Black Monday Takes the Top Seed
Here is an interesting question to ask at the beginning of this post. There are only two previous champions playing in this year’s Calderdale Individual Chess Championship. Take a look at the list of players from the results below and see if you can figure out who they might be. I’ll put the answer in the round 3 report next week.
Way back before Christmas the chess players of Calderdale gathered at the Belgrave Social Club in Halifax for round 2 of the Calderdale Individual Championship on Monday night. If November’s first round was characterised by the dominance of the top seeds then this second round was dominated by the players of the Black pieces as all but two of the eleven games ended in wins for Black.
In year’s gone by round two hasn’t traditionally brought many upsets to the top seeded players. This year the trend was generally continued but with one notable headline making exception. Top seed Mitchell Burke of Huddersfield was downed by Hebden Bridge’s Andy Leatherbarrow. It seemed that Mitchell was uncomfortable meeting Andy’s Scandinavian Defence right from the off and when he made mistakes that cost him a couple of pawns early in the middle game it was already evident that it was going to be a tough night for him. Both players got into difficulties on the clock but, with time control hoving into view it was evident that Andy had not only consolidated but extended his advantage to three pawns. To his great credit Mitchell accepted his fate graciously and in good cheer despite his disappointment.
Andy is one member of the Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team who played in the Calderdale league in the previous week. The remainder of his colleagues from that match could be found on three of the next four boards in the round 2 board order. On board 2 team mates Dave Shapland and Matthew Parsons squared up for the fourth time in as many years. Matthew elected to surprise Dave in the opening by choosing to play the Sicilian Defence rather than his usual Sniper. An interesting move order was agreed between the two as Dave chose to employ a fianchetto on the king’s side and played postionally, aiming to restrict Black’s activity and obtain a space advantage with a pseudo Maroczi Bind set-up. He succeeded in doing this for a while but Matthew is too good a player to be dominated for long and he found ways of generating counter play. As the middle game progressed Matthew succeeded in exchanging off pieces and then managed to infiltrate his queen behind enemy lines. Soon after his knights had also joined the attack and Dave’s position was over run. The second seed had done his job and will play on the top board in round 3.
Another Hebden Bridge ‘A’ player was the under dog on board 3. Nick Sykes operated the White men against Courier’s John Morgan who is seeded 4 this year (the third seed, Peter Mulleady took a half point bye). Like Dave, Nick too seemed to be doing pretty well out of the opening but in the middle game John was able to exploit the slightly exposed position of the White king to win a pawn and there after he was always doing better despite some stubborn resistance from Nick.
The remaining member of the Hebden ‘A’ team was playing on board 4 as Pete Leonard (last year’s runner up in this competition) renewed his rivalry with Belgrave’s Mike Barnett. A few weeks earlier Pete had lost to Mike with the Black pieces. This time he had Black again and sensibly chose to deviate from his previous opening choice. Somewhere, Mike must have missed an idea in the opening because Pete got a grip on the position that he never let go of and continued to exploit every weakness that Mike created as he grew increasingly desperate to find counter play. This was probably the most attractive game of the round – a very nice win for Pete.
So far I’ve mentioned four wins for Black. Let us now mention those players who bucked the trend. On board 4 Courier’s Pete Hughes took on another Hebden Bridge player in the form of Dave Sugden. Always a well prepared opponent, Hughes was not as fazed as some may have been by having to face the dangerous Benko Gambit. He simply took what was offered, held his ground in the centre, completed his development and then charged his passed a and b pawns up the board to devastating effect. Dave didn’t appear to have done a great deal wrong but was dispatched summarily.
Further down the board order Brighouse’s Paul Whitehouse was busy making a nuisance of himself with the White pieces against Halifax’s John Aldridge. John habitually plays systems that involve a king’s side fianchetto and Paul met this in the most direct fashion by advancing his h-pawn as early as move 4! John struck back in principled fashion in the centre but Paul’s idea seemed to catch him off-balance and some sharp and aggressive play by Paul saw him take the game by the scruff of the neck and never release his grip.
Unfortunately for those operating the White pieces these two wins were as good as it got! The rest was one-way traffic. Todmorden’s Dave Milton and Tom Webster made mince-meat of Halifax’s John Nicholson and Hebden Bridge’s Steven Priest respectively. Hebden Bridge’s ‘B’ team Captain Martin Syrett beat his erstwhile club colleague Neil Bamford in a very interesting and hard fought encounter. Belgrave’s Angel Gonzalez beat Ray Deravairere in a marathon endgame that saw the players calling for an extra score sheet to record their moves. Last, but by no means least, Chris Edwards saw off the last of the Hebden Bridge representatives, James Todd, with some smooth and solid play.
All in all a Black day for White then. The individual results of the round were:
M.Burke (Huddersfield) 0 – 1 A.Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge)
D.Shapland (Hebden Bridge) 0 – 1 M.Parsons (Hebden Bridge)
N.Sykes (Hebden Bridge) 0 – 1 J.Morgan (Courier)
P.Hughes (Courier) 1 – 0 D.Sugden (Hebden Bridge)
M.Barnett (Belgrave) 0 – 1 P.Leonard (Hebden Bridge)
J.Nicholson (Halifax) 0 – 1 D.Milton (Todmorden)
P.Whitehouse (Brighouse) 1 – 0 J.Aldridge (Halifax)
N.Bamford (Hebden Bridge) 0 – 1 M.Syrett (Hebden Bridge)
S.Priest (Hebden Bridge) 0 – 1 T.Webster (Todmorden)
R.Deravirere (Hebden Bridge) 0 – 1 A.Gonzalez (Belgrave)
J.Todd (Hebden Bridge) 0 – 1 C.Edwards (Todmorden)
Five players only now have 2 points: Matthew Parsons, John Morgan, Peter Hughes, Pete Leonard and Andy Leatherbarrow.
All the games from round 2 can be found in the game viewer below. Peters Hughes and Leonard have annotated their games. Thanks to them for taking the time to send me these interesting games for the report.