Tuesday, 8 November 2011

We've moved house!

The Hebden Bridge Chess Club website has moved to a brand new home. Please go to www.hebdenbridgechessclub.co.uk where we hope you will find that nothing has been broken en route!

Monday, 31 October 2011

An all hallows gambit!

I couldn't possibly let Halloween pass by without taking the opportunity to publish another game in the Halloween Gambit. This one comes with as many horror-ridden cliches in the commentary as I could muster. It was played at a recent edition of the Victoria Gardens Blitz Tournament in Leeds where one can justify and get away with playing such bilge. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Brave 'B's hold their own

Martin Syrett and his team donned their best war paint
for Monday's match with Hebden Bridge 'A'
On Monday night the Trades Club hosted the first derby clash of the season as Hebden Bridge ‘A’ played against Hebden Bridge ‘B’ in Calderdale League 1. In the past these ties have been the first to take place in the fixture list in order to avoid any suggestion of collusion later in the season. This season the sides met in round 3. If there had been any sceptics invigilating this fixture they can rest assured that the ‘B’ team gave their comrades no quarter and were rewarded for their trouble as they ended up stealing a hard earned point.
Both sides fielded changed lines ups from their previous fixtures. The ‘A’ team have been handed a blow to their title hopes by the withdrawal from league competition of their top board, Matthew Parsons. The side still have a strong line up but it looks very different from the team that finished runners-up last season. Dave Wedge, Matthew Wedge-Roberts, Alastair Wright and now Matthew Parsons have all gone. As a result of this new set-back ‘A’ team Captain has drafted in Dave Sugden from the ‘B’ team to play on board 5 and everyone else has moved up the board order.

Martin Syrett’s ‘B’ team thus had to deal with the loss of Dave Sugden and, furthermore, the unavailability of several regular selections due to the fixture being played in half-term week. In the end Martin recruited three ‘C’ team stalwarts in the form of Josh Blinkhorn, Steve Priest and Neil Bamford. They repaid his faith in them by performing admirably on the night.

An early warning shot was fired across the bows of the ‘A’ team has Dave Sugden perished at the hands of Neil Bamford after barely half an hour’s play. Playing a Vienna Gambit, Dave made an uncharacteristic tactical oversight and was dispatched instantaneously by Neil, who is having a wonderful start to this season.

This surprise result left the ‘A’s needing to win 3 out of the last 4 boards to take the match. They weren’t able to do this. First of all in the battle of the team Captains on board 2 Dave Shapland and Martin Syrett agreed to a draw in a lifeless pawn ending. Dave and acceded to the exchange of all the heavy pieces on the basis that he felt the resultant ending was winning for him. He was wrong and Martin held the draw easily.

The remaining three fixtures went right to wire at the end of the evening and could have gone either way. At one point it even seemed that the ‘B’ team would clinch an astounding victory. On board one Darwin Ursal was held to a draw by Andy Leatherbarrow who defended himself stoutly and took advantage of Darwin’s exposed king by giving him perpetual check. Shortly afterwards Pete Leonard and Josh Blinkhorn also agreed to share their point in fascinating, fluctuating battle. The endgame of this encounter is worthy of study as it contains lots of interesting points. Both players had to play very accurately in order to maintain their chances and a draw was a fair result.

This meant that the ‘A’ team had to win the final game of the tie in order to draw level. On board 4 Nick Sykes kept hold of a strong initiative throughout his game against Steve Priest. He developed a raging attack in the middle game and, although he missed a couple of quicker kills, the result was never really in doubt and he duly collected the point at the end of the evening.

The final match score card looked like this then:

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ vs. Hebden Bridge ‘B’
D.Ursal ½-½ A.Leatherbarrow
D.Shapland ½-½ M.Syrett
P.Leonard ½-½ J.Blinkhorn
N.Sykes 1-0 S.Priest
D.Sugden 0-1 N.Bamford

Congratulations to the ‘B’ team for this excellent result. All their players were all out-graded by 20 points or more so this really is a tremendous achievement.

At the end of the evening the next question to ask was “how much has this draw hurt the ‘A’ team’s title challenge?” The answer was, “not as much as it might have”!

Champions Huddersfield ‘A’ have had a terrible start to the year with consecutive loses to Brighouse and Courier ‘A’. They needed to win to have any chance of fighting their way back into contention and they did just that in a heavy-weight encounter away to Todmorden ‘A’. Both sides fielded phenomenally strong line-ups but it was the visitors who took the spoils. Wins for Chris Booth against Andrew Clarkson, Mitchell Burke against Alastair Wright and Richard Boylan against Chris Edwards were enough for Huddersfield to win 3½-1½.

The season’s early leaders, Courier ‘A’ and Brighouse, both pinched their third successive wins to maintain their 100% records. Courier beat Belgrave 3½-1½ at home and Brighouse, also at home, beat Huddersfield ‘B’ 3-2. Courier and Brighouse now share a 2 point lead at the top of the table although both sides are still to play Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and Todmorden ‘A’. The two race leaders play each other next Monday for the rights to sole leadership.

Hebden Bridge ‘A’ climb over Todmorden ‘A’ into third place in the league. The ‘A’ team must next face Huddersfield ‘A’ away and could therefore soon be caught again. Already this next match is set to be crucial to Hebden’s title challenge. Win, or even draw, and they will be right in the battle. Lose and the champions will draw level with them. If Huddersfield turn up with the same side that won this week it will be an uphill struggle.

Hebden Bridge ‘B’ occupy the lower reaches of the table but should take heart from the fact that they have now played Courier, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge ‘A’ and can look forward to an easier run of fixtures before Christmas. The fact that they have taken a point from these first matches should be a source of some consolation to Captain Syrett. Their next match is away to Huddersfield ‘B’ and they should be optimistic about getting a result against one of their fellow strugglers.

Tune in again next week for further updates as both leagues are in action next week. Our division 2 teams play on Monday and our division 1 teams are in action on Thursday.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The playful side of Bobby Fischer

"Bobby felt very at ease with animals and children,
but not adults", Harry Benson
Like many chess enthusiasts I was fascinated by the prospect of seeing the recent biopic about the greatest of all chess enigmas, Bobby Fischer.

I am a member of the post-Fischer generation in that I started playing long after he had disappeared from public life. Of course I've heard so many of my elders talk in rapt terms about his genius and one can get a feeling for this by playing through his legacy of great games.

Unfortunately, what you can't do is get any kind of impression of the man himself or the astounding impact he made on the world (not just the chess world) in 1972 when he played Boris Spassky for the World title in Iceland. It was this aspect of Fischer, as a man, and a global phenomena that I found so enthralling about the film.

The Director, Liz Garbus, had gone to great lengths to pull together as much archive interview footage of Fischer as she could and this really gave you a feel for the kind of man he was. Quite a lot was made of his lonely and damaged child-hood. This was put forward as the predominant reason why the stubborn, self-reliant streak that helped him become so successful also transformed him into a rampant paranoid delusional in later life.

Many of the photos taken by Benson in Iceland give a real feeling for the
"loneliness and isolation of the position he was in".
Probably the aspect of the film that captivated me the most was the photography of Harry Benson. He was chosen to shoot Fischer for LIFE magazine at the Buenos Aires Candidates Tournament the year before Reykjavik and became, if not a friend, then at least a companion to Fischer during that period of his life. Evidently Garbus had approached Benson during her preparations for the film and had been amazed to find that he had a large collection of photographs that had never been published. They are amazing, a real window into Fischer's soul. Much more than the interview footage, in which Fischer always seems so guarded and defensive. After I'd watched the film I was delighted to find out that Benson had subsequently published a book of his Fischer photographs and I immediately rushed to Amazon to buy it.

I'd certainly urge anyone who has an interest in chess to see the film when you get the chance. Just don't expect lots of involved chess content. There is plenty about the 1972 match in Reykjavik but it is covered mostly from a personal and political angle. All-in-all it's a really superbly made glimpse into the life of this brilliant, complicated and damaged man.

All of this thinking about Bobby Fischer put me back in a frame of mind to look at some of his games and then I remembered the game and comments published by Walter Polhill in The Independent on Sunday back in the late 1990's. Polhill selects a very unusual Fischer game that has a real splash of humour in it. Playing against Ulf Andersson, who had a reputation for labarinthine strategic and manoeuvring play, Fischer chooses to adopt the style himself and delivers a masterpiece. Enjoy!

"By far the greatest player the world has ever seen, Bobby Fischer was also a superb parodist. The following victory of his is often dismissed as a mere display of attacking imagination. Yet making such an assessment would be to overlook one of the finest acheivements of the parodic art this century."

I'll finish this post on another light note by re-telling the famous Fischer anecdote of Hungarian Grandmaster, Laszlo Szabo. At the Buenos Aires international tournament of 1960, he and Fischer had adjacent hotel rooms. One night, someone brought a young woman to Bobby's room. The following morning it happened that both Fischer and Szabo left their rooms at the same time and Szabo shot an enquiring glance at Fischer who responded by simply saying: "Chess is better."

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Round up

There’s a lot going on across the Calderdale and Yorkshire chess circuit at the moment. Today I’d like to take a short pause for breath to round up some of the news and results you may have missed.

Calderdale Individual Championship 2011-12

This year’s championship is being hosted by the Belgrave and Courier Chess Clubs at the Belgrave Social Club on Claremount Road in Halifax. As always there are 5 rounds and these take place on the first or second Monday of the month from November through to March. This year’s schedule is as follows:
  • Round 1: 7th of November, 2011
  • Round 2: 12th of December, 2011
  • Round 3: 9th of January, 2012
  • Round 4: 13th of February, 2012
  • Round 5: 12th of March, 2012

Pairings for each round will be posted at 19.30 and play will begin promptly at 19.45. Entry for this year’s competition costs £3.50 and £2.50 for juniors.
Anyone interested in registering to play in this event should contact this year’s organiser, Paul Edwards, by e-mailing him at: clic2012@gmail.com
Entry fees can be paid on the night of the first round but you must pay before the start of play.
As an aside from the details of the competition I must say that it’s great to see another club other than our own hosting this year’s competition and I’d like to wish Paul the very best with the organisation. Here’s hoping that Hebden Bridge players will continue to support the championship just as enthusiastically as we have done in recent years. I am hoping to once again provide extensive coverage of the competition as it progresses right here. Get yourselves signed up.

Yorkshire Chess Association website

Hot off the press is this new website that acts as a hub for chess players across the county and, in particular, the Yorkshire League. YCA President, Ihor Lewyk and his assistant website editor, Matthew Webb, have done a fantastic job to get this up and running. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months.

Yorkshire League Results

Adrian Dawson has once again been swift in furnishing me with the latest efforts from our two Calderdale teams.
“A mixed day for the Calderdale teams on Saturday. A great result for the ‘A’ team who thrashed Bradford ‘A’. It has to be said that Bradford had to split their side in an effort to keep their ‘B’ team in the First Division but it was still a very strong team as the grades prove.”

Bradford ‘A’ vs. Calderdale ‘A’
W.Williams (190) ½-½ P.Watson (189)
I.Lewyk (178) 0–1 R.Newton (181)
D.Barlow (176) 0-1 M.Hamer (177)
C.Wright (170) ½-½ M.Whitehead (173)
M.Bramson (170) 0-1 J.Morgan (173)
I.Hunter (165) ½-½ D.Ursal (166)
M.Ashdown (158) 0-1 D.Patrick (165)
J.Holliday (126) 0-1 M.Corbett (138)

“Calderdale ‘B’ were out-gunned on all boards and suffered a severe defeat. If they continue to play teams of the strength of the first two in this season’s campaign, they will struggle for sure.”

Bradford Central vs. Calderdale ‘B’
P.D.Rooney (203) ½-½ M.I.Connor (154)
M.D.Crowther (174) 1-0 N.Suttie (148)
J.D.H.Milnes (169) 1-0 D.Colledge (143)
D.Breen (167) 1-0 A.Leatherbarrow (140)
N.J.Edwards (163) 1-0 M.Syrett (139)
P.G.Day (153) 1-0 D.Sugden (137)
DEFAULT 0-1 D.Milton (132)
G.Laszlo (130) ½-½ S.Priest (121)

Calderdale League 2 Results

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ were the only side in action in Calderdale League 2 on Monday night. Calderdale ‘D’ had a walk over as a result of Wheatley’s withdrawal from the league earlier this season. The ‘C’ team faced up to Courier ‘B’ and were unusually depleted for the match with regular Captain, John Kerrane, being away on holiday. As a result, stand Captain, Neil Bamford, led the side to a superb victory under the circumstances. After the match he was moved to remark, “The good guys came out on top thanks to some inspired performances from the ‘D’ team refugees”.
Here is the full match scorecard:

Hebden Bridge ‘C’ vs. Courier ‘B’
J.Blinkhorn 1-0 P.Hughes
S.Priest 0-1 D.Colledge
N.Bamford 0-1 J.Smith
C.Greaves 1-0 J.Whitehead
D.Crampton 1-0 R.Bottomley

Hebden Bridge Chess Club database

Last, but by no means least I would like to draw members’ attention to Nick Sykes’ blog on which you will now be able to find the latest version of this year’s games database. This is up to date to the 17th of October.