Lukasz Michalek retains the Les Hall Memorial Trophy in the Annual Time & Point Blitz Handicap

Congratulations to Lukasz on winning this special trophy fot the second year running, to become the first club member to win this event more than once since its conception in 2015, after eight years of different winners !

The 9th annual Handicap took place (for the first time) at our new venue at The St Mary’s Caritas Centre, where a record number of 32 contested in the spacious conditions. As usual, the start was a little chaotic as the planned pairings from the previous evening had to be amended to accommodate several late entries, a last minute withdrawal and the arrival of a brand new member.

The usual format was adopted whereby the highest rated players had just 5 minutes to complete their games, with an extra minute awarded to players in bands of 100 rating points, and 14 minutes given to the lowest rated players. Then to make it it tougher for the strongest players, handicaps are given ranging from scratch to 2 pts to add to a member’s score achieved over 5 rounds, ensuring nearly everyone has a good chance of winning the competition. In another twist all previous winners had one minute deducted from their standard times and a half point deducted from any standard handicap.

A swiss style pairing system is employed so that all higher rated players should win their 1st round games, but as usual there were a couple of early shocks as the top seed lost his first game to a newcomer Chinenye Basil-Nwachuku, and junior Jamie Roberts beat another strong player to boost his handicap. Most of the other top seeds won their first games as expected.

Round 2 ended with 8 players on 2 pts (excl handicaps), including three previous winners – Harry Gardiner, Rick Renegade and defending champion Lukasz, together with Martin Burns, Karl Lockett, Neville Layhe, new member Andy Raeburn and Chinenye who provided another shock in defeating club champion Carmel Barwick.

Round 3 saw previous winners Harry & Rick paired together with the resulting draw denting their trophy chances. With Karl beating Chinenye and Lukasz defeating Andy, this pair was joined by Martin Burns on 3/3, but the overall leader was Jamie who added a second win to add to his handicap of 1.5 pts.

In Round 4, Lukasz managed a tight win against Martin, and Karl’s chances were scuppered by Harry. Jamie was then paired with Carmel who proved too strong, and Chinenye beat Martin Frisher to move into the joint lead with Lukasz.

The winner between Lukasz and Chinenye would be the outright champion if there was a positive result in their game, while several players were hoping a draw on top board would lead to a play-off as we have had several times before. A sound opening from Chineneye with black appeared to give him the ascendancy on top of his 3 minute starting advantage, gaining a pawn in exchange for some pressure from white’s more open position. After a few tactical moves, Lukasz’s pressure caused a mistake giving a piece advantage and then built up an unstoppable attack to force resignation.

Final positions:

Winner – Lukasz Michalek 5/5

Runners up – Harry and Rick 4.5/5

As usual it was a most enjoyable night for all involved, with special thanks to David Roberts (Jamie’s dad) for assisting controller David Hulme.