Cup Fever at Crewe

This week has seen three matches – two in Cup competitions and one league match. The AMAL club was buzzing on a packed Wednesday night as visitors from Fenton (in the Open cup) and Alsager (in the U110 Perry Trophy) meant some 30 players were present overall.

Starting with the Perry Trophy match, Crewe are looking to make it a hat-trick of Cup successes and were helped by Alsager defaulting one of the four boards due to unfortunate family circumstances. However with Alsager grades being some 15-20 points higher on the top two boards, the default would be irrelevant if they could win the top two boards. Early wins for the host’s Dylan Sayers (bd 4) and the visitors Oliver Horrocks on bd 2, meant Crewe’s junior Amy Lovatt needed a draw or better to secure a home victory. The match swung to and fro as James Marshall, playing for Alsager appeared to have the ascendancy before allowing Amy to escape to victory after queening a couple of pawns. This was in fact Crewe’s Perry “A” team and the “B” team host Meir on 29th November in the remaining quarter-final.

The other cup match on Wednesday saw a thrilling 6-board match with both teams missing a key player, as the team grading totals could not have been much close at 821 for Crewe and 829 for Fenton. First to register on the score board was Rick Renegade with a 14 move demolition on bd 4, to put Crewe 1-0 in the lead before Karl Lockett on bd 2 for Crewe made it 2-0.  Fenton’s man in-form, Roumanian Petru Floresc continued his brilliant winning run after two major scalps in last weekend’s 4NCL, as he put his opponent on bd 1 to the sword to reduce the deficit to 2-1 and shortly afterwards Crewe’s Doug Barnett restored the advantage to 3-1 after a hopeful minor piece sacrifice led to some unsound play. The two remaining games saw Crewe under pressure on bd 5 after a poor opening left a weak position and the loss of a pawn, while Crewe’s captain appeared to be coasting to a win on bd 3 with a three-pawn advantage. However Fenton’s team were not for giving up as firstly Kas Capatina on bd 3 found a way to attack an open King and fork David Hulme’s queen as David slid into time trouble to make the score 3-2. Finally Max Launay made Crewe pay the full price as he converted his long time gain into a win to tie the match at 3-3. With all games being won with the white pieces (a rare event it seems) and Fenton winning on bds 1,3 and 5 it meant Fenton were victorious by virtue of the board count tie-break rule. Congratulations to Fenton who go on to face Cheddleton in the semi-final.

Thursday night saw Crewe’s “A” team travel to Holmes Chapel to take on the host’s Rooks team in a NSDCA Div 2 match. The Crewe team had a distinct grading advantage of approx 20-25 pts on 4 of the 5 boards, but you would not have known it. The match seemed to be heading Crewe’s way after an early draw on bd 1 for Ola Titiloye, was soon followed by wins for David Hulme on bd 4 and Karl Lockett on bd 2. We were made to sweat for victory though as Martin Gill was being held on bd 5 and Rick Renegade was under pressure on bd 3. Martin’s experience came to the fore as he offered a draw to his lower rated opponent who was running into time trouble despite being a pawn up and positionally better. The draw was accepted and secured match victory for Crewe before Rick’s opponent Mike Lee battled to the end but could only get a draw. The final result was 3.5-1.5 for Crewe, who sit 3rd in the table with a record of Pld 4, Won 2, Drawn 2.

F team go down fighting

With only one match to report on this week, it has been a contrast to recent weeks where four or five teams have been in action. Wednesday saw a division 5 encounter between our F team and visitors Meir C. First impressions looked like all players were keen to get home early as three draws were agreed by 9pm. On board 1 Lukasz Holcman held David Fuller and on bd 2 Phil Wright earned a good draw against opposition captain Ray Rhodes. The scoreboard highlight for Crewe saw junior Harry Gardiner get the third draw against an opponent 50 grading point higher. All eyes then settled on the bd 4 game between Richard Hind and Stuart Green, with Richard being almost 50 grading points lower. What an exciting tussle developed as both players battled valiantly to get the win required for team victory. This final game was watched by a dozen or more onlookers so added pressure on to the two players involved who made sure News at Ten was half finished by the end of the game ! After a topsy-turvy battle Stuart ended up as the victor to give Meir the narrow win by 2.5-1.5.

Captain Dave Price reported ” The top 3 boards finished early and nearly an hour later and the board 4 players were still fighting for a win.
It was by far the best game watched at Crewe as both players had chances and both teams would have been happy with a draw.
The players deserve the most respect for playing to the end that proved the most exciting game to watch. In the end, it is a shame one player had to lose. I would like to thank both teams for a great night and a special thanks to the board 4 players”

Two wins and two draws

Another fine set of results this week was started with the C team travelling to Fenton on Monday to take on their C team in a 4th division match. With Fenton close to the 460 team grade limit our team did well to pick up a share of the points in a 2-2 draw. Steve Ballantyne continued his unbeaten run this season with a steady draw on bd 4. Dave Price leveled the match with a win on bd 2, after we had lost on bd 3 to leave Doug Barnett in play on bd 1. Doug was almost certain to win on time when he sportingly offered a draw to Max Launay to finish the match.

Tuesday saw the Bees playing against local team Alsager B in a div 3 match. Rick Renegade won his 5th consecutive NSDCA game on bd 2 as Martin Gill won the bd 3 battle of the skippers. Chris Rhodes extended his unbeaten run to six games with a draw on bd 4 to make sure the team won narrowly 2.5-1.5. This keeps the B team with a 100% record so far as they sit 2nd in the league table trailing leaders Newcastle C who have a similar record of 3/3 but have the better board count.

Wednesday saw two games at the AMAL with our “A” team playing a div 2 match vs Fenton A and the E team hosting Cheddleton H in division 5.

The “A” team were held to a draw by Fenton who are currently top of the table. A fine win from Ola Titiloye on bd 1, added to Neville Layhe’s solid draw on bd 4. Rick Renegade yet again found a way to win when he faced a material deficit on bd 5 to extend his winning run to 6 games and ensure the “As” got the draw, to leave them in 2nd place in the table with 4 pts from 3 matches and unbeaten so far.

Nigel Gardner’s “E” team continue to set the pace in division 5 with their 100% record in tact after 4 matches. Steve Ballantyne and Nigel both won as their grading advantages would have indicated with Steve now unbeaten in 6 games this season. Chris Rhodes took his unbeaten run to 7 as he gained the necessary draw to get the team over the line in what captain Nigel reported as “This went right down to the wire and then some. ” The “E” team sit on a 2 point lead at the top of division 5 currently.

Three wins, one draw and a Postponement

Another excellent week as far as results are concerned started with the B team playing at Kidsgrove on Tuesday. This opposition has always pushed the B team all the way and skipper Martin Gill was pleased as the team emerged with both points in a 2.5-1.5 win. A draw on top board by Neville Layhe with white was the only point achieved with the white pieces as the other 3 boards all won with black as Rick Renegade continued his rich vain of form on bd 2 and Chris Rhodes likewise on bd 4. The Bees sit 2nd in the Div 3 table with 2/2.

Wednesday saw the “A” team host Macclesfield in Div 2 and the E team host Cheddleton G in division 5. Karl Lockett set the “A” team on their way to a 3-2 victory with an early win on bd 2, as Neville took a comfortable draw on bd 4 before Rick Renegade won again on bd 5 to ensure the “A” team would get a least a share of the points. Ola Titiloye secured the necessary draw on bd 1 when managing to fend off an exchange deficit as his two bishops proved an equal match against Rook and bishop with other major pieces still on the board.

Centre stage in the AMAL was given to the “E” team as they gained a 4-0 win over Chedd G. It was no surprise to see wins for Chris Rhodes, Amy Lovatt, Steve Ballantyne and captain Nigel Gardner as the oppostion team were approx 100 grade pts lower than their previous match when they defeated our “F” team. This win makes it 3/3 for the “E” team as they opened up a temporary 2 pts gap at the top of the early season Div 5 table.

The “F” team went to play Cheddleton “I” on Friday with the host’s riding high in div 5. Two evenly matched teams produced a 2-2 draw as skipper Dave Price picked up a draw on top board as did Nigel Gardner on Bd 3. However the starring role fell to junior Harry Gardiner who was first to finish with a win as he gained 2 pieces before making no mistakes to put the team 1-0 in the lead.

The postponed match between our D team and Cheddleton F has been re-arranged for next Friday (3rd Nov).

We start another busy week on Monday as the C team play at Fenton. The B team go to Alsager on Tuesday. The “A” & “E” teams are at home on Wednesday before the D team play Chedd’s F team on Friday.

Two wins & two losses this week

Another busy week has seen four of our teams in action with 15 of our members playing. The week started well on Tuesday with our Wirral team having a convincing win over Wallasey’s 5th team with a 4.5-0.5 victory to go top of division 2. Wins for Ola Titiloye, Karl Lockett, David Hulme and Neville Layhe together with a draw from Les Hall were achieved with two of the games going close to the 3 hour time limit.

Wednesday night saw the B team hosting Fenton B in a NSDCA div 3 clash alongside our C team hosting Newcastle D in a div 4 match. The Bees performed superbly as Rick Renagade and Martin Gill picked up wins and Chris Rhodes secured the draw to ensure a narrow victory 2.5-1.5.

Meanwhile the C team missed skipper Dave Price as they went down 3-1 to the experienced opposition. Draws from Steve Ballantyne and Doug Barnett were not enough as David Hulme dropped a piece in time trouble trying to find a win after declining several draw offers.

The F team tonight (also without skipper Dave Price) traveled to Cheddleton to play against the host’s G team in a div 5 match. Cheddleton fielded a team just 6 grading pts short of the max 400 allowed and heavily outgraded our team total of 308 pts, so there was no surprise the team came 2nd with Phil Wright making our only contribution to the scoreboard with a draw to prevent a whitewash.

Next week is even busier with 5 of our 6 NSDCA teams in action, with the remaining team (our C team) playing the following Monday meaning all of our NSDCA league teams are playing within a 7 day period !.


This weekend’s Crewe Congress attracted 110 players from all around the country, including 13 players from our own club excluding two further members filling in to give games in odd number sections.

The club’s star performers were Lukasz Holcman(playing his first ever congress) and Chris Rhodes who were involved in a 4-way tie for 1st prize in the Intermediate section (U135) despite being ranked 8th and 21st respectively at the outset. Both players finished with scores of 4/5 with Lukasz performance rating at 140 (compare to current grade 123) and Chris at 156 (compare to 111).

The other prize winner was Nigel Gardner also making his congress debut, ignoring childhood events from some time ago. He collected the grading prize in the Minor Section scoring 3/5 with a rating performance of 99 compared to current grade of 70.

Other players with notable scores include Congress Administrator Neville Layhe with a creditable 50% and a performance of 156 vs current grade of 137 in the Major Section (U165). Doug Barnett scored 3/5 in the Intermediate section, with Richard Renegade and Dave Price scoring 2.5 in the same section. Junior Harry Gardiner was the lowest graded player in the whole congress, but should be proud of his score of 2/5 in his first ever senior congress with a performance rating 20 pts above his current grade and finishing in joint 18th position out of 28.

Many thanks should go to the Congress Team of Neville Layhe, Les Hall and Dave Price together with Matthew Carr (I.A) as the Arbiter. We have received many delightful messages from  players including one from Alan Riddle playing in the Minor section which is shown below:

Hi Neville,

I’ve attended quite a number of congresses over the last few years but this is the first time I’ve felt motivated to contact the Organisers afterwards to congratulate  them on a successful event and thank them for providing it.

The congress was friendly and well-run (good teamwork?) and the venue was excellent – even the special snack menu was reasonably-priced.  Overall it is difficult to find anything to fault.

Something I specially liked was that the upper limit for the Minor was only 104. This must have boosted entries from lower-grade players like me.  It was a welcome change from events where the Minor goes up to 120, 130 or even 135.  At those events players graded under, say, 90, know that they are going to be hopelessly outgraded in least the first 2 rounds and the most they can ever look forward to is a grading prize.  Please don’t ever think of raising that limit above 104!

Thanks again – I hope to be back next year.

Best wishes,
Alan Riddle

Crewe Congress 2017 Results

Another great weekend at the IBIS Styles hotel

We attracted 110 players and I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend

and we hope you will all return next year.

List of winners below click on the links for full results

Pleased to report 20 players out of  the 110  received a prize


First Place shared between Jonathon Blackburn and Stuart Clarke

Third Place shared between  Francis Rayner and Jonah Willow

Grading Prize Tim Hilton

Full results Open


First Place Robert Clegg

Second Place shared between Ifan Rathbone-Jones and Martyn Harris

Grading Prize Stephen Lloyd

Full results Major



First Place shared between Chris Rhodes, Khalid Khokhar, Lukasz Holcman and David Buckell

Grading Prize shared between Samuel Parry and Brian Crompton

Full result Inter


First  Sajjad Dehgan-Affifi

Second Place Colin Gardiner

Third  Place shared between Alan Kelly and Dennis Bonner

Grading Prize Nigel Gardner

Full results  Minor

A big thank you to all

Two wins, a draw and a Knock-out !

Four matches this week has seen 18 different members representing the club in league and cup matches. First up the “E” team traveled down the road to Alsager on Tuesday night to take on the host’s new C team in a division 5 match. Captain Nigel Gardner reported that all four boards were closely contested and was delighted as his team won by a big margin of 3.5-0.5 that did not really reflect the play. Wins came for Amy Lovatt (making it 6 in a row), Steve Ballantyne and Nigel, with Doug Barnett taking the heat on top board with a draw.

On the same night our Wirral team had a 7-man cup match against favourites and cup holders, Chester. Captain David Hulme noted that the Chester team was the strongest seen in over 25 years of the Wirral Knock-out with a board 7 graded 175, and Crewe conceding over 350 grading points. With a deficit of over 40 grade pts on every board, the handicap award of 2.5 game pts was never likely to be enough to give Crewe a realistic chance. The over the board score of 7-0 for Chester was unsurprising but did not give a true account of the battles undertaken.

Wednesday night saw our “D” team travel to Stafford in a Div 4 match, while the AMAL witnessed the “F” team playing Meir B in div 5. The “D” team came home satisfied with a 2-2 draw as Mike Williams and Dylan Sayers both won, with all four players outgraded.

At home the “F” team was pleased to have Simon Layhe available who managed a win on board 1, with junior Harry Gardiner achieving another superb result with a win against an opponent 50 grade pts higher and Richard Hind continuing his fine summer form with the third win to ensure the team were victorious 3-1.

This weekend we look forward to the 2nd (modern) Crewe Congress which has attracted approx 110 players so far and looks certain to beat the number of 100 from last year’s maiden Congress. I am pleased to report that the club has 13 of its own members (almost 50% of the club’s players) playing in this congress with several making their debuts in a Congress Event.

E team win Derby as “A” team held to a draw at Cheddleton

The division 5 derby between our “E” and “F” teams was played on Wednesday with the result going as expected. Draws on the top two boards were good enough for the Es as Chris Rhodes and Steve Ballantyne held Dave Price and Phil Wright. With big grading advantages on boards 3 and 4 Amy Lovatt and Nigel Gardner both won to secure a 3-1 victory for the “E” team.

Last night saw the “A” team start their Div 2 campaign with a re-arranged trip to Cheddleton to avoid an early season postponement. Despite the absence of top board Ola Titiloye the As had a good grading advantage over the host’s “D” team. First to finish was Doug Barnett with a win on bd 5 soon followed by a draw on bd 3 for Neville Layhe. The “A” team were guaranteed at least a share of the points when Rick Renegade, making his NSDCA debut won on board 4 in convincing fashion. On bd 1 Karl Lockett was playing Chedd’s junior star Jacob Boswell (age 15, grade 177) and despite a promising middle game position found himself on the backfoot as Jacob found a way to win. Last game in progress saw David Hulme lose to Karol Grzybowski as Karol recovered from a Knight deficit with David running out of time, to give Chedd D a creditable draw and leave skipper David Hulme disappointed with the drawn match result.

Rick Renegade wins Summer Rapid-play

Rick Renegade surged to the top of the table with two further wins on Wednesday night to take his point tally to 13.5pts from 17 games, to overtake long term leader Neville Layhe who got stuck on 12.5 pts from 18. Finishing 3rd was highest percentage scorer Martin Gill with 11/12.

An overall number of 23 members participated in this year’s event which bodes well for the future of our club.

In other news the C team started their division 4 campaign with a comfortable win in the derby against our D team. Wins for Doug Barnett, Chris Rhodes and Amy Lovatt were more than enough to secure the points as captain Dave Price was held to a draw by Martin Gill to avoid a whitewash for the Ds.

Next week sees another derby with E vs F in division 5, while the “A” team travel to Cheddleton to start their division 2 season.