Stafford dented the 100% record of Holmes Chapel Kings with a rather fortunate 3-2 victory in a tense Stoke League Division One match which certainly demonstrated that chess games do not always proceed smoothly to their logical conclusions.
Gerald Acey was struggling when his opponent won a pawn with a neat tactic, and as the game moved into a double-rook ending it seemed that the best that Gerald could hope for was a draw. However, his opponent pushed forward without first ensuring the safety of his king, and allowed Gerald to deliver a rather surprising checkmate to put Stafford into the lead.
In another game which did not proceed to its logical conclusion, Stephane Pedder won rook for knight and pawn on board 5 and for much of the evening had looked to hold the most promising Stafford position. Once again, things did not develop as expected and his opponent established a passed d-pawn which eventually cost Stephane one of his rooks. Time became a major factor as Stephane valiantly tried to defend rook against rook, knight and pawn, but eventually he had to concede and the match was level.
Ray Hyde had stood well on board four, with his knight on e6 being a particularly effective blockader as Ray got on with his own kingside attack. He had also been well ahead on the clock, but gradually these advantages ebbed away as things came down to both players having rook and knight and down to their last couple of minutes, and the players repeated moves before agreeing to a draw.
Malcolm Armstrong misplayed the early middlegame and struggled to find good squares for his minor pieces and queen. The game was very complicated and, with both players beginning to run short of time, Malcolm had little alternative but to shed his a-pawn, but in doing so managed to get his knights well placed and also to get his queen into the game. He also managed to secure a useful edge on the clock which prompted his opponent into offering a draw with little over a minute remaining on his clock.
On board three, Lee Grinsell had been a little better throughout his game, controlling the important d5 square in a Sicilian Defence and quietly increasing the pressure on his opponent. Once again time became an important factor and Lee won material as his opponent ran out of time, clinching the crucial point.
With two wins and a draw from the first three matches, Stafford now stand just one point behind Holmes Chapel Kings with a game in hand.