Crewe edge victory in Annual Cheddleton Challenge

Last Friday saw the 3rd Annual Challenge between Crewe and Cheddleton, taking place at Cheddleton. This year the match was contested over 12 boards and without Crewe’s top players being available, Chedd arranged for the teams to be closely graded in the spirit of this fun and friendly contest. The crucial toss of the coin went in favour of Chedd so they had the unusual position of being white on odd boards at home !

Ben Harrison having just completed his “A” levels got the visiting Crewe team on the score board first with an early success on board 12. Harry Gardiner was elevated to board 4 and managed to put Crewe 2-0 in the lead before the first of several draws maintained Crewe’s lead. Dave Price (on board 7) had a predictable draw with Sandra Blackburn at a similar time to Neville Layhe on bd 5 with David Millington. Doug Barnett extended our lead with a further win on bd 6 before Chedd’s first success came on bd 9 for Dave Hallen. Crewe edged closer to the winning line when bds 1 (David Hulme & Jon Blackburn) and 3 were drawn between Simon Layhe and Roger Edwards. Next to finish was Crewe’s outstanding performer with Les Hall getting another draw on bd 8 facing the biggest grade deficit of the night as we got even closer to victory. Mike Keenan on bd 11 ensured Crewe’s victory to put us on 6.5 pts before Cheddleton stormed back with late victories in the remaining games for Bill Armstrong on bd 2 and last to finish Harvey Murray-Smith on bd 9 to conclude the event.

Crewe emerged narrowly victorious by score of 6.5-5.5 and invited Cheddleton to the 4th challenge to played next year at Crewe, with a buffet to be provided. This is Crewe’s first win in the event at the 3rd attempt, with Chedd having won both previous encounters by the score of 8-5.

Thanks go to Caroline Mountford who did not play for Cheddleton, but very kindly ensured the two teams were closely graded.

Full score card on the LMS at


Bart makes it a Hat-Trick !

Last night saw our 5th Annual Time & Point Handicap, our 5th new winner and a 5th increase in number of players taking part. Having started with 12 players in 2015, then 14 in 2016, 16 in 2017, 20 in 2018, we had 22 last night.

The first two rounds went much to plan with 6 of the top 10 winning both games, with the odd shock thrown in. Notably defending champion Rick Renegade was stumped in the 1st round as Nigel Gardner upset the form book. Phil Wright the No. 20 seed was catapulted into the lead with a 2nd round win which would be supplemented by a 2 pts handicap to add to his final tally.

Round 3 began to sort the “Men from the Boys” as No.3 seed Rich Wiltshir (the 2017 champion) was defeated by upcoming junior star Harry Gardiner who made it 3/3 together with Bart Fajfer (No 1 seed) and Simon Layhe (No 8) defeating No.2 Ola Titiloye. With Adam Fields and Kobus Nienaber making it 2/3, these two were in the leader board with their 1.5 pts handicaps.

Round 4 saw Bart paired with young Harry, while the other 100 per-center, Simon was paired against the 2017 champion Rich. Bart’s excellent time management saw him pile the pressure onto Harry who had to give way, having held a solid position until time ran short to give Bart the full point. On board 2 Simon added the scalp of the No. 3 seed to his list to keep up his superb 100 score. With Phil Wright beating the other contender with a big handicap he took his total to 4 pts. So after 4 rounds Simon led with his 4 pts plus 1/2 point handicap from Bart & Phil.

The round 5 pairings saw Bart with white vs Simon on bd 1 with Phil playing the highest graded player with 3.5 pts which was Neville Layhe. The top board game was very close until Bart engineered an attack against the castled king with a long range bishop and rook on the 7th as Simon’s king side pawns had been propelled down the board. Simon was forced to resign to leave Bart with a perfect 5/5. Meanwhile on board 2, Neville’s experience proved too much for Phil to halt his challenge for the trophy.

The final standings showed 1st place- Bart Fajfer 5pts; with a 4 way tie for 2nd between Neville Layhe 4+1/2, Simon 4+1/2, Nigel 3+1.5 and Kobus 3+1.5.

Congratulations to our top player Bart who made it a hat-trick of trophies with the T&P Handicap added to his Long-play and Rapid-play successes. Next year the handicap will be tougher !

Thanks to Les Hall and Rich Wiltshir for setting up the club, Mike Keenan for his assistance with record keeping, Karl Lockett the “clock-setter” and to all members for making it another superb club night !

Report by David Hulme – Club Events Organisor

Fajfer, Gardner & Michalek win Club Championships

Wednesday night saw the final rounds in divisions 1 and 2 of the Club Championships.

Top seed Bart Fajfer overcame junior Harry Gardiner to clinch division 1 of the Club Championship to finish a point clear of the field with 5 pts in the 6-round swiss competition. Harry was one of 3 other players in contention going into the last round and was handed the toughest task in the pairings. For much of the game the junior held his own until Bart’s superior endgame technique swung the game decisively. Simon Layhe held the No. 2 seed Karl Lockett to a draw to finish in second place with a score of 4, while four players finished with 3.5 pts – Karl, Harry, Rick Renegade and Doug Barnett (who only played 5 of the games).

In division 2, Nigel Gardner was already assured of at least a 1st place tie as had already completed the 9 games scheduled with a score of 6. Another junior was the only player who could catch Nigel’s tally, and Lukasz Michalek duly achieved the same score with a win in his last game against George Jellis to end in joint 1st place with Nigel. The competition was very close run with two players ending with 5.5 pts being Mike Keenan and secretary Les Hall. Several players could not get all their games in, and could have tied for the title if they had played all of them, as Kobus Nienaber finished on 4/7 with Adam Fields and Ben Harrison on 3/6.

Congratulations to Bart, Nigel and Lukasz.

In other news the south Cheshire Shield “A” team opened the summer campaign with a 2-2 draw at Alsager. Lukasz Michalek took advantage of a big grade discrepancy to win on board 4, while Dave Price drew on board 3, and Simon Layhe earned a good draw on top board against an opponent graded 21pts higher.

This week (Wednesday 26th June) is the club’s 5th Annual Time & Point Handicap which starts at 7.30pm. Please let David Hulme know in advance (if not already done so) if you wish to play in this event which aims to give every member a fair opportunity to win the competition via a Handicap system.

Crewe beat Meir in “Mini-Challenge” and Long-play events head to conclusion

The first of Crewe’s summer challenges took place this week. Unfortunately due to the unavailability of a number of players the match numbers were reduced from last year’s 10-a-side down to 4-a-side with grades matched pretty closely. The early skirmishes ended up one win a piece with Kobus Nienaber successful for Crewe and Meir’s Bob Perry for the visitors Meir. The remaining two boards were quite a slog as firstly Adam Fields managed to take advantage of an end-game Rook exchange to pick up a crucial pawn that ultimately took the opposition King out of the game to open the door for Adam’s King to invade the backward pawns and led to an unstoppable pass-pawn. 2-1 for us. The final game to finish was the board 1 game, where our junior Lukasz Michalek had 2 rooks against a queen and pawn plus level other minor pieces and pawns each. Lukasz managed to hide his King away from Queen checks and co-ordinate his two rooks to devastating effect having been down to below 10 seconds on his clock at one stage, before delivering the KO blow to get the team over the line for a 3-1 win. As always Meir play in great spirit and stayed behind after the match to enjoy the buffet and lay down the challenge for the 2020 Match to be played at Meir.

In club news, the Long-play events are nearing their completion of a 6-round swiss in division 1 and 9-round swiss in Division 2. Favourite for the LP div 1 prize is Bart Fajfer leading with 4/5, likely to play 2nd placed Doug Barnett on 3.5/5 in the final round. Harry Gardiner and Simon Layhe have not yet played their round 5 games and sit on 2.5 pts, but can put themselves in contention if they win their game in hand.

In division 2, longtime leader Nigel Gardner has completed his games with a score of 6/9. 2nd placed Mike Keenan with 4.5/7 has yet to play Les Hall in 3rd on 4.5/8 and looks like he is the only player than can overtake Nigel. Lukasz Michalek is joint 4th with 4/7 and may catch the leader if he can win his two remaining games.

Dates for your Diaries

While we await the publication of the South Cheshire Shield fixtures here are some dates to note:

Wed 29th May – some members invited to Newcastle RP.

Wed 29th May – Final date for penultimate round in Club Long-play tournaments

Wed 5th June – Crewe vs Meir – 2nd Annual challenge (with reserve date of 12th June if needed)

Wed 12th & 19th June – Final round for Club Long-play tournaments

Wed 26th June – Annual Time & Point Handicap

Friday 5th July – Cheddleton vs Crewe – 3rd Annual challenge

Monday 8th July – NSDCA AGM at Fenton CC

Wednesday 17th July – Wirral League AGM at Port Sunlight

Tuesday 23rd July – Chester vs Crewe RP Challenge to decide winner of Chester RP Centenary Clock Prize

Please let David Hulme know if you would like to play in all or any of the above events.

Nigel Gardner stars at Rapid-play Congress

Today has seen the club’s 2nd Rapid-play congress take place at the local Ibis Styles Hotel with 91 players in attendance, a 10% increase on our first RP congress last year. This year featured a longer competition over 7 rounds.

The Open Section with 16 players had a star-studded cast including one GM, two IMs and one FM. The club’s sole representative in this section was Bart Fajfer, ranked 9th. After a 1st round defeat to the top seeded GM, Bart went on to score a superb 4pts and finish joint 4th.

The Major Section for grades U165 had 25 entries. The Club’s contingent of 3 (Hulme, Renegade and Barnett) all had a disappointing day finishing 19th and below.

The Intermediate Section for grade U135 had 19 entries including 4 from the club. Simon Layhe was our most successful player to score 5.5 pts and finish joint 2nd. Simon’s dad Neville scored a creditable 4pts to finish joint 5th. This is a superb effort when you consider that Neville is our Congress Administator and without him the club could not host such an event. Our other players Karl Lockett and Dave Price both scored 3 pts.

The Minor Section for grade U105 had the most entries with 32 including 4 of our own players. Our players all featured in the top half of the final placings with Nigel Gardner finishing joint 1st with 5.5pts and being unbeaten on the day (W4, D3) having started as 17th seed ! Junior Lukasz Michalek and one of our recent recruits George Jellis scored 4.5 pts to finish joint 6th having being ranked at No. 19 and 20 respectively. Our remaining entrant Kobus Nienaber finished above his rank in joint 15th with 3.5 pts.


“E” team clinch Division 5 title

Thanks to captain Nigel Gardner for the following report:

 “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Was this written for, or by, the E team?

Way back in early January, Crewe’s title challenge for division 5 appeared to have hit the self destruct button thanks largely to a bad call by myself!!! Half the season had past and our title contenders were behind to Cheddleton H. By the 1st Feb all looked to be over bar the gradual slide to an inevitable second place.

However, “Nil desperandum” was the order of the day. Dig deep, give your best and what will be, will be. So it transpired.

The E team went on a fantastic run of games, winning all in the second half of the season.

This run transposed the pressure to Cheddleton H, who began to falter after a break in their fixtures; what had begun as a trickle in Crewe’s direction became a torrent when our F team upturned the odds to inflict the first defeat on Cheddleton at the end of March.

Having gained the ascendancy Crewe knew that one point from the four boards in the final match (against guess whom?), would be enough to secure the league.

Crewe’s team consisted of their 4 mainstays (although many have contributed throughout the season) Julian, Simon, Dave P & Lukasz.

Based on grading Crewe had a much stronger team but as has been proved this season on a number of occasions you still have to play and win the games. To the relief of all concerned after around an hour Lukasz on board 4 delivered a killing blow to win the game and thereby the division. Fitting that one of Crewe’s rising stars had the honour, particularly as it gives him the highest number of points won by anybody in Division 5!!!

This eased the pressure on the remaining three and despite some trauma along the way Simon and Dave both eventually delivered to seal a 3 -1 victory, and take the title in style.

A hard fought match at the end of a hard fought season left Crewe E retaining their title and looking forward to some more relaxing months ahead, at our secret, high-altitude, training camp in the Himalayas!

In the end we delivered on the mantra –


Cup Finalsss Night

Last night saw the Mals Club packed to the rafters as Crewe hosted a trio of NSDCA Cup Finals, with the Major Cup (U150) vs Meir, Intermediate (U130) vs Cheddleton and the Perry Trophy (U110) vs Newcastle. Before the matches commenced there was a record number of 29 Crewe members in attendance, together with the 14 visiting players plus one or two supporting cast (drivers and parents) filling the playing room.

Around 7.40pm the matches got underway and a hush descended on the room, with its unique layout of two board ones on the higher level floor and the remaining 12 boards covering the dance floor and its perimeter.

Looking at the starting line ups, Newcastle appeared to be favourites in the Perry match, Crewe had over 100 points grade advantage in the Major, and the Intermediate match was too close to call with both teams within the range 603-608 out of a maximum 645.

The Perry Trophy was the first match to be completed and it could not have been closer. Without knowing the order of each game finishing the match concluded in a 2-2 draw as the Crewe underdogs pushed Newcastle all the way. Wins on board 1 by Harry Gardiner and Adam Fields on board 4 for Crewe meant that Newcastle’s winners on boards 2 and 3, Nic Wright and Jeff Tombs held the ascendancy as the Trophy was decided by bottom board elimination after Board count left the match tied, in favour of Newcastle. Congratulations to them and thanks as always for playing in great spirit.

The second match to conclude was the Intermediate Cup, where Crewe ran out victors by the flattering score of 4-1. From all accounts this does not reflect the close nature of the match. Chris Rhodes set the hosts off with the first point on the scorecard with a win on board 2 before Cheddleton’s rising junior star Sam Parry beat the Crewe’s elder statesman Doug Barnett on top board to give the visitors the edge. The engine room for Crewe proved decisive with Simon Layhe and Lukasz Holcman (playing his first match of the season) playing aggressively to put the team over the line with a 3-1 lead. Dave Price turned a poor position into a strong one to be last man to finish on the night and conclude the 4-1 win, giving Crewe the Intermediate Cup for the 3rd successive year.

The Major Cup saw the Meir underdogs push Crewe all the way. An early draw on board 2 between Crewe’s Amy Lovatt and Meir’s Pete Windows appeared to be a good start for both sides. Stuart Green on board 5 managed to hold an end game to a draw for Meir when he was a whole bishop down with 4 pawns for each player but cleverly hid his king behind the last pawn of the a2-b3-c4-d5 chain to prevent the opposition bishop from making any contribution. On board 1 meanwhile Steve Hill picked up a poisoned pawn before realising this led to a loss of the bishop for a further pawn against Crewe’s Karl Lockett. Karl calmly created a huge advantage as he advanced his Kingside pawns to leave the enemy King stuck in an unavoidable mating net with Rook and bishop to score a decisive blow in Crewe’s favour to take the lead 2-1. On board 4, Crewe’s Rick Renegade appeared to have a great chance of winning a major piece but delayed the attack and left his defences short as Clive Ferry fought back with a Queenside attack leading to an unstoppable 3-passed-pawn barrage to level the scores at 2-2. This left Dave Fuller in play for the visitors against David Hulme and with a pawn advantage and with a big plus on the clock as David H was down to his last minute plus 10 second increment against Dave Fs 25 minutes or so. Knowing a draw would suffice with the Board Count tie break David H offered the draw which Dave F just had to refuse under instruction from captain Steve Hill. Despite being short of time David H managed to create activity with his Rook, bishop and 4 pawns to slowly swap off material and ultimately bring the King into play first to prevent any chance of victory for Dave F. Eventually peace was agreed when it was obvious no progress could be made and the match concluded 2.5 pts each. In this case Crewe were fortunate to be on the right side of the tie break rule, to bring Crewe’s first success in the Major Cup.

A great night at The Mals ended just a tie break away from a hat-trick of cup wins for Crewe. Many thanks to all the visiting teams that played in such a friendly, but competitive and sporting manner and congratulations to Newcastle for their success in the Perry Trophy.

F team finish with a Flourish !

With captain Nigel Gardner away at Stafford with the E team, the F team played their final match of the division 5 season at home against Meir B on Wednesday. As always matches with Meir are played in a friendly and competitive spirit, and both teams weighed in a long way below the 400 point grade limit.

The first game to finish showed a typical sporting gesture from the visitors. With the board 4 game developing nicely, young Ben Harrison became quite ill and was unable to continue after about an hour. Martin Chadwick playing for Meir very generously agreed to a draw so that Ben could leave and head for home. Next to finish was the board 3 game, where Adam Fields had created a big advantage and put the hosts in the lead. On board 1 Kobus Nienaber was up against an equally graded opponent but managed to find a way to break through defences to ensure the F team had won the match. On board 2 Roger Coleman for Meir, overcame the grades to pick up the win for the visitors to conclude the match with a narrow 2.5-1.5 win for Crewe F.

The F team have amassed 17 pts from their 16 matches to finish the season in joint 4th place – a pleasantly unexpected reward for the team. The main focus of the team is to provide opportunity for our newest members to play league chess and in this context it has been a great success with nearly 50% of the clubs members playing for this team with a total of 13 players used.

Division 5 – Stafford B vs Crewe E

Div 5 Match reports

Star Wars – The rise of Skywalker?

A long time ago (7 months) in a galaxy far, far away (the Mals club) the 18/19, division 5 season commenced

In the latest episode of the long running saga the forces of the resistance travelled deep into the heart of the Empire (Stafford).

The team was led on board 1 by Obi-Julian Kenobi, with Yoda vid Price on 2, Hans Simon Solo on 3 and Lukasz Skywalker playing for the dark side on 4.

Before the match, as is customary C3P0 & R2D2 were switched off, and battle commenced with Storm Troopers deployed.

Boards 1 – 3 all appeared tight with tactical positioning going on but on board 4 the force was strong with young Skywalker and he was soon a knight and a pawn up. However, his King was alone in the centre of the universe with the Empire’s forces all around him. With his trusty light sabre in hand he stood firm, used the force and gradually smote all that surrounded him. A very pleasing 1-0 start and Skywalker retired to the feast of the Gods; pizza and chips!!!!

He was soon joined by Hans Simon Solo (otherwise known as chip-eater) who had converted a promising, but complicated pressure building attack into a crushing victory and the Resistance were 2 up and those chips weren’t going to last long!

After another 30 minutes of pawn pushing and dalliances Yoda and Obi-Julian both agreed draws with their respective opponents and off to the bar for food and drink, and a fair degree of satisfaction for a job very well done; 3 – 1.

It is evident that the force is getting stronger with young Skywalker and the four Jedi warriors return for their final battle where the season began; in a galaxy, far, far away.

(The Mals club; Wednesday the 8th May;

Carpe diem as Jar Jar Binks would say.)