Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Knockout finals to be broadcast live!

Thanks to the assistance of Francis Best and the hospitality of Wrekin Housing Trust the final of the Minor Knockout Church Stretton A v Telepost B will be broadcast live on the internet.

The match takes place on Thu 11 June at 7.30pm and will run alongside the final of the Cox Trophy between Telepost A and Shrewsbury A. We will be using the special DGT boards which we have acquired for use at the annual Shropshire Congress which transmits all the moves and the clock times.

You can follow the game in real-time at the following link:

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A final shoot-out for A team

The A team successfully got through the semi final of the Minor Knockout, although it was a tough encounter away to Priorslee Lions B, who had probably their strongest team out while we were missing Trevor.

An early win for Steve on board one helped us on the way. In fact credit is entirely due to his opponent Murdo Morrison who made a mistake by touching a pawn on b7, and at the same moment realising that moving it would mean opening up a dangerous pin on the long diagonal. However, having touched it he had no alternative but to move it although he did just stare at the board forlornly for some minutes. A few moves later the pin became fatal and he resigned before he was about to lose a piece.

Assessing the other boards, Steve was confident we would win the match although it was over an hour before the result was clear.

On board 2, Karl was facing the sharp tactics of Gary White who never misses a chance to mix things up. However Karl was solid and forced the swap of two minor pieces for his rook. Once the queens came off, Karl looked in a very strong position with two powerful bishops commanding the board. But Gary is not one to give in easily and kept making niggling threats, which in the end managed to trick Karl into conceding two rooks on the seventh and it was all over; 1-1.

David and Graham both looked in good positions however, and since this was a four board match, the count-back rules in the event of a draw meant that Priorslee had to get 1.5 out of the last two matches. So a win for David would be enough to clinch the match. Graham appeared to realise this and after his opponent launched a neat trick to dissipate the central pawns, the position clarified into Q and Ps against RR and Ps and a draw was agreed.

David had one of those positions which squeezed all the life out of his opponent's position and he successfully tightened the noose until there was a decisive advantage. So a 2.5-1.5 victory for us and a place in the final against Telepost B.

Priorslee Lions B v Church Stretton A: 1.5 - 2.5
M Morrison 0, S Rooney 1; 
G White 1, K Wakefield 0; 
G Viszokai 0, D Hodge 1; 
M Carbin 0.5, G Shepherd 0.5.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Summer knockout progress

The A team has progressed to the semi final of the Minor Knockout with wins against Newport B in the first round and Telepost C in the second.

The match against Newport B including wins for Trevor, Steve and Karl and a solid draw from Eric. Karl was the first to finish having set up a sharp attack along a diagonal with a Q and B battery that proved decisive and Eric's game was a fairly level R and Ps ending when he agreed a draw.

Steve's game had an interesting finish with both sides poised for mate but only one ever going to achieve it. A slip in the opening by his opponent gave Steve two bishops against two knights and the power of the diagonals was a key factor as the opening moved into the middle game. A pleasing series of moves involving pinning the queen against a back rank mate and a temporary rook sacrifice made for a picturesque end.

Trevor meanwhile just ground his poor opponent into the dust. An ending with R, N and pawns each didn't offer a lot at first glance but Trevor was convinced that his more active pieces and his opponents cramped position would be enough, and it was.

Church Stretton A v Newport B: 3.5 - 0.5

T Brotherton 1, D Griffiths 0; 
S Rooney 1, A Mehmood 0; 
K Wakefield 1, S Ross 0; 
E Elwell 0.5, C Paul 0.5.

The second round match was played against Telepost C. Now, if you take a look at the results, you'll see that this team were actually beaten in the first round by Shrewsbury B. However, when it came to organising the second round, Shrewsbury were unable to field a team (or more likely what they perceived as their strongest team). They requested a postponement but because this is a knockout tournament with only a two-week window between rounds and there was a difficulty with getting it organised for the following week, this was declined, so Shrewsbury B defaulted. This was very disappointing, particularly since Shrewsbury is one of the bigger clubs and used to run three or four teams so it seems hardly credible they couldn't find four players for this match. And regular readers of the blog will know how we have suffered from numerous defaults already in the league season.

A suggestion was then put to the league controller Keith Tabner that he consider re-instating Telepost C to replace Shrewsbury B as the latter weren't able to fulfil the fixture. He agreed, and so did Telepost C's captain Nick who managed to get a team together so we could have a match. All credit to Telepost C for stepping into the breach, especially as they may have been a bit intimidated with the grading differences between the teams. 

It resulted in a clean sweep for Church Stretton, but there were some very interesting games, including Charles Micallef's enterprising dragon against Steve on board 2, and a brave attempt to stave off the inevitable Trevor squeeze by Quentin Mills.

Church Stretton A v Telepost C: 4 - 0
T Brotherton 1, Q Mills 0; 
S Rooney 1, C Micallef 0; 
K Wakefield 1, N Holmes 0; 
D Hodge 1, S Sweeney 0.

The next round is the semi final and we are away to Priorslee Lions B.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Another good win to end A team season

A resounding 4.5-0.5 win against Telford B concluded Church Stretton A's league season. The result meant we only dropped two points in the season - those were in the earlier away encounter against Telford B - so revenge was sweet!

Good results from Eric, Tom and Graham, all winning against higher-graded opponents helped seal the victory plus a solid draw for Karl on board 2 and a win for Steve on board one.

Having finished the season as Div 2 champions, we now have the chance to compete for another trophy with the minor knockout which gets underway on 7 May with a home tie against Newport B.

Church Stretton A 4.5 Telford B 0.5
S Rooney 1, S Tarr 0; 
K Wakefield 0.5, S Ross 0.5; 
G Shepherd 1, R Thompson 0; 
E Elwell 1, W Peck 0; 

T Williamson 1, R Brown 0.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

B team conclude with emphatic win

The B team remain at the top of division 3 following their final league game which resulted in a 3-1 win.

The win puts them four points clear of second-placed Newport B who still have two matches to play. If Newport B win both of those they need to chalk up 7 game points to overtake Church Stretton B. An interesting finish but it means the B team need to wait another few weeks before they know whether they will take the title.

However, a great result in any case. Well done to B team captain Tom who regularly selected others and sat out himself to ensure a good spread of players got matches and a strong line-up. The team were undefeated throughout the season, only conceding two draws - both to Newport B.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Division 2 champions

Another match, another default.

A rather unsatisfactory way to clinch the division 2 title, but not much we can do if opponents concede before a pawn is pushed. Wellington B defaulted this week meaning we have now 'enjoyed' three match defaults in the last six matches and notched up our sixth 5-0 scoreline in a row.

Only one match to go although it doesn't count for anything and let's hope our opponents turn up for that one!

Best of luck to the B team tonight at Newport - a good win could help them to the div 3 title. (While they are there they might well ask why the inter-club match involving one of their rivals has not been played nearly two months after it was scheduled.)

Friday, 13 March 2015

Emphatic scoreline seals promotion

Our fourth 5-0 score in a row secured promotion back to division one for the A team. Once again, the score flattered a little and an hour and a half into the match we were still looking for that elusive game point needed to ensure we finished in the top two.

Eventually Karl got the win - although he missed the promised pint from the captain who was still absorbed in his game! Karl looked like winning much earlier to my cursory glance but he opted to move into a rook ending and managed to get the first point on the board. David followed next, having rescued his position from an unconvincing approach to the opening - his own admission, not captain's criticism you'll understand.

This left three games to run and the top two boards didn't look like promising more than draws, but Trevor eventually broke through after his opponent moved a rook to a wrong square. Just one slip and Trevor will get you! Steve had his opponent's rook marooned but it was nursing a blockaded pawn on the seventh rank so chances for all three results. In the end, a swindle emerged which delivered a mating net with the two rooks, leaving Norman to forlornly queen his pawn two moves before mate was delivered.

Michael's opponent battled on but eventually succumbed to make it a clean sweep.

With the game points stacking up, we are now in a strong position for the title, but still two games to go including one against second-placed and fellow-promoted side Telford B.

Church Stretton A 5 Shrewsbury B 0

T Brotherton 1, M Smith 0; 
S Rooney 1, N O'Connor 0; 
M Bukojemski 1, I Salter 0; 
K Wakefield 1, I Davies 0; 
D Hodge 1, A Purser 0.

(There was some discussion on the night about the fact that Telford B's postponed fixture against their own C team had eventually been played, but that the C team had defaulted a board to give the B team an easy victory. The result was reported this week, although it's not clear if that was when the match was played as the fixture list was not kept up to date. Obviously, teams often struggle for players but an inter-club match should be played on the original date prescribed by the league controller, barring natural catastrophe, and be between two full teams. In the event, Shrewsbury B can't now catch Telford B, but if they had ended up on the same match points, I suspect there would have been questions raised. Matches are now being regularly postponed because a team can't raise a side which is not really an adequate reason. Perhaps the issue of postponements needs to be revisited at the next league agm.)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Just one point needed for A team promotion

With three matches to go, Church Stretton A need just one point to assure promotion - one game point that is, since the recent run of 5-0 results (including defaults) has meant our game points put us almost out of reach of Shrewsbury B, but not quite.

It is possible for Shrewsbury B to overtake us if they win their last three games 5-0, and we lose our last three games 5-0. I am not going to tempt fate by saying how likely that is!

All will be resolved tonight however, as we play Shrewsbury B at home. A pint for the first winner ...

Monday, 9 March 2015

Comfortable win for B team

Church Stretton B have now been joined by Newport B in the confirmed promotion slots from division 3. The race is still on for the division title however.

The team may need to score heavily in their final game against Newport Juniors later this month to head off the challenge from the same club's B team.

The last result from the B team saw a 3.5-0.5 win against Telepost C with wins for Graham, Tom and John C, plus a draw for John W.

Telepost C 0.5 - Church Stretton B 3.5

Q Mills 0, G Shepherd 1; 
C Micallef 0.5, J Westhead 0.5; 
N Holmes 0, T Williamson 1; 
S Sweeney 0, J Casewell 1.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Another default for A team

Another week, another 5-0 result for the A team. Once again we have had a match defaulted against us and clock up two match points without pushing a pawn. Priorslee Lions B were only able to find one player for this week's match apparently and conceded the match.

It's not really how we want to win but we can't do much about it if there is no opposing team. And a further result this week with Shrewsbury B losing to Telford B means that we only need one game point from three games to assure promotion. We face Shrewsbury B next so that's the chance to clinch it.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

B team promoted

Church Stretton B have clinched promotion from division 3 with another resounding win. A 3-1 victory against Priorslee Lions C puts them on 18 points and out of reach of all but second-placed Newport B. The race for the title is still on though and I imagine that is what is in Tom's mind now.

Church Stretton B 3 Priorslee Lions C 1
G Shepherd 1, M Reynolds 0; 
E Elwell 0.5, S O'Dell 0.5; 
T Williamson 1, A Brannen 0; 

C Pimm-Jones 0.5, T Gilmour 0.5

The B team's promotion puts added pressure on the A team to do the same as we don't want two teams in the second division next season. An emphatic 5-0 win at Shrewsbury B didn't do us any harm though.

The match was a bit more balanced than the scoreline suggests however and the result flatters us a little. Karl was first to win, against the run of play, as he ended up worse from the opening. His opponent admitted afterwards to psyching himself out and not playing more positively because of the perceived difference in playing strength. A good lesson to play the position on the board and not worry about who your opponent is.

Michael was next to win with an approach that was a bit like a tiger waiting to pounce in a position that was reasonably balanced; as soon as his opponent strayed he was in for the kill. David followed and clinched the match putting us 3-up, having been dominant most of the game and patient enough not to squander any advantage.

The top two boards took quite a time to come to a conclusion. Steve was a bit lucky on board two as his opponent didn't manage to get anything decisive from a space advantage and started dropping pawns in the latter stages. Trevor's game went down to the wire with a frantic race to win finally ending up with KRP v KR. His opponent missed a check during the scramble and as it was an illegal move he pointed out that Trevor should have an extra two minutes. No-one jumped in to offer to re-set the clock quickly however and Trevor said 'play on'. Fortunately he won on time, but with less than a minute on his own clock, so didn't regret his gesture.

So the A team are two points clear at the top of Div 2, but there are still a couple of crucial games to go, including a return with Shrewsbury B.

Shrewsbury B 0 Church Stretton A 5
M Smith 0, T Brotherton 1; 
N O'Connor 0, S Rooney 1; 
A Lewis 0, M Bukojemski 1; 
I Davies 0, K Wakefield 1; 
A Purser 0, D Hodge 1.

Monday, 16 February 2015

B team out in front

The B team, captained by Tom Williamson is still riding high in division three and poised for promotion. Tom has been a non-playing captain for much of the season but has certainly excelled on team selection having won seven and drawn two from nine matches.

Since Christmas, the B team has chalked up wins against Oswestry and Newport C and held its closest rivals, second-placed Newport B to a 2-2 draw.

The match this week against Priorslee Lions C could be a promotion clincher - hope I haven't spoken too soon!

Church Stretton B 4 Oswestry B 0
Graham Shepherd     1   S Tulett        0
David Hodge.               1.  K Bacon.     0
Francis Rooney            1.  A Evans.      0
John Westhead.            1. J Molyneux. 0
                                      4.                      0
Newport C 1 Church Stretton B 3
J Eadon                        0. Graham Shepherd      1
P Broderick.                1/2 David Hodge.              1/2
M Price.                         0. John Westhead            1
M Moore.                     1/2 Tom Williamson           1/2
                                      1.                                       3
Church Stretton B 2 Newport B 2
Graham Shepherd       0. A Mehmood.                 1
John Westhead              1. S Rose.                         0
Eric Elwell.                    1/2 D Griffith                     1/2
John Caswell.               1/2 C Paul.                        1/2
                                       2.                                       2

A team still in the hunt

The A team has had a good start to the second half of the season, having started off lagging behind the leaders in division two due to the fact that we had played fewer games before Christmas. A win against Telepost B on 15 January went to plan. Then the next match against Telford C was called off at the last minute and has resulted in a 5-0 default to us.

A further 5-0 result, although this time we actually won all the games was against Wellington B. Four of the games finished quite quickly with Trevor, Steve, Karl and Eric chalking up wins and then David finally managed to squeeze something out of his game with some intriguing zugzwang-like outcomes in the complex queen and bishop ending leaving his opponent with only losing moves to choose from.

That leaves us currently on top of division two on game points, although we still have a game in hand on second-placed Telford B. Next couple of matches could prove vital with away fixture against Shrewsbury B and home against Priorslee B.

Church Stretton A 3.5  Telepost B 1.5
T Brotherton 0.5, K Tabner 0.5; 
S Rooney 1, A Benjamin 0; 
K Wakefield 1, S Kempsell 0; 
M Bukojemski 1, J Westhead 0; 
F Rooney 0,J Casewell 1.

Church Stretton A 5 Wellington B 0
N Sampson 0, T Brotherton 1; 
J Lenton 0, S Rooney 1; 
D Powell 0, K Wakefield 1; 
M Anandh 0, D Hodge 1; 
M Walsh 0, E Elwell 1.