Most people will have heard the headline news now but on 4th February Sheffield A defeated York RI A 6-2 and blew the Woodhouse Cup wide open. York RI A remain top but Sheffield A are now level on match points and only have a one and a half game point deficit. Assuming neither team lose again (York RI A have the tougher run in on paper with Leeds CCCC and Bradford A still to play) the league will come down to a nip tuck battle where every draw offer and tactical endgame could make the critical difference. The league is perhaps still York RI A’s to lose but the champagne was on ice at the RI after a weekend when they could have got away with popping the cork.
The third and fourth placed teams also clashed with a 4-4 draw keeping the status quo. Leeds CCCC are now just two points off the action and could yet spring a surprise; a scenario where they fire all they have against York RI A while Sheffield A stumble is far from improbable. Bradford A are just a point behind and are still very much part of the overall fray.
There was better news for another York team when York RI C pulled off a narrow but critical win against Harrogate A to lift themselves two points clear of the relegation zone. Harrogate A are still facing the drop with Alwoodley A who lost 2.5-5.5 to Hull DCA A. Finally to round off a weekend of drama in the top division the remaining two results proved that nothing in Yorkshire chess is ever certain. Sheffield B defeated Rose Forgrove A 6-2 to pull themselves to just below mid table after a shaky start while Huddersfield lost 0.5-7.5 to Calderdale A and are now third from the bottom.
Bradford Central and York RI B both kept their unbeaten records although Bradford Central only saw off Wakefield A by the narrowest possible margin. York RI B beat Harrogate B 5.5-2.5 and recouped one game point. At the lower end Bradford B picked up their first win against Sheffield D while Hull DCA postponed against Dewsbury to leave the relegation situation unclear.
Doncaster made it six from six with a 4.5-3.5 away win to Harrogate C while York RI D won against West Leeds in the weekend’s other match to open the gaps at the top.
On 25th February the critical fixture in the Woodhouse Cup will be York RI A hosting Leeds CCCC and a chance for the visitors to play the match of their life. A loss for either team will almost certainly put them out of the running, victory for Leeds CCCC may also create an opportunity for Bradford A who face Huddersfield. Sheffield A host York RI C in a match they will be favourites to win but by what margin? Harrogate A and Alwoodley A face Sheffield B and Calderdale A respectively in the knowledge that time may be starting to run out.
In the IM Brown look out for yet another Sheffield vs York clash; this time third placed Sheffield C giving York RI B what should be their toughest test yet. In the Silver Rook Doncaster’s next opponent are against third division dark horses West Leeds.