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Chester le Street summer congress

This event took place on August 21-23, 2015, with three sections: Open (15 entries), Major (under 171 grade, 29 entries) and Minor (under 136, 31 entries). Steve Larkin was the only club member to enter (why is it that, as a club, we make such a poor showing even at our local congresses?). He played in the Minor, where he was rated 22nd of the 31 entries. After a half-point bye on the Friday, he played Brian Whitaker of Thornaby, graded 111, on the Saturday morning. After the opening (a French Defence, Advance version), Steve had won a knight but had lost 3 pawns. However, this meant he had open files for his queen and rook to go marauding, trapping his opponent’s king on the queenside before delivering mate. In the afternoon he met Eddie Czestochowski of South Shields, graded 122. Steve’s improvised opening with black was wholly inept, leaving most of his pieces with no effective squares, and Eddie punished him accordingly.

Sunday morning saw him facing John France of Gosforth, graded 130, Playing with white, Steve produced one of his best games ever, making all his pieces tell, especially doubled rooks on a half-open file, before producing a move to which black could find no answer, even in the analysis room, and which led directly to a forced checkmate. Highly satisfying! Needless to say, the afternoon provided the usual antidote, as Steve was always on the back foot against Barry Edgar of Hetton, graded 133. The game came down to king and pawns on both sides, but Barry’s extra pawn proved decisive. So with 2.5 from 5 rounds, the outcome overall was average, but the game against John France will sustain Steve’s enthusiasm for months to come!

In the Major event, Ian Mackay of Haydon Bridge likewise recorded 50%, a creditable performance considering that he was rated 25th of the 29 entries.

In the Major, Ian Mackay of Haydon Bridge

Summer KO 2015

Having been knocked out of the major KO competition in the first round, Tynedale were duly entered into the Plate competition. They eased their way into the quarter-finals when their opponents from Tynemouth defaulted the match. So on July 6th 2015 they faced a Gosforth IV team at Gosforth. The line-up was as follows:
1. Joe Chan (121) v Jeremy Handley (144)
2. Gary Clarke (108) v Derek Blair (135)
3. Dave Turner (107) v Alex Ashworth (124)
4. Tony Neville (106) v Steve Larkin (107)
Gosforth’s grading total of 442 made them a Minor team while our total of 510 made us an Intermediate team, meaning that we ceded 1.5 points to Gosforth. So to win the match we had to score 3 out of 4. 2.5 would mean that the teams tied on points and Gosforth would go through, given their lower grading total.
All the games were quite protracted affairs, with Jeremy first to finish. With most of the pieces off the board, a race to queen a pawn ensued. Alas, Jeremy had miscalculated, Joe queened first and the game was over. 1-0
Derek and Alex finished pretty much together. Derek got much better initial development than his opponent, went the exchange up and by the endgame was a full rook up and coasted to victory. 1-1
Alex likewise went the exchange up and converted this advantage into a win. 1-2
So the outcome of the match hinged on board 4, which went to the wire. Steve emerged from the middle game a pawn up and proceeded to push his central pawns, but they had a long way to go and Tony’s rook and bishop were very active. Eventually Steve got two linked passed pawns on Tony’s third rank, supported by a rook. A queen and victory looked inevitable but in blithely advancing a pawn Steve left his rook en prise to Tony’s king. That would have turned victory into defeat, both on this board and in the match. Mercifully, Tony didn’t spot this any more than Steve had and a couple of moves later it was mate – phew!! 1-3
So the match was won by the narrowest of margins (3-2.5) and Tynedale find themselves in the semi-finals – and it all hinged on a double oversight!

South Lakes chess congress 2015

Two Tynedale club members took part in this event at Grange over Sands on June 12-14. Both entered the Minor 2 section for players graded 110 and below. There were 33 entries in this section, with Steve Larkin being ranked 8th and Stephen Rowley (who had been given an estimated grade of 95 which was clearly much too high) ranked 16th. Both took half-point byes on the Friday night.

On Saturday morning, Steve L had a fairly straightforward win over Jo Woollard (81) of Sheffield Nomads, though it took him 2 hours and 35 minutes to finish the job.Stephen played Robert Smialek (80) of Aigburgh and was still going strong after 2 and a half hours, with material even and Stephen enjoying a slight spatial advantage. The outcome, a loss for Stephen, was only decided in a time scramble in the last few minutes.

On Saturday afternoon, Steve L had a long game (c3 hours and 20) with Stuart Wood (97) of Kynock. Steve developed a strong attack and was pressing for two-thirds of the game but Stuart, though he dropped a couple of pawns, defended well and took full advantage of weaknesses in Steve’s defensive set-up. In the last 20 minutes, Steve made a series of errors, culminating in the loss of a knight. When Stuart offered a draw, in the belief that that reflected the overall run of play, Steve accepted gratefully, for by then the game was clearly lost. Stephen found himself up against Bill Burgess (107) of Austins, a really tough assignment for him. Blundering his queen early on ensured another loss.

On Sunday morning, Steve L faced Nick Holmes (92) of Teleport Shrewsbury. At one point Nick had 3 pieces en prise simultaneously and Steve felt sure a decisive advantage was coming his way, but a check by Nick transformed the situation into a series of exchanges and the game petered out into a draw after 90 minutes’ play. Meanwhile, Stephen was playing Jo Woollard (81), Steve’s opponent the previous day. Stephen mounted a strong kingside attack but Jo defended stoutly, picked up some loose pieces and went on to win. Even so, Stephen enjoyed the experience.

In the final round, Steve L played Dave Broderick (104) from Newport. Steve sacrificed a bishop for a potential mating attack early on, and Dave had to play very carefully for half a dozen moves and had to sacrifice a knight to see off the attack. Though only 20 moves had been played, over 2 hours had elapsed, at which point Dave offered a draw which Steve accepted, as the fatigue factor was kicking in yet again. So he finished on 3/5 and to his great surprise won a grading prize! Stephen was paired with Raphael Romaya (estimated grade 50), who by this point had played and lost 4 games. After 2 and a quarter hours Stephen was a pawn up and was taking the game to his opponent, but the latter was playing extremely slowly and when I left the venue the outcome was far from clear. What is certain is that Stephen will have leaned a lot from his first ever congress.

Also competing in the Minor 2 section was Tom Bradford of Haydon Bridge. He recorded an impressive 4/5 to share second place. Former Tynedale player Colin Davison competed in the Major event for players graded 170 and below and picked up a grading prize.