ECF QF U120 Report

Lancashire 6 – 6 Essex (win on board count)

Chess is a very cruel game. You can play brilliantly for 49 moves, then one questionable move and you are lost. Multiply that by 12 or 16 boards and you have county chess. The ecstasy of a team win in the last minute versus the pain of suddenly losing or drawing a winning position in time trouble. This is county chess – a drug I’ve had for 25 years and shared with a great band of players proud to represent their county. And so many thanks to every one of you who made the effort, especially those who helped get other players to the venue.

We had the usual excellent venue, the East Midlands bridge centre in Spondon, doubling up with the u160’s against the same opponent, Essex. They had an equally good u120 team out and it was clear it was going to be close. 

This proved the case. Our strongest players, who have pulled us out of the mire many times, found it tough going on the top boards. Phil Shaughnessy and Chris Lysons have saved our bacon so many times, but on this occasion came off second best. Debutant Andy Swales on board one came up against a tough cookie who is now 133 grade and rising, and also went down. Captain Dave Thorp has been finding it difficult to find time to play with work pressures and, perhaps a bit ring rusty, also lost.

On the plus side, Gerry Whitehead parked his health concerns and pulled off yet another county win, as did his evergreen Eccles colleague Lawrence Harold. Young Thisumi Jayawarna also won despite running into serious time difficulties. Her older sister Tarini earned a very sold draw, as did Mark Southby and Peter Hurn. 
And so with two to play we were one down (4.5-5.5).

However, both Gary Bennett and Jeff Wilson had played excellently and were winning. Despite a late fumble, Jeff converted to make it 5.5-5.5 and 30 pairs of eyes started to gather around the last board. This was by far the best I had ever seen Gary play, and he was in total control.

But as I say, chess is a very cruel game. In a completely won position, but with the clock running down, Gary as Black relaxed on the last move in the following approximate position with White now to play:

White to play and draw – not the usual way to win a match!

Black has unwittingly forced White into the only saving move. Pawn to a8(q)! if BxQ we have a stalemate and a win for Essex on board count. Incredible. If it’s any help Gary – we have all been there and learnt from it for the rest of our chess lives!

In passing – I think our u120 team may have been jinxed! Two years ago we lost on board count when a player failed to turn up. Last year we lost on board count when a car puncture meant we lost two players. This year we lost on board count and, when Jeff Wilson went out to his car, found he had a shredded tyre!!

Next year must be the year when our u120 teams get all the luck and go all the way!  Many thanks for playing everybody.

Bill O’Rourke

ECF County QF Stage – U160

Final score – Lancashire 6 – 10 Essex.

First of all many many thanks to all of you who made the effort yesterday.

We lost 10-6. We were just a few too many players short to be successful, although it must be said everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong on the day!
David Innes answered the call very late on Friday night after Richard Gavin withdrew with flu. Many thanks, David.

Teams start arriving at the excellent East Midlands Bridge for the U160 and U120 matches.

Played at the excellent East Midlands bridge centre, we kicked off the 4.5-hour match with Dave Aspinall playing an opening that looked strong, creative and had his opponent looking bewildered.

Unfortunately, Dave went wrong somewhere early on and suddenly he was lost! 0-1. Dave Innes looked to have a strong central pawn but again a mistake leads to dropping a piece and the game. Early doors and 0-2 did not augur well for the afternoon, especially across the boards only Steve Ward looked to be ahead, having decided to snaffle his opponent’s rook and allowing a dangerous looking initiative for his opponent.

The match then went quiet for one hour. Looking at the boards they all looked fairly even apart from Steve’s. A spate of draws now took place in even looking games. 0-2 became 2.5-4.5 in no time at all. Clearly, Essex had taken on board their 2 point advantage and realised they could wait for us to try to over-reach. My game was typical. My opponent played risk-free chess and what appeared an aggressive opening from me petered out after several pieces swap off to a dead draw.

With the onus being on trying to breach the gap, results started to go against us. John Whitfield and Rob Tokeley both had reverses from hopeful positions and suddenly the game was virtually out of our reach, 3-7. Steve Ward converted to offer some hope at 4-7 and John Addison’s win took us to 5-7 and with Phil Taylor looking good, some faint hope remained. But Steve Potter was having to resiliently defend on one with his time running down. A couple more dead draws took Essex to the line at 5-8. Suddenly Roger Chapman went down in a tricky queen and pawn ending and Essex had won. Phil Taylor won a good game to make it 6-9 but Steve Potter went down in the last few seconds to complete a 6-10 defeat.

This was a bad day at the office for the team. Essex deserved winners on the day and we relinquish our national title. However we’ve had these reverses before and we will be back next year – with hopefully the few strong players who could not make it this time. 

Report from Bill O’Rourke, U160 Captain.

NCCU U120 – Lancashire v Merseyside

The U120 team were in action again on the 3rd March, at the Bridge Club in Bury. A very close match in the end, with Lancashire running out winners 6.5 – 5.5. The U120 team qualify for the next stages in the ECF County Championships.

BoardLancashireGradeScoreMerseysideGradeScore
1Mason, Steven1181Owens, Robert1120
2Southby, Mark1161Carr, Graham1160
3Whitehead, Gerry J1160.5Rigby, James1180.5
4Jackson, Paul Robert1150.5Stent, Ian1140.5
5Jolley, Neil F1141Kelly, Alan1080
6Lysons, Chris1140Hargreaves, Martin1061
7Hurn, Peter1101Champion, Ron J990
8Jinks, Anthony1141Cockerill, Martin K950
9Gorman, Ken1030Davison, Nick1011
10Thorp, David1010.5Farry, Steve940.5
11Wilson, Jeff980Lefeuvre, Felix761
12Bennett, Gary820Miller, Adam561
Total6.5Total5.5

NCCU Match Report – Open Team

Lancashire v Yorkshire (Score 4.5 – 7.5), report from John Lyth (captain) – full match scores to follow.

A disappointing result, ending a run of wins for Lancashire over our traditional adversaries.  The match began with a series of draws but several complex games looked in the balance until late on.  However, all but one of these went against us in the end.  Brett Lund, Nugith Jayawarna and David Phillips, in particular, eventually lost games which really could have gone either way.  Roy Ellames, though, ensured that we did at least win one game.

Important though this match was, it is fair to say that the knockout stages remain the key matches and we hope to strengthen our side as the season progresses and as we move to 16-board matches.  The aim must be that I myself don’t play any chess for the county, so that sixteen players stronger than me can do all the hard work while I just watch from the sidelines.

NCCU Match Report – U160

Lancashire v Yorkshire (Score 4.5 – 7.5) full match score to follow.

Report from Bill O’Rourke (captain)

Many thanks to all the players who made the effort. Sickness claimed a few players, so we were a little under par. However we clearly had a bad day at the office – 9 draws, and 3 defeats (two of them very late on for John Whitfield and Cliff Rutlidge, hard luck men) gave Yorkshire a comfortable 7.5-4.5 victory,

John Addison was unlucky to not be able to convert an advantage in a very tricky knights ending. In my game I thought I saw an early sacrifice in the middle game that trapped his king in the centre – unfortunately couldn’t quite make it work (been reading John Littlewood’s middle game book too much!). i had to watch my defeat be compounded by 9 straight draws. To be honest, apart from John’s game, none of the games really offered any real hopes of victory for ourselves. A late incursion by the opponent’s queen into John Whitfield’s position proved fatal, and Cliff Rutlidge on board 2 finally had to succumb after his opponent’s rooks coordinated better for an eventual queen-side breakthrough.

Match Report – NCCU U140 Lancashire v Yorkshire

2018 Edition of the Battle of the Roses #2

The U140 team also played on the 2nd of December for the annual battle of the roses over the chessboard.  The U100 report is elsewhere!  The U140 team expected a battle with team selection hampered due to a clash with the Preston Congress.

In the end, a good victory, but as always the games could have gone either way.  Lancashire running out victorious 7.5 to 4.5.

Under 140 captain goes into battle.

LancashireGradeScoreYorkshireGradeScore
Grindrod , John1381Grobler , D1390
Atueyi, Ben1381Lee , S1370
Innes , David Malcolm1351Ross , Andy1380
Litherland , Jim134½Cullum ,D134½
Taylor , Derrick1340Varley , John1381
Almond , David S1381Grice , Alec1380
Widdup , Jason130½Pollard , M133½
Flaherty , Steve1291Andrews , Graham1320
Jerzynek , Neil1280Grasham , J1291
O ' Rourke , Ben126½Matthews , G126½
Swales , Andrew119½Strickland , Ian 122½
Lysons , Chris114½Burton , Stephen109½
7.54.5

Match Report – NCCU U100 Lancashire v Yorkshire

Battle of the Roses (again)

The annual battle of the roses took place again over the chessboard,  the first team up this season was the U100 team.  The venue Bury. The date, Sunday 2nd December 2018.

Report from Bill O’Rourke

We seem to have a good rounded u100 squad this year, that essential mixture of some old pros and some strong youngsters. The target we have set is to try to go one better than beaten national finalists last year.

We got off to a great start in that aim when young Kyden Waite, playing his first county match, had a smooth win, taking advantage of his opponent’s inaccuracies. And then fellow youngster Thisumi Jayawarna weighed in with a faultless victory to make it 2-0. John Crompton was working on the assumption that even good youngsters tend to be a bit weak in the endings and so it proved in his match when he ground his opponent down with two bishops versus two knights, 3-0.

Aisha Benhamida outplayed her young opponent on board one. Extremely sadly, when she had done all the hard work, she saw a mirage that she thought was checkmate only for her opponent to take her queen for nothing! We’ve all done it once in our chess careers, and learn never to have to suffer it again! 3-1. Peter Wallace played an excellent technical ending making it 4-1, and when Jason Chapman kept his concentration up throughout his game we were 5-1 and approaching the winning line. 

A couple of draws for Shaun Tumelty (who came back well after losing the exchange) and Rachel Horton (she and her opponent felt any progress for either player was going to be difficult in a stodgy position) mean it was already 6-2. James Wildsmith made up for losing some time in the beginning by claiming the draw that made it 6.5-2.5 in a rook and pawns endgames.

We then suffered a couple of reversals when Jeff Wilson went under in a game that for a long time looked quite even, and Goodchild Ndou finally succumbed in a topsy-turvy encounter that was very sharp, making it 6.5-4.5.

Gary Bennett closed off the match with another victory, 7.5-4.5. This was important because Gary had been the exchange down but stuck to his guns and eventually checkmated his young opponent to win his first county victory.

LancashireGradeScoreScoreYorkshireGrade
Benhamida, Aisha9901Yang-Turner, Fraser66
Wilson, Jeff9801Parkhouse, Max84
Wildsmith, James970.50.5Clarke, Sylvan82
Wallace, Peter9610Feather, Harry92*
Ndou, Goodchild9601Riddle, Alan79
Crompton, John A9610Sandhu, Zoravar S75*
Chapman, Jason9010Armitage, Mark70**
Tumelty, Shaun870.50.5Robinson, Sean70**
Horton, Rachel870.50.5Halpin, David61
Bennett, Gary8210Ragu, Sachin68*
Jayawarna, Thisumi7510Vineeth, Siddharth42*
Waite, Kyden6510Wale, Benjamin15**
7.54.5
* = Rapid** = Estimated

Follow Niamh @ U12 Girls

Niamh Bridgeman is playing in the U12 Girls World Championship in Spain. 

Niamh has a tough first-round opponent from Russia.  She is against the Russian #3 U12 female, and ranked #14 in Europe, Olga Karmanova.

Niamh is ranked 167 in Europe, so it is a tough first round encounter.