January’s summary – part 4

We started our Cup campaigns this month with two of our four teams in action.

On Wednesday 17th our “Open” team travelled to Newcastle and despite missing several top players we still massively outrated our opponents. It was therefore no surprise that we ran out winners, with 5 wins and a draw from the 6 board match. Successes came from Lee Farrington (bd 1), Harry Gardiner (3), Andrew Raeburn (4), Karl Lockett (5) and David Lambton (6) while skipper Martin Burns settled for a draw. We will face the winner of Alsager vs Fenton in the final.

On Tuesday 30th, we had just one match at the club – our quitest match night of the season so far, as our U1375 team faced Kidsgrove in the Perry Trophy. Unfortunately we were unable to defend the Cup we won last season as the visitors edged the match 3-1 with Mal being our only winner.

The club championships continue to be fiercely contested in all 3 sections. In division 1 Harry Gardiner has been in sparkling form scoring a superb 6.5 out of 7 so far including a win against defending club champion – Carmel Barwick. Cyrus Pereira is making a strong impression in his first year at the club and sits 2nd with 5.5/8. Then there is a gap to 3rd where Martin Burns has 3/7 and Neville Layhe 3/8.

In division 2, Richard Fish is making a determined effort to win promotion and is in the lead with 5.5/6. Youngster Oskar Jarzynski is 2nd with 3.5/6, and then we have Doug, Julian B and Chinenye on 3pts, with Chinenye on 100% so far and likely to make it a two-way fight with Richard for top spot.

Division 3 has the most players with 14 and youngster Jamie Roberts leads the pack with 5.5/7 ahead of Mike Keenan who has a perfect 4/4. Gerald Parton, Pete Kanalos and Tim Weston are all in pursuit on 3 pts each, but will need a slip from the two leaders to have a serious chance of winning this section.

Overall it has been a busy month for the club, with 61 paid up members and several more keen newcomers we have grown massively since moving to the St Mary’s Caritas Centre last June. Hopefully we will continue to attract new members to our friendly club, with facilities any club would be very proud of.

January’s summary – part 3

League Division 4 has two more of our teams participating – the G & H.

The Glorious Gees team appears to be galloping to the title after two wins and a draw (against nearest rivals Fenton D) this month. They were given a helping hand in the two home matches as Kidsgrove and Gables B arrived both defaulted a board. In the Kidsgrove match this was decisive as we were outrated slightly on all 3 boards but managed to hold onto draws in each game, which was enough to give us a 2.5-1.5 success. Against Gables B our team was too strong for the junior outfit especially as their top player was missing – so it was a comfortable 4-0 result. The most important match was away at Fenton D on the 23rd, where teams were rated at 5574 for Fenton and 5582 for the Gees as close as we’ve seen in any match under the new 4 digit rating system ! Pawel Stanny had the key win top board, with draws from captain Steve Ballantyne and recent new member Mal Green. After 1o matches the G team are unbeaten with 18 pts holding a 7 pts advantage over the chasing pack who have a game in hand.

The H team on the other hand had a very mixed month, recording their first 4-0 win and their heaviest defeat 3.5-0.5 and another loss at the start of the month. on 2nd January it was a Historic Night for Hs as we fielded our first ever all junior team to play against Gables B – another all junior outfit ! We took this opportunity to give two new members their first ever competitive matches – Finlay Charbonneau and Jack Haspell. James Coney had a good draw against a much higher rated opponent and Andrew Caccamo had our sole success in the narrow defeat 1.5-2.5. On 16th Jan we put out a more experienced team against Fenton (the G team’s closest rivals) and ran out 4-0 winners with wins from Ebube Christian, Kobus Nienaber, Adam Fields and Tim Weston. Our match at Alsager D (on 23rd) was one of 5 matches on the night, and we narrowly avoided a whitwash thanks to Kobus salvaging a draw on board 1.

The contrast between our two teams in this division could not be starker, as the Gs have a very settled team with Steve, Jamie Roberts and Pawel being ever present and Mal now being the other player. The H team have so far employed 16 club members in an effort to make sure all club members get the chance to play in the league !

January’s summary – part 2

In League division 2 our C and D teams played 3 matches between them. The C team came unstuck at Holmes Chapel B (Thursday 11th) in a 3-1 reverse where our only win came on board 4 from Ebube Christian, despite us having a good rating advantage. However in the next match against Stafford (on Friday 26th) the fortunes changed with a surprising win against higher rated opponents. Karl Lockett played a captain’s innings here to win on board 1. Meanwhile chairman Dave got a birthday present with another win on board 4, and Julian Hawthorne escaped a lost endgame as his opponent stalemated him in time trouble. final score 2.5-1.5 to the C team, helping our D team in the process as Stafford are potential rivals.

The D team had one match in January, with a top of the table clash against Fenton B. It was a tough match as expected ending in a 2-2 draw with “top and tail” wins for skipper David Lambton and Chinenye. This draw maintained the one point lead at the top of the table over Fenton, with Alsager B chasing the leaders in this tight division. While Stafford currently sit 7th in the table they have 4 games in hand to catch our D team on points and possibly overtake them on board points. David L and George B are jointly leading the div 2 player charts with scores of 6/8.

In League division 3 our E & F teams had 3 matches each in the month. The E team will proably feel a little disappointed with just one win and two defeats. Against Fenton C it was a one sided match with our team having a 900 pts rating advantage, with wins from Joe, Nigel and Richard while George B was held to a draw. We would have had high hopes going into the Alsager (C) match but came home with nothing to show for our efforts despite draws from Nigel and Joe. On the 23rd we hosted the league leaders Gables “A”. It was no surprise we came off second best against a team with the highest rated player (Chris Hankey) in the division and a rising junior star (Dylan Whitney) with a 100% record. Draws from Richard and Adam were good rewards against the likely champions.

The F team continued their trend of “draw masters” with two match draws (away at Alsager C and Cheddleton C) to extend a probable league record of 6 consecutive draws before breaking the habit and cruising to a 4-0 win over Cheddleton D on the 23rd. The F team remain unbeaten this season after 8 matches with 2 wins and 6 draws. It is unlikely the team can catch the leaders, but there could be a possibility if the wheels come off at the Gables.

There was a lovely line from Neville Layhe in response to the captain’s comments on yet another draw after the Cheddleton C match;

“I’m happy  that we  are  on course for winning the prize for being the most average, unadventurous, unambitious, un-glory seeking, friendly team in the league.”

January’s summary – part 1

We’ve had our busiest month ever playing 19 matches, with the usual mixed bag of results (9 wins, 4 draws and 6 losses). There’s been plenty of progress in the Club Championship (3 sections), and the addition of more players to the club.

Starting with NSDCA League Division 1 – The “A” team continue to defend the title with a win against nearest challengers (at the time) Fenton “A”. Thanks to captain Martin Burns for the following report:

The champions still on top… and a record for the club

Wednesday 23rd saw the “A” team take a trip to the excellent Longton Snooker Club to play Fenton (at chess, no idea how we would get on at snooker).

it was a night when Crewe Chess Club had 5 teams playing at once, 2 of them against Fenton. Is this a record for our growing club?

Fenton were on great form so I was a bit nervous about this one.

we managed to get there OK, in spite of some disagreements with my sat-nav. like us, Fenton were missing one of their top players, but they still had a strong team out.

Harry is on great form for us at the moment. Not only is he running away with the Club Championship, but the last few games he has played for the “A” team he has knocked over his opponents quickly. This time he was a piece up early on, again, and he got a fast point for us. I had a bit of an advantage in my game against Petru’s anti-sicilian, but I managed to make a mess of it and things petered out to a draw.

I was confident Karl would get at least a draw against Mr Capatina. Karl had the bishop pair, but in a fairly closed postition he was struggling to break through. then his opponent blundered a piece. We had won the match. This left Bart, making a welcome return on top board (he has been spending far too much time in Poland for my liking).His position against Gerald Acey got more and more tense, and when they were both down to last couple of mintues they agreed a draw.

The result means we stay at the top of the league, though Crewe “B” are hot on our heals after a great win at Cheddleton.

thanks all from Martin B

Meanwhile the “B” team continue to punch above their weight. As we had not played since November we had slipped from 2nd in the table down to 5th by the time we travelled to Cheddleton on Friday the 26th. Without top board (Lee Farrington) and the highly rated Cyrus Pereira, we were up against it, but the Bees love a good fight as underdogs. Carmel took on the board 1 challenge with gusto and within an hour had beaten the 2000+ rated opponent. It was a long wait before any more results arrived as David Hulme battled to a draw on board 3. Thanks to David Lambton covering for our absentees he produced a thrilling win on board 4 as he struck first with a knight fork in an open king-side to win an exchange before mopping up enough pawns to secure victory. The final result of 2.5-1.5 for us sent us back up to 2nd in the table with 9pts from 7 matches, behind our defending champions on 11pts from 6 matches.

Double Jobava tops the bill at St Mary’s.

As summer changes to autumn, so does Crewe CC change: this Tuesday St Mary’s saw the last semi-final of the Summer KO, and more early round games in all 3 divisions of the Crewe Club Championship. Horse trading continues for team members on the 8 (!) planned teams which Crewe will be entering in the league. Crewe are, of course, league champions.

In Division 3 of the championship, Gerald got his first point on the board, beating another newcomer Noah.

Divison 2 saw Chairman Price get the better of Julian B. Phil Grocott joined the early leaders by beating Steve Ballantyne. It was great to see another newcomer match-up, as Ebube beat Joe.Moxon.

We had some rated friendlies as well, notably with young Oscar playing well and showing he can grind out a long ending if needed; 11 year old veteran Oscar beat a new member, Jamie Roberts.

In Division 1 of the championship, Martin set a mating trap which Dave Lambton fell into, so Dave had to resign quickly. Karl and Neville slugged it out in a level endgame,until just the bare kings were left, though even at that point Karl looked like he wanted to play on!

The top of the bill game was the big semi-final clash between Carmel Barwick and George Bulbeck, with Harry Gardiner lurking to see who he would meet in the final. Carmel is the club’s official Jobava evangelist, and so George with white played… the Jobava! He seemed to hold the advantage against the club champ, but Carmel defended solidly. For a change George was not even in time trouble. Try as he might, he could not break down Carmel’s defence and in the end George went for a perpetual check. This meant that an Armageddon blitz play-off was needed, Carmel had 6 minutes against George’s 5, but a draw would mean George would go to the final. Of course, with Carmel now playing white she played … the Jobava! This time she won comfortably, as George started to drop material in the blitz finish.

Cup collector Carmel has been seen out and about shopping for a bigger trophy cabinet, but will hungry Harry manage to spoil her plans? Watch this space for the result of the final.

(The photo below show the young guns about to play the Armageddon)

Pawel Wins Division 2 and Summer Shield Success on a busy club night.

Last night saw the final game being played in Division 2 of the internal Club Championship. Here the previous deadline of 31st May had been extended by the Events Officer to allow Pawel Stanny to play his two remaining games, which he did winning both. This means he has now won the tournament so congratulations go to him. Last season was a successful one for Pawel whose rating has increased by about 100 points over the previous 12 months. Commiserations go to George Bulbeck who was sitting on top of the table when the deadline for the event was extended. However he can be proud of a rating increase of about 85 points in the last 12 months and hopefully will take his place in Division 1 in the future, something his performance and rating deserve. What is particularly noteworthy is the fact that in both division 1 and division 2 of the club’s internal tournament all games were completed by the eleven players in each division. Even though these tournaments lasted throughout the season, this is credit to not only the Events Officer who drove the competitions but by all 22 players who made the effort to take part. Hopefully everyone enjoyed their games (whatever the result) and will be back for more of the same next season.

The Summer Shield match involving Crewe’s B team provided the interest in the main hall battling against Newcastle. The first game to conclude was that of Nigel Gardner who achieved a draw. Additional interest was provided by two juniors playing their first game for the club at the the longer classical time controls. Jamie Roberts, one of those youngsters, played well early on achieving the better position in the middle game, however a series of piece exchanges left him a bishop down. This was further traded down leaving a rook endgame where his opponent had several pawns advantage marching forward on one side of the board. To the onlooking spectators this seemed just a matter of time before his opponent would announce checkmate, however Jamie then made a rook move which had to be taken as it checked his opponent’s king, however on doing so it was realised that Jamie was then in stalemate meaning Jamie had remarkedly achieved a draw from an otherwise lost position. The game of the other new player James Coney swung both ways at different times however James had a central passed pawn which he managed to advance to the 7th Rank. This obviously had to be taken leaving a rook endgame. This lead on to to a king and pawn endgame where James skilfully managed to queen his extra pawn, achieving a win in his first game for the club. The team’s win was sealed by Neville Layhe on top board who thwarted his opponents passed pawn on the 7th rank to lead into an endgame three pawns up, not surprisingly he was able to convert this for the win.

Jamie is Black and Black to play can you find Jamie’s move?

As well as a number of other friendly games taking place in the main hall, the second room used by the club was busy with a number of youngsters of varying abilities, a few of whom were visiting the club for the first time, receiving coaching and advice from some of the more experienced players at the club. I am sure they all not only enjoyed it but also learnt a lot from it so hopefully we will see some of those youngsters return in the future. Thanks go to Dave Price, Karl Lockett, Harry Gardiner, Martin Frischer and Julian Bulbeck who helped out with this.  

Crewe Congress 2023



Setting up before the event; Putting away after the event; Serving refreshments (no cooking); Collecting crockery; Washing dishes; Being a “runner” (you can walk!!) and many more.

There’s 3 days (Fri 30th June to Sun 2nd July) and you can do as much or as little as suits you in whatever time you have available.

The greater the number that help the easier it is for everyone. Whatever you do you will be helping our club and you will probably find that you enjoy it.

If you want to put your name on a list, please email NIGEL for more details.

Internal Matches Take Centre Stage

With there being no League matches on Wednesday night players took advantage of the break and played internal games in the club’s Championship Tournament before it ends on 31st May, pairings had been suggested by the Events Officer.

In Division 1 Harry Gardiner and Martin Burns both won to stay in first and second place respectively. Harry finished his game with a nice queen sac which if taken led to a forced checkmate. Martin had exchanged his queen for a rook, knight and bishop and managed to get enough play to conjurer up a passed pawn which in the end proved decisive. Although Harry leads the table by half a point he has completed all his games whilst Martin still has two games to play. However Carmel Barwick still remains in contention with five games to play, if she can complete these by the end of May.

Three games took place in Division 2 where there were wins fron George Bulbeck, George Jellis and Doug Barnett. Andrew Crosby still leads the current table having played all his games but George and Doug are only one point behind with two games to play. Division 3 saw a hard fought draw between Phil Grocott and Mark Randell which went down to a King and several pawns endgame. This result sees Phil two and a half points in the lead in the table and seemingly unable to be caught. The last game to finish was a rated friendly game where those remaining watched as James Marshall played a very interesting Queen and pawn endgame where he eventually, despite being very low on time, managed to convert his passed pawn and so win the game.

In addition to the above games there were as usual a number of players there who were happy to play friendly games between themselves, including players who were either new or hadn’t been to the club many times before, whatever their chess ability the club welcomes them all.

Next week sees the local League Division 1 derby between Crewe A and Crewe B. The difference this season is both teams have a chance of wining the league meaning this match has much significance. Consequently both teams are keeping the proposed line ups close to their chests, it promises to be a very interesting night.

A Team Continue Title Push

The first division in the North Staffs League is the closest it has been in years. Although Crewe A are currently top, Crewe B, Fenton A and Cheddleton A also remain in contention having matches in hand on Crewe A. Therefore last Friday night’s trip to Cheddleton was a 6 pointer to use football terminology. On the way there it was agreed that a draw would not be a bad result. After negotiating some of the seemingly narrowest roads in Britain through which the Sat Nav had taken us, we arrived safely just in time, just before the clocks were to be started.

The openings in three of the games were very close however captain Martin Burns on board two playing black had a worse position, with his King unable to castle, double central pawns and a bad bishop he looked to be struggling. Harry was first to finish. Winning a pawn and then keeping control of the position he managed to turn his extra pawn into a passed pawn on the 7th rank. Then he twice put his opponent in check on consecutive moves only for his opponent to make a move apparantly not noticing he was in check, until Harry told him. A few moves later being unable to prevent the passed pawn from queening he resigned giving Crewe their first win. On board 4 Karl playing black in a relatively cramped position sacrificed a central pawn for more piece activity, winning the pawn back a few moves later. Then in an even position his opponent failed to notice that his queen was en-prise and so blundered his queen away, he carried on but a few moves later lost a bishop after which he resigned. This meant Crewe had two wins so at least a draw was guaranteed. On board 1 Bart, with White was two pawns down but had a dangerous passed on the 7th rank. His opponent was blocking it from queening but his pieces were awkwardly placed. After Bart’s attacking moves his opponent decided that he could not prevent the pawn from qeening without the loss of a piece and so resigned. This meant Crewe had won the match, On board 2 Martin was now in an endgame somehow a piece up, whilst both also having a rook, a bishop and a number of pawns. His opponents position was almost resignable but he kept going probably because Martin only had three minutes on his clock. His opponent set a few traps for him which Martin did well to avoid, considering he was short of time. Martin simplified the position (after the exchange of a couple of pawns) by forcing the exchange of rooks, his opponent seeing he was lost immediatly resigned. 

This meant Crewe A had gone to Cheddleton A, usually one of the best, if not the best teams in the league and beaten them 0-4, this was an amazing result which had not been achieved by any Crewe A team at any time in its history. You can therefore imagine there were high spirits on the car journey home (on better roads this time!)

Crewe A’s next two games are against Crewe B in second place and away at Fenton (which could be a title decider) it will be interesting to now see how the chasing teams perform in the meantime. What may also be significant is that, thanks in part to last night’s result, Crewe A have by far the better board difference.

It’s all up for Grabs now

What a week it has been for our teams in league action. After last week’s reference to “squeaky bum time” five of our teams have been in action and all remain firmly in the picture for possible divisional trophies, as we continue to chase every trophy the league will present at the 2023 AGM in July.

Tue 21st March: 2nd placed Crewe B made the short trip to face Alsager A in the NSDCA 1st division. Alsager although at the foot of the table, are only one of two teams to inflict defeat on our brave Bees. As always the B team were the underdogs due to being the lowest rated team in the division, but a 267 point shortfall is far from insurmountable especially when the imbalance is more than exceeded on board one, to allow us smaller advantages on lower boards.

First over the line was Dave Lambton on board 3, who for the second week in a row faced the same opponent and emerged with a monster pass pawn in the early middle game. It did not take too long to convert into a 1-0 lead for us, and with Carmel Barwick much in the ascendancy on board 4 where a neat combination produced a full piece gain it was 2-0 not long after 9.30pm. The key to the match was whether we could generate a draw or more from the top two boards. On board 2, captain David Hulme had unsoundly sacrificed a Knight for 2 pawns on move 9. However David had stayed in the game to fight on and appeared to have created drawing chances when his opponent had refused to swap pieces and allowed a dangerous attack to unfold. David’s optimism was unfounded though as John Booth used his time wisely to find a controlled defence and finally produce the killer counter-attack despite both players being down to less than 10 seconds on several occasions, so just before 10.25 Alsager had reduced the score to 2-1. The remaining game saw our Simon Layhe up against the near 2300 rated Jonathan Blackburn and seemed to be holding his own with a pawn advantage. Gradually Jonathan was building pressure for the pawn and was taking the game as deep as possible. With time pressure adding to Simon’s dilemma, the position became too complicated as he was “flagged” facing tough options. A final score of 2-2 pushed the B team to joint top of the league with our “A” team, having played one more match.

Wed 22nd March – the division 2 derby took place between Crewe D and C – with the D team winning the “Showdown in Hightown”. For full details and a brilliant report please see Nigel’s Match Reports .

League division 2 took on a big turn on Wednesday as both of the top two teams (Newcastle and Crewe C) were beaten by two of the chasing pack, as Stafford and Crewe D threw their hats in the ring to contend for the trophy.

Thur 23rd March – Crewe E (3rd place) travelled to Kidsgrove (5th place) for a re-arranged Division 3 match. On this occasion it was Crewe who went into the match as slight favourites with a 247 rating point advantage (very similar to Alsager’s in the div 1 match). Captain Dave Price reported that it was a relatively calm team performance as Mike Keenan (board 4) and Kobus Nienaber (board 3) took us into an early 2-0 lead. On board 2, Doug Barnett applied the “team first” mantra by accepting the draw offer to ensure match success. This left Dave on board 1 with a “free-hit” to push for a win, but was held by the opposition’s Dave Johnson to a draw, to make it 3-1 to the E team.

This win leapfrogged the E team into 2nd place to put them in the mirror of leaders Alsager B who sit on 16pts from 10 matches at the Div 3 summit, while the E team have 13pts from 9. Although Alsager are stronger on ratings and hold all the aces, they can be overtaken if the E team win their game in hand and the head to head on 11th April.

Fri 24th Mar – our division 1 league leaders – Crewe A – made the trek to the moorlands to face title contenders Cheddleton A.(See above report)

In our internal Club championship Div 1, Julian Hawthorne’s 100% record was halted by Dave Price with a draw, that looked like Dave would win at one stage and later reversed with Jules as the likely victor. The draw moves Jules to joint 2nd on 4.5 pts trailing joint leaders Harry Gardiner and Martin Burns by half a point, but having two games in hand on Mart and three on Harry.

In Club Championship Div 2, Andrew Crosby’s commitment to organising games is bearing rich fruits. Having played 11 of the possible 12 games, he now sits at the top of the table with 6 pts, ahead of George Bulbeck and Doug Barnett who both have 5 pts. Andrew’s remaining game is against George so could be critical in deciding who the trophy is awarded to.

Phil Grocott has taken total control of the Div 3 Club championship, and added another full point on Wednesday to move onto 5.5/6, and has a huge lead over 2nd placed Matthew Dean on 2.5/7.

Again it was great to see 35 members at the Mals on Wednesday as attendances stay their near record levels, as we cement our position as the NSDCA’s largest club.

Crewe cruise to a win

It was our 3rd Annual challenge against our African friends.

But we didn’t have to travel far as we were challenged to play on Liches.

Andrews Report and below that is the report from the Nairobi captain Roberto were full results and all games can be viewed at the bottom of the report

Match “Nairobi vs Crewe” 2023


18 members of Nairobi Chess Club (NCC) had the privilege to play an overseas online match against the prestigious Crewe Chess Club (CCC) from England. The match took place on March 12th.

In fact, it was the third match because both teams already played in 2021 and 2022 with two victories for Nairobi.
Both clubs met for the first time in February 2021 in an online match whose score favoured Nairobi (14-6).
After another defeat in 2022 (23,5 – 16,5), this year Crewe came really prepared for a revanche.

All games were played online on lichess using a time control of 25 min + 10 s increment.
The match consisted of 2 games/player and pairings were arranged according to FIDE and ECF (English Chess Federation) ratings.

The result of the match was 13-21 for Crewe Chess Club, which established an overall score of 2-1 for Nairobi.

Unfortunately, the match was not free of irregularities, mainly due to the inexperience of some players in this type of competition:Dadson and his opponent didn’t show up on time and when both were online, Dadson played against a different opponent. So these games don’t count for the final score.Jackim won the first game. Then he received a challenge for a correspondence game and later a new one with correct time control but without reversing colours. When finally the challenge was correct, his opponent disconnected. 2 points for JackimCyril won his first game but played a rematch against a different opponent. Penalty: 2 points for CyrilSarthak won his first game. In his second game Sarthak choose the not allowed ‘Takeback’ option which triggered the message of cheating. Penalty: game lost for Sarthak

But all in all, the meeting took place in a friendly atmosphere and it was a useful learning experience.

Final Results

Artem Gurevich1,5 – 0,5Simon Layhe
Peter Gilruth2 – 0Karl Lockett
Vasant Ramesh1,5 – 0,5Harry Gardiner
Jay Naker0 – 2Danny McMenamin
Willy Simons0 – 2Phil Seery
Jackim Arigi2 – 0Richard Walsh
Viacheslav Chvoro2 – 0David Lambton
Sarthak Patnaik1 – 1Martin Frisher
Reyansh Agarwal0 – 2Myron Odingo
Suraj Shah0 – 2Lukasz Michalek
Hiram Gakembu0 – 2George Bulbeck
Sufian Nathani0 – 2James Marshall
Collins Oduor0 – 2Tom Smith
Johnmark Njaramba0 – 2Kobus Nienaber
Cyril Teddy2 – 0Oskar Jarzynski
Nandini Sardana0 – 2Pawel Stanny
Aseem Sardana1 – 1Phil Grocott
Dadson Rwamba– – –Christopher Marais

All games of this match:


F Team Draw and Dynamic D win

Tuesday 3rd Jan – F team hold division 3 league leaders Alsager B to a draw over 5 boards. Alsager took the first point Andrew had a good opening but missed a tactical initiative on move 10 and one speculative move cost him the game. Outstanding result on board 1 for George Bulbeck with a win against a much stronger player, backed up by a draw on board 3 from Oskar Jarzynski and a sound win from Steve Ballantyne on board 5. Leaves the F team joint 2nd in the table on 6pts from 6 games together with 3 other teams – all trailing Alsager B who are head and shoulders above the rest.

Wed 4th Jan – the Dynamic D team dished out a 4-0 whitewash to Fenton B aided by a top board default from the visitors. Meaning Crewe’s ‘D’ team started the match a point ahead. Martin Frisher was the stand out performer here with a win on board 2 against an in-form player normally on board 1. All eyes were on Martin Frischer’s game where he sacrificed a rook in the early middle game to obtain an exciting attack. He later managed to get material back then conjured up a nice mating net with his two knights and queen against the opponents uncastled King and becoming the 41st member of the club to represent Crewe in the NSDCA this season ! Lukasz Michalek and George Bulbeck were too strong for the opposition to handle, as captain Nigel Gardner watched from the sidelines. Overall another superb effort from our D team, who until this match were by far the lowest rated team in division 2. With 4 pts from 4 matches Nigel may now have his sights on fighting for the top spot rather than the dog fight to avoid the wooden spoon.

Crewe’s board 1 was going to be Lee Farrington so without a scheduled game he played a friendly rated game where as white he took advantage of his opponents poor opening play to secure a win. Some internal games took place in the club’s internal winter competition. In division 1 there were wins for Martin Burns and Harry Gardiner, In division 2 James Marshall won, whilst in division 3 there was a win for Phil Grocott.

Friday 6th Jan – The E team postponed a trip to Cheddleton to accommodate the weekends’s Shropshire Congress at Telford.

A contingent of 6 of our members played at Telford with Carmel Barwick being our star performer again. She finished joint 2nd in the U1750 competition with 4/5 after taking a bye in Round 1 and then scoring 3.5pts from her 4 games.

Nigel Gardner narrowly missed out in the U1500 section. Leading with 3.5 pts going into the final round, he fell at the last hurdle to finish joint 6th, with his Round 5 opponent being the joint winner. Both of the joint winners were unrated juniors !!??.

Our other members in action were Martin Burns, Karl Lockett, Julian Hawthorne and Dave Price.

A Bad Day at the Office

It was another busy night at the club last Wednesday night with 28 in attendance. However it was a bad day at the office for both Crewe’s A and B teams, more of that later.

Before the two matches started the Events Officer had arranged for several internal games. In Division 2 of the Club Championsip there were wins for Julian Bulbeck and Tom Smith. The game between Doug Barnett and George Bulbeck looked complicated with a lot of material on the board and Doug having two rooks for George’s Queen, but with both players running short of time a draw was agreed. There were also four rated rapid play games taking place. Here there were wins for Mike Keenan, Mathew Dean and a first win for Malaki Swift. Whilst Oskar Jarzynski drew with Phil Grocott with the game ending in a King and Pawn Endgame.

The A team hosted Cheddleton’s first team which is traditionally the strongest in the League. Although this season they are not as strong as usual they still managed to put out highly rated players on the top two boards. The first match to finish was the captain Martin Burns who overlooked a bishop fork resulting in the loss of a knight, he therefore had to resign. Harry Gardiner on board 4 went a piece down early on but kept on fighting and conjured up a nice attack but couldn’t quite make it count. On board 3 Karl Lockett managed to win a pawn in the middle game, then another in the endgame whilst tempting his opponent to advance his pawns in front of his King, leaving the King exposed. Karl was then able to get his pieces to attack the exposed King and force a checkmate. 

This meant it was still possible for Crewe A to draw the match depending on the result of the game on board 1 between Bart Fajfer and Jacob Boswell, an opponent rated about 300 rating points higher than Bart. It turned out to be a titanic struggle which was by far the last to finish with everyone who was still left at the club watching a very interesting Rook and three Pawns endgame. The difference was Bart’s pawns were connected on the queenside whilst his opponents were isolated. Bart was playing well and won a pawn though this meant his opponent managed to create a passed Pawn. However Bart was able to bring his King back in time to stop it Queening and eventually win this pawn. He then won the third pawn but this meant his rook was now stuck on the side amidst his two connected passed pawns. This left his King to be subjected to continuous checks to the side by his opponent’s rook, something Bart couldn’t prevent, he therefore reluctantly accepted the draw. Consequently Cheddleton narrowly won the match 2.5 – 1.5 and are now equal at the top of the table with Crewe A.

Meanwhile Crewe’s B team were hosting Alsager’s first team. The report below is from their captain Dave Hulme.

As usual the B team started their match as underdogs against Alsager “A” in part due to the absence of two key players, with Dave Price being added to the team to make his debut in the NSDCA 1st division.

With Simon Layhe on board 1 having black against the league’s joint highest rated player – Jonathan Blackburn, no points were expected here as Simon had a “free shot”. After a backs to the wall effort, Jonathan broke through with a N for 2pawns sac on the Q-side resulting in the “a” pawn being unstoppable, as Simon’s extra minor piece was shunted out of the game on h8. This came just after a draw was agreed on board 2 as David Hulme was low on time (as normal) with less than 4 mins remaining against John Booth’s 15 mins in a position where any attack would leave the aggressor with more weaknesses.

Earlier on Dave P appeared to have the upper hand in a strong position with a pawn won in the opening. Unfortunately Dave allowed Sandra Blackburn to gain an exchange and when short of time in a difficult position, accepted a generous (but not unexpected) draw offer. On board 3, David Lambton was unable to push his loan “a” pawn due to it being covered by a defending King, while at the same time Jon Blackburn had a passed pawn on c5 protected in a pawn chain of c5-d4-e3 to prevent David’s king going on the attack.

The final result being a narrow loss 1.5-2.5, as the Bees lost for the first time this season.

All eyes are on next weeks derby-duals, with B vs A and C vs D teams facing each other.

Another Bumper Club Night

Two teams division, one from Kidsgrove and one from Fenton visited Crewe last night to take our ‘E’ and ‘F’ teams. It was good to see as many different people at the club who like to experience competitive chess getting their opportunity.

Fenton brought a team which, although appearing inexperienced, proved too strong for our ‘F’ team. Only Steve Ballantyne was able to trouble the scorers, earning a draw. After defending well in the opening, he later resisted the chance to deliver perpetual check on his opponent playing on for a win instead, however his opponent was subsequently able to gain counterplay and achieve a draw by perpetual check himself. This all meant the ‘F’ team went down half a point to four and a half.

The Kidsgrove match was more evenly matched. Here Doug Barnett won a tough, close game on board 1. Whilst James Marshall was playing well on Board 2 against an experienced opponent. He already had one advaned passed pawn when his opponent allowed James to exchange queens which then left James with two connected passed pawns in the middle of the board. With clever play James was about to convert one of these when his opponent resigned. This game, the last to finish, meant Crewe tied the match 2-2.

As well as the two league matches several internal tournament games took place. In Division 1 there was a win for Lukasz Michalek and in Division 2 there the game between Julian Bulbeck and Mike Keenan was drawn whist George Bulbeck achieved a win in his game. There was also a win for Mathew Dean in Division 3. Also worthy of note is that our new member Tom Smith played his first long play rated game which he also managed to win.

Next week the club’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams are both in action and both are at home. Can they remain at the top or near to the top of the league? It should be an interesting evening.