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Bulletin No 24

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 24 (2.4.09)

I know it’s not the season of glad tidings, but this e-bulletin spreads good news for the club on a variety of fronts. And to begin with, the Houdini-like Reivers have once again staved off relegation and live to fight another year

Northumberland League Division One

The Reivers had one final match to play in March. This is how Mike describes that event:

Tynedale Reivers vs Newcastle University-March 10th, 2009

DJ Weldon 0-1 K Fomin
CFS Davison 1-0 A Bak
ML Nicholson ½ ½ C Miller
Mark Taylor 0 1 S Aitchison
DA Wrigley 1 0 E Sathiyamoorthy

Nerves were jangling, at least on board 3, in this last and all- important match of our Northumbria League season. The previous evening’s result between the two table-proppers had ended Gosforth Empire 2.1/2 – 2.1/2 Jesmond Reprobates, but it hadn’t saved us from a relegation threat. Now, a heavy defeat would see us down, a 1-4 defeat would mean a play-off with Reprobates, and anything better would secure our place in Division 1 next season. It would be all too easy to fall at the last hurdle.
Gosforth had strengthened their team on top board to try – fruitlessly as it happened – to save their own skins, and since our game point and match point record was identical with University’s, the threats facing them were exactly those facing us. In their boots, I would have strengthened their team – so in my own boots I strengthened ours. Colin willingly, gladly even, came in when Tim was unavailable. Mark, whose fine early-season form has deserted him in the New Year, moved down to 4 (so keeping the white pieces) and David, our form player, nevertheless moved down to 5.Clearly we could have shaken hands on five draws without a piece moved, and gone home with both teams clear of relegation, but apart from the general lack of ethics in such an agreement, we very much owed it to Reprobates to play a full and proper match. Had their representative been present, he would have had no worries on that score.Another hard Tuesday at the office caught Mark out. When his c4 English was met with an f5 Dutch, he was tempted into gambit mode, played e4, got an attack for his pawn, but found his similarly-graded opponent in good fighting form, and went down much too early for my own next-door nervous disposition. My own opening, a non-standard Nimzo-Indian, had quickly simplified and lost its sting, so much so that I had felt a draw offer both appropriate on the board and justified in match terms, but my opponent consulted his captain who instructed him to continue … and the jangling grew. Happily, David’s good form continued, and after picking up a pawn in his Wrigley French, he went on to capitalise and end up with the full point with still a lot of the evening remaining. Some relief!David’s point meant that we couldn’t be relegated on the night, but the last thing I wanted was a play-off, so I then had to reconsider the prospects from the remaining three games. Colin looked to have a great chess game on his hands. The position was unbalanced, Colin’s queen-side pawn advantage being countered by a passed supported pawn chain in the centre, against which Colin’s heavy guns were massed. Promisingly, his opponent had failed to castle and wasn’t likely to, since the king’s knight was still also on its square. Unbalanced positions are notoriously easy to swing from player to player, so I couldn’t count on anything there yet. As time progressed, Dave’s position against the Russian student, Kyril Fomin, which had looked solid, now suffered exchanges which reduced it to a material balance of rook and pawn versus a bishop pair, and with otherwise only a few pawns left on either side of the board, I was apprehensive. Reluctantly, but maybe fortunately, I had to persuade myself that my level position had to remain level.In due course, after several times falling behind on the clock and then catching up again, I not only gained a time advantage but also reached a position where my opponent’s only sensible option was to repeat moves, so we had reached our target and could forget relegation. But the match was not over. Two time scrambles followed, emphasising how seriously the match had been played. Dave had managed for a long time to harass the exposed bishops with his rook, so delaying pawn advances, but finally, when things were getting difficult anyway, he left his rook en prise. Would we avoid relegation by just that minimum half-point? The most furious finale
in Colin’s game brought it all to a conclusion. Perhaps just before the scramble the advantage had swung to his opponent – who knows? – but once the fur started flying there was only one player in it. In years of yore, Colin twice finished sixth in the British lightning championships, and the accuracy of this finish showed that he hasn’t lost his touch.So it was that we achieved our fifth draw of the season, and avoided relegation without winning a single match. As Geoff Harrison of Gosforth pointed out to me, while we were discussing their draw with Reprobates, Reivers have so far been the only team to take a point from a team not in the ‘Relegation-5’ mini league. We drew with Leam Lane.Thanks to all Reivers for their support during the season. Maybe it’s been a bit too tight to be always enjoyable, but we have made progress. Mark has scored well in his first board 3 season, and David’s progress has been impressive. Dave has as usual borne the brunt on top board, and again taken points when by rights it wasn’t to be expected. Tim and I have struggled, but I don’t believe we’ve played that badly. Peter was part of the squad and rightly so until the system was defeated by the league rules restricting appearances, and Jack, whose presence would have enabled us to continue the system throughout, found he wanted to give preference to his studies. And Colin did everything that was asked of him!”Your editor would like to thank Mike yet again for a full report which certainly conveys something of the occasion – as a spectator on the night, I can confirm that the tension was palpable and that the Reivers played their socks off! I must also add that yet again Mike has done a magnificent job as captain, researching and informing thoroughly before each match and leading by example in his commitment over the board. If the Reivers remain in division one, a lot of it is down to Mike’s leadership.

So much for division one. What about

Northumberland League Division Two

Unike the Reivers, the Tans had not one but three matches this month (a fourth, which was scheduled, was called off when Jesmond Pawns defaulted). Starting the month in fourth place in the division, it was an open question whether they would be able to hang on to that position. Here is how it all turned out.

Tans v Morpeth C, Tuesday March 3rd.

This was a match the Tans really needed to win in order to regain some forward momentum, especially after their mauling at the hands of Morpeth B. And there was the additional spice of a Dave Foster v Dave Foster meeting on board 5. Who would prevail?

In true Foster tradition, the two Daves set about their game extremely briskly by comparison with all the other boards, though fairly sedately by their own standards. By the time they reached the end-game, Dave senior was a bishop and a pawn to the good, with only pawns on the board otherwise, and Dave junior was eventually obliged to call it a day. On board four, both Phil and his opponent developed methodically, with every piece still on the board long after the other games had seen the decks being cleared. Gradually Phil cranked up the pressure, with a strong knight anchored on e6. Then came an exposed check, winning him a bishop, and before long it was 2-0 to the Tans.

By contrast, the top three boards seemed dead even for most of the evening. Derek, on board two, was a pawn down but had a potentially terminal attack on his opponent’s kingside and this looked the game most likely to produce a result. However, Derek was unable to create the break-through he needed, even after sacrificing a knight, and it didn’t take him long to accept his opponent’s offer of a draw!

So at this point the Tans couldn’t lose, but could they win? Both Peter’s and Bruce’s games were so even that only a major lapse by someone could produce a result, and eventually draws were agreed on both boards. Given that we outgraded our opponents all the way down (Dave may be ungraded but he is way above 56), the margin of victory was perhaps rather modest, but as we all know, in chess as in life there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, and it was good to get back to winning ways.

Tans   Morpeth C
1. P. Crichton (112) 0.5-0.5 J. Horton (97)
2. D. Blair (109) 0.5-0.5 A. Hutchinson (90)
3. B. Reed (96) 0.5-0.5 D. Watson (73)
4. P. Taylor (85) 1=0 J. Hill (u)
5. D. Foster sr(u) 1-0 D. Foster jr (56)

Next up was an away match against Tynemouth Warriors, on Tuesday March 17th.  Given that the Warriors appeared from their record to be the weaker of the two Tynemouth sides in the division and that we had already beaten Tynemouth Castles 4-1, prospects here looked bright. Indeed, there was talk en route to the match of a theoretical possibility of promotion, Morpeth B having curiously defaulted on their match against Jesmond Pawns, while the Pawns had defaulted against us, so that we stood in third place in the division, one point clear of Morpeth B with an equal number of games played.

The Tynemouth match started brilliantly. Playing as briskly as ever on board five, Dave steadily increased his material advantage until his opponent resigned. Shortly afterwards, Peter on board one made it 2-0 when his opponent blundered. Next to finish was Malcolm on board three. His initial attack having run out of steam, he decided to retrench and as his position became more cramped so the game slipped away from him. 2-1. Bruce on board two had gone the exchange down after a miscalculation in the middle game and his hopes of saving something vanished when another miscalculation led to further material loss. 2-2 and it all hinged on board four, which went to the wire. For much of the game, your editor held a slight edge, being a pawn and ten minutes up on his opponent. But as the complications deepened and his opponent’s knights got amongst his kingside pawns, he lost his grip on things, made a series of weak moves and found himself checkmated. 3-2 to Tynemouth and even theoretical possibilities of promotion had vanished!

Tynemouth Warriors   Tynedale Tans
1. B. Ritson (106) 0-1 P. Crichton (112)
2. R. Oxnard (97) 1-0 B. Reed (96)
3. D. White (92) 1-0 M. Reid (92)
4. P. Jackson (91) 1-0 S. Larkin (87)
5. M. Robson (72) 0-1 D. Foster sr (u)

The Tans’ final match of the season was against Gateshead Knights, on Tuesday March 31st, and it was not an easy one to end up with. Both sides had an absolutely identical record and were placed third (Tans) and fourth respectively in the division. The Tans side was strengthened by the welcome return of Matthew Taylor from university, but weakened by the absence of Peter Crichton, Bruce Reed and Dave Foster, all on duty in a South Tyne League fixture, and Malcolm Reid, no less busy with things environmental. So it rather looked as though the odds were slightly in favour of the visitors. With nothing other than pride hanging on the result for both sides, how would it turn out?

First blood went to the Tans, with your editor, playing on board three, having one of those dream games where everything falls into place and despatching his opponent within the hour. If only it was ever thus in chess! After ninety minutes the scores were level. Peter Booker, who had kindly agreed to step in when Malcolm stepped out, battled on valiantly, contending with a ferocious kingside attack whilst remembering (most of the time!) to stop his clock after each move and to keep his score. Eventually, and predictably, he succumbed, but it was a good first effort.

All the three remaining boards seemed very close, but on board four Phil managed to get his queen in amongst his opponent’s pawns and then succeeded in trapping the opposing queen  – a very nice moment and 2-1 to the Tans. On board one, Derek had been offering his opponent a draw all evening and finally, after two and a half hours’ play, the offer was accepted, for Derek had so completely closed down the position that there was no way through. A commendable half-point which ensured the Tans at least one match point.

That left Matthew battling it out on board two in a game which had been incredibly cagey throughout. Great chains of pawns snaked across the board on either side, making the prospect of any break-through look extremely remote. Eventually, after checking the match score, Matthew offered a draw, which his opponent instantly accepted. The match was won!

Tynedale Tans   Gateshead Knights
1. D. Blair (112) 0.5-0.5 K. Cox (107)
2. Matt Taylor (102) 0.5-0.5 A. Johnson (93)
3. S. Larkin (87) 1-0 P. Nicholson (84)
4. P. Taylor (85) 1-0 B. Davison (83)
5. P. Booker (u) 0-1 R. McKay (66)

As a result third place in the division looks to be ours. Only Gateshead A can deny us, and to do so they would have to play and win all four of their remaining matches (they evidently have a huge backlog!). As a beaming Phil succinctly put it after Tuesday’s match, “It’s the best place to finish. You miss promotion and you’re top of all the rest!”

South Tyne League

Here there is good news and bad news, depending on whether your allegiance lies with the Monarchs or with Tynedale. Let’s start with the Monarchs, who continue to go their regal way towards the league title. They played one match this month, against HaydonBridge. Captain Derek Blair reports:

“HaydonBridge’s handicap was such that we all thought that they only needed half a point to draw the match. The Monarch’s pre-match pep talk was that, if we could win this one 4-0, we would win the league.

HaydonBridge tore into us, from the off.

Colin struggled for equality on top board in the opening and into the middle. Tim seemed to be holding his own and in control on Bd 2. David found Herbie’s experience and clarity of thought testing. I decided cheekily to use, what I dub, ‘the HaydonBridge opening’ back on its arch proponent David Tulip. Tim’s composure and experience produced the first positive result of the evening and set the standard for the rest. Son David agreed on a draw with a level position. And Colin survived his early problems emerging two pawns clear to claim his win. Meanwhile David Tulip upped the pressure on me with a king side storm as my queen side initiative faltered. I got into time trouble, was a piece down to 3 pawns and with only minutes left to his 10 was preparing for the worst ,with everyone watching. Not enjoyable. David had all his pieces arrowing in on my weakened and neglected king position. Fortunately for me, he made a weak move which allowed me to launch a last gasp counter. It won a castle and then his queen and I just managed to secure the mate before the time control. Undeservedly.We all thought then that the match was drawn (26-26) but ex Durham University David (oops,sorry DUD!) correctly pointed out that the mathematics of the handicap system meant that David Tulip’s grade had to drop from 8 to 7 because there was more than a 3 point differential between him and me….giving the Monarchs the win 26-25. Whew!

Apologies twice to the HaydonBridge captain, praise to Syd Cassidy who missed the action as a spectator in preference to an outside smoke but who devises and oversees a splendid South Tyne Chess experience. And not just because Monarchs may have lifted their first ever title. “As Derek still seems a little uncertain as to whether the Monarchs have lifted the title or not, I shall refrain from offering him and his team the congratulations they richly deserve, at least until the title is confirmed!

Meanwhile, at the other end of the league table, Tynedale’s fortunes have not changed. Captain Peter Crichton reports on their latest match, against Austins.

“In a hard fought match at Hallbankgate Tynedale went down over the board 3-1 to Austins [and also lost after the handicapping]. On board 1 Mike had a creditable draw playing the white side of a Sicilian Dragon; both players were eager to accept the half point in what was the last match to finish with Mike’s opponent apparently not seeing the forced draw available to him. On board 2 Peter had the best of the middle game and emerged a pawn ahead in an ending with each side having a rook and bishop; he was however unable to convert this into a full point. Bruce, with white on board 3, played the English defence against an opponent who specialised in that opening; he maintained an even game for a considerable period but eventually lost the exchange and, after further struggles, the game. On board 4 Dave was, of course, the first to finish but, unusually for this season, he lost – apparently the loss of a vital pawn quickly turned a potential mate in two for Dave into mate in one for his opponent! Never mind we still have three more chances to win a game! The full score was:

1. Mike v. Paul Rivers [131] ½

2. Peter v. Syd Cassidy [118] ½

3. Bruce v. Kevin Southernwood [113] 0

4. Dave v. Bill Burgess [90] 0

After the application of the handicap the result was Austins 16 – Tynedale 15”

Club Championship

The first phase of the championship is now over and the final standings are as follows:

Mike Nicholson 5.5/7
Peter Crichton 3/5
Bruce Reed 3/6
Derek Blair 3/6
Phil Tyalor 3/7
Steve Larkin 2.5/6
Jack Bradshaw 2/2
Malcolm Reid 1.5/5
Mark Taylor 1/2
David Wrigley 1/2
Matthew Taylor 0.5/1
Dave Foster 0.5/2
Tim Wrigley 0.5/2
Peter Booker 0/1

Jack Bradshaw and Mark Taylor have both withdrawn, so that twelve players remain to battle it out in the knockout phase for the Major and Minor titles. The draw is as follows:

Major quarter-finals

A  Mike Nicholson v David Wrigley

B  Bruce Reed v Steve Larkin

C  Peter Crichton v Malcolm Reid

D  Derek Blair v Phil Taylor

Winner of A plays winner of B.

Winner of C plays winner of D.

The target date for the completion of the quarter-finals is the end of April.

Minor semi-finals

Matthew Taylor v Peter Booker

Dave Foster v Tim Wrigley

Spotlight on David Wrigley

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

On Tim’s knee, and at Tynedale chess club, probably in about 1996

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


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

Tynedale chess club, probably in 1999

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

Nothing very formal. Tim, Mike and Ian used to run coaching for the juniors but I think it was often more a matter of crowd control than getting the kids to learn anything. Some of it must have sunk in, though.

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

            66 in 2000

            109 now

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

Too many, probably an hour a day

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

I play casual correspondence, but take very little time over the moves.I’ve found http://www.chesstempo.net/ quite entertaining, but it isn’t really the same as playing real people. It also trains you to look fruitlessly for combinations where there are none.

  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 store my games into chessbase and blundercheck with fritz when I get back from playing them, but don’t go through them thoroughly enough to learn anything.

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


  1. What do you like most about chess?

The adrenaline rush after playing a dodgy exchange sacrifice.

  1. What do you like least about chess?

Rook endgames and the sicilian.

  1. Do you have any current targets in chess?

I want to win a Major tournament at some point.

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

My favourite player is E J Diemer, because his games are totally wild. Especially this one http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1282302

Many thanks to David for submitting this. If any other unspotlit players would like to come forward, that would be most welcome.


  1. David Wrigley took part in the Cumbrian individual championships and has sent this report:

“The Cumbrian Individual Championships took place at Austin Friars school, 27th Feb- March 1st. There were just shy of forty people at the event and Syd Cassidy was firmly in command, chess-players and small children probably aren’t too dissimilar. I (playing in the U130) took a half point bye on the Friday, found a cruel swindle on the Saturday morning, had my afternoon opponent resign when I held only the slightest of advantages and found myself in joint second place overnight. I played the leader on the Sunday morning and had excellent chances to win but in the end was lucky to draw. Draws on the other top boards meant I was still 2nd= but my last round game was a limp capitulation, so I finished 6th on 3/5. There were quite a few familiar faces from the home club, Bill Hardwick top-performed in winning the U100, and Ian Mackay was also in the U130.”

Well done, David, for flying the flag and doing so in some style.

  1. NCA Rapidplay Champs Jesmond. Sunday March 29th.  There was a disappointing turnout for this event, so much so that the Major and Minor sections had to be combined and the Open had only about 8 players. Three brave souls from Tynedale ventured into darkest Jesmond, two of them – Peter Crichton and David Wrigley – intending to play in the Major and one, your editor, in the Minor. For the latter, things got off to the toughest possible start when he was drawn to play the diminutive Zhang, aged six and a half! Some 45 minutes later (most of it on your editor’s clock) it was all over and young master Zhang had a point in the bag. (In fairness to himself, your editor feel obliged to point out that Zhang’s coach Tim Adams tips him as a future Grandmaster!). Defeat by a real live adult left your editor 0-2 down at lunchtime. A brief respite allowed a point against a young (though not so young as Zhang!) protégé of Paul Bielby’s (the lad in question promptly won the return game, but a point’s a point and it’s the first game that counts!). Further defeat followed at the hands of  – wait for it – David Wrigley of all people, who should have been mixing it with the great and the good in the Major and who – just to rub salt in the wound- was granted white on this occasion! A veneer of respectability came in round five, against another of Paul Bielby’s lads who had already lost four games and who heartened your editor by airing his conviction that he was about to lose the fifth as well – which he duly did, just! So 2/5 – not exactly brilliant, but great fun.

Peter, meanwhile, was acquitting himself much better, winning his first two games comfortably – the second against the aforementioned Zhang, who was evidently drained by the titanic battle in which he had been involved in round one! Peter’s next match, against the eventual winner Herskine, graded 130, was a very creditable draw and at this point he looked on target to get amongst the prizes.. Alas, it was not to be. His fourth round match produced another hard-fought draw and it was not perhaps surprising that in his final match concentration lapsed as he left a rook en prise. Nonetheless the result was a highly respectable 3/5.

David performed excellently, with three wins, a draw and one loss, to share second place with Abaryan from Gateshead. When your editor suggested that a share of the winnings might come his way, given that he had so gallantly helped David on his way to glory, the remark appeared to fall on deaf ears. Really, these rising stars of chess, from Master Zhang upwards, have no sense of fellow-feeling for us lesser mortals!

John Wheeler, the organizer of this event, was not surprisingly disappointed by the small entry. Given that this is an annual NCA championship, perhaps we should try as a club to prioritise it next year. It really is fun and it would be a great shame if the event folded for lack of support.

  1. Correspondence chess. Mike writes:

I got a win recently in the Argentinian event and now lie equal third, but it’s going very slowly. I’m unlikely to improve my position, but you never know! In the European final I was doing fine, but sadly got too excited about the Italy game and sacrificed the exchange for an advantage. So excited must I have been that I didn’t notice that he didn’t have to accept the offer … which explains why no grandmasters had sacrificed it before me! Now I’ve had to spend several days trying to find a line that’s even worth playing at all. I think I have done, but it’s only a question of will it save the game or not … . Curiously, my Swiss opponent simultaneously confessed he’d also slipped up against the same opponent by accidentally dropping his rook on f1 instead of e1 and was also seeking a draw instead of a win. Put your money on Italy! I did open my account with a draw as black with Israel, which I think I mentioned to you.

This story will, of course, run and run for a good many more e-bulletins!

  1. In the Newcastle championship your editor continues to nestle near the bottom of the pile with 1.5/6. Oh dear, oh dear!
  2. Forthcoming fixtures:

April 17-19 Durham Chess Congress at Houghton le Spring

May 1-3 Calderdale Chess Congress Halifax

The next e-bulletin will be out when there is sufficient news to warrant it

Steve Larkin

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