Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no. 4 (2.02.07)
Apologies to all our readers for the slight delay in producing this bulletin, owing to the fact that the editor has been rather caught up in Life-beyond-Chess! There is plenty to report since the last bulletin, so without more ado I’ll get down to the nitty-gritty.
Northumberland League Division 1
On 5 December the Reivers went down 3-2 to an (on paper) much stronger Tynemouth side. On board one David Weldon won well, as did Mark Taylor on board three, beating his former mentor Lara Barnes for the second year in succession. On board two, Mike Nicholson thought he had a brilliant sacrificial attack, but with only four minutes left on his clock he opted for caution … and lost. On board four, Derek Blair’s game was very close and was the last to finish, with just 5 and 3 minutes respectively on the clocks. In the end, Derek was unable to stop his opponent forcing a passed pawn home. Peter Crichton on board five likewise lost a very close game to passed pawns. So Tynemouth won but were given a run for their money. As Mike observed, ” If the England cricket team had shown half the application and concentration that we showed, they’d have batted right through the final day against Australia.”
The Reivers’ next match was on 23 January against the champions of the past two seasons, Leam Lane Aces. Mike Nicholson writes: “Mark Taylor was exam-tied, so I brought in Colin Davison. Inviting Colin is my best antidote to global warming, as wintry weather always ensues. So it was again, and many thanks to Matthew Taylor for transferring from the HaydonBridge match at short notice. Games went very much according to colour. Leam Lane scored maximum points from their three whites, while we took a point and a half from our two. David Weldon had a tough time against the enormously successful Hawkins, getting badly cramped on the king’s side. Derek Blair, promoted to board three to minimize the disruption to colours, had the sort of horror game we all suffer once in a while – a sort of miniature miniature. Matthew, the third black, was the last to finish and put up a great fight before overlooking a pin and losing a pawn. I had a horses-for-courses win against Doyle on board two, after recovering to inflict an unusual series of pins. Tim Wrigley had a very good game with Marsh and remains undefeated this season. Getting 1.5 game points against a team outgrading us substantially all the way down was no bad performance. It leaves us pretty well tied with Morpeth in last but one position in the division. If we can win our next match (Haymarket Sages) we shall escape the relegation places, at least temporarily.” The latest league tables show just two points separating the bottom four teams, so there is still everything to play for in the survival stakes!
Northumberland League Division 3.
The Tans bounced back from their crushing defeat by Gateshead Checks (of which more anon) and their lack-lustre draw with Tynemouth Sprites by slamming Alnwick B 4-1 on 14 December. On top board Peter Crichton emerged with a draw from a game that was always very close. Phil Taylor won by default on board two. Matthew Taylor, playing with a very heavy cold, did extremely well in the circumstances to manage a draw on board three. On boards four and five Bruce Reed and Steve Larkin had emphatic wins against weak opposition.
Alas, this winning streak was not to last as, on 30 January, the Tans went down 3.5 to 1.5 against Gosforth Regents. Phil Taylor writes: “Although Bruce managed to defeat his opponent within the first half hour all other boards were fiercely contested, taking most of the time on the clocks. Peter lost a tight game on board one …” (Peter’s own commentary was: “Apologies for another inept performance last night – to blunder my remaining piece in a dead drawn bishop and pawn ending took some doing!”) “…then Matthew got caught by a tricky move from his opponent on board two. Whilst I was down for the majority of the game I had managed to get within sight of a draw when the board two result and the subsequent loss of the match (I was never going to get better than the draw) distracted me sufficiently to give away my rook and resign.”
However, having lost two match points against Gosforth, we have regained two against Gateshead, thanks to Phil’s persistence. He drew League Conductor Lara Barnes’ s attention to the fact that the top two players in the Gateshead team which beat the Tans 4.5 to 0.5 were ineligible to play, having already played on the top three boards for the Gateshead second team in division two. After enquiries, the points on the top two boards were awarded to the Tans, making the score 3-2 in Gateshead’s favour. Phil, quite rightly, persisted: surely the inclusion of two ineligible players on the top two boards had a knock-on effect right down to board five and in consequence should not Gateshead forfeit the match? Phil’s case has finally won the day, so the Tans find themselves back on top of Division 3, one point ahead of Jesmond Pawns (who have a game in hand) and Gosforth Regents. There are no other candidates for promotion so that provided that the Tans win their match against Jesmond tonight they should be heading for Division 2 next year. However, Jesmond Pawns beat Gosforth Regents 3-2, so watch this space!
South Tyne League
Two matches to report here. On 5 December Tynedale defeated Austins 3-1. Phil Taylor writes: “The sole loss was Colin Davison on board one but as he was coming out of a 6-7 month gap since last playing I thought he did well to keep it to a close game. In fact all four games were close. Malcolm Reid had a great win on board two and his opponent was graded over 100. I was pleased with my win against Alan Hiatt who is graded 97 this year, up from 93 last year. Mine was a tight game. I managed to get a couple of pawns ahead and reduced the position to my knight and five pawns against his bishop and three which in the end was too much. Matthew also won a tight game and was a little lucky his opponent didn’t spot a forced draw at the end.” This excellent result left Tynedale at the top of the table at the half-way stage of the season.
On 23 January action resumed with a match against HaydonBridge. To say that the outcome of this match was extraordinary is to put it mildly. With both teams on the same total handicap, the games finished in playing order. Peter Crichton narrowly lost to Ian Mackay on board one, but this was cancelled out on board two when Steve Larkin had a narrow win over Jim Dixon. Phil Taylor and Christine Moorcroft then agreed a draw on board three, leaving the result of the match hanging on board four, where Dan Woodhouse was in serious trouble against David Tulip. David, under extreme time pressure, missed a chance for mate but grabbed a pawn, with checkmate to follow. Dan, his king trapped, claimed stalemate and a draw. David agreed and the match was drawn. Only after Dan had gone did someone suggest that perhaps it wasn’t stalemate after all and that Dan may have had a pawn move available to him. It seems that this was indeed the case, though in the heat of the moment Dan had overlooked the fact as had David, who took it all philosophically. As for Tynedale, they will have fewer luckier draws in the next one hundred years!
We now have a new leader in young Jack Bradshaw. Admittedly he has played more games than anyone else but to have notched up nine points so far is a splendid achievement. Close behind him come the two main contenders for the title, the current champion and the former one. In their second meeting, a very tight game led to an ending with rook and passed pawns on both sides. Mike Nicholson was in time trouble (surprise surprise!) but calmly pushed his pawns on, forcing Derek Blair to sacrifice his rook and so lose the game. As a result, it rather looks as though the Elephant and Castle will be moving six miles west to its previous location at the end of this season. The other noteworthy fact is that Phil Taylor has finally come charging out of his blocks and gains five places!
Peter Crichton has sent me the following update on his experience in the Sell Trophy: “Slightly better this month with a draw with black against Daniel Lai [who seemed younger (but not stronger) than Matthew] and a win with white against Robert Forsythe who kindly blundered in an equal position – sounds familiar!” Well done, Peter! It’s good that someone’s flying the Tynedale flag in this competition.
That’s all for now. I must go and prepare for the crisp-crunching, lemonade-guzzling bright young things from Jesmond Pawns!