Culcheth A V Atherton A 30th Nov 22

A nice finish on board 1

After narrowly overcoming Northwich in our last outing we faced our traditional rival’s for the title in Atherton. Going back a few years we would have probably started as narrow favorites in this fixture, however it had now been at least 3 seasons since we had scored a win against them.

We we’re without Marek Mazek again for this one who was unwell, however this created a welcome opportunity for Tom Quilter to make his debut for us. Tom an experienced player from the London area was playing his first longplay game for several years, nevertheless his former rating makes him our current highest graded player and he had no qualms about taking board one.

We began the match in a packed venue (our Richard Furness C team also had a fixture on V St Helens). After about half an hours play I took a stroll to look at the other boards, Tom on board 1 faced a very tricky gambit line in the ever trendy Jobova London system as Black. His position looked not worse but very complex and he was already down on the clock as a result.

Jonathan on board 2 seemed solid enough but his young opponent Ethan Norris, who seems to be rapidly improving seemed to have already achieved equality as Black.

I was a bit concerned by Rob’s lack of piece development on board 3 and wondered at a glance whether he may be in a bit of trouble during the early stages.

Ilya’s position on board 5, to me also looked a little awkward to play. In fact at that stage the only game I felt we may have an edge in was my own.

I was facing Peter Mulleady, new WDCL President for this year whom I have played numerous times over the years. Peter has recently started playing the adventurous Sveshnikov Sicilian and it was already making for an exciting double edged type of game, but I felt at least in the early stages that I was doing quite well.

The first result of the night was a very long time in coming as all games seemed set to go down to the wire. Robert on board 3 managed to overcome his early difficulties and hold Lee Kay to a draw. game below: 0.5 – 0.5

Kay V Furness (click for fullscreen)

Jonathan on board 2 unfortunately suffered a rare loss. I haven’t played through the game but from what I saw his opponent looked to have played an extremely good game, obtaining more space and better squares for his pieces. 0.5-1.5

When I had another look at top board I was beginning to fear the match was turning against us, Tom having invested vast amounts of his clock time nullifying his opponents dangerous opening, now had under 5 minutes left to play out what looked like still a very complex middlegame. Tom however is an expert at blitz chess (something he has proved with a couple of recent victory’s at the local Swinton Rapidplay tournament’s) when the smoke had cleared it was Tom who emerged with the crucial full point to level the match. 1.5 – 1.5

Hamer V Quilter (click for fullscreen)

My own game was interesting in the fact that it was a game of contrasts. Peter may have gone slightly wrong in the opening allowing me to win 2 pawns on the queenside and with one of them a protected passed pawn on a6 my longterm prospects in the endgame were winning. In order to get to that point however I would first have to survive the middlegame! Peter definately had some compensation in the nature of a kingside pawnstorm against my own king. As I got down to my final 2 minutes on the clock this pressure should have counted as Peter missed a sharp chance to sacrifice and deliver checkmate. Full of relief the game finally reached an ending where the longterm advantage of the pawn on a6 counted. 2.5-1.5

McCarthy V Mulleady (click for fullscreen)

The final game to finish almost straight after my own was Ilya’s on board 5. Ilya playing Atherton veteran Martin Lythgoe did well to stay in the game and was a pawn down in a rook and bishop ending. Ilya however displayed his usual fighting spirit that we have come to expect from him and played on well into the ending when finally Lythgoe succumbed to an unfortunate skewer which game us the match victory! 3.5 – 1.5

An excellent result which for the time being at least puts us into an early lead in this year’s title race.

The A team will be back in action on Monday against a newly resurgent Winwick side who are fresh from a seemingly comprehensive win against St Helens!

as of 1st December 2022

3 Match reports for the price of one!

St Helens A V Culcheth B

Unlucky Bees

The match against St. Helens was always going to be a challenge so I was keen to field the strongest team permissible, but in the end Keith Maudsley was not able to play so I stepped in to make up our numbers.

On Board 1 Ilya battled hard against Martin Brown but was finally overcome by his much higher graded opponent.

But no matter, because Tom Vout notched up an excellent win over Barry Groves on Board 3 to level the scores.

Andy Coe’s Board 4 game against Steve Potter was a lively affair in which Andy had real winning chances but couldn’t quite bring the victory home.

My game on Board 5 against Andy Reynolds was fairly even for the most part, but a couple of inaccuracies put me on the back foot and Andy relentlessly built a winning position. We were both short of time when Andy played a move which should have blundered a whole Rook to a Knight fork. However I simply didn’t see it and duly lost. If I had played the correct move I would still have had a lot to do to actually win the game in the 90 seconds remaining on my clock. Andy said he would have offered a draw which I would have been well advised to accept in the circumstances.

The real drama of the match unfolded on Board 2 where Rob Furness was playing Mark Ellis. In a fearful time scramble with pieces literally flying off the board Rob ended up with a Queen & King v Mark’s lone King, but ran out of time which meant that an obviously won game ended in a draw and the match was lost 3-2. Unlucky? I really do think so; but it was a great effort to run such a strong team so close.

Winwick A V Culcheth B

Winwick Stung

Following two unfortunate defeats in our opening matches The Mighty Bees needed a good result against fellow-strugglers Winwick A in our Division 1 match. I was able to sit this one out as non-playing captain, which given my last effort against St. Helens was something of a bonus!

The first game to finish was Tom Vout’s against Richard Clissold on Board 2 where a draw was agreed in a decidedly gridlocked position where neither side had prospects of successfully breaking through.

On Board 3 Keith Maudsley was back from injury playing against Dave Stuttard. Keith skilfully neutralised Dave’s early middle game pressure to win a pawn which was quickly followed by the win of a second one and a forced exchange of Queens. This left Keith with a winning endgame advantage which he converted into victory without much difficulty giving us a key early lead.

A solid middle-order performance was capped on Board 4 where Andy Coe and Ken Johnson agreed a draw. There seemed to still be opportunities for either player to prevail when peace broke out.

On Board 1 thanks to the greater harmony of his pieces Rob Furness appeared to have a distinct initiative against his similarly graded opponent, Simeon Sakic. The critical moment came when Rob had the opportunity to win the exchange but at the risk of his Bishop becoming trapped deep in his opponent’s position. Rather than risk the complications Rob opted to repeat moves and accept a draw.

Last and late to finish was Jonathan Miller’s game against the Winwick captain, Mike Fleming. Early in the middle game Jonathan had opted to trade two minor pieces for a Rook and a Pawn. Given that there were still 15 pawns on the board, 8 of them Jonathan’s, this might not have been a wise decision. The rooks struggled to make any impact and Mike’s minor pieces had greater potential to flourish. However, in search of a breakthrough Jonathan managed to create a passed pawn on the 6th rank which soon afterwards became a protected passed pawn and a real thorn in Mike’s side. However, if Mike had contented himself with maintaining the blockade of the pawn with his Knight and shuffling his King around on the back rank it was hard to see how Jonathan could make any progress. However Mike moved his Knight and allowed Jonathan to break through on the Q-side activating his hitherto dormant Rooks. Unable to deal with the myriad threats Mike ran out of time resulting in a 3.5-1.5 win for The Mighty Bees.

St Helens A V Culcheth A

The A team made it’s way to St Helens for their first away outing of the season. St Helens are making a very welcome return to the league after a 2 year absence, it was good to see some old familiar faces, as well as a few new one’s!

Unfortunately we were missing our current top board and strongest player for this crucial fixture meaning the experienced Tom Vout came in to complete our line up.

It was Tom’s game that finished first on bottom board ending in a peaceful earlypoint halved 0.5-0.5

On top board Marek had built up a large clock lead against Martin Brown, when playing without an increment being down on the clock can bring about alot of pressure and this finally told as Martin made a tactical oversight which resulted in a fine win for Marek. Giving us the lead! 0.5-1.5

The match was soon level again as Ilya was ground down by the experienced Dave Hill. 1.5-1.5.

In own game (Damian) my opponent played a very dubious move early in the opening which I failed to punish, soon after that losing the thread I landed in a nearly lost position! We both missed some chances in the middle game then finally reached an ending where we both had very little time remaining. Non the less I tried vainly to keep the game going refusing 2 draw offers but Barry was able to hold on by finally sacrificing his minor piece for my final remaining pawn leaving insufficiant material for a result. 2-2

Finally Rob Furness’s 2nd encounter with Mark Ellis in a week gave the match’s final draw. This is the feature game and I will post this for you to play through below with annotations from Robert himself. 2.5-2.5.

Rob V Mark on the big screen : click to open

Current league table after these 3 games.

Culcheth B V Culcheth A – 19 Oct 22

Nick’s game against Rob was the final game to finish

This fixture was originally scheduled to take place in September but at that time a fair few of us were away on holiday. When Atherton regrettably postponed the match that was scheduled to take place on the 19th of October, it gave us an ideal opportunity to fulfil this fixture.

Thoughout the history of this blog there have been numerous match comments from captain’s describing matches along the lines of “We won the match 5 – 0 but in truth it was a much closer contest…”

Perhaps that phrase is now overused but I cannot think of a better description for this match. Long standing member Mike Rotchell came to the club at 9pm as a spectator and pointed out when he arrived every single one of the games, an hour and a half in… looked to be on a knife edge.

Perhaps it is just the nature of chess as a sport that most games are decided by a few critical moments, such seems to have been the case here as in each and every game the more experienced player managed to come out on top.

Match scorecards and some game annotations can be found below: I only have 2 games so far but more may be added to this post as and when I recieve them!

Followers of this blog can look forward to a flurry of posts in Novemeber where we may have as many as a half dozen of A and B team matches to report upon!

Jonathan V Tom (to view on the big screen)

Nick V Rob (on the big screen)

Damian V Bryan (on the big screen)

Match Scorecard
Early League Table