4NCL News – BOL on way up with AOL on way down

Tuesday (6th April) saw round 6 of the 3rd season for our two 4NCL Online League teams. Captain Dave Price was grateful the other players were in fine form as the B team cemented their status as leaders of division 6A against Plymouth 2. Junior Harry Gardiner seems to relish playing on bd 1 as he smashed his higher graded opponent to smitherines in no time at all, to put the league leaders in command. Kobus Nienaber, who has really taken the bit between the teeth throughout this Online regime, similarly cruised to victory on board 4, against a marginally higher graded player. Captain Dave was in command when he blundered a rook in the end game, probably thinking too far ahead and opened the door to a potential slippage at the table summit. With Lukasz Michalek being severely tested in a difficult end game where he was a pawn down to some skilful play it seemed we may not win the match. However Lukasz is made of fighting spirit and constantly kept nipping at the heels despite the pawn loss and what seemed terminal trouble, with a king cut-off by a Rook on the 7th. Lukasz’s defence was oustanding as his opponent tried every “which-way” to convert the pawn advantage as he somehow got his King into the corner to stop the advancing Rook’s pawn and was able to blockade with his own Rook when needed to prevent defeat. Eventually (after about 80-odd moves) the Plymouth player had to agree he could not force the win, and so the B team scraped home 2.5-1.5, when it should have been much easier. I suspect captain Dave will be swapping boards with young Lukasz for the vital round 7 game. The team are 1 point ahead of the 2nd and 3rd placed teams who play each other in the final round before the semi-finals. In order to win the group and guarantee a semi-final spot they need to defeat Deaf England 1, and may still win the group with a draw in round 7. This would be the first occasion our club has reached any 4NCL play-offs if we can make it.

At the opposite end of the spectrum our A team have struggled throughout this campain in division 3D. After 5 defeats, we clocked up our first point of the season with a 2-2 draw against Catford Cosmonauts 3. The match was drawn in all respects with each of the four games all ending in draws. Lukasz Holcman was first to share the spoils as it seemed he was in a rush on bd 2. Neville Layhe (the team’s star performer) appeared to have created enough chances to win but allowed his opponent to escape with a draw on bd 4, while Rick Renegade has one of his usual wild games with attack and counter-attack before somehow finishing level. Karl Lockett as always taking on the toughest role on top board kept a calm control throughout before ensuring safety of another draw. Well done to the AOL team in breaking their duck. Although guaranteed to finish in one of the two relegation slots for the 3rd season in a row, at least they have a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon if we can win our final game.

Crewe 2 win NSDCA Online RP League (with a little help from their friends)

Two weeks ago I wrote “Crewe 2 in outside contention…..”, and I am delighted to report the team led by inspirational (unknown to him) skipper and club chairman (aka Baldrickprice) Dave Price completed the unlikely task on Saturday afternoon.

Crewe2 finished the campaign with a hard-fought win against Lee Tilton’s underdogs Crewe 3. It was only on bottom board where Crewe 2 managed to seel the deal with a 5-3 win. The top three boards finished at 3-apiece as Kobus Nienaber grabbed a win and a draw for Crewe 3 on top board, and Lukasz Michalek did the same for Crewe 2. Lukasz’s opponent Nigel Gardner performed the now-standard-heroics of taking a half point from the much higher graded opponent, and Adam Fields shared a 1-1 score with Neville Layhe. And so it was left to chairman Dave to gain the crucial two points in his games, with one in the bag on Thursday and the second game delayed until Saturday, due to his opponent being unwell. The final score being 5-3 to Crewe 2, to finish the season on 8 pts from 5 matches.

This victory alone would not have secured the “virtual trophy” if previous league leaders Holmes Chapel (HC) had avoided defeat in their final match. It was fitting that Macclesfield played their strongest team of the season against the defending champions and inflicted HC’s first ever loss in the NSDCA online leagues by the narrowest margin possible of 4.5-3.5. However it was still due to help from the friends of Crewe 1 in the 4th round of pairings who took a vital point off HC in a drawn match, that contributed to the title, as Crewe 2 finished just one point ahead of HC, Cheddleton and Macclesfield.

Crewe 1 concluded their campaign with a 7-1 success against bottom of the table Kidsgrove, as Harry Gardiner, Simon Layhe and David Hulme all scored two points to supplement Karl Lockett’s one point on top board.


4NCL – B team flying and A team floundering

It’s a season of complete contrasts for our two 4NCL teams competing in Season 3,  so let’s start with the positive side !

Our B team (called Crewe BOL) had a resounding success this week in their division 6 encounter with MCS Oxford B , where both sides seemed very level on grades, with the only exception being in our favour on board 2, and the opposition containing a team full of juniors who seem to excel in this online league. However our youthful team has a little more experience, as Harry Gardiner (bd 1) and Lukasz Michalek (bd 2) quickly proved to be far too strong with major material gains without any compensation for the opposition. It was not long before the match was secure as our online sensation, Kobus Nienaber was held to a draw to supplement our top two board successes. It was left for Adam Fields to use up all of the time allowed before adding a third success to the scoreboard, to finish with a convincing win by 3.5-0.5. The BOL team sit 3rd in their group A table (of 8 teams) and face joint leaders Hertford 2 in Round 5. A positive result in that match would send the team into one of the two promotion slots, having already played the other join leaders.

The A team (called Crewe AOL) are finding it much tougher. Our Round 4 opponents were St Benildus B whose bottom board was higher graded than our top player, which is often the case in Division 3. Not for the first time this season the team narrowly avoided the whitewash thanks to our own Whitemanvan – Neville Layhe. The top 3 boards were all swotted aside, as Nev picked up yet another solid draw despite facing the biggest grade deficit of 235 FIDE points. It gets harder for the A team as they face league leaders Bolton and Worsley in round 5.

Crewe 2 in outside contention for the NSDCA Online Rapidplay League

Apologies for the lack of reports since xmas as your writer has been sidelined by work commitments for an extended period due to Covid impact on reporting deadlines.

Last week saw all three of Crewe’s teams in the NSDCA Rapidplay. On Wednesday Crewe 3 comfortably came out winners over Kidsgrove. Kobus Nienaber has proved to be an online sensation and won both of his top board games, while skipper Lee Tilton scored 50% in his games against colleague Andrew Crosby. Nigel Gardner ensured success for the team as he emulated Kobus with two points, and relative newcomer Pawel Stanny did well to score 50% against a much more experienced opponent, to give a final glowing score of 6-2.

Crewe 1 had the toughest task possible of playing against Holmes Chapel who had a 100% record over two seasons going into this match. Top two boards were significantly outgraded as Rick Renegade played superbly to pick up 1 pt on board 2. On board 3 Harry Gardiner played Colin Mills who has a briliant record in the online format, but Harry pulled out all the aces to win two exciting and tough games, which kept the match in the balance. On board 4 Simon Layhe having won the first game, needed a draw to give us an improbable team win, but alas he over-extended a King side attack and dropped a piece in the melee, which allowed Malcolm Roberts to achieve an equal share of the points and leave the match drawn at 4-4, which is the first points dropped by HCCC.

Crewe 2 playing on Thursday faced a strong Stafford outfit. Top board Lukasz Holcman was another player to be outgraded but scored a vital half point in his two games, while Neville Layhe and Lukasz Michalek shared the points in their games on boards 2 and 3. It was left to skipper, Dave “Baldrickprice” to apply the coup-de-grace as he steam-rollered his way to two points on board 4, to ensure the team edged the contest by the narrowest of margins 4.5-3.5 and send Crewe 2 to joint second place in the table.

The five round tournament concludes next week (16th-18th March) with Crewe 2 in title contention as they finish with a derby against Crewe 3. Holmes Chapel face Macclesfield in the final round and could be outgraded for the first time if Macc play their strongest team. Cheddlton play Stafford in their final game and have a chance to take the title if other results work in their favour, while Macclesfield have a slim chance too, but need to beat the defending champions by better than 7-1 and that the two teams above them fail to win !! So it’s a 4-way shoot out for the title with Holmes Chapel as favourites to retain it, after dropping their only point in round 4 against Crewe 1 who are lowest placed of our club teams.

Crewe crushed in International Challenge

Thanks to Popeye (aka Andrew Crosby) we embarked on a new online challenge taking on the might of Kenya’s Nairobi Club using the platform this afternoon. It was a match of 10 boards x two games of Rapid-play (25 mins + 10 secs increments)

The opposition outgraded us significantly as is common in these matches, and our top players all seemed to go AWOL, as secretary  David Hulme was offered as the board 1 sacrificial lamb. The only positive for David was that he managed to go the distance in both games, hoping his opponent might fall asleep at the screen.

The most positive news came from Martin Frisher, playing on board 2 as he grabbed the bull by the horns, and came through with two wins – a superb and lonely effort. A number of our squad failed to disturb the scorers, but there were four players who came out with great credit all managing to pick up one win in their pair of games with contributions from chairman Dave on board 5, Kobus the slayer on 6, Lee the aggressor on 8, and Nigel the blitzer on 9.

The final score was 14-6 to Nairobi, with many of our team playing their first games on, which was quite an experience after playing on Lichess for nearly 12 months.

Whitevanman saves the Whitewash, while B team cruise to victory

Tuesday night saw the start of Season 3 in the 4NCL online league. Crewe A were up against familiar opposition Preston South End, while the B team faced Cornish Wreckers. It was another tough night among many for the A team as despite expecting to play in division 4, they were reinstated in division 3 at short notice, having twice finished bottom of division 3 where they should have dropped a division. With Karl Lockett and Rick Renegade being heavily outgraded on top two boards it was no suprise that Preston were two games to the good early on. Lukasz Holcman made his 4NCL debut for the club on board 3 and faced a similar outcome, leaving Neville Layhe (aka Whitevanman) on board 4 to save our blushes as yet again he produced the only positive result for the team with a comfortable draw. And so the A(OL) team concluded their first match losing by 3.5-0.5.

The BOL team however proved far more successful in their division 6 encounter. Our youthful team comprised two 17 year olds, Harry Gardiner, Lukasz Michalek plus Adam Fields and Kobus Nienaber. The latter two rattled off quick wins to set the team on their route to victory and soon the match was secure as Harry made it 3-0. Meanwhile Lukasz defended an exchange loss soundly with an extra couple of pawns to allow a draw. The final score being 3.5-0.5 to the B team.

Thursday saw some games in the 1st Round of the NSDCA 5-round congress with our club providing 14 of the 34 players involved. Other games have yet to be played.

In the Open section David Hulme lost to the top seed.

In U160, Neville won with Harry and Lukasz’s H & M all drawing

In U130, Kobus won.

In U100, Mark Randell and Pawel Stanny won.


NSDCA 2021 online Chess

Return of the Online league for 2021

Get ready for the  second NSDCA Online rapid play tournament. As before the games will be on Lichess.

The time controls are the same as in the 2020 tournament, 25 minutes with a 5 second increment. The matches will consist of 2 games versus the same opponent on the same evening, one game with each colour.

The proposed start date is week commencing Monday 18th January and as with the previous on line league we would play on the alternative week to the 4NCL on line league.

Alberto is also looking to run a congress style event over several weeks. This will allow players to be paired more equally, possibly in different graded sections. This will be a single game at a longer time control,  45 mins + 15 secs.

The event will be 4 section swiss style ungraded, so will be open to everyone and you are not required to be ECF members. The event is free and there will be no prize, except for the congratulations from your opponents 🙂

It was 15-a-side in the Stroud Challenge

A fantastic effort co-ordinated by chairman Dave saw Crewe play its biggest ever match tonight in a Lichess Rapid-play Challenge against 4NCL outfit Stroud from Gloucestershire. The opposition assembled their complete compliment of online players, with 15 in total and higher graded than ourselves on every single board !! . We were handicapped by the late withdrawal of two of our top six players and still managed to find members willing to cover from the subs bench so we fielded a weaker team than planned.

It was expected Stroud would be the dominant team, especially as they have two teams in the 4NCL who finished higher than our 1st team, and another team of experienced Lichess players in division 6 like our 2nd team. It was therefore no surprise that Stroud had built up a healthy lead in the first set of games, where all Crewe players had the black pieces. We managed four wins and one draw out of the first set of 15 games.

With white pieces we had slightly more success with four wins and four draws to take our total score to 10.5 pts, with Stroud being victorious collecting 19.5 pts.

There were some notable performances with Rick Renegade, Lukasz Michalek and Dave Price all “doing the double” and gaining both points. Lukasz Holcman and Simon Layhe both won 1/2, with Adam Fields being the only Crewe player to draw both. The other scorecard contributions were half points earned by Harry Gardiner, Nigel Gardner and Pawel Stanny.

It should be noted that Stroud’s grade advantages told significantly at the top and bottom ends as we only scored 0.5/6 on top three boards and 1/8 on bottom four boards. We can therefore claim a moral victory by discounting these boards, and saying we won 9-7 on the middle boards (No 4-11) despite being outgraded on every single board.

All in all, another superb night as Crewe Chess Club continue to develop, and are delighted to have given George Bulbeck his club debut and thank you for standing in at very short notice. It fantastic that we continue to attract new members even in this strange era of Covid-19.

Thanks to all players supporting the club in another of our “Challenge Adventures”, and especially to chairman Dave Price for pulling the big team together on this occasion.

Full results see link below

Crewe v Stroud

Crewe 2 pip Crewe 1 as Runners-up in NSDCA Online RP League

This week has seen an exciting finish to the NSDCA Online Rapidplay with Crewe providing three of the ten teams in the competition. With our own David Hulme organising the fixtures, he came up with a novel idea for the final round of pairing teams with their closest rival rather than the normal swiss system of finding new opponents. This created the toughest task for Crewe 1 in 2nd place facing the 100% -ers from Holmes Chapel, while Crewe 2 had another derby but with Crewe 3 on this occasion.

As always Crewe 3 put up a great fight against the higher graded Crewe 2, and with Kobus Nienaber on top form the underdogs picked up two early points. Lukasz Michalek ensured parity as he won both games on bd 3. Martin Gill’s experience was decisive as he played the end games superbly. The games on bd 1 saw two epic battles as Neville Layhe managed to bring home the bacon for Crewe 2 who ran out winners 6-2.

On Thursday the final matches were played as Crewe 1 had the near impossible task of trying to beat Holmes Chapel. Our team put up a valiant effort, with Simon Layhe gaining an excellent 1.5 pts and the outstanding performance of the season from Karl Lockett picking up two wins un board 2. Despite best efforts we could not stop the 100%-ers, who concluded the season with their narrowest victory 4.5-3.5 for the second time against our 1st team.

The final League table showed Holmes Chapel as the runaway winners with 10pts from 5 matches, with Crewe 2 finishing 2nd on 6pts just ahead of Crewe 1 on board score and Stafford also with 6 pts. Crewe 1 faced the winners twice thanks to the original pairings of the writer. Just behind these teams Crewe 3 finished on 5 pts which was a great finish considering they were ranked 8th at the start of the campaign and due to early successess had to play the top two teams.

It is hoped a new Online League will commence in January, with a new individual tournament to be played during intermittent weeks.

We have our final challenge match of the year on Tuesday 15th when we play Stroud in a 12-board Rapid-play.

4NCL Online – Crewe AOL crash to relegation and BOL climb the table

Tuesday night saw round 7 (the final round for us) take place. Crewe AOL faced a crucial relegation fight against Morriston Alekhine in div 3, while BOL played St Andrew’s White Cross in div 6.

Things started badly for the A team as Rick (the grenade) Renegade self detonated early on with the loss of his lady – an unintended literal Queens Gambit no doubt. Young Harry Gardiner soon fell off his horse too to leave Karl Lockett and David Hulme looking for wins to salvage the shipwreck. Karl appeared to have a great chance when having a piece for a pawn in an endgame with B,N and 2P vs N & 3P, but got overrun as connected pawns supported the N got to the queening square without loss. David was likewise a Rook ahead for 2 pass-pawns but developed a blindness in time trouble, when a simple winning defence was missed and allowed an extra Queen for his opponent to conclude the 4-0 drubbing. All in all, a poor end to a season that started promisingly with 4 pts from the first 3 matches, but drawing blanks in the last four matches to slide from 3rd to 7th in the mini-division and end up in the relegation booth. To be fair we should have been in division 4 anyway, but only stayed in div 3 due to the withdrawal of some teams.

Dave Price’s B team had no such problem and made light work of their Round 7 opponents. It was plain sailing as Kobus Nienaber and Andrew Crosby overran their junior opponents very swiftly. “Steady-eddy” Neville Layhe did the necessary to secure a draw on board 1 so the team got over the winning line. Lukasz Michalek was heading to victory on the last board but decided to be generous after turning down several draw offers, and dropped a rook for nothing in an oversight. The B team won 2.5-1.5 and climbed to 24th in the table out of 68, to finish with a very decent 8 pts from 7 matches.

It might not be long before AOL meet BOL !!

Wednesday night saw a superb club night as 14 members joined in the 5-round rapid-play of 10 mins + 3 secs increments. Your modest reporter was lucky to win with 5/5, but the highlight for the club was the arrival of another new member – George Bulbeck – who joined in with the good banter in the Lichess chat room.