Top players made to battle as Timeform competition hots up

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This year’s Timeform Cup competition includes some of the Calderdale Chess League’s true heavyweights at the top end of its seeding list. Headed by reigning Champion, John Morgan, who weighs-in with a grade of 173 and who is hoping to hold on to the Timeform Cup for another year; the field contains seven players graded at over 150 and a further 11 graded over 130.

Such a strong field means the early rounds can be bereft of upsets. However, there was one surprise result in round one and in round two the big boys certainly didn’t have everything their own way despite coming out on top.

John Morgan was drawn to play against Hebden‘B’ team captain, Martin Syrett. On paper the game should have been straightforward for the champion but Syrett played solid and sensible chess to maintain parity late into the night. Morgan only stole the victory by calculating that he could swap the queens off at the end of the middle game to leave himself with a won king and pawn ending that a less experienced and skilled campaigner would have thought to be a dead draw. So did Syrett for he offered the exchange only to encounter flawless technique and accuracy from Morgan.

Second seed, Mitchell Burke of Huddersfield, found himself drawn to play his own team captain, Robert Sutcliffe, with the Black pieces. This game was also very tight for a long period as Sutcliffe closed the position down and stifled all Burke’s attempts at activity. Burke did finally find a break through and that single point of entry led to a swift avalanche which swept Sutcliffe’s position away.

Darwin Ursal swept aside Hebden Bridge A club colleague, Terry Sullivan, in convincing fashion, Dave Shapland completed his victory over Dave Sugden having offered him the chance to play a variation of the French Defence that both players were well versed in while Pete Leonard had a walkover when Matt Levy did not arrive.

The remaining players graded over 150 also scored the full point. Robert Clegg won, with another French Defence, against Adrian Dawson and Peter Hughes beat Hebden Bridge ‘C’s Neil Bamford in a tricky endgame after winning the exchange, whilst Andy Leatherbarrow beat an in-form Nick Sykes.

Round three is scheduled to be played at the Belgrave Social Club on Monday, January 9.

BOARD ONE

WHITE: John Morgan

BLACK: Martin Syrett

1. f4, d5; 2. Nf3, Nf6; 3. e3, c5; 4. b3, Nc6; 5. Bb5, Bb7; 6. Bb2, a6; 7. Bxc6, Bxc6; 8. 0-0, e6; 9. Ne5, Bb5; 10. d3, Be7; 11. Nd2, 0-0; 12. a4, Be8; 13. Rf3, Nd7; 14. Rg3, Nxe5; 15. fxe5, f5; 16. exf5 (e.p.), Bxf6; 17. Bxf6, Qxf6; 18. Rf3, Qe7; 19. Qe2, Bg6; 20. Raf1, Rxf3; 21. Qxf3, Rf8; 22. Qg3, Rxf1+; 23. Nxf1, e5; 24. Nd2, b5; 25. Qg4, Qe8; 26. axb5, axb5; 27. e4, d4; 28. Nf3, Bh5; 29. Qf5, Bxf3; 30. gxf3, Qe7; 31. f4, exf4; 32. Qxf4, Qf6 (32..., Qf7 may have been better); 33. Qxf6, gxf6; 34. Kg2, Kg7; 35. Kg3, Kg6; 36. Kg4, h6; 37. h3, b4; 38. h4, h5+; 39. Kf4, Kf7; 40. Kf5, Kf7; 41. e5, fxe5+; 42. Kxe6, Kg6; 43. Ke6, Kg7; 44. Kf5, Kh7; 45. Kg5, Kh7; 46. Kxh5, Kh7; 47. Kg5, Kg7; 48. Kf5, White resigns.