Originally posted Mar 5, 2015, 8:33 AM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Apr 22, 2015, 11:51 AM ]
Ashfield 1

Ashfield surpassed last year's points total but dropped a League position finishing in third place on 20 points behind Grantham and Mansfield. John Molyneux had an outstanding season with 8.5/11 and Derek also scored well with 8.5/13. Pablo's results did not reflect his play as he turned down draws in at least 2 of his losses. " Who Dares Wins." does not always translate to the chess battlefield. Glenn was missed for much of the season, but squad players came in and contributed to a very respectable season. Grantham were worthy League Champions. The Mansfield team showed significant improvement, and Gambit showed significant decline, in each case with little change in personnel from previous seasons. Ashfield will be looking to regain the title of top Notts. club from Mansfield next season.  

Ashfield 2 

With the same regular players, we were unrecognisable from the side that finished last season in sixth place on twelve points with a board difference of minus 12. This season we finished runners up with 10 wins from 14 games and a board difference of plus 13. Individually and as a team we found consistency. Geoff scored 8/11 with only one loss. Jerry scored 7.5/11. Bob scored well, but our leading scorer was Alan with 9.5/13. Derek gave us a boost in the five games he played. Individually we were hard to beat. I lost most games, 4 from 14. I'll happily settle for that next season! Also, it's taken me three years, but I've found our best board order and stopped tinkering. 

Ashfield 3 

Promoted last year, the team found it tough going in the first half of the season. After 8 games the team were rooted to the bottom of the table with 3 points. The team were finding individual board wins scarce. In a stirring rally, the team took 7 points from the last six games, failing to stay up by a whisker.  The third team should feel proud  of achieving 10 points in the second tier, well exceeding previous returns. The top boards struggled for parity, but when they could achieve this , the engine room of the team started to deliver the board wins to clinch the team results. David in his first season at this level played solidly all year, and came to the fore with 3 wins and a draw from his 4 games after Christmas. The" Evergreen" Stan Cranmer too showed he is still more than capable of holding his own at this level with three wins and four draws in the same period. Bravo!

Ashfield 4  -

Despite some good results, including a win against the top team, University 2, the team was a bit inconsistent and just failed to overcome a poor start to the season of 3 losses. The team scored 11 points in 4 games which would have been enough to stay up in any other division. The team was a mixture of experience and youth. Adam Manchester played his first season of League chess. Nigel Wright played on top board through the season, and his game should benefit from the experience of playing against established Division 1 players.  

Season's Highlights

Within my review of the season, I've chosen the 3 most memorable club games I have seen this season. This is purely a personal choice based on different criteria including quality of play, entertainment value and significance of the game to the team. 

*This is not a Best Games Award. It is just my pick of 3 games I have seen which will stay in my mind from this season. 

John Molyneux v Alex Poszhennikov 1.10.14

I have seen John’s 6 home games this season, and have enjoyed watching these. He has played some top quality chess including  wins against Ankush Kandelwahl, Nigel Birtwhistle, Peter Mercs and Richard Truman. Richard contributed to his defeats by wandering forward into a mate, and Peter by getting his Queen trapped. These mistakes came about because their positions were under pressure, and John needed no second invitation to take advantage. He can spot a Cheapo!
His two top wins were against Ankush and Nigel. Either of these could be a contender for the NCA Best Game Award. The game against Ankush was very exciting and tactical. The game against Nigel also seemed a very high quality contest. I have yet to see the analysis of this game, and won’t have spotted all the tactical possibilities.
John’s loss against Chris Cantrill was memorable too in its own way. I arrived late for this, by which time the damage was done.
It may seem strange that I have chosen a draw as a memorable game, but this first home game of the season has stuck in my mind. Alex, ECF 207 traded pieces off and propelled into an endgame, in which he appeared to have winning chances . To my 140’s vision, John’s position looked losing. More to the point Alex had aimed for this ending with the belief that he could win it. John needed to play very accurately to hold the draw, which he did with confidence. He understood that he could hold the draw by playing actively, and gradually Alex too realised that although he stood better, he was not able to break down John’s defensive resource.  Alex ‘s style was interesting in that he quickly aimed for an endgame in which he could outplay his opponent. He discovered that John can look after himself in a Rook ending. (Team mates Derek and Steve's ability  to defend Rook endings later proved crucial to Breadsall's year-end.) 

Alan Robinson v Graham Gibson 18.2.15

Regular readers won’t be surprised at my choice of this game played for Ashfield 3. I have seen 13 games played by Alan this year, and there have been several white knuckle roller-coaster rides.  The first game of the season he had one such win against Trevor, although I confess I left early and missed this. It’s been uncanny this year how often the team result has come down to Alan’s game, as the last board to finish with Alan in time pressure. Fortunately he and we are used to this and more often than not , Alan has brought home the bacon. . He did this ridiculously against Gambit 3, somehow winning a totally lost game on the clock. For Ashfield 2 against Central, he was the only winner with the other 4 boards drawn. In this game for Ashfield 3 he played the same opponent Graham Gibson and conjured a very good win from the jaws of defeat, giving the third team its second victory of the season.

The significance of this game to both teams fortunes can’t be underestimated. For Ashfield 3 it lit the touch-paper for the team’s Great Escape bid.. Whilst Central still had several games to play, in their hearts and minds, weakened as they are by the unavailability of key players, they would have known too that this single board result dealt a hefty blow to their prospects of averting relegation.

David Woodhouse v Mike Hunter 18.3.15.  

This almost worked out as the decisive moment of Ashfield 3’s Great Escape adventure. Inspired by the win against Central, the team started to find winning habits. I’ve seen 6 games played by David this year. He’s adapted well in his first season in Division 2. He’s a solid player, who has found that wins are hard to come by in Division 2 with teams and players often closely matched. He scored his first win against Ray Sayer in January in combative style, and then came to the fore with 2 very important wins. A finely constructed win against John Tassi helped the team overthrow League leaders, Gambit 2. In this game against West Bridgford 2 his contribution to the team seemed just as decisive. West Bridgford , 3 points below Ashfield in the table, arrived with a weakened team, desperate for a win, to climb off the foot of the table. Their weakened team looked on course to achieve this until David found a tactical coup which led to a mating attack, as he had against Gambit. The match was drawn and Ashfield  remained 3 points ahead of WB. At the time it looked that this lead might seal Ashfield 3’s  escape from relegation at the expense of West Bridgford. Alas, and to their credit West Bridgford won their crucial last game to dash our hopes.