Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 3 (30. 11. 06)
Talk about swings and roundabouts! No sooner has the Courant published an account of last month’s activities under the headline “Reivers struggle while Tans triumph” than the Reivers achieve a splendid draw against Morpeth A while the Tans go into a tail-spin that makes promotion to Division 2 look anything but a foregone conclusion!
The Reivers’ draw against Morpeth was an excellent result, for the team was outgraded all the way down. Mark Taylor and Tim Wrigley notched up impressive wins on boards 3 and 4 and Dave Weldon achieved a creditable draw on board 1. On board 5 Derek Blair almost got the draw that would have won the match, but the clock worked against him in the end. Despite the most meticulous preparation, Mike Nicholson eventually went down on board 2 and the match was drawn. So the Reivers now have one point and stand equal fourth from bottom of Division 1.
Meanwhile the Tans, who had looked invincible in their first three matches, crashed to a 0.5 to 4.5 defeat at the hands of Gateshead Libraries Checks (their third team). And no, Gateshead didn’t pack their side with second-team players, as they had a second team match going on in the same room at the same time. Despite the fact that the Checks were significantly outgraded by us on the top four boards, they simply wiped the floor with us, only Derek Blair on board 1 offering any resistance. A pawn up in the final stages, but with no obvious way of turning that to advantage, he agreed a draw after the rest of the team had been put to the sword. David Wrigley on board 2 had one of those days and lost in double quick time. Phil Taylor on board 3 had an epic game with a vast number of moves but could not overcome the handicap of a lost piece early on. Matthew Taylor on board 4 had a very tight game and was just a pawn down in the final stages, but needing his king on both sides of the board at once proved too much and he was forced to resign. On board 5 my opponent arrived late, giving me a 15 minute advantage, but remained as cool as a cucumber and from move 5 onwards proceeded to outplay me, before despatching me with surgical precision. As Phil commented later, “back to earth with a bump”!
Never mind, the next fixture was against Tynemouth Sprites, sitting at the bottom of the table with zero match points and just one game point. As they had lost 0.5 to 4.5 against Jesmond Pawns whom we beat 5-0, a resounding win looked very much on the cards, but as the old saying goes, “only two things in life are certain – death and taxes.” In the event the Sprites gave us a real fright. Matthew Taylor on board 1 emerged from a long combination a piece down, then blundered a rook and resigned. Bruce Reed on board 2 salvaged a draw by perpetual check when in a very exposed position. On board 3 I had a long, hard slog before winning with a flukey checkmate which surprised me even more than my opponent. Daniel Woodhouse had a very tight game on board 4 and, last to finish, shrewdly offered his opponent a draw (which would have won us the match). Alas, the offer was declined and his opponent went on to win. Luckily for us, Jack Bradshaw had had a comfortable win on board 5 and we emerged from the match with a draw. Clearly the Tans are going to have to raise their game over the second half of the season if they are to remain contenders for promotion (at present they still top division 3, but only just).
In the South Tyne League there is just one match to report – a good home win over Friars, 2.5 to 1.5.
After errors on both sides, Mark Taylor notched up a win on board 1. On board 2, Malcolm Reid went a piece down but fought back for a draw. Bruce Reed emerged victorious from a long, hard game on board 3 and Daniel Woodhouse narrowly lost a close game on board 4. After two rounds, Tynedale are in second position with two points, behind an unbeaten Austins side.
There has been a flurry of activity over the past month and the table has changed substantially. Reigning champion Derek Blair has gone into overdrive both quantitatively and qualitatively and now stands clear at the top, pursued by previous champion Mike Nicholson. In a clash of the titans, these two battled out a draw, though Derek had gone into the endgame two pawns up, but as we all know wily Mike is never beaten till he’s beaten. One suspects that his challenge for the title is not over yet. So November has seen the Taylor dynasty’s grip on the top of the table, if not the bottom, loosened. David Weldon continues to keep his powder dry.
Derek Blair 6.5/9
Mike Nicholson 5/7
Peter Crichton and Matthew Taylor 3.5/6
Mark Taylor 3/4
Malcolm Reid 3/5
Jack Bradshaw and Steve Larkin 2.5/6
Daniel Woodhouse 1.5/5
David Wrigley 1/1
Bruce Reed 1/3
Dave Foster 0/1
Stephen Porritt 0/3
Phil Taylor 0/5
My invitation to members to submit suggestions for how the club championship might be run in future years was met with stunning silence. Like a politician, I am left to speculate whether this reflects public satisfaction with the current state of affairs or apathy. So here, in order to stimulate debate, is a suggestion of my own. Under the current system, which obtains for this year’s championship, all play all twice. With 15 names on the starting-grid, there is a theoretical possibility of playing 28 games, but as it is unlikely that many, if any players, will achieve this, the number of matches played has a disproportionate bearing on the outcome. To counter this, I would suggest that all play all just once, with a deadline of, say, the end of March. At this point, the top 8 players would go into a Major knockout competition and the rest into a Minor knockout, each involving three rounds – e.g. quarter-finals to be played in April, semis in May and the finals in June. In the Minor competition, it might be an idea to fix a qualifying minimum of e. g.3 club championship matches played, to ensure a reasonable degree of commitment to the championship as a whole. Thus someone who had played and lost three times would qualify, while someone who played only twice, winning on both occasions, would not. The problem of draws in the knockout stage could perhaps be overcome by having recourse to a re-match with opposite colours and, if that failed to produce a result, the outcome could be decided by the toss of a coin. Feedback please.
Peter Crichton writes:
“I had hoped to keep my participation in this year’s Sell Trophy [for Northumbria players up to grade 150] quiet and certainly away from the editor’s vision! The reason for my reticence was that I feared [correctly] that I had bitten off more than I can chew and that deserved chess humiliation was likely to follow. The truth is that I was carried away by my [relative] success at the NCA Congress and not even a sound trouncing by the Editor in the club championship drew me back to the path of reason! Anyway I have played two games to-date – the first against an Alnwick player, Alan Cooper [estimated grade 125], ended in a quick and honourable draw [I think that we were both happy to get on the scoreboard!]; the second, played at Tynedale against Chris Wardle,  was a disaster – I was barely out of the opening before I lost a pawn and I then proceeded to leave a knight en prise two moves later. In passing I should say how impressed I was with the playing facilities at Morpeth [where I played Alan Cooper] – upstairs at the local rugby club and modern, spacious and quiet with a bar downstairs for those wanting refreshment.
* On a happier note as Treasurer I would like to thank all of you  who have paid your subs already. According to my reckoning there are only a couple outstanding and the bailiffs will be calling upon them shortly. The prompt payment will certainly make Xmas easier!”
For those whose subs are still outstanding, the Ultimate Threat: no more e-bulletins after Christmas! Think about it – can you really face such deprivation?
Mike Nicholson has sent this update on his postal activities:
“In the sixth European Team Championship I got my win against Latvia, so now have three games left and need a win and a draw for the IM title, which still looks secure. In the sixteenth Olympiad preliminaries I’ve recorded my first result, a win against Spain, and my computer tells me I can force mate against Iceland in 13 moves or fewer (before people get worried about computers, it’s all obvious stuff, and it’s not necessary to worry whether there’s a mate there or not, as the position is obviously overwhelming). Looking ahead, I have been nominated by the British federation for Correspondence Chess as a participant in the preliminary round of the next world championship cycle – a far more modest achievement than it sounds, though it’s nice to have my entry fee paid for me. Finally, my opponent in the Ward-Higgs (Division 1 of the English Counties Championship) is a gentleman named Ben Ogunshola, representing Surrey. I tracked him down on the Internet and found he was one of the few Nigerians with a FIDE rating, but it wasn’t until we were already on move three that I found he was currently based in Hong Kong. Since we’re playing by e-mail, some of his moves will arrive the day before he sends them, though as far as I know this doesn’t mean we shall finish our game before it starts.”
Nice one, Mike!
That’s all the news for this time. There will not be a December issue, so the editoroial staff would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a successful New Year.