Super Seren

As we reported a couple of weeks ago Seren Fletcher won the summer junior tournament, half a point ahead of Ethan Challoner. Here’s a photo of her receiving her trophies. Well done Seren!

C’s Stun B’s To Go Top

Chester C got off to a winning start in the Wirral League despite being understrengthed. Due to a miscommunication, the captain (me) failed to save a place for regular board 3 Ian McLean. And with squad members John Harvey and Nick Pendlebury also unavailable, new member Anh Pham was drafted at almost the 11th hour.

Over on board 5 Anh had a decent position against Kevin Mitchell and soon began to take advantage. Then, Anh delivered the incredible Queen (on g6) to e7! Checkmate! The two players shook hands until a spectator pointed out the irregularity of the move. Discussions then took place about whether to accept the result or continue. The two players agreed to continue and Anh (fairly this time) soon converted his piece advantage to victory.

Board 4 saw Phil McKeown (C) play Graham Bromley (B). The two played a slow French defence and it one point it looked like both players would end up in a time scramble. The match seemed destined for a draw until Graham blundered his Queen. 2-0

My game with Chris Doran had it’s ups and downs. My anti-King’s Indian set up saw me launch the h pawn up the board and later exchange for the g6 pawn to open up his kingside. However Chris had a strong centre and was slightly better. Soon, after exchanges I went a pawn down with check, forcing my uncastled king to f1. With his queen threatened, Chris elected to sacrifice his rook for my knight on f4, however in hindsite this wasn’t the best plan as it allowed me to open up the g file. Chris then tried to make something happen in the centre however this lead to his king being exposed to my bishops. After I sacrificed the exchange to further expose the king, Chris soon resigned. 3-0

Chester B pulled one back when Rokas defeated Colm Buckley on board 2 after Colm gave away a pawn. Finally on board 1 C’s Mike McDonagh may have had chances to win against Phil Crocker and declined his draw offer when the scores were 3-1. However he was not able to find a way to win and a draw was agreed instead. 3.5-1.5 to C which sees them go top of the league, at least temporarily!

Summer Tournament Winners

The results of our internal summer tournaments are now in.

Firstly in the junior club there was a very close contest. Seren Fletcher finally won with 13 points, closely followed by Ethan Challoner on 12.5.

In the Hallard Cup adult tournament Nethuli Saram scored a very impressive 5/5 to clinch the title.

Hallard Cup Organiser Ian Clayton presents Nethuli with her trophy

Finally in the Coleby Cup Mike McDonagh won with 3.5/4 after drawing against me in the final round.

Thanks to all the organisers and participants. We now start with the next round of competitions.

Phil’s run raises new clocks for the Junior Club

After Phil Skippon’s sponsored half-marathon run and thanks to the generosity of donors (many of them club members) we have now purchased 5 additional digital clocks for the club. And thanks to Dave Robertson’s negotiation we got 5 for the price of 4.

Phil at the Junior Club struggles under the weight of the new equipment

Thanks again to Phil and all those who sponsored him!

Steve Lloyd blitzes Bolton

Last weekend the qualifiers were held for the UK Blitz Championship. Like last year the Manchester one was held in Bolton. Well-run by the local team, all of the players played 15 rounds in one section.

This year’s players didn’t include Mike but the other three of us returned for a second attempt

We were so focused on our performance we didn’t actually find time to take another photo without Mike.

As was the case last year each of us had at least a mini-run at leading the tournament. I began with 2/2 and then managed 0/2 against titled players although I was holding my own for a little while. After that I lost several games with piece blunders, eventually clawing back to 50%. Losing several quick games gave me the opportunity to observe what seemed to be smooth positional play on Colm’s part. He must, however, also have thrown in the odd blunder as he also ended up on 50%.

Steve had a standout performance scoring 8/15 including a loss against tournament winner IM James Adair on top board in the final round. Even more impressively he managed to fork all my pieces in a N v B ending. Steve may well have won a category prize.

But what about the other intra-Chester grudge matches? Colm managed to get the better of Steve. Somewhat boringly Colm and I managed to exchange all our pieces and draw an almost accurately played but rather dull game.

Despite our mixed results it was an enjoyable day out and I would recommend it to other players next year.

Nethuli shines in European U14 Championships

Despite being rated one of the lowest in the recent European U14 Championship in Bratislava, Nethuli Saram managed to score an impressive 4.5/9.

Nethuli representing England in the U14 European Championships

After a tough start she showed great resilience to get results against players rated several hundred points higher than her. Here is a fine combination against a player rated 1628 who has just played 13Ng5, seemingly winning a pawn on the e-file. Can you see Black’s riposte? (Answer at the end)

In addition to normal league and club games Nethuli had received coaching from John Carleton at the Friday junior club and played training matches against Ray Williams and John Harvey. Thanks to those players for supporting Nethuli.

At the event she was fortunate to have assistance from Grandmaster Neil McDonald pictured with Nethuli below.

All in all, an impressive result by Nethuli. Well done!

Puzzle:Nethuli is helped prepare by GM Neil McDonald

Puzzle answer: Black replied 13..Bxf2+! when 14Kxf2 allows 14..Nxe4+ 15Kg1 Nxg5 with a two pawn advantage.

Crewe crush Chester in Rapid Match

At the Centenary Congress in April Chester and Crewe were tied for the team prize of a chess clock. Rather than magnanimously giving Crewe the prize or splitting the clock in two we decided to play a rapid match decider. This was spread over 12 boards with teams chosen to roughly match the strength on each board. Each player played 2 games against the same opponent alternating colours.

Steve Williams focuses hard as the match got underway

With home advantage Chester might perhaps have seemed slight favourites. However, we were seen disavowed of that optimism. In cricketing terms we came close to losing by an innings. Crewe won the first round 9-3 and then scored 3.5/4 in the first results of the second round. After having lost the match Chester bravely fought back to clinch the second round 6.5 to 5.5 thanks to James Lee and Steve Lloyd holding their nerve in complex positions. Anh, Steve Lloyd and Ian all managed a plus score, so thanks especially to them for keeping our chances alive.

Anh and Jack lead the fight back in the second round

Now it’s not really feasible that we could simply be outplayed, so here are my top 10 excuses I encountered:

  1. It was very hot.
  2. I touched the wrong piece.
  3. Crewe players have rapid ratings. Have they been practising?
  4. Why have we not used the new grades?
  5. It’s really hot, too hot to even drink.
  6. The king and queen were the wrong way round.
  7. I was jetlagged.
  8. It was difficult parking.
  9. Why don’t the windows open?
  10. It’s Mike’s fault – why did he arrange it on such a hot day??
Dave and Dave concentrate

Anyway, congratulations to Crewe on a convincing win and if anyone’s got an old clock (working or otherwise) we could give them please let me know…

Wirral Winners

Last night the AGM of the Wirral League was held. This included a presentation to the outstanding players of the year. First up was John Carleton who captained the all-conquering Chester 1 knockout team to the title.

Next was Nethuli Saram who was joint winner of the division 4 player of the year, awarded to the player with the best results. Well done to Nethuli and the KO1 team!

June Events – Wallasey match, League AGM and Chess in the Park

Despite the season being over June was still a busy month for the club. Firstly we took on Wallasey in their splendid venue. The match was as usual very close. Right at the end Chester pulled away as the top boards finished with Chris Doran winning the final game with both players down to their final seconds. Thanks to everyone who helped us get such a big turnout.

Freya plays in her first Wallasey match
John had flown across continents to get back in time for the match
Your reporter conceives a devilish plan to mate the black king with R, B and pawns
Chris was last to finish
As the crowd got bigger

Last week was the AGM for the Chester and District League. Chester were presented with trophies for winning the 1st division, 2nd division, knock out and U120 knock out. Ray Williams also won player of the year for division 3. I’ll spare you needing to see me collecting all of these prizes on behalf of the winners but here’s a sample one:

Incoming league president Stephen Dunning presents Chester with another trophy

Last weekend we held our first Chess in the Park event. The weather held up and everyone seemed to have fun.

Seren prepares to take on her dad whilst Vlad (who recounts he learned to play the game in parks in Romania) takes on Dan
Paul plays a solid opening against Jixin
Dan takes on a strong park visitor as the group got bigger with Rohan and Riyaan celebrating the end of exams.

Finally, if you subscribe to Chess then look out for the article covering our centenary.