Battling Tans give themselves a lifeline

Squeaky bum time has definitely arrived at the Dyvels! Tynedale Tans are in relegation trouble at the bottom of division one, with three difficult matches left to save themselves.

Tynemouth Trojans came to the Dyvels as favourites, but the Tans were ready for a fight.

The Tans’ prospects took a quick hit, as Dave Foster sr came unstuck on the opening. Chris Smith had a bit of pressure, encouraging Dave to enter into a series of exchanges that seemed to free his position. Unfortunately Chris had seen a sting in the tail and after the dust had cleared Dave found he couldn’t save his rook from the glare of Chris’s queen.

Parity was restored fairly quickly, as David Wrigley had some good fortune against David Henderson. DH seemed to have a nice initiative, and it looked like he might get a strong kingside attack, but DW found a couple of good moves to keep the position balanced. The game was decided by a two-move tactic. DH retreated his knight to try and regroup his attack but it was only guarded by his queen, which could be deflected. A piece down without any compensation, DH resigned.

Meanwhile, on board 2… Dave Weldon had Mick Riding on the ropes straight out of the opening: he won a pawn and completely paralysed Mick’s queenside pieces with tactical threats. It looked like Dave was going to win a piece, (both said afterwards that Dave had indeed missed a chance), but in the line Dave played a backrank threat meant that Mick could keep level on pieces, though Dave still had his extra (now passed) pawn. The position on the board was still better for Dave, though not entirely clear, but the game was decided on the clock. Dave’s time trouble caught up with him, and he blundered the exchange, which was enough!

Tim Wrigley had an absolute stormer of a game: his aggressive opening choice brought him early dividends as his pieces quickly found themselves on good attacking squares. Gary Cornwall played a couple of slightly slow moves and Tim took his chance. An attractive temporary rook sac won two pawns and exposed Gary’s king. Gary tried to find a way back into the game and he put his queen offside to try and generate some threats against Tim’s queenside. In doing so he allowed Tim’s queen to fork king and rook, so the game was over there and then.

So the match is level at 2-2 and the pressure all falls on Peter Crichton‘s shoulders. As Tim finished, Peter was a knight for pawn down – Darren Laws had been putting Peter under pressure in the middlegame with his powerful bishops, and Peter missed a tactical trick. However, Peter’s rooks were well placed and he had a well supported e5-f5 pawn centre. Darren forced an exchange of Bishops which seemed to benefit Peter more than him: Darren was left with doubled pawns, and his knight was awkwardly placed. Peter won another pawn with a rook fork and suddenly the outcome was far from clear. Darren’s clock was also becoming a bit precarious, and he offered Peter a draw (having declined one himself a few moves before). After a quick check on the match position, Peter agreed, a moral victory after a tenacious fightback.

So the Tans nick a draw. Despite grading disadvantages across the board we went toe-to-toe with Trojans, which bodes well for the crunch matches still to come.

Tynedale Tans 2½-2½ Tynemouth Trojans

David Wrigley 1-0 David Henderson (184)
Dave Weldon 0-1 Mick Riding (170)
Tim Wrigley 1-0 Gary Cornwall (168)
Peter Crichton ½-½ Darren Laws(143)
Dave Foster sr 0-1 Chris Smith(127)

Reivers v Newcastle University

This match was played at Bar Loco in Newcastle on Tuesday Feb 26th, with the following line-up:
1. Lateefah Messam-Sparks (c160) v Phil Taylor (126)
2. Gerry Pfeffer (u) v Bruce Reed (121)
3. Viet Nguyen Hoang (u) v Malcolm Reid (110)
4. Chng Cheng Jie (u) v Steve Larkin (107)
5. Default v Damian Rudge (u)
It was a great shame that Damian, who was all geared up for his first ever Northumbria League game and who kindly drove us to the venue and back, never got a game, despite the assurances I had been given in advance by the university captain. So we needed two wins against a team of uncertain strength (apart from top board, that is) in order to win the match.
First to finish was Steve, whose opponent allowed him to go marauding with his queen, picking up pawns and pieces, only to despatch said queen with a neat check. Back to the drawing-board! Fortunately, Steve was able to return the compliment a few moves later, trapping white’s queen in front of his king with a rook check. When the dust settled, Steve was a bishop and pawn to the good, but white retained a dangerously active rook and knight pair and it was only once these had gone that it was possible for Steve to relax and start to force a passed pawn home. When it was clear this could not be stopped, white resigned on move 50. Phew! 0-2
Malcolm’s game was a real rollercoaster. He went the exchange down, then won a piece for pawns, then threw away a potentially winning position with a careless knight move – everyone heard his “Oh no!” – and finally succumbed when a pawn down and in desperate time trouble. His opponent was absolutely delighted to win and duly had his photo taken alongside a smiling Malcolm! 1-2
Next up was Phil, whose careful pre-match preparation went out of the window when Lateefah failed to cooperate from move 2! Nonetheless, he put up an excellent fight, with the game going to more than fifty moves, during which Phil’s position gradually became more and more squeezed and finally hopeless. 2-2
Which left it to Bruce to determine the outcome of the match. His opponent was clearly very experienced and no decisive advantage emerged on either side until well into the endgame, when Bruce went the exchange down (rook for bishop). However, white’s pieces were more active, with Bruce doing his best to close the position down. His offer of a draw was declined and, as the final seconds ran out, white had a small but decisive advantage, so it was no injustice for Bruce to lose narrowly on time. Nonetheless, his was a sterling effort against a tough opponent. 3-2
So the Reivers (perhaps we should call ourselves the Philanthropists?) provided the University with their first win of the season. For us, it was our fourth 3-2 defeat (though we have also had two 3-2 wins). If only all of us, captain included, could avoid those costly mistakes, we might now be sitting nearer the top than the bottom of the table!

Reivers v Gateshead Knights

Reivers v Gateshead Knights

This match was played at the Dyvels on Tuesday Feb 19th, with the following line-up:
1. Peter Crichton (137) v Bill Noble (134)
2. Phil Taylor (126) v Kevin Cox (131)
3. Bruce Reed (121) v Colin Gilroy (109)
4. Steve Larkin (107) v Alex Johnson (119)
5. Dave Foster jr (82) v Robin McKay (96)

Peter got us off to a good start when, in a game of many errors, Bill outdid him in the error department, allowing Peter to go first one piece up, then two. 1-0
Phil likewise benefitted from his opponent’s errors, as his account reveals: “As Kevin had recently drawn with Jeremy of the Tans and with Lateefah Messam-Sparks of Newcastle University, I knew I’d be in for a tough game. Imagine my surprise therefore when the entire game went like a dream with me hardly putting a foot wrong and Kevin piling mistakes onto mistakes. My preference is for Queen’s Gambit but Kevin ignored the central pawns and went for a Queen’s Indian. Apparently moves went with the book until move 8 when Kevin, for some strange reason, blocked off his fianchettoed bishop with Nc6. There was a threat of Nb4 threatening my Queen which I should have ignored but which I prevented with a3. Eventually, Kevin gave me enough time to push my e pawn to e4 and start to build pressure. Most of my moves were thought of as good by Fritz and analysis showed I had the upper hand from move 12. It was one of those games where my pieces all protected one another and had threatening places to go, while his were cramped and every move seemed to cause him further problems. On move 22 I got a piece up. By move 25 it was two pieces up. By move 26 I had assured myself of black’s queen, so the rest of the game was played out until my opponent resigned one move before mate. Why can’t they all be like that?” 2-0
Dave lost a knight for a pawn early on, but then went on the offensive and got back into the game on more or less equal terms, only to fall victim to a mating combination which he did not spot till it was too late. 2-1
Steve pressured Alex from the start and eventually went a bishop up. With only the queens and four pawns apiece on the board apart from that bishop, Steve was busy lining up a mate in one when he allowed Alex a check which won the bishop. Back to equality once more, and with little time left a draw was agreed. 2.5-1.5
Bruce had spent much of the time on the defensive, but emerged a pawn up and with two linked, passed pawns. Alas, he dropped one in the closing moments, the complexion of the game changed and a draw was agreed. 3-2
This was a good result against a very experienced side. If Lady Luck helped us a bit on some boards, she made amends on others (or if you prefer, incompetence was pretty evenly shared, with the Reivers on balance playing better than their opponents).
To whatever we attribute the result, it gives a much needed boost to our points tally in the league.

Dyvels v Haydon Bridge 7th February 2013

With seven of the players involved in this match playing on Wednesday afternoons at Hexham Golf Club it was inevitable that all would have a good idea of what kind of chess their opponents played.

As the Dyvels were playing away we had white on boards 1 and 3, and black on 2 and 4.

First to finish was Jeremy on board 1. The game was even throughout, and with queens and bishops of opposite colours left in the depleted – but otherwise even ranks, Jeremy and Ian quickly agreed a draw.

In David’s match against Bruce he swapped off pieces until all that was left were queens, a single bishop (of the same colour) and seven pawns each. In what looked like a fairly even position, however, the positional advantages were with white – with black having doubled central pawns and white having opportunities to push either the a or b pawn through to the back rank.

In his anxiety to try to open up the white’s king side, and get a decisive advantage, David miscalculated a pawn exchange, and rapidly found that white had gained 2 pawns, and exchanged queens and bishops left him with an unstoppable tide of pawns threatening to queen.

At this point with Dyvels having 1.5 to 0.5 we looked on course to secure the 3 points we needed to win on handicap.
After a fairly even opening and middle game Peter Crichton was able to win a pawn which, being supported and passed, probably should have secured victory, and he looked comfortably in charge. Christine had other ideas, as Peter explained.
“I foolishly underestimated Christine’s tenacity and overlooked counter-play that allowed her to promote a pawn and by so doing win the game”.

For onlookers that appears an understatement. The realisation that he could not get his bishop back to stop an advancing pawn gradually dawned on Peter and onlookers alike. Christine – never to be underestimated, despite her grading/handicap – played well, and deserved her victory.

Peter Booker had a fairly even game against Damian, until he pushed too hard as the time left on his clock dwindled away. Damian (who like Christine joins the Tynedale players on Tuesday nights) played solidly, and patiently, as Peter gradually risked too much, and saw his pawns picked off. Peter lost on time, when Damian was a rook and several pawns to the good

It was not the match result the Dyvels hoped for, but a timely reminder that higher gradings do not guarantee victory.


Dyvels (away)         Haydon Bridge (home)
  H’cap Result points points Result   H’cap
Jeremy Handley          2 1/2 2 2 1/2 Ian Mackay 3
Peter Crichton  3 0 0 4 1 Christine Moorcroft 5
Bruce Reed                     4 1 4 0 0 David Tulip 7
Peter Booker 8 0 0 4 1 Damian Rudge 8
Totals 17   6 10     23
Combined scores   23




S Tyne Table & Fixtures – 13 Feb

S Tyne Chess League Table – Feb 13 2013   Handicap Pts Results Pts Match Pts
Team Played Won Drawn Lost
Friars 6 4 0 2 82 68 8
Monarchs 6 3 1 2 96 44 7
Austins 5 3 0 2 96 34 6
Dyvels 6 2 1 3 86 52 5
Haydon Bridge 5 1 0 4 110 26 2
Remaining Fixtures – as at 13 Feb 2013        
Date Home Team Away Team
Tuesday 5th March 2013 Dyvels Austins
Thursday 7th March 2013 Haydon Bridge Friars
Monday 11th March 2013 Friars Dyvels
Tuesday 12th March 2013 Monarchs Haydon Bridge
Tuesday 18th March 2013  Austins Haydon Bridge
Tuesday 9th April 2013 Monarchs Austins

Tans MegaUpdate

The Tans welcomed league newbies Durham City on a snowy Tuesday night in January. Precise details of the match itself have been lost to the mists of time – all that remains are the result:

Tynedale Tans 1½-3½ Durham City

David Wrigley ½-½ Graeme Oswald (192)
Dave Weldon 0-1 Dave Renton (166)
Jeremy Handley 0-1 Paul Robson (162)
Tim Wrigley 0-1 George Gazis (154)
Derek Blair 1-0 Geoff Knapton (136)

and the memory that 2 hours into the match we were on top:

Tim Wrigley had a level position with George Gazis, Jeremy Handley seemed to be holding Paul Robson’s tactical arsenal at bay, David Wrigley was a clean passed pawn up, Dave Weldon was a pawn up, and Derek Blair was (approximately) a rook up.

David Wr‘s opponent sacrificed a piece for the passed pawn (and another pawn) and left David with too little time to play a difficult RBp v Rpp ending, so a draw was agreed.

Dave We let the exchange slip, but obtained a healthy passed pawn in return – a brutal time scramble decided the point would not be Dave’s.

Derek managed to eliminate all Geoff’s pieces, saving himself about thirty seconds to finish things off.

Tim gradually came under pressure and fell foul of a tactical shot which lost a rook and liquidated all the other heavy pieces.

And Jeremy also came a cropper, Paul managed to find a destabilising pawn break at the right time and Jeremy’s King’s position collapsed.


On to the next match, and a visit to fellow strugglers Gateshead A.

Gateshead, like the Tans, had a single point to their names prior to the match – like a Tans, they’d taken a point off Newcastle – so this was a real relegation six(two?!)-pointer.

Jeremy Handley had a tough time with Kevin Cox – a pawn deficit turned into a loss fairly quickly.

Phil Taylor‘s earned himself a draw offer from Alex Johnson, having battled hard on the worse side of a pawn ending. Phil took the half point, and remains unbeaten in 1st division chess since records began!

Dave Weldon had a bit of an off day – he entered a series of exchanges to win a pawn, but missed a sting in the tail which lost a rook. Peter Wells ruthlessly finished Dave off with a cute knight sac, leading to a quick mate.

Tim Wrigley‘s enterprising opening play was met by a copycat strategy from Bill Noble, which meant the centre was quickly blocked- neither player could make any meaningful progress, and behind on the clock, Tim took a draw when it was offered.

David Wrigley seemed to have a big development advantage in the opening, but failed to make use of it and found himself pushed back by Robin Horner. They found themselves in a double-edged ending with a rook and connected passed pawns each. David had no better option than to offer a perpetual, which Robin accepted.

Gateshead A 3½-1½ Tynedale Tans

Robin Horner (169) ½-½ David Wrigley
Peter Wells (133) 1-0 Dave Weldon
Kevin Cox  (131) 1-0 Jeremy Handley
Bill Noble (136) ½-½Tim Wrigley
Alex Johnson (116) ½-½ Phil Taylor
Defeat leaves the Tans needing at least three match points from four tough remaining matches. 


The first of these was against Jesmond Rookies. Jesmond captain Chris Wardle phoned up early on the evening of the match to say one of his players was ill and as such they’d be playing with four. As it turned out, another of their players thought the match was the following week and so the Tans started with a two point advantage. Peter Crichton had warning his match would be off  (but still came down to wave the Tynedale flag and to witness the 18-game, four-match spectacle that is Jesmond Chess club’s home night) and Tim Wrigley missed out too, but as he said, at least there was plenty of chess to watch!

The match was decided fairly quickly, as David Wrigley managed to outlast Chris Wardle. Chris, captain of a team two points down at the outset, stated his intentions early, sacrificing a pawn for activity. Opposite sided castling meant attacks on opposing wings, but David’s queen took the up a post in the centre and controlled both sides of the board, accelerating his attack whilst inhibiting Chris’s.

Dave Weldon played a careful game against Peter Jorgensen, gaining a positional advantage before springing a nice knight fork, winning the exchange. His advantage thereafter was never in doubt and he returned the exchange, only to win a queen and another valuable game point.

Jeremy Handley was surprised by by an unusual move in a Benoni. Dave Walshaw gave up his fiancettoed bishop for knight to double Jeremy’s pawns in the style of The Sniper. Jeremy felt he should have some advantage on the dark squares around Dave’s king, Dave’s central pawn chain and Jeremy’s own pawn on c3 meant Jeremy’s dark squared bishop couldn’t really find a good way in. Meanwhile, Dave had a passed a pawn with a rook behind it which was accelerating towards the danger zone. Jeremy was able to block the pawn and exchange most of the remaining pieces, but he wasn’t able to conjour up enough initiative to put Dave in serious trouble. Opposite coloured bishops and two rooks glaring at each other meant a statesmanlike draw was agreed.

So the Tans have their first win of the season.

Jesmond Rookies ½-4½Tynedale Tans

Chris Wardle (158) 0-1 David Wrigley
Peter Jorgensen (153) 0-1 Dave Weldon
Dave Walshaw (155) ½-½ Jeremy Handley
default 0-1 Tim Wrigley
default 0-1 Peter Crichton

David and David record their first league wins of the season! Can the Tans follow this good (if fortuitous) result and beat the drop?!

Reivers stung by the Wasps

The Reivers took on Jesmond Wasps in Jesmond on Friday Feb 8th. The line-up was
1. Zheming Zhang (161) v Phil Taylor (126)
2. James Moreby (113) v Dave Foster sr (117)
3. Kurt Moreby (120) v Alex Ashworth (113)
4. Rohan Rawat (38) v Steve Larkin (107)
5. Bobby Green (23) v Dave Foster jr (82)
Average age of the Wasps team was c 18, allowing for the fact that their captain Kurt is probably in his forties!Clearly their selection tactics relied on their winning the top three boards. Would they get away with it?
First to finish was board two, where Dave, who had gone a pawn up early on, was outplayed tactically. He resigned when unable to stop two linked passed pawns which were well supported. 1-0
Boards four and five finished in quick succession shortly afterwards. On four, Steve’s opponent concentrated on an ambitious kingside pawn push, while leaving his queen hemmed in on the other side of the board. A couple of knight moves later and the queen was trapped, whereafter it was just a matter of time before white collapsed. 1-1
On five, Dave’s opponent swept down triumphantly on a poisoned pawn and said goodbye to his queen very early on. A bishop soon went the same way, leaving Dave to cruise to victory. 1-2
On board one, Phil did a sterling bit of work, holding Zheming to equality for the first forty moves. Alas, he then embarked on an ambitious kingside pawn push which quickly proved disastrous and he resigned on move fifty. 2-2
Which left Alex and Kurt slogging it out. Their game had progressed at a very stately rate and they were still very much in a dead level middle game when everyone else had finished. Then Alex miscalculated an exchange and dropped a rook – game over. 3-2
So the Wasps’ selection tactics were vindicated while the Reivers slipped to their third 3-2 defeat and so continue their graceful descent towards the nether regions of the division.

Dyvels v Monarchs 29th January 2013

The Dyvels v Monarchs game was another ‘in-house’ South Tyne fixture, with the handicap system playing its part in making the contest a thrilling encounter.
On Top board Dave Foster (Senior), playing white against Jeremy Handley saw Jeremy respond g6 to his e4 (The Modern Defence, giving up the centre to white, and allowing white to block the Bg7 bishop with a pawn on c3). Missing out the standard d4 Dave’s second move was c3, and his third d4.
Dave’s very strong attack developed with a mix of the h pawn advancing to h4 (which I discovered had been suggested as third move for white by Bobby Fischer) combined with bishop and queen pressure on the kingside pawns. In wriggling out of the pressure of the attack Jeremy gave up a queen bishop pawn. After pieces were exchanged the endgame saw David a pawn up and Jeremy fighting hard for equality. In the end he made it, and an honourable draw was agreed when neither player had enough on the board to force a mate.
Tim Wrigley, on board 2 for the Dyvels, reported his game as follows: “Alex Asthworth and I played a Symmetrical English opening, with me white and Alex black. I suspect that Alex knew more about this than I did but maybe he was just copying all my good moves. This leaves both sides with the problem of how to break the symmetry, and my book says can be boring and drawish, as neither side can afford to perform the break.

“That’s not how it felt to me as I struggled to negotiate Alex’s opening traps. Having just survived the opening I had just decided to try and open up the Queen’s side and get play down the b file, when Alex opened up the middle with e5 and lost a crucial pawn. The ending was Rook & six pawns against Rook & five pawns, which was not easy until the rooks were swapped off.”

As an observer it looked as if Alex slightly miscalculated the possibilities following the rook exchange, and Tim’s calculation of who could get pawns to queen first was well justified. When Alex recognised that he could not stop the upcoming onslaught he resigned.

In Peter Crichton’s game, Malcolm Reid launched his enthusiastic e4, f4 assault on the king’s side supported by knight, queen and rook while Peter calmly (or worriedly) sought to thwart the onslaught. For a while, with his queen, queen’s bishop and rook unable to get off the back rank he looked very much on the defensive. It all changed, as Peter described it: “Malcolm embarked upon a typically aggressive sacrificial attack on the kingside against my Sicilian but fortunately failed to find the best continuation; once a few pieces had been exchanged and things had settled down he was left a piece down with few counter-chances in the endgame.”
The most exciting – and most worrying – game for the team captains was that of Phil Taylor against Steve Larkin (who had just returned from a successful tournament in the Hastings championship). The game, and its outcome are well described by Phil:
“As there was a good possibility that I would be playing the ‘Hero of Hastings’ I thought I had better do some preparation. Looking through my database of 10 games with Steve I found he liked to play the Benko Gambit as black against d4.
“The line I had prepared was a Benko declined with the b5 pawn taking on c4. As usual, this didn’t happen so I reverted to plan B, eventually taking the b-pawn and supporting this and the d-pawn with knight and bishop. This gave good counterplay for quite a long period but black had fianchettoed his bishop on g7 and this proved a useful strategy as time wore on. By move 28 we were both perspiring with the effort but by move 36 black had broken through and was two pawns to the good. On move 39, black thought he’d pinned my Knight and was expecting to add a piece to the two pawns but I had managed to see a clever way out which equalised material.
“Clocks were coming into play now and I had an edge. Black offered the draw but I was under team instructions to win.” (This was the last game to finish, and Phil knew that for the Dyvels to win the match he needed to win – ‘team instructions’ is a little strong).
“This pressure led to my losing a piece and eventually chasing my opponent’s King into a tight space looking for a cheap mate. What I hadn’t realized was the peril I was putting my own king in. Fortunately, under severe time pressure, Steve again offered the draw, seeing a repetition and thinking the match would be won by the result. I accepted the offer and as onlookers helpfully pointed out, Steve had missed a one move mate and the match result was a draw. I think the result was a fair one given the complexity and ebb and flow of the game.”
As a match amongst friends in the same club the drawn match was an honourable outcome.
Result Points Points Result
Jeremy Handley (2) _1/2__ 2__ _2_ _1/2__ David Foster (Snr) (4)
Tim Wrigley (2) 1 __ 4___ 0___ 0_ Alex Ashworth (5)
Peter Crichton (3) _1__ 4__ _0_ _ 0__ Malcolm Reid (5)
Phil Taylor (4) 1/2__ 2__ 2_ _1/2__ Steve Larkin (5)
Handicap points 11 19
total match points 12 4
Combined scores 23 23