This weekend has seen the 3rd Crewe Congress take place in style at the Crewe Ibis Hotel with a 28% increase in entries from last year, making a total of 141 as the organisers went shopping for more tables on Friday. Equipment supplier, Chess Essentials was evicted from his intended room and moved to the Hotel Foyer in order to accomodate the flood of last minute applications to play, and unfortunately we even had to decline some latecomers.

The Congress has been another roaring success thanks to the hard work put in by the Congress Committee especially organiser Neville Layhe, with Les Hall and David Price from the club, together with the Arbiter Matthew Carr.

Many thanks go to all the players who travelled the length and breadth of the country to join us, from places a far as the Isle of Man, Scotland and London to name but three.

From our own club’s point of view we had great interest with nearly 50% of our members competing and taking up 13 places. The stand out performances came from the two section winners, both scoring a perfect 5/5 as Karl Lockett graded only 149 romped away with the Major Section (U165), and 15 year old Harry Gardiner justified his number 1 seeding in the Minor Section (U105).

There were other notable scores as organiser Neville Layhe finished joint second in the Major with an unbeaten 3.5/5; junior Lukasz Michalek picked up the grading prize in the Minor with the same score as Neville. Other players scoring over 50% were Adam Fields and Philip Wright scoring 3/5 in the Minor, while Dave Price’s 3.5 in the Intermediate section (U135) left him just outside the prizes in joint4th.

Full results can be seen from the Congress Results section of the website.

Perry “B” Team pull off Cup Shock !

It is a very exciting week for the club as we embark on our 3rd (Longplay) Congress this weekend. The club is expected to provide approx 10% of the overall entries which appear to be heading towards 140 or more.

We have played four matches this week with a pleasing record of 3 wins and just 1 loss. The stand out result has to be our Perry Cup B team, our 2nd string of Under 110s going to face favourites Alsager on Tuesday night. Captain Nigel Gardner sent the following report to our Newscaster:

“Great result considering how infinitely worse our team looked on paper against a much stronger Alsager team with just about everyone expecting a fairly one sided match and so it turned out. However, contrary to the prophecies of all it was Crewe who emerged victorious and now march on to the semi-final. Crewe were massively outgraded (21 pts a board on average) but after the first 30 minutes it was evident that all was not going according to the script. All four games were even after the opening exchanges and on board 1 a virtual mirror position had been arrived at and after another half an hour of exchanging off a draw was agreed. The plan (hope) had been to scrape half a point off the top two boards and then win on 3 & 4 so we had already achieved the first objective! 20 minutes later and Lukasz on board 2 agreed another draw against his opponent graded nearly 40 points higher. What was really pleasing to observe was the time Lucasz took in the opening exchanges to provide a firm base for a competitive game. We were now ahead of schedule but Phil & Reinhard still had a long way to go.

Somehow Phil arrived at a position with 50+ minutes left and his opponent with less than 6! A couple of errors transpired on both sides but Phil always seemed to have the upper hand eventually mating his opponent who only had seconds left.

However Reinhard’s game seemed poised on a knife edge but again his opponent was under a bit of time pressure in a very close game. A loss would have meant a loss for the team on board count and we all left the room so Reinhard didn’t feel our support/pressure. 10 minutes later he threw open the doors to announce what was an unexpected but an extremely welcome victory for him and therefore a 3-1 win for the team which we all felt justly proud of.”

This result followed on from the success of our League B team playing its first match of the season against Meir A on Monday night. A superb team performance culminated in a 3.5-0.5 win as Neville Layhe (bd 1), Rick Renegade (bd 2), Simon Layhe (bd 4) all won together with a draw from Chris Rhodes. This was Rick’s first match as B team captain as he tries to follow the success of previous captain Martin Gill, who has led the Bees to the NSDCA Div 3 title twice in three years as reigning champions.

Wednesday night saw the club suffer its first loss of the new season. After 8 successive club victories in all competitions, our D team fell to Fenton C in division 4 of the NSDCA. Only Doug Barnett salvaged a draw from the match as we finished distinctly second best by score of 3.5-0.5 to Fenton. At least the D team had started well last week to hopefully stay in the title race.

The C team captained by Dave Price had decided to take on the challenge of playing in a higher division this year and so joined our B team in division 3. The first match (on Wednesday) was against a strong Newcastle C team. All of the team contributed to the score board with Julian Bulbeck leading the way with a win on bd 3, before captain Dave P won his game to push the team over the winning line following draws from Karl Lockett and David Hulme, to give the team a positive start to the season with a 3-1 win.

In the club’s Rapid-play division 1, Bart Fajfer earned another point to extend his lead, with the super score of 12.5/13.

Flying start to season

A busy week has seen four matches take place: Wrexham vs Crewe in Wirral League div 2, Crewe “A” vs Holmes Chapel Rooks in NSDCA Div 2, Crewe F vs Crewe E in Div 5 and Cheddleton E vs Crewe D in div 4.

The Wirral team travelled to Wrexham on Tuesday as underdogs against the “new boys” in Wirral Div 2 and faced a team with grading advantage on the top four boards and dead level on bd 5. First off the mark was skipper David Hulme (bd 3)  playing with white for the first time in the Wirral League for two seasons with an early win as his opponent missed a trick in an otherwise level game. Bart Fajfer on bd 1 outplayed his Polish counter-part trapping a queen for a Knight. Despite having this decisive advantage his 177 grade opponent played on for a long time in a hopeless cause before eventually giving in. Karl Lockett on bd 2, took a draw for the team, in what he thought was a better position than his captain could assess, ensuring the team was almost home and dry. Simon Layhe outplayed his grade 147 opponent on bd 4 to achieve a superb win after a brilliant tactical finish to conclude the match with a 3.5-1.5 win, as we lost the bd 5 encounter. A brilliant start to the Wirral League season has seen us beat two promotion contenders to leave us well placed in the hunt, as well as progress through to the quarter-final of the Knockout.

Wednesday night saw another cracking night at The Mals with the club buzzing as some 22 members were in attendance plus 5 visitors from Holmes Chapel. The “A” team made a positive start to the North Staffs season with a 4-1 win as we comfortably outgraded our opponents on 3 of the 5 boards. Full points were gained on bd 1 by Bart Fajfer, bd 2 by Karl Lockett and bd 5 by Neville Layhe, with draws from the remaining games by Rick Renegade and David Hulme.

The centre of the playing room was taken up by the division 5 derby between our F & E teams. The higher graded E team were victors by 4-0 with wins by Les Hall, Reinhard Haack, Lukasz Michalek and Josh Cross as captain Nigel Gardner stood down to ensure as many players as possible get selected for these two teams. Meanwhile Harry Gardiner and Dave Price took the opportunity  to win two games a piece in Rapid-play Division 1 as they both climbed the table to 3rd and 4th place respectively. (Full details of Rapid-play on right hand side of site)

To round off the week our “D” team travelled to Cheddleton tonight to play the host’s E team in NS division 4. Another superb result saw the team grab all the points with a 4-0 scoreline thanks to wins from Neville Layhe, Doug Barnett, junior Harry Gardiner and captain Les Hall.

Wirral KO and Pre-season successes

On Monday the club’s Wirral KO team faced it’s first ever match against Frodsham, over 7 boards and giving a 1.5pts handicap to our opponents as they are a 3rd division team compared to our 2nd division status. The match was likely to be a close run thing as we were missing 5 of our top 7 graded players.

Captain David Hulme sent the following report to our Walsall based  member Rich Wiltshir the day after the match.

I thought it would be a 50/50 call and wondered if they would play two stronger players (Cromwell & Darlington). In typical Frodsham sporting spirit, they stuck to their “normal” Wirral squad even though both stronger players were there. The match started badly with Les Hall (on board 7) falling on his sword within the hour to put smiles on a few Frodsham faces.
Doug Barnett (on board 3) got one back, trapping his opponents king in the middle of the board around 9pm.
At this stage Bart Fajfer (bd 1) was level on material, but had a number of pins and binds that looked positive. I was a pawn up (on bd2) , my opponent sacked a k-side pawn to open an a King side attack, with my opponent safely castled on Q-side. Chris Rhodes (bd4) had gained a pawn and castled K-side, with B retreated to h1 with opponent’s B on h3. A slight plus for us.
Simon Layhe (bd 5) was creating havoc with a huge K-side pawn rush – blocking out opponents minor pieces. Dave Price (bd 6) was pretty level. So we needed another 3.5 from the 5 in play and they only needed 2 from the 5.
Around 10pm my opponent played a nice looking piece sac thinking he would win it back with more, but I had calculated better to see I could hold the sac for nothing back with an alternative swap he missed !
Immediate resignation after the swap.
Bart’s opponent did not a see a mating threat come after dropping a pawn on h2 to a B & Q on the diagonal. 3-1 to us without handicap.
Dave had some how lost a pawn and an exchange (bad B vs great R) and soon collapsed to make it 3-2 and sweaty palms.
Simon pushed and his opponent ran out of time when faced with certain defeat to put us 4-2 up.
Chris pointed to his opponents clock as it flagged at first control, only to realise they had gone past move 35 LOL, still just the pawn up. Chris missed a great chance to win quickly with a N move from f3 to g5 to attack opp B on h3 as well as discover attack with B on h1 vs R on c6. Clear win missed, but played Ne5 to double attack Rook instead. Luckily opponent put Rook on e6 allowing Bd5 to pin R vs K as the f-pawn had advanced. Chris won exchange then a pawn before giving back some material. Eventually came down to R & 5p vs B and 3p for comfortable win in the end about 10.20pm.
A close run match saw us victorious 5-2 (5 to 3.5 with handicap) and our first ever Wirral KO win at the 3rd attempt. We face an another away match in the quarter-final when we travel over the Welsh border to play Buckley/Mold.
Wednesday night saw us hosting Newcastle in pre-season friendly match over 6 boards. We ran out winners by the flattering score of 5.5 -0.5 with wins by Karl Lockett, Doug Barnett, Neville Layhe, Simon Layhe and Julian Bulbeck together with a draw from Bart Fajfer.
Meanwhile junior Lukasz Michalek cemented his place at the top of RP division 2 with a further two wins to take his score to 7/10, enjoying a two point lead over nearest rival Kobus Nienaber who have yet to play each other !


Newcastle prize Shield away from Crewe

Last Wednesday (19th) saw the last game of the South Cheshire Shield competition as Newcastle (the leaders) hosted our “A” team (in 2nd place) in the knowledge they needed to avoid defeat to win the Shield from our “A”s (the 2017 champions). The match was as exciting as any neutral would want and I’ve taken the liberty of hijacking the match report from Newcastle’s captain (Alberto Gissi) as follows:

Tonight’s match was a bit like a final for the South Cheshire Shield, as Newcastle and Crewe A were separated by just one point. The showdown didn’t disappoint and all the games were really hard fought!
The first one to finish was the game on board 1, where Myron managed to get a strong position and went on to win thanks also to his opponent being in time trouble. Myron had won all his previous 3 games and, considering also the impressive improvements shown since he joined the club a couple of months ago, I decided to put him on the top board with Crewe’s rising star Amy.
Meanwhile David ended up in an endgame with 3 minor pieces each, but Harry’s pawns advantage proved decisive and he managed to get a nice checkmate with his knight supported by his bishop pair.
On board 2 John offered a draw to Chris, who refused, but after the balance on board 3 shifted from a winning position for Joe to a losing one, Chris went back on his steps and offered a draw. Unluckily for him and for Crewe it was too late, as John had managed to secure a winning position, so it was his turn to refuse the offer. After that the game ended quite quickly and gave Newcastle the point that sealed the draw and the victory in the Shield.
Thanks to Crewe for a very enjoyable night and congratulations to all those who took part in this competition!

Dave Price, the non-playing Crewe “A” captain was there as a spectator and congratulated Newcastle on winning the Shield, as both teams completed the campaign unbeaten.

In other action at The Mals Club last week, Bart Fajfer took a deserved lead in division 1 of the Rapid-play with two more wins to take his score to 11.5/12 to overhaul previous leader David Hulme who remains on 11/21. In division 2 youngster Lukasz Michalek continued his leading role by taking his score to 5/8, sitting just ahead of Nigel Gardner on 4/8 and three players of 3pts (Les Hall, Kobus Nienaber and Reinhard Haack).

This report is an abbreviated version of original report dated 21st September, which disappeared due to a technical fault.

Wirral team win while Lukasz Michalek and Bart Fajfer progress in Rapid-play

Tuesday night saw our Wirral League team start it’s division 2 campaign against last season’s runners-up Buckley/Mold 1 at The Hoole Community Centre in Chester. First to finish was David Hulme in the battle of the captains on bd 3 putting Crewe in a 1-0 lead. An exciting game on bd 1 turned decisively as debutant Bart Fajfer just made initial time control of 35 moves in 75 mins before emerging with unstoppable threats after a complicated middle game, to extend our lead to 2-0. Buckley pulled one back as Andy Barber won on bd 2 to leave the match in suspense. However superb efforts on bd 4 and 5 by Simon Layhe and Dave Price with both outgraded by 20+ pts to gain solid draws ensured the team scraped home 3-2 to leave skipper David Hulme excited about the team prospects for the season.

Wednesday night saw another 17 members at the club house. Only a hand full of rapid-play games took place but these saw major progress at the top of both divisions. In division 1, Bart Fajfer added a further 1.5 pts from 2 games against leader David Hulme to take his tally to an impressive 9.5/10, in pursuit of David’s score of 11/21.

In division 2 a new leader emerged as 16 y/o Lukasz Michalek scored 1/2 against Nigel Gardner to put Lukasz in front on 4/5. Just behind Lukasz are several players on 3 pts but have all played more games than him (with Nigel on 3/6; Kobus Nienaber on 3/6 and Reinhard Haack on 3/8).

Next Wednesday sees the final match in the South Cheshire Shield with our “A” team travelling to league leaders Newcastle. Both teams are unbeaten so far and Newcastle have the upper hand with 13pts (Pld 7 W6 D1) while our “A” team have 12pts (Pld 7 W5 D2). Newcastle just need to draw the match to win the Shield while our “A” team need a victory to retain the trophy they won in 2017. All in all it looks too close to call.

Two more wins in South Cheshire Shield

On Tuesday our title chasing “A” team had the short journey to Alsager for their penultimate match of the campaign. Captain Dave Price gave the following report : ” A great result from our A team – First to finish was Harry (board 4) when his opening looked a bit messy and his opponent sacked a piece not only stopping Harry from castling but won the piece back. Harry kept his cool and took his time to grind his opponent down and skewered queen and Rook. Simon (on bd 3) was second to finish beating an ex Crewe player. On bd 2 Chris had less time than his opponent, and he was  offered a draw as they had opposite coloured bishops. Chris had a great attack and  he declined thinking a win was possible, but had to accept the draw with less than 2 minutes on the clock. With Crewe now leading 2.5 – 0.5, Amy was offered a draw with just over 1 min on the clock against nearly 6 mins. Amy declined the draw played a fantastic end game using the King to support a queening pawn which led to her opponent’s resignation. A fantastic end game with time pressure and all eyes on the game a real joy to watch.” This result leaves the “A” team facing a title-decider when they play Newcastle on 19th September at The Bridge Club.

On Wednesday night, the B team concluded their South Cheshire campaign with a win over Stafford to leap above them into 3rd place in the table. A really close match according to Stafford skipper Peter Evans could easily have gone either way. We were on the fortunate side of the scores to emerge with a 3-1 result thanks to wins from Rick Renegade on bd 1 as white made a critical mistake with just seconds left and Julian Bulbeck’s win on bd 2 was a 50/50 call, while Kobus Nienaber was the other victorious player. Thanks to skipper Les Hall our B team have used 9 players in this campaign, while our “A” team have retained the same 4 players for each match to date. The B team have turned round their season completely, having picked up NO points from their first 4 matches, to gain 7 pts in the other 4 matches – a remarkable improvement.

Meanwhile the club had another busy night of internal competition and friendly games with Bart Fajfer closing the gap at the top of Rapid-play division 1 with a further two wins, to take his score to a perfect 8/8 and remain in 2nd place, trailing the leader by just 2.5 pts. With 10 games in hand there is little doubt Bart will shortly emerge as the leader as he heads towards the trophy.

Bees win again in SCS as junior Harry takes big scalps in Rapid-play

It was another busy summer’s night at the Mals Club on Wednesday as our South Cheshire B team hosted Alsager. This was a close run match with the visitor’s grades just shading the advantage but the B team managed to overcome this. First board to finish was a superb result for our Adam Fields as he beat one of the Crewe old-boys playing for Alsager. On board 4 Kobus Nienaber held out for a draw despite being some 20+ grading pts below his opponent (another ex Crewe player). When Julian Bulbeck added another draw on bd 2 this ensured we had at least a share of the match points, leaving the bd 1 game in play where we had a 20+ grade point advantage. An unbalanced game developed with Neville Layhe agreeing a draw against Alsager captain Andy Barker to push Crewe over the winning line by narrow score of 2.5-1.5. The B team play their final match of the SCS season next week against Stafford where a win would catapult the team up to 3rd place in the table.

Junior Harry Gardiner had a very busy night in the Club’s division 1 of the Rapid-play. Firstly he played against the top graded player Bart Fajfer losing both games as would have been predicted. Next he took on the leader David Hulme and took a fully deserved 1.5 pts in the 2 games outplaying the 1st team captain. In the 2nd game he played a brilliant sacrifice leading to a back rank mate after deflecting the defending pieces in further forced exchanges. Harry then threw down the gauntlet to the 2016 RP champion Rich Wiltshir playing two more games. Again in the 2nd game he stifled his opponents position to such an extent that Rich had little choice but to try a risky sacrifice, that indeed proved to be unsound as Harry ramped up the pressure. In all 6 games  Harry must have conceded an average well over the 40 pts max used in grade calculations. A superb effort to score 2.5 pts on the night against the top 3 players in the competition and take him to 4th place.

David continues to lead RP division 1 with 10.5/18, but with newcomer Bart Fajfer currently on 100% after 6 games, it may not be too long before he overtakes the leader and 2nd place Rich Wiltshir (7/11) with junior Harry in 4th place with 6/12.

Nigel Gardner continues to romp away in Div 2 of the Long-play as he added another win to take his score to a perfect 4/4.

A’s stay in title hunt as B’s gain first win

Last week saw both of our South Cheshire Shield teams in action. Tuesday night it was the B team who traveled to Alsager for the Wooden Spoon battle with the teams having only 1 point between them going into the match. Alsager were more intent on giving games to their members than concerned about results as witnessed by the late substitution on board 2 as Neville Jones stood down to allow Mike Williams to play. This gave Crewe a big grading advantage which eventually led to a 4-0 win for our Bees as Neville Layhe, David Hulme, Les Hall and Kobus Nienaber all picked up wins. The result did not reflect the close nature of all the games, and the end score could have been just as easily reversed !

Wednesday night it was the turn of our A team to host Stafford. Harry Gardiner set the wheels in motion with a good win on board 4. Harry gained a crucial pawn advantage which was vital in the end game as it could not have been stopped from queening without another pawn queening elsewhere. Next to finish was Simon Layhe’s game on board 3 where the position came completely blocked by opposing pawn chains leading to the inevitable draw. On board 1 Amy Lovatt realised a draw would help the team and maturely offered this to her opponent which was duly accepted. Almost as soon as this was agreed, the board 2 game concluded with a resignation as Chris Rhodes had forged a piece advantage and an unstoppable position. This ensured a 3-1 win to keep the “A” team hot on the heels of leaders Newcastle, who lead the table by 1 point with two matches remaining each including the potential title decider at Newcastle on 19th September.

Meanwhile there was another excellent club night with 18 members in attendance despite a number being on summer vacation. A further 7 rapid-play and 3 long-play tournament games took place as well as a hand full of friendly games. David Hulme took the opportunity to extend his lead in RP division 1 with two more wins to take his score to 10/16. With Simon Layhe occupied in the South Cheshire match, Rich Wiltshir added two wins to take him up the table into joint 2nd with running score of 5/8. As can be noted David has played twice as many games as his nearest rivals to gain the upper hand. At least there is over four months left for competitors to catch up.