Leicestershire & Rutland

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8th July 2012: Hugh disappointment for the Leicestershire County first team as they drew 8 - 8 with Hertfordshire on Saturday in the Minor Counties Final, only to lose the trophy on board count. We got off to a great start as Rajan won quite quickly and then draws followed from Ilyian, John Robinson, Martin, Graham and Sean. A couple of losses followed from Chino and Phil, only for Andy to mate his opponent in a typically Andy like time scramble. Alan then went down in a tricky ending. Mike won to keep the match level, and John Mitchell drew in a bishops of opposite colour ending. John Denton showed you can win an opposite coloured bishops ending and Brian nicely converted his ending to take the point. Ray was finally ground down and Paul desperately tried to give all his pieces away to get stalemate but to no avail. So the match ended 8 - 8 and yet again we have lost to Hertfordshire on board count. For the scoresheet click here. You can also download the games from the match here. A big thanks to Graham Booley who organised a great team effort throughout the whole season and to all the players who played in all the matches.

9th June 2012: In a tense and exciting match at Milton Keynes, the Leicestershire County first team beat Essex by 9 - 7 to reach the Minor Counties final. There we will play Hertfordshire (again!) at Moat Community College Leicester on July 7th. Quite remarkably, no Leicestershire player lost his game - there was a flurry of early draws and then the first victory on the board as Mark Hebden's crushing attack bore fruit. With only 5 games left the match was still in the balance, until Brandon Clarke won on board 2 as his opponent lost on time in a losing position. The remaining games still went down to the wire before all agreeing draws and so the match ended with 14 draws and two wins. For the scoresheet click here. Here is an alternative view from our roving reporter Patrick McDermott:

Report based on wandering round the playing arena during and after my game.

(Vulpus Vulpus out-cunning the East Saxons !!)

Against a very strong Essex side we triumphed 9-7 although for a very long time the outcome was unclear and nerves of steel & squeaky bums were the order of the day. Other than the top 2 boards all games proceeded with great caution on both sides early on. As the afternoon ticked by we held reasonable advantages on 4 boards with Mark, Brian and Paul having clear initiatives and John the exchange for a pawn ahead. Board 2 was a wild and complex affair and I was not alone in wondering exactly what was happening - this was actually the case until the very last moves of the game. On board 3 Martin held a good spatial advantage, whereas Andy, Ray and Shaun (S) were under pressure.

Not surprisingly there was a sudden spate of draws, I drew against an un-ambitious opponent as did Mike who had a very very long think early on to try and complicate things but to no avail. Sean (H) drew a game that had actually been quite an interesting open game where great care had to be taken by both players. Graham drew a game where nothing seemed to have actually happened since the opening. John(M) had been unable to make progress against Larry Marden a fellow Dutch enthusiast despite offers of material to create numerous chances for him Larry was not tempted and for John to risk a loss would have been foolish in such a vital match and whilst there are several jokers there are no fools in our team! Brian had been unable to break into his opponent’s king position despite several tries and drew as did Rajan in an uneventful game although Rajan had strived hard to make progress.

Mark playing with his usual speed & coolness was on the verge of winning with a totally crushing position and well over an hour in hand on the clock. I always believed that I could think like a Grandmaster and I can, provided it’s got nothing to do with chess!More draws followed from Martin who had been unable to break through, John (R) who was easily holding his own and Sean (S) whose game was totally drawn for some time.

So into the fourth hour we were 1 point ahead with only 5 games left. Board 2 was most unclear although Brandon was well ahead on the clock, Paul had sacrificed a piece and several pawns for a promising looking attack but it looked as though this might rebound on him as Neville Twitchell defended doggedly. Andrew, John (D) (who had lost a pawn) and Ray were defending difficult positions although Ray was starting to attempt a break-out.

Next to finish was Brandon who won on time with John Manley still having seven moves to make, it had been a cleverly played game, despite looking in trouble from early on Brandon had covered all aspects of the position and despite shaking with nerves for much of the game was totally winning at the end. So we needed a couple of draws to be sure of the match. Andy had cleverly overcome difficulties to secure a draw and Ray whose opponent (second in last years British Senior Championship) had tried too hard to win and was probably losing at the end also drew so we were through. With the match gone Paul and John drew, Paul had been vast quantities of material down for a long while but kept the complications going and John coolly defended a pawn down to achieve a hard earned draw against a former Southern Counties Champion.

Having played chess in Essex for over 30 years it was strange to hope that former colleagues that used to want to win I now wanted them to lose.

So we hurtled home along the banked section of the M1 feeling as well as a parrot and not under the Moon, and I spend a nice evening celebrating with my wife and a couple of old friends Stella Artois and Monsieur Courvoisier. Well we had given a 5 star performance and deserved to be hoop of the cock as they say in France!

There is a very fair report on the match and an action picture of Mark on the Essex Chess Association web site.

Patrick (Scoop) McDermott

22nd May 2012: Leicestershire County first team beat Cambridgeshire at Market Deeping on Saturday in the Minor Counties quarterfinals. Leicestershire won by 10 - 6 to qualify for the semifinals where we will meet Essex on June 9th.

We got off to a great start with Alan Byron winning quickly. Then, after a few draws were agreed, John Mitchell, Greg Eagleton and Ray Burgess finished off nice wins – Ray having to work quite hard after sacrificing a piece to open up his opponent’s king. We were home and dry once John Pattinson won but, despite that, Paul Colburn persisted in a Q+P ending and was the last to finish. Overall, a very good result against a team in where we were very evenly matched. The average grade for both teams was the same – 170. For the scoresheet click here.

A worm's eye view from board 13 - by Patrick McDermott

It was apparent very early on in the match that we were destined to win comfortably in spite of several of our top players being unavailable including: - Mark, Ilyan, and Martin. We were clearly winning on the top board and John (M) Dave and Patrick were a pawn or two ahead within the first hour. Alan scored a very rapid win against his lady opponent making the most of her lack of development (in the chess sense) and significant airiness around her King, once the seventh rank was invaded it was all over. John (M) won in sixteen moves gaining a rook but he had a devastating position anyway.

A curious feature of the match was that on several boards wrecking the opponents’ Kingside pawns to gain the advantage was a recurring theme. Tom drew a careful game early on utilising the good features of the Old Indian (Sitting Bull’s Opening?) to equalise. A spate of 5 draws (Graham, Phil, John R, Sean, and Dave) so 5-3 to us. Dave was a bit unlucky not to win, gaining 2 pawns in the opening but then having to concede the draw by repetition after withstanding fierce pressure. Greg was next to finish winning at least a rook by springing a nice trap after his adversary tried to be too ambitious in a difficult position, so 6-3 and the Semis beckoned. Jim went down after being outplayed from the early middle game, Ray won after sacrificing 2 pieces for a Rook to break into the King’s position and John P who had gone into a bishops of opposite colours ending a pawn up but with a much more active king, better bishop and an excellent pawn structure (so not much advantage there then!) won nicely. So 8-4 to the good guys, all over Leicestershire Fat Ladies were clearing their throats.

At this stage I was made aware of the match score by several players and, although a pawn up, offered a draw which was eagerly accepted. When I left Chino was winning, Paul was steadily outplaying his opponent who having looked totally lost early on had produced a fine temporary rook sacrifice to stay in the game. Andy looked in trouble with much less time and was very cramped. Chino eventually drew, Paul was last to finish won and Andy (captain for this match) lost so a comfortable win.

On the way to the match we wondered if we would face a powerful group of University people, talking to one or two of their players this was not the case. We happily sped home across the Fens eagerly anticipating who we would play next. We now know it is Essex, who fielded a very strong side, details of this match are on the Essex Chess website. Hopefully the Foxes can use all their cunning to blunt the Scimitars!

10th March 2012: An epic battle ensued when Leicestershire first team met Derbyshire at Spondon on Saturday. Leicestershire needed a draw to qualify for the nationals and a win to become Midland Champions but a win for Derbyshire would see them through to the nationals and Leicestershire eliminated.

We fielded almost our strongest possible team but Derbyshire turned up with a stronger than expected team which meant, with the exception of top board, there was very little in grade difference. First blood went to Derbyshire, Simon Gilmore and Richard Vann swapped all the major pieces very quickly and once Richard swapped his last knight off for Simon’s bishop it was a straight forward pawn ending for Simon to win - 1-0 Derby. Sean Hewitt evened the score, playing a nice combination to win material, he then gave the exchange back for a won pawn ending, now 1-1. A succession of draws followed - Graham Sharpe, Ray Burgess, John Robinson and Mike Salisbury, of these only Graham had a slight advantage, a pawn up and heading for Q+P ending when he allowed his opponent to grab a perpetual check, now 3-3. At this point both Alfonso and Jim Miller were material down and losing but battling on valiantly (so in effect we were 5-3 down). Chino and Sean Sheahan then completed nice wins; Chino gave up the exchange for extra pawns and positional advantage, 3-4 to Leicester. Sean got out of tricky position with 2 pieces for a rook and forced the win, 3-5 Leicester. Alfonso and Jim finally succumbed, now it was 5-5.We were now basically down to a 6-board match with wins looking likely from Mark and Patrick, loses from Alan and Martin and draws from Andy and Brian (8-8). Mark and Patrick got their wins 5-7 Leicester. Martin then managed to force a perpetual check, an unexpected ½ point, Brian, who had been defending a pawn down, in Q,R+ opposite bishops for most the game got the draw when his opponent decided to swap off the queen and rook, to an opposite coloured bishop ending and the draw was achieved. It was 6-8 and Leicester nationals achieved.

Alan Byron then lost to make the score 7-8, Andy Morley, looking slightly better, then had his usual time scramble and came out of it 2 pawns down and a certain loss, with a hour of play left everybody else except Ray and myself went to the pub expecting us to following quickly with a drawn match, but Andy doesn’t give in and spent 20 of his extra 30mins on the next move, trying to find an answer to his lost position. This may have unnerved his opponent but after a couple of moves by Andy, his opponent had the opportunity to swop his queen and rook off for a won pawn ending but instead kept checking to try and get a bigger advantage and eventually used up a lot of his own time, with Andy 3mins against 5mins, his opponent played a couple more checks and offered the draw! Classic Andy! So it finished 7½- 8½ to Leicestershire.We retired to the pub to disbelief from all present. Well done to everyone. Our next match is ¼ final against Cambridgeshire, scheduled for May 19th, subject to confirmation. The full scoresheet can be found here. Report by Graham Booley.

29th January 2012:The Leicestershire county first team had a fine victory over Worcestershire by 9 - 7 on Saturday. More details and the scoresheet can be found here. There was controversy from the start as the Worcestershire board 1 did not show leaving our GM Mark Hebden less than impressed. The next match is away against Derbyshire on 10th March, if we win we will finish top. The dates for the national stages are 19th May, then 9th June, then 7th July.

21st January 2012: When two teams meet with very similar gradings, the result is usually close. When our Leicestershire Under 140 county team travelled to an excellent venue in Tyseley, we were outgraded on each board by an average of 10 points, in one case by 45 points. Such was the numbers of those who for one good reason or another were not available. I am most grateful to those who answered the call, beyond the eleventh hour.

We had been encouraged, if that is the right word, by the news that Derbyshire had conceded their match to us in March, so if we lost this match, we were still in the shake up for 3rd place. Battle commenced. After 90 minutes, our first loss by a player rated 20 or more points below his opponent. Then 3 quick wins, then 2 more losses by outgraded players. Perusal of the boards indicated that it was going to be close. At the end, we won 6 points on the top 8 boards, with another vital 2½ points on the bottom six. The "star" result was surely Ben Vaughan who drew with an opponent 45 points higher rated! At the end of the day, the 8½- 7½ win should ensure the runners-up spot in the MCCU with a faint chance of the title. Click on the Scoresheet for the full result. An excellent way to end the season, and thanks to all who played. Thanks for this report from Cyril Johnson.

10th December 2011: The Leicestershire Under 140 county team beat Shropshire by 10 - 6 on Saturday. Click on the Scoresheet for the full result. The next match is on the 21st January away to Warwickshire.

5th December 2011: The Leicestershire county first team beat Lincolnshire by 8½ - 7½ on Saturday. In a very tight match there was never more than one point in the match and it all came down to the last two games. The Loughborough pair of Greg Eagleton and John Mitchell brought home the points to secure victory. There were also wins for Martin Burrows, John Denton, Richard Vann and Alfonso Jiminez. Click Scoresheet for the full result. The next match is on the 28th January at home to Worcestershire.

20th November 2011: The Leicestershire county Under 140 team lost the crunch match against Worcestershire by 10½ - 5½ on Saturday. Unfortunately the match was played to the sound of grunting and screaming from a karate group. We essentially lost the match on the bottom boards, with some draws being accepted in the light of the result on higher boards. There were 6 players who were not available because of other more pressing reasons, but this is one of the facets of playing in a voluntary match. If footballers at Manchester City earing £250k per week can refuse to play, then all praise is due to chess players who turn out to play in what was a cold Methodist hall. Full Scoresheet here.

The next match is against Shropshire on December 10th. We have claimed the neutral venue right and will play them at WALL, which is just off the A5 with a 2.00 p.m. start. Report by Cyril Johnson.

9th November 2011: The Leicestershire county first team suffered a shock defeat away to Shropshire in the second county fixture of the season, losing 10 - 6. There were wins for Mark Hebden, John Pattinson and Graham Booley with draws for Martin Burrows, Ray Burgess, John Robinson, Brian Galligan, Patrick McDermott and Mike Cowley. The full scoresheet can be found here. The next match is at home to Lincolnshire on December 3rd.

9th November 2011: The Leicestershire Under 160 team has withdrawn from the MCCU competition due to the lack of players willing to play.

29th October 2011: The County Under 140 team had a convincing win over Staffordshire to make it two wins out of two and set up a crunch match against Worcestershire, who have also won their first two matches, at Water Orton on November 19th. There were wins for Bob Wallace, Tony Robinson, John Thomson, Dave Reynolds, Charles Eastlake, Elizabeth Gist, Barry Bailey and John Manger with draws for Ian Farquharson, Peter Hickman, Bob Collins and Michael Busby. Full Scoresheet here.

17th September 2011: The County first team had a convincing victory over Greater Manchester at Newcastle under Lyme on Saturday, winning by 12½ - 3½. There were wins for Graham Sharpe, Ray Burgess, John Denton, Tom Reynolds, Brian Galligan, Chino Nwachukwu, Dave Farrall, Alfonso Jiminez, Jim Bingham, Sean Hewitt and Mike Cowley - the full scoresheet can be found here. The next match is away against Shropshire at Shifnal on November 5th - we can expect fireworks!

The Midlands intercounty championships are controlled by the Midlands Counties Chess Union (MCCU).  The best-performing teams in each section qualify for the ECF national championships. The 2011-12 fixtures are as follows:

1st Team
15/10/11 vs. Greater Manchester (home) - won by 12½ - 3½ - Scoresheet.
05/11/11 vs. Shropshire (away) - lost by 10 - 6 - Scoresheet.
03/12/11 vs. Lincolnshire (home) won by 8½ - 7½ - Scoresheet
28/01/12 vs Worcestershire (home) won by 9 - 7 - Scoresheet.
10/03/12 vs Derbyshire (away) won by 8½ - 7½ - Scoresheet

U-140 Team
08/10/11 vs. Nottinghamshire (home) - won by 9 - 7 - Scoresheet.
29/10/11 vs. Staffordshire (home) - won by 10 - 6 - Scoresheet.
19/11/11 vs. Worcestershire (home) lost by 10½ - 5½ - Scoresheet
10/12/11 vs. Shropshire (away) - won by 10 - 6 - Scoresheet.
21/01/12 vs. Warwickshire (away) - won by 8½ - 7½ - Scoresheet
10/03/12 vs Derbyshire (away) - won, match has been conceded by Derbys.

1st team captain: Graham Booley, 01509 816974, ggraham@acecleaningcompany.co.uk

U140 captain: Cyril Johnson, 0116 2609012, cyriljohnson@yahoo.co.uk