Last week saw the club start it’s first ever Summer Knockout. 28 members including two more brand new ones decided to enter the competition. Full details of the 1st round draw are shown by following the Internal Competitions tab. The heavyweight contest of the 1st round draw saw top seed Martin Burns drawn against another of our leading players – Neville Layhe. After a hard fought draw, the players agreed to wait 7 days before playing the Armageddon play-off, which should be played this week in front of a large audience. Three other 1st round games were completed with Doug Barnett, James Marshall and Kobus Nienaber all making it safely through to Round 2 (the last 16).
This week sees the 3rd round of fixtures in the South Cheshire Summer Shield as our B team make the short trip to table-topping Alsager on Tuesday, and the A team welcome Stafford to The Mals for the first time since the Covid outbreak in March 2020.
Both of the Shield teams have a 50% record so far, having won one and lost one each and have a further 3 matches remaining in the campaign.
Things quieten down during the summer months, although the club remains open. Many established clubs have summer breaks and get back together in September for the start of the “traditional” season.
So what is happening at Crewe during this summer.
We have two teams playing in the South Cheshire League.
The club is open every Wednesday, and members can play some friendly games or choose to have a more serious game (counting towards ECF Grading) if they wish – from a choice of long play or rapid play options.
We are starting a new event shortly – a Summer knockout which is open to all members and is run on an FA Cup style basis.
We look to see if other clubs wish to play some form of match and we have come up with a new venture – a Triangular Rapidplay Match – between Chester, Crewe and Wallasey to be played on 5th July at Chester.
We will be holding our Annual General Meeting (with its prize giving) after the South Cheshire League has finished.
For details on any of the above please contact our chairman – Dave Price, or Events officer – David Hulme.
Last week saw the end of the club’s internal winter competitions, where members were allocated to divisions 1,2 and 3 to compete in all-play-all sections. We had started back in September with 14 players in division 1, 10 players in division 2 and an unknown number in division 3 to accommodate new members as they arrived through the season.
Division 1, seen as the “club championship” was extremely competitive with players expected to play twice against everyone else in the section. It became obvious partway through the season it was too much to expect everyone to fulfill an obligation to play 28 games, especially with 5 teams playing in the North Staffs League. Accordingly numbers were reduced to 10 with those remaining facing a maximum of 18 games. The tournament was eventually won by Harry Gardiner with a superb score of 11.5/14 to become club champion. Harry was pushed all the way by Martin Burns, who finished as runner-up with 10/14. Neville Layhe steadily moved up the table to finish 3rd with 8.5/15. It was great to see the level of commitment as 8 players managed to play 11 or more games.
Division 2 did not have the same impact on those involved, and saw the level of competition fade dramatically after christmas. This is reflected in the final scores with Nigel Gardner winning the section on a score of 6/7 having not played a game since January, and Lee Tilton finishing 2nd with a score of 5/7 likewise being unable to play since January.
Division 3 saw some new faces join in the competition with a total of 9 members participating. The stand out performers here were Mike Keenan with 5/5 and Oskar Jarzynski 5/6 sharing the 1st prize.
Congratulations to all the winners:
Div 1- Harry Gardiner; Div 2 – Nigel Gardiner and Div 3’s joint winners – Mike Keenan and Oskar Jarzynski
Last Sunday we held the club’s 3rd Rapidplay Congress at the impressive Ibis Styles Hotel. Thanks to the usual late rush of entries we managed to increase our numbers to 115, up from 91 in 2019 – so many thanks to all the competitors. The number was swelled by the mass ranks from our own club with 20 or so of our own members participating. From the many comments we received it seems the Congress was very popular, with superb management led by Chief Arbiter Matthew Carr and his assistant Lance Leslie-Smith. Prize winners are shown on our Congress Results section, but the highlight for us was seeing everyone having a good time and the return of congress chess back in Crewe after a 3 year break . We had a couple of prize winners from our own club including Martin Burns and Bart Fajfer taking a share of 2nd place in the Major and George Bulbeck taking a share of 3rd place in the Minor. We were delighted with our juniors who excelled as Joe Hignett racked up an impressive 4/7 and Oskar Jarzynki with 3.5/7. The juniors were playing in their first ever congress alongside others Jarek Czyz (Major) and Mark Randell (minor).
Congratulations to Jarek Czyz who managed to clinch our 8-Round Swiss RP on Wednesday night. On another busy night at the Mals Club we had nearly 30 members taking part in Rounds 7 & 8, including several newcomers. Jarek started the final evening of the event in the joint lead on 5/6, and fortune smiled a little as the other joint leader was unable to attend. However with Karl Lockett and Lukasz Michalek in contention on 4.5 pts, nothing could be taken for granted. As Lukasz held Jarek to a draw and Karl winning in Round 7, Jarek and Karl now shared the lead on 5.5/7, with Martin Burns and Harry Gardiner a mere half point behind.
The final round pairings saw Jarek paired with David Hulme, as he had already played the other contenders, Harry with Karl and Martin with Lukasz. Jarek was too good for David and secured the trophy with a win. Harry and Martin had to settle for runners-up spots after successes in the final round left them on 6pts each at the end of the tournament.
This week sees the start of the South Cheshire Summer League with both of our teams playing away from home at Fenton and Kidsgrove respectively. Wednesday night will see some more games in our Winter Events which are moving towards their conclusion.
With the VMS League season over and a short break before the South Cheshire Shield League kicks off, attention turns to our internal tournaments. The internal divisions 1,2 and 3 all started back in September and complete their marathons on 30th June.
In division 1, the top players have just 3 games to go, with Harry Gardiner adding to his lead this week. Harry has moved to 10.5/13 with only one defeat this season, and has already won the 2021 Summer and Time & Point Handicap tournaments. He is the hot favourite to win division 1, and stands one point off the two leaders in the Swiss Rapidplay. His nearest rival in division 1 is Martin Burns who was pegged back this week in a draw with Neville Layhe, to drop behind on 9/13. David Lambton sits in 3rd with 7/11 so has five more game to play if he can squeeze them all in.
Division 2 has seen little activity since the start of 2022, with Nigel Gardner still leading on 6/7, one point ahead of Lee Tilton on 5/7. While Nigel and Lee have other commitments, George Bulbeck is reeling them in and sits in 3rd place on 4.5/8. If George can arrange enough of his remaining games then he has every chance of overtaking the leaders.
Division 3 has become a two horse race with Mike Keenan in the ascendancy. Mike has a 100% record with 5/5, and beat his key rival recently – our 10 year old rising star, Oskar Jarzynski (5/6). Mike is favourite if he can complete the remaining games with the biggest obstacle being availability of other players.
Finally, please note that the final night of our Swiss Rapidplay for Rounds 7 & 8 will take place on Wednesday 18th May, where so far we have had 36 members take part in our largest ever internal event.
Tuesday night saw the B team play the final VMS league match of the season at Alsager. At long last Julian Hawthorne was able to make his debut for the club, while Dave Price covered for B team regular James Marshall. It looked to be plain sailing as Reinhard Haack got the Bees off to a flying a start with a quick win on board 5. Julian delivered a neat finish to escape the shackles on board 2 and Steve Ballantyne converted a major piece advantage on board 4, to give us victory after a loss on board 1. Dave P decided caution was the best option to agree a draw in the final game and finish the match with a 3.5-1.5 scoreline. The Bees finished the league as runners-up to the all conquering D team.
Wednesday saw a few internal club competition games take place. In division 1, Harry Gardiner and Martin Burns cemented their one-two positions in the chase for the club championship taking their tallies to 9.5/12 and 8.5/12 respectively. The other game in division 1 saw Rick Renegade add a point to move onto 4/10. With Dave Lambton remaining on 7/10 it looks to be a three-horse race for the title.
In division 2, there has been very few games played since the turn of the year so that Nigel Gardner still leads with 6/7 from Lee Tilton on 5/7. There were wins for Steve Ballantyne (1.5/4) and Kobus Nienaber (3/6). With the tournament running until 30th June there is plenty of time for a shake up at the top.
In division 3, junior Oskar Jarzynski is piling on the pressure with a leading score of 5/6. With a maximum of 8 games to be played it is going to be difficult for anyone to overtake Oskar, although Mike Keenan is very much in contention on 4pts.
Looking ahead, the club will host Rounds 7 & 8 of the Swiss Rapidplay on Wednesday 18th May, before the South Cheshire Shield (league) gets underway the following week.
After the excitement of playing a Grand-Master, and an unbelievable Rapid-play night with Chessnuts.com , it was time for the final round of 4NCL season 5 and the penultimate match in the NSDCA’s VMS League.
Tuesday night was round 7 of the 4NCL online which concludes the league schedule. The “AOL” team struggled against Morriston Alekhine in the battle for the division 2 wooden spoon, with a disappointing heavy loss. Only Simon Layhe spared our blushes salvaging a draw on top board. The “BOL” team faired slightly better going down 3-1 to Braunstone in division 3 with Nigel Gardner the sole victor for us. At the end of the league campaign the AOL team have failed to register any match points while the BOL team picked up two draws to finish second from bottom in their sub division. A decision will be made later in the year whether we play in season 6 based on members wishes.
In the real world of OTB chess the C team played their final match of the season hosting Alsager. With our visitors only having four players available captain Dave Price stood down. The match ended in a 2-2 draw with the final game on board 3 going down to the wire where opposing captain Andy Barker saved the match for Alsager. Our points came from wins by Karl Lockett (bd 1) and Mike Keenan (bd 4).
In the internal tournaments, their was a division 1 top of the table clash with Harry Gardiner (8.5/11) retaining his lead with a draw against Martin Burns (7.5/11) ; and Neville Layhe notched up another point to move to joint 4th with Karl Lockett on 6/12.
Wow, what an evening it was at The Mals Club for our 3rd night of the club’s Swiss Rapidplay tournament, covering Rounds 5 & 6 of the 8-round event.
It was a record turnout for those taking part in an internal event as 26 members went into battle, despite several absences due to holiday season, taking the overall numbers competing to 36 so far.
Round 5 saw the top two seeds go head to head on board 1, as Karl Lockett ruined the only 100% scorer’s (Martin Burns) record to move to 4.5 pts ahead of Martin, Simon Layhe and Jarek Czyz all on 4 pts. There were no great surprises in Round 5, with the highlight from the club’s point of view seeing three recent recruits including an “all-ladies pairing” on board 13 as Vicky Kelsall gained success, and 12 year old Joe Hignett playing his first ever “graded game” achieving a draw.
Between rounds, our visitors from Chessnuts.com interviewed the two ladies – Vicky & Milena Hignett while setting up a “Hand and Brain Blitz” game with the assistance of David Lambton and Martin Frisher as the “brains”. See video link below.
Round 6 saw underdogs Jarek Czyz and Simon Layhe defeat the top two seedings and move into the lead of the tournament with scores of 5/6 with both games watched by many spectators. Lukasz Michalek defeated the tournament controller – David Hulme on board 3 to move into joint 3rd with Karl on 4.5 pts. A group of five sit just behind these with 4 pts each and will hope to be contention. This group includes James Marshall, David L, No 1 seed Martin, Harry (No 3 seed) Gardiner, and No 20 seed Nigel Gardner who has beaten four of the top 10 players in an outstanding effort to date.
The final night is yet to be determined as an earlier one was postponed before xmas due to the Covid situation, and promises to be an exciting climax to the competition.
Many thanks go to non-playing Steve Ballantyne for keeping track of all the scores to allow the tournament controller to play in the competition, and to youngster Harry Gardiner who sets up the club (boards, sets and clocks). And a special final thank you to Nicky from Chessnuts for coming to The Mals and promoting our club.
It’s been a fortnight since our last report and we have played three NSDCA League matches and two more online matches in the 4NCL.
On 30th March we had two more derbies in the NSDCA with E vs B and C vs A teams. The B team nudged up to 2nd place in the league table with a 3-1 win after successes for Simon Layhe, James Marshall and Steve Ballantyne outweighed Neville Layhe’s sole effort for the E team. The C team won narrowly 3-2 to leave the “A” team rooted in the bottom slot. The highlight of the evening was Peter Kanalos’s first ever win (for the As), but the rest of the team failed to live up to Peter’s exploits. There were draws on the top two boards, with the C team sealing the result thanks to George Jellis and Mike Keenan.
Tuesday (5th April) was 4NCL Round 6 with our AOL team against Bude in division 2 and the BOL team vs KCS U13 in division 4. As noted in the headline, board 1 for Bude was GM Dr John Nunn with Simon Layhe given the challenge of facing him with the black pieces. Simon put up a superb fight and daring to sacrifice a Rook for a Bishop and a pawn was not able to generate quite enough compensation as the GM slowly realigned his Rooks to control the endgame and infiltrate the queenside weakened pawns. The match ended up in a 3-1 defeat which was soured a little as an obvious mouse-slip cost Karl Lockett to drop a rook, with his opponent refusing to accept it was a genuine slip. If Karl had been allowed to continue he was in the ascendancy and with David Lambton’s win on board 3 may possibly have collected our first point of the season with a draw. Meanwhile our B team suffered the same scoreline (1-3) with Kobus Nienaber our sole winner. According to captain Dave Price, Kobus was in the worst position for the team with the other three boards all looking good, but unfortunately things didn’t work as planned.
Wednesday night saw our D team up against Alsager, with three regular squad members missing including captain Nigel Gardner. The replacements had mixed results with the match concluding in a draw, to see the D team lose their 100% winning record. Wins by Jarek Czyz (his first in the league), and Pawel Stanny were backed up with a draw from David Lambton as the D team completed their league schedule with a superb record of 9 wins and 1 draw to take the league title by a landslide.
In our internal tournaments, Harry Gardiner added a further half point to extend his lead in division 1 with 8/10, to keep ahead of Martin Burns and David Lambton both on 7/10. Harry is in pursuit of a hat-trick, already having won the 2021 summer tournament and the Annual Handicap. The competition should see all 10 players having 18 games each, so there is a long way to run yet.
There was a potential decider played last night in the division 3 (U1300) competition as the top two went head to head. Mike Keenan used all his experience to beat our youngest star Oskar Jarzynski and maintain a 100% record with 4/4 to move ahead of Oskar’s 4/5.