Simon Layhe wins Summer Knockout as preseason match ends in a draw

Last night saw the final of the 2022 Summer K.O between two of our leading players – Harry Gardiner and Simon Layhe. Both came into this final in rich veins of form with Harry having won his previous 11 games in a row, and Simon the mere 4 in a row. In fact Harry’s last defeat was back in March (strangely enough against Simon). Simon’s progress over the last 12 months has seen his rating jump from 1700 to 1809. This competition started on 15th June with 30 competitors and so this was their 5th game each. Harry had drawn black in each of the earlier rounds and was delighted to win the toss for choice of colour so he could have the white pieces. As anticipated this was a high quality encounter where Simon created the initiative in the middle game with a central pawn capture that deflected support after a minor piece exchange to give him the pawn advantage. From here Simon exploited any weakness in white’s position to build pressure and ultimately add another pawn to his advantage. Harry did his best to complicate the picture and prevent black’s progress but Simon’s active position proved too much in the end. Congratulations to Simon on winning our inaugural KO competition, and commiserations to Harry who collected 3 trophies at our recent AGM. It is pleasing to see two of our younger members rising up the chess ladder and leading our club so positively into the future !

It was great to see Newcastle play their first competitive match since March 2020 due to Covid and make the short trip to The Mals to play a pre-season friendly which has been an annual event since 2015. This was a five board match with teams equally rated overall at 8203 vs 8209, and before battle commenced it was announced that the match series was level at 2-2. Early skirmishes finished in the host’s favour as George Bulbeck won on board 4 and his dad Julian drew on 5. When Martin Burns won on top board it was expected Crewe would take a 3-2 lead in the match series, but this did not take into consideration Newcastle’s fighting spirit. Gradually the visitors gained the upper hands on both remaining boards as Alberto Gissi and Peter Hornsby won on boards 3 and 2 respectively to draw the match and keep the series in the balance. It is hoped Crewe can take a team to Newcastle later this season for the 6th challenge to allow some more competitive chess to supplement Newcastle’s limited league fixture list of just 10 matches.

A number of games were played in our newly started 2022/23 club championship, where we have 3 divisions of 11 players so far in all-play-all sections. Results can be seen from the following link