3 went in favour of the visitors to leave us trailing 2-1. Karl Lockett on bd 2 restored the match for us with a sound win before Bart Fajfer’s endgame skill proved decisive on top board to give us a narrow victory 3-2. The B team are on 3 pts from 2 matches along with Cheddleton B and Newcastle B near the top of the table.

Friday night saw our Glorious G team Gunning to victory in their first ever match in division 6 of the NSDCA. This is a new team with a maximum permitted player grade of 80. We managed to send a team of 8 players to Cheddleton and had a big grade advantage overall. A number of players on both sides were making the league debuts and it was noted that Chedd’s team had 7 juniors out of 8 players, while Crewe had 7 adults out of 8 ! Congratulations to 13 yr old Safwan Khan, Pawel Stanny and Russell Smithers on their victories and to Adrian Howells for playing his first ever competitive match. Our higher graded top four experienced players were all successful with George Jelliss, Mike Keenan, Reinhard Haak and Phil Wright all beating youthful opposition.

A team outgunned while C & D victorious

We have three matches to report on this week, featuring the “A” team making their 1st division debut against Cheddleton “A”, the “C” team away at Holmes Chapel Bishops in div 3 and the “D” team hosting Meir “A” in division 4.

It was a baptism of fire for the “A” team as Chedd’s heavy artillery came to the Mals with top board grades of 192, 196 and 173 considerably outgrading our top 3 of 174, 153 and 152 respectively. The bottom two boards were much closer grades as Cheddleton were missing several stronger options. Surprisingly first blood went to us as the underdogs with Simon Layhe (board 5) completing a neat win involving a Knight mating move in the centre of board as the opponents King was cut off by a combination of Rook and blocked in by own pieces. More good news arrived as David Hulme overcame a 2 pawn loss to prevent the opposition from developing both Rooks and a Q-side Bishop and then overpowering on the King side to finish with a clever Rook sac and an immediate mate not seen (on bd 4). Meanwhile Chedd’s heavy artillery had won the bd 2 battle and then equalised the score as predicted on bd 3. The remaining game saw Bart Fajfer with a pawn advantage and decent time saving to raise hopes of a possible shock result. However Chedd’s young star Jacob Boswell created a lot of activity despite only having two minutes on the clock and rounded up some pawns before invading Crewe’s defences with a Q&B vs 2 Rooks. Eventually the stronger team proved their superiority and won 3-2.

Strangely enough the division 4 match playing alongside was scoreless when four of the 1st division boards were finished. The two teams were very evenly matched so it was no surprise that it was long time before the first result came in. Captain Les Hall was as usual first to finish, somehow grabbing a win from the jaws of defeat. In Les’s own words he was fortunate to finish first with a Rook mate after the game swung too and fro. Top board Rick Renegade was next to finish with another swash-buckling effort to make it 2-0. Experienced Neville Layhe then did enough to get the team over the line with a hard earned draw on bd 2 before Meir had the consolation of their sole win in the final game on bd 3 and to conclude the match with a 2.5-1.5 win for the D team.  The skipper likes the look of the current league table sitting pretty on top at this premature stage of the season.

Thursday night saw the C team travel to Holmes Chapel to take on the Bishops in a division 3 encounter and it is pleasing to see Holmes Chapel adding this team to the league. Looking at the team sheets before the match the visiting Crewe team would have been red-hot favourites. However the hosts provided the first and unexpected blow of the night as the relatively inexperienced Liam McIlveen delivered an early mate on board 2. Harry Gardiner restored parity with his 40+ pts grade advantage in evidence on board 3 to level the scores for us. David Hulme was held comfortably to a draw by George Scattergood on board 1 and we had a while to wait for the board 4 game result to be decided. As a spectator it was fun to watch as white sacrificed a couple of K-side pawns to unleash an attack on our castled King while moving their own King to safety on the Q-side. A smashing game unfolded and as white increased the pressure on the King side left the door open for a back rank invasion duly applied by our Adam Fields to release the pressure and force the victory by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5. Captain Dave Price was absent for this match and should be pleased to see his team pick up their first points of the season.

Next week sees our B team at home while our new “G” team play their first ever match at Cheddleton hoping to give new players the chance to play in the league. Also in action are the Wirral team who face the long trip to take on Wallasey’s 3rd team.

Bees draw at Macc while Dees beat Kidsgrove

This was a most unusual week with no matches for the club at The Mals on Wednesday after the B team travelled to Macclesfield on Monday and the D team went to Kidsgrove on Tuesday.

The B team started their division 2 campaign with a tough match against title contenders Macclesfield (who were the only team to inflict defeat on the “A” team last season). Under the youthful new captaincy of Simon Layhe the team emerged with a good result as the match ended all square 2.5-2.5, with board 1 star Bart Fajfer and board 2 Karl Lockett both victorious and supported by the skipper’s draw on board 3.

Tuesday night saw the D team start the new division 4 season in same vane as last season with a crushing 4-0 win. We had a big advantage with grades so it was no surprise, although captain Les Hall explained ” It was a very friendly game at Kidsgrove, ended in a 4 – 0 whitewash, but the games were a lot closer than the score suggests.” He went on to report as follows:

I was predictively, first to finish as my opponent allowed me to fork a Knight and Bishop on move 5, then, after deciding to lose the Knight, proceeded to make life very difficult by going on the attack, his Queen came out and caused me a lot of problems backed up by his “A” Rook on the C file, pinning my Queen to stop the loss of my C pawn and breaking through to to my back rank. Eventually, I managed to get my F Rook out and boxed his Queen on f4, at which point he resigned.
Next to finish was Simon, our Board 1 star, Si managed to get a couple of pawns advantage and, eventually made this pay.
Nev was third to finish on Board 2, using his experience to get control of the middle of the board, to press home his advantage.
We then had to wait for our rising star ” cool hand Luke “, Lukasz, who despite his tender years and only a couple of years playing experience, played a nice Queen and Bishop attack, against a castled King and a Knight stuck in the corner on h8, eventually swapping off Queens and getting the exchange up, forcing his very experienced opponent to resign.
All in all, a great start to our Div. 4 season, long may it continue !


Cheddleton win clash of the Cs

Our C team started their division 3 campaign on Wednesday with a home match vs Cheddleton C. The board 3 game was first to finish in a “grandmaster draw” as Harry Gardiner could see no way to progress against Chedd’s captain Colin Abell. Doug Barnett on board 1 felt he had to go for the win and came unstuck against Karol Grzybowski and left us in arrears. Rick Renegade’s attacking prowess with white was held at bay on board 2 by John Yee as a draw left the visitors 2-1 up. The last game in play saw Dave Price with white looking for a win to save the team from defeat. However Dave Rose skilfully soaked up the pressure before gaining a crucial centre pawn to gain the initiative. Despite attacking chances on the King side Dave could not break through and peace was agreed with a half for each player to leave Chedd as the successful C team on this occasion by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5

George carries the flag for club at Congress

This weekend has seen another sucessful congress orgainsed by the team of Neville Layhe, Les Hall, Dave Price and Simon Layhe together with the Arbiter, Matthew Carr (IA).

There were 142 competitors spread pretty evenly over the four sections (Open, U 165, U135, U105) including a star studded cast for the FIDE-rated Open which had 4 FMs and one IM.

The only prize winner from the club was George Jellis who gained the grading prize in the Minor section (U105) with a superb score of 3.5 pts. George had the lowest grade in the whole tournament, excluding two ungraded players, so this is an excellent achievement.

More details will follow, including mention of Bart Fajfer’s great effort to score 3 pts in the tough Open Section and Rick Renegade’s fall at the last hurdle from leading the Intermediate section.

Full results are shown on “Congress Results” tab separately.

New Season under way

No sooner had the Summer Shield finished on the Friday, then the new season got under way on Wednesday. The Mals Club hosted our first “derby” of the North Staffs season bringing forward a match originally scheduled for November as our E team faced the F team in division 5. The “F” team had small grading advantages on each board and completed a 4-0 win thanks to Adam Fields, Julian Bulbeck, Phil Wright and George Jelliss. A special mention should be made for our latest league debutant as Russell Smithers played on board 4 for the “E” team.

The Wirral team started their division 2 campaign with the long haul to Buckley/Mold. Unfortunately the Drovers Arms had a very noisy atmosphere which was not conducive to playing league chess. Somehow we managed to win 4-1 as the three white odd boards were all successful as David Hulme, Harry Gardiner and Lukasz Michalek beat the opposition while the two black board games were held to draws by Simon Layhe and Dave Price. There was some excellent attacking play by our two youngest players as Harry chased the opposition King from a castled king-side to be mated in the centre of the board, and Lukasz pierced through another castled king-side before his opponent failed to reach the first time control at 35 moves under immense pressure.

So it’s time to look forward to this weekend’s Crewe Congress at The Ibis Hotel where we currently have approx 135 players expected.

Alsager win SCS Shield and Newcastle win the pre-season friendly

The South Cheshire Shield came to its conclusion this week as Alsager earned the necessary draw against our “A” team to win the South Cheshire Summer Shield with an unbeaten record. For the 2nd year running the “A” team have been pipped at the post. Lukasz Michalek had given our “A” team a great chance by winning on board 4 as our top two boards Simon Layhe and Harry Gardiner could only draw and the board 3 game went in favour of the visitors to secure their title.

The final games of the SCS season were played on Friday night as Newcastle hosted our B team. Skipper Les Hall got the ball rolling with an early win on board 4 before Newcastle levelled matters on board 3. The star performance came from our board 2 with Adam Fields beating the opposition skipper who was graded some 24 points higher. On board 1 David Hulme hung on for a draw against Newcastle youngster Joe Hirst to make sure the B team finished on the same match points as the “A” team and just 1 behind the winners – Alsager. Congratulations to them on winning the competition.

Alongside the B team match, Newcastle also hosted the annual pre-season challenge against us. With so many players unavailable from both clubs it was a credit to both that a 7 board match took place although Crewe contributed 8 of the 14 and left Dave Price on the bench to coach some of the younger Newcastle members who are not quite “match-ready”. Newcastle fielded a much stronger squad than we did and ran out comfortable winners with the assistance of our own Phil Wright. There was a notable win for  Simon Layhe on board 2, while Mike Keenan won against a Newcastle newcomer on board 6 and our only other score came from Doug Barnett with a top board draw, when he might have gone on to win with a bit more time on the clock. As always an enjoyable encounter which leaves the annual challenge score at 2-2. We look forward to the 2020 challenge which will be Crewe’s turn to host.