Bulletin No 41

Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no 41 (26.5.11)

I feel bound to begin not with a chess event but with the Club’s

Farewell to Mike Nicholson

On Sunday May 22nd, twenty or so club members, wives and chess friends gathered at Tim and Jane Wrigley’s house to mark Mike’s impending departure for Shropshire. Club chairman Phil Taylor presented Mike with a beautifully produced book of photographs illustrating various aspects of Mike’s chess career, together with photos of most of the current membership and messages from them to Mike, the whole put together with great care by Tim before it was professionally produced. So Mike now has a tangible token of the high regard in which he is held both by members of the club and by the wider chess community. We wish him and Jill every happiness in their new home in Shropshire, but oh boy are we going to miss him!

The second story of this bulletin has to be the

Club Championship

Members are to be congratulated on prosecuting the knockout stage of this event so vigorously that, already before the end of May, the process is complete and we have a new champion.

Before I come to that, let me review the process leading up to that conclusion. In the quarter-finals, Dave Foster despatched reigning champion Peter Crichton, Derek Blair swept aside Steve Larkin (for the second year running!), Jeremy Handley overcame Phil Taylor and Mike Nicholson defeated Bruce Reed. So the semi-finals involved Dave against Derek and Jeremy against Mike. Derek writes of his game:

“I drew white and in reply to a d4, then Nc3 opening Dave played the unusual c6 followed by e6. This allowed me to expand with e4 and gain an early unhindered central board presence. Dave developed his Queen to f6 on move 4 and exposed her to early attack. She proceeded to make another 5 moves as she switched to the queen side under attack and to be repositioned. Meanwhile White grabbed more space and developed his pieces; his black bishop on a3, fatally prevented black from castling. After castling king side, White re-positioned his knight on d2 to allow an unhindered king side attack with f4-f5, e5-e6 and g4 backed with Qf3. Black’s cramped position prevented him from readily developing his pieces and meant he was unable to withstand the above attack as it rolled forward. Dave resigned on move 25.”

As for the other semi-final, Mike has written this very entertaining account:

”1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6 9. e4 c5 10. e5
A wonderfully unbalanced position! Now after 10. … cxd4, White will need an alternative to 11.exf6 dxc3 12.fxg7 Bxg7 13.bxc3 Bxc3+.
10. … cxd4 11. Ne4
Now I rejected 11. … Nd5 through fear of total domination of my king-side by white’s minor pieces …. not to mention his queen. However, I had overlooked that I could continue after 12.0-0 with 12. … Qc7, when White cannot protect his e-pawn.
11. Bb4+ 12. Bd2 Bxd2+ 13. Qxd2 Nxe4 14. Bxe4 Rb8 15. Qxd4 O-O 16. O-O Bb7
White has emerged from the complications with a sound position and a small advantage, though I felt that the prospects were now for level-pegging.
17. Rfd1 Qb6??
Simplest and safest was the obvious 17. … Bxe4, but I’m not into simple and sound, and the text looked to offer an even more efficient re-entry into the game. I never gave white’s reply a moment’s thought …
18. Bxh7+!
Now I spent much time re-adjusting my thought processes, and all the time having immediate resignation as my top alternative. However …
18. … Kxh7 19. Qh4+ Kg8 20. Ng5 Rfd8 21. Qh7+ Kf8 22. Qh8+??
Neither of us found white’s winning continuation here – 22.Rd6! – which would necessitate 22. … Bd5 to deal with the threats to e6 and f7. We had both seen 22.Rxd7 Rxd7 23.Qh8 Ke7 24.Qxb8, but black has good play with … Rd2. Now the game is wide open again.
22. … Ke7 23. Qxg7 Nxe5 24. Qxe5 f6 25. Qf4 Rg8??
Too clever again! I wasn’t worried about 26.Qb4 Ke8, but would have been if I’d noticed that deadly Rd6 reply again … . Fortunately Rd6 was not in the script today.
26. h4 fxg5 27. hxg5?
And still the script was sacrosanct.
27. … Rbf8 28. Qb4+
Too late, too late, there came the cry!
28. … Ke8 29. Qd2 Bd5 30. Rac1 Kd7 31. Rc3 Rc8
Readers will not be surprised to know that time was now against me. 31. … Rf5 would have been neater, but simplification was now the order of the day.
32. Rh3 Rc4 33. Rh7+ Kc8
Here, well past the time when move-recording ceases to be mandatory, I set my score-sheet aside. Jeremy seemed to help me by exchanging off a pair of rooks, then the queens, then the remaining rooks. I advanced my a-pawn to a4, and exchanged my e-pawn for the backward g-pawn. All I had to do, I thought, was zugzwang Jeremy’s king away from his pawn pair on g5 and f6, capture the pawns, zugzwang him away from his last two pawns on b2 and a3, queen a pawn and mate him. Rather a lot to ask in less than a minute … particularly since I hadn’t understood the characteristics of the position and the winning method, if indeed it existed. There is no game score to check the facts, but my post facto suspicion is that I had failed to keep the white king far enough at bay, and that I was trying to win a draw. Jeremy generously offered me one, but my misplaced confidence allowed me to prefer the excitement and a result on the night. I got the result (a loss when I allowed f7) but the finish was somewhat short on excitement!1-0
Farewell, Tynedale! Good luck, and thanks for having me!”

Thank you very much, Mike, for this as for all you have done for the club.         

And so to the final, played at the Dyvels on Tuesday May 24th. For the third time in a row, Derek drew white. The game score which follows has been elaborated after extensive consultation with both Derek and Jeremy, neither of whom is able to provide a complete score. The annotations are by Fritz, who qualifies the opening as “Unusual lines”.

d4 d5

Nc3 Bf5

f3 Nf6

g4 Bg6

Bg2 Nc6

Nh3 (Fritz prefers g5) e6 (Fritz doesn’t like this, which allows Nf4)

0-0 Be7

Bf4 Nb4

Rc1 c5

Be5 cxd4 (Fritz prefers Qa5)

Bxd4 Nc6

Bf2 d4

Nb5 e5

Na3 (Fritz much prefers c3 or f4) 0-0 (Fritz much prefers Qb6 or Bxa3)

Nc4 Re8

e4 b5

 Nxe5 Nxe5

Bxd4 (Fritz much prefers g5) Nc6

c3 Nxd4

cxd4 Qb6

Kh1 (Fritz much prefers g5) Rad8

d5 Bc5

Qb3 Nxg4 (Fritz dislikes this, preferring Bd6)

fxg4 Rxe4

Nf4 Re7 (Fritz prefers Rb4 or Re3)

Nxg6 hxg6

Rf3 Rde8

Rcf1 Bd6

Qc2 Qd4

Qc6 Qe5

Rh3 b4 (Fritz prefers Rc7 or Qd4)

Qc1 (Fritz prefers a3 or Qa6) Qe1

Rhf3 (Fritz prefers Qg5 or Qc6) Qxc1

Rxc1 Re1+

Rf1 Rxf1+ (Fritz prefers Rxc1)

Bxf1 Re5

Rd1 Kf8

Kg2 Ke7

Kf3 Kf6

At this point Fritz sees the game as even, and neither Derek nor Jeremy can provide any further moves. In the light of subsequent analysis, Jeremy felt that a draw was available to Derek but that one of Derek’s last moves before his clock dropped missed this opportunity and left the initiative with black. We shall never know for certain, but what is sure is that Derek lost on time. So in Jeremy Handley we have our fourth new club champion in five years, a further reminder that there is not too much to choose between those who opt to compete in the championship. After this result, Jeremy will of course be in the firing-line once the next championship starts in September!

Durham Chess Congress

Four members of Tynedale flew the flag for the club in the 32nd Durham Congress, held at Houghton-le-Spring on April 15-17. Peter Crichton and Mark Taylor entered the Major, for players graded under 165, and Steve Larkin and Phil Taylor entered the Minor, for players graded under 125.

Peter, seeded eighth of the 27 entries, took a bye on the Friday, then had 3 consecutive draws, against Alex Raison (Durham 141), Ted Jarah (Eldon Leisure 140), and Barry Edgar (Consett 138), before achieving lift-off in the final round with a win over Noel Boustred (Gosforth 135), to finish with a very respectable score of 3/5.

Mark, seeded 18th, opened with two draws, first against Brian Robinson (Bishop Auckland 137), then against Chris Izod (Jesmond 150). In round 3, taking the wrong pawn when in a winning position led to his instant defeat by John Marsh (Hebburn 156). Then came a win against Robert Mumford (Kings Head 124), before the final round saw Mark up against his highest graded opponent, Bernard Price (Hartlepool 160). Mark lost, finishing on 2/5, when it might so easily have been 3/5. For a man who has played virtually no chess for the past two years, this was a very good performance.

In the Minor, Steve was seeded third of the twenty entries. He took a bye on the Friday, then had a long, hard battle with Stan Johnson (South Shields 118) which ended in a draw, though Steve, with two connected passed pawns, surely should have won. Round 3 brought a fairly comfortable win against Frank Tanner (Crusaders 87). Round 4 was another protracted affair (the last of the session to finish) against Peter Harker (Hartlepool 111) and this too ended in a draw: the initiative lay with Steve, but both players were out of time. In round 5, Steve was up against John Reddington (Peterlee 116), who was one of the two leaders after round 4. This was a close game until a double check by Steve led to the inevitable loss of John’s queen, prompting resignation. So Steve finished on 3.5/5, which was enough to secure a share of second prize.

Phil started his campaign with a win in round one over Jack Boxall (Peterlee 92), but blundered in round 2, losing to Peter Harker (Hartlepool 111). He made amends with a round 3 win against Robert Reynolds (e80), then for the umpteenth time found himself playing Stan Johnson (South Shields 118). Since they always draw, Phil tried offering a draw before a move had been played. Stan declined, but three hours later the inevitable draw was agreed. In the final round, Phil met another familiar adversary, Colin Gilroy (Gateshead 114), who beat him to claim a share of second prize, leaving Phil on 2.5/5.

So overall the Tynedale contingent performed fairly well, albeit in a congress whose numbers were significantly down (just 6 in the Open, making a total entry of 53!). Once again, the signs are there for all to see that the state of health of chess is not good. (Interesting to note in this connection that Mathew Taylor, a competitor in this event in the past, opted to play in a computer-games contest instead).

League round-up

The final league positions of the club’s various teams are now confirmed. In the

Northumbria league division one the Tans finished eighth out of twelve teams, two points clear of the sides involved in the relegation struggle, their best performance in a good many years. In division two, the Reivers were seventh of eleven teams, a much poorer showing than that of the Tans the previous year.

In the South Tyne league, there is one match still to report on, an internal affair between Monarchs and Dyvels. I am grateful to Dave Foster senior for providing the following report:

“This game versus the mighty Monarchs had been postponed from November last year, seems such a long time ago and I must apologise for being distracted enough to allow a possible full strength match to slip through my fingers. Huge thanks go to Steve Larkin for being captain of both sides, a unique fact methinks. Massive thanks go to the Taylors for making it possible as well.

The line up was as

follows: ?????

Monarchs       Dyvels
David Wrigley (2) v (3) Jeremy Handley
Mark Taylor (3) v (4) Matthew Taylor
Steve Larkin (4) v (4)  Phil Taylor

This from David Wrigley (many many thanks).

“On board 1, Jeremy and David met for the third time this season. Both games had been draws, could one of them break the deadlock?

David played a slightly dubious opening line, but Jeremy played sensibly rather than charging into a slightly favourable tactical battle, so the outcome was an even middlegame. David found a tactic which picked up a queen and two pawns for the price of two rooks, leaving Jeremy’s king exposed but David’s own queen a bit vulnerable. Jeremy set about bullying David’s queen with his rooks, but it escaped with the blood of a couple more pawns on its hands. Jeremy sacrificed one last pawn in the hope of getting at David’s king, but he didn’t get much more than a couple of checks, and resigned in the face of an army of angry pawns.”

So one:nil to the Monarchs.

I arrived very late after an Bridge End Allotment meeting so could only witness a very lethal attack against Matthew’s king-side by his brother Mark. Two:nil to the Monarchs and game over methinks. Steve’s game was also much in advance when I joined the room and as Phil had a Knight and pawn advantage in the end game Steve finally threw down his king. Final score was 2-1 and 17 to 15 with the handicap to the Monarchs.

Congratulations to Derek Blair of the Monarchs for his captaincy and retaining the STL Championship. Some very hard and close matches this year, thanks to all for the match reports and their time.”

So the Monarchs took the title for the third successive year, the first time that this has ever happened. The Dyvels filled fourth place, above HaydonBridge but just pipped by Friars for third. Individual board prizes went to David Wrigley on board one, with 6.5/7, a most impressive score but one eclipsed by his dad who notched up 6/6 on board three!

Which brings me naturally enough to

The Haydon Bridge Jamboree

There was an excellent turn-out for this event, held on May 17th, including no less than ten members of Tynedale chess club! It proved to be a happy night for the Monarchs, who were not only confirmed as league champions but also won the evening’s two-round competition with a quartet comprising the two Wrigleys, Cap’n Derek, and Steve Larkin. So another trophy for the Monarchs, and a broad grin on the Cap’n’s face!

Hearty thanks were offered to Syd Cassidy, who has for years run the league and who is now bowing out, to retire to Ireland. He will be a big miss, and it is to be hoped that measures are in hand to find a successor, so that this most enjoyable of leagues can continue to provide the friendly competition which is its hallmark.


Individual championships.

David Wrigley sends this report on his round 7 game in the Sell competition:

“I went into my game against Andy Robinson full of hope, as both the leaders of the Sell had lost, and victory would guarantee a share of first place. Things went awry on move 2: after 1.c4 f5 2.f4?! I failed to find a decent plan (2… e5 looks like fun) and just ploughed on with a leningrad setup, but pawns on d4 and f4 prevented me from realising a pawn break on e5. Without tactical play in the centre and kingside, Andy was able to realise his positional plus, and he picked up the exchange cheaply whilst taking control of the centre. Andy pursued piece exchanges, but in doing so he relaxed his positional grip, allowing me to make some threats and I stole back the exchange for the cost of a pawn. We were left with queen and five against my queen and four, and both kings were exposed. I missed a couple of perpetuals and may have missed a pin to win his queen (the last twenty or so moves are lost to the mists of time), but Andy kept his head in the time scramble and coolly converted his extra pawn. So I finish up on 4/7, and 4th out of 8.”

One can appreciate David’s disappointment at seeing his chance of glory slip through his fingers, but nonetheless he has still played extraordinarily well in this competition this year, picking up some notable scalps in the process.

By sharp contrast, in the Newcastle competition, Steve was happy to accept the draw which Colin Gilroy offered in round 6, the ending being unclear but in Colin’s favour. He was even happier to accept Jeff Baird’s offer of a draw in round 7 (“I’d like to get home in the light”, said Jeff, who surely had a won position on the board). So Steve ended with an inglorious 2/7 and almost certainly props up the Newcastle table – a very different story from a year ago!

Forthcoming events.

June 10-12 South LakesChess Congress, Grange-over-Sands

July 1-3 Harrogate Chess Congress

Sept 23-25 Northumberland Chess Congress

And now it is time for the summer recess, so the next bulletin will not appear until the end of September. Meanwhile the Summer Knockout competition will keep us on our toes, while we await with bated breath our grades for the new season and sharpen our strategies for a more glorious chess future!

Steve Larkin


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