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Bulletin No 22

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 22 (28.1.09)

There have been some sterling efforts by both Reivers and Tans this month, so I shall start with the

Northumberland League Division One

The Reivers have played two matches, both against very tough opposition. The first was at home to Leam Lane Aces, one of the top sides in the division, on 13 January. It produced the following result:

DJ Weldon 0 1 J Hawkins
Mark Taylor ½ ½ J Daglish
ML Nicholson 1 0 R Doyle
DA Wrigley 1 0 R Forsythe
TJ Wrigley 0 1 J Marsh
  2½ 2½  

Mike writes:

“A welcome and well-deserved match point came Reivers’ way in the home match against recent champions Leam Lane. Although out-graded all the way down, we came within a whisker of taking both points. Games finished in board order, starting with Dave’s game with Jonathan Hawkins, the highest graded player in the league, who has gained his first International Master norm. Dave slipped a pawn coming out of the opening, and although he later got some play by sacrificing the exchange to expose targets on the half-open g-file, it was never quite enough. Mark was up against Jason Daglish, the relatively unknown recent addition to the Aces team, but failed to simplify in his usual style. Even so, he came out ahead from the opening with a strong bishop pair. Given the congestion, he couldn’t capitalise, and by the time his opponent became first to penetrate with a rook behind opposition ranks, Mark was happy to accept a draw offer. On board 3 I was up against a long-standing opponent, Richard Doyle, and hoping that horses for courses would at last enable me to break my season’s duck. Playing on my middle-game slowness, Richard tried an inferior tactical system with the Scotch. It certainly cost me time, not to mention a congested but sound position, but the longer the game progressed, the more Richard found inferior moves, and I was able to scramble home by picking off loose pawns one after the other and nullifying my clock problems. That squared the match score, and it was good to see that all the wriggling in the Wrigley games was having to be done by the opposition. David, whose concentration had been tested earlier when his opponent literally fell off his chair, had pushed a central pawn to let his queen access the undefended back ranks. After cornering and capturing a rook, he then finished with a delightful combination sacrificing bishop to win queen. We had 2.1/2 points, and couldn’t lose. Tim had had a good game against John Marsh, and when he had allowed a pin of a knight on a central file, neither he nor his opponent had been able to see all the way through a series of complicated exchanges. These had however worked in Tim’s favour, and as both players reached the last few minutes on their clocks, Tim stood queen for rook and bishop to the good, not to mention some very useful pawns. Sadly for both him and the match outcome, he allowed a rook pin winning queen for rook, and although he managed to queen a pawn a move after his opponent, a neat bishop sacrifice decoyed his king on to the diagonal forcing a skewer to win his queen again.

Other relegation results worked well for us (Gosforth drew with Alnwick, University were crushed 0-5 by King’s A, and Reprobates lost 1/2-4.1/2 to Tynemouth Trojans; and at the start of Round 8, University have lost again, 1.1/2-3.1/2 to Tynemouth Hobbits). We still stand a point clear of the bottom group, while Alnwick, a point above us, have a desperately tough run-in to the end of their season. We can in no way be complacent, but our fate is in our own hands. “

The Reivers next match was away to Tynemouth Trojans on Jan 27th. It produced this result:

D Henderson ½ ½ DJ Weldon
G Cornwall 1 0 Mark Taylor
J Morton ½ ½ ML Nicholson
G Cohen ½ ½ DA Wrigley
D Jarema 1 0 TJ Wrigley
  3½ 1½  

Mike writes:
Another performance to be proud of wasn’t quite enough to save the match against a stronger-than-usual Trojans team, but still netted one and a half useful game points. Rejecting captain Chris Smith’s inexcusable attempts to get me to disclose my team order before he had decided what team to field himself, I eventually found on proper exchange of team lists that he had left himself out. With Dave Jarema now down on board 5, my assurances to Tim that he would be the one Reiver not to be out-graded thus came to nought. Unusually, I was the first to finish. In another horses for courses game, I accepted John Morton’s draw offer in a Sicilian Dragon after only 14 moves. Next to finish was Mark, who after a hard day at the office – and a very good start – slipped a pawn and could find no compensation. This was his first loss in this his first season playing on board 2, a quite remarkable achievement. Dave was up against yet another top class performer on board 1 (David Henderson) and with the advantage of the white pieces was enjoying the best of a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Despite the presence of all pieces, he even contrived sustained control of most of the long diagonal reaching over to Black’s king position, the queen itself remarkably established on d4. Breaking through was another matter, and eventually he had to settle for a meritorious draw. That left the Wrigleys to decide the match, as had been the case against Leam Lane. Both had enjoyed good games, though Tim was a fairly insignificant pawn down to Jarema. What became more significant was that his king was still lacking an escape square from its castled position. Jarema cleverly exploited this, plus a somewhat immobilised queen, to secure game and match. David was level both on the board and on the clocks with Gidon Cohen, who however was striving for an initiative to exploit vulnerable-looking pawns. Very much credit to David, however, who found excellent moves to retain equality, force his opponent’s queen back, and secure the draw. This match result shouldn’t be serious as far as relegation is concerned, since it will be surprising if all other table-proppers haven’t also lost in this round.”

Both these results reflect great credit on the Reivers, and if they continue to play like that they certainly deserve to escape relegation. At the time of writing, they are fourth from bottom with 3 points. Below them Newcastle University, Jesmond Reprobates and Gosforth Empire all have 2 points, but the University and Jesmond have a match in hand.

Northumberland League Division Two

The Tans have played just one match this month, their match against Morpeth B having been rescheduled for February. The match in question, on Jan 19th, was a tricky away one against Gosforth Regents who, although occupying a place in the bottom half of the table, have an experienced side. Things got off to an excellent start when Peter Crichton, on top board, blew away his opponent (who out-graded him by ten points) in just sixteen moves – a welcome return to form for Peter and an excellent boost for the rest of us. Next to finish, very much later, was Dave Foster on board five: careful development led to a situation where, from move thirty, Dave was in control and by the mid-forties it was all over. A little later Derek Blair, who had been on the offensive on board two but had been unable to break down his opponent’s resistance, agreed a draw and we were assured of at least one match point. But would we get a second? On board three Bruce Reed was a piece down from early in the middle game when he allowed his opponent to fork queen and knight. On board four things were worse still, as your editor trailed by a knight to a rook and a passed pawn. The pawn was eventually despatched but things were still looking dodgy until white very kindly allowed your editor to fork queen and rook whereafter the initiative passed to black, but so marginally that a draw was eventually agreed and the match was won. That left Bruce battling on gamely, but with his time almost up and his opponent launched on an unstoppable break-through, resignation was the only option.

Gosforth Regents    Tynedale Tans
Julian Peterca (122) 0-1  Peter Crichton (112)
Steve Tulloch (103) ½-½ Derek Blair (109)
Bob Heyman (99) 1-0 Bruce Reed (96)
Steve Wilde (96) ½-½ Steve Larkin (87)
Brian Ord (55) 0-1 Dave Foster (u)

So two more match points and with Morpeth B losing their round eight match the Tans now occupy third place in the division, two points clear of Morpeth B and Gateshead Knights and just one point behind Eldon Leisure, who lost out to Forest Hall A in the clash of the titans. Could the unthinkable (promotion) happen? By the end of February we shall know as we play both Eldon Leisure and Morpeth B next month.

South Tyne League

Just one result to report here, namely Monarchs away to Friars on January 26th.

Captain Derek Blair reports as follows:

“A 3-1 win for the Monarchs will leave Friars a little aggrieved as, unusually for the Monarchs, Friars only needed 1.5 points to our 2.5 through their better handicap. The Monarchs team was the strongest in terms of grading we have fielded all season: Colin, Tim, David and myself. No messing with Colin again!  He demolished Tony Baker (no slouch) in an amazing 16/17 moves with controlled aggression and panache.  I wouldn’t mind playing through his games – they are very instructive – if the e bulletin can accommodate them sometime. (A good idea worth pursuing. Ed.)By contrast, my game was a sad spectacle, with me choosing to open up the position and then discovering all sorts of holes which led to pawn loss and, against a Colin, would have resulted in  certain defeat. But I was given a lifeline when my opponent blundered a pawn, whereupon I strove incompetently and unsuccessfully to simplify by exchanging. I even offered a draw when I won a piece for 2, or could have been 3, pawns. Fortunately the offer was not heard or accepted, for I then cruelly found a forced coup de grace with a queen sacrifice. Undeserved boundless relief!David meanwhile was holding firm on Board 3, always in control without over-reaching. With 2 pawns down and still something to play for, his opponent (prematurely?) threw the towel in so with 3 games won the match was over.Tim was involved in a herculean ending on Board 2 with all sorts of tensions. A mistake had left him the exchange down but, with queen, rook and bishop and a potentially winning passed pawn on a3 and with more time on his clock, a clean sweep was possible. But the pawn was blocked and eventually fell and instead his opponent’s e pawn became strong. With seconds left, the Friars player sacrificed a rook for Tim’s bishop and the final defence crumbled as the pawn would queen.

Friars Monarchs

  H/C    H/C  
Tony Baker 3 0-4 1 Colin Davison
Bruce Wallace 3 4-0 3 Tim Wrigley
Daniel O’Dowd 4 0-4 4 David Wrigley
Bill Hardwick 5 0-4 4 Derek Blair
  15 4-12 12  
Result   19 24    

So the Monarchs march on undefeated and Captain Blair has a decided glint in his eye these days! Tynedale, meanwhile, have yet to emerge from their Christmas siesta. Does Captain Phil plan a barnstorming finish, one wonders?

Club Championship

Mike Nicholson 4.5/6
Peter Crichton 3/4
Phil Taylor 3/6
Jack Bradshaw 2/2
Bruce Reed 2/5
Derek Blair 1.5/4
Steve Larkin 1.5/4
Mark Taylor 1/2
David Wrigley 1/2
Malcolm Reid 1/3
Matthew Taylor 0.5/1
Dave Foster 0.5/2
Tim Wrigley 0.5/2

So Mike has not relaxed his grip on this phase of the championship. However, it is noticeable how few games have been played thus far: just 43 by 13 players. Curiously, at this time last year exactly twice as many games had been played by the same number of players! There are no doubt various factors at work here, but perhaps one of the major ones is an entirely laudable desire on the part of members generally to cater for late-comers so that no one is left simply spectating. Unfortunately one consequence of this is that championship games go by the board (if you follow me!), there being either insufficient time or an uneven number of players to accommodate such games. Perhaps we need to think about a cut-off time (maybe 7.35?), after which late-comers can reasonably expect to spend at least part of the evening watching? What do you think?

And now it’s time for your editor to indulge in a spot of megalomania!

Spotlight on Steve Larkin

  1. When and where did you learn to play chess?

At Bexhill Grammar School  in 1953.

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

I played during the eight years I was at Grammar School, then to all intents and purposes abandoned the game till I came along to Tynedale Chess Club in November 2003. By then the notation had changed completely, and from the way I played a spectator could have been forgiven for thinking that the same had happened to the rules of the game!

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

I played in the East Sussex Schools’ chess league. All matches were played at Hastings Chess Club, a wonderful and inspiring venue with a long and illustrious history even then. I played just once in the Hastings Chess Congress and can remember nothing whatever about the experience!

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

One of the masters at school coached us a little, in a very loose way, but such lessons as I learned have long since been forgotten. More recently, I have learned (I hope) from Derek Blair and Mike Nicholson, though in neither case has that involved coaching in a formal sense.

  1. What has been your highest and your lowest grade to date? Please give year and grade.My current grade (87) is to date the pinnacle of my career. My lowest was 57 back in 2006.
  2. On average, how many hours a week would you say you devoted to chess?

Over the year I manage maybe one game a week. In addition I try to devote an hour a day to practice, but I rarely manage it.

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


  1. 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 have Chessbase but it is pretty much a closed book to me.

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

Yes. I play it now and again and generally lose. That’s with it set on Beginners Level 5, so I’m still about five levels away from the most basic club standard!

  1. What do you like most about chess?

Those rare moments when your game goes like a dream from beginning to end. It’s happened once, maybe twice.

  1. What do you like least about chess?

Shooting myself in the foot. It’s happened countless times.

  1. Do you have any current targets in chess?

I’d like to improve and take my grade as far as I can.

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

I’m afraid I’m not at all up on Grandmaster chess, so I would cite Mike Nicholson as the player I most admire, because he has reinvented himself as a correspondence chess player at a very high level, and that at a time when most of us would settle for the gradual decline which goes with age. Also I admire his dedication and determination when it comes to keeping the Reivers in division one: it would have been all too easy and perfectly understandable had he simply shut himself off in an ivory tower of international correspondence chess, and he hasn’t.


1. Peter Crichton was the club’s only representative in the Gosforth Rapidplay event on Jan 24th. He tells me he ended up with 2.5/5 in the Minor section, which he qualifies as an average score and a very average performance. Apparently it included being well beaten by a 16 year-old, but he swears that that his withdrawal from the team to meet Jesmond Pawns next Tuesday has nothing to do with the fear of being humiliated by a schoolboy!

2. In the Newcastle championship your editor has resumed his natural downward momentum and now stands on one point from four.

3. The Spotlight will fall on Jack Bradshaw next month, after which I have no further candidates. Would some of you retiring wallflowers care to step forward into the spotlight, or are you content to see this part of the e-bulletin wither and die?!

That concludes this month’s issue

Steve Larkin

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