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Division 3n, Second Weekend, Shrigley Hall, 11th-12th Jan 2014 by John Carleton

 

At the end of the first weekend Spirit of Atticus A team and North-East England 1 were the only teams with 2 wins out of 2 and headed the notional Northern League table each with 8 game points. This weekend was to see the match up between the two on the Sunday but on the Saturday each had potentially tricky fixtures. North-East England 1 were paired with Cheddleton 2 [their first team gracing division 1] and our A team were to play North-East England 2. Nor did it promise to be a quiet weekend for our B team who were paired with Holmes Chapel on the Saturday and Ferry 'Cross the Maroczy 1 on the Sunday.

 

 

Shrigley Hall originally built in 1825, is now an impressive hotel.

The venue was new to us, and although a hotel only since 1989, invokes memories of a golden age of hotels. The current staff are entitled to be proud of their friendly and helpful commitment to customer service which matches that golden age of the popular imagination. The site has a long history as does the current hall built in 1825. The most shocking piece of history relates to the heiress Ellen Turner who in 1826, aged 15, was abducted from school at Liverpool and taken away to Gretna Green to be married. I mention this only to assure the reader that the crooks were duly brought to book and they [obviously] had no connection with the fair city of Liverpool.

 

 

Captain: John Carleton

Right from the start of play our two matches promised to be uncompromising affairs. The A team match saw hell for leather battles for Nick Ivell on board 2, Martin Mitchell on board 4 and Dave Robertson on board 5. I, wearing my captain's hat, had hopes of victory in all three but our opponents were not following the anticipated script and these games yielded just 50%. Martin duly won his game but only after prolonged resistance from his opponent. Dave was unable to land a knockout blow and had to allow a perpetual with his king wide open. Nick lost to Malola Prasath, who played originally and provocatively in the opening and middlegame to emerge into a won ending which was played with accuracy and care. This required action on the games proceeding in a more sedate manner. Unfortunately, the first contribution was not that anticipated as, in a perfectly reasonable position, I seemed to onlookers to press the self-destruct button. The only consolation for me was that my suffering was brief, opponent Paul Kendall dispatching me with commendable efficiency. This left our debutants, Brett Lund on board 1 and Richard Bryant on board 6 to try to save the match. Richard equalised the scores with a calm and patient conversion of his material advantage. The board 1 game had appeared to be heading for an early draw but an amazing pawn sacrifice in the rook and pawn ending by David Wise and a clever resource from Brett left most spectators baffled but hopeful of their man's prospects. This game was last but one to finish in the playing hall and the resulting draw left the match drawn also. This result seemed fair on the balance of play and capped a good day for the North East England squad. Earlier their 1st team had crushed the dangerous looking Cheddleton 2 by 5-1.

 

 

Vale Inn, Bollington

The B team also had a tense encounter. Peter Ackley was first to finish landing the first drawn game in the history of the B team, just as he had landed the first drawn game in the history of the A team [then the only team]. Boards 5 and 6 also yielded draws; Andy Mort and Steve Connor appeared to be pushing for victory but an appropriate mixture of defence and counter attack by the Holmes Chapel players kept matters under control. Michael Johnson gave us the lead with a measured performance demonstrating his pawn formation to be much the sounder in a knight v bishop ending. The match was levelled up when Chris Doran of Holmes Chapel, but also a colleague at Chester Chess Club of half a dozen of our squad, won a pawn against another new player to our ranks John Cooper. This proved enough for victory. Thus, there was just one game left in play in the match and in due course it was the last in the hall: Dave Latham against Bob Clark. This game had come down to Dave's rook and pawn against Bob's rook. Dave claimed victory well into the 7th hour of play and after some 92 moves to claim victory in the match by a single point.

 

 

Rd4 - Spirit of Atticus: l to r:

Martin Mitchell (standing), John Cooper

and Michael Johnson.

This made the journey down to the pub in the local village of Bollington something of a rush for the Atticus supporters who had remained to try to blow Dave's pawn onto the 8th rank. The pub was a change in style from our normal arrangements but the very pleasant staff, food, wide selection of real ales and indeed the wine proved very much to the liking of the group. The evening was acclaimed as a great success by one and all including supersubs David Hulme and Dave Stuttard who had visited us in play at one of our "home" venues.

 

The traditional nightcap in the bar was well attended and unusually, a chess set even appeared at one stage. The teams retired with the target of a win and a draw [in either combination] in the two matches implanted in the collective mindset.

 

 

 

 

And so the big day arrived with the skipper experiencing some trepidation, however when I realised I had packed my lucky socks [the ones with the claret and blue decorations round the heels and toes] I began to believe our target was attainable.

 

The A team game started well enough for us with the first results being solid draws for Peter Ackley and Nick Ivell on boards 6 and 2 respectively each with the black pieces. Our remaining black on board 4 saw Martin's young opponent David Oates sacrifice the exchange for a pawn and plenty of squares. However, Martin patiently built his pawn centre and once he got it moving victory was inevitable and we were into the lead 2-1. All was not plain sailing for us however and on board 5 Dave Latham slipped to defeat against an impressive Paul Dargan. Paul had played an interesting pawn sacrifice and Dave's attempts to hold his material saw him eventually land in an ending a pawn down which Paul duly won thus becoming the only player in the Northern League with 4 wins out of 4. On board 1 Brett pushed hard against David Walker and had seemed close to victory before a draw was agreed when most of the sting had gone out of the position. This left me in play against Roger Coathup: I had sacrificed a pawn in the opening for real pressure but sensible defence saw Roger starting to unravel his position. I thought my piece sacrifice that followed was probably winning but knew I had a draw in hand. In the event my position wasn't winning but luck was with me as Roger missed the correct defence and I was able to transpose to an easily won ending. Obviously this was a big win for us against our tough and sporting opponents but we each have hopes for this so far unpredictable season.

 

The B team match was the most hard fought of the day. For well over half an hour at the end of round 4 the only games in play were 3 from their match against Ferry 'Cross the Maroczy 1. The match became a match of two halves with the top three boards of the Ferry team's application of pressure, aided with two whites, being matched by the pressure provided by the bottom three boards of our B team.

 

 

The pleasant playing conditions at Shrigley Hall Hotel were a feature of another enjoyable weekend.

 

Three decisive results followed in "normal" time. For our opponents Roger Williamson unleashed a game of sustained violence to beat Richard Bryant on board 1. Dave Robertson won a smooth game for us on board 4, winning a pawn and remorselessly simplifying towards victory. Board 6 saw John Cooper win a nice game; ultimately his weaknesses proved less weak than opponent Tom Bimpson's and John transposed into a neatly won ending. The next result saw Michael Johnson agree a draw against Ian Campbell after 76 moves and a good workout examining how bad Ian's bishop was compared with his knight [answer, not too bad]. John Hall was gradually worn down after an inferior opening against Andrej Stancak who did what it said on the can [he played the Maroczy bind and he played it well]. So the match was all square with another newcomer to our ranks, Juan Lasheras in play against Steve Kee. The players were on the point of running out of pawns when the draw was agreed in what appeared a fluctuating game, thus fittingly drawing the match which had been balanced throughout.

 

There was one advantage to the extended round: Nick Ivell who, during Dave Latham's rook and pawn ending on the previous day, had told us all at the precise moment when the game had gone from theoretical draw to theoretical win was able to deliver a short master class on rook and one pawn v rook endings to some of our team: most instructive! And so, with less than a month to the next gathering in Buxton the anticipation levels are already rising.

 

 

Rd3 results Rd4 results

Spirit of Atticus team A | Spirit of Atticus team B

Div3n Crosstable Games in PGN

Previous Spirit of Atticus reports

Chess Photos Steve Connor

 

4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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