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

Crewe Rapid Play Congress Results

Crewe Chess Club held it’s first Rapid play congress at the IBIS Hotel


 

The event had 4 sections and a total of 82 players took part

Open Section

Winner Mike J Surtees   5.5 out of 6

Second place was IM Lawrence Cooper  5 out of 6

Third was Jonathan LB Blackburn  4.5 out of 6.

The grading prize was won by  Colm Buckley

Major Section

Winner  Oleg Cukovs  5.5/6

Second John Hall  5/6

Third Richard Szwajkun 4/6.

The grading prize was won by Micheal Owen 3.5/6.

Intermediate Section

Joint Winners David Pickup and  Karl Lockett both 5/6.

Joint third place was Michael J Fisher and Andrew Townsend both 4.5/6.

The grading prize was won by Philip Shaugnessy 3/6.

Minor Section

Joint Winners Nick D Holmes  and Simon Layhe  with 5/6.

Joint Third Andrew Beswick  and Terry Sulivan  4.5/6.

The grading prize was shared between Richard Bohm and Stuart Hamilton

 

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.

 

Wobbly Wednesday with three defeats

Wednesday saw the club’s resources fully stretched with two matches at the Mals Club, Crewe D vs Newcastle D in division 4, Crewe F vs Newcastle E in division 5, while our Wirral team took their passports to Mold in North Wales.

At the Mals, both our teams came up just short against Newcastle, with the match scores going in favour of the visitors by the narrow margins of 2.5-1.5. For the D team, our points came from Rick Renegade with a draw on bd 1, while Dylan Sayers continued his fine recent form with a win against a higher grade opponent on bd 2. For the “F” team Simon Layhe earned a draw on top board while recent newcomer Kobus Nienaber picked up a win on bd 4.

Over at Mold, the Wirral team suffered a heavy defeat 4-1, with draws coming from David Hulme on bd 2 and Chris Rhodes on bd 5. The team will finish 3rd in the Wirral League’s 2nd division and therefore miss out on promotion. They have their final game on Tuesday in a re-arranged match at Hoylake/Great Meols.

Bees clinch division 3 title

Tuesday night saw the B team climb over the line to secure the NSDCA div 3 title in a close fought match with neighbours Alsager. Early in the evening it looked like the Bees would come up short of the match win required as Alsager’s captain Alan Thomason put the first point on the score card with a win on bd 1. Rick Renegade employed his usual all guns blazing form of attack to level the match shortly after 9m with a superb win on bd2. Chris (unbeaten for the B team) Rhodes seemed to be heading towards parity when his opponent allowed their queen to be pinned by a rook and leaves Crewe in the lead 2-1. This left last minute substitute Les Hall in play against James Marshall in the remaining game. James appeared to have  engineered an advantage, but Les’s quick play and stubborn defence left James perilously short on time. With a minimal amount of time remaining in increment time and a potentially tricky position developing James opted for security and agreed a draw which meant Crewe  gained the necessary win by narrow margin of 2.5-1.5, to ensure the B team won the Div 3 title for the second time in three years.

Congratulations to the team which mainly consisted of Chris Rhodes (9.5/12), Rick Renegade (8.5/11), Karl Lockett (4/9) and resting skipper Martin Gill (2.5/8) and a supporting cast of 7 others.

Es edge towards title while Wirral team wonder what if

A quieter week on the fixture schedule has seen just three matches played. Tuesday night saw the Wirral team host Wallasey 3 in Chester, and on Wednesday the E team hosted Alsager C and the F team were sent to Newcastle.

Our Wirral team was the strongest team we’ve been able to table this season with captain David Hulme on bd 5 being higher graded than Wallasey’s top board, as our opponents were faced with having to field 4 teams on a non-club night. It was no surprise therefore that we raced into a 2-0 lead as David Hulme and Rick Renegade (bd 4) won. A fighting effort on bd 3 held Neville Layhe to a draw, before Rich Wiltshir outgunned their bd 2. Karl Lockett could not force the win on bd 1 to finish the match with a draw and a convincing 4-1 win to keep our team in the title chase. We need to win both our remaining games while hoping league leaders Atticus slip up in their last match.

The F team went to Newcastle hoping to help our E team against title rivals Newcastle E. According to skipper Dave Price we had an “off-night” with only Simon Layhe producing the goods with a fine win on bd 1. The F team wrap up their division 5 campaign with a home match against same opposition this Wednesday at the Mals club.

Also in action on Wednesday, but at home in the Mals club, was our division 5 leaders the “E” team. A superb team performance started with Chris Rhodes earning a hard-fought draw on top board, before Dylan Sayers outplayed the opposition to win on bd 4. Dylan is on a great run of form with 5 wins a row and currently heading towards a grade increase of approx 36 pts. Next to finish was the team’s “Big-hitter” junior Amy Lovatt completing her 10th successive victory (100% record) for the Es, playing maturely and using all of the time permitted to convert a pawn advantage into an overwhelming position. Last to finish (on bd 3) saw Steve Ballantyne accept a draw with the team result safely secured for 3-1 win. The E team require one point from their last two matches to win the division 5 title.

Next week sees 3 title chases coming to a climax as the Bees (B team) play their final match at Alsager on Tuesday, the Wirral team go to Mold in North Wales on Wednesday and the Es hike to Cheddleton on Friday.