Individual County Chess Titles

posted Feb 13, 2016, 2:41 PM by Steve Bak

Originally posted Jan 17, 2015, 1:00 PM by Phil Morgan   [ updated May 24, 2015, 11:45 PM ]

Most Individual Nottinghamshire County Chess Titles

Mike Barnes of Gambit Chess Club is the current County Chess Champion and also holds most title wins. He has now won the Nottinghamshire Championship seven times. his first win came in 1992, sandwiched between 2 wins by Adam Collinson. Adam and Paul Kemp in the 1970s each won the title 4 times, and Steven Dishman had 3 title wins. Full list of winners appear in the Archives section of the NCA Competitions Page on the Notts web-site. Results go back to 1923.
Most Individual Derbyshire County Chess Titles. This reveals a fierce rivalry between 2 players, who between them have won this 27 times. Mike Alcock, listed then as a Derby player. won the title in 1972 and 1974. I am pleased to say he won the title 8 times under Sutton colours - 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, and 1999. ( We claim what share we can in club members' past and present achievments. ) He's also won the title 5 times as a Chesterfield player- 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2013. Mike has 15 County titles to his name. He's been near the top of the Derbyshire chess tree for over 40 years. Paul Madden of Breadsall is a relative upstart, winning his first title in 1994 and again in 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015. Paul now has 12 titles and is steadily narrowing the gap between their title wins. He also has 3 County Bridge Championship titles. Mike and Paul's dominance of this competition  is such that in the last 23 years only 3 other names appear on the trophy- Andrew Toothill as winner in 1995 and co-winner in 2001, John Molyneux, winner in 2014 and Simon Gilmore, co-winner in 2002.
For those who are interested the Derbyshire Individual Roll Of Honour going back to 1947 is listed under Top Players and Teams on the Derbyshire web-site. The first name I recognise is Otto Hardy, winner in 1959. The Roll Of Honour ends in 2009 and would benefit from updating, so that we can keep track of the continuing rivalry. 

Dual County Champions.
  Mike Alcock  also won the Nottinghamshire title on 3 occasions. Paul Kemp, a leading player in the 1970s also won both titles. The third player to have achieved this distinction plays regularly now  in Division 3 of the Notts. League, and Division 2 of the Derby and District. Hats off to Maurice Hill, his feat made more remarkable by the gap of 42 years between his two titles.
No one has yet to achieve both titles in the same year. Does this challenge not appeal to strong, eligible players? Paul Madden did play in the Nottingham Congress this year. Perhaps we might yet see him enter a Notts County Championship.

Notts. Nearly Men. 
 Steve Burke has come equal first three times, but never won the title. In 1982 when it was a monthly event he scored 4 wins and three draws before losing in a play-off to Mike Alcock In 1984 he scored 4.5/5  but lost on progressive scores, to Mike again. In 1987 he scored 5/6 and was in a five way tie for first place, missing out to Chris Dunworth. He also finished runner-up in 1998.

Anoraks Corner

posted Sep 29, 2015, 1:40 PM by Steve Bak   [ updated Sep 29, 2015, 1:43 PM ]

Originally posted Nov 11, 2014, 3:41 PM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Jul 21, 2015, 2:13 PM ]
A page on statistical quirks and observations which may appeal to anoraks  and train (or Eddie Stobart truck) spotters,

Punching Above Your Weight. Drag Sudar can be a dangerous opponent, as Glenn from our club has experienced. Graded 148, he excelled himself winning the Sheffield Congress, Major Section, 2015, registering a 201 Tournament grade. It's no surprise when an improving youngster like Jonah Willow achieves a 200+ tournament grade, but Drag is an experienced, exposed player who shouldn't have this capacity for improvement. Inspiring for us other 140s hackers,- where did I put that British Championship entry form?
Drag, I think you should consider retirement and going out on a high.
 Tournament gradings can be exaggerated as they're based on a small number of games over 1 week-end, but outperforming one's grade by 53 points is no mean feat and sets some target to beat.

Top Internet Scalp In Internet Play we may get the opportunity to play against a Grandmaster . Glenn Halfpenny played and lost to Fabiano Caruana, the World Number 2. Steve Burke in a Rapid Game defeated a Serbian FIDE Master, rated 2236. On the same night I landed a Behemoth. On FICS , graded 1823, playing as Black, I defeated avefennix, graded 2719 P. The P attached to his grade  means his grade is based on a limited number of games and may be dodgy! For a brief moment though I savoured the joy of beating an opponent rated nearly 900 points higher.

.* Winning Runs. The last team to win all their games in a season was West Bridgford 1 in 1987-8. They won the League and all 15 matches, having won all 16 games the previous season. Gambit 1 earlier bettered this by winning all their games in 3 successive seasons between 1975-1978 .
In lower divisions 3 teams have won all their matches in a season.
British Celanese won Division 2 in 1969 with a 12-0-0 score. Whitwell won Division 3 in 1972 with a 10-0-0 score, and Nomads 6 won Division 6 in 1980 with a 11-0-0 score. My thanks to Drag Sudar for this information. His December Post on the Gambit Club site offers more information on unbeaten records.

Mismatch between playing strength and match result. 11/11/14 Ashfield 3, average grade 136 beat W Bridgford 2, average grade 145 by 3.5 -1.5.
I'd be interested to hear of more extreme examples of lower graded team wins... Drag has come up with the following from this season: Mansfield 1 (ave161) bt Ashfield 1 (173), West Nottm 2 (129) bt West Bridgford 2 (141), RB 2 (102) bt WN 4 (114), Grantham 2 (137) drew with WB 2 (153), and WN 1(163) drew with Mansfield 1 (177).
On an individual level some of the bigger shocks are:  N Carding (156) beat J Burnett (198), A Combie (189) beat C Dorrington (228), M Hargreaves (91) beat R Parker (135).

Mismatch between playing strength and team line-up. In descending orders of playing strength, in the game above WB players appeared on Boards 4,3,2,5 and 1.
Moral.- Fielding a team not in sync. with playing strength may not enhance team outcome.

Most Excuses     A bad workman blames his tools

I played on Board 5 in the recent Ashfield 1- University 1 match. I drew and the match ended up as a draw. Our captain reported that I managed a GM draw with most of it being theory. In the e-mail inquest , I seem to have felt the need to justify the draw.

“ I was Black. I didn’t know how strong my opponent was. Entering this game on the back of 2 defeats in 6 days, and employing 3 dud pens (mine, 1 from the box and 1 from the bar) I was happy to bail out with a draw… If I could have got a pen that writes, I might have looked for more!”

How’s that for excuses? Normally cautious anyway, my psychological disposition to agree a draw was heightened. The pens, which seem the lamest of excuses, did play a big part in triggering my draw offer. They stifled any creative flow of ideas, and I also took them as an omen. It would have been foolish and irresponsible to have played on, even in a drawn position, when the fates on the night were so clearly conspiring against me.

Neil Graham tried to link a Congress loss in July, 2015, to the need to make a call of nature. "Unfortunately had to pay visit when down to my last ten minutes (again) and allowed him to exchange one of my bishops when I got back to the board." This prompted Paul to  remind us, " Never go to the toilet with your bishop hanging." Sound advice for life and chess, I'd say, even if his attribution to Thomas a Beckett is of dubious provenance.

* Five board draws. 13.10.14 Nottingham Central 1 (148 Av.) - Ashfield 3 (135 Av.)

* Super Teams. 29.10.14 Grantham - West Bridgford. Grantham fielded 3 players graded 200 or above. Their average grade was 202. Nigel Birtwistle, their captain, who has played for many years on the higher boards, played on Board 5. Is this the strongest team ever to turn out in the Notts. League?

Other Sports

Sporting Turn- Arounds. From Rugby League.

 1 May, 2015  Wigan  60- Hull KR  0.  A clinical Wigan scored 11 tries and took Hull KR apart. Chris Chester, of Hull KR- "It was men against boys... and too many players waved the white flag. "
 16 May, 2015. Wigan  12- Hull KR 16. In the Rugby League Challenge Cup Wigan after the victory 2 weeks earlier were a best- priced 1-7 on to win. Hull, who nobody gave a prayer to win this match, showed great resolution to turn it round. Chris Chester- " We dug in hard, really deep, our best defensive performance of the year." Shaune Wayne, Wigan coach - "The best team won...They were the smarter team... We were dumb today... We've been really done."
A David and Goliath tale, which will form the basis of my team talks next season. " Dig In Lads."

Darts Accuracy on Double Top. Gary Anderson threw 17 darts at double top  against Michael Van Gerwen , the reigning world champion, in this semi-year's semi-final. 14 of these flew in, clinching his place in the final against Phil Taylor. Anderson has always been a prolific scorer, let down by his finishing in the past. Gary won the final on 4.1.15 despite 2 freak mishaps. He threw his first 2 darts in treble 20 , before his third dart knocked them out and all 3 landed on the floor. He also threw 3 Robin Hoods, non-scoring darts, which landed on the flights of his darts in the board. Before winning the world title Anderson was the Ivanchuk of chess, phenomenally talented but psychologically suspect. On several occasions he turned up as Number 1 seed  for the BDO World darts at the Lakeside, lost in the first round and threw his darts in the lake. He lost to Adrian Lewis in one Classic World Final, and lost 4-3 to last yea'rs champion, Van Gerwen from 3-1 up. ( I recall this well as I'd backed him at 40-1 for the title.)
Football Stat! Squad numbers reflect the pecking order at the start of the season. Leeds v Blackpool 8/11/14. Leeds starting 11 wore squad numbers 1,2,3,6,9,14,23,27,29,32, and 34. Shirt numbers totalled 180. Beat that!........- O.K. I concede.
Our Mansfield Town correspondent informs me that the shirt numbers of Mansfield's starting 11 against Burton  on 10/1/15 totalled 224. Only 2 players, Sutton 2 and Riley 3 had single digit shirt numbers and the tally was boosted by Clements 28, Key 29 and Raynes 32. I think I've come up with a spectator aid for passing the time at  a particularly dull match.   

Club History 2

posted Sep 29, 2015, 1:39 PM by Steve Bak   [ updated Sep 29, 2015, 1:39 PM ]

Originally posted Aug 16, 2015, 1:39 AM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Sep 4, 2015, 7:00 AM ]
20 Years On

The news that Mark Cooke has joined Gambit is prompting some reflection. I think that Mark last appeared for Sherwood House twice in the season 1994-5. Apologies to Mark if I am wrong on this. Before then he was a first team regular.
When he visits Ashfield Chess Club, Mark will see many of the same old faces at our club from twenty years ago, albeit fewer of us. Mike, Andrew and Abigail are gone from the first team, but the second team has changed little. The regular 6 board second team line-up then was J Herrington, N Graham, W Selby, P Morgan, R Taylor, A Robinson. Of these only Bill no longer plays for the club. Across the league, Mark is likely to meet up again with many faces who were playing twenty years ago. Other than now playing on 5 boards, and several changes of club venues it may seem to him as though time in Notts has stood still. In truth little has changed in Sutton and Kirkby , other  than each town now has a Wetherspoon's.
Mark was a school and chess contemporary of Steve Burke and Russell Dicks. Russell, if you’re reading this and retirement is on the horizon, it’s never too late to pick up the pieces again. Jerry came back to us after many years out when his knees could no longer drag him on to the rugby pitch. His playing grade is slightly higher than 20 years ago. The rest of ours have barely changed. We can be better prepared with computer support and be much more practiced through internet play, but this also applies to our opponents.
Ashfield had 7 teams in the Notts League in 94-5, as did Gambit and Oxclose. We also ran a team in the North Midlands League. 43 players turned out for us that season. Paul Wilkinson, 23 games, pipped Richard Dyce, 21, and Tim Severn, 20, as our most active League player. Our club player membership and number of teams has halved in the last 20 years. This is probably in line with other clubs e.g. Gambit and Oxclose who subsequently merged. Concern about the  ageing Notts chess population was powerfully expressed by Austen Carlton at one Notts AGM. "Who am I going to play against when I'm older?" 
This was probably before the West Notts Juniors Revolution. The encouragement of juniors by West Notts and West Bridgford is breathing fresh life into Nottinghamshire chess. 

Ashfield 1 v Ashfield 2 last met in Division1 in 2011-12
      A1        P Padilla 1 v 0 Herrington J                               A2  G Gibson  0  v 1 Molyneux J
                   G Halfpenny 1 v 0 Morgan P                                   P Morgan 0  v 1 Halfpenny G
                  A Toothill  0.5 v 0.5 Robinson A                               J Herrington 0 v 1 Toothill A
                  S Burke   1 v 0 Sayer R                                             A Robinson 0.5 v 0.5 Burke S
                  D Jarvis  1 v 0 Cranmer S                                         A Morrey  0 v 1 Jarvis D           
 Result  4.5-0.5  (14 Sept 2011)                                                Result 0.5- 4.5 ( 11 Jan, 2012)
Same decisive score-line. A stroll in the park for the first team, especially Glenn and Derek. Batterings for myself and Jerry, with Alan in each game saving the whitewash. Beware the sleeping tiger. 

Before that the teams were both in Division 1 in 2000-2001. This was an interesting season. It's the only season I've captained Ashfield 1, probably for good reason as we achieved the distinction of being relegated on three points. In the opening fixture the first team lost to the second team 1.5-3.5 with Glenn beating Andrew Dyce on top board and Alan Morrey defeating me.  Andrew was unavailable for the rest of the season. With both teams struggling, the club targeted its resources at keeping Ashfield 2 up. They managed 9 points and stayed up on board difference at the expense of Radcliffe and Bingham. An apocryphal season? Ashfield 2's promotion was followed by the loss of 2 top players.

Ashfield 2 stayed up ,resumed the Ashfield 1 mantle and became a mid-table team. In 2001-2 the side finished fourth on 18 points. In 2002-3 the team finished seventh of nine - Stapleford, and Radcliffe+Bingham were relegated. Sixth, fifth and a surprising third place finish followed in the next three years. In 2006-7 the team were genuine title contenders, finishing runners-up to University 2. Our team in a 4-1 win against Gambit 1 was 1 A Khandelwal 2 M Alcock 3 G Halfpenny 4 S Burke 5 R Webster. This was Mike's farewell season for the club. Memories are short. In the same year, Grantham 1 led by Nick Payne finished just below Ashfield 2 in sixth place of Division 2. In 2006-7 Ashfield 1 finished third, the best of  4 teams  on 14 points. Pablo made his debut for the club in February  with a win against Long Eaton's Geoff Gibson

Club History

posted Sep 29, 2015, 1:37 PM by Steve Bak   [ updated Sep 29, 2015, 1:39 PM ]

Originally posted Jan 25, 2015, 1:30 AM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Jun 15, 2015, 3:18 PM ]
Our Chess Club was formed in 1965, with a young Neil Graham as one of the founder members. The Club has won the League Championship once, approximately half-way through the club's existence, in 1988-89.  The club was then based at the Crown and Woolpack in Sutton. The team captain  was Steve Burke and our top board player was Mike Alcock. Steve recalls the team's strength in depth helped to clinch the championship. He had a false memory that matches were played over 8 boards, but the League table indicates otherwise Other current club members were regulars in the championship-winning team. There were then 14 teams in Division 1. Further information on our championship-year, and the club's history will appear here during our fiftieth anniversary year. 
The Sutton Club changed its name to Sherwood House in 1993 and Ashfield Chess Club in 1995.
Details of the League Championship year are here:-
You'll see there were 51 teams in the League then including Derby, Hucknall, Keyworth, Bulwell, Rainworth, and 4 Mansfield teams.

What's in a name

posted Sep 29, 2015, 1:07 PM by Steve Bak   [ updated Sep 29, 2015, 1:28 PM ]

Originally posted Feb 15, 2015, 4:40 AM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Feb 16, 2015, 1:55 PM ]
Ashfield- Breadsall tamed Banbury Bulldogs 6-0  in the 4NCL on Valentine's Day. The opposition didn't live up to their name. Adopting team or individual names is a bit of fun but if you adopt a name to inspire fear in your opponents, this should carry some obligation to back this up. In Rugby League Wigan Warriors, Huddesrsfield Giants and Castleford Tigers, my team, mostly live up to their name.
Players in internet chess  chose their own names e.g. on one site I have come across Vlad the Impaler. It's a good name and possibly his real name, but he doesn't seem to do too much impalling. I could call myself Phil the Giant-Killer. The problem with this is that it requires me to slay the occasional giant. In Darts, Phil the Power and Mighty Mike live up to the boast within the name, but if your form dips, the name can become a mill-stone round your neck. Andy the Hammer Hamilton this year has received more hammerings than he's dished out. 
 Some names are based on puns not boasts. Dart player, Mark Frost, who seldom appears on T.V. is known as Frosty the Throw Man. A few 4NCL teams have also opted for a pun tag e.g. The Full Ponty and Throw In The Tal. I'm sure Neil with his penchant for puns would have pondered on a few before the team settled for our 2 clubs tag. Or if we were from the one club  we might be playing now as the Ashfield Avengers or Breadsall Butchers. 

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