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Bulletin No 21

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 21 (18.12.08)

Your editor must begin by apologising for the delay in the appearance of this bulletin. Having missed the end of November deadline for reasons he will not bore the readership with, it seemed to him better to wait for the final results of matches played in December and to incorporate them into a bumper bulletin which members could peruse at their leisure over the Christmas period.

However, he makes no apologies for starting this e-bulletin by highlighting the achievements of one member. He has alluded to some of these in the miscellanea of previous bulletins, but the time has come to give them pride of place. And as it happens, that member is also due to feature in the spotlight section of this issue, so let us start with that.

Spotlight on Mike Nicholson

When and where did you learn to play chess?

LincolnSchool, 1948, when I was 10.

Have you played more or less continuously since?If not, please give details.

Yes, apart from summer breaks.

When and where did you start to play competitive chess (leagues and congresses)?

Inter-school chess immediately, Lincolnshire League and first county match around 1953.

Have you ever had chess coaching?If yes, please give details.

Nothing formal, though it’s never too late.

What has been your highest and your lowest grade to date?Please give year and grade.

168 around 1980, 126 now!?In correspondence, my current 2478 Elo is my highest.

On average, how many hours a week would you say you devoted to chess?

OTB about 6 hours during the season, correspondence games and related matters … dare I admit to 50 … 60 … 70 … 80 … ??Maybe more sometimes, but it’s a different sort of commitment to OTB!

Do you play internet chess?If so, roughly how often?


Do you use computer chess programmes (e.g. Chessbase)?If so, which programmes?How useful do you find them?Roughly how often do you use them?

I use the Hiarcs chess engine for analysis, and SigmaChess for building a recent-years database and for sifting games, openings and positions.?I also use an old version of ChessBase with an old database to explore positional themes.?They are all essential in serious correspondence play, though many players will use more engines, plus Fritz, plus such facilities as tablebases for taking the spadework out of ‘simple’ (few pieces) endings.

Do you use a computerised chess set?If so, how useful do you find it?Roughly how often do you use it?


What do you like most about chess?

OTB for social contact and, nowadays, friendlies and individual competition more than team events.?Correspondence chess for the chance to (sometimes) produce quality games and play somewhere near the limits of theory without tactical errors spoiling so many of my efforts.

What do you like least about chess?

The way I feel at the moment, chess doesn’t seem like a game that’s suits team play … not at our level, anyway.

Do you have any current targets in chess?

A correspondence grandmaster norm (and if I get one, then a second one to give me the correspondence grandmaster title);?and to finish in the top two of my upcoming correspondence world championship Candidates tournament (and so progress to a world championship final).?And not to disgrace myself if I get there.

13. Which chess player, past or present, do you most admire, and why?

Fischer, for the clarity, directness and classical simplicity of his style;?Anand, for his tactical awareness and resourcefulness in live chess situations (he’s less dependent than many on home preparation);?and Carlsen, for his magical conclusions to games and his fearlessness in exploring new (even apparently naive) ideas no matter what the strength of opposition.?If I want to enjoy playing through a game, Carlsen is the first name I look for.?And I shouldn’t forget Tal, who has never been bettered for the brilliance and obscurity of his combinative play.

Some readers of the above will be aware that, since penning those replies, Mike has already achieved his first grandmaster norm, as follows.“Apart from one other game awaiting adjudication after the death of one of the players, my game with the German player Gerhard Vetter is the only one still unfinished. I have 8/11 (+5 =6 -0) and he has 7/11. For quite some time I have been playing on trying to extract the win which would take me to 9 points and my first grandmaster norm (two norms are required for the title). For his part, Gerhard needs a draw to reach second place on tie-break ahead of a New Zealander. Provided I don’t lose, and there’s no real risk of that, I shall finish first and go through to a World Candidates tournament. If Gerhard loses, he drops to fourth place, and only by drawing can he join me as the second player to earn a World Candidates place.What’s happened?Gerhard’s 60th move came in this evening. I opened it but didn’t notice what it was at first, as the struggle to win would be long and hard and more than likely unsuccessful. Then I decided to have a quick check, expecting 60.Qc8+, my K being on f5. But no! He’s checked me on d7, and my N is on e5. Nxd7, and mate in 9. A most dreadful blunder.”

Sure enough it was a blunder, Gerhard resigned and Mike had his first grandmaster norm. Now he gets stuck into his European team final, where to his surprise and consternation he plays on board three for England! (He had expected that he would be bottom board in a team of eight). The line-up on that board is fearsome as the following reveals:

480011 SLO IM Copar, Anton (2476)
2. 160061 ESP SM Flores Gutiérrez, Carlos (2446)
3. 270231 ISR SM Glazman, Moshe (2544)
4. 920125 LTU SM Rocius, Marijonas (2483)
5. 139151 CZE IM Stalmach, Kamil (2547)
6. 390089 POR SM Moura, António J. Brito (2482)
7. 85548 GER Leupold, Volker (2567)
8. 440425 ROM Ciucurel R. Sorin, Marius (2397)
9. 950019 SVK SM Kolcák, Ing. Marek (2546)
10. 100222 SUI IM Mayer, Roger (2462)
11. 240601 ITA SM Dell’Isola, Vincenzo (2511)
12. 140303 RUS SM Grigoryev, Valery Borisovich (2529)
13. 940618 UKR SM Bubir, Alex Nikolaevich (2588)
14. 210153 ENG SM Nicholson, Mike L. (2478)
15. 370351 NED GM Gouw, Carol-Peter Th. (2579)

“The title norm requirements have not yet been published, but by my reckoning this is a category XI tournament (my last one was VIII) and the GM norm will be 9 points. My aim will be to lose no games (!!!) which would leave me needing 4 wins and 10 draws. For every game I lose, I need an extra win, e.g. 5 wins 8 draws and 1 loss) so the strategy is non-contestable: avoid losing and let the wins take care of themselves.I have, not surprisingly, never played any of this group before.I have white against the GM and against all the even numbered players. I feel that suits me, because I would rather try for wins against the less strong players and fight for draws against those I’d have enormous difficulty beating. Or couldn’t.”

We wish you all the best, Mike, and are most grateful that you surface from time to time to play “real chess” with us lesser mortals! Which leads me naturally enough into the rough and tumble of the

Northumberland League Division 1

The Reivers have had a torrid time since I last reported, playing and losing three tough matches, but doing so on two occasions far from ingloriously. I’ll leave Mike to put you in the picture.

Tynedale ReiversvKings B-November 4th 2008

Tynedale Reivers   Kings B
ML Nicholson 0-1 AR Lawson
Mark Taylor 1-0 G Murphy
DA Wrigley ½-½ R Ditchburn
TJ Wrigley 0-1 P Costello
J Bradshaw ½-½ R Shepherd
  2 3  

Age told and youth had its day in this close encounter with last season’s champions.The team selection and notification arrangements I have been using under the squad system developed a kink, and Dave was confused and didn’t expect to be playing. With ten minutes already on the clocks, I phoned him, discovered the problem and stood in for him, hence the board order. It could have been worse, and at least the squad system ensured we didn’t have to default a board. It might even confuse our next opponents! Mark got us away to a tremendous start, simplifying as usual and then emerging with good central control and the bishop pair. This induced an exchange sacrifice from Murphy, which however he failed to follow up correctly. Finding himself without any compensation he resigned, and we were one up. David and Jack both played soundly and with determination, and both secured draws with the black pieces. David had prepared the Benko Gambit, a new venture, but found Ditchburn quite unfazed, gaining control of the queen-side and maintaining the pressure. When the opportunity arose, however, David went for wholesale exchanges and simplified to a drawn rook and pawn ending. Jack, with the benefit of a previous encounter with Shepherd, expected 1.d4, got it, and played a Dutch. Although the middle-game didn’t go quite as well as hoped, with Shepherd eventually winning a pawn, the problem was short-lived. Jack’s king emerged well- positioned for the rook and pawn ending, and the draw was soon agreed.It was up to the oldies to deliver a match result, but sadly we weren’t quite up to the task. Tim certainly had a good game against Costello and on another day might well have taken the point, but work and league chess can be uneasy bedfellows, and so it was this time. Despite my ten-minute clock deficit, I too started well, and even had to endure a 45-minute think by Lawson which put me well ahead on the clock. My Dutch, like Jack’s, had given me good development, but I failed to make a safe transition from middle-game to end-game, and so notched my third successive loss.”

Next up were Tynemouth Hobbits. Mike again:

Tynemouth Hobbits   Tynedale Reivers
C L Waters 1 0 D J Weldon
M Hubbard ½ ½ M Taylor
A Moneva Jordan 1 0 M L Nicholson
J S Clarke 1 0 D A Wrigley
L Barnes 1 0 T J Wrigley
  4½ ½  

The above match was played in a Chinese restaurant (complete with aromas) on 17 November. Not exactly a chess atmosphere, and certainly not a chess club. Their members aren’t all available on Tuesdays, so this is Tynemouth’s compromise. I haven’t explored what will happen in the unlikely event that we are paired to play on a Tuesday at Tynedale next season.We were well and truly beaten by a team even stronger than expected. Not smashed, but we didn’t play as well as they did. Mark was again our leading light, though claims he needed a little help from his opponent to clinch the draw and save us from a whitewash. Dave Weldon had a respectable game, only losing because of one misplaced pawn in an opposite-colour bishop game (there were other pieces on the board too). I went aggressive again, sacrificing to try in vain to capitalise on an uncastled king. David Wrigley, perhaps influenced by what he saw on other boards, chose not to accept his opponent’s draw offer in a level position: good motivation but not such good judgment, and he should be proud of going so close. Tim went well for much of the game, but then it slipped.”

Next came Morpeth A:

Tynedale Reivers   Morpeth A December 2nd
DJ Weldon 0 1 R Coathup  
Mark Taylor 1 0 M Smyth  
ML Nicholson 0 1 J Turner  
DA Wrigley 1 0 P Eastlake  
TJ Wrigley 0 1 L Whittle  
  2 3    

It was a white night on Tuesday, when Reivers came up against the strong up-and-coming Morpeth side. Inside, all games were won by white, and outside the early winter saw us home in falling snow and a sub-zero temperature.On the board it was another great evening for youth. Mark induced a knight fork against the former Northern Ireland champion, then followed it up in a very calm and sustained manner despite counter- threats by knight and queen on the unprotected fianchetto pawn structure in front of his king. David turned in the sort of game reminiscent of his Tans days, going the exchange and a couple of pawns down before getting into his stride against a player who in his day was one of the most feared tacticians in Northumberland. Sadly these performances were not matched elsewhere. Dave was up against Morpeth’s highly-rated new import from Tynemouth, Roger Coathup; whilst he so often holds his own against such strong opposition, he can’t be expected to do it every time. For much of the match Tim and I did all that could be expected of us and even late on our level positions offered hope of a match point or two. Sadly neither of us sustained our concentration for the full three hours, and neither of us has yet managed as much as a half point all season.The league table suggests that there is a mini-league developing among five teams at the bottom of Division 1. While Reivers have now sunk to bottom place, these five teams are all (as I write) on only 1 or 2 points. We have already played Gosforth, but still have the other three to come. Next are Alnwick, who have lost the services of Alan Harvey and are therefore weaker than previously thought. Then after some strong opposition early in the New Year we finish the season with the critical matches against Jesmond Reprobates and University. If we are to avoid relegation, we must aim to win the two away matches against Alnwick and Jesmond, two wins being the very minimum needed for any hope of safety.”

Many thanks for all those reports, Mike.?And finally, on Wednesday night, the Reivers were away to Alnwick A, another team struggling to survive in division one. Mike reports as follows:

“If our last match was a white night, this one (Alnwick A at Morpeth)
was pretty black. Not only did we squander the advantage of three
whites (blacks scored 3.1/2 points in the match) but from 2.1/2 – 1/2
up and with the other two games both at least prospective draws, we
lost them both and drew the match. The one bright outcome was that
that single match point and those 2.1/2 game points moved us up the
table from bottom to fourth bottom.

Alnwick A  Reivers  
1. P. Hemsley 0-1 Dave Weldon
2. M. Trolan  ½-½ Mark Taylor
3. H. Teetsov 1-0 myself
4. R. Firth 0-1 David Wrigley
5. D. Patterson 1-0 Peter Crichton

And everything started so well! Not for the first time, Mark was first to finish with his draw against the highly-experienced Mike Trolan. He had had to endure a little awkward pressure in a minor piece middle-game, costing him a pawn, but he found a useful tactical riposte and simplified to pawns and opposite-colour bishops. Next to finish was Dave, bringing home the full point after a very open and tactical game. His Saemisch against the King’s Indian led to a typically vigorous and open game, and with Hemsley seeming to take risks to strive for the initiative, Dave picked off first a pawn and then the exchange. Finally a knight went too, but Dave’s advantage was overwhelming and the resignation followed immediately. Meanwhile on 4 David had picked up a piece early in the game, but the position remained fairly closed and care was needed for a long time before the opposition pieces could be exchanged off allowing David’s king to come into its own at last. So the match could not be lost …I knew that Peter had a good game. I had seen his heavy guns penetrating behind the enemy pawns, picking up one of them in the process, and didn’t feel too bad that I had prematurely pushed and lost a pawn myself. However, I maintained my pressure and eventually after many exchanges had the chance to recover the pawn with an active queen and a positional advantage. My judgment then failed me absolutely (aided by time trouble) and I needlessly defended against a mirage of a back-rank mate threat, had to exchange the queens, and deservedly lost the pawn-down end-game. While that was going on, Peter’s concentration too had failed him, and a knight fork on queen and rook had swung his game hopelessly away from him. Oh what a cruel game it is!”

We all know that life in division one is tough and it certainly isn’t getting any easier. Full marks to the Reivers for battling on!

Northumberland League Division 2

No fewer than four matches to report here as well. First up were Forest Hall A in a match which was rescheduled twice before being played on Friday Nov 7th.

Jacob Panayotidis(138) 1 0 Bruce Reed (96)
Mike Smith (126) 1 0 Malcolm Reid (92)
Martin Seeber (119) 1 0 Steve Larkin (87)
4. John Wall (103) ½-½ Phil Taylor (85)
Keith Brooks (91) 1 0 Dave Foster (u)

That result is far from telling the whole story, for the Tans, though substantially outgraded, gave their hosts a tough match. Only Dave, who let slip a piece early on and was never really in the hunt thereafter, had cause to feel less than satisfied with his play. Next to finish was Phil, who not only got our only score of the night but came within an ace of winning. With a passed pawn supported by king and queen, he was only prevented from doing so by perpetual check. The games on the top three boards all went to the wire. Malcolm pressurised his opponent early on before gradually losing ground, but he was still very much in contention when a miscalculation led to a late defeat. Your editor carelessly conceded a pawn in the middle game and this proved his undoing eventually, though he was still actively defending when his clock dropped. Last to finish was Bruce on board one. In his first game for the Tans this season he held his own against a very strong opponent and was still on even terms when he too lost on time. He and Phil were clearly the stars of the evening. And while the result suggests something of a walkover, Forest Hall certainly knew they had been in a match.

Next was a home fixture against Gateshead Libraries A, on Nov 25th.

Derek Blair (109)  ½-½ Bill Noble (103)
Bruce Reed (96)  1 0 Colin Gilroy (91)
Malcolm Reid (92)  0 1 Peter Wells (91)
Steve Larkin 1 0 Default
Phil Taylor 1 0 Default

On the face of it, this may look as though it was a non-event, but in fact it was an enthralling evening. It is a great shame that Gateshead had to default on two boards, but as they were lacking their top-board player as well as their bottom-board one, perhaps it was fortunate for us, for the trio who did play all played very well. Top board was the first to finish. Derek, with black, lined up the most ferocious king-side attack I have ever seen, involving all seven of his active pieces plus four pawns for good measure. Somehow or other Bill Noble succeeded in keeping him at bay and, after two pieces had been exchanged thus blunting Derek’s attack, Derek offered a draw and was glad the offer was accepted, for he was substantially down on time. Board three was next to finish, though very much later for here both players seemed intent on setting a world record for how few moves could be played in three hours! Characteristically, Malcolm was on the attack from the word go, setting his opponent a string of problems with neat combinations, many of them involving a knight ensconced on the fifth rank. Peter Wells defended dourly, won a knight for a pawn and eventually decided the issue by queening a passed pawn. So Bruce had at least to draw to ensure victory. His game was close throughout and went to the wire. Though he held a one-pawn advantage, this looked far from decisive with both queens still on the board as well as various minor pieces. However, Bruce finally got the chance to launch a decisive attack and finished with a lovely checkmate. We had won the day, but it had been a very close call. As Mike Nicholson commented, “What a wonderful match!”

Next we were back at Forest Hall to play their B team on Dec 5th. Our opponents were something of an unknown quantity, this being the first time that Forest Hall had entered a second team in the league. The match, played in freezing conditions (Phil played most of his game in overcoat and gloves!) got off to an excellent start, with Bruce Reed overwhelming a weak opponent on board three to score a rapid win. Some time later your editor, on board four, induced his opponent (again not a very strong one) to take a poisoned pawn – exit his queen and the game was over. The remaining three games went the full distance. On board two, Derek Blair lost ground in the middle game and, despite great resistance, was unable to stop his opponent’s passed pawns. On board one, Peter Crichton was down by a bishop to two pawns after a slightly speculative sacrifice. He tried to salvage something but his opponent kept cool and eventually, under extreme time pressure, Peter blundered away his queen. 2-2. So it was all down to Phil Taylor on board five. Alas, by then he was a knight down with only knights and pawns on the board, and his opponent had passed pawns to exploit. It was all too much and, though Phil fought to the end, he eventually had to concede.

Forest Hall B   Tynedale Tans
J. Bentham (90) 1-0  Peter Crichton (112)
G. Baird (107) 1-0  Derek Blair (109)
B. Taverner (u) 0-1 Bruce Reed (96)
D Shippen (u) 0-1 Steve Larkin (87)
K. Brooks (91) 0-1) Phil Taylor (87

As will be apparent from the above, the playing order of our opponents was not above suspicion, the more so since they altered it, first placing Brooks on board three and Taverner on board five, then swapping them round. I queried this at the time and subsequently, in the light of the way the games turned out, submitted a protest to the league conductor which was upheld. The result was revised to become a draw 2-2, with the bottom board discounted, an outcome which seemed to me absolutely right.

Hot on the heels of that match came one against Tynemouth Castles on Dec 9th. This away match against a side whose previous results almost exactly mirrored our own looked to be a tough test, but in the event the Castles were no match for the Tans. First to finish was Derek Blair on board one. Putting a wretched string of league results behind him, he outplayed Keith Rockett whom he had never previously beaten, for a convincing win. Next Dave Foster, on board five, used the two-piece advantage he had accrued to outgun his opponent. A third and decisive win came on board four, where Phil Taylor lost his queen but gained enough compensation to force home some passed pawns. This intriguing game, with Phil’s comments, can be found on the club website. With the match already won, Bruce Reed agreed a draw on board two, in a game that had been dead level all the way. Your editor, on board three, was last to finish. With the slight advantage of a rook to a bishop, he very nearly blew it by allowing his opponent a couple of passed pawns and was in dire time trouble when his opponent very sportingly agreed a draw.

K. Rockett (120) 0 1 Derek Blair (109)
D Hare (106) ½-½ Bruce Reed (96)
K. Marshall (103)  ½-½ Steve Larkin (87)
D. Mear (98) 0-1 Phil Taylor (85)
B. Batten (76) 0-1  Dave Foster (u)

A splendid result against a side that outgraded us over the top four boards at least! And so we find ourselves at the Christmas break in fourth place in the division, just one game point (not match point) behind Morpeth B. To be sure, the second half of the season looks to be rather more testing than the first half, but who knows what the New Year may bring?

South Tyne League

Three matches to report here, and first up is Tynedale away to HaydonBridge on Thursday Nov 20th. Phil Taylor reports:

 “We outgraded HaydonBridge significantly, but despite their lowly grading they are an experienced team as was evidenced by Ian McKay’s early win against Mark’s standard English opening. Mark went down in material but thought he had compensation but Ian’s steady play won the day. Bruce and Mike both won tight games against Jim Dixon and Christine Moorcroft respectively leaving a titanic struggle between myself and David Tulip. There wasn’t much in our game – just the single pawn up on my side but in the end David was able to use his opposite coloured bishop to tie things up. As the handicap required us to win 3.5/0.5 the match was not hanging on my result but it is still hard to lose a match when you win two and draw one but that’s handicaps for you and if Mark had won and we had won the match we wouldn’t have complained so maybe the system is quite a good one after all – Tynedale just were not quite firing on all cylinders that night.”

A week later, on the 27th, Monarchs faced exactly the same HaydonBridge team, again in an away match. Given the handicapping system already referred to, this was always going to be a hard match to win, but captain Derek Blair was hungry for success and gave a fine lead by demolishing Jim Dixon on board three in thirty-five minutes flat! Colin Davison, playing Ian McKay on board one, took a little longer but was always in control. At this point, two hours into the match, David Wrigley’s game on board two against Christine Moorcroft was absolutely even, while on board four your editor had a rook to two pawns advantage against David Tulip, though the latter had two dangerous passed pawns. These proved decisive and your editor was greatly relieved when a draw was finally agreed. This result left poor David to try and conjure a win from a situation that had draw written all over it. As the fianl minutes ticked away, it looked as though Christine might even be able to force a passed pawn home, but somehow or other David managed to complicate life for her until her clock ran down. In other circumstances David would readily have offered?the draw, but he was on a three-line whip from his captain, whose Monarchs march on undefeated!


Monarchs’ other game was against Friars, on Nov 11th. Captain Derek Blair reports:“An exciting night of chess between last year’s bottom and top teams resulted in a draw, thanks to a masterly performance by Colin Davison on top board who knew he had to win if the Monarchs were to keep their unbeaten record for this season.Malcolm Reid on Board 4 played his flamboyant version of the Kings Gambit and quickly created aggressive chances on Black’s exposed monarch. However, he missed a counter-attack and fell to a bishop and queen attack on his own kingDavid Wrigley started slowly and was on the back foot for the early part of his game but uncharacteristically his opponent blundered his queen and quickly resigned.Board 3 featured an interesting variation of the Caro Kann which led to white’s gaining a double pawn ascendancy on the h file but with an exposed king. Black decided to sacrifice his knight for 3 pawns to break open the middle but missed an intermezzo riposte which eventually nailed his own king instead.So it all hung on Board 1, where the sweet-eating and orange-swilling wily George Glover kept getting his offered draws rejected by Colin who, whilst up on time, still had a complex position to handle. He gained control of the a file with his rooks but George countered with a central pawn push which threatened black’s comfort zone. The ring of spectators were engrossed in the titanic struggle right to the end when Glover’s flag fell.

The Monarchs march on, no thanks to the Riding Mill duo who need to attend a training course! “So at this point in the season Monarchs are in second place, one point behind HaydonBridge with a game in hand, while Tynedale and Austins share bottom place. It’s all a far cry from last season!?
Club Championship

Mike Nicholson 4/5
Phil Taylor 3/6
Peter Crichton 2.5/4
Jack Bradshaw 2/2
Derek Blair 1.5/3
Bruce Reed 1.5/4
Mark Taylor 1/2
Steve Larkin 1/3
Matthew Taylor 0.5/1  
Dave Foster snr 0/1
Malcolm Reid 0/1
David Wrigley 0/1
Tim Wrigley 0/1

That feller Nicholson is beginning to dominate not only this e-bulletin but also the above competition! Nice to see Phil so well placed after some rather dismal times in previous championships.


Brian Bell. Mike Nicholson writes:Just to confirm that I have now handed Brian Bell the sum collected from chess club members – £80.00. I had been waiting to hear when
the cricket club was going to make its presentation, since I hoped to
make ours at the same time. However, with no news on that front, I
bought a card, signed it on behalf of the twelve named members who
contributed, and went along to his new flat at St. Cuthberts Terrace,
where he is very well set up and comfortable. He was very
appreciative, and I stayed for a good long chat.”

Newcastle championship. Your editor has to report that, at the third time of asking, he has registered a score – a win, no less! – and will no longer be propping up the table.

The club has now broken up for the Christmas recess. Play will resume on Tuesday January 6th when there is not a Tans match against Morpeth B, though there might be a match between Tynedale and Monarchs – keep monitoring your e-mails!

That’s all for this time. Wishing all members a merry Christmas and a Happy and Successful New Year.

Steve Larkin

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