South Cheshire Shield Update

We have played three matches so far this month, with the first derby ending all square on 7th August, before the “A” team came unstuck vs Newcastle last week and the B team holding leaders Alsager to a 2-2 draw last night.

In the derby, Simon Layhe and Chris Rhodes earned wins for the “A” team while Kobus Nienaber and Phil Wright did the trick for the B team. Only Nigel Gardner’s win against Newcastle avoided the whitewash for the “A” team. Rick Renegade and Kobus managed the two wins last night for the B team.

There is a 3 week break before the 2nd derby on 11th September and the competition concludes the following week with the league deciders as leader’s Alsager visit the The Mals to play the “A” team and the B team go to Newcastle on Friday 20th as we play the 4th pre-season challenge at The Bridge Club.

The Shield is a 3-way race for the trophy with Alsager in command on 7pts from 5 games knowing a win in their final match secures the Shield. If they slip up against our “A” team, it may be possible for one of our teams to catch them, with the B team on 5pts and the “A” team on 4pts and both have the (derby) game in hand with poorer board scores.

AGM Awards


The biggest item on the AGM (held Wednesday 31st July) Agenda was the presentation of Trophies which started with the Wirral League Player of the Year for Division 2 awarded to Bart Fajfer. This was followed by team trophies for the Intermediate Cup (U130), Major Cup (U150), Division 5, 3 and 2. Summer Rapid-play trophies were won by Bart for division 1  and Lukasz Michalek won division 2. The Long-play trophies went to Nigel Gardner and Lukasz for division 2 being tied and Bart (again) for division 1. Bart then collected the Time & Point Handicap trophy before receiving his 5th award for Club Player of the Year. The final award went to an excited Harry Gardiner who just pipped Lukasz for the “Junior Player of the Year”.

NSDCA U150, U130, Division 2, 3 and 5

South Cheshire Shield Progress

Apologies for the late update on the Summer Shield competition. Our two teams have been progressing quietly with the same record each of 3 pts from 2 games having both beaten defending champions Newcastle and drawn with Alsager. As things stand at almost half-way Alsager lead the table with 4 pts from 3 games (W1 D2) and our teams are joint 2nd with a game in hand and 1 point behind while Newcastle have failed to register any match points from 3 games.

Next week (Wed 7th August) is our first “head to head” as the “A” team host the “B” team and whatever happens we will be in contention leading to the second half of the fixture list.

Full results can be seen from our tab on the RH side of the site labelled “South Cheshire Shield 2019”.

There are no matches this week with the club’s AGM being held on Wednesday 31st July. Please note this is everyone’s chance to have a say in how your club is run and managed and to suggest ideas for improvement in the club’s activities.


Crewe beat Chester to win Centenary Congress Clock Prize

Back in April Chester hosted a Rapid-play Congress to celebrate their 100th anniversary as a chess club. Our club provided 7 or 8 of the 100 entries and tied for a bone-fide team prize with Chester’s top team (grades 217, 190, 175) while our team was much lower graded. It was agreed rather than split the clock in two the clubs would arrange some sort of challenge and we settled on a 2-round RP match being played at Chester’s Town Crier venue over 12 boards per team played last night.

The first round of games started with an early blast of results with 4 boards being shared. As your reporter knuckled down to play his game he was last to finish in the round and was pleasantly shocked to find Crewe had outplayed the much higher graded players from Chester to lead 9-3 ! It must be said that although there was a 160 point grade advantage over the 12 boards to Chester, they had not accounted for our much greater experience of Rapid-play conditions.

According to Chester’s president the match was decided early in the 2nd round as Crewe picked up 3.5 pts from the first 4 games to guarantee success. In cricketing terms he says “it was close to losing by an innings”. The remaining games saw Chester fight their way back and they managed to win the 2nd round narrowly by 6.5-5.5. Overall Crewe won convincingly by 14.5 – 9.5 and await the clock-prize which has recently been ordered with some new equipment at Chester.

See Chester’s website below and their news item headed “Crewe crush Chester in Rapid Match” :

Chester vs Crewe 2019 RP pairing and results

There were a number of outstanding performances from our members scoring 2 pts with George Jelliss, Nigel Gardner and Kobus Nienaber deserving special mention as they outplayed their higher grade opponents.

Crewe edge victory in Annual Cheddleton Challenge

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

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

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

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

Full score card on the LMS at


Bart makes it a Hat-Trick !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report by David Hulme – Club Events Organisor

Fajfer, Gardner & Michalek win Club Championships

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

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

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

Congratulations to Bart, Nigel and Lukasz.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dates for your Diaries

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

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

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

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

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

Wed 26th June – Annual Time & Point Handicap

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

Monday 8th July – NSDCA AGM at Fenton CC

Wednesday 17th July – Wirral League AGM at Port Sunlight

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

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