Two more league debuts for Lichfield

Yet more newcomers made league debut appearances as the Cannock Leaguegot under way. They had conflicting results. Sam Bradley, playing for the B team,  lost to Sam Skinner but Chris Morris was victorious against Mathew Bradley. John Moughtin-Leay won on board one against Keith Milner for the B squad to complete a 3-1 win. Seth Milner picked up the A squad’s only win against Stephen Smithson

Even before the second half of the season had officially started Lichfield took the opportunity to fit in the fourth division match between the club’s  A and B squads. It turned out to be a 2-2 draw with new skipper Ian Boddington and improving teenager Travis Hackett both winning for the A team whilst B team skipper Stuart Andrews and another promising teenager, Adam Turley,  also won for the B squad.

Playing in the Derby second division, Lichfield found wins completely elusive. Peter Collins, Yuriy Slobodyuk and John Fryer all managed to draw in a 2.5- 1.5 loss against Rolls Royce C, but Ray Sawyer had one of his quite rare defeats

Lichfield’s Division 3 team had a 2.5-1.5 victory over Mercia and it could been an even bigger margin, Mike Hoare, playing on Board 1 making a simple mistake when he appeared to be heading for a comfortable win.  Robert Hurst and Brian Jones both won and Ray Sawyer chipped in with a draw on Board 2.

Lichfield members were on both sides of the board as Lichfield 3A lost to Norton Canes 3-1 in the first match of the new year. A titanic battle on Board 1 ended in victory for  Mike Hoare over Ray Sawyer and Lichfield’s ony point came  from Fred Biles on Board 2. Keith Milner lost to Brian Jones.

Lichfield’s 1B team are Cannock Division 1 champions, pipping Tamworth who finished with the same points total but lost the key match with Lichfield. 

Just one point behind was the Lichfield 1A team which earlier in the season had a point deducted for unwittingly exceeding the match rating  points maximum. It was a mistake caused by not correctly judging true strength of newcomer Steve Mcloughlin who started brilliantly and then lost a couple of games.

The Cannock 2B team also finished joint top with Oscott and Rugeley but missed out because they lost to Oscott while Rugeley drew with Oscott. In their final match they had a fine win 3.5- 0.5 with Rushall 2A. Ben Nevett-Farman won on top board, David Hulme drew on two, and there were wins for Arthur Hall and newcomer Robert Hurst on the lower boards. Robert was conceding 200 rating points.

Thanks to Derby B turning up a player short , Lichfield C drew with Derby B in  the  Derby League. For once Ray Sawyer was beaten on top board and Arthur Hall who is also enjoying a fine aseason, lost as well. Bowie Carter won on  board three and the default m eant the match finished 2-2

Lichfield B thrashed Amber Valley 3.5- 0.5 in a match played at Spondon. Ray Sawyer who has won 10 matches already this season, was one move away from certain defeat and neither he nor his opponenent realised. The match went on with Ray coming out on top. He has lost only twice and has two or three draws this season. Peter Collins won on board one, Yuriy Slobodyuk drew on two and Mike Maher won on three,

Every time a lichfield player wins a league match he earns a point for the club ‘s Ladder Tournament for which there are end of season trophies and momentos for various ability levels. The current leaders Ray Sawyer and Lukasz Walijewski kept on winning in the last few matches before the winter break on 16th Dec.

Lukasz was a board one winner in the  Wolverhampton v Lichfield “A team in the Cannock League whilst Ray Sawyer won on board three. Peter Collins drew his board two match but with Josh Sawyer losing, the final result was a 2.5-15 win for Lichfield.  Lichfield 1A team faced a big rating deficit against Sutton Coldfield and lost 2.5- 1.5. This time Lukasz was unable to overcome a 180 rating deficit but Peter Collins gained a draw against an opponents rated 150 points higher. Almost inevitably there was another win for Ray Sawyer on four, with Mike Hoare’s completing the match result.

Robert Hurst visited Lichfield Chess Club for the first time at the end of November. A few days ago he played his first league match against Stafford and won on board two for Lichfield Cannock League 3B team.  His opponents rating was 1465 Teenager Bowie Carter gave his most impressive performance to date, drawing on board one against  Andrew Leadbetter of Stafford who has a rating of 1548, almost four hundred points higher than his own rating. The match finished 2-2 with Stephen Smithson drawing and Sam Skinner, playing his first match of the season, losing against a player rated 142 points higher.

Although Tony Green lost on top board in the match between Lichfield 1B and Tamworth, wins from David Hulme and David Fone and a draw from Yuriy Slobodyuk gave Lichfield a 2.5 – 1.5 win

It went to the wire but Lichfield’s  Birmingham 2 team kept up its challenge for a promotion place with a 4.5 – 1.5  home win over Sutton.  Maurice Staples and Peter Collins won and Tony Green drew, but David Hulme’s defeat put victory in doubt as the remaining two boards were on a knife edge. Eventually both John Keaveney and Ben Newett Farmer prevailed to clinch the team’s most emphatic win of the season.

Ian Boddington’s inexperience of league chess cost him a good chance of winning in an away game for our Cannock 3B team at Oscott. He missed winning a piece but still had chances with three pawns for a piece. He lost his board four game and Yuriy Slobodyuk  also lost on Board 1 against a very strong opponent. Mike Maher and David Fone both drew in a 3-1 defeat.

Lichfield’s 3B team in the Cannock League met a higher rated Rugeley team but managed a good draw, Stephen Smithson winning his fourth game in  a row on board three whilst Ian Boddington on four made it three wins out of four. Yuriy Sloodyuk and Bowie Carter were beaten on the top two boards.

A win for Lichfield’s 2B side against Wolverhampton  in the Cannock League looked impossible. With draws on boards 2,3, and 4 all depended on Yuriy Slobodyuk’s game. His one piece advantage looked totally inadequate against his opponents much stronger position with two passed pawns and open files commanded by his opponents Queen and Rooks. A Knight on e5 also controlled the path the pawns were taking to promotion. Then his opponent relocated his king to f2 and e3 to open up the h file, now commanded by queen and rook. Yuriy was one move away from being slaughtered but he found the answer. A Queen check left the King with no escape route. It was either mate or a Knight fork which won the Queen. So Lichfield won the match 2.5-1.5Lukasz Walijewski was the other winner. Arthur Hall was conceding 200 rating points on bottom board but still drew and the other draw came from Mike Maher. Seth Milner played well to get a draw. but Ray Sawyer, Stuart Andrews and Keith Milner all lost in a 3.5- 0.5 defeat for the Cannock 3B team. against Stafford.

Lukasz Walijewski was Lichfield’s only winner in the Birmingham 3 match against Sutton Coldfield but there was an excellent draw from Arthur Hall who was conceding 200 rating points. Mike Maher got the other draw and there were defeats for Peter Collins and Yuriy Slobodyuk as Sutton won 4-2.  In the Wolverhampton League Division 1 Lichfield had a 2.5 – 1.5 win over Walsall Kipping. David Hulme was a winner and Maurice Staples, Tony Green and Adam Routledge gained draws.

Lukasz Walijewski’s winning run ended rather surprising in a B3 match at South Birmingham. He was two pawns up and team mates thought he was on the way to another win but it ended in defeat. Ray Sawyer who is contesting the top of the Ladder Board with Lukasz was the only Lichfield winner in a 3-3 draw. Peter Collins, Mike Maher, Mike Hoare and Arthur Hall all drew. Lichfield players due to play at South B irmingham are warned to wrap up. Apparently it was uncomfortably cold

Rushall B and Lichfield 2A drew their Cannock League match on 22nd November. Peter Collins and Mike Hoare picked up draws on the top two boards, Ray Sawyer notched another win on board three, but his son, Josh, lost on Board 4.

Lichfield hosted two Derby League matches on 18th November. In Division 2 the visitors were Spondon who were beaten 3-1. Peter Collins continued his good run on top board with a draw and it was a draw on Board 2 as well for Mike  Maher. The wins came on the bottom boards from Mike Hoare and Ray Sawyer. There was also a Division 3 match against Derby which the visitors won 3-1. Stephen Smithson got the only win on Board 4 and there were defeats for John Fryer( who started well enough but then made a fatal error) Fred Biles and Philip Sykes who was making his first appearance.

Regaining a place in the first division of the Birmingham League will clearly be harder than expected. After winning its first three matches the B2 team crashed to earth with a 5-1 thrashing by Solihull. Maurice Staples drew on top board a nd the only other score came from late replacement Yuriy Slobodyuk who also drew.

Teenager Bowie Carter scored a good win on board 2 against an experiened Norton Canes player Tom Treveno at the Brewhouse on Monday. Lichfield’s Cannock 3B team won 3.5- 0.5 with the other points coming from David Fone who drew with Mike Hoare and wins from Stephen Smithson and Ian Boddington against Brian Jones and Barry Hanford. With two good wins in a row, Bowie has gained 200 rating points and is now at 1300

With three matches being played on one night Stuart Andrews’ team Lichfield 3A fielded a weakened team and were outgunned by Coleshill, losing 3-1. Stuart found himself in the very unusual position of playing board one and not surprisingly lost. Keith Milner lost on board 2 but his son,Seth drew on three and Maurizio Barravalle also drew on four. “It was a good performance in the circumstances,” said Stuart.  The 1A team drew 2-2 at Tamworth thanks to a win from John Keaveney and a draws from Lukasz Walijewski and Fred Biles.

In Birmingham Division 3, Lichfield benefitted from Birmingham University having only five players. Lukasz Walijewski and Yuriy Slobodyuk both won and Peter Collins continued his fine form with an excellent draw to complete a 3.5-2.5 win.

Lichfield’s team in the Birmingham second division made it three wins out of three against against Redditch but are not finding it easy. The club’s top three players, Maurice Staples, Tony Green and John Keaveney battled to draws on the top three boards and there were wins for Ben Nevett Farmer and David Hulme. Steve  Mcloughlin’s run of early season suceesses has come to an end and he was beaten on board five. 

The Cannock 1A team drew 2-2 at Tamworth with wins from Lukasz Walijewski and John Keaveney, the latter winning in under 20 moves.

Wolverhampton League division three captain Brian Jones found himself a man short due to a late withdrawal but the draw he secured on board three helped Lichfield to a 2.5-1.5 win over St George’s thanks to wins from Ray and Josh Sawyer.

In the Cannock League, the 2A team lost 1.5- 2-.5 against Rushall. The points came from draws from Peter Collins, and father and son Ray and Josh Sawyer. Ray also got the only points for Lichfield in a Derby League 2 with Belper. Peter Collins, Mike Maher and Gary Monks all lost.


“It was a pure fluke” – Skipper David Fone’s comment after assembling a team with 6499 rating points, just one below the  maximum allowed for Lichfield’s 2A team. in the Cannock League.  David’s pre match preparation paid off as well He was up against Luke Sullivan who played the same opening as he had against David a few weeks ago. Hours earlier David had found a better move and it paid off with a win. On top board David Hulme drew with league controller Steve Whatmore and there were very good wins from Gary Monks and Arthur Hall to complete a 3.5 – 0.5 win.

The Cannock League 1B team had a fine win against Surtton Coldfield, 3.5-0.5. Tony Green, David Hulme and Arthur Hall all won and Peter Willett drew.

The Birmingham division 2 team, on a mission to earn promotion back to division 1, have won their first two games. It was a  3.5 -2.5 win over Olton thanks to top board dominance. Maurice Staples, Tony Green and Ben Nevett Farman all won and John Keaveney drew on board three. Steve Mcloughin lost his second game in succession following a brilliant start to his season, while captain David Hulme also lost.

It waa a similar story in the Cannock third division for the Lichfield 3A team. Ray Sawyer and Fred Biles won on the top two two boards, Josh sawyer lost on three whilst Stuart Andrews lost a rook and then his game, making the match result 2-2.

Previous results

Lichfield’s top team, playing in Birmingham’s second division for the first time in recent memory, opened their account with a narrow victory over Rushall. Maurice Staples drew on board one, but while Tony Green and John Keaveney both lost, the bottom boards proved too strong for Rushall with Ben Farman Nevett, Steve Mcloughlin and skipper David Hume all winning to complete a 3.5-2.5 victory.  After five games Steve still has a 100 per cent record.

Peter Collins picked up his second win of the season as Lichfield’s 2A drew with Rugeley in the  Cannock League. Lukasz Walijewski continued his run of good form with a draw against Steve Whatmore on top board, Ray Sawyer lost but Fred Biles secured a draw on board four.

Steve  Mcloughlin’s winning run ended at Coleshill in a Birmingham Division 3 match. His opponent was Peter thompson, a 2000 rating plus player, equivalent to 178 in the old rating system.  Yuriy Slobodyuk, Peter Collins and John Fryer all drew, Mike Maher got the only win and Brian jones lost on board six.

Earlier October matches

Lichfield’s 1A team opened its Cannock League programme with a 3-1 win over 1B. The two squads are of similar strength on paper,particularly as 1A”s top board Maurice Staples has opted to only play Cannock matches in an emergency.  On the night however 1A fielded a stronger team with newcomer Steve Mcloughlin starting with a win.  A very accomplished on-line player, Steve was playing his second over- the- board match and defeated David Hulme. Skipper Lukasz Walijewski,  formerly of  Walsall, drew against Peter Willett, John Keaveney drew with Tony Green and Peter Collins defeated Marc Carter,  who had a near impossible task against the former club chairman and lst team captain.

Playing at the Brewhouse and Kitchen earlier in the week the club’s 2A team defeated 2B. Two players making their debut for Lichield, Lukasz Walijewski and Steve Mcloughlin won their games against Yuriy Slobodyuk and teenager John Moughtin Leay. Josh sawyer defeated promising junior Bowie Carter while the B team’s point came from Gary Monks defeating  Mike Hoare.

Two teams, eight players, and five of them were newcomers to the club this season . The match was between the Cannock League 3B team against the 3B team. For Keith Milner it was his first match for the club  for over a decade and he won it against 3B captain Stephen Smithson. Darren Pope also won on debut against Ian Boddington after a lengthy end game which Darren could have won earlier with more experience. Fred Biles drew on top board against Arthur Hall and the battle of the youngsters was won by Bowie Carter against Adam Turley. Bowie was the B team’s only winner.

Gary Monks, conceding 142 rating points, lost his board one match for 2B against Rushall, but the rest of the team were all winners.David Fone faced a similar rating deficit as Gary so his was a win to savour; John Leay won on board 3 and Arthur Hall weighed in with a win on board four.

Lichfield’s Cannock League 2A team also recorded a 3-1 win against Sutton. Newcomer Steve Mcloughlin defeated a Birmingham League stalwart Mike Biddle, 1788 rating, to keep his 100 per cent record for the club; Lukasz Walijewski accounted for Kevin Spillane, 1690,  and both Peter Collins and Josh Sawyer drew their games. After an intervention by results controller Steve Whatmore, Lichfield were later deducted a point having been ruled to have exceeded the maximum ratings. Club secretary David Short said no one knew what rating to give Steve  Mcloughlin who had only previously played two games. “The league decision in no way reflects on captain Ray Sawyer who took pre match advice over the rating estimate he gave Steve”. All the individual results stand.

Outgraded on all boards, Lichfield’s 3A team put up a creditable fight at Rugeley, particularly  Fred Biles who won on board 2. Ray Sawyer got a draw and there were defeats for team captain Stuart Andrews and Keith Milner, the latter holding his own for most of the game.

The Steve Mcloughlin story continued this week with another excellent win on board one against Rushall for 1A, ironically beating the league controller, Steve Whatmore. The match was drawn 2-2 with  Lukasz Walijewski and Peter Collins drawing. Fred Biles lost on board four.  1A played the sa me night a nd defeated Sutton Coldfield 3.5- 0.5, wins coming from Tony Green, David Hulme and Arthur Hall, backed up by a draw from Peter Willett.

Lighfield’s Derby 3 team romped to a 3-5 -1.5  victory over an inexperienced Rolls Royce team. Ray and Josh Sawyer won on the top two boards, Stephen Smithson drew on three and Stuart Andrews won on four, catching Queen and King on the same diagonal





 ‘Bubble’ chess rejected

Lichfield Council officials have decided that the chess club’s plan for over the board friendly matches for two bubbles of six players which will avoid all contact with each other,  contravenes the Covid regulations.

However, an alternative venue has been located by Stephen Smithson and initially, four club members are trialling over the board compeition and friendlies.

Secretary David Short said it was hard to see the difference between four players meeting in a pub or a restaurant with a table dividing chess players having a drink while they play.

First match since March

For the first time since the Covid 19 lockdown started on 23rd March, Lichfield has played a match, the first time in its 50 year history that the club has been involved in an on-line rather than face to face match.

The opponents were close neighbours Sutton Coldfield and the result was a 2-2 draw. Captain Sam Skinner was the organiser and although he was badly outgraded on board four he enjoyed the experience. Peter Willett conceded a 21 point grading deficit but scored a fine win against Marek Soszynski on board one and John Keaveney (165)was also a winner on Board 2 against Peter Oliver (126).  Fred Biles lost on Board 3 againstJ Wojcich (135).

That match went smoothly but a few days later  against Worcester the communications gremlins struck  and the match was abandoned, no doubt to be replayed at a later date.

Now, that is a novel ruling

Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield have finished equal first in the first division of the Cannock League and the championship has been decided in a novel way which has taken people by surprise.

The sum total of the gradings of  the Lichfield players in the matches against Sutton  Coldfield was higher than their opponents and according to the rule book, they have therefore finished second.

The match was a tense affair  with the last game decided at the death in a pawn ending, Sutton winning 3-1. Ben Nevett and Arthur Hall both scored draws whilst Adam routledge and David Fone lost.

Room changes

Due to major renovations to Lichfield’s historic Guildhall which will last six months or so, Lichfield Chess Club’s meetings will be held in various committee rooms on the first floor until April.

Phase 2 of the renovation work will start after the season ends and is scheduled to be completed before the new season starts at the end of August.

Because the venue is cuently changing from week to week, it is more important than ever that anyone planning to join the club should first contact the secretary David Short on 01543 304212.

Member’s glowing tribute

Heavy work commitments prompted long time member Gary Monks to temporarily retire from chess but now he is back again and has posted a glowing to the club. “It’s been part of my life for nearly 30 years. It’s a wonderful club with great people and it is great for stimulation of the mind and for socialability” said Gary.

PLanning to take retirement or partial retirement later this year,  Gary is looking forward to being able to play more regularly.

Anniversary target

As part of its 50th anniversary Lichfield Chess Club is keen to boost its membership from 40 to nearer the 590 mark

Lichfield is one of the strongest clubs in the Midlands both from a playing and membership perspective. The club runs 15 teams in four leagues- the Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Derby and Cannock.

Playing strength varies from virtual beginner to national championship standard. Thursday night is club night which is normally held in the Guildroom on the ground floor of the Guildhall in Bore Street, starting at 7-15 pm. Because of an extensive programme of repairs running until September 2020 alternative committee rooms and sometimes being used.  See sandwich board at entrance for information.

Newcomers can just turn up and ask for the secretary or a committee member but to ensure a proper welcome in a room which is often thronged with new faces from visiting teams, please ring secretary David Short, 01543 304212,  or fixture secretary Brian Homewood, 01543 255909 to let us know you are coming.

The club runs three internal tournaments which are open to both social and full members. Social, student  and junior membership is available to anyone who does not wish to play league chess, for a yearly subscription of £25. Full membership, which includes compulsory membership of the English Chess Federation for league players, is £60.