Tynedale Chess Club: e-bulletin no. 5 (7.3.07)
There is no question about the lead story for this bulletin – pride of place has to go to the Tans so, contrary to normal editorial practice, I’ll start with
Northumberland League Division 3
They‘ve done it! After a slightly shaky spell mid-season – a draw with Tynemouth Sprites and a loss to Gosforth Regents – the Tans came good in their last two matches, defeating Jesmond Pawns 3.5 to 1.5 and crushing Tynemouth Sprites 5-0. With Gateshead defaulting on their return match with the Tans, giving us a further 5-0 victory, the Tans finish the season on top of the table and cannot now be overtaken by any other team. So they are league champions in their first season and are assured of a place in the second division next year! There are of course no illusions about the fact that Division 2 will be an altogether tougher challenge. For instance, Gosforth’s first team, the Empire, languish just three from bottom in that division, yet their much improved second team beat us in January 3.5 to 1.5. Still, that is for the future. Now is the time to celebrate the Tans’ achievement.
On February 2nd, the Tans won a crucial match against Jesmond Pawns by 3.5 to 1.5. Earlier in the season we had won 5-0, but on this occasion the Jesmond youngsters were far from being a push-over. Phil has already circulated a report (e-mail of 5 Feb) so I will not repeat it here. Undoubtedly the best game of the match was on top board, where David Wrigley set his opponent Yue Yang Chao all sorts of problems, but the youngster kept his head to snatch victory in the final minutes of the game. Riveting viewing!
Phil has also circulated a report on the final match of the season, a 5-0 victory over Tynemouth Sprites which sealed both promotion and the league title. The Tans ended up with the enviable record of 10 games played, 8 won, 1 drawn and 1 lost, giving 17 match points out of a possible 20. Congratulations are in order to Phil and all members of the Tans squad, whose results over the season I summarise below:
(This table includes the results of the match against Gateshead, which we lost 4.5 to 0.5, before the Gateshead team was disqualified).
Northumberland League Division 1
While the Reivers cannot quite match the achievements of the Tans, they do at last seem to have turned the corner, thanks in no small measure to the determination and inspired captaincy of Mike Nicholson. Having said that, the threat of relegation is not yet entirely over, but early in February the Reivers were really staring relegation in the face after going down 3.5 to 1.5 against Haymarket Sages. Mike Nicholson wrote: “Well, we’re really in a relegation dog-fight now. No excuses. We were out-graded only on boards 4 and 5. Everyone bar Derek Blair got off to good starts and surely we had prospects of a comfortable win well into the middle game – David Weldon capturing a pawn on the seventh and failing to extricate his knight as he knew he could, Mark Taylor a pawn up with the bishop pair in an open position and just losing concentration, Steve Larkin with a strong passed pawn which somehow vanished. Even in my own game, where I was never behind, it took a strong counter-threat from my opponent to force me to find the simplifying QN for RR exchange which had been there for the taking for several moves back. But although we went on to lose all our three games with white, congrats to Derek for fighting back to hold the draw and to Steve for fighting on long after the rest of us had finished.” The match score was:
A Bak 1 David 0
S Aitchison 0 Mike 1
C Wardle 1 Mark 0
J Slegers 0.5 Derek 0.5
G Bosworth 1 Steve 0
Just how dire the league position was became clear a few days later when Mike wrote: “With Alnwick and Morpeth drawing their match last evening (which pushes us down to the foot of the table 2.5 game points behind Alnwick), I calculate that finishing on 5 points – i.e. winning against Alnwick and Kings B – would probably see us safe, while finishing on 3 would mean relegation. A final total of 4 would probably mean that game points would decide it and at the moment we are not well placed: Morpeth 13, Alnwick 12.5 (both played 7), Kings B 10.5 and ourselves 10 (both played 6). If we only draw against Alnwick or Kings B, we might need to score well when beating the other. That, however, depends on how many game points we all pick up in the matches we might well lose against the title-chasers.”
In consequence, Mike took the decision to bring in Colin Davison on board 1 for all four remaining matches. And so to the absolutely key match against Alnwick A on March 1st. Mike wrote: “It was tense stuff, and the winning margin was never in prospect until, literally, the very last move of the whole match. It started well, given that I would have not been too down-hearted if we had come away with only a draw. All the games appeared level for quite some time, and with Tynedale being nominally the home team, that meant that our three blacks were holding their own. However, the first result in was David’s draw with white. He had appeared to have a small space advantage throughout, but when the last pair of rooks came off, there were too many pawns left, and Dave Wallace could keep Dave’s king out without difficulty.
“By that time my own game was taking a downturn. I gave up a pawn to avoid getting my bishop hemmed in on b7, then gave up the exchange. I was sitting with a very red and hot face, viewing the drawish positions elsewhere and seeing relegation very, very close indeed. Colin had a like-colour bishop ending with pawns not too favourably placed, but a draw was soon announced. At about that time I looked across at Tim’s game, only to see that Ralph Firth had played a cunning exchange-cum-discovered attack which was about to yield the exchange. Good gracious, we were only going to get 1.1/2 game points. Disaster upon disaster. Mark, like Colin, was in a like-colour bishop ending, but all his pawns bar one were on the correct colour, and he had an advanced (but not passed) rook pawn into the bargain. At around this time he considered offering a draw, but my own impending demise persuaded him otherwise. Tim remained in deep thought, not making a move, still presumably trying to avoid losing material. To cap it all, I had to give up my bishop and was now a whole rook down. I couldn’t get out of my mind the conversation I’d recently had with you, Steve, advocating resignation if you’re a piece down with no real hope. But under the circumstances, I couldn’t bring myself to follow my own advice. I had queen against queen and rook, but at least I had some irritating checks.
“Then, miraculously, Tim was a pawn up in a pawn ending! Afterwards he told me he had never been in danger of losing material. It had all been a Nicholson mirage. Mark too was making real progress. His very experienced opponent had curiously withdrawn his king to the back rank, allowing Mark’s king to win the opposition and take control. Soon Mark was able to pick up pawns and force Harry to give up his bishop to stop the first of Mark’s now multiple pawn advantage from queening, and it was soon over. Then Tim’s opponent resigned rather than indulge in a pawn race. Tim was going to queen first, but might Ralph not also have queened? Another mirage? Only Tim can tell. Tim now stands at 75 percent this season, the only one of us to top the half way mark.
“So we’d won the match, but the drama was not over. I had reached the time control with my customary several seconds to spare, and we’d recommenced with Mike Trolan having about 35 minutes to my 15. The key to my position was that my king was nicely tucked in behind pawns on h6, g6 and f7, so that Mike couldn’t winkle it out without using both his pieces. To do that, he would have to get his own king in such a position that I couldn’t get a perpetual, or fork king and rook, or skewer king and queen, or commit some other such nasty. Unfortunately for him, his own king was more exposed than mine. At one stage I was even able to set up a position from which if he tried to run his king into the ‘safety’ of his pawns, I would have mated him in three. He didn’t see the threat, but instinct saved him. However, in trying to make progress, he allowed me to pick up a couple of pawns, and his clock crept ever closer to mine. Finally, when I had a couple of minutes remaining, he was only a minute or two behind me, and offered the draw. If I have reconstructed the position correctly from his score-sheet, he had indeed allowed a perpetual, but my hand reached out to shake his before I realised it!
“So 3.1/2 – 1.1/2 it was, and now with 3 points we have leapt from bottom to fourth bottom, ahead of Alnwick (8 matches, 1 match point, 14 game points), Kings B (7, 2, 11.1/2) and Morpeth (7, 2, 13). Our record is 7, 3, 13.1/2. Morpeth’s round 9 match with Kings A has been postponed to next week. After that they have Tynemouth Trojans and Gateshead Libraries. Libraries have had a very good season, but on paper I would expect Morpeth to have the better chances. Kings B have the easiest run-in – Haymarket Sages, Alnwick and ourselves. Alnwick have the Hobbits before their last match, Kings B. Game points can still be decisive, but we did ourselves some good last night, e.g. we’re now half a game point ahead of Morpeth. “
The match score was:
1.Colin Davison 0.5 Phil Helmsley 0.5
2.David Weldon 0.5 Dave Wallace 0.5
3.Mike Nicholson 0.5 Mike Trolan 0.5
4.Mark Taylor 1 Harry Teetsov 0
5.Tim Wrigley 1 Ralph Firth 0
A great result and a great report, Mike – one can feel the tension! Fingers crossed for the forthcoming matches.
South Tyne League
Only one match to report here: Tynedale v. Friars at Hallbankgate on 17 Feb. Tynedale won 3-1 and remain on top of the table with just one match (v. Austins) to go. Colin Davison, on board 1, managed to extricate his queen from danger before going on to defeat Nabbs. Captain derek Blair, on two, was last to finish , gaining a creditable win against a higher-graded opponent. Malcolm Reid, on three, gained a piece in the middle game and held his advantage to win. The black sheep of the family was Steve Larkin, on four, who allowed himself to fall victim to a surprise checkmate (it surprised his opponent, Bill Hardwick, as well) when a piece and two pawns up. Still, we remain top of the league and, as derek observed, “We have fielded ten different players so far in the five matches to date, so the practice of rotation (50%) has not adversely affected results and has kept most members in touch with our South Tyne friends.”
This is the state of play as at 7.3.07:
So, as against last month, Jack has stretched his lead at the top, Mike has moved into second place and Matthew into fourth. New member David Foster, whom we welcome, has taken over his dad’s legacy which, prior to this month, was played one, lost one.
As I mentioned in an earlier e-bulletin, I think we need to take a look in due course at the way we run the club championship in future. For this year though, it runs under existing rules, but we need to establish a closing date. Given a theoretical possibility of everyone playing 28 games and a more realistic target of 24, it follows that only Jack has so far played 50% of available games. I therefore suggest that we let the championship run on until the end of June, which in theory allows everyone to play a further 15 games. If there has not been a storm of protest by the time of the next e-bulletin, I shall confirm that arrangement then.
1. Mike Nicholson writes as follows of his quest to achieve International Master status in postal chess: “My Slovakian opponent has resigned as expected on board 10 in the finals of the sixth European team championship. This gives me my second IM norm. That’s the good news. On closer inspection,
however, I find that for the award of the IM title itself, the norms must have been gained in tournaments totalling 24 players. My final score here was 7/12 (W3 D8 L1). My previous norm was on board 10 in
the fifth North Atlantic Team Tournament (2001-2). There were only 11 teams in that one, and I scored 8/10 (W7 D2 L1). That makes a total of only 22 games.Given that shortfall, I shall have to wait just a little longer. On board 4 in the preliminaries of the 16th Olympiad, where I have nine opponents and need 6 points for my third norm, I have already scored 4/5 and expect to achieve the norm later this year with something to spare. I’m aiming to finish top in that one. My latest win is likely to put me in a final 3rd or 4th position. Anyone interested can look the table up at http://www.iccf-webchess.com/EventCrossTable.aspx?idv77, or go to the ICCF site, click on Tables, then Europe, then EUMSM VI, then board 10. For the Olympiad, go to Olympiads instead of Europe. Results sometimes are added within a day or two, sometimes it takes up to a month. Sadly, England look like ending up with the wooden spoon in the Euro finals, though we could perhaps challenge for a place in the next
round of the Olympiad.”
Great stuff, Mike! We look forward to celebrating your International Mastership in the not too distant future.
2. Club nights continue to be quite well supported. On 20 Feb there was an interesting innovation involving a multi-simultaneous chess happening involving about ten players all playing two games simultaneously with a time limit of 20 minutes. Great fun and definitely worth repeating, perhaps with rather longer on the clock.
3. Mike Nicholson invites us all to sign an e-petition to no. 10, designed to encourage the government to have chess recognised as a sport. The web address is http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Mindsports/. As Mike observes, there’s still a year to go, so no hurry.
4. It’s time to think about entries for the 2007 NCA Summer Knockout (won by Tynedale in 2006) and Plate. Deadline is March 18 and at issue is whether we enter one team or two. Anyone who would like to play this year should let Mike Nicholson know ASAP.
5. The NCA Rapidplay is on March 18. For details contact Tim Wrigley or go to the NCA website.
Finally, this is the first e-bulletin to be produced on a new computer, so apologies for any glitches in layout etc. Also, as I have a new e-mail address and ISP and have switched to Broadband, I do not yet have entire confidence that e-mails I think I have sent actually reach their intended destination. So this time could I ask you all to acknowledge receipt of this one and I will know exactly where I stand. Many thanks. Steve
P.S. I am so appalled by the way this has come out that I have re-edited it and am sending it to you again in what I hope is a much more readable form. Apologies. Steve