First team in trouble

Lichfield’s struggling first team went down to another defeat, this time by 4-2 at home to Solihull. Maurice Staples scored an excellent draw against a 200 plus graded opponent  and there were draws from Tony Green, Peter Collins and Mike Maher, who played a fine game against a stronger opponent but  couldn’t quite get the reward.The result, a 4-2 defeat.

With two teams in the same division of the Cannock League, it was a welcome opportunity for each captain to give juniors and weaker players a game. Thus, teenage Bradley brothers met across the board and it was the younger Bradley, Sam who got the point, for the Cannock 3A team.

The Club’s other Sam was again the recipient of some good fortune, overcoming what was thought to be a potential losing position to score the 3A team’s second point. In his last game Sam Skinner’s opponent resigned when checked,  overlooking the long diagonal threat from a Bishop which should have simply captured the Queen. Josh Sawyer gained the B team’s only half point. The bottom board was defaulted by both teams.

Lichfield’s W2 team lost 3.5-2.5 against Rushall despite an excellent  win from Brian Homewood against a much stronger opponent. Ben Nevett, Mike Hoare and Kevin Gallagher drew their games.


Lost time, lost games

Fred Biles was Lichfield’s only winner in a Cannock League Division 2 match at Tamworth. Lichfield lost 2.5-1.5  with David Fone salvaging a half-point draw.

Earlier, the Cannock 2 team had drawn at Stafford 2-2, the result probably affected by the late arrival of Mike Hoare and Barry Hanford who both got a little lost. Adam Routledge and Yuriy Slobodyuk both won.

The most surprising thing about Lichfield’s W1 home game with Wolverhampton was that it was wrapped up very early. Maurice Staples, Tony Green and Adam Routledge (yes , it was that man again) won easily and there were draws from David Hulme and Peter Collins to complete a 4-2 victory.

Once again there were three home fixtures plus nine members playing social chess.In the Cannock Division 2 fixture, also against Wolverhampton, David Fone was the only winner but draws from Mike Hoare and Athur Hall secured a 2-2 draw.

Lichfield’s W4 team suffered fairly quick defeats from Fred Biles and Brian Jones bringing the team’s sequence of wins to an end against Warley Quinborne. Kevin Gallgaher was the only winner, John Fryer losing his game

Earlier in the week Lichfield 3B gained an excellent  away win against Belper A. Yuriy Slobodyuk and Kevin Gallagher were winners and a draw from John Fryer clinched a 2.5-1.5 win. That was Kevin’s first win of the season which he quickly followed up in the  match against Warley Quinborne

October results

With two wins in a few days Lichfield’s B5 team soared up the league table into second place with the rapidly improving Ray Sawyer a winner in both games. Stuart Andrews and Brian Jones were other winners in the 3.5-2.5 win at Birmingham University and a default helped Lichfield to a 4.5-1.5 home win over Halesowen. Fred Biles was Lichfield’s other winner alongside Ray.

Lichfield’s premier team is already facing an uphill task in the Birmingham League’s Division 1. Two games in a few days and two defeats to start their 2019 campaign. After losing heavily at home to Olton, Lichfield went down 4.5-1.5 against Sutton Coldfield. Lichfield would have hoped for a better result, being evenly matched apart from Board 1 where Maurice Staples faced a 220 graded player in Henrik Stepanyan.

It was a gloomy gloomy for Lichfield B two as well after last season’s heroics. Lichfield were beaten 3.5-2.5 by  Redditch, wins by Ben Nevett and Yuriy Slobodyuk not being quite sufficient to snatch a point.

B3 may also be in a for a hard season and lost to Westminster 5-1, a defeat not quite reflecting the play in two or three games in which Lichfield players thought they should have done better. The two Davids, Fone and Short gained the only points with draws.

Lichfield are faring better in the Derby League, level top with Rolls Royce in Division 1, but the Derby team has two matches in hand. Lichfield’s match with Long Eaton produced an easy win as Lichfield made a substantial grading advantage count. Ian Kingston tured up 10 minutes late but within half an hour was ahead on the clock and in the game itself. Ian went on to win quickly and Maurice Staples and Tony Green also  notched easy wins. A draw from Peter Collins made it 3.5-1.5.

Ungraded junior Josh Sawyer scored Lichfield’s only win in the home Derby Division 4 game against  Derby E. Father and son, Stephen and Benedict Smithson, both played well  for a time, as did Fred Biles, but all three eventually succombed and the team lost 3-1.

Halesowen fielded a much weaker team than expected in a Wolverhampton Division 4 match and Lichfield romped to a 3-1 win. It should have been a clean sweep but Brian Jones let a strong position slip away. His opponent struggled to find checkmate despite a big material advantage, but Brian eventually lost on time, b ringing october’s fixtures to a close.  The Wolverhampton 1 match and the Derby 3 match at Belper were postponed, the latter because of a huge traffic problem.



Into the semis

Two Lichfield players have won through to the semi-finals of the Cannock League’s Dolan Cup at the expense of  two Coleshill players. Now, Fred Biles and Stephen Smithson  have been drawn against Des Green and Keiran Mills, two more Coleshill players.


Having been promoted last season to Derby Division 3 and then losing their first match, Lichfield’s Derby 3 team skipper Fred Biles was wondering whether his team would be relegation candidates.

His fears may be premature however for a few days later, Lichfield C won a tightly contested away match against Spondon A.  There was a rare defeat for Ray Sawyer but wins from Fred himself and Mike Hoare, plus a draw from John Fryer, saw Lichfield through to a 2.5-1.5 victory.

Mike Hoare’s win was an excellent result, fighting back from a worse postion against a 144 rated opponent, Marcel Taylor who had another revserse against Lichfield two days later. This time Marcel was held to a draw by John Fyrer, who was giving away 35 grading points.

John’s draw was the only Lichfield score, the match being lost 3.5-1.5.

New guys shine

Lichfield’s two latest recruits, Adam Routledge and Ben Nevett both scored wins as Lichfield B thrashed Wolverhampton B 5-1 in a home game. Mike Maher and John Keaveney also won and Peter Willett on top board, and Yuriy Slobodyuk chipped in with draws.

It was a second defeat of the season for Lichfield A in the first division of the Derby League, Rolls Royce winning 2.5 -1.5. A good draw from Ian Kingston against a considerably stronger opponent was followed with draws from David Hulme and Peter Collins. Tony Green battled away in the deciding match with rook and pawn against two bishops. There were glimmers of hope at first but Tony then blundered his rook.

A sad day

Stafford were well below strength for the eight board Pittaway Cup match at Lichfield and were duly thrashed 7.5-05.   They could only raise seven players and Andrew Leadbetter, ringing the day before to say that the eighth board was being defaulted said that Stafford’s top board would only be graded 130.

Stafford have less than half Lichfield’s playing strength and a suggestion that Lichfield might consider fielding a below strength team was impossible because of other match commitments. It was a sad day to see a club which has been so prominent over the years humiliated.

Maurice Stapley, Ian Kingston, Mike Hoare, newcomers Ben  Nevett and Adam Routledge all won fairly quickly and the only match to almost reach the three hour mark ended when Tony Green checkmated his opponent. Peter Collins drew and the other match was a default.

With two teams  in Division 3 of the Derby League the opportunity was taken to play lower graded players and newcomers. Appropriately the match was a draw. John Moughtin-Leay and Ben Bradshaw won for 3B and newcomer Sam Skinner and Brian Jones won for 3C.

Lichfield’s B5 team had a torrid time in the closing months of last season but they started the new campaign with a 3.5- 2.5 win over Mutual Circle. Mike Page, in good form again, drew on Board 1 and Lichfield picked up three points from the bottom four boards through Ray Sawyer, Fred Biles and David Short.

Earlier in the week Lichfield’s Birmingham 3 team was well beaten at Redditch, losing 5-1 David Fone managed a draw and John Fryer played himself to a standstill.  With the match well and truly lost and the clock ticking, he decided to concede a draw in an advantageous but possibly not winning position.  “I just felt I couldn’t play on” said John.


No more miracles

Reserves pulled off minor miracles last season for Lichfield’s B team in the Birmingham League, but in the first match of the new season they couldn’t quite save the day against Mercia in the opening match.

There were two reserves in the team. Brian Homewood managed to draw but David Fone couldn’t quite emulate his result. Charles Van Der Westhuizen and skipper Mike Maher won their games in the team’s 3.5- 2.5 loss,

Two days later and B2 were in action again in a close exciting encounter against Stourbridge, Four draws left Lichfield debutant Ben Nevett and last season’s most improved player, Peter Willett fighting to avoid a second team defeat in tense open games with most of the pieces still on the board. Ben lost but Peter won. Result 3-3.

Sutton Coldfield has had much the better of  recent matches against Lichfield in the Cannock League, Not this time. Lichfielded a team just one point below the grading limit and it was enough for a 3-1 win, with victories for Peter Collins and David Fone.

With the season only a few days old Lichfield’s Wolverhampton 4 team has already played two matches, losing 3-1 away to Bushbury and the following night winning 2.5-1.5 against Stourbridge at home. Ray Sawyer and skipper Brian Jones were the losers first time out but both pulled off wins in the second match.

Not an ideal start


It was not an ideal start to the Cannock League programme when Lichfield turned up at Rugeley and found that they were not expected. Lichfield C3 captain, Stuart Andrews, had rung Rugeley to say that it had proved impossible to feld a full team and they would be defaulting board four. Somehow wires were crossed and Rugeley thought the whole match had been defaulted.

The match went on however and Rugeley won 2.5-1.5 but it very disappointing night for Rugeley secretary’s Kath Hiley’s young son who had been looking forward to playing his first competitive match. Lichfield’s points came from Stuart Andrews who won a queen when his oppenent miscalculated, and Kevin Gallagher.

Disappointing too for Lichfield B in the Birmingham League. A flying start to the 2018 programme seemed a distant memory with only one point gained from the first three matches. Debutant Adam Routledge was one of three Lichfield players to draw, the others were John Keaveney – making a welcome return to action- and Charles van der Westhuizen.




Club of the Year

Lichfield’s  unofficial satellite club, Norton Canes, is Staffordshire’s Club of the Year. Started three years ago by Lichfield stalwart Mike Hoare, Norton Canes has won the Cannock Division 3 title two years in a row and last season hosted a county match for players below 140 grade.

The club also sponsored a quickplay tournament which raised  £80 for the British Legion. Norton Canes  meets at the Lido in School Lane on Tuesday nights and several members of Lichfield Chess Club also play at Norton Canes.

Web site up and running again

In the early part of the year new stories were being added to the website at the rate of two per week, but that rate  has been impossible to maintain during the summer recess. With the season  in full swing again  readers can expect to see frequent additions to the news columns and results and winners of all the league matches.

During the close season there were three club sessions on the last Thursday of May, June and July. The club’s Lightning Tournament, held at the meeting, and won by Maurice Staples, was very well attended, the response  to the second meeting was disappointing but the third meeting attracted 16 members and fully justified the cost of hiring the Guildroom.

 White loses in eight moves

Lichfield stalwart Mike Hoare has beaten many players graded much higher than himself over the last few years, but he got his leg pulled for a recent league defeat in which he was checkmated in eight moves, despite having the white pieces. The occasion was a Cannock 2 match against Tamworth and Mike’s opponent was Patrick Kelly,

Mike Hoare (white)

1 d4 , Nf6;  2 c4  e5; 3 dxe Ng4; 4 Nf3   Nc6; 5 Bf4  Bb4+ ; 6 Nd2   Qe7; 7 a3  Nxe5; 8 axb4  Nd3 smothermate.

A salutary lesson for pawn grabbing d4 players! Thanks Mike for allowing your defeat to go public. I always distrusted and refused that pawn, but finally I know why,

Only the night before Mike’s disastrous game he had held a South Birmingham A  player graded 40 points higher to a very commendable draw.   A case of riches to rags



Good feedback for ‘new’ style website

Lichfield Chess Club members have been quick to welcome the policy changes which have seen the club’s web site moving towards providing a continual news and comment service for members.

At the same time the site still meets its original criteria of providing potential members with essential information about joining the club- child protection policy, parking, subscriptions, etc.

David Fone said that what the site is now doing is brilliant. “It’s really enjoyable to read” he said.

Fred Biles said that the ‘new’ website is a vast improvement on the previous version.

Peter Willett commented “I really like the website. A lot of work has gone into it”.

Brian Homewood said there were some great articles on the website whilst John Fryer’s comment was that there were some good news items

New concept paid dividends

Go back eight or nine years and the Lichfield Club Championship was a moribund affair, only four or five entries with matches slotted in as when opportunities permitted by the busy programme of league fixtures.

The club hasIrish international and former club stalwart and leading player, Paul Wallace to thank for a tranformation which has seen it become a very popular event which always attracts around 30 players.

Paul’s idea was to turn it into a time handicap event in which the top ranked players were granted only five minutes to play ungraded and lower ranked players. Paul was also very generous and introduced a lot of prizes which undoubtedly helped to get the event established.

The same handicap format is now also used in the club’s annual quick-play event which starts the season and has also resulted in a lot of entries. Invitations to compete are also extended to neighbouring clubs Norton Canes and Rugeley. Paul Wallace, a doctor, has now retired and returned to his native Ireland. He is missed.

His idea however is a runaway successful formula which other clubs might try.


Visitors to Lichfield Chess Club are often curious about the prominently displayed Ladder Board. As far as we know it is the only one of its kind in any of the four Midlands Leagues.

How does it work? That is the usual question. Club members earn a point for every win they gain in a league or cup match. No points can be gained for draws.

A handsome trophy goes to the winner which is presented at the annual meeting in May.

Shock Horror – an Adjournment

Adjournments have become so rare that a request from Birmingham Division 5 team Olton for adjourned finishes on two boards in a match last season came as a complete surprise and a frantic search to see if there were still adjournment envelopes in the storage cupboard.

Lichfield led 3-2  and inevitably it was one of the matches scheduled for adjournment that left the captain with the not very pleasant task of asking Brian Homewood to seek a draw to clinch the win when he thought he had good chances to record his fifth win in a row. The point was that the only date available to continue the game was on the night of  another B5 match. So thanks to the adjournment rule Lichfield faced the prospect of losing a key player and possibly a match. Fortunately a draw was agreed and the match won.

The Wolverhampton League has totally dispensed with adjournments. With only a handful of players now requesting adjournments surely the time has come to totally dispense with this archaic system of a deciding matches – one that just becomes a battle not between individuals but computers.

Two clubs to choose from

Anyone living to the west of Lichfield who would find travelling to the city difficult now has an alternative with a club established in Norton Canes. In a sense Norton Canes is a satellite club of its much larger neighbour, founded as it was by Lichfield stalwart Mike Hoare.

Norton Canes offers league chess opportunities in the Cannock League and members are free to compete in the three internal tournament run each season by the Lichfield Club.

Inquirers about Norton Canes should contact Mike Hoare on 01543 279989