The new January chess gradings didn’t bring much joy for Lichfield members. More members slipped back than moved forward. Middle ranking players Peter Willett and Yuriy Slobodyuk made the most progress, Peter advancing from 138 to 146 and Yuriy from 130 to 138,

David Hulme broke the 150 barrier, moving up six points to 152 and Ian Kingston just reached the 180’s with a small improvement.

The big surprise was that despite a raft of wins which have taken him high up on the club’s ladder board Ray Sawyer could not break into the 100’s.

Tournament plan fails

Steve Crees, secretary of Greenlands Chess Club, has failed to get a new tournament off the ground which would have involved clubs as far apart as Nuneaton, Worcester, Kenilworth and Stratford.

The Steve Cress Cup would have been played on Saturdays, during the  summer with teams initially in pools of four.

Thirty years ago this idea may have been a huge success but the availability of computer chess and the trend to take more frequent holidays have reduced the appeal  not only of summer chess matches but summer club sessions. In an email message a disappointed Steve said there had been no support for the plan.

No arguing with this man

As chessdavid is not a fan of social media he had to be told that a photograph of his grandmaster son, Nigel Short playing chess, had appeared on Facebook.

Nothing remarkable about that but the lone spectator taking a close look at the board was non other than US president Donald Trump, a picture taken about 20 years ago.

The caustic caption read “Do we need to need to improve our adjudicators?”.

Nigel, incidentally, is still regularly the answer to crosswords and quiz questions, quite remarkable 26 years after his failed attempt to win the world chess championship in London. Players who have easily surpassed his gradings have never made the same impact on public consciousness.

Hero worship

I am so frequently asked how son Nigel is doing that I know some readers will be interested in the following snippet. Nigel, in his role as FIDE vice president is currently in the Caribbean trying to persuade more countries to join FIDE which already has more than 190 members.

In Kenya recently he came across a young  Kenyan boy who was named Nigel Short Mukaba by his chess mad father. Nigel is the father’s favourite player.



Lightning rescheduled

In a bid to create more interest in club sessions during spring and summer, Lichfield Chess Club is rearranging the popular Lightning Tournament from the end of April until Thursday May 30th.

The programme for the other two summer club nights on the last Thursday in June and July will be arranged at the next club committee meeting which is normally held in March or April.

Switching the Lightning Tournament will free up a club night at the end of April for either the annual general meeting or for clearing up any postponed matches which could be casued by bad weather,

How remarkable was this?

On the face of it a 13 years old winning a chess club’s championship is not a particularly remarkable achievement.

After all, there have been junior winners of the national men’s championship and throughout the Midlands there are clubs with juniors who have gained the respect-and fear- of older players.

So how good was the performance of John Moughtin Leay in becoming the youngest ever winner of the Lichfield Club Championship. Well, for a start, John scored a maximum of six wins in six games and three of his opponents had gradings of more than twice his own speed chess grading of 75.

Making the most of his time advantage of 25 minutes against the strongest players, John despatched two redoubtable speed chess players in Ian Kingston and John Smith. Ian is graded 177 and John 154.

John has shown glimpses of his talent over a number of years but so far has not shown the paitience or stamina to reproduce his skills consistently in league chess. He did however give warning of his ability in quick-play when he finished second in the club championship two years ago.  Thirty members of the club took part in this years championship which was held either side of the Christmas break.

A Prediction

Your web site editor predicts changes to the format of the next world championship following the 12 dreary draws in December. No draws before the 30th move and fewer rest days?

The long established practice of some international tournament hosts of denying entries to players from countries they don’t like also appears to be over.

The new team running FIDE is continuing the bright start made at the Congress in the autumn.