Friday, 28 October 2011

Title challengers Newport held to a draw

With the return of some of their former stars from university, Newport A look a formidable side in this season's Division 1 with many tipping them as title challengers alongside Shrewsbury A and Telepost A.

However Church Stretton A refused to roll over in spite of a major difference in grades. Newport's five boards averaged an ECF grade of 172, compared to Stretton's 152, but the match ended 2.5-2.5 with Trevor Brotherton holding county number one Nick Rutter to a draw, Steve Rooney beating Gavin Cooper and Karl Wakefield winning against Tony Holdford.

The match produced plenty of interesting games (always a major distraction to those of us who like to watch progress on other boards between our own moves!) Trevor played a sharp line against Nick's Semi Slav with a g4 pawn sacrifice, resulting in open files, hanging pieces and severe complications. Honours were even in the end but it was certainly an exciting one to watch and hopefully the game score will be available here soon.

Karl wasn't aware of his opponent's predilection for the King's Gambit but saw off the Bishop's version of the gambit nonetheless. Karl accepted the gambit and steadfastly refused to relinquish the pawn on f4, eventually supporting it with a pawn chain. Tony managed to eat up a whole hour's more time than Karl in the middlegame but still couldn't find a way to get his attack going. Calmly lopping off pieces, Karl took the full point gratefully.

Gerald Link was eased out of a king and pawn ending on board three and Graham Shepherd, who had been under niggling pressure for much of the game also succumbed.

The agreed draw on board one set the match up for a thrilling finale as Steve Rooney and Gavin Cooper battled it out. With rooks and minor pieces on the board in a fairly even position Steve offered a draw, despite knowing this would lose the match as it was difficult to see a way to get the win. Gavin decided to plough on, understandable perhaps given the grading difference that he reckoned he could cope with the final time scramble better. Gavin had taken about 15 minutes extra at this point and with less than ten minutes to go, started moving almost instantaneously. The position then simplified and he allowed Steve, playing black, to gain a passed b pawn which proved to be stronger than Gavin's king-side majority. The tables now having turned, Gavin offered a draw which Steve politely refused sensing victory. A final flurry of moves ended with Gavin resigning one move from checkmate with lone K against K and Q and less than a minute on both clocks.  Phew!

Newport A 2.5 Church Stretton A 2.5

1. N Rutter 0.5, T Brotherton 0.5
2. G Cooper 0, S Rooney 1
3. N Paul 1, G Link 0
4. A Holdford 0, K Wakefield 1
5. C Lewis 1, G Shepherd 0.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

B team hold leaders to draw

The B team's second match saw them take on Shifnal & Telford C who had kicked off their season with two straight wins to lead Division 3. But on this occasion the match points were shared. Graham Shepherd and Tom Willamson both drew and Francis Rooney won on board two after his opponent's flag fell.

Francis said that his opponent ended up with a strong position but lost because he had spent too much of his clock time on trying to see off the Sicilian Dragon onslaught on his queen-side castled king.

The result puts Church Stretton B in a three-way tie for third place. Next match is home to Oswestry on 10 November.

Shifnal & Telford C 2 Church Stretton B 2

1. R Brown 0.5, G Shepherd 0.5
2. S Ross 0, F Rooney 1
3. T Skidmore 0.5, T Williamson 0.5
4. J Sloan 1, J Carless 0.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Draw for first B team match

The newly-relaunched B team drew 2-2 against Telepost D in their opening Division 3 match. Early losses on boards 1 and 4 were countered by wins for captain Tom Williamson and Chris Pimm Jones.

Church Stretton B 2 Telepost D 2

1. F Rooney 0, S Sweeney 1
2. T Williamson 1, D Pinnington 0
3. C Pimm-Jones 1, G Lyon 0
4. J Carless 0, A Cliff 1

A-team lose tight match to Priorslee Lions

A closely-fought home match against Priorslee Lions A resulted in a 3-2 defeat for the A team. A win for Karl Wakefield on board four and draws for Trevor Brotherton and Graham Shepherd were balanced by losses on boards two and three. There are likely to be quite a few of these evenly-matched contests as the season progresses.

Church Stretton 2 Priorslee Lions A 3

 1. T Brotherton 0.5, G Pugh 0.5 
 2, S Rooney 0, W Bates 1 
 3. G Link 0, J O'Neil 1 
 4. K Wakefield 1, A Tunks 0 
 5. G Shepherd 0.5, J Tunks 0.5

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Perfect start for Stretton A

Church Stretton A scored a 5-0 win against Ludlow in the opening match of the season. With a sizeable grading advantage on all boards, the home team were favourites and fortunately managed to convert all the points.

Graham Shepherd was the first to finish against an opponent playing his first competitive match. Graham got an early material gain and never looked back. Karl Wakefield made it 2-0 winning his bishop and pawn ending and Gerald Link made it 3-0 shortly after.

On board 2, Steve Rooney's opponent unfortunately touched his king when planning a king move but realised that the square he was looking at was not safe. But having touched his king he had to move it, and was a bit alarmed to realise that in fact the king had no safe squares. His next move allowed  a knight fork so he promptly resigned, making it 4-0.

The Ludlow team then had quite a wait before they could get back down the A49 as top board Joseph Watson was holding Stretton top board Trevor Brotherton in an intriguing middlegame with Watson's knight occupying an outpost contested by Brotherton's bishop, plus the other major pieces on both sides. As the clock ticked down however, Trevor's strength in quickplay finishes clinched the point. having turned down a couple of draw offers, Trevor finally made it a 5-0 whitewash when his opponent slipped up in the queen and pawn ending.

Here is a critical position from Trevor's endgame. Both players were short of time but his opponent tried to simplify with a4, missing the back rank check followed by bxa4 winning a clear pawn.

This left the intriguing prospect of whether white's c pawn or black's e pawn would roll forward first. But with less than five minutes each and with queens on the board neither king found it easy to hide. Trevor won a second pawn and with it the game following a slip when his opponent missed a check which forced the queen exchange leaving nothing to fight back with.

Best of luck to Ludlow in the rest of the season, and onward to our next encounter - Priorslee Lions A at home in two weeks, when the B team also get their season underway against Telepost D.

Church Stretton A v Ludlow
1. T Brotherton 1, J Watson 0
2. S Rooney 1, R Woodley 0
3. G Link 1, A Wright 0
4. K Wakefield 1, P Munday 0
5. G Shepherd 1, D Meikle 0