Crewe teams star at Newcastle Jamboree

News has just arrived to say Crewe teams were joint winners of the Open Section and outright winners of the U130 section at tonight’s Jamboree Event. Congratulations to both teams.

The Open team pulled a rabbit out of the hat by including Newcastle’s top player Alex Richardson (grade 182 rapid) alongside Rick Renegade, Chris Rhodes and Doug Barnett.

The U130 team included juniors Lukasz Michalek, Harry Gardiner and Amy Lovatt as well as club chair Dave Price (who was probably carried along by the youthful exuberance of his team mates)

Our third team consisted of Neville Layhe, Simon Layhe, Nigel Gardner and Les Hall

Thanks to secretary Les Hall for getting the message through to your News Reporter so promptly.

Cheddleton prove too strong to take 2nd Annual Challenge

Wednesday night saw another full house at the Mals Club, as we hosted Cheddleton in a match contested over 13 (unlucky for us) boards on a glorious summer evening in Mediterranean like temperatures. Teams were arranged so that grade totals were pretty even overall.

The early skirmishes showed Crewe taking an early 2-1 lead following wins for Josh Cross with his first ever win for the host club, and Cheddleton’s junior Charles Swinson levelling matters before Crewe’s rising star Harry Gardiner upset the grades with another swift win. The next hour or so saw the visitors gradually take control commencing with another upset as Jamie Jones won against the grades on board 11 before the first draw of the match on board 10 to keep the scores level. Cheddleton took the lead as Sandra Blackburn took advantage of an unsound sacrifice on board 4 before Crewe were outgunned on boards 6 as 7 with two debutants coming unstuck against experienced opposition. Crewe’s only further success came from Adam Fields on board 9 where three queenside pawns created an extra queen. Rick Renegade tried a piece for a pawn sacrifice with his Bishop, knight and four pawns vs 2 knights and 4 pawns on board 2, but ultimately left both sides without sufficient mating material for a draw. Simon Layhe could not unlock the board 5 game without making matters worse so agreed a draw to leave Cheddleton securely in the lead 7-5. The final game to finish saw Jacob Boswell (Cheddleton’s 16 year old star graded 183) outplay David Hulme on board 1 as he converted a 2 knights and 5 pawns vs 2 bishops and 4 pawns into a comfortable win to make the final score 8-5 to Cheddleton, coincidentally an identical score to the 2017 Challenge.

Congratulations to Cheddleton and thanks to Caroline Mountford for bringing her team from their club. Crewe will be trying hard next year to register their first success in the Annual Chedd Challenge.

The score card can be seen on the League Management System at:


Shield “B” team battered at Newcastle

The South Cheshire B team got off to an inauspicious start to their Summer campaign coming off decidedly second best at Newcastle on Wednesday night. What looked to be an even match on paper was off course played over the  board. We could only muster one draw through Rick Renegade’s effort on top board against Newcastle’s draw master as we were well beaten by 3.5-0.5 as the hosts take an early lead in the table with two wins from their opening two matches.

Meanwhile back at the Mals Club, there was a busy night of Rapid-play games with 14 players in attendance. Simon Layhe has made an impressive start in division 1 scoring an unbeaten 5/6 and leads comfortably from David Hulme (4/8) and David Price on 3/6. Defending champion Rick Renegade has made a sold start with 2.5/3, with junior Harry Gardiner just behind on 2.5/4.

This week sees the “Cheddleton Challenge Match” as the biggest club in the North Staffs League visit Crewe for a return match. We are hoping this year’s match over 14 boards is as keenly contested as last year’s first Challenge which went in Cheddleton’s favour by the score of 8-5.

Shield “A” team start off with win

Wednesday night saw our first South Cheshire Shield Match of 2018, with our “A” team (the defending champions) hosting Alsager. On paper this looked too close to call with the visitors having a big grade advantage on top board, while we had grade advantage on boards 2 & 3, and Alsager a smaller plus on board 4. The match progressed much in our favour as Harry Gardiner won on board 4 before Simon Layhe did likewise on board 3. We were guaranteed victory as Chris Rhodes picked up a draw on board 2, before Amy Lovatt gained her best ever club result with a further win.

In the background the club was a hive of activity as a number of members continued playing Summer tournament games in our Internal Rapid-play, alongside a number of friendly games for our newest members.

AGM News & Awards go to Lovatt & Renegade

This week saw the club’s Annual General Meeting attended by over half of the members – a very unusual event in itself. With the South Cheshire Shield fixtures due to start next week (20th June) this was a rare opportunity to be at the club with no league matches taking place.

The highlight of the AGM was the presentation of awards, as chairman Dave Price presented the trophies.

The first two awards went to (the absent) Rick Renegade whose first season at the club has been a huge success. His first award was for the 2017 Summer Rapid-play where he beat a field of 23 players to score 13.5/17 and pip runner-up Neville Layhe on 12.5/18. His second trophy was for his recent victory in the club’s Annual time & point handicap, where he defeated runner-up Julian Bulbeck in an Armegeddon-style play-off after scoring a perfect 5/5.

The remaining trophies were hoovered up by 16 year-old Amy Lovatt as she collected both the “junior” and “whole club” Player of the Year awards with a spectacular score of 77%, as a result of scoring 30/39 in all counting games including summer rapid-play, time and point handicap, and club matches in the 2017 South Cheshire Shield, 2017/18 NSDCA season and Wirral League. Amy was unbeaten for the “A” team with 4/5, scored 3/5 for the “C” team and had perfect 100% scores for the “B” team (2/2), NSDCA Cups (3/3), 2017 south Cheshire (3/3) and an inspired 11/11 for the “E” team helping them to the NSDCA division 5 title.

Chairman Dave Price was very proud of the club’s achievements in winning NSDCA’s Division 3 and 5 titles, together with the Intermediate Cup (U130) and the 2017 South Cheshire Shield.

Dave took great satisfaction from the fact that we have grown to be the 2nd largest club in the NSDCA running 6 teams, with 27 members representing the club through the NSDCA season and introducing 9 new players to competitive league chess in the last 12 months.

After the AGM, several games were played in the club’s 2018 Summer Rapid-play, which is now well under way and runs until December alongside the club’s long-play tournaments.

Crewe beat Meir in first Challenge Match

Last Monday saw the first of Crewe’s 2018 club challenge matches. Our opponents from Meir hosted this 10-board adventure for it’s maiden voyage. The idea was to try and match up team grades as close as possible, but we could not avoid taking a sight advantage due to unavailability of players on both teams.

Taking up the challenge in true “gung-ho” fashion was junior Harry Gardiner who posted the first result of the night with a blitz-type game in under 20 minutes. He must have thought we were still playing in our Handicap Event which took place a few days earlier, as we took an early 1-0 lead. Phil Wright took advantage of said grade difference to put us 2-0 in the lead around the hour mark. Meir chalked up their first win as Martin Chadwick  played nicely to win on board 9, before a couple of draws were agreed on boards 5 and 7 to leave the match delicately poised. Nigel Gardner extended Crewe’s lead with a neat win on board 8 to take Crewe near the winning line. Meir’s top player Steve Hill found a way to escape against Doug Barnett’s gambit to narrow the scores to 4-3. Dave Price then converted his pressure on board 3 against promising junior Ewan Haas into the full point to ensure Crewe could not lose. Adam Fields confirmed our victory when both players feared pushing for the win would lead to defeat, agreed to a draw on board 4. The final game was quite something to watch as Simon Layhe squeezed the experienced Pete Windows into defeat deep into increment time to give Crewe the flattering final score of 6.5-3.5.

Thanks to Meir for the very pleasant buffet provided and for being excellent and sporting hosts. Captain Bob Perry was very keen to ensure the match goes ahead next year with a named trophy up for grabs !

Rick Renegade wins Annual Handicap

Last night saw 20 members playing in the club’s 4th Annual (time & point) Handicap Event over 5 chaotic rounds of fun, and competitive chess.    


With handicaps of up to 2.5 pts being added to players scores over the 5 rounds, it was anyone’s guess who would emerge as the winner. The 2017 champion Rich Wiltshir was brutally handicapped by the contoller’s decision to allow just 4 minutes to complete his games, while other players had between 5 and 15 minutes spread into bands of approx 10 grading points.

Round 1 went according to plan with the exception of youngest player Charlie Dodd winning against the grades to perform the “upset of the competition” and put himself in pole position with his handicap for several rounds. Round 2 saw the greatest amount of upsets with all top three seeds being turned over including the 2017 champ.

Round 3 saw the cream of the competition rising to the top as Rick Renegade and Julian Bulbeck became the only players with 100% records, whiles father and son duo Neville and Simon played out a draw to remain unbeaten and stay in contention with the leaders.

Round 4’s top board game between the two 100%-ers turned out in favour of Rick, but with handicaps left both players on 4 pts. Also on 4 pts were Simon & Neville, while another junior Harry Gardiner took the lead on 4.5 pts with the 1.5 pts handicap after his 3rd win in a row. Newcomers Mike Keenan and Reinhold also won their first games as they started to get familiar with the harsh realities of blitz-type times. With another couple of players having combined scores of 3.5 pts there were 8 contenders who could win the event.

The top board in round 5 gave Harry the chance to win the competition outright if he could beat 100% Rick. A superb effort by young Harry just fell short as Rick won with just seconds remaining. Meanwhile on board 2, Julian managed to overcome Neville’s tactics to ensure a joint lead with 5 pts and a play-off with Rick. Four players finished joint 3rd on 4.5 pts; these were Doug Barnett, Simon, Nigel Gardiner and Harry.

Am armageddon play-off then took place with Julian winning the toss and electing to have black in the hope of achieving a draw. Rick as white was given an extra minute to his alloted time of 6 minutes, with Julian having his allotted 9 minutes. A fantastic game developed as Julian won a piece for a pawn on the king-side while Rick went for the jugular against the queen-side castled black position. With considerable skill, Rick engineered a break through and cutting off his opponent’s king side escape managed to mate with queen and pawns as the black king was forced towards the centre of the board, while time was running low and a material deficit. Approx 12 spectators watched the final and all agreed it was a high quality game to finish off the competition.

Congratulations to Rick on becoming our 4th different winner of the handicap and well played to Julian. Rest assured that Rick can expect a near  impossible task of retaining it next year as the controller will impose a tough handicap and time allocation !

Ready to start the  Armageddon            Rick’s final blow

C Team draw curtain on league season

Wednesday night saw Crewe’s final league game of the NSDCA 2017/18 season. Unlike many dead rubbers at this time of year, this match was to decide the Division 4 championship although Crewe could not win the title.

The visitors to the Mals Club came from the league’s biggest club at Cheddleton, with our C team playing their F team. Cheddleton needed to draw the match or better to secure the title and fittingly came with a typically strong team. The host’s were to put up a valiant fight which could have helped Newcastle (in 2nd place) win the title on board point difference if we could inflict a 3-1 result. Alas the visitor’s were just too good holding to comfortable draws on boards 3 and 4 where our Simon Layhe and Kobus Nienaber could not force victory. The title was decided when Phil Birks gained the only win of the night for Cheddleton on board 2. Soon afterwards peace was agreed on bd 1 with our Doug Barnett earning another solid half point to conclude the match in favour of Chedd F by 2.5 – 1.5. Congratulations to Cheddleton.

Two wins & a draw in week as season closes in

This has been the penultimate week for our winter season leagues. The sun disappeared on Tuesday evening as our Wirral team took on the long journey to play Hoylake 2 in our final Wirral League match. Against evenly matched opposition we managed to pull off a narrow 3-2 win which seemed unlikely for most of the evening. We lost early on bd 5 where the grades were much in favour of Hoylake, and we got on the scoreboard when David Hulme picked up a draw on bd 2, which brought David the “Player of the Year” award for division 2, having scored an unbeaten 7.5/9 through the season having played with the black pieces in all 9 matches. The score was levelled when Julian Bulbeck (making his Wirral Lge debut) fought back from a piece for a pawn down to overturn the position and emerge with a huge “tw0-passed-pawns” advantage. Rich Wiltshir (our committed Walsall Warrior) used all his end game skill to secure a further win on bd 1 to guarantee us at least a share of the points. The final game saw junior Amy Lovatt with under 2 minutes left of the maximum 90, agree to a draw when she could not find a way to force a break-through with a Bishop and 4 pawns vs a Knight and 4 pawns despite her valiant effort. The team have finished 3rd in the table, well ahead of 4th place team but behind the two teams who managed to beat us this season – namely champions Atticus and runners-up Buckley/Mold. Next season will see Atticus in division 1, while Wallasey 2 will come down from division one.

Wednesday night saw our division 5 champions – the “E” team held to a draw (2-2) by Cheddleton E in the last NSDCA division 5 match of the season.  Points were earned as Adam Field and captain Nigel gained wins on boards 3 and 4 respectively. Skipper Nigel Gardner commented on the LMS as follows:

The force was strong with the Chedd I masters as the sun set on a long and testing season in Division 5. Without the pressure of the match result mattering draws didn’t seem to be on the agenda and everybody played for the win. At one point it seemed as though the Chedd I Masters would triumph but the Empire clung on to fight another day.
Thanks to everyone from Cheddleton tonight for an excellent match and to all those who have played for our E team in a very successful season. Enjoy the sunshine and it will start all again in October. Carpe diem.

The other match this week saw Dave Price take our division 4 “C” team to play at Stafford against their B team. A superb team effort gave us a 3-1 victory as Simon Layhe (bd 2), Dave Price (bd 3) and Kobus Neinaber (bd 4) all gained wins. The C team conclude the season with a home match on Wednesday against division 4 leaders Cheddleton F, with the visitors requiring a draw or better to secure the title. They will still share the title if our C team win narrowly (2.5-1.5), but will come 2nd on board difference if the result is any better for Crewe !

E team wrap up Division 5 title in style !

News just in from Cheddleton, that the E team were 4-0 winners tonight in their penultimate match against the host’s H team to secure the division 5 title with a match to spare. Thanks to wins from Chris Rhodes on bd 1, Amy Lovatt on bd 2, Adam Fields on 3 and captain Nigel Gardner on bd 4 confirmed the E team as champions. Special well dones to Adam on his first win for Crewe and Amy for a perfect 100% record to date.

Congratulations to captain Nigel (8.5/11), and regulars Chris Rhodes (9/13), Amy Lovatt (11/11), Steve Ballantyne (7.5/11) as well as the supporting squad.

Here is match report from the skipper:

The E team travelled to Cheddleton on a warm Friday evening with Adam substituting for Steve who we all wish well to. We out-graded Cheddleton but as 2 of their players were juniors you never know what their true grade is until the games start. The evening started inauspiciously well when Amy didn’t have a pen and Chris arrived with seconds to spare; all good for raising the tension.
All four games started evenly and after the first hour there wasn’t much difference on any board; however it did feel as though we were gradually taking a slight upperhand. The expectations began to rise as Adam found an opening and continued to finish off his opponent relatively quickly for his first league victory for the club. That was 1 point of the two we needed to win the league. Boards 1 & 2 were slugging it out but I was extremely relieved to make my creeping advantage tell to find myself 3 pawns and a rook for a knight up. The junior opponent wouldn’t lay down but the end was final; 2-0 up and the league was ours.
Amy had managed to get herself a bishop for a pawn up but had taken over an hour on the 12 moves after her opening and had 2 minutes on the clock whilst her opponent had 20+. Still, the pressure told and a mate suddenly wrapped up the game; 3-0. Chris’s game continued for another 15 minutes alone but he had an ever increasing advantage which he drove home and what had initially seemed a potential banana skin turned into 4 – 0 win.
A very enjoyable, satisfying and rewarding Friday evening and a great way to take the title. Many thanks to all those who have played for and helped the team over the last 7 months. The 4 core players have turned out regularly and successfully and have been ably supported by a number of walk on appearances that have often made the difference between success and the other thing.