Acts of the Apostles are Swiftly Ended
In last week’s post I asked if you could name the two previous champions taking part in this year’s Calderdale Individual Championship. The answer is that John Morgan and Andy Leatherbarrow are the only two previous winners playing this year.
Coincidentally, these two ex-champions were drawn against each other in round 3 (played on the 7th of January). Both were members of a select group of 5 on a perfect score. Andy had demonstrated particularly sparkling form by beating the top seed, Mitchell Burke, in the previous round. These two met on board 2. Andy was unfortunate to have to play Black for a second game in a row against one of the competition’s big beasts.
On board 1, two more players baring the christian names of one of Jesus’ disciples took up arms against each other. Second seed Matthew Parsons was drawn to play White against another of his Hebden Bridge ‘A’ team mates (he beat his Captain Dave Shapland in round 2) Pete Leonard, who was the runner up in last year’s competition.
Not satisfied with four apostles on the top two boards the round 3 draw gave us two more Peters on board 3! The last of the perfect scorers was Courier’s Pete Hughes. He played Black against third seed Pete Mulleady who, having taken a bye in round 2 was on one and a half.
These three boards promised to deliver the drama and excitement but on boards 4 and 5 there were three more players who had one and a half points and were very much in touch with the leaders. To stretch our biblical analogy to its furthest possible limits, board 4 featured an Angel in the form of Angel Gonzalez of Belgrave. He faced up to the Hebden Bridge ‘D’ captain, Danny Crampton, who had reached the elevated heights of board 4 thanks to a half point bye in round 1 and a full point bye in round 2 – nice work if you can get it!
On board 5 Brighouse’s soul representative in this year’s competition, Paul Whitehouse, was drawn to play the wounded top seed who was the highest rated of a large group of competitors with 50%.
Sadly for the kibitzers and spectators the top boards failed to deliver the thrills and quality that they promised on paper. On board 1 Pete Leonard made an early error against Matthew’s Catalan-style set up and lost a piece. Matthew isn’t the sort of player to relinquish that kind of grip and Pete was swept aside in just 21 moves.
The board 2 encounter didn’t even make it past 40 ply! The result here was quite different however as Andy quickly neutralised John’s English Opening and an early truce was agreed. This may seem a surprising outcome at first glance but when you remember that Andy had Black for the second game in a row against one of the top players and that John doesn’t have the best of records against this particular opponent (he’s lost twice to him in the last two seasons) then the result and its manner begins to make some sense.
The battle of the Peter’s was barely any more exciting. Pete Mulleady secured a pleasant advantage with another English Opening. By move 27 this advantage was decisive enough to convince Pete Hughes that he should resign despite material parity. The computer agrees with his assessment of the situation but to some human analysts the resignation seemed premature.
So, with less than 100 full moves played on the top 3 boards it was left to the lower order to provide some tension and excitement. Angel completely dominated Danny on board 4 and he at least provided and aesthetically pleasing conclusion to his game. On board 5, Mitchell capably dismissed Paul’s London System to repair some of his wounded pride.
It was on board’s 6, 7 and 8 however that the most interesting encounters of the night were played out. On board 6 Hebden Bridge’s ‘A’ team and ‘B’ team captains matched up. Dave Shapland and Martin Syrett both have reputations for playing uncompromising and aggressive chess so it would have been something of a surprise to any knowledgeable spectator passing by to kibbitz at about move 17 to see the position almost completely closed and no pieces exchanged at all. This situation had arisen due to Dave’s decision to move his king to f8 rather than block a check from Martin’s bishop on b5. As a result it made sense for Dave to close the centre and aim for play on the flanks.
Eventually though the position did open up and when it did the fireworks started. Dave appeared to have made a decisive tactical break through in the centre but when he grabbed his booty (one of Martin’s knights) it turned out that Martin got a blazing attack on the Black king in return. The computer analysis shows that Dave could have kept the swag and staved off the attack but, at the board he couldn’t find the most accurate continuation and Martin was able to sacrifice a second piece to force a draw by perpetual check.
On board 7 Nick Sykes faced up to Todmorden’s Tom Webster. Whilst the grading difference between the two was significant, Tom is well known to be a dangerous opponent who has claimed the scalps of several players rated higher than himself and Nick found that his task was particularly challenging. Sykes was never in danger of losing with the Black pieces but, although he maintained a pleasant edge for much of the game he couldn’t transform it into anything that looked decisive. Both players managed to make it through a frantic time crisis before move 36 and then, with the material still level in a pawn and same coloured bishop’s ending, they started to burn up their additional time until both had only minutes to complete the game.
By this time all the other games in the round had long finished and a hoard of enthusiastic kibitzers had gathered to witness the finale. The muttering between the vultures went first one way and then another. “Nick is winning this endgame” then “Now it’s drawn”. But with only seconds to make each move both players were reacting instinctively in a position that, despite the sparse material was still very complicated. Eventually, Webster made one error too many, Sykes promoted his b-pawn and was able to catch the White king before it shepherded its a-pawn to the back rank. With seconds left on both players clocks Nick’s tenacity was rewarded with a check mate.
I should mention that the board 8 encounter between Chris Edwards and Mike Barnett was also particularly absorbing as it ebbed too and fro. Chris, operating the White pieces, seemed to have secured a good advantage and an attack but, at a crucial moment Mike pounced on an inaccuracy and suddenly the tables were turned.
Those three games from boards 6, 7 and 8 were the most interesting of the round and they can be found, along with all the other games, in the viewer at the end of this post.
To round up the remaining games… Dave Sugden beat John Nicholson on board 9 and Ray Deravairere got his score off the mark with a win over Hebden Bridge team mate James Todd.
The complete list of round 3 results looks like this:
M.Parsons (Hebden Bridge) 1 – 0 P.Leonard (Hebden Bridge)
J.Morgan (Courier) ½ – ½ A.Leatherbarrow (Hebden Bridge)
P.Mulleady (Todmorden) 1 – 0 P.Hughes (Courier)
A.Gonzalez (Belgrave) 1 – 0 D.Crampton (Hebden Bridge)
P.Whitehouse (Brighouse) 0 – 1 M.Burke (Huddersfield)
M.Syrett (Hebden Bridge) ½ – ½ D.Shapland (Hebden Bridge)
T.Webster (Todmorden) 0 – 1 N.Sykes (Hebden Bridge)
C.Edwards (Todmorden) 0 – 1 M.Barnett (Belgrave)
D.Sugden (Hebden Bridge) 1 – 0 J.Nicholson (Halifax)
R.Deravirere (Hebden Bridge) 1 – 0 J.Todd (Hebden Bridge)
The leading scores after 3 rounds are:
3 points – M.Parsons
2½ points – P.Mulleady, J.Morgan, A.Leatherbarrow, A.Gonzalez
2 points – M.Burke, P.Hughes, P.Leonard, N.Sykes, M.Barnett