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Bulletin No 27

Tynedale Chess Club e-bulletin no 27 (28.9.09)

Yes, it’s that time again, when autumn leaves start falling, the nights are drawing in and a new chess season is upon us. So without more ado, let me report on the

45th Northumberland Chess Congress

This took place at the usual venue on September 25-27. Overall entries were substantially down at 65, a worrying trend; and Tynedale’s own representation was down by 50% from last year to just four.

In the Major, David Wrigley was second highest grade and Peter Crichton 22nd of the 22 entries. Both David and Peter battled long and hard in every game but came up against some tough opposition. David finished on 2.5/5, beating Ted Jarah in round 1, drawing with William Henderson in round 2, taking a bye in round 3, gratefully accepting the offer of a draw from Paul Costello in round 4, and succumbing to a carefully orchestrated onslaught from Ian Mackay in round 5. Peter opened with a bye, achieved a fine draw against the third highest graded player, Collin Smith, in round 2, went down narrowly to Robert Forsythe in round 3, defeated Bill Noble in round 4, and was by and large outplayed by Kevin Rowden in round 5 for a score of 2/5.

In the Minor, your editor was equal fourth highest graded player of the 27 entries and Tim Wrigley was 8th highest. Your editor followed up a bye in round 1 with a win over William Metcalfe in round 2, a defeat by the eventual winner Mark Mallard in round 3, a win over Kenny Boxall (to whom he had offered a draw on move 27 and who eventually succumbed on move 54!) in round 4, and a draw with Alex Ashworth in round 5, for a score of 3/5, with every game a hard one. Tim had a torrid time, drawing his first round match with David Watson, loing to Rolf Millar in round 2, taking a bye in round 3, drawing with Fred Stobbart in round 4, and losing to Bob Hayman in round 5 for a score of 1.5/5.

So the Tynedale quartet returned empty-handed and perhaps a little chastened by the standard of the play they encountered. It looks as though it might be a tough season ahead!

Club AGM

This was held on September 1st with ten members present, including a welcome guest appearance by Mark Taylor. Phil Taylor (chair), Tim Wrigley (secretary) and Peter Crichton (treasurer) were all confirmed in their prestigious positions. As last year, it was agreed to run four teams, two in the Northumbria League and two in the South Tyne League. Mike Nicholson stepped down as captain of the Reivers and was replaced by rising superstar David Wrigley. Captaincy of the Tans (Steve Larkin) and the Monarchs (Derek Blair) remains unchanged. Mike takes over captaincy of the Reivers from the Taylor/Crichton consortium.

Northumbria League

This retains the two division format, with 12 teams in division 1 and 13 in division 2. Matches start in the first week of October.

The captains of the Reivers and the Tans have agreed to run the squad system again this year. The Reivers squad will be Jack Bradshaw, Dave Foster, Mike Nicholson, David Weldon, David and Tim Wrigley. The Tans squad will be Derek Blair, Peter Crichton, Steve Larkin, Bruce Reed, Malcolm Reid and Phil Taylor. In addition, Matthew Taylor will be sporadically available for either squad and Peter Booker for Tans home games only. There may be occasions where David Wrigley will need to draw on the Tans pool or I will need to draw on the Reivers pool, but as far as possible the two groups will be kept separate.


The following are the ECF gradings for 2009-10, with movement up or down from last year shown, where applicable, in brackets. As this is the first year of the new system, the comparison with last year’s figures is slightly notional: ECF did provide new scheme figures last year, to offer a point of comparison now, but the scheme has been amended in some respects since. So with that caveat, here are the figures:

Colin Davison 164 (160) +4
David Weldon 160 (161) –1
David Wrigley 155 (137) +18
Mike Nicholson 147 (149) –2
Jack Bradshaw 146 (146)  
Mark Taylor 143 (154) –11
Dave Foster 134 (u)  
Derek Blair 131 (139) –8
Peter Crichton 130 (141) –11
Matthew Taylor 127 (131) –4
Steve Larkin 126 (118) +8
Tim Wrigley 124 (135) –11
Phil Taylor 122 (117) +5
Bruce Reed 121 (125) –4
Malcolm Reid 113 (121) –8
Peter Booker u (u)  

Leaving Mark out of the equation, as he is to all intents and purposes unavailable as a Tynedale player, it transpires that 4 players have improved their grading by a total of +35 points, while 8 players have lower gradings, with a total of –49 points, making a net loss of –14 points.

These figures match almost exactly those from 2007-8, when 3 players improved by a total of +33 points, while 8 declined by a total of –47 points, giving a net loss of –14. In other words, we have lost the collective forward momentum we achieved as a club in 2008-9.

Club Championship

It was decided at the AGM to do away with the Minor championship when the knockout stage is reached. That apart, the rules remain the same as last year. The current state of play is as follows, with young tear-away Phil Taylor setting the pace, closely followed by his even younger son (if Mark were around, there would no doubt be complete set of Taylors at the top):

Phil Taylor  2.5/3
Matthew Taylor  1.5/2
Dave Foster  1/1
Steve Larkin 1/1
Jack Bradshaw  1/2
Bruce Reed 1/3
Derek Blair 0/1
Malcolm Reid 0/1
Peter Booker 0/2

Club Open Night

This event, on September 22, was given splendid support by members, who turned out in force (including another guest appearance by Mark Taylor). The anticipated rush of prospective new members resolved itself into a group of three small boys aged 10 and under from HexhamMiddle School, plus their parents (one of whom seems keen to join the club himself). We all had a jolly evening, but afterwards the consensus was that there was little we could do as a club for the lads concerned. Having been in touch with Paul Bielby subsequently, I have written to the parents of all three and to the headmaster of HexhamMiddle School, drawing their attention to the existence of the Northumbria Junior Chess Association. It is not out of the question that we may be asked if we would like to assist in the running of a chess club at the school – I shall let members know as soon as I hear anything.

Spotlight on …

Given his spectacular arrival on the grading scene, it is most appropriate that our highlighted member this month should be Dave Foster.

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

At home, my uncle taught me how everything moved around the board when I was eight. I thought I was a decent player until midway through Benfield secondary modern school I met a younger but far better player who started hammering me in just a few moves

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

By no means. My playing has totally depended on how I was feeling at the time, I have never been able to give 100% attention over a chess board when other more serious matters have impinged. I have enormous respect for my fellow players who have the ability to overcome this.

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

I played for Gateshead when they were at the wonderful library and after I moved house to Leam Lane I found it more cost effective to join Bill Taylor’s crowd at the working mens club. I was happy to be a captain for three years winning two consecutive promotions and also taking a minor part within the Durham league committee. I also enjoyed several congresses in the company of Graeme Wilkin and Bob Forsythe. After some lengthy personal tragedy I gave up chess for quite some time and have only returned to “serious” chess in the 2008/2009 season, but only after getting to terms with a short attention span and revising my own style of play.

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

No. I tend to gain a lot of coaching by being hammered by better players. I insist the only way to improve is to turn the chess computer off and join a club. I used to self-coach by getting a board out every night and going over the bulletin games or getting a book out, my game got worse!

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

I started off in the 80’s and slowly worked up to 122 which was my grade in the early 1990’s

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

It depends on mood and time of year.

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

Not now, I used to but my last game was against a player from New York on the day of the attack so I gave it up.

8. 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 a programme that was free with Microsoft Vista, on the highest setting it ain’t bad.

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

I find it more convenient to put the laptop on.

10. What do you like most about chess?

I really enjoy the less serious side but do realise I am expected to behave during matches.

11. What do you like least about chess?

I lose a lot of sleep after a match, more when I lose.

12. Do you have any current targets in chess?

Stop blundering.

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

I have not a clue about current chess world champions so I suppose it would have to be the earlier icons such as Alekhine and Murphy.

That’s about it and many thanks to all who sit across the board with me.

If any of the remaining club members who have not already done so can overcome their reticence and complete the questionnaire, I shall be delighted to publish their chess life-stories in future issues.


  1. David Wrigley has kindly sent me the following report on the Carlisle rapid-play event:

“Three of Tynedale’s most intrepid players made their way to the Carlisle rapidplay on the 12th of September for a few bouts of early season chess. Star of the show was Peter, who raced to 3.5/4 in the u-140, tied for the lead with the man he’d already drawn with, and a point clear of the rest of the field. Both Peter and his rival then managed to lose their final round games, so there was a four way pile-up for first place. Well done Peter!
Derek, also in the u-140, had a more torrid time, but finished with a flourish, pulling off an attractive mate against Bill Hardwick to arrive on 2/5.
David Wrigley found himself in the “open” but the low grading limit meant there was plenty of scope for picking up points (and pieces). A first round loss to Ian Mackay ensured he avoided most of the big guns, and he trundled along to finish on 2.5/5
Syd deserves congratulations for another smoothly run event. He managed to keep the juniors in check whilst playing in the open!”

Many thanks for that, David, and congratulations to Peter.

  1. Forthcoming events

October 16-18 Dundee and Angus Chess Congress

October 23-25 Scarborough Chess Congress

That’s all for this time. Good luck to all in the upcoming league matches.

Steve Larkin

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