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.


Battling draw in Round 7 of 4NCL Online

Round 7 saw us facing the runaway leaders of our section in Division 3, the team called “3 Smarties 1 Tube” all with links to the Imperial College London and a history of ECF grades massively above our own.

It was no surprise to see Karl Lockett out gunned on board 1, against a player previously graded 200+. After a positive start to the game where Karl’s opening caused his opponent some serious discomfort and a big time advantage, the class eventually told. Meanwhile on board 4 Nev (Stonewall) Layhe played a fantastic attacking line with a classical exchange sacrifice before surrounding the opposition’s King with a Bishop pair on f6 and g6. Despite bing material down the swift attack was too much for his higher grade player. A loss on board 3, left ustrailing 2-1 with Rick (the grenade) Renegade on the offensive as ever. Despite Rick’s opponent having a most recent grade of 175+, the aggressive play was too much as Rick set up a cute mating attack against a castled King involving a Knight threatening to come to e7, and a Bishop on c3 preventing any escape on a long diagonal, with a Rook threatening to combine on the h file after giving up an exchange to remove the only defending piece. It was brilliant to watch. With this finish it gave our team (bottom of the table) a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw against the previously only 100% team in the division !

I would recommend a look at the 4NCL’s site to find the games on their PGN links.

Jim Grange and Simon Layhe share 1st place in inaugural Online RP

Last night saw the club hold its first online Rapid-play Tournament. As this was always going to be a trial event we decided to run it as a “4-round-Swiss” with 15 minutes allowed for each player in each game (with no increments). To make life interesting we used ECF long-play grades for seeding purposes which meant we had to formulate pairings ourselves.

The event attracted 16 keen members and was scheduled to kick-off at 7.30pm. The 1st round pairings were posted in the Lichess chat room and had disappeared out of sight due to the banter exchanged between players before the first pawn was even pushed. With a couple of members new to the Lichess system a couple of games could not start and there was a series of frantic phone calls from players to the control room (where the isolating controller had no idea what was going on !) but matters were resolved thanks to the help of our Lichess experts – Dave Price and Rick Renegade. As the 1st round got underway some games had finished before others had started as the controller tried to keep track of the 8 boards in progress. Eventually the dust settled and all the results flowed in with all of the top 8 seeds winning their opening games.

Round 2 saw smoother progress as the top seeds Jim Grange, Karl Lockett, Rick Reneagde and Simon Layhe all won against seeds 5 to 8, and similar progress was made with seeds 9 (Kobus) ,11 (Lee) and 12 (Nigel) all beating their lower rated opponents with one draw in the remaining game between Andrew and Les. And so … on to Round 3. And time for another hiccup ..

The controller issued the pairings as previously in the chat room, only for them to disappear due to some techno-fobia. This only became apparent when players started asking “has Dave H disappeared” and “can someone ring Dave”. After a couple of minutes delay and much chunnering among the players the pairings were re-issued and Round 3 commenced rather later than planned.

Here we had the top four seeds all paired against each other with their 100% records. There was nothing to separate this bunch as both games ended in draws with some nice sportsmanship shown. A draw was agreed in one game where a win could have resulted on time, but with an exchange deficit a draw was offered. Lukasz Michalek and Kobus Nienaber gained their second wins. Due to one pair of players using wrong colours in this round an incorrect result was recorded and only corrected after the event completed. As round 3 completed, there top four seeded players were in the joint lead on 2.5 pts, with Lukasz and Kobus just behind on 2pts.

The last round saw Jim paired with Karl and Simon paired with Rick on the top boards, with Kobus and Lukasz on board 3. The winner had to come from these 6. Jim managed a quick win in his game while Simon and Rick traded blows before Simon emerged victorious. Kobus managed to overcome young Lukasz to finish in a brilliant 3rd place. Then we had a pile up in 4th place as Karl, Rick, Dave Price, Andrew Crosby and Nigel Gardner all amassed 2.5 pts.

Congratulations to Jim and Simon on their success and thanks to all members who made it such a memorable and enjoyable event.

It is hoped we can run another competition in a few weeks time as all involved expressed their enjoyment as evidenced by the great banter through the night.

Final Cross-Table below

NO. R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 pts
1 Jim Grange 159 W9 1 B6 1 W4 0.5 B2 1 3.5 1ST =
2 Karl Lockett 149 B10 1 W5 1 B3 0.5 W1 0 2.5 4TH =
3 Rick Renegade 138 W11 1 B8 1 W2 0.5 B4 0 2.5 4TH =
4 Simon Layhe 137 B12 1 W7 1 B1 0.5 W3 1 3.5 1ST =
5 Harry Gardiner 135 W13 1 B2 0 W9 0 B11 1 2 9th=
6 Dave Price 119 B14 1 W1 0 B12 0.5 W13 1 2.5 4TH =
7 Lukasz Michalek 113 W15 1 B4 0 W11 1 B9 0 2 9th =
8 James Marshall 99 B16 1 W3 0 B10 0 W12 0 1 12th =
9 Kobus Nienaber 96 B1 0 W14 1 B5 1 W7 1 3 3RD
10 Andrew Crosbie 95 W2 0 B13 0.5 W8 1 W14 1 2.5 4th=
11 Lee Tilton 94 B3 0 W16 1 B7 0 W5 0 1 12th =
12 Nigel Gardner 88 W4 0 B15 1 W6 0.5 B8 1 2.5 4TH =
13 Les Hall 88 B5 0 W10 0.5 B16 1 B6 0 1.5 11th
14 Nick Harrison 80 W6 0 B9 0 W15 1 B10 0 1 12th =
15 Russell Smithers 60 B7 0 W12 0 B14 0 W16 0 0 16th
16 Adrian Howells 50 W8 0 B11 0 W13 0 B15 1 1 12th=


Tough Going in 4NCL Online

Another two matches in Rounds 4 and 5 of the newly formed 4NCL online league have found us struggling at the foot of Division 3 Group D. We have suffered two 3-1 defeats against MK Phoenix 2 in round 4 and Nottingham University in round 5. Our sole successes came on board 4 in both matches with Harry Gardiner (rd 4) and Neville Layhe (rd 5).

Neville has been our star performer in the tournament unbeaten with 3.5/4 so far. All other squad players have managed to pick up 1 point each having been outgraded on every occasion. It has been a baptism of fire as we have been placed in a division above our grade levels. It would be a massive surprise if we can avoid relegation but as underdogs we have nothing to lose as we embark on the second half of the campaign.

Full details of the 4NCL competition (180 teams in 5 divisions) can be seen on their excellent website.

First success in 4NCL & team blitz !

Our online club has had a busy week, playing Round 3 of the 4NCL (div 3 vs Horsham) on Tuesday, Wednesday club night mix of Blitz and Long-play, and a Blitz Challenge (10 min + 10 sec) against local friends Holmes Chapel.

Neville Layhe (aka Whitevanman) set the ball rolling on Tuesday with a comfortable win having gained a 2 pawn advantage (connected pass pawns) early on before taking his time to ensure the position was converted to our benefit. Amy Lovatt (Gnowm) made an early error on board 1 losing an exchange which was always going to be decisive against a much higher rated opponent, and so the scores were levelled. Rick Renagade (aka DONT_ WALK_OFF) played his normal explosive style to crack open the opposition defences. A slightly premature sac of 2 rooks for a queen missed an immediate winning chance as captain David Hulme (watching all games) became nervous, before restoring a forcing mate combination, put us in the lead and guaranteed our first point of the 4NCL season. The final game saw Karl Lockett (aka ZZCrewe) taking advantage of a spacial advantage on board 2 converting into two huge central pass pawns. Karl took his time to tie down his opponents pieces so much so that his opponent had no squares for Rook, Bishop and pawns as Karl’s freedom allowed a mating net to be set up but did not need to finish it off as time ran out for the other player, to finish the match with a 3-1 flourish.

Wednesday saw a typical club night with 14 members playing 77 Blitz Games and a couple of other members preferring a Long-play game using normal League time controls. The Blitz event was won by the club’s leading player Bart Fajfer (aka pelbonek) with junior Harry Gardiner (aka Gingerninja2003) 2nd and 3rd placed Karl Lockett.

Thursday saw the club’s 2nd inter-club Blitz challenge. Our first event saw us soundly trounced by Chester’s big-guns, but this time we outnumbered and outgraded Holmes Chapel. Although we ran out as comfortable winners the stand out performance came from HCCC’s Colin Mills (aka knightrider11) with an amazing 100% score of 5/5 which would have been 6/6 had the final game not been cut-out, as he single-handedly scored 16 of HC’s 18 pts ! Crewe’s top scorers were all juniors, with Harry Gardiner and Lukasz Michalek (aka Good-40-percent) amassing 22 pts between them. Most pleasing was 15 y/o Safwan Khan’s (sim_wan05) 100% performance. Thanks to Pat Bennett from HC for orgainsing the event.

A tough start in 4NCL online League

We have now played two matches in the newly formed 4NCL online league, with teams comprising of 4 boards.

The 4NCL Management team decreed we should play in division 3, and were seeded in 28th place out of 32 teams in the division. However the seedings assumed we would have a team with much higher grades then we are selecting and so we are probably going to find it difficult to avoid relegation in our new venture.

Our first match (April 7th) started promisingly against 4th seeds, Warley Mighty Quins after Neville Layhe got a solid draw on board 4 and Amy Lovatt played serenely to find a superb win on board 2. However the two remaining games against higher grades did not bring any points despite  valiant efforts.

Our second match (April 14th) against 29th seed Falmouth & Truro found us significantly outgraded on top 3 boards. However Neville Layhe again got us off to a flying start with a Stonewall Demolition on board 4, with a beautiful King-side attack that put us in a 1-0 lead. The oppositions strength slowly began to strangle the life out of our positions despite two of the games going deep into the session.

We have a squad of 8 for the competition but have kept the same line up for the first two matches of Karl Lockett, Amy Lovatt, Harry Gardiner and Neville Layhe. The other members keeping the bench warm are Jim Grange, David Hulme, Rick Renegade and Dave Price. It is expected some squad rotation will be deployed as there are 10 matches to be played over the next couple of months.

We got blitzed by Chester tonight !

We played our first online club match tonight, taking on the might of Chester in a Blitz Battle, consisting of games played with a time limit of 5 mins plus 3 secs increment per move.

The scorecard makes for harsh reading as we came second by a long way with Chester running out as big winners by the score of 134-76. Our chances were hampered by the last minute withdrawal of our top player plus another member not joining in who had signed up to play.

Our leading performer was Harry Gardiner (aka gingerninja2003) who clocked up an impressive 12 pts from 12 games. Martin Gill made a virtual return and scored 10 pts from 9 games, while Karl Lockett scored likewise from 11 games. Lukasz Michalek gained 9 pts from 7 games to be our highest percentage scorer on the night. A group of players scored 8 being chairman Dave, alongside Nigel Gardner and Kobus Nienaber. Les Hall would have been delighted to outscore the secretary with 5 pts and Martin Frisher made a cameo performance to help cover for our missing duo, picking up 4 pts from just 5 games, with Dave H (the secretary) performing abysmally to score 4pts from 8 games (with 2 pts awarded for a won game).

Thanks to everyone who joined in and took on the challenge.