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Bulletin No 11

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no. 11 (1.11.07)

Plenty of action to report on this time, with pride of place going to the Reivers blazing start to the new season in Northumberland League Division 1.

Northumberland League Division 1

The first match, on October 1st, was against Gateshead Libraries A team and it produced a resounding 4-1 win for the Reivers. Mike has sent me this report:

In my notes to the Reivers team in advance of our first match of the season, I wrote: Gateshead had an extraordinarily good season last year, but apart from board 1, their strength on paper was not significantly different from our own. Dusan Zdjelar, on board 1, now has a grading down to 172, so Colin, you can either be a sacrificial lamb, or St. George slaying their dragon! Dave, you will presumably get Kyrill Fomin on board 2. His grading is up to 150 this year. He gained revenge on me last year after I beat him the previous season. After that, we probably have the grading advantage …

And for the first time for a long time (it certainly didn’t happen last year) we played up to our joint capabilities. Maybe also spurred on by the need to justify our successful appeal to stay in Division 1, we came away with a resounding and deserved victory. And that after very motley preparation. Neither Colin nor Dave (nor Tim, possibly?) had touched a piece since last season, and Mark and I had been well-beaten in club championship games. Mark’s success at the NCA congress was our only morale-booster. The rustiness did not, on the whole, last long. Colin, Dave and Mark all came under the cosh early on, but only Colin failed to get back into the game, and so sacrificial lamb it became for him.

Our grading advantage on boards 3 to 5 was around 20 points per board. Tim was never in trouble, and duly picked up a piece against Colin Gilroy, finally winning the ending with the unusual material balance of two Knights against one Bishop and a cluster of pawns each. Mark’s early defensive problems were compounded by the fact that he had developed a very heavy cold during the day and was feeling far from well, but he repelled all Johnson’s early pins and forks, clung on to a pawn advantage and gradually took control, ending with a very neat mate. Against Bill Noble’s Winawer I managed to conjure up a few piece threats, one of which he underestimated, leading to the extraordinary sight (I was White) of my pawns on g7 and h6 bottling up his Rooks on g8 and h7 (Colin also noticed that I had another h-pawn back on its original square).

With the match standing at 1-3 and safely won, it remained to see the outcome of Dave’s game. An early middle-game exchange had left him the exchange for a pawn down, but the actual material distribution (the basic difference was a Bishop pair for Rook and Knight, with Kyrill Fomin having no Bishop at all) was far from unfavourable, and as the time control neared, Dave’s advantage increased. This was the game of the day, while Mark’s success despite his cold gets special mention.

Postscript: this was the first time NCA matches have been played under the new time control of all moves in 90 minutes. Maybe our domestic experience of this time control was another small factor in our success.

The Reivers’ second match was at home against Jesmond’s second team, the Reprobates, on 16 October.  Despite the fact that he was setting off for Spain first thing next morning, Mike both played in the match and compiled this report at 11.23 p.m. the same evening!

Only three of the team maintained the standard we set in our first match, but a 2.1/2-2.1/2 draw at least maintains our unbeaten start to the season, and equalled our points total for the whole of the previous campaign. For that we are indebted to Colin and Dave for their wins, and to Jack for his draw on his league debut. Colin capped a hard day’s building work with a long hard evening’s game, and was the last to finish. He kept control of the game with Archer throughout, and just as importantly, built up a handy 15 minute advantage on the clock. His position appeared to be winning anyway. Dave capitalised on weakly played opening by Ryan, which prevented castling and enabled Dave, like Colin, to keep the advantage. He was last but one to finish, so at one stage we were down 1/2-2.1/2. Jack played just as soundly, and indeed won and held on to a pawn. However, Zahed had a troublesome bishop, and Jack wisely took the draw. A splendid start for him, and we look forward to more from him in the future. Mark and I had awful evenings, Mark heading for his usual simplified ending, but for once finding it slipping away from him (win for Borwick) and myself blundering horribly and losing a whole piece, after which exciting chess ensued (congrats to Glover) but he hung on well.

So with three points out of a possible four, the Reivers find themselves third in Division 1 behind Tynemouth Trojans and Leam Lane Aces, but ahead of Kings A and Jesmond Knights! These opening results are in themselves a vindication of the decision taken at this year’s AGM to press for the Reivers to remain in division 1. Long may their success continue!

Northumberland League Division 2

By comparison with the Reivers, the Tans have got off to a rather faltering start, though it must be said that their first opponents, Alnwick A late of division 1, were arguably the toughest side they will face this season. The match took place at Morpeth on October 12th and resulted in a victory for Alnwick 3.5 to 1.5. Phil and I have cobbled together the following report.

Captain Phil Taylor (board 5) was the first to finish, winning a close game to the ungraded Rob McEwan, a late replacement for Alnwick’s normal board 5 player.  Peter Crichton (board 2) and Matthew Taylor (board 3) finished next within a few minutes of each other. Peter was a pawn up but material equalised as rooks came off and a draw was a well-earned result against Mike Trolan, whose grading is 135 to Peter’s 107. Matthew (grading 95) fell to a well-constructed attack by Harry Teetsov (grading 116) which led to either checkmate or overwhelming loss of material.  Derek Blair (grading 110) had the hardest task of the day, facing Phil Hemsley (grading 153) on top board. A fairly even game with potential threats on both sides changed when Derek advanced the wrong pawn and his position collapsed. A different pawn move, it transpired in post-match analysis, might have won him the game. Last to finish was your editor (grading 82), who was up against Dennis Patterson (grading 95) on board 4. In a very tight game, I held a one pawn advantage and was poised to win another when Dennis produced a killer move which effectively decided the outcome. So in the end, Alnwick won comfortably enough, though all their players had had a fight on their hands. As Mike Trolan was heard to observe after the match was over, “There will be no easy games this season.”

That is certainly true for the Tans, who in their second match of the season faced Gateshead Knights at home on October 23rd. Phil Taylor was first to finish, losing out in a close fought battle of the captains on board 5. Next came Peter Crichton, on board 2. No sooner had he reported to Phil that his game looked to be a dead draw than his opponent blundered a piece and Peter romped home! Your editor, on board 4, struggled for the first two-thirds of the game to find a way through his opponent’s French Defence and eventually found it, only to run out of time. Resigned to losing on the clock, he was amazed and delighted when his opponent offered him a draw. What sporting behaviour! Though on reflection, his opponent would have been reduced to a king before the clock fell. Matthew, on board 3, galloped to victory in the final stages, enjoying the luxury of two queens to play with. So the result hinged on board 1 where Tim Wrigley was desperately short of time and faced by a very troublesome passed pawn. When his opponent forced an exchange of queens there was nothing Tim could do but resign. So the match ended 2.5 each and their first month in division 2 brought the Tans one point from four. They are second bottom in the division, though of course it is very early days, with just three points spanning the entire division.

South Tyne League

With supremo Derek Blair running both Tynedale teams in this league this year, we had the unusual situation of two teams playing a match with just one captain involved, and on this occasion he was not playing! Tynedale duly thrashed the Monarchs 3-1 on the board and 34-23 on handicap. The Monarchs sole success was on board one where Tim Wrigley showed a culpable lack of respect by beating our soon-to-be invested IM Mike Nicholson. On boards 2, 3 and 4 Mark Taylor, Dave Foster and Will Higgs all won against Jack Bradshaw, Malcolm Reid and Ralph Fawcett respectively. In Will’s game, it was a case of saved by the bell, or rather the clock, but if that feller Fawcett will persist in giving his opponents eighty-five minutes’ start what can he expect?!

The Monarchs duly beefed up their side for their next match, against Friars, not only wheeling in the Boss, Derek Blair, but also selecting Reivers top board Colin Davison. Alas, all this high strategy came to nothing. Colin was held to a draw on top board, while Derek lost on board 2, as did Ian Emmerson on board 4. All three games, it should be said, were very close affairs. It was left to Malcolm Reid on board 3 to restore a little monarchical pride after indulging once more in his idiosyncratic b6 opening. So, two games, two defeats and the Monarchs prop up the table. Boss Blair has a problem and rumour has it that, in a bid to strengthen his ailing side, he is negotiating a return to competitive chess of a certain Mr Kasparov. Well, we all knew Derek’s Russian contacts would come in handy one day!

 

The Club Championship

There has been plenty of activity here over the last month, with former champion Derek Blair in particular firing on all cylinders. Current champion Jack Bradshaw is performing well but is finding it harder to pick up points than last year.

Derek Blair 4/4
Peter Crichton 3.5/5
Jack Bradshaw 2.5/5
Steve Larkin 2/2
Bruce Reed 2/4
Matthew Taylor 1.5/3
Mark Taylor 1.5/3
Mike Nicholson 1/2
Malcolm Reid 1/3
Phil Taylor 1/4
Will Higgs 0/1
Dave Foster 0/4

It would be good if a few more members could take an active part in the championship, bearing in mind that the ideal number for a Major/Minor split next spring is 16.      

Miscellanea

Various members of the club have been off doing their own thing over the last month and have kindly provided me with the following information.

Bruce Reed attended this year’s Scarborough congress and writes as follows:

The Scarborough population was boosted by about 400 players in the different tournaments, smoothly organised by Lara Barnes and Abi Adams, and enjoying the sunshine in between competitions. I got off to a poor start (with black) in the Foundation competition, fending off the sharp Halloween attack – which was new to me. After e4 e5, and four knights out, the sacrifice N x e5, N x e5, followed by d4 produced a relentless assault. I succumbed after 4 hours. I also lost my second game (with white) to another young Scot venturing South of the border. Things perked up after that, and two wins with black and one with white, secured the consolation of the ‘slow starters’ prize. It was nice to see competitions with over 80 players in them, and players from far and wide, in this rather nice seaside town. Perhaps next year there could be more Tynedale players involved.

A good overall result, Bruce, and nice that you got amongst the prizes. I am sure it is arguable that, as a club, we are a bit insular in our activities. I felt much the same last year on finding that I was the only Tynedale player in the Hawick congress, though our friends from Austins Friars were very well represented.

Next, Peter Crichton sends this report on the Chillingham rapid-play event:

Saturday 13th October turned out to be a good day. I played in the Chillingham Rapidplay [in Chillingham Road not the Northumberland village!] and thanks to considerable help from my opponents – in the deciding match my opponent left his queen en-prise – managed to win the Major section [for players graded between 101 and 120]. The event was enthusiastically organised by Noel Boustred of Gosforth Chess Club and reasonably well supported – about 10 players in each of the Open and Major sections and perhaps 7 in the Minor. The Open was won by Richard Doyle ahead of Mike’s friend, Andy Lawson and Alan Harvey. The main controversy of the event was the success of an apparently ungraded player of East European name and appearance in the Minor section who swept all before him and walked off with the prize money seemingly unconcerned by the doubts that were being expressed about his credentials and parentage! The rest of the day? England v. Estonia and, saving the best until last, England v. France enjoyed with a couple of beers and a curry.

Thanks for that, Peter, and well done!

Finally, your editor is flying the flag in the Newcastle individual championship this year (last year Peter Crichton was our sole representative, taking part in the higher-graded Sells competition). The event is for players on 120 or below and involves 7 rounds played over 6 months. So far just one round has been played, in which I scrambled a draw against the organizer of the event, Dave Walshaw. So at least I am off the mark!

That’s all for this time.

Steve Larkin

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