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Bulletin No 17

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 17 (30.4.08)

Those of you with longish memories will recall that e-bulletin no 10 for September ’07 began by highlighting the successes of club members at the Northumberland congress, and in particular Mark Taylor’s achievement in taking equal second place in the Major competition. So seven months later, how did club members fare in

The Durham Chess Congress

Well, once more it was the Taylor dynasty which provided the star of the show, though this time it was not Mark but Matthew who hit the heights. He notched up four points from five in the Minor competition (three wins on days one and two, followed by two hard fought and well deserved draws on day three) to take a share of first prize along with three other players. Not bad for someone whose grading only ranked him eighth of the forty-four entrants! It was a fitting culmination to what has been an impressive season for Matthew, and this is perhaps the right moment to wish him all the best when he tackles the rigours of university chess in the autumn.

While no other Tynedale players made the prize list, there were still some very good results. In the Minor, Peter Crichton just missed out on a prize with three and a half points, closely followed by Jack Bradshaw (3 points) and Phil Taylor (2.5 points). Your editor had one of those weekends he would prefer to forget and finished on 1.5 points, as did Jim Dixon from the Haydon Bridge club. All in all, a solid showing by Tynedale in this section of the congress.

In the Major, Mark Taylor, who this year has had to devote most of his attention and energy to his studies, managed two wins, while David Wrigley – who opted to play in the Major though he could have played in the Minor –  accumulated (if I may put it that way) 1.5 points.

The Summer Knockout

More success came the club’s way in this competition. The Reivers were first to play, drawn away against Tynemouth Castles on April 8th. Mike Nicholson kindly provided the following report.

D Hair ½ ½ C F S Davison
DK Marshal 0-1 ML Nicholson
DS Mear 0-1 Mark Taylor
R Garside 0-1 JP Crichton
Handicap: 1½-0  
  2 3½  

So the club’s challenge for the KO Cup got off to a promising start at Tynemouth, where the Reivers conceded 1.1/2 handicap points to
their second division opponents but won comfortably. We were off to a hesitant start, Mark having double-booked himself for the KO at Tynemouth and a club championship KO game at the club. Then when the match got going, none of us excelled during the early moves. Fortunately Mark recovered quickly and went a pawn up against Dave Mear, only to need Mear’s endgame rawness to allow him to win the full point. I played a Dutch to try for an active defence, but even so found myself squeezed back and threatened with a sacrificial attack. Once that was survived, it became plain sailing, and we were two up. Neither Colin nor Peter were comfortable with their games, though both appeared at least equal and Peter had a good clock advantage. Colin’s game ground down to a stodgy but perfectly satisfactory draw, leaving Peter, now winning both on board and clock, to clinch the match.

Next, it was the turn of the Tans, drawn away to Gosforth Empire. Team captain David Wrigley kindly provided the following report.

The Tans snuck into the second round of the Summer KO thanks to a grading disadvantage, some sterling play and a little luck. Empire 2-2 Tans

Gosforth Empire   Tans
Paul Sumner ½-½ Tim Wrigley
Geoff Harrison 1-0 Derek Blair
Noel Boustred 0-1 David Wrigley
Bob Heyman ½-½ Steve Larkin

Thanks to all who played, Tim and Steve both scored impressive draws against higher graded players and Derek was unlucky to go down in an interesting scrap. My game was a ding-dong affair, a fairly tense caro-kann until I blundered a bishop in the middle game. My opponent decided that I had threats which weren’t really there, so returned the minor piece for a pawn and then blundered his queen for my rook, with mate following swiftly afterwards.
Tim’s game was very solid, a QGD in which the pieces swapped off at a fairly steady rate. His opponent managed to obtain an aggressive looking bishop pair but Tim was able to exchange queens, and then forced off the right bishop a few moves later to end up in a dead-drawn bishops of opposite colour ending.

[Derek Blair kindly provided the following commentary on his game] With Black I tried the Dutch (f4) for the first time which my opponent challenged with the Staunton Gambit (e4) – a response I like to consider myself because it is a variant of the Blackmar- Diemer with which I have flirted in the past. However it took me a costly 10 minutes, trembling, before I took it. Instead of castling, which would have been safer, being a clever sod, I tucked my king into f2 with a half hanging bishop on e3. My opponent, Geoff Harrison, rather brilliantly and unforeseen by me, sacrificed a rook for the bishop and then followed in with a wounding queen and bishop attack. It took me another 15 minutes, trembling again, to find a rather obvious defence so I breathed again. I was now well down on time but with accurate play I believe I should/could have gained a draw. But I was losing when my clock went. Before the match I had boasted I hadn’t been beaten in my 66th year but I can no longer claim that now!!

On board four your editor was being steadily outplayed and was a piece down when his opponent blundered a bishop for a pawn and then had to concede another piece to stop a pawn queening. At this stage I was in the driving seat but so badly down on time that I had no option but to take the draw my opponent sportingly offered (he would certainly have won on time had we continued).

So both Reivers and Tans progress to the second round!

Club Championship

We have now entered the knockout stage, and the following games have been played in the Major.

Derek Blair 1-0 Matthew Taylor

Derek writes: My intention with white was to play a sort of Vienna game but I was thwarted by Matthew’s interesting/unusual Bishop(?) opening with the black pieces, hinting at his favoured London system when he plays white. He then developed aggressively with an early f5 pawn thrust which I exchanged to open up the position. I had castled by then whilst it was not till later that he castled queen side. There was a flurry of tactics in the centre where black pushed forwards, but a knight fork of black’s queen and rook swung it white’s way. Fortunately, there was a defence to Black’s advanced central pawns which, once the queen’s were swopped off, had less power. Then, white diverted attention down the queenside where black’s monarch was unguarded. Black resigned, arguably early, once it was clear there was further material loss to be suffered.

Peter Crichton 1-0 Bruce Reed

Peter writes: “The game between Peter [white] and Bruce followed an irregular opening which quickly led to an open position in which black suffered as a consequence of perhaps over ambitious pawn advances on both wings; white was able to exploit the additional mobility of his pieces to win material and managed to avoid a late counterattack by black in the centre. The game ended when black permitted a position which allowed an exchange of queens which would have left him with insufficient resources to generate further counter-play.”

Bruce adds: Peter’s Queens Gambit was declined by Bruce trying an early Nf6. The Marshall Defence, used by Frank Marshall in the 1920s, has been little used except by modern players who counter white’s C4 with the wonderfully named Dutch-Peruvian Gambit (an early c5). Resisting the transposition into an Queens Gambit declined orthodox defence, Bruce’s alternative Bb4 counter to Peter’s Bg5 (which pins the Nf6 knight after e6) pinned Peter’s knight on c3, and required
innovative counterplay from Peter. The ultimate limitation of the attacking novelty was, however, exposed as Peter gradually identified its weaknesses. Bruce says he is still looking for a better reply to the Queens Gambit that does not let white dictate the play!
d4        d5
c4        Nf6 (Marshall defence)
Nc3     e6
Bg5      Bb4? (better Be7 or c5 for the Dutch-Peruvian Gambit)
Qc2     Nc6

Many thanks, gentlemen, for that detailed and, it has to be said, highly impressive commentary!

Phil Taylor 0-1 Jack Bradshaw

Jack writes: As White, Phil played his usual 1.d4 to which I tried out 1…f5 the Dutch Defence, upon which the game soon became unbalanced and complicated. A bad mistake from me came on move 15 where Phil’s knight got a strong square on b5 and attacking chances on the queenside. He missed a great chance on move 21 to get a substantial advantage, and I consequently went a pawn up.

Both sides made several mistakes, changing the evaluation of the position several times, but Phil made a critical mistake on move 34 which gave me a knight and two pawns against a rook, and winning chances. Neither side had much time left on his clock, and Phil made an unfortunate mistake on move 52 which allowed immediate mate, when he could have soldiered on for longer. I could write pages and pages about this game which had so many mistakes from both sides and, on another day, the result could have been so much different.

Steve Larkin 0-1 Mike Nicholson

In this game Mike gave me a masterclass in how to play against the closed Sicilian. On move 14 I sacrificed a pawn in the hope of a positional advantage which Mike steadfastly denied me, before establishing a positional advantage of his own. When my clock fell, a tidal wave of pawns, two of them passed, was surging into white’s territory.

So the line-up for the semi-finals of the Major reads:

Derek Blair v Peter Crichton

Jack Bradshaw v Mike Nicholson

Interesting to observe that three of the four semi-finalists have been club champion during the last three years. Clearly pedigree counts!

In the Minor competition, Will Higgs withdrew, so that in effect both Malcolm Reid and Dave Foster senior had byes into the same semi-final. This they have already played and the game was won by Dave. Unfortunately I am unable to give any details about it. Dave must now wait to find out who his opponent will be in the final. With Dave Foster junior having withdrawn due to work commitments, Mark Taylor gets a bye to the semi-final where he faces David Wrigley. The winner of that game will face Dave senior in the final.

In his capacity as organizer of the club championships, your editor gives all competitors due warning that, after the debacle of the Durham chess congress, he is going off to the far north of Scotland to lick his wounds for a fortnight from May 3rd, so any disputes that may arise will either have to be settled by pistols at dawn or, if common sense cannot prevail, must await his return!

South Tyne League

Two results to report here. Earlier in the month Tynedale travelled to Hallbankgate to play Friars, with the following outcome:

Friars handicap   handicap Tynedale
B Wallace 4 0-4 2 Mark Taylor
D O’Dowd 4 0-4 6 Dave Foster snr
S Lowis 4 0-4 6 Phil Taylor
B Hardwick 5 4-0 8 Dave Foster jnr
Totals 17 4-12 22  
Match   21-34    

Unfortunately I am unable to offer any further information about this resounding victory which maybe keeps Tynedale in contention for the title.

If, last night, you noticed a blue moon or saw a pig flying, that is because the Monarchs achieved their first win of the season, at home to Austins. Needing 2.5 points from 4 to win the match, the Monarchs rose to the challenge in no uncertain fashion. First to finish was the combative Malcolm Reid, playing black on board three. He quickly achieved a two-pawn advantage and though his opponent offered stern resistance, a Reid with the wind in his sails is not easily deflected and soon victory was his. On board one, again with black, Colin Davison was engaged in a dour struggle – the game was even throughout and led to a clear draw. On board four your editor, with white, made a bright start and was a piece up, only to find himself threatened with mate in one. By the time that scare was over, he was a pawn down and desperately short of time. Somehow or other he achieved first equality and then, with only seconds on his clock ( a touch of the Mike Nicholsons here!) a drawn position – phew! Monarchs now had 2 of the 2.5 points needed, so it all came down to the battle of the captains – Derek Blair v Syd Cassidy – on board two. With everyone crowding around to watch and with both players on less than five minutes, there was of course no pressure at all! Derek held a slight material advantage, but Syd was defending stoutly as well as exploiting every opportunity for counter-play. Would Derek’s nerve hold? Would he blunder? Would he run out of time? The faint-hearted need not have worried. Derek drove his pawns forward so skilfully that Syd, eventually unable to contain the advance, resigned. Captain Derek had led his squad to a memorable 3-1 victory! Indeed, with one match still to play, the unthinkable suddenly enters the realms of possibility: the Monarchs might not finish bottom of the table after all!

The Tans in Northumberland League division two.

            Time for end-of-season statistics:

  Played Win Draw Lost Percent Ave Board
Derek Blair 4 0 1 3 12.5 1
Peter Crichton 9 3 2 4 45% 2
Steve Larkin 6 2 2 2 50% 4.5
Bruce Reed 3 2 0 1 66% 3.7
Matthew Taylor 8 4 2 2 62.5% 3.4
Phil Taylor 6 3 0 3 50% 4.8
David Wrigley 5 3 0 2 60% 2

Jack Bradshaw (L1, board 3), Dave Foster senior (W1, board 5), Mark Taylor W1, board 1) and Tim Wrigley (L1, board 1) have also played.


1) Brian Bell’s retirement. Mike Nicholson writes: Brian Bell retired as steward of the Cricket Club recently, and the three constituent sports clubs (Cricket, Hockey and Tennis) are collecting to make a presentation to him. I have indicated that the Chess Club would like to contribute too, and our contribution will be combined with the rest to make a single donation.

Brian has been a great supporter of our activities ever since he took over, rather in contrast to his predecessors, who had tolerated us but done nothing to make us welcome. When we ran a junior club, he gladly opened up for us at 6 p.m. and on Saturday mornings, and made no complaints if we didn’t always leave everything immaculate. He has always made it his business to warn us of any clashes with other activities (particularly when matches might be affected). He supported our move into the back bar (all matches used to be played in the main room, despite pool and music and much greater usage than nowadays). He was very positive in promoting our transfer of gear into its new location, and had our STCA shield inscribed and then hung it for us. He has often phoned me to tell of an enquiry he has received about membership. We really will miss all his thoughtfulness.

No date has been given for the collection to end and the presentation to be made, but I would like to get on with it immediately so that we aren’t caught out. Please let me, Mike, have your contributions, making cheques (if you don’t give me cash) payable to ‘ML Nicholson’. As a guide, those of us who have been associated with the club for longer will no doubt want to dig deeper! I will notify everyone when I know the presentation date.

2) NCCU Junior Team Champs. I omitted to mention in the last e-bulletin that Jack Bradshaw and Matthew Taylor had both represented Northumberland against Cheshire in this event at Darlington on March 1st. Jack, on board four, lost with white and drew with black, while Matthew, on board five, had one win and one loss.

3)      Postal chess. Mike Nicholson writes:

With the club season nearing its end, and a lull pending before the new season, I’m writing to update colleagues on the correspondence chess front. When last on this topic, I was chugging along reasonably optimistically in my world championship semi-final, and about to start a new tournament, the Luciano Camara memorial B, organised by the Argentinian Federation. Tere’s nothing concrete to add to my earlier world semi report, since I have no more results and no-one else is running away with the top places. My remaining six games are going well, however, and I hope to have more positive news in the coming months. In the meantime, the crosstable can be seen on the web at http://www.iccf- webchess.com/EventCrossTable.aspx?id=11208&order=p , and you can click on any of the results to get the game scores.Now to Camara B. That has developed into a most enjoyable competition, not least because I am corresponding with many of my opponents. The five Argentinians and one Spaniard are all corresponding, although it has recently lapsed with one of the Argentinians as the game draws to an early close. Working on the principle that people are much happier to correspond if they can write in their own language, my Brazilian opponent is writing in Portuguese and my Romanian opponent in Romanian. Because both of these languages are of Latin origin, I can make enough sense of what they write, and the Romanian copes with my English. I write to the Brazilian and the Argentinians and the Spaniard in basic Spanish. In this way, topics can be dealt with in greater depth, and we have ranged from Argentinian governmental ethics to the structure and background of the Korean language. I was even invited to join a day’s gathering when the Brazilian, having toured Chile and Patagonia, was entertained by one of the Argentinians, who got a group of friends in, plus wives, and had a day of chess, tango and beef-steaks. What a pity it was a bit too far to go! But both have promised me photographs. Another Argentinian is currently playing in a strong otb event, which I can follow, including the games, on a website (and see his photograph).As for the event, it’s started well, my only regret being that two or three of my games with white, where I was experimenting with different openings, have tended to turn drawish very quickly. Conversely, my games with black are going well, and I have at least equalised in all of them (well, there’s one which still needs a little sorting, but it should turn out OK). I referred above to a game nearing its end, and here it is. Unfortunately I can’t claim credit for the brilliance. We were working comfortably down a book line, and I was checking each incoming move against my games database, when all of a sudden, after he castled, a database of hundreds of matching games declined to just three. One of these three turned out to reveal the reason for the decline – a classic exchange sacrifice on f6, and effectively game over. I am white against Eduardo Saglione, whose Elo (2448) was 15 points higher than my own at the start of the tournament.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Bd3 Nf6 8.O-O Ne5 9. h3 Bc5 10. Kh1 d6 11. f4 O-O?? 12. fxe5 dxe5 13. Rxf6 exd4 14. Bf4 Qe7 15. e5 dxc3 16. b4 Bxb4 17. Qg4 Rd8 18. Rf1 Rd4 19. Bxh7+ Kf8 20. Qg3 *
The sacrifice was a bit of a shock to Eduardo, who confessed to using Rybka, currently recognised generally as the strongest chess engine available, And I feel unjustifiably smug at winning with what is effectively a miniature by correspondence against such a highly rated opponent!

By the time this is published, the game should be over. To see how it continued, and/or to see other games as they progress (there’s a 5-
move delay behind the current position) go to http://www.iccf- webchess.com/EventCrossTable.aspx?id=13691 and click precisely on any of the dots to bring up the relevant game.

One day later, Mike added: My opponent has resigned ‘au moment juste’ (no messing, it was a goner, and to resign on move 20 and make it a miniature … increasing the risk it might get published … took courage). But these Argentinians do seem to be a highly cultured lot.

Many thanks for all that, Mike. Fascinating stuff!

David Weldon writes of his postal games for the county:

Both of my games are still in progress, one has just reached the endgame and the other one is about to join it. I think I’ve an edge in both of them but probably not quite enough for a win in either.

4) The Newcastle championship. Your editor, it must be said, has not covered himself in glory in this his first venture into the world of individual championships. In the course of seven games against players all with a grading of 120 or below, he managed just 2.5 points and ended up if not at the bottom of the pile then perilously close to it! Nothing daunted, he intends to compete again next year, his target being a minimum of three points. Watch this space!

5) Forthcoming events.

May 18thHaydonBridge rapid-play.

June 6th-8th South LakesChess Congress

June 17thHaydonBridge Jamboree

June 27-29 Hawick Chess Congress

September 12-14 Whitby Chess Congress

October 24-6 Scarborough Chess Congress

And that wraps it up for this month.

Steve Larkin

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