Bulletin No 20

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 20 (30.10.08)

The new season is now in full swing, with results aplenty to report. Pride of place this time goes to the Tans, who have made a splendid start to their campaign in

Northumberland League Division 2

The Tans’ first match of the season, against Forest Hall A, had to be rescheduled for November (see under Miscellanea), so they did not open their account until October 14th, when for the first time they played host to South Shields. The latter were only in division two because of the demise of division three, which suggested that they would be on the weak side. However, their roll-call of players indicated that they might well out-grade us all the way down, so it was hard to know what to expect. In the event, the teams were pretty evenly matched grading-wise.

Malcolm Reid, on board two, caused a minor panic by failing to appear by the time the clocks were started. Fortunately for the team captain’s blood pressure, Peter Crichton was on hand and willing to step into the breach should that prove necessary, but Malcolm duly arrived a few minutes late and in no time at all was a knight down! Your editor had mentally written off board two when some ten minutes later the game was over and Malcolm had won! It later transpired that he had profited from a mauling at the hands of Mike Nicholson in a club championship game a fortnight earlier and had applied the same principle to his opponent. So we’ll call that lost knight a gambit, shall we Malcolm?

Next to finish was Dave Foster on board five. Dave is short of match-play, indeed of any sort of chess, and played a shade less briskly than normal, which is probably why Malcolm finished first. He held a single pawn advantage but was forced into a draw by perpetual check. So 1.5 to 0.5 and it was looking good, though all three remaining games had a long way to go. Indeed it was probably some three-quarters of an hour after Dave’s game finished before we had another result. Phil Taylor, on board four, had evidently been enjoying a tactical orgy as, after an hour of play, not a single piece had left the board. Phil is in his element in such situations and eventually emerged the winner. Things were looking even better!

On board one Derek Blair was a knight to two pawns down, but he fought long and hard before his opponent’s extra fire-power finally told. 2.5 to 1.5 in the Tans’favour and all hung on board three, where your editor was desperately trying, without any success, to find a chink in his opponent’s position without compromising his own. At last the South Shields man made a tactical error, switching a knight to the king’s side and thereby allowing your editor to press on the queen’s side, winning a rook for a knight. There was still a fiendish king-side attack to withstand before the material advantage could be exploited and the South Shields position collapsed. Phew! A last-gasp win which meant overall victory by 3½ to 1½.

1. Derek Blair (109) 0-1 Kevin Rowden (105)
2. Malcolm Reid (92) 1-0 Ben Wood (94)
3. Steve Larkin (87) 1-0 Stan Johnson (92)
4. Phil Taylor (85) 1-0 Len New (79)
5. Dave Foster (u) ½-½ Dave Parlour (63) 0.5

Next up was an away match against Alnwick B at Morpeth on October 29th. Like South Shields, Alnwick B had played in division three last year and, like ourselves, they had played just one previous match, against South Shields to whom they had lost, so hopefully we would have the edge. In fact, it turned out that we out-graded them massively and this was reflected in the results.

This time, Dave Foster won the race to be first to finish, comfortably despatching his ungraded opponent on board five just inside the hour. He was followed by Malcolm Reid who, on board three, had gone a piece up and steadily pressed home his advantage. Next to finish was Tim Wrigley, who had a fine victory over Harry Teetsov on board one. In Tim’s own words, he “struggled in the opening and then came good, finishing off with a nice checkmate.” Your editor, facing a very weak opponent on board four, likewise struggled in the opening, going a rook to a knight down and losing the right to castle. An uphill battle ensued before matters were decided, much to your editor’s relief, by a knight move which forked king and queen. And so to board two, where Derek Blair’s game went to the wire. Playing excellent chess against an opponent who was anything but a push-over, Derek built up an unassailable lead, with an advantage of a rook and three pawns to a bishop. He was closing in for the kill when the combination of time pressure and fatigue caused him to lose his way and the advantage slipped to his opponent before a draw was agreed.

1. H. Teetsov (107) 0-1 Tim Wrigley (112)
2. D. Patterson(88) ½-½ Derek Blair (109)
3. R. McEwan(53) 0-1 Malcolm Reid (92)
4. H. McLaughlin(35) 0-1 Steve Larkin (87)
5. C. Cox (u) 0-1 Dave Foster (u)

Two games played, four match points and eight game points out of ten – what a splendid start! To be sure, the two sides we have played are amongst the weaker sides in the division and our November fixtures look much more challenging. Even so, all games have to be won and the Tans can congratulate themselves on their record thus far

Northumberland League Division 1

The Reivers opened their campaign with a home fixture against Gosforth Empire on October 7th. Mike Nicholson writes:

Tynedale Reivers   Gosforth Empire
D J Weldon 1 0 Paul Sumner
Mark Taylor ½ ½ Tony Pattinson
M L Nicholson 0 1 Noel Boustred
D A Wrigley ½ ½ Geoff Harrison
J P Crichton ½ ½ Dave Stebbings
07 Oct 08 2½ 2½  

The new Reivers should be proud of their first outing last evening, when but for an unfortunate sequence at the very end we could have started with a win against newly-promoted Gosforth Empire. All the games bar my own represented a fine model of what’s called for to produce results in this extended blitz version of the game, with all moves to be made in 90 minutes. I am convinced that ‘keep it simple’ is a fine motto to follow, which is not to say that the games played by my four colleagues were easy. Keeping complications to a minimum reduces the chances of errors arising out of the sheer difficulty of calculating complex positions with vast numbers of move-order permutations. I shall be seeking guidance on how to do it!

Mark is an excellent role model for this simple genre, and he it was who got us off to a solid start after exchanging rapidly to a balanced rook and pawn ending. A great introduction to life on board 2. On the other side of my board I had the chance to see David Wrigley making his debut against the highly experienced Geoff Harrison. If I didn’t have time to calculate why David didn’t or couldn’t push his pawn forward to fork a bishop and knight, I was delighted later to see that his advantage had converted into a pawn plus, and that the said pawn was supported and passed. Unfortunately an error later returned the pawn, but David held on comfortably for the draw. Peter too gave no cause for alarm, and when he finally exchanged off the queens he had the advantage of the bishop pair and better pawn structure in the endgame, though it wasn’t sufficient to win.

David meanwhile had followed his own path to simplification. He is outstandingly our best player when it comes to exploiting positional features. Hence his apparently fairly level rook and pawn ending gradually took on a more and more optimistic appearance, and in due course he had an unstoppable rook’s pawn to take us up to 2.1/2 points. Which left all hanging on my game. I badly mishandled an incident when my opponent Noel Boustred and I were both in desperate straits on the clock, and a roller-coaster game ended with my clock zeroing out. If I had stopped the clocks when the problem arose I might well have won, but I took the decision that any appeal would not only probably have gone against me (because my time had expired) but would also have risked bad relationships with our opponents and damaged the club’s reputation. I will write separately about this incident, because there are important lessons to be learnt about clock management.”

Many thanks for that, Mike. Readers will find Mike’s further comments under Miscellanea.

On October 17th the Reivers were in action again, this time away to Jesmond Knights. Again thanks to Mike for the following report:

1. PR Bielby ½-½ Dave Weldon
2. JF Turnock 1-0 Mike Nicholson
3. E Dodds 1-0 David Wrigley
4. D Lai 1-0 Tim Wrigley
5. T Glover 1-0 Peter Crichton
  Result 4½-½

This was the first match in which the squad system was given an outing. As I have previously explained, the purpose is to give everyone an approximately equal number of games, and in general I shall select stronger teams against weaker opposition. Knights came into the stronger opposition category, and Mark took a breather.The result belies the play. We gave Knights a good run for their money, only succumbing due to less skilful clock management (or getting into positions which required more time than the current rules allow). Dave Weldon got us away to a fine start with his draw with Paul Bielby. There was never much in it in terms of positional difference, though Dave felt Paul had the edge until simplification made the handshake inevitable. I was going well against John Turnock, and had little time to form any assessment of boards 3 to 5, though all seemed to be complicated without much in the way of material exchanges. David Wrigley had researched his opponent and got the Caro-Kann he half expected. He reports that he failed to create any problems for his opponent, who wound up with a strong pawn centre and powerfully placed knight on e4. David’s attempts to complicate things down the half-open f-file were quickly snuffed out, and the loss of a rook ended it.Tim appeared to have the sort of position he expects with black, but whereas things often swing in his favour, there was no such luck this time. [Tim himself writes: My game was a bit grim. French Defence Advance variation, but I managed to lose my black-squared bishop and acquire lots of black holes in my position. I got a bit of play late on but couldn’t take advantage of opposite coloured bishops. All credit to Daniel.”]

Peter was having a good game on bottom board against a typical King’s Indian with respective queenside and kingside actions. After neutralising Glover’s kingside attack, he got a reasonable edge with prospects of progressing on the queenside. Sadly, on move 34 and with about 2 minutes left against Glover’s 15, time pressure told.

Finally I went down to Turnock in what I must now describe as ‘move 22 syndrome’. In the previous match at that point I had lacked the courage to play the necessary sacrifice. Here, after out-playing my opponent to gain a substantial advantage, I saw a grandmaster-like exchange sacrifice to leave myself with two bishops against rook and knight and what I judged – all too falsely – to be a winning queen- side thrust. It was move 22, and I was carried away by memories of the previous game. Chess has no rules!I can’t end without a comment on facilities at RGSJuniorSchool. In a congested room, we played on infants’ tables with infants’ chairs. I for one couldn’t get my knees under the table, yet each time I tried to stand up from the board, I found I had somehow managed the feat, and had to pull and manoeuvre my legs out before slowly stretching back to full height. Of course we sometimes have too much noise at our home matches, and few venues are perfect, but this was pretty awful.”

South Tyne League

One result to report here, an internal affair between Tynedale and Monarchs. As the line-up reveals, both captains pulled out all the stops to put out the strongest possible team. The result was:

  Monarchs       Tynedale
  Name H/C Res H/C Name
Bd 1 C Davison 1 4-0 2 Mark Taylor
Bd 2 T Wrigley 3 0-4 2 M Nicholson
Bd 3 D Wrigley 4 4-0 3 J Bradshaw
Bd 4 D Blair 4 2-2 3 P Crichton
    12 10-6 10  

Successful captain Derek Blair comments:

My impression was/is that Colin appeared comfortable in returning to chess after his relative absence and used his masterly experience to secure an impressive win. Tim struggled to hold Mike after an indecisive opening and eventually succumbed. Jack and David, playing a shortened version, produced an exciting aggressive game. Jack seemed to have gained a piece by skewering his opponent’s rook and knight but David discovered an ingenious riposte which attacked white’s king and eventually forced Jack’s resignation, prematurely according to David! Derek and Peter had their usual close encounter – doing the Vienna thing – and, with relief, agreed a draw once the overall outcome of the match had been determined on higher boards. Peter produced a testing move 5 which may have proved winning with optimal play, but white escaped a pawn to the good towards the middle and end game.

So, after one match in 2008/9, and for the first time in recent history, Monarchs go to the top of the League ! An achievement to relish for as long as it lasts.

Club Championship

Peter Crichton 2.5/3
Jack Bradshaw 2/2
Mike Nicholson 2/3
Derek Blair 1.5/2
Mark Taylor 1/1
Steve Larkin 1/3
Phil Taylor 1/4
Matthew Taylor 0.5/1
Bruce Reed 0.5/2
Malcolm Reed 0/1
David Wrigley 0/1
Tim Wrigley 0/1

So the current champion has moved into the driving-seat! Nice to see that so far 12 members of the club have taken part in the contest (last year the final figure was 14), including a rare excursion by the club secretary. Don’t expect the Wrigley dynasty to prop up the table for long! 

Spotlight on Derek Blair

This month we take a look at the vastly experienced though unassuming captain of the Monarchs.

  1. 1.      When and where did you learn to play chess?       At Hexham Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys Chess Club in 1954
  2. Have you played more or less continuously since? If not, please give details.

   I played it socially at school, at university a little and with friends but not regularly. I joined my first chess club in Sunderland in the early 70’s, and played off and on over the years, picking it up more continuously/seriously( ?) since I retired to the Tyne Valley.

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

See above

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

No, can’t you tell!

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

160 in 1970’s, would you believe it?!

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

3 hours (evening) at Hexham Cricket Club in the season, 2-3 hours at Hexham Golf Club (afternoons) when I can make it (2 weeks out of 4, on average) and untold hours at home playing through the Telegraph’s daily chess column (which I believe is the best) and in bed at night waiting for lights out!

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

No, certainly not!

  1. 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?

No, but I have one.

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

Yes, never

  1. What do you like most about chess?

Its undying ability to throw up beautiful ideas; its links with other board games; its fascinating history and relationship with art, politics, war and literature; its personalities. Everything!

  1. What do you like least about chess?

Its ability to demonstrate repeatedly my inability

  1. 12.  Do you have any current targets in chess?  To continue to enjoy its delights and to win as many games as possible using brilliant coups de grace. Dream on.
  2. Which chess player, past or present, do you most admire, and why?

Anderssen for his Immortal Game (1851) and Evergreen Game (1853) was impressive; but Tal, as an innovative thinker, despite the pressures of Soviet control over his independent Baltic spirit, and poor health, demonstrated flair and brilliance – qualities which lift the mechanistic accuracy of chess into an art form.


1) Carlisle Rapidplay. This took place at the Austin Friars School in Carlisle on Sunday October 5th and involved five one-hour games (30 minutes each). Peter Crichton and Derek Blair played in the under 125 section and had mixed fortunes. Peter notched up two wins (including a back-row mate against one Derek Blair!) and a draw for a very respectable 2.5 points from 5. Derek managed two draws, the second of which was a very generous offer to his opponent. In the under 90 section, your editor managed four wins, including one in three moves (yes, really!) but lost to an ungraded Slovakian who played like a grandmaster, though that did not stop him losing his final game. As a result, he shared first prize with your editor. It was a fun event (more fun for some than for others!) run by our old friend Syd Cassidy, and it would be nice if we could manage a larger Tynedale presence next year.

2) Newcastle championship. Your editor has started pretty much where he left off in last year’s event, by losing!

3) Clock management. Mike Nicholson has written the following:

My performance both as a player and as the captain in the Gosforth Empire match was so inept that I want to give it – and the lessons to be learnt from it – a public airing in the hope of avoiding similar future occurrences.

As clearly as I can recall, these were the facts. With less than a minute remaining on both clocks, my opponent started banging the clock because he had noticed neither clock was running. Pressing the ‘pause’ button got them started again, but we don’t know whether my opponent had inadvertently pressed ‘pause’ in the first place, or whether there was a fault in the clock.The times on the clock showed that I had 18 seconds remaining and my opponent 41. Because my opponent had been pressing the clock I understood it was my turn to move, and pressed his clock to re-start mine. After some seconds he then declared it was his turn and I unquestioningly pressed my clock to re-start his, commenting that I now had only half my due time remaining (9 seconds). We then bashed our way to a finish, which came when my clock zeroed out. During that time my opponent had even had time to declare a confident mate’, which was however false.With no time remaining on my clock, I felt any independent arbitration would have gone against me, and I shook hands as a gesture of conceding. Next day I emailed John Turnock to seek his opinion on how I might better have handled the affair. He made two critical points: first, that when an incident interrupts play, the clocks should be stopped and the matter resolved before they are re- started, and second, that I could have had the clocks re-set so that I didn’t lose my 9 seconds. John was also surprised that we didn’t know whose turn it was to move, though I would say that at first neither of us realised we didn’t know – which is further justification for stopping the clocks, re-setting them at 18/41, agreeing which clock was the one to be re-started, and continuing to a proper conclusion. Ideally both captains should be involved in that decision.

Two immediate things to learn therefore:

1) when play is interrupted, stop the clocks and agree calmly and carefully the conditions for the re-start, and

2) make sure that both board position and clock settings are correct.If it’s impossible to determine the exact situations, then the only recourse (other than to agree a draw) is to go back to the latest position in the game where the position’s known (probably before the last five minutes on the quicker player’s score-sheet, because both players might have stopped recording with less than five minutes to go. Getting both clock times precise would be impossible, though one clock might well be at or near the 5-minute mark, and the other capable of a reasonable estimate.Remember particularly the rule that if your opponent makes an illegal move in the last five minutes, you can and should add two minutes to your thinking time. Ditto for a second offence, and game forfeiture for a third.I suspect that a lot of us have been so slow to master the modus operandi of our digital clocks that we are reluctant to put ourselves into clock management situations during our games. I suggest two solutions here:

1) practise setting and adjusting clocks so that you are comfortable
with them, or

2) use an analogue clock.I also suggest practising using a digital clock to see just how many moves you can make in, say, the last minute of your time. Knowing this will help you judge whether you (or your opponent) still have/ has time to deliver mate, or whether you will be better served going into overdrive and bashing out any half-way decent move just to make the time control. If you do this, your opponent can justifiably propose a draw (on the grounds that you aren’t trying to win by legitimate chess means) but it’s better than losing!Finally, please go to the League page on the Northumberland CA website and read the rules applying to quickplays! Very important stuff!

4. Membership
Recent events have served to emphasise that we are a small club struggling to meet our commitments. The Tans’ first match of the season had to be postponed because only three players were available. Then, for the Tans’ match against Alnwick B, only a desperate last-minute appeal brought our playing strength up to five. And on the final club night in October just three members turned up. Clearly we all need to do everything we can to attract new members. So please, whenever you get the opportunity spread the word about what a nice bunch of people we are!

That’s all for this time.

Steve Larkin

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