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Bulletin No 18

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 18 (30.5.08)

With the season winding down there are no league matches and no congresses to report this month. Sadly, no member of Tynedale was able to take part in the Haydon Bridge Rapidplay event, which apparently was not at all well supported this year. So activity has focussed on the summer knockout and the club championship. I’ll begin with the former.

Summer Knockout

Both the Reivers and the Tans were involved in the second round of this competition, and the Tans were the first to play their match, on May 23rd. Drawn away against Forest Hall A, they had a lower aggregate grading total than their opponents, though both teams were in the same intermediate category. This meant that a 2-2 draw would be enough for a Tans win, while anything less would mean defeat.

Malcolm Reid, playing black on board two against Martin Seeber, was first to finish, losing out after his opponent forced a rook for bishop exchange. Next was Steve Larkin with black on board four. Hopes here were high after his opponent, Keith Brooks, blundered a knight for a pawn, but from that moment on Steve was on the back foot and, after an ill-judged exchange of rooks, his position collapsed. 0-2 and it was not looking good for the Tans. However, both Tim Wrigley on board one and David Wrigley on board three were mixing it with higher graded opponents, so all was not lost. David has provided the following commentary on these two games.

“Tim scored a rare win with white, made all the more pleasing by the grading difference! Mike Smith played a kings indian and developed a strong queenside attack, resulting in the exchange of his queen for Tim’s rooks. Tim managed to establish a very strong knight on e6, which kept Mike’s rooks apart and allowed Tim to acquire a passed b pawn which marched up the board and forced off a rook. Mike played on in a lost position because the match depended on it, so Tim built a mating net. David played the white side of a Caro-Kann, and he was soon winning due to a (somewhat flawed) trap picking up Jeff Baird’s queen for two bishops, and blowing a hole in Jeff’s kingside. Jeff was able to get good counterplay, his rooks doubled on the g-file and bishop pair bossing the queen around, but David was able to exchange his knight for bishop, easing the pressure. Jeff then sacrificed a knight, and could have exchanged his rook for David’s queen, but it wouldn’t have been enough. Leaving the queen on was worse, however, and it was over quickly.”

So the result was:

Forest Hall A   Tynedale Tans
Mike Smith (134) 0-1 Tim Wrigley (111)
Martin Seeber (126 1-0 Malcolm Reid (103)
Jeff Baird (111) 0-1 David Wrigley (102)
Keith Brooks (95) 1-0 Steve Larkin (82)
(466) 2-2 (398)

The Tans now go forward to the quarter-final stage, when rumour has it that they will be renamed Wrigleys United!
The Reivers played their home match against Morpeth B on May 27th. Mike has kindly provided the following report:

Tynedale Reivers   Morpeth B
Mike Nicholson(139) 1-0 Alan Cooper(93)
Colin Davison(136) 0-1 Alan Hutchinson(90)
Peter Crichton(107) ½-½ David Watson(79)
Matthew Taylor(95) 1-0 Harry Robinson(75)
Handicap 0-2½  
Result 2½-4  

So Reivers failed to join Tans at the quarter-final stage. Despite a revision of Colin’s grading, we still squeezed into the Major category by seven points, and so could afford to drop only one half-point if we were to go through. Morpeth played a very sensible match, and deserved their success. Their last three boards all played quiet, calm chess and made it difficult for Reivers to create winning chances. Of their three opponents, only Matthew managed to secure an advantage, and when he simplified to a pawn up in a knight and pawn ending he was able to dismissively dismiss a draw offer. Peter by contrast dropped a pawn in a bishop v knight ending, then recovered it, but could make no further progress. By now I had won after surviving an imaginative attack, and poor Colin, with two knights against two bishops, and queens and rooks on the board too, had to seek a win at all costs. His best hope might have been to try to build a clock advantage and not bother about winning on the board, but maybe he judged that 15 minutes each was too far from the flag-fall for that to work. Instead he played what at first sight looked like a spectacular winning queen sacrifice, but a return sacrifice not only saved the day for his opponent but gave him a winning advantage too.

This match was Colin’s swan-song, as he later confirmed that he won’t be playing match chess next season. Although his success has been well below what he enjoyed in his hey-day, his presence has still been of great value to the club. For the Reivers, he has sometimes picked up a point or a half, but even when failing to manage either, his presence has enabled others to move down a board and so collect points that have kept us in the top division. Thanks, Colin, and do keep in touch!”

Certainly Colin will be a big miss in the Reivers side, but hopefully he will retain links with the club. It would be brilliant if he felt able to share the fruits of his experience with those of us lesser mortals seeking to improve our game. So perhaps the odd master-class might be in order?

Club Championship

The two semi-finals in the Major part of this competition have now been played, with the following results:

Peter Crichton 1-0 Derek Blair

Peter writes: “Derek played the Dutch Defence against Peter’s 1. d4, and gradually gained the initiative; however after missing an opportunity to win a piece for two pawns in the middle game black was unable to press home his advantage and eventually lost on time in what, by that stage, was probably a drawn position [ two offers of draws by Peter having been constructively dismissed as a result of not being heard by Derek!]”

Derek adds:” I can add little, other than saying that whatever initiative I enjoyed in the beginning through my stonewall arrangement was successfully eroded by Peter’s exchanges in the middle and, with the pendulum swinging away from me, the rest is history, as they say.”

Jack Bradshaw 1-0 Mike Nicholson

Jack writes: “After the game, both players agreed that it was Mike’s fourth move after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.a4?!(4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 is one of the main lines of the Sicilian Kan) starting a dubious plan which had serious consequences. Black was able to develop his pieces to good squares, especially the bishop to b4, and was never really under any sort of pressure. Mike should have castled on moves 9 and 10, while Black missed opportunities on both occasions to win a pawn. Instead, Black played a quick …d5 break and it was clear that White was going to endure a difficult ending with his doubled c-pawns. Black found good squares for his pieces, and it became inevitable, after several exchanges into an early endgame, that the c3 pawn would drop off. The game ended quickly, however, when White missed a fork on his king and rook; the game ending on 24 moves.”

So the scene is set for a battle of the generations as Peter and Jack contest the title of club champion. Subject to the availability of the back room, the game will be played on July 8th and will be a 60 minutes per player affair. I assume the game will start at 7.30 and would advise all members wanting a ring-side seat to arrive early. Otherwise you are likely to be reduced to peering over the heads of the serried ranks of press reporters, photographers, and VIPs of the English and international chess worlds!As I write, there have been no further developments in the Minor competition.

South Tyne League

There is just one match to report here and for once your editor finds himself with an embarras de richesse when it comes to writing about it. So on this occasion readers will perhaps forgive him if he includes not one but two reports on the match in question.

“On May 27th Monarchs played host to HaydonBridge in the final match of the league season. The question on everyone’s lips was: could the Monarchs retain their 100% consistent record or would they blow it and either draw or even (daring to think the unthinkable) beat their opponents? Pre-match calculations revealed that to win the Monarchs would require a 3.5-0.5 victory over the boards. With a team line-up of Tim Wrigley, Derek Blair, David Wrigley and Steve Larkin, the expectation was that an uncalled for victory could be comfortably avoided. After all, even if the Wrigley juggernaut continued to roll, boards two and four surely offered ample scope to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Failing to realize that it was the Monarchs they were playing for, the Wrigleys duly chalked up their two victories (oh, not again, surely, yawn yawn!) and, sandwiched between them on board two, club captain Derek Blair found his own play infected by their pernicious example and won as well, despite the fact that as host and captain facing a female opponent, everything should have conspired to encourage defeatism in his play. So it was only on board four that Steve Larkin showed any sense of tradition and occasion by going down a piece early on to a rejuvenated David Tulip, who showed no signs of his chess having been affected by his recent long hospitalisation.  Unfortunately, Steve’s concentration faltered in the closing stages of a long game and, before he could realize the consequences of his play, the position was drawn and the unthinkable had happened. The Monarchs had blown their record and ended the season with a win! The only consolation was that they almost certainly remain where they belong, at the foot of the table.”

Derek has very kindly submitted the following antidote to the nonsense above.

Monarchs v. HaydonBridge

Board Name H/c Res H/c Name
1 T Wrigley 3 4-0 5 H Greener
2 D Blair 3 4-0 6 C Moorcroft
3 D Wrigley 4 4-0 7 J Dixon
4 S Larkin 5 2-2 8 D Tulip
Totals   15 14-2 26  
Result     29-28    


Despite losing Colin Davison from Top Board, Monarchs had just enough strength in depth to produce an end of season flourish to defeat an admittedly below strength Haydon Bridge. Despite the heavy handicap, Monarchs still mustered the single point needed for their second win of the season, probably not enough to lift them from bottom of the table but indicating their potential for next season! So watch out fellow competitors!

David Wrigley was first to finish in a game in which both players seem to be playing first off the board, but David had more pawns at the end to clinch it. Jim relaxed with another drambuie. Then Derek Blair with a mal-functioning Birds Opening managed to avert Christine’s heavy king side artillery and launch a response on her castled queenside which involved exchanging her queen for both rooks and with 2 extra pawns eventually forced her resignation.

The finest win was on top board where Herbie, the fast shooter from Thorngrafton, seemed to have overwhelming forces on the king side, but was forced to defend against Tim’s brilliant opening of files on the queen side, which generated an aggressive passed pawn causing White’s defences to be split. Piece exchanges did not help and with 3 extra pawns White resigned.

That meant everyone crowding round Board 4 where David Tulip, despite his long illness, showed his old attacking flair in the opening and middle game, and with 15 minutes to go was a piece up. Steve checked that we needed a draw to win the match, dug in as he does, and managed to equalise with minutes to spare. With still 6 pawns left each, but all blocked, both players accepted the inevitability of a draw; Steve more relieved and pleased with the result than David, perhaps.

But the real winner was the South Tyne League which continues to give pleasure and pain to us all.


1) Postal chess. Mike Nicholson writes: “The correspondence chess situation is this. All the focus is now on my World semi–final, in which all my calculations (on the basis of what I know about other people’s games, plus how many games we each have unfinished, plus who is still playing whom, plus my assessment of my own positions) suggest that I am very likely indeed to finish in first position. I have four unfinished games out of my 12. Two of these, against the Swiss Gysi and the Norwegian Hoidahl, look like sure wins, and one (against the Belarus Skripko) is a safe draw. That leaves one critical game against the German Vetter, who must also have his eye on one of the two top places which will secure promotion to a World Championship Candidates tournament, the last hurdle before the World Championship final. In this game I am a pawn to the good (QRN+3 v QRN+2). He will, perhaps only temporarily, recover his pawn. Even so, the initiative is with me … but it’s impossible to call. It will be either a win or a draw, and even the draw should be good enough for first place.

I have lots of targets to look forward to achieving as these last results come in. I’m currently on 5.1/2 points from my eight finished games. Seven points will give me my second Senior IM (SM) norm, and when I reach 7.1/2 I will have qualified for the immediate award of the SM title. Finishing on 8.1/2 (which is my minimum expectation) won’t add anything to that, but if I can squeeze out that win against Vetter I shall have my first Grandmaster norm. He isn’t going to lie down quietly though, as you can see from the clock position. At one time we were running neck and neck. Now I have 170 days in hand (!) and he has 20, which suggests a lack of confidence in his chances. Two of us will be promoted to the Candidates tournament, and it’s likely there will be more than one player finishing on eight points (not counting myself). These will be split using the Sonneborn-Berger system, in which the S-B score is calculated by adding together one’s opponents’ full scores for games won and half of one’s opponents’ full scores for games drawn. This rewards players who have gained their actual points against stronger opposition. My S-B score is quite healthy so far, but shouldn’t be an issue since I reckon no-one else is going to reach 8.1/2 points. My remaining target is to see my rating pass the 2500 barrier. It reached 2452 in April. The next list comes out in October, but I won’t have enough new results to get to 2500 yet.

The Argentinian invitation event I began a while ago is proceeding pleasantly, with lots of good chat to add interest. I still have just the one completed game reported previously. A few games are showing promise, and several still rather drawish (my game with the Israeli Rozenberg should be agreed drawn immediately) [Since he wrote this, the draw has been agreed. Ed.]. No game is causing serious concern, though I was taken aback by my Norwegian opponent, SM Klausen. I held a small advantage, but he then conjured up a spectacular sacrificial forced draw. I decided that my advantage was insufficient to offer serious winning prospects, so decided to make the move allowing his brilliancy. To my horror he then forsook the brilliancy in favour of an exchange sacrifice, which now means I’m the one having to play for the draw. There’s a lesson there! “ Thank you for that, Mike, and many congratulations!

2)Dave Foster junior. I received the following message from Dave: “I will be leaving the club on Tuesday the 27 May due to a house move to Morpeth so all my best wishes for the club next year. By the way you will probably see me playing for Morpeth in the Northumberland league.” I am sure club members will want to join me in wishing Dave all the best in his new job at Morpeth. It goes without saying that Morpeth Chess Club’s gain is our loss. Allied to Colin Davison’s withdrawal from the Reivers side and Matthew Taylor’s impending departure to university, as well as continued uncertainty over where Mark Taylor and David Wrigley will be based in the future, it is clear that, after a period of slight expansion in our playing numbers, we are heading for a serious contraction. Perhaps at the next AGM we need to give serious thought to a recruitment campaign, as well as considering how many teams we can continue to run.

3) Forthcoming events.

June 6th-8th South LakesChess Congress

June 17thHaydonBridge Jamboree

June 27-29 Hawick Chess Congress

July 25-27 Scottish Borders Chess Congress (Hawick)

September 12-14 Whitby Chess Congress

September 19-21 NorthumberlandCounty Chess Congress

October 24-6 Scarborough Chess Congress

And that brings the e-bulletins for the season to a close. The next one will appear at the end of September, by which time we should be girding up our loins for a new competitive season. In the meantime, relax in the sun (if there is any) and mull over that perfect gambit!

Steve Larkin

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