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North v South

Posted by fellman01 on September 6, 2020

An historic match between North and South was organised on chess.com by the ECF on September 5th 2020. It was the first time such a match had been played since 1893 and 1894, with the South winning on both occasions.

This time it was a 106 board affair, and Tynedale had 4 players taking part. Gary Murphy, on board 15, drew. Steve Larkin, on board 71, won. Jonny Kearney, on board 98, lost. And John Morgan, on board 101, won by default. Overall, the North emerged the winners by 61 to 45.

A great experience. Let’s hope it becomes an annual fixture.

(Thanks Steve – A Full Report is available on the ECF Website at North v South – Tim W)

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NCA Rapidplay

Posted by northman on December 9, 2019

Tynedale were well represented at the NCA Rapidplay help in Forest Hall yesterday. Jonny, Dave H and Peter participated scoring 3/6, 2.5/6, and 2.5/6 respectively. Jonny (still ungraded) and Dave H (graded 99 but who came agonisingly close to scoring 50% against opponents with an average grade of 144) deserve particular mention for their efforts. It was an open event with a wide range of abilities playing in the same section which was highlighted by Peter meeting opponents graded 35 and 211 in consecutive rounds.

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Larkin lights up the room

Posted by Tim W on November 21, 2019

Follow the link below for a Hexham Courant article about Steve, Peter & Jonny’s victory in Penrith. I particularly like Joseph Tulip’s headline :


Congratulations to Steve, Peter & Jonny.


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Chess drama at Penrith

Posted by fellman01 on November 3, 2019

Click on the photo to see a larger image

Rapidplay Trophy

A Tynedale team of three (Peter Crichton, Steve Larkin and Jonny Kearney) played in the Cumbria Chess Rapid Play Team Championship 2019 held at Penrith on November 2nd. This was a 5 round event, with each player having 30 minutes for each game. There were 9 teams of three competing, with combined team grades subject to a points handicap to even out disparities between strong and weak teams.

In round 1 Tynedale faced Carlisle Knights and benefitted from a 1 point handicap, which was just as well since Peter lost to John Kelly and Steve lost to Clive Hutching. However Jonny was on fire and dispatched Paul Rivers (grade 132) to ensure the match was a 2-2 draw.

Next we faced Love ’em laughing, to whom we conceded a half point handicap, but with all 3 Tynedale players recording a win the result was a clear victory by 3 points to 0.5.

No handicap was involved in our round 3 match against Crown Jewels, where Peter’s draw and Jonny’s third consecutive win (against D. McMath, grade 111) was enough to draw the match 1.5 each.

In round 4 we conceded a half-point handicap to Carlisle Kings, but with Peter defeating old friend Ian Mackay and Jonny recording his 4th consecutive win, against Alan Little, we managed the narrowest of victories 2-1.5.

At the start of round 5 three teams, including Tynedale, were tied on 3 points out of 4. Our final match was against Crown Princes, with no handicap involved. Peter won his game more or less by default, and Steve ended a dismal run with a quick win, which was just as well as the Kearney magic finally ran out as Jonny lost for the first and only time. This 2-1 win put us on 4 points, tying with the Crown Jewels team for first place.

The rules stipulated that, in the event of a tie, there would be a rapid-play game of 5 minutes each involving the top board players of each side, so for the second time Peter faced Joseph McAtear (grade 151) with whom he had drawn in round 3. They tossed for colours and Joseph got white. Both players matched each other for speed of play and Peter established a very powerful file with 2 rooks and queen all aligned, but Joseph was able to counter this and what followed immediately was a draw by repetition.

This meant we entered the second stage of the tie-break, a rapid-play Armageddon involving the 2 second board players of each side. So for the second time Steve, with white, faced Fred Clough (grade 118) who had destroyed him in round 3. The tie-break rules stipulated that white would have 5 minutes in which to win and black would have 4 minutes in which not to lose. The game got underway and, curiously, Fred seemed to have opted for an “attack is the best method of defence” approach, while Steve was struggling to get his pieces off the back 2 ranks. With Steve on c2.5 minutes and Fred on c1.5 and a position which was very complex, all the lights went out. The spectators produced mobile phone torches and the game was resumed, with Fred’s time slipping away till it ran out, leaving Steve the winner though he had barely done anything on the board to warrant victory. Nevertheless it meant that Tynedale carried off the John Trothill Rapidplay trophy.

Tynedale’s star was undoubtedly Jonny, whose 4/5 will surely win him the gold medal for best performance on board 3. Not far behind was Peter with a highly respectable 3.5/5 on top board. Steve only managed 2/5 but at least he didn’t shoot himself in the foot in the terrifying Armageddon play-off!

All in all a highly enjoyable, if not exactly relaxing, day. And it’s always nice to come home with a trophy!

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43rd Scarborough Chess Congress

Posted by fellman01 on November 1, 2019

Held on October 25-27 2019, this event was, as ever, well run and well supported, with 321 players spread over 5 sections. I played in the Minor, for players graded 135 and under, and was ranked 69th of the 75 entrants.

I took a half-point bye in round 1, held on the Friday night. On Saturday morning my opponent was Malcolm Roberts (grade 128) of Holmes Chapel. Over-ruling my better judgement, I launched a sacrificial attack on his castled king only to end up a bishop to 2 pawns down. The rest of the game was spent defending and I managed to hold out for a draw.

Saturday afternoon saw me playing Andy Kelly (grade 126) of Worsley. I had a nightmare game, foolishly taking a poisoned pawn and saying goodbye to my queen on move 12. More increasingly desperate defensive play on my part, ending with a move I thought might get me back in the game, only to find it led to mate in 2. Not the best afternoon of my chess career!

Another day and fresh hopes! I had white against David Fowler (grade 130) of Derbyshire and always had a positional advantage, but with equal material and both queens on the board to the end finding the win was hard work. Only after 3 hours and 45 minutes of play did I manage it, David resigning with mate just one move away.

Less than an hour later it was time for the final round. My opponent, Pete McKay of Darlington, was another 130 man. Again I achieved a positional advantage but each time I thought I could turn it into a material advantage Pete found an answer, and with both of us feeling Congress fatigue we agreed a draw after 3 hours and 15 minutes of play.

So I came away from the congress shattered but feeling well pleased (if you forget about the Saturday afternoon fiasco) at having managed 50% and ending up 40th in the section.

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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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