Bulletin No 36

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 36 (2.11.10)

Members familiar with Tynedale’s record in the first division of the Northumbria league will understand, when they see the first result of the season, why I choose to start with that exalted sphere of chess activity!

Northumbria league division one

Following promotion and relegation last season, our division one side is now called the Tans, under the capable management of David Wrigley, who duly led his troops into battle against Forest Hall A on Friday October 15th. David has kindly sent me this report:

“Forest Hall’s team-sheet gave the newly promoted Tans reasons to be cheerful. We actually outgraded them all the way down!

First blood was spilt pretty over board 3. David Wrigley and John Wall were playing an Evans gambit, with which John seemed unfamiliar. He took too many of the offered pawns and developed his pieces to awkward squares, allowing David to fork king and bishop. John still had two pawns for the piece but was well behind in development, so he resigned on the spot. 1-0

Peter Crichton seems to have adjusted well to the dizzying heights of board 2. He and Martin Seeber played a tense, positional game, neither side allowing the other to grasp an initiative. Peter picked up Martin’s c-pawn, but Martin had some compensation in pressure against Peter’s queenside pawns. With the other games looking fairly level and the prospect of a perpetual looming, peace broke out.1.5-0.5

Derek, playing Jeff Bentham, quickly snagged a pawn on the queenside, but in return Jeff got an attack going on the kingside. It looked very threatening (twin knights on f5&g5!), but Derek’s pieces were defending all the threats and he had more or less untangled himself (extra pawn intact) when time began to get short. Derek, not wanting to risk blundering whilst blitzing, offered a draw, which Jeff was visibly pleased to accept. 2-1

Dave Weldon played a calm queen’s pawn game, preferring to build up pressure gradually rather than charge in all guns blazing. He had slightly the better of things, and managed to wreck Mike Smith’s kingside pawn shelter, but this allowed Mike to liquidate the centre and swap off Dave’s active pieces. The pressure against Dave’s kingside mitigated Mike’s pawn weaknesses, and they agreed a draw rather than playing out a drab rook ending. 2.5-1.5

One point secure, and the match comes down to Tim. He was playing Sophie Seeber, who pinched a half-point off him in traumatic circumstances at the Northumberland congress in September. They quickly castled on opposite sides. Tim’s queen was sat in front of his king, and Sophie was threatening to smash through his queen side pawns and skewer them with a rook, but Tim played Bxh7, forcing the king into the corner- Sophie had to be wary of discovered checks. Sophie abandoned her threats against the queen for a pawn, and Tim’s planned threats against her king came to pass. He won a knight, but at the cost of further pawns, and generously offered the match-winning draw with a minute or two remaining on each clock. 3-2

So, the Tans pick up where they left off last season!

Forest Hall v Tynedale Tans
Mike Smith ½-½ Dave Weldon
Martin Seeber ½-½ Peter Crichton
John Wall 0-1 David Wrigley
Jeff Bentham ½-½ Derek Blair
Sophie Seeber ½-½ Tim Wrigley”

Alas, this brave new world was not to last for long, as David kindly explains:

“The Tans fell back to earth on Tuesday last, roundly beaten by a Morpeth A team who were slightly off the pace at the top last season, and clearly don’t want to be left behind this time.

Tim was playing John Horton, and the two of them began cagily. John adopted a slow set-up which Tim was unfamiliar with, but things were finely balanced as the two of them struggled for control over the flow of the game. Tim misread a pawn-push from John, and decided the only option was to sacrifice a knight for two pawns and a powerful centre, but John found a tactic which undermined Tim’s counterplay. 0-1

Peter’s game, after a fairly cautious start, was a furious tactical affair. Peter made some fairly minor positional concessions (his queenside pawn structure wasn’t a pretty picture) in return for some initiative on the kingside, and all his pieces seemed to be pointing towards Mike Smyth’s king. Mike had ideas of his own, however, and his pieces mysteriously found themselves in the right places at the right times. At the end of a mind-bending exchange, Peter found his attack exhausted, and his bishop hanging. A cruel end. 0-2

David Wrigley & James Turner copied the game on board 5 for about 6 moves, by which time David was also on unfamiliar ground. James Turner’s knights subtly danced their way to g5 & d5, and it looked like curtains, but he mishandled the attack and though he was left with the bishop pair, David was able to blockade the centre. James over-eagerly swapped off queens then allowed a knight fork, leaving each side with a rook and bishops of opposite colours. With the prospect of the rooks coming off, and the kings squaring off in the middle of the board, neither side could make progress.


Dave Weldon found himself sat opposite Roger Coathup, 200-graded local monster. Dave was up for the fight, navigated the opening smoothly, cut off Roger’s kingside assault in its infancy and found himself with an interesting dilemma: either swap into a 2R& opposite coloured bishop ending a pawn down (easier to play, no hope of victory) or play a very double-edged R&2 pawns vs B&N ending (with winning chances IF you aren’t playing one of the top players in the area). Dave said afterwards that he was “seduced by the opposite coloured bishops”. Roger pinched a second pawn and Dave resigned, flag hanging. He’ll be disappointed with the result, but not the performance, Roger had a good scare. 0.5-3.5

Mike’s queen and George Ellames’ queen spent almost their entire game dancing around each other, Mike’s trying to co-ordinate with his bishop to threaten George’s king-side, whilst George eyed up and munched as many queenside pawns as he thought he could get away with. Mike’s attack flickered and spluttered, but didn’t burst into life, and eventually time pressure and his lack of pawns caught up with him. Mike had one last roll of the dice: a daring bishop sacrifice looked like it might bring a perpetual, but George defended smartly, and eventually skewered Mike’s king & queen. 0.5-4.5

Tans   Morpeth A
Dave Weldon 0-1 Roger Coathup
Peter Crichton 0-1 Mike Smyth
David Wrigley 0.5-0.5 James Turner
Mike Nicholson 0-1 George Ellames
Tim Wrigley 0-1 John Horton

There will be easier matches ahead!”

Many thanks to David  for that report and congratulations to him on a fine performance against a player graded 165 to his 147.

Division two

The Reivers, now captained by your editor, opened their season on Friday October 8th with an away match against a team of Paul Bielby’s younger proteges, who between them averaged slightly under eleven years of age. The line-up was:

1. Adam Clark (94; RP146) Mike Nicholson (147)
2. Zheming Zhang (126) Bruce Reed (127)
3. Chris Wilson (108) Steve Larkin (121)
4. William Wilkinson (-) Phil Taylor (120)
5. Anthony Lai (-) Peter Booker (65)

First to finish was Mike, whose Reti opening soon had Clark, veteran of the Jesmond side at the grand old age of  thirteen, in difficulty. Mike went the exchange up, won more material and it was a one-way process thereafter, though his opponent played to the bitter end. 0-1.

On board 4, Phil had his hands full in an endgame where he had rook and three pawns to his opponent’s rook, knight and pawn. Luckily for Phil, with every piece on the board in a tight huddle, his opponent blocked off his own king’s only escape square and a simple pawn move brought mate. 0-2.

Bruce was up against the baby of the side, eight year-old Zheming, who is currently British under 8 and under 9 champion. In a tight game, Bruce went the exchange up, rook to knight and pawn. Eventually he managed to get his two rooks working together, a pawn move weakened Zheming’s position and Bruce went on to a well-deserved win, and with Black what’s more! 0-3.

Steve’s twelve year-old opponent provided stern opposition, playing a competent French defence. Greedily capturing a pawn, Steve inadvertently allowed Chris the opportunity to win a knight but fortunately the chance went begging! Worse was to follow when Steve got himself in a tangle and all Chris had to do was play his knight onto the right square and he was bound to win first a bishop, then a rook and ultimately the game! Again the opportunity went begging and Steve went on to record the luckiest of wins, though it took him 57 moves to do so! 0-4.

Peter was very much on the offensive, eventually trapping his opponent’s king on h1, but try as he might he couldn’t manage to deliver checkmate. Anthony defended very well, then seized the opportunity to force exchanges, after which he had the initiative as Peter’s clock ran down. Time decided the outcome, but by then black had a decisive edge. 1-4.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening against delightful and talented opponents. The final result flatters us, for it could just as easily have turned out 2.5 each. Still, a win is a win and the Reivers are off the mark.

The next match was at home to South Shields, who last year scratched from this fixture, giving the Tans a welcome 5-0 win en route to achieving promotion. This year it was time for a reality check as the Reivers faced a South Shields team with two strong players on their top two boards. The line-up was

Mike  (147) v Simon McGuinness (179)
Bruce (127) v Kevin Rowden (150)
Steve (121) v Ben Wood (119)
Phil (120) v Stan Johnson (118)
Peter B (65) v Mark Rowden (65)

First to finish was board 3 where Steve’s queenside break-through and capture of a pawn gave him the advantage for exactly one move. A neat reply cancelled out the advantage completely and left the position manifestly drawn. 0.5-0.5

Next came Peter, who stuck to his task against his twelve year-old opponent but without much joy. Materially down from earlyish in the middle game, he gradually fell further behind until a knight check forking his rook polished him off. 0.5-1.5

Bruce was having a torrid time against Rowden senior, who had knight and bishop and later knight and rook deep inside Bruce’s position. With great aplomb Bruce offered a draw when it looked as though his opponent might lose a rook, but Mr Rowden was having nothing of it and the threat of a passed pawn queening allied to the newly active rook spelled curtains for Bruce’s spirited resistance. 0.5-2.5

Phil was always on the offensive and held a slight advantage, but when it came down to his bishop and six pawns against Stan’s bishop and five, the wily old fox from South Shields covered Phil’s every attempt to break through and the endgame led with a certain inevitability to a draw. 1-3

Mike writes of his game: “My game hung on a difficult strategic decision. I had well held my own early on. There was a fight going on for centre control, and I found a highly tactical way to sacrifice a pawn temporarily in order to simplify and get good drawing chances. I had correctly calculated (that’s unusual!) to the point where I needed (I thought) to hang on to the regained pawn. I devoted a lot of time to finding the move which I thought gave me the best chances of doing this, and it wasn’t good enough. However, if I had thought about sacrificing the pawn afresh, I would have had the simpler position I wanted and the good drawing chances I needed. In fact he didn’t play it correctly, and the chance was still there a move later. My mind was set on tactics, not the wider strategic view, and I crumbled progressively thereafter. I can’t remember ever having had such a good demonstration of the need for good strategic thinking. At least I created history by being the first player ever to be mated twice in one game!” Mike refers to the fact that, in his customary final seconds’ dash, he made an illegal move going from check to check (it was mate in fact) which neither he nor his opponent noticed in the heat of the moment. Official checkmate followed shortly after! 1-4

Life in division 2 can be tough!

And finally, the Reivers were away to Gateshead Knights on Monday Nov 1st. The line-up was

1. Kevin Cox (137)?v?Mike (147)

2. Peter Nicholson (113)?v?Steve (121)

3. Alex Johnson (111)?v?Phil (120)

4. Robin McKay (109)?v?Malcolm (115)

5. Colin Gilroy (103)?v?Peter B (65)

First to finish was Phil, who kindly sent these comments: “My game as white was QGA which can often lead to a boring draw. On this occasion however initial moves were made fairly quickly with black bishops & both knights being exchanged within the first 15 moves. The last of the knight exchanges took place on c3 with me capturing back with a rook. Over the next couple of moves this enabled me to line up Q & R on the g-file, forcing g6 by black. There followed a period where I kept my opponent under significant pressure having run the h-pawn up to cause all sorts of problems. Alex is a solid player though & I’m no Grand Master so between us the game stayed level on material for several moves until a slight miscalculation on black’s part. By this time the pressure had all moved to the f-file with black’s K,Q & R facing my pawn, Q & R. Black’s reasoning was that by pushing his g-pawn to threaten my f-pawn I couldn’t take it because his rook would take my queen. In fact I could take it & material stayed even because although he took my Queen with his Rook by taking back with my Rook I was pinning his Queen against his King (white is now a pawn up and has forced black’s King further away from the centre of the board). With pawns & white bishops left and my King nearer the centre of the board the end game was fairly straight forward.

I didn’t feel too good though as I’d only used 30 minutes on my clock to my opponent’s 1 hour & against a better graded player I probably would have come unstuck – I had a few weaknesses throughout the game that were not exploited.” A fine result from a decidedly off-colour Phil.


Next Malcolm agreed a draw after a very cagey game from which his opponent emerged with a pawn advantage but a considerable time deficit. 0.5-1.5

With a French Defence, Steve won his opponent’s two central pawns early on, but then had to endure intense king-side pressure till an error allowed him to swap bishop for rook. He forced a swap of the second rook, after which he could push his two central passed pawns and white’s position collapsed. 0.5-2.5

Mike was always in charge, pressing his opponent hard while being hugely down on time (so no surprises there!). Kevin defended stoutly till a knight check forking a rook ended his resistance, after which it was just a question of whether Mike could achieve mate before his time ran out. He could and he did. 0.5-3.5

Peter’s game was long and complex, with a great many pieces and pawns still on the board towards the end. Colin, though, achieved material and positional advantage and was able to force the issue. 1.5-3.5

All round a good night’s work in a venue that was far from ideal.

South Tyne League

Just one game to report here, namely the Dyvels away to HaydonBridge on Thursday Oct 28th. Many thanks to Dyvels captain Dave Foster for the following report.

“The team for the night was on 1: Peter Crichton . 2: Jeremy Handley. 3: David Foster Snr and 4: Phil Taylor. We had white on Boards 1 and 3. This was Jeremy’s first game for a Tynedale team.

The grading points against us were a staggering 11! We had to win three and draw the other. We did have a strong team out on the night but nothing is written in stone. Phil finished first against Ralph Fawcett who started out strong enough but made blunders in the middle game, finally leaving his queen en-prise. 1-0 to us. I was playing David Tulip who made some strong king-side pawn moves but missed a knight fork against his rook and king which he never recovered from. Peter’s match against Ian Mackay looked fairly even until Ian blundered a rook…3-0 up and all on Jeremy’s game against Christine Moorcroft. Christine started off really well and soon was an exchange up. Jeremy then nullified the exchange towards the end game by linking up a central pawn to bishop forcing the exchange back and although Christine had avoided a clever queen-trapping move, the position seemed pretty solid as long as either party didn’t blunder. She requested a draw which Jeremy accepted, his first points for us with many more to follow hopefully. Final result was a very close win to us by 24/26, an excellent result so many thanks team.”

Club championship

After an initial flurry of activity in September, things have slowed down rather, as will be apparent by comparing the table below with that published in the previous e-bulletin.

Jack Bradshaw 2.5/3
Dave Foster 2.5/3
Mike Nicholson 2.5/5
Steve Larkin 2/4
Jeremy Handley 1.5/2
Derek Blair 1.5/4
David Wrigley 1/1
Tim Wrigley 1/1
Phil Taylor 0.5/1
Peter Crichton 0.5/2
Bruce Reed 0.5/2
Malcolm Reid 0/1
Peter Booker 0/3

Interesting to see two past champions, including the defending one, in the bottom four! Of course it is early days yet, but competition to make the top eight looks like being fierce.


Individual championships.

David Wrigley has once again entered the Sell, and sends this report on his round 1 game: “Geoff Loxham thwarted my title ambitions last year, and may well have done the same this year. I was outprepared in the opening, and Geoff sat back and calmly accepted all the pawns I could blunder. Just when all looked lost, he let the exchange slip and I was left defending a R vs Kt&2 ending, with about 3 minutes left on the clock. I failed to find an appropriate plan in the time and Geoff carefully nudged his pawns up the board. With clock hanging and about to lose my rook, I resigned.”

Never mind, David. A lot can happen in the next six rounds!
In round 1 of the Newcastle championship, your editor was involved in a game of fluctuating fortunes with Andrew Robinson of the Newcastle club (formerly Kings). After an even opening (closed Sicilian), I was in too much of a hurry to launch an attack, which petered out and left me on the defensive. Then Andrew overreached himself, advancing a pawn to e5, which enabled me to win the exchange (rook for knight). Thereafter I harried his king and was eventually rewarded with the (unintentional) offer of a mate in one, which for once I spotted.

Scarborough chess congress.

Your editor flew the flag for Tynedale at the 34th version of this event, held on October 22-24 in the splendid Ocean Room in the Spa Complex, some five metres from the North Sea. His hopes were high, given that he had entered the Minor event, for players graded 125 and under, so it was somewhat chastening to discover that, with a grade of 121, he was ranked eighteenth of the eighty plus entrants. Indeed no fewer than twenty-four players were graded between 120 and 125 in this event. Your editor managed to avoid all of them and so enjoyed a slight grading advantage over all his opponents. He emerged from an exhausting but exhilarating two and a half days of chess with just three points to his name, well short of every conceivable prize. Still, it was good to be part of an event which attracted 350 players from pretty much all over the country. Modesty should forbid him (but it doesn’t) from mentioning that his results from this event, together with league and championship matches, mean that he is unbeaten in his last fourteen competitive games (if such self-advertisement doesn’t bring that run to an end, nothing will!).

And on that vainglorious note, your editor puts this e-bulletin to bed.

Steve Larkin


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