Bees draw at Macc while Dees beat Kidsgrove

This was a most unusual week with no matches for the club at The Mals on Wednesday after the B team travelled to Macclesfield on Monday and the D team went to Kidsgrove on Tuesday.

The B team started their division 2 campaign with a tough match against title contenders Macclesfield (who were the only team to inflict defeat on the “A” team last season). Under the youthful new captaincy of Simon Layhe the team emerged with a good result as the match ended all square 2.5-2.5, with board 1 star Bart Fajfer and board 2 Karl Lockett both victorious and supported by the skipper’s draw on board 3.

Tuesday night saw the D team start the new division 4 season in same vane as last season with a crushing 4-0 win. We had a big advantage with grades so it was no surprise, although captain Les Hall explained ” It was a very friendly game at Kidsgrove, ended in a 4 – 0 whitewash, but the games were a lot closer than the score suggests.” He went on to report as follows:

I was predictively, first to finish as my opponent allowed me to fork a Knight and Bishop on move 5, then, after deciding to lose the Knight, proceeded to make life very difficult by going on the attack, his Queen came out and caused me a lot of problems backed up by his “A” Rook on the C file, pinning my Queen to stop the loss of my C pawn and breaking through to to my back rank. Eventually, I managed to get my F Rook out and boxed his Queen on f4, at which point he resigned.
Next to finish was Simon, our Board 1 star, Si managed to get a couple of pawns advantage and, eventually made this pay.
Nev was third to finish on Board 2, using his experience to get control of the middle of the board, to press home his advantage.
We then had to wait for our rising star ” cool hand Luke “, Lukasz, who despite his tender years and only a couple of years playing experience, played a nice Queen and Bishop attack, against a castled King and a Knight stuck in the corner on h8, eventually swapping off Queens and getting the exchange up, forcing his very experienced opponent to resign.
All in all, a great start to our Div. 4 season, long may it continue !


Cheddleton win clash of the Cs

Our C team started their division 3 campaign on Wednesday with a home match vs Cheddleton C. The board 3 game was first to finish in a “grandmaster draw” as Harry Gardiner could see no way to progress against Chedd’s captain Colin Abell. Doug Barnett on board 1 felt he had to go for the win and came unstuck against Karol Grzybowski and left us in arrears. Rick Renegade’s attacking prowess with white was held at bay on board 2 by John Yee as a draw left the visitors 2-1 up. The last game in play saw Dave Price with white looking for a win to save the team from defeat. However Dave Rose skilfully soaked up the pressure before gaining a crucial centre pawn to gain the initiative. Despite attacking chances on the King side Dave could not break through and peace was agreed with a half for each player to leave Chedd as the successful C team on this occasion by the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5

Division 5 Report from ACE Reporter (and captain) Nigel Gardner

All eyes were on division 5 this week – Interesting, Indefatigable, Intense, Intrepid & Idiosyncratic  

This week the new division 5 season started in earnest; and in Crewe and in Cheddleton! On Wednesday at the Mals the F team entertained a very “experienced” Alsager whilst Friday saw the E team travel to Cheddleton.

Both games were tight and very evenly contested.  Crewe eked out a hard fought win at home and Friday saw a heavily outgraded E team secure a great draw and had, at one point, looked on for a possible win.

Julian, Lukasz, Nigel  & George joined battle with Alsager and all games were close matches. On three I opened cautiously inviting my opponent to attack me on a number of fronts which he duly did. This caused a degree of discomfort and the club adage of sitting on my hands was never more relevant. Eventually two counter attacks appeared, one on each flank and I was able to press home the opportunity and we had our first point on the board.

Meanwhile George had a slight advantage over his opponent, whilst the top two boards were very difficult to call.

Julian eventually succumbed despite putting up a very valiant and stoic performance which, at one point, looked as though it might be successful. This was against a relatively new opponent who appears to be a strong addition to Alsager’s ranks and destined for a rising future! It was very much appreciated that Julian was happy to take on the challenge of black on board one enabling the team to offer more potential as a whole.

This left the match at 1 – 1 but George was now in the ascendancy and by gradually building the pressure eventually forced home his advantage to secure the win and we were now 2 – 1 up. Another great result for George, on top of a very successful weekend at Crewe congress and at the moment the force is strong with Mr Jelliss!

This left Lukasz in a titanic struggle on 2 that was into the end game and although all appeared even his opponent had some pressure up the middle but Lukasz had a passed pawn that if got the opportunity would prove fatal. A long series of very careful moves proceeded with Alsager realising that a draw in the game would mean a loss in the overall match. However, Lukasz played exceptionally well, with all eyes on him, and eventually a draw was offered which, on reflection, was the right result in the game, but gave Crewe our overall win. Well done to all the Crewe team in what was most definitely a team performance.

In a similar vein our E team travelled to Cheddleton expecting a very tough match and we were not to be disappointed! We were outgraded on every board, and by an average of over 17 points. However there was an air of determination about the team. Nigel, Les, Phil and Mike arrived in good time and good spirit and the clocks were started.

Trying to lead from the front on board 1 I had a few “squeaky bum” moments in the opening but took time, worked out the solutions and after only 21 moves most major pieces had been removed. At this point I had a quick wander around to see that our positions looked promising on the other 3 boards with Phil in particular in the ascendancy with numerical and positional advantage. I returned to offer a draw causing my opponent to then also go to look at the other boards. Unbeknownst to me in the few minutes between the wanders Phil had managed to lose a rook so my opponent then gladly accepted my offer and we retired to the analysis whilst the others continued.

Phil had played a great game against a higher-graded and difficult opponent but unfortunately the loss of the rook proved fatal and shortly afterwards his demise was sealed and we had our backs to the wall.

In the meantime, Mike had taken the ascendancy, both in position and material, and a win looked sure to follow. Les was in a grinding battle and played in a  conservative and considered fashion that was definitely required against his significantly higher graded opponent. He had also managed to gain a large time advantage over his opponent who was beginning to feel the pressure of the clock. A draw was offered and accepted and a great result for Les was secured which put the team in with a chance of a result.

Mike’s game soon moved into the end game phase and after an interesting series of moves he managed to queen and all looked over. Or so we all thought…………………………………………………..

I think I had missed the observer from the Guinness Book of records being present, in what was obviously a very strong contender for the world record of moves in an end game!!!! After about another lifetime Mike had lost his Queen but then he managed to Queen another pawn and the game continued, and continued , and continued ………………until sanity (mainly mine) was restored, mate was achieved, Mike was the hero and we were able to enjoy the drive home with a very creditable draw in the bag.

If Chess were too predictable we wouldn’t bother playing it and Friday night’s games were strong evidence of this. It was another enjoyable night for all concerned and a successful end to a long but strong week.


George carries the flag for club at Congress

This weekend has seen another sucessful congress orgainsed by the team of Neville Layhe, Les Hall, Dave Price and Simon Layhe together with the Arbiter, Matthew Carr (IA).

There were 142 competitors spread pretty evenly over the four sections (Open, U 165, U135, U105) including a star studded cast for the FIDE-rated Open which had 4 FMs and one IM.

The only prize winner from the club was George Jellis who gained the grading prize in the Minor section (U105) with a superb score of 3.5 pts. George had the lowest grade in the whole tournament, excluding two ungraded players, so this is an excellent achievement.

More details will follow, including mention of Bart Fajfer’s great effort to score 3 pts in the tough Open Section and Rick Renegade’s fall at the last hurdle from leading the Intermediate section.

Full results are shown on “Congress Results” tab separately.

New Season under way

No sooner had the Summer Shield finished on the Friday, then the new season got under way on Wednesday. The Mals Club hosted our first “derby” of the North Staffs season bringing forward a match originally scheduled for November as our E team faced the F team in division 5. The “F” team had small grading advantages on each board and completed a 4-0 win thanks to Adam Fields, Julian Bulbeck, Phil Wright and George Jelliss. A special mention should be made for our latest league debutant as Russell Smithers played on board 4 for the “E” team.

The Wirral team started their division 2 campaign with the long haul to Buckley/Mold. Unfortunately the Drovers Arms had a very noisy atmosphere which was not conducive to playing league chess. Somehow we managed to win 4-1 as the three white odd boards were all successful as David Hulme, Harry Gardiner and Lukasz Michalek beat the opposition while the two black board games were held to draws by Simon Layhe and Dave Price. There was some excellent attacking play by our two youngest players as Harry chased the opposition King from a castled king-side to be mated in the centre of the board, and Lukasz pierced through another castled king-side before his opponent failed to reach the first time control at 35 moves under immense pressure.

So it’s time to look forward to this weekend’s Crewe Congress at The Ibis Hotel where we currently have approx 135 players expected.

Alsager win SCS Shield and Newcastle win the pre-season friendly

The South Cheshire Shield came to its conclusion this week as Alsager earned the necessary draw against our “A” team to win the South Cheshire Summer Shield with an unbeaten record. For the 2nd year running the “A” team have been pipped at the post. Lukasz Michalek had given our “A” team a great chance by winning on board 4 as our top two boards Simon Layhe and Harry Gardiner could only draw and the board 3 game went in favour of the visitors to secure their title.

The final games of the SCS season were played on Friday night as Newcastle hosted our B team. Skipper Les Hall got the ball rolling with an early win on board 4 before Newcastle levelled matters on board 3. The star performance came from our board 2 with Adam Fields beating the opposition skipper who was graded some 24 points higher. On board 1 David Hulme hung on for a draw against Newcastle youngster Joe Hirst to make sure the B team finished on the same match points as the “A” team and just 1 behind the winners – Alsager. Congratulations to them on winning the competition.

Alongside the B team match, Newcastle also hosted the annual pre-season challenge against us. With so many players unavailable from both clubs it was a credit to both that a 7 board match took place although Crewe contributed 8 of the 14 and left Dave Price on the bench to coach some of the younger Newcastle members who are not quite “match-ready”. Newcastle fielded a much stronger squad than we did and ran out comfortable winners with the assistance of our own Phil Wright. There was a notable win for  Simon Layhe on board 2, while Mike Keenan won against a Newcastle newcomer on board 6 and our only other score came from Doug Barnett with a top board draw, when he might have gone on to win with a bit more time on the clock. As always an enjoyable encounter which leaves the annual challenge score at 2-2. We look forward to the 2020 challenge which will be Crewe’s turn to host.

South Cheshire Shield – The title decider

This week sees the conclusion of the Summer Shield competition with Wednesday (18th Sept) being the big night of the “decider” as Crewe “A” host the unbeaten leaders Alsager at The Mals Club. Alsager only need a draw to secure the trophy against 2nd placed Crewe “A” whereas the “A” team have to win to secure the title. Meanwhile reigning champions Newcastle host Crewe B on Friday (20th) at The Bridge Club alongside the annual pre-season challenge between the two clubs which is the 4th such challenge with Crewe currently leading 2-1.

Last Wednesday saw the SCS “A” team defeat the B team 3-1 with wins by Harry Gardiner (Bd 2), Dave Price (bd 3) and Lukasz Michalek (bd 4) while Rick Renegade picked up the B’s sole win to avoid a whitewash.

If any member wishes to play in the pre-season challenge on Friday at Newcastle please let David Hulme or Dave Price know as soon as possible.

Also please note our Congress takes place in a fortnight at The Ibis Hotel, where we currently have just over 70 entrants so far. The entry form is on the site and if you have any issues with completing it please let Les Hall or Dave Price know.

South Cheshire Shield Update

We have played three matches so far this month, with the first derby ending all square on 7th August, before the “A” team came unstuck vs Newcastle last week and the B team holding leaders Alsager to a 2-2 draw last night.

In the derby, Simon Layhe and Chris Rhodes earned wins for the “A” team while Kobus Nienaber and Phil Wright did the trick for the B team. Only Nigel Gardner’s win against Newcastle avoided the whitewash for the “A” team. Rick Renegade and Kobus managed the two wins last night for the B team.

There is a 3 week break before the 2nd derby on 11th September and the competition concludes the following week with the league deciders as leader’s Alsager visit the The Mals to play the “A” team and the B team go to Newcastle on Friday 20th as we play the 4th pre-season challenge at The Bridge Club.

The Shield is a 3-way race for the trophy with Alsager in command on 7pts from 5 games knowing a win in their final match secures the Shield. If they slip up against our “A” team, it may be possible for one of our teams to catch them, with the B team on 5pts and the “A” team on 4pts and both have the (derby) game in hand with poorer board scores.

AGM Awards


The biggest item on the AGM (held Wednesday 31st July) Agenda was the presentation of Trophies which started with the Wirral League Player of the Year for Division 2 awarded to Bart Fajfer. This was followed by team trophies for the Intermediate Cup (U130), Major Cup (U150), Division 5, 3 and 2. Summer Rapid-play trophies were won by Bart for division 1  and Lukasz Michalek won division 2. The Long-play trophies went to Nigel Gardner and Lukasz for division 2 being tied and Bart (again) for division 1. Bart then collected the Time & Point Handicap trophy before receiving his 5th award for Club Player of the Year. The final award went to an excited Harry Gardiner who just pipped Lukasz for the “Junior Player of the Year”.

NSDCA U150, U130, Division 2, 3 and 5

South Cheshire Shield Progress

Apologies for the late update on the Summer Shield competition. Our two teams have been progressing quietly with the same record each of 3 pts from 2 games having both beaten defending champions Newcastle and drawn with Alsager. As things stand at almost half-way Alsager lead the table with 4 pts from 3 games (W1 D2) and our teams are joint 2nd with a game in hand and 1 point behind while Newcastle have failed to register any match points from 3 games.

Next week (Wed 7th August) is our first “head to head” as the “A” team host the “B” team and whatever happens we will be in contention leading to the second half of the fixture list.

Full results can be seen from our tab on the RH side of the site labelled “South Cheshire Shield 2019”.

There are no matches this week with the club’s AGM being held on Wednesday 31st July. Please note this is everyone’s chance to have a say in how your club is run and managed and to suggest ideas for improvement in the club’s activities.