Another child prodigy is emerging in the Birmingham League. Eight years old Elis Dicen turned out on Board 1 in Lichfield’s B5 match at South Birmingham and it was Ray Sawyer’s misfortune to be her opponent. Elis is graded 117 and as juniors are said to gain 10 grading points a year on average she is already a formidable opponent for most B5 players.
There was no clear advantage for a long time and Elis was probably past her bedtime when she won.
The match score was 3.5 – 2.5 to South Birmingham but even if Lichfield had ‘won’ the match it might actually have rules to have been lost, because Lichfield secretary David Short, struggling to raise a team, discovered at 4pm on the day of the match that his last two choices, Sam Skinner and Josh Sawyer were unregistered for the Birmingham League. That would automatically have meant that the match points were forfeited, although gradings will still be taken into account. The two registrations were actually emailed on 19th October but have not been added to the records.
There was some joy however for Lichfield’s two winners, David Short on Board two and Stuart Andrews on four. Both played the best games they could remember. David’s midfield attack forced his opponent Des Green to belatedly castle Kingside. His new sanctuary lasted just two moves before he started to be driven back into the centre and onwards to A6 with David picking up pawns and pieces en route. It could all have gone awry however as there were tantalising back rank mate-in-one scenarios awaiting a miscalculation.
Brian Jones threw his queen away but regathered his forces and won his opponents queen before succombing to defeat. Josh Sawyer partly atoned for his father’s misfortunes with a solid draw.
In the Derby Div ision Four match against Derby E it was good to see young e nedict Smithson get his first ever win, turning his game round after conceding a pawn a nd then convincingly demolishing his opponent’s defences. The other three Lichfield players got through openings well enough. but all went on to lose, making the match score 3-1.
Club Night Disruption
Major renovation work in the Guildhall means that from the end of February to September the Club Room will not be available.
Most Thursdays the club will be accommodated in one or more of the rooms upstairs, including the Committee Room which the club has not used before. There are three nights which pose a particular problem and on those occasions a room is being hired in the George 1V next door.
Four-way championship tie
Lichfield’s Club Championsip finished in an unprecedent four way tie with David Hulme, John Leay, Adam Routledge and Ben Nevett each registering five points out of six. David Hulme will collect the trophy on countback after playing all three of the tournament leaders.
Fourteen years old John Leay, last year’s shock winner from a grading in the 80’s, made a valiant effort to retain the club’s most cherisbed trophy He had four out of four but then lost to David Hulme in the penultimate round.
Lichfield teams face several relegation threats as we move into the second half of the season. Hit by retirement, illness, and player unavailablity, Lichfield’s first team in Division 1 is in the most trouble.
Unlike last year when the first team was rescued because the B team was promoted, it is extremely unlikely that the Division 2 team will be able to mount a serious challenge in the second half of the season with a team which will be understrength.
Licfield B3 team, currently in fourth place, will have to rely heavily on reserves from B5, which in turn will lose most of its leading players to the higher division team and has not much chance therefore of maintaining its current second place,
In Wolverhampton division 1, Lichfield are probably safe from relegation but will need more points to preserve the current mid table position. The Division 2 team is currently clear of the relegation zone, but not by much.
Lichfield’s W4 team has had a good season and is in third place, but every other team has games in hand.
Thde Derby Division 1 team is fourth from bottom and the team is weaker than the team which started the season. There is better news of the clubs two Derby 3 teams which start the second half of the season in first and second place. One scenario thereforer is that next season will see two, or even three, Lichfield teams in the second division, a league in which there are are no Lichfield teams at present.
Solihull guilty of rule breaches
The Birmingham League Rules Committee has found Solihull guilty of two rule breaches against Lichfield B team in a second division match.
Lichfield have been awarded the points in a match which originally finished 3-3. Solihull surprisingly contested Lichfield’s appeal caused by Solihull defaulting Board 4 instead of Board 6 and by playing two players in the wrong order when the grading difference was 16 points. Historically 10 to 12 grading points has been the perceived maximum allowed for switching board order.
The default should have taken place on Board 6 not four and the player defaulted was actually in the same room playing for another Solihull team. The decision deprived, Adam Routledge, one of Lichfield’s two most successful players this season.of a game.
The extra point gained should remove any possibility of Lichfield being demoted, despite a disappointing start to the season.
Trapped in the middle
In the Derby League third division, Lichfield’s C team moved into second place behind the Lichfield B team. The key result in the away match with Amber Valley came on Board 3 when David Fone managed to trap his opponent’s King in the middle of the board.
Both teams were equally matched. Yuriy Solobyuk was a winner on Board 1, Brian Homewood lost on Board 2 and John Fryewr drew on four to clinch a 3-1 win.
The club’s Derby 1 team has been below strength following a retirement and illness and it was not surprising that the team lost 3-1 to the leaders Breadsall. Tony Green and David Hulme were up against 190 players on the top two boards. Tony got a very creditable draw, but David was beaten. Adam Routledge managed to draw as wel, but there was an almost invetitable result on Board 4 where Mike Hoare faced a 42 point grading disadvantage and was beaten.
Surely he can’t do it again
Fourteen years old John Leay has a grading of 89 yet last season he won the Club Championship. In the last club evening before Christmas started the defence of his title and finished with three wins out of three, beating 154 graded Alan Hiles in the process, helped by the time grading system which gave him 22.5 minutes against his opponent 7.5.
THe tournament concludes with three more rounds on 2nd January.
Lichfield’s Birmingham 3 team moved out of the bottom two with a fine win over Mutual Circle. The team welcomed Graham Lamb who was previously registered with B 2 and he didn’t disappoint, winning on Board 1 and helping the team to a 4.5-1.5 victory.
While Brian Homewood lost on Board 2, the lower boards swept away the opposition, David Fone drawing and Kevin Gallagher, Arthur Hall and John Fryer mopping up the opposition on the bottom three boards. Arthur mated his opponent in a strong finish . John Fryer abandoned his usual cautious approach to win a tough game against a lower ranked opponent who sacrificed a bishop. It was a strong attack but John held out and then countered and prevailed with a lively attack of his own.
Father and son combination Ray and Josh Sawyer both lost in a Cannock 3 game against Coleshill, but teenager Connor Whetnall notched his second win on the bottom board and David Short attoned in part for a poor start to the season with his second win on successive nights.
The first of those wins came as B5 maintained the form which has taken them close to the top of Birmingham’s division five. Oscott, hindered by a board default, were beaten 4-2 away. Fred Biles was the other winner and important draws were secured on the top two boards by John Fryer and Ray Sawyer
In second place
Lichfield’s B5 team maintained second place with a 4-2 away win against Oscott, made easier by an annoying unnotified board six default, Oscott’s third of the season. John Fryer and Ray Sawyer gained draws on the top two boards and Fred Biles and David Short clinched the match with wins on lower boards,
In the Derby fourth division, Lichfield D team continue to play above their grading strength, this time defeating the higher of Derby’s two Division 4 teams by 3-1. Rapidly improving newcomer Josh Sawyer, was a winner against a graded opponent, and following draws from Ray Sawyer and Fred Biles, it was left to skipper Stephen Smithson to administer the coup de grace, forcing his opponent to swap Queen for Rook and then mating his opponent as he tried to stop an advancing pawn.
With a player unavailable a few hours before W2’s match at Bushbury it was not surprising that the team lost 4.5-1.5. There was a rare defeat for Adam Routledge on Board 2, Peter Willett also loost on top board and draws were salvaged by Ben Nevett, Yuriy Slobodyuk and Mike Hoare.
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
SEPTEMBER, Week 2
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