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Haydon Bridge Jamboree

Posted by fellman01 on May 29, 2014

A report on this event can be found on the South Tyne League website.

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Northumberland rapidplay championships

Posted by fellman01 on March 16, 2014

This event was held in Jesmond on Sunday March 16th 2014 and involved five rounds at 30 minutes per player per round. Three Tynedale members took part. Gary Murphy was seeded twelfth of twenty in the Open and had a day of mixed fortunes. He started well, drawing with Clive Waters (201), before losing to Kyril Fomin (175) and Martin Seeber (158). Then he really got into his stride, beating Chris Wardle (161) and Zheming Zhang (175) to finish on a very respectable 2.5 out of 5.
In the Major (under 160) Peter Crichton was seeded 5th out of ten. He started well, beating Gary Clarke of Consett, then getting a fine draw against young James Moreby (155) and another against Geoff Harrison (132). Then the gas ran out rather as he lost to Bob Mitchelson of Barrow, graded 155, and to Max Turner of Berwick, graded 128, to finish on 2 out of 5.
In the Minor, Steve Larkin was seeded 2nd of 25 entrants. He started well enough, beating Peter Blackmore of Cockermouth, then drawing with James Pharaoh (117), despite blundering a queen to the latter! However, the afternoon session was an unmitigated disaster as he lost to Fred Stobbart (111), John France (122) and Johnny Wall (47) to finish with a distinctly modest 1.5/5.
Overall the event was well supported, with a fine range of age and ability, and ran without a hitch. I recommend next year’s event, particularly to our speed merchants, without reservation.

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Scarborough Chess Congress 2013

Posted by fellman01 on October 30, 2013

Held on October 25-27, this popular event was very well supported: 50 in the Open, 74 in the Major, 65 in the Intermediate, 77 in the Minor and 77 in the Foundation! I was playing in the Minor (135 and under), my grade ruling me out of the Foundation (120 and under) in which I had played last year. Of the 77 entries I was 38th in the pecking order.
In round 1 I faced Paul Kent of Widnes, graded 125 like me. As black he played Alekhine’s Defence which had me guessing from move 2 onwards! I was soon a pawn down and every time I tried to exert some pressure, Paul came up with a move which not only removed the threat but also posed me problems. To ease the pressure on my kingside, I had to swap rook for bishop, and then proceeded to throw away bishop for pawn through a bad miscalculation. I soldiered on in the hope that, with both queens still on, Paul might overreach himself and blunder, but he didn’t and I resigned with mate imminent. Paul later told me that he had spent quite a bit of last season playing in events above his grading in order to sharpen up his game. An interesting tactic which certainly worked against me!
Saturday morning saw me with black against David Hartley (grade 122) of Poulton chess club. My Benko Gambit gave me a positional advantage but not a material one and around move 25 David offered a draw. We both had a single passed pawn and, as mine was much closer to queening, I felt I could make something of it and declined the offer. Sure enough, we quickly reached a position where only by sacrificing rook for pawn could he prevent my pawn from queening. As that would have left me with rook and five pawns to his six pawns, he resigned.
As a reward (?!) for that win, I was paired with one of the top three seeds, Omer Namouk (grade 135) of Hastings chess club. I had white and Omer gambitted a pawn early on for a lead in development which proved shortlived. I hoped the pawn advantage might prove decisive, but unfortunately I allowed him to build a very strong attack with queen and rook together on an open file. I managed to exchange queens but that left him with a rook on my second rank, with another rook threatening to join it. The only possible response was to attack his rooks with mine. Our rooks danced to and fro a few times before we agreed a draw. So I went home feeling pretty pleased with my Saturday’s work.
Sunday morning brought Paul Horman (grade 133) of Morecombe, who had white. Evidently he didn’t much feel like playing chess, as he turned up almost 20 minutes late, then asked me if I wanted a draw after 8 moves! I declined, since I at least was there to play chess for up to 4 hours, not 14 minutes. On move 13 I picked up a pawn and on move 15 saw the possibility of forcing an exchange of queens and strengthening my pawn structure in the process. Idiotically I opted instead for two moves which chased first his knight, then his queen to squares from where they, together with a bishop, bore down on the h pawn in front of my castled king. I could do nothing to defend it and mate followed a few moves later. A classic example of how to throw away a potentially strong position in favour of a calamitous defeat!
In the final round I had white against Keith Noons (grade 121) of Barton upon Humber. We sparred for quite a while in an even position, till I attacked his knight, which it seemed I could win. Alas, there was just one escape square and from there, operating in tandem with his other knight, this one proceeded to tear my position to pieces.
So Sunday, like Friday, brought me “nuls points” for a dismal overall score of 1.5. Nonetheless I enjoyed the occasion and the masochist in me, as in all chess players, will no doubt be back for more!

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Carlisle Rapidplay

Posted by northman on October 9, 2013

Tim, David F Snr and Peter C crossed the Pennines to participate in the recent Carlisle Rapidplay. Tim and David found themselves the lowest graded players in the Open and Major sections respectively and suffered accordingly. Tim remarked that his games improved as the day progressed and that it was only the results that lagged behind! David saved his best performance for the highest graded player in the section but otherwise preferred to forget the occasion. Peter ended in the middle of the pack drawing some fairly boring games and losing the only interesting one. Still an enjoyable day well organised by Bill Hardwick.

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Durham County Chess Congress

Posted by fellman01 on April 11, 2013

The 34th edition of this congress was held at Houghton le Spring on April 5th-7th, 2013. Just two Tynedale players took part, both in the Minor section for players under 125 grade. Of the 18 entries, Steve Larkin (109) was seventh highest graded and Dave Foster junior (89) eleventh.
Steve took a bye on the Friday night, but Dave had the misfortune to be pitched in against the top seed, Dennis Beagarie (124) from Tynemouth. Dave was in the match till the endgame, when he blundered.
It was the same story for him in round 2, on the Saturday, when another miscalculation in an otherwise even endgame presented Dave Watson (112) of Morpeth with the point.
In the same round, Steve had a surprise win against Peter Wright (80) of Hetton Lyons. The surprise took the form of what seemed to Steve a premature resignation. He was a couple of pawns up, but both players had queen, two rooks and a bishop on the board and there seemed to be plenty to play for. The epitome of politeness, Steve did not argue and took the point!
In the afternoon, Dave raced to an emphatic win over Russell Wides (estimated grade 77) and was one of the first to finish.
By contrast, Steve was one of the last as he locked horns with Stan Johnson (119) of South Shields. A risky kingside foray involving knight and bishop backfired and for the next 15 moves or so Steve was sweating, trying desperately not to go a piece down. A slip by Stan meant that they emerged from this phase of the game equal. In the endgame, Steve had the edge but not enough for it to be decisive and a draw was agreed after an exhausting three and a quarter hours of play.
A shadow was cast over Sunday morning’s activities when Colin Gilroy was taken ill mid-game and had to be hospitalised. (We learned the following day that he had died in hospital – a sad loss to chess in the north-east). By then, Dave had long since despatched young Rowan Rawat (80) of Jesmond. Dave pressed his Bird’s opening vigorously and it was all over in 20 minutes!
Steve’s charmed existence in congresses this year came to an end when he lost on time (but also on the board) to Alan Harris (115) of Tynemouth, who still had an hour left on his clock! He may play very quickly but he was also very accurate, exploiting the weaknesses in Steve’s pawns to great effect in the endgame.
The final round saw Dave paired with William Metcalfe (115) of Darlington. The game came down to a level ending, each player having a rook and four pawns, but for the third time at this Congress Dave blundered in the endgame and lost, finishing on 2/5. With tighter play at the end, there is clearly scope for a big improvement on that score.
Meanwhile, Steve faced top seed Dennis Beagarie, whom Dave had played in round one. Steve managed to lose his e pawn early on and things were not looking good. However, a vigorous kingside attack worked out very nicely, with a pawn on f6 proving decisive in a mating combination which Dennis was powerless to resist. So Steve finished on 3/5 and may even have sneaked his way into the prizes (though he awaits confirmation of that).
Hopefully, there may be a slightly larger Tynedale contingent present next year.

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Once upon a time in Cumbria

Posted by fellman01 on March 20, 2013

Once upon a time there was an ageing chess player whose enthusiasm for the game far outstripped his ability, but who nonetheless dreamed of success one day. And so he entered the 2013 Cumbrian championships, in the bargain basement section for players graded under 125. The event was held at the Crown Hotel, Eamont Bridge, just outside Penrith on March 15-17th. Entries were disappointingly low in all three sections, the best supported being the Open with 16 entries, while the Major (under 160) and Minor had just ten entries each. Of those ten, the Ageing Player’s modest grade ranked him fifth.
He was grateful for a gentle opening round on the Friday evening, when he had black against Peter Hanks of Ulverston, graded 66. White blundered a bishop for a pawn on move 8, and further miscalculations followed, permitting the A.P. to queen a pawn. However, white was in no mood to resign, even when he was down by a Queen, rook and bishop to two pawns! Fortunately, black was able to trap his king quite rapidly, otherwise play might have continued till the cut-off point of 11p.m.! 1/1
Saturday morning saw the A.P. with white against Peter Blackmore of Cockermouth, graded 100. The two had played each other several times before and their games had always been close affairs, this one being no exception. The Four Knights opening was very cagey on both sides, with Peter striking first, swapping bishop and knight for rook and pawn, thereby weakening white’s castled king. However, despite doubled rooks on the f file, Peter was unable to break through. When white eventually launched his own kingside attack, it led to a flurry of exchanges from which white emerged with a knight and 3 pawns to black’s 5 pawns. It was just a matter of time before the extra mobility of white’s knight took its toll and Peter resigned. 2/2
On Saturday afternoon, the A.P. had black against the top seed, Chris Underhill of Barrow, graded 124. Black played what he thought was a clever variation of the Benko Gambit, but instead of emerging a pawn down with a strong attack, he emerged two pawns down with no attack at all! White’s unopposed pawns on the open a and b files were a particular worry but, more by good luck than good judgement, black managed to eliminate them and the game petered out into a dead drawn position – phew! This left the A.P. on 2.5/3, half a point off the pace being set by Kurt Moreby of Jesmond, who had a perfect 3.
Sure enough, Sunday morning brought an encounter between the A.P., with white, and Kurt, graded 123. The game was one of the most curious the A.P. had ever come across. His e4 was met by b6, which was duly followed by Bb7 and e6. In no time at all huge pressure was being exerted on white’s e pawn, forcing the A.P. to forget about castling and concentrate on plugging the gaps in his position by using his Queen. His position was defensible, but only just, when on move 12 Kurt played his Queen to g5, where it could be – and was! – taken by white’s f pawn! Kurt resigned on the spot, giving white another win, but hardly a deserved one. 3.5/4 and the A.P. leads the field!
In the final round, on the Sunday afternoon, the A.P. had black against young Holden Davis of Penrith, graded 86, who was on 3/4 and was therefore one of only two players – the other being Kurt – who could overtake the A.P. Holden played a Tarrasch in answer to the A.P.’s French, but allowed his bishop to be trapped on move 9 and had to swap it for a pawn. Later exchanges enhanced the significance of that lost bishop and on move 44 Holden resigned, when a bishop and two pawns down in a clearly lost ending.
So the A.P. finished on 4.5/5, a full point ahead of the field. It was the first time he had ever won a tournament, which only goes to show that sometimes dreams do come true!

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The Battle of Hastings 2013

Posted by fellman01 on January 23, 2013

As the one and only time I had ever played in the long-running Hastings Chess Congress was back in the mid-1950s, I thought it about time I made a return appearance. Having been comprehensively outplayed by Damian in the club championship shortly before my departure for the south coast, it is fair to say that I was not brimming over with confidence.
I had entered the lowest possible competition, the weekend event for players under 120 (grade, not age!). There were 26 entries and I had the 12th highest grade. On the Friday night, my first opponent was young Laura Davidson, with a grade of just 39. She was no more than 12 and had been playing chess for just one year. An anxious two hours later, I was greatly relieved to mate her on move 39! In my defence, I allege the following factors. 1. She had white. 2. She played very carefully. 3. It seems she is coached by a grandmaster.
Saturday morning brought me white against Alan Fraser, graded 113. He is a veteran of the chess scene and I had seen him in action at the British championships this summer. After a hairy spell mid-game, with my queen just about covering all the holes in my position, the game evolved into a dead level endgame and a draw was agreed after nearly three hours play and 37 moves.
After a quick break, it was time for round three, which saw me with white again, but up against top seed Frederick Coleman of Sussex Juniors, a young but extremely sharp player with a grade of 117. I was very chuffed early on to play a clever move which both attacked his queen and produced an exposed check. Convinced I had won his queen, I was feeling very excited, till he played a move which forced a swapping off of queens instead. Ah well, at least I was two pawns up – I counted them to make sure. Yes, two pawns up, but inexplicably a bishop down. Oh dear, oh dear! So it was a case of battling on to the endgame, where I was two pawns to a knight down but threatening to win a third pawn. With the outcome highly unpredictable – we each had a rook cruising around the board – we agreed a draw after 45 moves. I emerged into the night air feeling as though my head was full of porridge and hoping I could survive the following day.
On Sunday morning I had white against Neil Lang, graded 111. He made an early and, as it seemed to me, unfounded offer of a draw which I declined. Not long afterwards I won bishop for pawn, at which point he started to play very aggressively. His queen was hyper-active and I had to be on my toes as he pushed a pawn towards the eighth rank. However, this proved to be his undoing, as it allowed me to trap his king after 44 moves.
Another short break, then into round 5 with white against Lee Bullock, graded 113 and who I had played and lost to in the British Championships last summer. This proved to be a really hairy game and he had me under the cosh, with queen, two rooks, bishop and knight all bearing down on my king. More by luck than judgement, I kept him at bay, then initiated a series of exchanges which relieved the pressure and led into an endgame where I was just a pawn down. At this point I offered a draw which he declined very briskly. He had king and seven pawns to my king and six, but his extra pawn was a doubled one. Fortunately for me he played the endgame badly, allowing me to capture two pawns and gain what I thought was a winning position. So when he in turn offered the draw I turned it down. We played on, he convinced a draw was inevitable, me thinking first that I would win, then that I would lose, before achieving a position where he could not prevent my queening a pawn, whereupon he resigned on move 53. I was shattered but elated to finish on 4/5.
In due course I learned that young Frederick Coleman and I had finished equal second behind the winner, Mason Woodhams of Hastings, graded 98, who was on 4.5 and whom neither of us had met during the five rounds. So all in all it was a good congress, very tiring but a much-needed confidence booster.

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Scarborough Chess Congress

Posted by fellman01 on October 26, 2012

I entered the Foundation section, for players graded 120 0r under, and found I was seeded 21st of the 62 entries. My first game, on the Friday night, was against Michael Kitching of Northallerton, 49th seed with a grade of 90. I pressed from the start, picked up a pawn, then a knight and reached a forced mate on move 22. The game lasted just an hour and a quarter and I was relieved to get an early night after a long day.

On Saturday morning I had black against J. G. Clayton of Leyland, 45th seed with agrade of 95. This was a real humdinger of a game which lasted almost three hours. White castled long and black short, so both sides pushed attacks against the opposite king. I was fortunate in that I had a small edge with my attack, given that the a and b files were open and I could exploit them more quickly than could my opponent on the closed f, g and h files. In the end that edge told and white resigned on move 34 when facing serious material loss and, possibly, a mating attack.

By the afternoon I was feeling a bit punch-drunk and found myself playing white against the equal top seed, Tony Robinson, graded 120. He opened by fianchettoing both his bishops, allowing me a big centre. Then I was able to trap one of his knights for a pawn, whereafter I built up a kingside attack. Mental fatigue was kicking in and trying to maintain mental concentration was a full-time job, but I cranked up the pressure on his king and he resigned on move 25, by which time we had been playing for two and a half hours.

So here I am on 3/3 and it all feels a bit unreal, especially after I had played so poorly at Morpeth just a couple of days earlier. Will tomorrow bring a reality check? Incidentally I note that someone in the Foundation section with a grade of 0 (yes, zero) has two and a half points. What’s the betting the missing half point was a bye?!

Sunday brings me back to earth with a bump. In the morning I have white against Barry Williams of Aughton, Sheffield, another player graded 120. It’s a long game (three and a half hours), evenly balanced till move 29 when I miscalculate a complex exchange and emerge a knight down. I struggle on, not helped by a couple of weak moves, and succumb on move 52. My opponent will go on to record a straight 5/5.

On Sunday afternoon the final round sees me drawn against the zero-graded player mentioned above, young Thomas Hill, who it seems lives in France and plays for a club there (and so ought, presumably, to have an elo grade?). He certainly knows his onions and plays at a rate that would make DF senior look positively sedentary, witness the fact that we played 43 moves each in a total time of one hour fifty minutes (most of it mine). Pieces flew off the board from early on and when the dust settled I found myself a pawn up in a rook and 5 against rook and 4 ending. There should have been a way through but I couldn’t find it and, terrified of blowing it completely, I settled for a draw.

Normally speaking a final score of three and a half out of five would have left me delighted, but on this occasion I felt a shade disappointed after such a splendid start, though it did bring me a share of a grading prize. It’s the second time I have played this congress and I certainly hope it won’t be the last. The venue is excellent, the sea is just outside the window and the fish and chips are superb!

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Carlisle Rapidplay

Posted by northman on October 2, 2012

A gallant trio of members ventured west for the Carlisle Rapidplay last Sunday. Bruce and Peter C had hopes in the under 150 class whereas Dave F Snr planned to take advantage of his outrageous handicap in the under 120 category. Bruce and Peter’s hopes were dashed at an early stage when it was announced that, because of a shortage of numbers, their category was being absorbed into the Open section [details of their performances are available on request]. David however performed admirably and at the end was only half a point behind the winners with his prize money covering the cost of his lunch.

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Northumberland Congress 2012

Posted by fellman01 on September 23, 2012

Five members of the club took part in the 48th Northumberland Chess Congress at the Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields on September 21-23, 2012.

David Wrigley was our only entry in the Open, where he was seeded 22nd of the 23 entries. He took a bye on the Friday night, lost to Pratik Shriwas (grade 203) of Middlesborough and to Christopher Izod (163) of Jesmond on the Saturday, and to Ron Plater (174) on the Sunday, before rounding off the weekend with a draw against Raymond Illett (171) of Peterborough, to finish on 1/5. It’s tough in the Open!

Peter Crichton flew the flag for us in the Major (165 and under), where he was seeded 20th of the 21 entries. On Friday he lost to Richard Parry (158) of Bushbury. On Saturday he lost to Dean Hartley (148) of Amber valley, then beat Ian McKay (140) of Austin Friars. On Sunday he drew with top seed Kevin Shaw (164) of Yarmouth, a fine result in a game which went to the wire, then took a bye to go and watch Newcastle United. 2/5

We had 3 entrants amongst the 43 in the Minor (135 and under), Phil Taylor being seeded 14th, Bruce Reed 18th and Steve Larkin 32nd. On the Friday Phil beat Graham Marshall (96) of Hartlepool. On the Saturday he drew with Stephen LeFevre (133) of Cosham and with David Stewardson (130) of Leam Lane. On Sunday he lost to Stan Johnson (119) of South Shields (to spare Phil’s blushes I shall not go into details!), then bounced back with a draw against top seed Graham Matthews (135) for a score of 2.5/5.

Bruce beat Andrew McCulloch (93) from Scotland on the Friday. On the Saturday he lost to Peter Ridsdale (133) of Great Ayton and beat Lex Thomson, ungraded, of South Shields. On Sunday he lost to Ted Jarah (129) and then, like Peter, went to watch Newcastle United. 2.5/5

Steve took a bye on the Friday. On Saturday he drew with David Ramsey (124) of Preston and with Geoffrey Garnett (119) of Elmwood. On Sunday he beat Brian Kerr (131) and lost to Richard Oxnard (133) of Tynemouth. 2.5/5

So none of us covered ourselves in glory but we all had a good time and will doubtless be back for more!

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