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.)



Crewe at Newcastle Mini Congress

34 players took part in the Newcastle Mini Congress last weekend and Crewe took a total of 9 players.

2 Players in the under 160 Karl and Doug

4 Players in the under 130 section Simon, Dave P, Les and Harry

3 Players in the under 100 section Lukasz, Ben and Phil

Ben had  an impressive score in his first congress with 3 out of 5

Below Joint first in the under 130 section Harry Gardiner Simon Layhe and Les Hall all scoring 4 out of 5

Below Lukasz Michalek winner of the under 100 section at the  with a fantastic  4.5 out of 5

Crewe Players from back left

Simon, Dave P, Nigel,Karl,Les, Ben,

Front Rich (non player ) Lukasz and Harry

For full results 



A quiet week for the club

After the excitement of last week’s title chases, there were just two matches to report on this week before the Easter break, with our D team at home to Alsager B in division 4 and our F team hosting Cheddleton G in division 5.

Both of our teams’ captains opted to drop themselves to give match opportunity to other members. The D team held out for a 2-2 draw in an exciting match. 16 year old Lukasz Michalek continued his fine form after success at Newcastle Mini Congress, with a superb mating trick after appearing to drop a central pawn that created discovered attacks to the opposition’s castled king to put us in the lead. James Marshall did well for Alsager to beat another of our younger brigade. Board 1 saw Rick Renegade in typical “all guns blazing style” overcome his opponent to put us in front 2-1 when his own king looked very exposed. And John Smith finished the match with aplomb for Alsager to leave it all square. The D team have now concluded all their matches and currently sit 3rd in the table, although will more than likely end up dropping a couple of places as other teams have games in hand.

The other match saw our F team completely over-ran by the visitors who notched up a 4-0 whitewash. The result does not tell the full story of how close all the games were. We were well outgraded on top three boards and Chedd’s junior Isabelle Rose on board 4 shows great signs of improvement as she beat another of our promising youngsters. Crewe F currently sit in 5th place in the division with an excellent haul of 15 pts from 15 matches and have a chance to finish in the top half if they manage a win in their one remaining match.

Five of our seven league teams have now finished their campaigns, with just the E & F teams to complete their fixtures. Next week, the E team have a crucial match at Stafford B, while the F team entertain Meir B, and the E team’s final match is at home to Cheddleton H on 8th May. Before that we have a full house at The Mals with 3 Cup Finals on Wednesday 1st May.

F Team Report by Nigel Gardner – The Young Ones fantastic, final Friday flourish

The last away game of the season for the F team, saw Mike (aka Mike),
Nigel (aka Rick), Lukasz (aka Vyvyan) & Ben (aka Neil) travel to play
Cheddleton F in Friday’s battle of the effs.
The team arrived in relatively good spirits knowing that no league titles
were at stake and hoping to enjoy their chess and finish relatively early
as 75% are attending the Newcastle congress over the weekend.
Boards 3 & 4 began cagily and for some of the time the Crewe players
appeared to be under pressure. In particular, Ben who had to
survive a particularly nasty looking attack but survive he did showing a
good degree of patience as both he and Lukasz eventually converted
their growing superiority on the night into wins.
Meanwhile I was on two and after allowing my opponent to attack for a
while eventually broke out and had gained the upper hand. However
having seen the other two wins I offered a draw and the team won and
maybe we could all get an early night; relatively.
However, Mike batting at the top of the team on board 1, had other ideas. Despite playing a much higher-graded opponent, he had developed a very sound position which appeared even and was massively up on time. His opponent had less than 10 minutes left with most pieces still on the board and all seemingly tied up. Mike then considered, at length, a possible attack
which involved the sacrifice of a knight and eventually he went for it.
Unfortunately, he had miscalculated and things began to come unstuck.
As they did so Mike used up more and more time trying to extricate himself and eventually it all became too much and Mike had to concede
leaving the team with a satisfying 2.5 – 1.5 win. Mike had played really
well to get himself into what I think was a winning position until one
move and the clock did for him.
So the young ones came home victorious and were pleased to see that
the guest appearance of Alexei Sayle (aka David H) reaped its deserved
reward. His A team won the division 2 title by dint of Macclesfield being
unable to pull off a very unlikely result against Cheddleton

Four Matches: 2 wins, 2 losses, 2 titles and 2 Runners-up

It’s been a busy week for the club with four teams in action, plus two not in action picking up titles without pushing a pawn. It all started on Monday night as our Wirral team did the 100 mile round trip to Wallasey for the 3rd time this season this time for the division 2 shoot-out between ourselves and favourites 2nd placed Wallasey 2. Captain David Hulme was a little bemused as the opponents fielded a team including their 1st team captain on board 3, when their 1st team were also in action in a potential division 1 title match. Oddly enough (and unfairly in my opinion) this meant the Wallasey 2 team outgraded their 1st division team, and showed a clear intent of Wallasey’s priority to achieve promotion. As always our Wirral team fought bravely and at one stage looked like we might achieve the required draw to win the league as Junior Harry Gardiner played a superb game on board 5 against a very strong opponent. Harry was dominating the game but allowed his player to recover enough to get a draw. Meanwhile our leading star Bart Fajfer had set up enough traps and duly converted the board 1 game to put us in the lead. The big grading advantage on board 4 proved too much for us as Mike O’Mahony equalised the score. The board 3 game involving their 1st team captain looked like it could go against the grain but alas our player could not unravel the complex position and fell down. This left board 2 as the title decider with David Hulme on the back foot needing to win, having lost a crucial central pawn and under time pressure David tried desperately to create an attack with his Rook, Knight and minority pawn but could not prevent Steve Lee from swapping bishop for knight before gaining another pawn. David battled to the end but at 10.40 with just seconds left was forced into a neat mating net with King, Rook and pawns overwhelming him. A deserved win for the stronger Wallasey 2 left us as runners-up. A tough finale to the season where we massively exceeded our expectations. A special mention of the “player of the year award” is due as Bart Fajfer scored a fantastic 7.5/8 to finish ahead of David Hulme 7/8.

Wednesday night saw the D team at home to Stafford A in division 4. Captain Les Hall stood down to give other members a chance to play and with a much weaker team than normal. Outgraded on bottom 3 boards it was no surprise that we lost narrowly 1.5-2.5. The highlight for us came when 17 y/o Ben Harrison won on board 4, with Doug Barnett getting a draw on top board.

Also on Wednesday night our C team went to play Newcastle C in a division 3 contest. The C team had the unlikely task of having to win 4-0 to gain a share of the title with our own B team. Under the inspired captaincy of chairman Dave Price the miracle was nearly achieved as his report shows below:

It was not my normal team talk but we needed to win 4-0. Amy was first to finish she was low on time but went a piece up and John resigned. Second to finish was myself (Dave P) when all else fails sack and attack. I was already a Pawn down looking at a lost game. I had 6 Pawns a Bishop, a knight and a Rook v 2 Bishops a Rook and seven Pawns. All of Pete’s Pawns were connected and all his pieces active. I had doubled pawns and all pieces protecting the king. It was all or nothing, I gave up my Knight for 3 pawns and not satisfied I then gave my Rook away for Pete’s white Bishop. Now for the Pawn storm. Pete miscalculated and allowed me to Queen on the white square with a check and shortly after he resigned.

Now 2-0 to Crewe and Julian looked round and the pressure was on. It wasn’t long and another Newcastle player resigned to make it 3-0 and all eyes were on Karl (board 1) and the pressure was rising. It proved too much and unfortunately Karl’s efforts were not enough to stop Alan and left the final result 3-1 to Crewe.

A great team effort, not just in our last game but a super team all season. It had been a close run thing throughout and to run our B team so close to finish as runners-up with the same match points but lose out by ONE board point ! Congratulations are due to the B team.
Friday night saw our F team face Cheddleton F in division 5, together with added support in the guise of “A” team captain David Hulme strolling along at about 8.30pm. The F team report can be seen separately thanks to our super captain and reporter Nigel Gardner.
David had gone to see the division 2 match between Chedd B and Macclesfield, and became a Cheddleton supporter for the night, hoping they could prevent Macclesfield from winning 4-1. This was because the “A” team had finished their season and were 2 pts clear of Macc at the top of the table and with 4 board points better off. He came home smiling as their match ended in draw to give Crewe “A” their first prize in the club’s short 5 years history.

Some you win, some you lose

Both Crewe’s division 5 teams were in action this Wednesday and
experienced wildly contrasting fortunes.
Playing Newcastle in what appeared to be a very evenly matched
contest our F team managed to score less than one half in total!!!
However, all four games lasted well beyond the other match and each
was keenly contested. George, Mike, Reinhard and Kobus all had
chances but were eventually well beaten on the night and
congratulations to Newcastle on what must be a welcome and uplifting
result for them.

The other match of the evening found our E team continuing their
challenge for the title against Cheddleton’s F team who had reverted to
their more usual junior line up. This caused a last-minute reshuffle to
Crewe’s team to try and even out the grades where possible and the
games ensued. On board 4 Lucasz was in dominant mood from the off
and within 15 moves had trapped his opponents queen. Thereafter,
victory was inevitable and duly came in quick succession; another
Excellent and Efficient performance from our E team regular.
Boards 1 & 2 however were not going to script and Simon was a piece
down on 1 and Julian was under the cosh with an onslaught of an
Meanwhile on board 3 I was treading water, waiting to see how the
other games developed fearing I might have to force a win just to get a
draw for the team!
Julian on 2 had eked out an escape and eventually eased his way into
the attack. Unfortunately, I think his opponent had overstretched
himself in his onslaught and suddenly Julian was two pieces up for
around 3 pawns. Some careful positioning followed and finally so too did
the victory, giving us a 2 – 0 lead.
Immediately, I decided to get off the fence as I was beginning to get
splinters and was liable to do something rash; I offered a draw which he
gladly accepted giving us the match with 2.5 – 0.5 lead.

Within a very short time Simon had miraculously snatched a final victory
from what had seemed an inevitable defeat (lucky was the word he
himself used!!!) and the team was able to relax with a job well done and
a 3.5-0.5 win.
The E team’s main challengers for the league have a game on Friday
and Monday so all eyes glued to the screens clicking the refresh button
for the result then!!!!!
The Ees have one game left later in April before the final showdown at
the Mals on the 8th May, when the two title contenders will be going
head to head in the last game of the season.