Retiring secretary honoured

David Short, the club’s General Secretary for the last 17 years, stepped down at the Annual General Meeting and was granted Honorary Life Membership. He was presented with a thank you gift by Chairman David Fone.

David will continue in the roles of Website editor and Publicity Officer and will also be the New Member Liaison Officer. He said that whilst he was now entitled to free membership he would be continuing to pay the full member subscription.

He was succeeded as General Secretary by Stephen Smithson who had done much to get the club going again and his enthusiasm resulted in the Brewhouse and Kitchen becoming a second venue for the club on Monday evenings. Dave Fone was re-elected Chairman, as was Treasurer, John Fryer and Fixtures Secretary, Brian Homewood.

Following re-organisation of the Committee structure there were several new committee appointments, David Hulme and Brian Jones become League Representatives for the Birmingham League and the Wolverhampton League, Ben Nevett-Farmer was appointed as Cannock League representative for the top two divisions and Stephen Smithson assumes responsibility was the bottom two divisions.  Ian Boddington becomes social secretary for the Brewhouse and Kitchen, Mike Maher becomes Safeguarding Officer, and Phil Sykes, Training and Development Officer. David Pickering, captain of the combined Burton/Lichfield team in the Derby League accepted a request to handle liaison with the Derby League. Peter Collins was appointed Auditor.

Despite an influx of new members last season the club lost £325, mainly as a result of heavy expenditure on new equipment and the fact that many of the newcomers came in the last few months of the year and therefore had discounted subscriptions.

By a majority of 13 votes to two it was decided to increase full member subscriptions by £4 and the subscription for juniors and social members by the same amount.

Travis Hackett was presented with the Nigel Short Trophy for best junior by David Short, the first time he had presented his son’s trophy. The other trophies were presented by Chairman David Fone. Ben Nevett-Farmer collected two cups, for the Ladder Competition and the Lightning Tournament. John Fryer collected a cup for winning the Under 1500’s section of the Lightning Tournament and Bowie Carter received the U nder 130 trophy for the Ladder Competition. The  Quickplay winner was  Majurice Staples but he was unable to attend. The Club Championship event was not held because of Covid restrictions,

For the first time in its history the club now has a Constitution. It will be displayed at all time on the club notice board together with the Safeguarding policy.


Every season Lichfield Chess Club receives a number of inquiries from parents of children who are crazy about chess and keen to join a chess club. ” “As New Member Liaison Officer I always give the same advice”  says David Short and that advice could hardly come from a better qualified source as David is the father of a child prodigy who, starting at seven, went on to become a teenage grandmaster and challenge for the world title.

He says that children, however young, need to have a sound knowledge of the basics of the game before joining a chess club. They need to slow down, try to work out what their opponent is trying to do before making their own move. They need to regard their King side pawns as essential bodyguards and not throw them up the board early in the game and never, either without a plan in mind or to fight off an attack. They need to understand that if you touch a piece you must use it, they need to know that when castling you use one hand and move the King before the rook, they need to know that you cannot castle through a square which would be ‘check’ if the King was placed on that square, they need to know the en passant move whereby a pawn on the starting rank jumps two squares passing an attacking pawn,  and which for that move only can be captured, or not, as the attacker chooses.

They need to appreciate that losing a single pawn can cost the game, that the King often becomes more powerful  as the game proceeds and that the correct use of the King in an endgame can mean the difference between a defeat, an agreed draw, a stalemate or a win. They need to know that Rooks are stronger than Knights and Bishops and are at their strongest when doubled on the same file. Attempts to rush them into the game invariably fail. Command the centre if possible, it is the main battleground, and Bishops and Knights must be developed as a priority.

They need to learn some chess etiquette which means that you keep quiet when others are playing, and that in non Covid times, you shake hands with your opponent before and after a game.

So how do youngsters pick up this knowledge. They do it by losing games to better players, dozens of them. They do it with the simple acquisition of a free chess training programme, preferably one which gives the user a rating after each game. Get up to a 1000 and it is an excellent starting point for joining a club like Lichfield. Another tip is to Google the London company, Chess and Bridge and ask for a book which helps beginners to develop their game..

If your son or daughter is over seven and meets most of the above criteria then phone or email Lichfield’s Member Liaison Officer, David Short, Tel 01543 304212 , email A parent or guardian must be prepared to accompany them whilst at the club. Tea, coffee, soft drinks are free and so is the use of a chair whilst you read or consult your phone


Will the membership boom continue?

If Lichfield’s membership boom continues the club might have to consider the possibility of moving to a larger venue or introducing a waiting list. There have been very large attendances recently in the Guildroom and when four newcomers turned up at the last meeting the layout had to be amended slightly  to incorporate two extra boards.

Pre Covid there were occasions when the Guildroom hosted three matches and it was uncomfortably full. When the Guildroom opened again as the pandemic started to ease the City Council placed a maximum of 34 on the Guildroom and the new agreed layout was a big improvement.

Member Liaison Officer David Short believes there is still scope for making minor changes without destroying the attractive layout but hardly a week goes by without more membership inquiries being received. “It’s a good job we now have two venues with some members preferring to attend the Monday night sessions at the Brewhouse and Kitchen” he said.

Moving to a larger venue would be relatively simple but for the fact that the chess club needs secure storage space.


 Stephen Smithson in Ray Dolan Final

In only his second season of competive chess Lichfield’s Stephen Smithson has reached the final of the Cannock League’s Ray Dolan Trophy for players under 1450.

His opponent was the far more experienced Coleshill player Malcolm Jones. Stephen won with the black pieces in a D4 opening. He survived a king side pawn storm  nd as the game opened up advanced his d and e pawns finishing with his c pawn on the sixth rank. Eventually he pinned his opponent’s queen with his bishop and queen, forcing the exchange of queen for bishop to avoid an instant mate.

Malcolm Jones fought on well but resigned six moves later on move 35 with only five minutes left on the clock and disaster imminent.


When the Lichfield Club Committee meets next Tuesday, 22nd March at the Brewhouse, big changes will be in the air which is likely to lead to a reduction in the number of committee members.  Another key proposal will be to increase the number of meetings from two to four and introduce a second tier of small committees dealing with specific topics

And whilst the number of team representatives members will be reduced,  several new appointments have been mooted including Social Secretaries for the club’s two venues-the Guildhall (Thursday evenings) and Brewhouse and Kitchen (Monday evenings). Also on the agenda  for the annual general meeting will be possible posts for a Web Editor/Publicity Officer and a Team Leader, who with others, will be responsible for  welcoming newcomers and remaining in regular contact with them during early months of  membership.

Secretary David Short said that factors which have prompted calls to change a system which has been used for more than 20 years, included the amazing growth of the club in the last 12 months to well over 50 members and the operation of two venues. “During the pandemic it has been hugely encouraging that more members have shown a willingness to play a more active in the club. We now want to harness that enthusiasm with a more flexible structure which will further encourage involvement.

“New ideas are coming in all the time which have been greatly welcomed by the chairman, treasurer, fixture secretary and myself” he said.


Club championship postponed

Lichfield’s keenly anticiated club championship tournament, one of the highlights of the season, could not go ahead without risking infringement of the City Council’s covid restrictions for the Guildroom. It would have involved too much moving around before and between rounds and would have been difficult for the controller to police.

It has been postponed until the end of the season in early May by which time it is hoped that the pandemic will be fighting a losing battle with booster jabs.