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Archive for the ‘Tournaments’ Category

55th Northumberland Chess Congress

Posted by fellman01 on September 30, 2019

There were just two members representing Tynedale Chess Club at this event, held at North Shields on September 27th-29th. Jonny Kearney played in the Foundation for players graded 105 and below, while Steve Larkin played in the Minor, for players graded 135 and below.

The format in the Foundation was tough to say the least: 10 two-hour games over two and a bit days. Jonny was ranked second of fifteen entries on the basis of an estimated grade of 100, which was perhaps a bit high. In round 1 on the Friday night he shared the honours with Guy Smith of Peterlee (grade 80) at one win each. Round 2 on the Saturday morning brought 2 wins over Kevin Poulton of West Leeds (grade 68), followed in the afternoon by a win and a loss against Gerald Gregory of Hertford (grade 77). On Sunday he shared the honours first with Paul Richardson of Tynemouth (grade 97) and then with Luke Fletcher (estimated grade 90). Had he drawn his final game instead of losing it he would have finished second overall. Still he was happy with his 6 out of 10, enjoyed the whole experience of his first ever congress, and may have won the prize for most improved player.

In the Minor, where he was ranked 31st of the 53 entries, Steve took a bye on the Friday night, before drawing with Dave Ramsey of Morpeth (grade 123) on the Saturday morning and beating Ian Rook (good name for a chess player!) of Forest Hall (grade 121) in the afternoon. Both games were tight affairs, with just a pawn swinging the second game in Steve’s favour. On Sunday morning a wild and exciting game with Noel Boustred of Gosforth (grade 124) produced a win for Steve after he had offered a draw in the belief that a draw by repetition was unavoidable. Noel declined, believing he could get a checkmate which he couldn’t. Steve’s final game brought him down to earth as Kevin Cox of Gateshead (grade 122) thoroughly outplayed him. Still Steve, like Jonny, was happy with his 60% and enjoyed the experience.

The congress was well supported and, as ever, well run, making it a pleasure to take part. And a nice boost for the two Tynedale players was the presence of Peter Crichton on both the Saturday and the Sunday, offering moral support and encouragement.


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Scarborough Chess Congress 2018

Posted by fellman01 on November 2, 2018

The 42nd Scarborough Congress took place on October 26th-28th, with 306 entries spread over five sections. Tynedale’s one representative, Steve Larkin, played in the Minor section, for players graded 135 or under. Of the 78 entries in this section, Steve (grade 112) was ranked 72nd.

He took a bye in round 1 (Friday night) and on Saturday morning had black against a young French girl, Emma Bienvenu, graded 128 and ranked 27th. It was a long, hard game (three and a half hours), with Steve having a one pawn advantage but facing serious kingside threats. Eventually these were dealt with and Steve was able to launch his own kingside attack, with two rooks on white’s second rank, leading to checkmate.

In the afternoon Steve had white against David Watson (129) from Aughton, who was ranked 23rd. Steve attacked from the start, winning a pawn and preventing his opponent from castling. So far so good, but he carried on pressing at the expense of queenside development, and this proved decisive as David forced his way through in the centre, before pinning Steve’s queen on his king. Subsequent analysis with Fritz showed that, of Steve’s last 18 moves in a 26 move game, no fewer than eleven were deemed by Fritz to be very bad, which must constitute some sort of record!

Sunday morning saw Steve with black against Brian Crofts (134) from Chesterfield, ranked 19th. Brian put Steve under a lot of early pressure and won a central pawn, but it proved to be poisoned and white, with queen exposed, miscalculated and dropped a rook, before resigning a hopeless position soon afterwards.

In the final round on Sunday afternoon, Steve, with white, played Sajjad Dehghan-Afifi (132) from Northernden, ranked 11th. Steve had marginally the better of the opening, but was then simply outclassed by a better player. Having dropped a piece, Steve played on almost to the bitter end, but the outcome was never really in doubt.

So two and a half out of five and the pleasure, in every case, of playing opponents never before encountered, in a comfortable and very well organised congress. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been before or who hasn’t been in  recent times.

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Northumberland Chess Congress

Posted by fellman01 on October 9, 2018

The 54th version of this event was held at The Parks in North Shields on September 28th-30th. Two members of the club took part, both in the Minor event for players graded under 135. Of the 42 entries in this section, Steve Larkin was ranked 26th, while Dave Foster appeared in the ranking list as 15th with a grade of 121 and playing for Wimbledon! Presumably a case of mistaken identity.

Dave played all five rounds, picking up 2 draws along the way, against John Eddershaw (96) and Peter Wright (81) for a score of 1/5. Steve took a bye on the Friday night, had an epic 4-hour game with Bill Noble (124) on the Saturday morning, only to lose. The afternoon saw the only 2 Tynedale entrants drawn against each other, with Steve prevailing after a tough tussle. Sunday brought another long game (3.5 hours) against Gary Pollard (120) of Morpeth, with Steve losing once again. In the final round he was drawn by mistake against a player who had withdrawn and so gained a one-point bye to finish by devious means on 2.5/5.

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Scarborough Congress October 2017

Posted by fellman01 on October 28, 2017

This event was, as ever, very well attended, with 60 entries in the Open alone. Tynedale Chess Club’s one representative (one more than at the Northumberland Congress!) was Steve Larkin, who played n the Foundation event, for players graded 120 and under. Of the 86 entries in this section, he was ranked 16th.
His first round game on Friday night (October 20th) was a close match with Allan Buchan (99) from Edinburgh. It came down to a queen and 5 pawns on either side, when Steve, conscious of the 4 rounds still to come, offered a draw which Allan accepted.
Steve’s opponent on Saturday morning was Kevin Randle (95) of Aughton. This was another close match till Steve was able to press home a mating attack. In the afternoon he played David Lowcock (107) of Hartlepool and immediately came under a lot of kingside pressure. He managed to resist this for 3 hours, before a killer knight move he had not spotted led to forced mate or the loss of his queen, at which point Steve resigned.
His opponent on Sunday morning was Jeff Wilson (100) of Oldham, who should have won but who misplayed the ending, allowing Steve to go from a pawn down to a pawn up. The game ended as a forced draw, with the one remaining pawn on the h-file blocked by Jeff’s king on h8.That game lasted three and three quarter hours, and before long it was time for the final round, against Robert Artherton (102) of Skegness. Steve had most of the initiative, but could not make it tell. With the position dead level and fatigue kicking in, he offered a draw which Robert accepted immediately.
So 50% overall for Steve but, given that every one of his opponents was graded lower than he was, he should have done better. However, the old adage – “There’s no such thing as an easy game” – proved true yet again.

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Scarborough Chess Congress 2016

Posted by fellman01 on October 28, 2016

Steve Larkin flew the flag for Tynedale at the 40th version of this event, held on October 21-23. One of 76 entries in the Foundation section (120 and under), Steve found himself equal top seed with two other players on 120 – an unnerving situation to be in! In round 1 he had a very long, tough game against Tim Bowler (104) of Maryport which only finished at 11.10 p.m. The initiative swang wildly from one side to the other, but a couple of very nice combinations by Tim, both of them taking Steve by surprise, put Tim a knight and a pawn up. It was looking a lost cause for Steve when Tim blundered a bishop and Steve was back in the game. In the final minutes, both players queened a pawn, but Steve’s queened first and that proved decisive.

On Saturday morning, Steve had black against Charles Ayton (109) of Louth. This proved a somewhat shorter but still closely contested game in which Steve’s central passed pawns eventually prevailed.

In the afternoon it was white against Michael Page (107) of Rugely. Again there was nothing in it for most of the game, then Steve missed the chance of a clear win when, with two black pieces en prise, he took the wrong one first, to emerge completely even, and a draw was agreed.

So after two days and three rounds, Steve had notched up 2.5 points, a half point more than he managed in the entire Northumberland congress, but fatigue was kicking in in a big way – what would Sunday bring?

The morning brought another very close game, against Patrick Coleman (107) of Preston. After Patrick’s initial pressure with white eased, the game looked increasingly drawish as pieces were swapped with no advantage gained. The draw was agreed on move 27.

After 4 rounds, there was one leader on 4, four players on 3.5, and nine, including Steve, on 3. His final game, with white, was against another opponent from Louth, Neil Milson (109). On move 21, Neil blundered a bishop, then dropped a rook for a knight and resigned on move 44 when another knight went.

This left Steve on 4/5 which, it transpired later, gave him a share of third place with 3 other players, plus a share, with 7 other players, of the veteran’s prize! Thanks to his opponents’ mistakes, this was Steve’s best performance in a congress for a long time and quite possibly his best ever, as he closed the event on an average grade of 137. Quite a relief after his poor showing in the Northumberland congress!

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Northumberland Chess Congress 2016

Posted by fellman01 on September 25, 2016

Three club members took part in the 52nd edition of this event, Held in North Shields on September 23-25.

In the Major, for players graded 165 and below, Tim Wrigley (148) was seeded 15th of the 39 entrants. In round 1 he had a fine draw against the top seed, Kevin Wilson (169 in the August grading list) of Darlington. Tim ,with black, offered a draw after 2 hours of play. The offer was finally accepted after three and a half hours! In round 2, Tim had white against John Marsh (141) of Leam Lane. Tim went queen and pawn to rook and bishop up and duly converted. In round 3 he played Stephen Hall (161) of Hetton. On losing a queenside pawn, Tim pushed his f, g, and h pawns in desperation, Stephen pulled his pieces back and Tim pinned one of them, winning the exchange and later the game. In round 4 he played Usai Mauro (160) and, in his own words, swindled a draw from a lost position. The final round saw him play the second seed, |Graham Ashcroft (165). Tim resigned when 2 pawns down in an endgame involving pawns and two rooks each. So he finished on a very creditable 3/5, recording an average score in the low 160s – well done, Tim!

Steve Larkin (120) was seeded 20th of the 44 entries in the Minor, for players graded 135 and below. He took a bye in round 1, and in round 2 had white against Faithful Richard, graded zero. This grade had not stopped Faithful drawing with Stan Johnson in round 1, nor did it stop him taking Steve to a King and 6 pawns each ending, which Steve managed to win. In round 3, Steve had black against Norman Anderson (124) of York and, by a crass miscalculation, he lost a bishop for a pawn on move 11. Game over, it seemed, until Norman allowed Steve to fork his queen with a knight check on move 19. Queen to bishop and knight up and the game was on once more. Steve went on the attack with queen and rook, only to see his exposed king trapped in a mating web involving rook, bishop and knight. In round 4, Steve had white against Dennis Beagarie (110) of Tynemouth. Steve did most of the pressing but was unable to find a way through and a draw was agreed. Finally, Steve had black against Brian Whittaker (110) of Thornaby and was given an object lesson a) in how to deal with the French Defence and b) in how to launch an unstoppable sacrificial attack. His final score was 2/5 – should do better!

In the Foundation event, for players graded 105 and below, Dave Humphries (c75) was seeded 10th of the 13 entries. He took a bye in round 1, and in round 2 faced young Harry Wilson. In their first game Dave, with white, allowed a bishop to be trapped and lost. In the second, with black, he was a pawn down but still very much in the game when his time ran out. Sadly, he had an enforced bye in round 3. He made up for this disappointing start with 4 wins on the Sunday against two youngsters, Roshan Gupta and Will Walmsley, both of whom, if Dave is to be believed, are relative newcomers to the game. He finished fourth equal in the event.

So the Tynedale flag was flown at the Congress with mixed results, with Tim certainly making an impressive start to the season.

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South Lakes Congress

Posted by fellman01 on June 7, 2016

Held on June 3rd, 4th and 5th at Grange-over-Sands, this congress was as ever well supported. I was the only Tynedale member taking part, but there was a significant Carlisle contingent present, as well as players from several Tyneside clubs. I entered the Minor 1 section, for players of 130 and below (there was also a Minor 2 section for players of 110 and below). I took a bye on the Friday night, and on Saturday morning found myself with black against the second top seed (I was ranked 19th 0f the 35 entries), Marcel Taylor (129) of Radcliffe and Bingham. The game was a close one throughout, though Marcel declined my offer of a draw after about two and a half hours of play, only to accept another offer when we had about 8 minutes of the four hours’ playing-time left! There was just about an hour’s break before another four hour session, this time with white against Tim Bowler (120e – those estimated grades always spell trouble!) of Maryport. With fatigue kicking in, I made a hash of the opening third of the game and for a while was in serious danger of being swept off the board. Somehow I managed to stabilise things and emerged into the endgame just one pawn down. The situation finally resolved itself into queen and 5 pawns against queen and four, but with the pawns scattered, it was easy enough for me to hold the position together and we agreed a draw with about 8 minutes left again! To say that I was tired as I left the venue at 6.30 p.m. with a 70 minute drive ahead of me is an understatement!

I certainly didn’t feel confident about my prospects on Sunday, and that feeling was reinforced on finding that I was due to play Martin Beardsley (115) of Gosforth, who had beaten me in our final league game just a few weeks earlier. I opened as black with the French Defence, to which he responded in a most unorthodox manner. The threat was that he would block me in on the queenside, and leave me totally undeveloped on the kingside. As things turned out, I managed to get queen, rook and both bishops fully operational on the queenside, and when it became clear that he could not prevent me winning at least one piece, Martin resigned. We had played for just 90 minutes, so I had over three hours in which to relax before the final round – bliss after yesterday!

In the afternoon, I had white against an old friend, Ahmed Abbas (116) of Manchester 3Cs. He too had experienced some long games and we both joked that a quick finish was desirable, especially given how nice the weather was! And a quick finish we had. The game was over in 55 minutes as my kingside attack tore open his position. The game came down to rook and 6 pawns for white and rook and 3 pawns for black. When I succeeded in forcing a swap of rooks, Ahmed resigned and we both headed for home early!

3.5/5 was my best congress result for quite some time and it came as a very pleasant surprise. Interesting too that one can sweat for nearly 8 hours to achieve a couple of draws, then pick up two wins in less than a third of that time!


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Scarborough chess congress 2015

Posted by fellman01 on October 31, 2015

Steve Larkin was the one club member to attend this event, which had a total of 330 participants spread over five sections. Steve was competing in the Foundation event, for players graded under 121. His grade of 111 ranked him 23rd of the 80 players involved. Round 1 on the Friday evening brought a simple win in 11 moves against Junges-Stair (Morpeth estimated grade 91). Round 2 on the Saturday morning produced what was arguably Steve’s biggest blunder of the weekend, when he convinced himself that his opponent, Morven Petrie (East Kilbride 100), could force a draw by repetition, when this was not in fact the case and Steve was a bishop up. Not surprisingly, his offer of a draw was accepted with alacrity! Saturday afternoon brought a long, hard game against Peter Brannan (Ecclesall 99), who accrued a one pawn advantage and proceeded to press with a pair of connected passed pawns. More by luck than good judgement, Steve managed to hang on for a draw. Sunday morning saw another hard game, this time against James Waddington (Bolton 95). Steve gained a pawn in the middle-game and went on to achieve a won endgame with two passed pawns. At this point a final score of 4/5 was on the cards and so it should have proved, for Steve’s final opponent, Kenneth Parkin (Enigma 97) – yes, Larkin versus Parkin! – played the opening terribly. Steve pressed hard but proceeded to play the ending even worse than Kenneth’s opening, finally succumbing to a passed pawn which could not be stopped. So in the end it was 3/5, which sounds OK till you reflect that every one of Steve’s opponents was graded 100 or below, that in round 2 he succeeded in turning a clear win into a draw, and that in round 5 he blew what should have been a decisive lead. If only one could see at the time even a fraction of the possibilities which Fritz points out later!

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Northumberland chess congress 2015

Posted by fellman01 on September 28, 2015

This event was held at North Shields on September 25-27, and Tynedale were well represented.
Our two new Romanian members, Klauss and Mariana Mosnegutu, competed in the Open event which had 23 entries, with Klauss ranked second and Mariana fourth. Klauss started strongly, defeating Szymon Palusha (ranked 14th) on Friday night and Paul Roberts (ranked 3rd) on Saturday morning. In the afternoon he was up against the top seed, Charlie Storey, and lost on time. On Sunday he lost to James Turner in round 4 and drew with Mick Riding in round 5, to finish on 2.5. However, it should be pointed out that between the Saturday and Sunday games Klauss worked a 12-hour shift, which must surely have affected his performance on the Sunday! Mariana lost her opening game against Mick Riding, then drew her next game with Szymon Palusha. In round 3 she had a neat win against Zheming Zhang, lost to Roger Coathup in round 4, and finished with a win against Ron Plater in the final round, so she too finished on 2.5.
Tim Wrigley played in the Major, where he was ranked 14th of the 30 entries. In round 1 he drew with Dave Stebbings of Gosforth (grade 131) and had another draw in round 2, this time with James Turner of Berwick (grade 134). Round 3 brought a win against Geoff Harrison of Gosforth (grade 136) and there was another win in round 4 against John Marsh of Leam Lane (grade 153), but this excellent run came to an end in round 5 when Tim lost to Mauro Usai of Durham (grade 156), to finish on 3 points.
Alex Ashworth and Steve Larkin both played in the Minor, with Alex ranked 15th of the 39 entries and Steve ranked 23rd. Alex tore into the opposition, winning his first 3 games, against John Eddershaw (grade 84), Rolf Millar of Forest Hall (grade 122), and Peter Harker of Hartlepool (grade 130). Sunday brought a change of fortune, with a draw against Mark Mallard of SASRA (grade 119), followed by a loss to the overall winner, Joe Chan of Gosforth (grade 127), which left Alex on 3.5 points. Steve took a bye on the Friday, lost his opening game against Peter Harker, and then beat Bill Hardwick (Carlisle 102). Sunday brought another defeat, this time by top seed Bill Noble (Gateshead 136), and a draw with David Watson of Morpeth (grade 99), making Steve’s total 2 points.
And finally in the Foundation event, Dave Foster jr was seeded 5th of the 11 entries. Here the format was 2 one-hour games against each of 5 opponents. Dave won one game and lost the other against each of his first two opponents, Jared Watson (Jesmond 34) and Brendan Glasper (South Shields 74), before winning twice against Harry Wilson (Darlington 65) and Sebastian Palusha (Durham 91). He finished with a win and a loss against Jamie McIntosh (Jesmond 73) to record 7/10 or 3.5 points and take first prize.
So a good Tynedale turn-out, with almost all making 50% or more, which bodes well for the coming season.

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Chester le Street summer congress

Posted by fellman01 on August 23, 2015

This event took place on August 21-23, 2015, with three sections: Open (15 entries), Major (under 171 grade, 29 entries) and Minor (under 136, 31 entries). Steve Larkin was the only club member to enter (why is it that, as a club, we make such a poor showing even at our local congresses?). He played in the Minor, where he was rated 22nd of the 31 entries. After a half-point bye on the Friday, he played Brian Whitaker of Thornaby, graded 111, on the Saturday morning. After the opening (a French Defence, Advance version), Steve had won a knight but had lost 3 pawns. However, this meant he had open files for his queen and rook to go marauding, trapping his opponent’s king on the queenside before delivering mate. In the afternoon he met Eddie Czestochowski of South Shields, graded 122. Steve’s improvised opening with black was wholly inept, leaving most of his pieces with no effective squares, and Eddie punished him accordingly.

Sunday morning saw him facing John France of Gosforth, graded 130, Playing with white, Steve produced one of his best games ever, making all his pieces tell, especially doubled rooks on a half-open file, before producing a move to which black could find no answer, even in the analysis room, and which led directly to a forced checkmate. Highly satisfying! Needless to say, the afternoon provided the usual antidote, as Steve was always on the back foot against Barry Edgar of Hetton, graded 133. The game came down to king and pawns on both sides, but Barry’s extra pawn proved decisive. So with 2.5 from 5 rounds, the outcome overall was average, but the game against John France will sustain Steve’s enthusiasm for months to come!

In the Major event, Ian Mackay of Haydon Bridge likewise recorded 50%, a creditable performance considering that he was rated 25th of the 29 entries.

In the Major, Ian Mackay of Haydon Bridge

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