AGM Info & Update

The club held it’s 2020 AGM on Wednesday 26th August following government guidance in a Covid secure environment. 11 members attended in person all socially distanced and wearing face coverings, together with some members in attendance via a conference call set up by the chairman.

The main items to note are:

  1. Subscriptions remain at £20 p.a (despite a committee proposal for a 50% reduction that had to be withdrawm) as the members fully supported the club’s ambition to remain active through Lockdown via online chess using the Lichess platform.
  2. The club has re-opened with limited numbers playing in a secure environment.
  3. A new season of OTB internal tournaments should start on Wednesday 2nd September.
  4. Online chess continues with the Internal Rapid Play competition, as well as 4NCL Online League and the Monthly Challenge Night.
  5. The committee has been extended to include Les Hall as Congress Organiser and Karl Lockett as General Committee Member.
  6. Trophies were awarded to Nigel Gardner for winning the Annual Time and Point Handicap on Lichess; Harry Gardiner for Junior Player of the Year and Kobus Nienaber as overall Club Player of the Year during the OTB season.

Atticus get Revenge in Rematch and AGM Wednesday 26th August

Tuesday night saw us take on another Lichess Challenge, as we faced Atticus in a return match after our 7-1 success last month. This time it was a different picture though as the Liverpool club sought to gain revenge. It was a much closer battle and again we were outgraded especially on lower boards. There was some fine play to watch with superb performances from Harry Gardiner and Rick Renegade most notable with their decisive attacks. The scouser’s however were not taking things lightly and delivered some crushing attacks on boards 1 and 4. The match turned in their favour as they added further victories on boards 7 & 8 where grade differences were the greatest. Two draws on the remaining boards by Lukasz Michalek and Dave Price were not enough to save us, with a final score of 3-5.

Opposition captain, Jim Wiseman, a chess friend from my days at Wallasey in the early 1990s put together the report below.

2020-08-18 MatchReport (1)

Item 2. Our AGM is being held at The Mals Club on Wednesday 26th August, starting at 7.30pm. Numbers are strictly limited to adhere to Social Distancing Rules due to Covid-19.

If you want any info on the AGM please contact club secretary David Hulme or any other Committee Member.

Kobus races to division 2 Lichess RP Title

This afternoon Kobus secured the division 2 online Rapid-play Trophy, after sharing the points with Les Hall. The games were scheduled for the final Round No. 7 next week, but with excellent planning Kobus arranged to  complete his event today in advance as did Les.

Congratulations to Kobus, who secures the trophy with a score of 11.5/14. After today’s point Les is in second place with 9.5pts having played all possible 14. Lee Tilton is curently third with 9/12 and has one pairing left with Russell Smithers. The only other remaining pairing to complete the whole competition awaits the “Brothers Battle” between Ben and Nic Harrison, with Ben chasing a podium finish with a current score of 8/12.

Kobus in pursuit of double in Rapid-play Competitions

With the two divisions progressing swiftly Kobus is making a charge for both trophies. In division 2, there are just three sets of pairings remaining with Kobus Nienaber in the lead from Lee Tilton and Les Hall. Kobus plays Les in their final games needing a single point to clinch the trophy, but if Les can take both points he will take the lead as Lee has to play his final games.

In division 1, all players have dropped some points. Junior Harry Gardiner leads the pack with 7/10, with Kobus in close pursuit on 6/10 and Rick Renegade on 6/12. Karl Lockett is handily placed in 4th position with 5.5/8, so it is wide open.

Full details of the RP results can be seen on the LMS.

In other news, we have another Lichess challenge with Atticus on Tuesday 18th, before Round 6 of the Rapid-plays on Wednesday and the new (2nd) season of 4NCL online starting Tuesday 25th the day before the club’s AGM on Wednesday 26th.

Social distancing at the Mals

On Wednesday we had a trial run at playing chess safely

Only 8 players at anyone time and social distancing was maintained at all times

 Harry and Rick Shaking hands

Using the clocks was fun but the game begins

After a serious game Harry was victorious

The night was a success and players are hoping we can continue.


Crewe crush Atticus in latest challenge, while Harry and Lee take early leads in Summer Rapid-play

Crewe were too strong for Atticus in our latest Lichess Challenge on Wednesday night. The 8 board match saw Atticus with small grade advantages on most boards, but Crewe’s extra experience of playing regularly online proved decisive.

Neville Layhe got the ball rolling with a  quick demolition on bd 4, as a central pawn advance made a discovered attack on the opposition queen while threatening a Knight. As the Knight ran for cover, the Queen was captured and it was 1-0 to Crewe. Andrew Crosby soon added another scalp after his early gambit created space for his Queen to dance to the centre of the board forking both rooks. Shortly after it was 2-0. Karl Lockett on board 1 trapped the opposition queen as his opponent’s Lichess debut was swiftly put to the test to make the score 3-0. Steve Burge notched Atticus’s only success with a sweet swoop on an open King after a piece sacrifice diverted any possible defences to get their team on the scoreboard. Rick Renegade deployed the usual fireworks with pieces hanging en-prise all over the board before a huge King-side attack provided the fatal blows to notch our 4th win. Martin Gill conjoured an escape Houdini would be proud of to overturn a two pawn deficit as an active Queen swooped to fork a rook to conclude the board 7 game. Lukasz Michalek was about to win a Rook for nothing when his opponent ran out of time (also on his Lichess debut) to make it 6-1. Finally Dave Price bored his opponent to death, with 75 minutes elapsed before the first pawn or piece was taken. Almost immediately a Knight fork followed winning a queen to conclude matters in an unexpected final score of 7-1.

Next morning, Jim Wiseman the Atticus captain was requesting a return challenge to try and gain revenge ! See scorecard below and Jim’s brief report on the match.

22-07-2020 Match Report

The club’s internal Summer Rapid-play involves 11 members playing in division 1 (open grade) and 8 members playing in division 2 (max grade 100). In division 1 Harry Gardiner has made a superb start with a score of 4 from 4 including two wins against one of the favourites – the explosive Rick Reneagde. Karl Lockett is in 2nd place with 3.5 pts but has played 6 games, while Kobus Nienaber is 3rd with 3 pts from 4.

In Division 2, Lee Tilton has made an even stronger start with a brilliant 6 from 6. In 2nd place Kobus (playing in both divisions) has made a solid start with 3.5 from 4 and Les Hall  also has 3.5 pts but has played two games more.

Full details on the Rapid-Play events can be seen on the LMS.

Nigel Blitzes his way to the 6th Annual Time & Point Handicap Trophy

Wednesday 1st July was the night for our annual Time & Point Handicap to take place. This year was very different to the previous five events as it had to be held “online” using the Lichess system. We had a field of 15 players, with the 2019 champion Bart Fajfer being allowed just 4 minutes to play his complete games, and all other players allotted with time based on their January ECF grades up to a maximun of 15 minutes for the lowest grade player. The 2018 champion Rick Renegade was restricted with 1 minute deducted from his standard time and a half point handicap removed. All other players were given at least half-a-point handicap to add to their scores achieved over the 5-round swiss style competition and the lowest grade player given 2.5 pts to add to their score.

It was obvious from the start that the competition would be wide open as only 3 of the top 7 seeds won their first round game, with one game drawn which in itself is quite unusual in Blitz games. Top seeds Bart Fajfer and Amy Lovatt, together with 7th seed Lukasz Michalek, 11th seed Lee Tilton, 12th seed Ben Harrison, and outsider Nic Harrison seeded 15th all won while 13th seed Nigel Gardner held 5th seed Harry Gardiner to the unexpected draw.

Round 2 saw some more shock results as Lee Tilton beat reigning champion Bart Fajfer, and Nigel Gardner toppled 3rd seed Karl Lockett. Amy Lovatt  and Lukasz Michalek made it 2 from 2, while Rick Renegade got his first win under his belt and Harry Gardiner’s win put him on 1.5 pts. Les Hall and Martin Gill got their shows on the road with a draw. However with the handicaps taken into consideration, three players had amassed 3.5pts after just two rounds – Lee, Nigel and Nic.

Round 3 saw Amy paired with Lee, and the only other 100% record of Lukasz  paired with Harry. Amy and Harry prevailed in these games, while 13th seed Nigel was paired with No.1 seed Bart and again upset the form book with a superb win, using his time masterfully and controlling the position. Rick’s attacking prowess ensured he took the scalp of joint leader Nic and Martin got his first win after a close battle with Ben, and 14th seed Les picked up his first win of the night, while Kobus Nienaber and Andrew Crosby could not be separated with a draw for them to both register their first scores to go with their handicaps of 1.5 pts each. So after Round 3, Amy was the only player with 100% (3 from 3), but Nigel had 2.5/3 plus 2 pts h/cap to give him a score of 4.5pts. Nigel had a clear lead from contenders Nic, Les, and Lee who all had 3.5 pts (as did Amy).

Round 4 saw the Trophy defining clash with Nigel having white against Amy, while the chasing contenders saw Les face Rick, Lee face Harry, and Nic face Martin Gill. The three contenders were all beaten as Nigel coolly dismantled the one remaining 100% record of Amy’s to put himself on an unassailable score of 5.5 pts. Andrew gained his first victory in round 4, while Martin Frisher entered the arena to replace one player and pick up a tidy win. Lukasz and Ben played out a draw to keep up the record of one draw in every round so far.

Having established that Nigel could not be caught, he relaxed in the final round as Rick served up a typically attacking display to inflict Nigel’s only loss of the night. Harry pushed Amy into a big blunder in their game to finish in fine fettle, and the only unbeaten player on the night to end up with 4.5 out of 5, plus a half point handicap ensured a joint 2nd finish. Martin Gill finished with a flourish as he beat chairman Dave Price, filling in for a late withdrawal, to share joint 2nd place after three successive wins to score 3.5 from 5, plus a h/cap of 1.5 pts. Lukasz and Nic earned round 5 victories to finish in joint 4th place with combined scores of 4.5 pts.

Overall it seems the handicaps gave everyone a fair chance of winning as 13th seed Nigel won the event, followed by Harry (5th seed) & Martin (8th seed). Excellent efforts too from Lukasz (7th seed) and Nic (15th seed). For the top seeds only 100% will give them a chance !

To summarise final positions:

1st – Nigel Gardner 5.5 pts (3.5 + 2)

2nd = with 5 pts – Harry Gardiner (4.5 + 0.5), Martin Gill (3.5 + 1.5)

4th = with 4.5 pts – Lukasz Michalek (3.5 +1), Nic Harrison (2 + 2.5)

Congratulations to Nigel on becoming the 6th separate winner of the Annual Blitz Handicap.  It should be noted that Nigel played ALL top 5 seeds on his route to victory !

Rest assured he will be handicapped to death next year !!!

Full Results

Crewe and Malpas both claim victory in 13 board thriller !

Tuesday night saw Crewe take on the challenge of playing Malpas in an online match over 13 boards, using the 4NCL time control of all moves in 45 minutes plus 15 second increments from move 1.

The fun started before the first pawn was pushed as both teams made last minute substitutions which meant new notifications had to be sent to players to make sure they played the correct opponent. With Malpas calling on players accross the Globe a glitch occurred when one player was not online (not surprising as it was about 3am in India !) and so the novel idea of the Malpas captain playing two boards was allowed in the spirit of the game.

When the team lists were exchanged over 24 hours earlier, it was evident Malpas would be massive favourites as the top 11 boards all showed they were approx 40 ECF grade points higher per board, with Crewe’s chances on the bottom two boards (12 & 13) even higher with bigger grade advantage. So we came up with another novel idea to have a team handicap (along the lines of Chester & District Cup KO rules), and agreed a 3.5 pts handicap to Crewe on the basis of Malpas having an overall grade advantage of just over 400 grade pts.

As the match got underway it was not long before Crewe had taken the bottom two boards as predicted with Mike Keenan and Les Hall being victorious. The first of several bonuses came Crewe’s way as Kobus Nienaber gained a superb draw on board 9. Meanwhile at the top end Malpas were running riot with wins on boards 2, 4,5 and 8 and galloped into the lead. Nigel Gardner on board 11 ruined the bookies predictions with a masterful performance to gain a pawn advantage and then activate minor pieces to great effect and convert into a win against the grades to put Crewe on 3.5 pts (or 7 with the handicap) against Malpas’s 4.5 pts. With 5 boards remaining Malpas needed a further 4 pts. Then came the next surprise as Andrew Crosby got a further draw for us on board 7. Malpas then edged towards their target with a hard fought win on board 3, to take the score to 6-4 for Malpas and just 3 boards remaining. Next to finish was board 10 when Ben Harrison gained a most unexpected draw against opposition captain graded 74 pts higher, although their player must have had time struggles playing two boards earlier ! So it came to the final two boards and Malpas duly collected the next point on board 6, to make the score 7.5-4.5 to Malpas without the handicap. Fittingly it was board 1 that finished last and Karl Lockett was facing a rampaging pair of pawns but had two displaced minor pieces due to time trouble. Karl used his experience to save the game by giving up both pieces to deny the pawns from queening, but I am sure if he had a little more time would have found a way to win by holding onto his last pawn, but gave this up in the tight time scramble.

To summarise the final score, Malpas won 8-5 and Crewe claim success thanks to the 3.5 pts handicap. Crewe’s outstanding performances came from Nigel Gardner’s win and excellent draws from Karl, Andrew, Kobus and Ben and supplemented by Les and Mike’s anticipated victories.

Captain David Hulme is hoping to have a rematch with Malpas later in the summer as both teams thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience of a 13-board-online challenge.

1 Brian Whyte 189 0.5 0.5 Karl Lockett 149
2 David Friedgood 184 1 0 David Hulme 143
3 Mehmet Nuri Altınsoy 175 1 0 Simon Layhe 137
4 Bob Taylor 174 1 0 Harry Gardiner 135
5 Charles Higgie 169 1 0 Neville Layhe 121
6 Tim McMahon 165 1 0 Dave Price 119
7 Adrian Bailey 143 0.5 0.5 Andrew Crosby 96
8 Peter Fisher 138 1 0 Lee Tilton 96
9 Phillip Beckett 136 0.5 0.5 Kobus Nienaber 95
10 Charles Higgie 169 0.5 0.5 Ben Harrison 95
11 Tudor Rickards 135 0 1 Nigel Gardner 88
12 Graeme Campbell 42 0 1 Les Hall 88
13 Cathryn Woodall e10 0 1 Mike Keenan 67
8 8.65

4NCL campaign concludes with relegation

Tuesday night saw us play the Round 10 match to conclude the first online season against a team called Stroud the Young. Our own youngster Harry Gardiner finished the campaign in style with his 2nd win in a row. Karl Lockett on top board added to his tally with a draw after being held by his opponent as we narrowly lost 1.5-2.5.

In Round 9, the previous week we played CSC4, and gained just our 2nd win of the tough campaign. Neville Layhe, after a late start due to his opponent not accepting the challenge, raced to a level endgame where his one pawn advantage could not be converted due to opposite colour bishops. Meanwhile Karl Lockett and Harry Gardiner secured full points in their games with overwhelming attacks.

We finished the season in line with our seeded position in a division where 30 of the other 31 teams were all graded higher than us. Next season life should be a little easier in division 4, and it is hoped we can enter more teams if OTB chess is not on the horizon when the next online season is due to commence towards the end of August.

1. NSDCA Season Concluded and 2. Online Club Update

Item 1 – Message received today (31st May) from League Secretary as follows:

Dear All,

I am writing to all NSDCA clubs having been asked to do so by Robert Milner.

It has become clear that concluding this season will not be possible.  As such this current season will not be restarted.  All games played up to the point of suspension will be counted for grading and the results of matches played and league standings will be recorded for our archives .  However no league titles or trophies will be awarded.  Arrangements for the AGM will be agreed in due course.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone well.  I look forward to the day we can get back to over the board chess but until then stay safe.

With best wishes

Robert West

2. Club Online Update

Tuesday night saw our 4NCL team beaten by top of the (div 3) table team – Hull Romans. Thanks to Neville Layhe gaining a hard earned draw we avoided the dreaded whitewash.

Wednesday night saw an internal 15 minute Rapid-play (5 round swiss) event using Lichess’s pairing system (clearly not as good as our own David Hulme’s ?). There was a standout performance from Kobus Nienaber who toppled David Hulme in round 1 and later beat top seed Karl Lockett, to finish as winner with 4/5 under Lichess tie-break rules ahead of junior Harry Gardiner with the same score of 4/5. There was a field of 10 players for the event, which was lower than the 16 we had a fortnight earlier. I suspect our beautiful weather may have proved too much of a temptation compared to the prospect of being tied to a computer for nearly 2.5 hours LOL.