Monday 22nd November Northwich 13-21 Crewe

Apologies if anyone thinks this is a Rugby score, but it was infact the final result of the inaugural “Northwich challenge” initiated by our club and organised by David Hulme. Always on the look out to spread the good name of Crewe Chess Club we embarked on another new adventure, this time challenging Warrington League side Northwich to a Rapidplay match over as many boards as they could muster. From an initial idea of 10 or 12 a-side the hosts kept on increasing the potential numbers until it was agreed as 17 boards per side with two games per board – one as white and black.

We did our best to match up teams evenly, but this was a mission impossible and although 700 points sounds a big difference, when you consider it was over 34 boards, it gave an average difference of just 20 grading points, or as we like to say in “old money” approx 3 ECF grading points before the new rating system was introduced with 4 digit grades, as opposed to the previous 3 digit system.

We must thank Richard Betts for all his work with the Northwich team, and comment on the superb playing conditions at their venue – The Gladstone Club. Round 1 commenced around 7.40pm with special consideration given to youngsters Alfie Dillon of Northwich and Oskar Jarzynski of Crewe, who were making their club debuts, together with Chris Marais and Marek Jarzynski, as well as a couple more on the Northwich side.

Crewe’s extra experience of playing Rapid-play time controls with 10 second increments gave the visitors (Crewe) a big advantage as they took control of the match with a 12-5 lead at half-time (the end of round 1.).

Round 2 saw Northwich put up a superb fight taking 6 points off the top 8 boards, with Crewe’s lower order providing the strength in depth to engineer a 9-8 scoreline in our favour and an overall match score of 21-13 for Crewe.

The highlights of the evening from Crewe’s point of view was the three members making their club debuts. The big-hitters with two wins for Crewe were Karl Lockett, Julian Bulbeck, Nigel Gardner and Pawel Stanny, while 9 year old Oskar deserves special mention with his contribution of 1.5 pts as well.

It is intended that a return match takes place at The Mals Club later on this season, where Northwich will be gunning for revenge.

The full match score can be seen by following our fixtures link on the home page of our website.

A Mixed Bag

We’ve had another busy week, with two online League matches, three teams playing in the NSDCA and a few more internal games in our three Winter Competitions.

Tuesday night saw the final round (No 7) of the 4NCL online Season 4, with our A team playing Bradford Knights in division 3 and the B team playing Ashton in division 4. The AOL team concluded the campaign with a narrow 2.5-1.5 win against an experienced team, thanks to a draw on top board by David Lambton, and wins from captain David Hulme, and player of the season Simon Layhe. The team finished 5th in the group of 8, which is the AOL team’s highest ever finish in the 4NCL online league. The BOL team had a night to forget, with a rare blank. Thanks to a good start to the season they also finished 5th in their group, having been serious promotion contenders until the final two rounds.

Wednesday night was a busy night at The Mals again, as our A team hosted Alsager and the E team hosted the C team. The “A” team were too strong for Alsager and won comfortably 3.5-1.5 much in line with a big grade advantage on the lower boards. Skipper Martin Burns had a draw on top board, after earlier wins from Lee Tilton, Kobus Nienaber and Phil Wright.

The E  vs C clash was expected to be a tight match with slight grade advantage to the E team. However the C team managed to emerge as clear winners with a 4-1 scoreline due to successes by Karl Lockett, Doug Barnett, Dave Price and Pawel Stanny. The E team’s point was gained by George Bulbeck who was promoted from board 5 to 4, and is in a rich vain of form with seven successive wins in league and club competition.

The internal tournaments saw David Lambton join the lead with 4 pts in division 1, while Nigel Gardner extended his lead in division 2 with a draw to take him to 6/7, and stretch his run to an unbeaten 9 games this season including league and club competition.

Next week we have a 17-board Rapidplay challenge match at Northwich on Monday which promises to be great fun, while Wednesday’s club night is a match free zone so should be full of internal competition games.

Dangerous and Dynamic Dees beat the bruised Bees with another Full House at the Mals

Crewe Chess Club continues to glow and grow following the return of OTB (over the board) chess recently. Wednesday (10th) was another marvellous night for the youngest club in the NSDCA, as another derby took place in the League alongside a whole pack of seriously contested internal tournament games.

On Centre Stage we had Crewe B playing Crewe D. The result does not reflect how close the match really was, but then it rarely does, and in the cold light of day it’s a results focused business and the D team dynamically led by skipper Nigel Gardner gained a superb 4-1 win to overtake the bumbling Bees at the top of the VMS League. With all of the D team contributing to the scoreboard, there were several highlights as Pawel Stanny, David Lambton and Rick  Renegade all won their battles, with Nigel Gardner and Julian Bulbeck securing draws. A full and entertaining report is provided by Nigel on the “Nigel’s Match Reports” tab of our website.

Alongside the five board league match we had six players competing in division 1 of our internal event, four more in division 2, two more in division 3 and another two more playing a grading game as they are in different divisions. Then on top of all this we had three juniors receiving coaching, and another three members playing friendly chess. In total we had 32 members playing and several parents spectating, as we achieved a new record attendance of members on a club night.

For anyone reading our News Reports, we really would recommend a visit to  The Mals Club on a Wednesday evening if you are interested in playing chess on a friendly or competitive basis.

Next Wednesday (17th) promises to be another jam-packed evening with two league matches taking place and another hand full of internal competition games. On Tuesday our two 4NCL online teams are in action playing in Round 7 of the National League (which has approx 180 teams involved).

A special date to note is Monday 22nd November, when the club embarks on another new venture as we plan to play at Northwich Chess Club in a 15-board Rapidplay match of two games per player.

4NCL Online chaos; Bees sting the A’s to go top; Karl & Nigel set the pace in Winter Competitions

We’ve had a couple of busy and interesting evenings this week with Round 6 of the 4NCL Online League, a rescheduled League Fixture brought forward and progress in two of our internal tournaments.

Tuesday night (2nd) saw the AOL team play East Kilbride Strollers in division 3 of the 4NCL online league, while the BOL team faced St Andrews White Cross in division 4. Due to a mix up with instructions, two of our games were played with slightly incorrect time limits of 45 mins/10 secs increments instead of the intended 45/15. This only came to our notice after games had been completed and where under normal FIDE rules the results would stand, the 4NCL rules instruct that games be scored as 0-0. The upshot of this is that our A team have been awarded a 2-1 win, when a 2-2 draw would be fairer and the B team have been penalised with a 2-1 defeat when the score should have been 2-2. We have decided to appeal against the 4NCL rule in the interests of fair play, and await their response. The actual games themselves saw David Hulme and Simon Layhe win for the AOL team, while Dave Price and Kobus Nienaber won for BOL, but Kobus result has been scored as 0-0 to date.

The AOL team look likely to avoid finishing in the relegation slots for the first time in four seasons, while the BOL team are 3rd in their group but unlikely to make it into the top two promotion slots, with one more round to play before the play-offs commence.

Wednesday night saw another full house at The Mals with 29 members present including a couple of new faces. Centre stage was taken by the league clash between the A & B team. The teams have been arranged so they are all closely rated overall, and on this occasion the A team were slightly higher. First game to finish saw a draw on board 4 as Kobus (A team) drew with Steve Ballantyne, before Reinhard Haack put the Bees in the ascendancy on board 5. The board 2 game ended in deadlock as David Lambton (acting as an A team substitute) held Simon Layhe. The decisive result came on board 3 where James Marshall won to ensure the B team would go top of the early season table. It was left to A team skipper Martin Burns to salvage some pride for his team as he put opposition skipper David Hulme to the sword as the last game finished just after News at Ten had concluded.

The Bees get chance to extend their lead next Wednesday when they face the D team, but no doubt captain Nigel Gardner will come up with a Devilish Deal to Derail the Bees.

With another pack of games played in the Winter Internal Division 1 and 2 sections there was a top of the table clash in division 1, where Karl Lockett was able to take the lead with a win that takes his score to 4/5, with Doug Barnett (3/6) and Jarek Czyz (1/3) also victorious.

Division 2 saw leader Nigel Gardner extend the gap with another point to take his tally to 5.5/6, and George Bulbeck cementing his 3rd position to move to 3/4.

League Chess Resumes at the Mals and Nigel’s Reports are back

The club made a long awaited return to league chess on Wednesday, as we had four teams in action all playing in the same division of the North Staffs temporary  structure caused by the Covid pandemic. As all our teams are in the same section we have decided to set up five teams with a pretty similar total rating.

The “A” team played the “D” team, while the B played the C; with the E team starting next week with a short trip to Alsager on Tuesday.

The D team got off to a flying start to the campaign with a 4-1 win as Rick Rengade, David Lambton, Julian Bulbeck and captain Nigel Gardner were all successful, and youngster George Bulbeck salvaging a board for the A team as he made his league debut for the club (as did David for the D team, although already playing in the 4NCL online team). An entertaining full match report can be seen on Nigel’s Match Reports tab.

The match between the B and C teams ended in a draw, with David Hulme and Reinhard Haack collecting the B team’s wins and Dave Price and George Jellis for the C team, with a draw on board 2 between Simon Layhe (B) and Doug Barnett (C).

Even with 20 members involved in league matches, there was still an opportunity for Harry Gardiner to add a further point to his haul in the club’s internal Winter Division 1 tournament, as he joined Karl Lockett at the top of the table.

The week ahead starting 1st November, will see the E team travel to Alsager while Round 6 of the Online 4NCL matches takes place at the same time. Wednesday will see the B team against the A team in the North Staffs League with numerous members continuing the Winter Internal Tournaments which ensure every member gets to play competitive games if they wish.

Online struggles and OTB successes

A busy week has seen Crewe playing in the 4NCL online league, a postponed match with Holmes Chapel, three divisions of internal chess competition and an OTB challenge match at Kidsgrove.

Tuesday was another tough night in Season 4 of the 4NCL online league, as the A team stumbled against Watford juniors in division 3 and the B team came unstuck against Hackney Hungry.

Unfortunately the AOL team suffered our first ever default as illness caused a late withdrawal of our board 3, which was soon followed by a quick loss on board 2. Our sole success came from Simon Layhe on board 4, who seems to be carrying the A team at the moment as we fell to a 3-1 reverse. Hopefully we will fair better in the final two rounds as we come up against fellow strugglers in the relegation zone.

The BOL team were also weakened as one of our stars, Lukasz Michalek was sidelined by University commitments. The B team put up a much better fight than our A team, as Jarek Czyz making his online debut for the club gained a full point on board 2 to level the scores after a defeat on board 1. Andrew Crosby on board 4 seemed to be heading towards victory when a tired mistake cost him a piece as we fell 2-1 behind. It was left to Kobus to try and salvage the match for us, but in a frenzied end game that went too and fro he could not force his slim advantage home, as his final Rook’s pawn was prevented from Queening as stale mate was forced. The final result was a narrow loss which leaves the team 3rd in the sub-division and still in with chances of promotion with two matches remaining in the pool section.

Wednesday saw another “cracker-jack” of a club night with our internal competitions all being fought, including the initial game in our division 3 competition (for members rated at 1300 or below).

The “Match of the Day” saw Martin Burns and Karl Lockett slog it out for almost 100 moves, as the game finished just before the electric meter was about to run empty with Karl prevailing in an epic endgame and take the lead at the top of the Division 1 scoreboard.

In division 2, top dogs Nigel Gardner and Lee Tilton extended the gap at the top of the table with further wins taking Nigel to 4.5 pts and Lee on 3.5 pts, with both having played 5 games.

The division 3 encounter between Mike Keenan and Mark Randell did not quite match the epic proportions of Karl and Martin’s 100-move marathon, but it was well after 10pm before the dust settled and Mike emerged victorious with a well played end game.

Thanks to Martin Burns for his write up of the epic encounter with Karl:


Dave P asked me to send this game to him.   Dave’s post-match comments are always so generous, he makes any patzer go home feeling like a GM, so I thought I would send the game in with a few comments.

Karl v Martin

Thursday saw Les Hall take a four board team to Kidsgrove, with the opposition containing some familiar faces from our own club. Andrew Crosby took charge of the host team as they entertained opposition for the first time at their new Bluebell Inn venue in a friendly contest. Lee Tilton playing as a guest for Kidsgrove put the hosts into the lead. Andrew was in the ascendancy against Kobus on board 2, but an error allowed Kobus to recover the 3-pawn deficit and save the game for a hard earned draw.  Dave Price continued his rich vain of form with a win on board 1.  Pawel Stanny  was the last to finish on board four and a great win to  secured  another win for Crewe The final result was a narrow success for us, which gave some much needed match practice ahead of the start of the new NSDCA season next week.

We look forward to a busy night next Wednesday (27th) when we have four teams in action as the C team take on the B team, and the D’s face the A’s.

At long last – The Return of OTB Matches !

Wednesday night saw Crewe Chess Club play its first match against another club in proper Over The Board (OTB) conditions since the Covid outbreak in March 2020, as Fenton brought a five board team for a pre-season graded friendly.

The visitors had to contend with a couple of late player withdrawals, but thanks to their captain Steve Emmerton still managed to raise the team of five, but this conceded some grade advantage to the hosts.

Unfortunately for Steve he fell to an early blunder which allowed one of our debutants, David Lambton to notch up his first OTB success for the club. Julian Bulbeck soon added another point to our score with a win on board 5 before the visitors pulled one back on board 4. Lukasz Michalek seemed to have the upper hand on board 3 with Kings castled on opposite sides of the board, with his King having greater protection. The position became double edged but the clock ultimately proved the downfall for his opponent and match victory was secured. This left the board 1 game outstanding, as our other debutant Marin Burns was under severe pressure before a badly judged exchange sacrifice gave Martin the advantage. However it was not plain sailing as Martin was down to one minute on his clock against 27 minutes, but managed to tie up his opponent thanks to the 10 second increments, before forcing victory from a game which had looked pretty dire earlier in the evening.  The final score was a flattering 4-1 success.

In other action at the club, there were 16 players involved in the internal Winter Tournaments. Full details are on the LMS. Additionally there were another 8 members involved in coaching sessions as chairman Dave Price led the sessions.

Next Wednesday (20th) there is another pre-season friendly as we host Holmes Chapel and on Thursday we take a small team to play Kidsgrove.

Before both of these we have our two 4NCL online teams playing on Tuesday night.

Details of OTB fixtures/results and 4NCL online fixtures/results can be seen from the tabs at the top of this page.

It’s unbelievable Geoff !!

Sorry to mix metaphors, but what a wonderful week for Crewe Chess Club.

Tuesday (5th) night saw the fortnightly battles in 4NCL Online, with the AOL team taking on the Manchester Manticores in division 3, and the BOL team up against Calstock Killers in division 4  …. what a gladitorial scene that sets.

The A team had not won a match for nearly 12 months and 3 seasons of 4NCL online, but Tuesday night saw that unwanted record come to an end. Karl Lockett on board 2,supplied the first shock of the night as his opponent missed a long range back rank attack to allow him to watch his beloved Crewe FC. This was followed by the captain David Hulme trapping his opponent’s Queen for a minor piece after been given an exchange gain as well, so 2-0 to the underdogs. The top performance came from David Lambton on board 1 against a much higher grader opponent. A superb  piece sacrifice was followed by a King-hunt with Queen, Rook and Knight that was so devilish the piece was recaptured in a mass exchange to leave Dave several pawns to the good. Unbelievably 3-0 to the underdogs and match points secured, as we ended with a 3-1 scoreline.

The BOL team went one better as they whitewashed the Killers. Even though teams were evenly matched, our B team is full of online wizards who regularly exercise their magical powers. The 4-board army of Rick (the grenade) Renegade, Harry (stay cool I am a chess player) Gardiner, Lukasz (cool-hand Luke) Michalek, and Kobus (the destroyer) Nienaber were all too good and won comfortably to head into one of the promotion slots. Having played all the other top-half teams in their section, the chances of back-to-back promotions is very much alive. So much so, the B team could overtake the A team in the massive 4NCL structure of nearly 180 teams.

After a terrific Tuesday, it was time for a Wonderful Wednesday as the club hosted Rounds 1 and 2 of the Internal Swiss Rapid-play tournament. As I arrived just after 7pm, I was greeted by a packed-house with a record turn out of 30 members in attendance. It was a privilege to announce the competition’s rules and show-off the club’s newly acquired congress pairing board and wall-chart, as a hastily added set of pairing cards were needed to accommodate the increased numbers. An extra table, set and clock was required before the Tournament could commence. The joy of watching 9 year old Oskar participate in his first competition was matched by the sheer excitement of seeing record numbers involved.

Club chairman Dave Price was delighted to see the club so active, especially when considering the current environment where so many clubs are  unfortunately struggling. With an odd number of 25 players, Dave was able to continue coaching the hand full of newcomers who are not yet ready for comeptitive chess before joining the battle in round 2.

Full scores for the Internal Rapid-play can be accessed from the LMS, which shows we have five joint leaders after two rounds, with top seeds Martin Burns, Harry Gardiner, David Hulme and Rick Renegade joined by newcomer Jarek Czyz, who looks to be a formiddale addition to the club’s ranks.

Events for October

This is our schedule of events for the month ahead:

  1. Wed 6th October – Swiss Rapidplay Rounds 1 and 2
  2. Wed 13th October – Crewe vs Fenton (pre-season friendly)
  3. Wed 20th October – Crewe vs Holmes Chapel (pre-season friendly)
  4. Thur 21st October – Kidsgrove vs Crewe (pre-season to be confirmed)
  5. Wed 27th October – NSDCA League commences with two matches                 Crewe D vs Crewe A and Crewe C vs Crewe B

Members will be able to continue playing Winter Tournament games on these nights (if not involved in the planned events), as well as the normal club session commencing at 6.30pm

The 4NCL Online League continues with matches on Tuesday 5th and 19th October with Rounds 4 and 5 for our two teams.

Any more details required on the above events please contact the Events Organisor David Hulme; or Chairman Dave Price

AOL suffer again, BOL in promotion slot; and News Update

This week’s news comprises six items:

  1. 4NCL AOL team suffer again.
  2. 4NCL BOL rise up the table
  3. Winter tourneys get cracking
  4. Crewe withdraw from NSDCA OTB Swiss League
  5. Crewe mini Rapid-play League to start on 6th October
  6. Crewe vs Fenton (graded friendly match) on 13th October

1. Starting with the online AOL team, it was another tough day at the office as we faced promotion-chasing Barnet Knights A team. An average grade deficit of 375 points (= 50 old grade pts) per board, with a 559 deficit on board 1 it did not require a genius to predict the result. It was to our credit that all boards put up a decent fight as all games went over the 90 minute mark before the inevitible happened and we succumbed to a 4-0 loss, leaving us at the bottom  of our division 3 Group D table, with just 1 board point to show from our first three matches (12 boards).

2. Meanwhile the BOL team continue to shine the light for the club, with another impressive result beating Brentwood Juniors 3-1. A look at the score sheet showed their bottom board was as highly graded as our top board, so despite an average 240 pts grade deficit per board, Dave Price’s mighty bees buzzed their way to success. Wins from youngsters Harry, Lukasz and Kobus as they all performed their online wizardry secured the points. Unfortunatley the writer was unable to watch these stars playing as he was too busy suffering on board 1 for the AOL team. With this result the B team have risen to 2nd in division 4 Group D, and currently sit in one of the two promotion booths. Stranger things have happened but we could see the BOL team climb to division 3, as the AOL team fall to division 4 judging by performances so far !!

3. The club’s winter tournaments saw another 16 players in action on Wednesday night as the events early rounds take place. There will be 22 games for each player in division 1 and 18 games in divsion 2 as things stand with all games being graded and a deadline of 31st May 2022 for completion. Some notable results on Wednesday saw chairman Dave Price unexpectedly beat the Summer and Annual Handicap Champion, while Andrew Crosby outplayed secretary David Hulme before allowing David to escape with a lucky draw. Although these events are in their infancy it is clear these will be very competitive judging by the match atmosphere generated on Wednesday. Currently Neville Layhe leads division 1 and Lee Tilton, Nigel Gardner and Steve Ballantyne share the lead in division 2.

4. At the NSDCA AGM on Monday night, the league decided to press ahead with a Swiss-style league with “mandatory mask wearing” and accordingly our club reluctantly elected to withdraw for now, with a view to revise the situation in January.

5. In order to provide some league chess, the club has set up a mini Rapidplay league to last until January, when matters can be reviewed again. It was thought that Rapidplay would provide a nice alternative to the long-play internal events. The RP league starts on Wednesday 6th October where it is hoped there will be 6 teams participating, but this seems likely to change.

6. We have arranged a graded friendly home match with Fenton on Wednesday 13th October. Provisionally this will be over 5 boards and is subject to amendment.

Details of 4NCL online can be seen from the tab at the top of this page with details of Winter Tournaments and the mini Rapidplay League available from the Crewe Chess Club section of the NSDCA League Management System.