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News Items From the 2007/08 Season

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E end with win
14/05/08 Early wins for Pete and Steve allowed the E team to beat Kidsgrove B 2½ - 1½.

John in good company
07/05/08 13 players, including guests turned up for the clubs end of season rapidplay. The competition ended in a three way tie for first between Alex, Petru and Holmes Chapel's John Blackburn. Full results are available on the internal events page.

5 seconds ...
07/05/08 Not just the time taken to read this but a reflection of Newcastles bridesmaid season, being runners up in Divisions 1, 2 (jointly) and 3, the 8 board cup and the Gothard.

C and E go down at Cheddleton
03/05/08 The C and E teams came away empty handed from their visit to Cheddleton last night, with Alex' win the C team and Steve's for the E being insufficient to gain league points for either team.

Boardcount defeat in Gothard
01/05/08 Diarmid was Newcastles winner in the 2½ - 2½ draw in the final of the Gothard cup against Boldmere St Michaels, but Boldmere took the trophy on boardcount.

8 board final loss
25/04/08 The 8 board team lost 3 - 5 in the final at Cheddleton tonight, Alan and Martyn getting wins, Alex and Michael draws.

End of season Rapidplay
23/04/08 Our end of season 15 minute tournament will take place on Wednesday 7th May.

E into double figures
23/04/08 The E team drew with Cheddleton G tonight, Pete providing a full point, to take their points tally for the season into double figures.

C on song
23/04/08 The C team won 4 - 1 at meir on Monday thanks to victories from Alex, Francis, Geoff and Pete.

D end on high
20/04/08 The D team completed their fixtures with a 3 - 1 victory in the delayed match at Cheddleton D on the back of individual wins by Watson and Geoff. The result means that the team must finish at least second, though Alsager A will pass them if they pick up at least three points from their remaining three matches.

Big win for C
18/04/08 Alex, Tim, Francis and Geoff all won as the C team rattled up 4½ points against Meir A tonight.

John wins the Day
16/04/08 John was the sole winner in a match of four draws when the B team took on Macclesfield.

E downed by Fenton
15/04/08 The E team went down 1 - 3 at Fenton B last night, draws from Paul and Steve keeping the score respectable.

Newcastle in the money
14/04/08 Alex came joint first in the premier section of the Staffs Chess Congress held at Bloxwich over the weekend, whilst Martyn and Geoff came joint second respectively in the major and minor sections.

Default win for A
10/04/08 The A team turned up at Alsager tonight to find no opponents. Alex, Barry, Ralph, Alan and Martyn took the opportunity to play a few friendlies amongst themselves before returning home.

Mixed night for Newcastle
09/04/08 A night of mixed fortunes for Newcastle saw their D team win at Stafford B thanks to victories by Watson, Pete and Geoff whilst the E team were losing 1 - 3 at home to Fenton C.

Richard saves E team
05/04/08 Richard's win enabled the E team to gain a point from their visit to Cheddleton G last night.

A keep Stafford at bay
02/04/08 The A team beat Stafford 3½ - 1½ thanks to wins from Ralph, Michael and Diarmid to stay above the visitors in the first division table.

B blast Meir A
31/03/08 The B team struck form against Meir A tonight with wins for Alan, Martyn, Martin and Pete.

Newcastle progress on board count
27/03/08 Board count was needed to separate Newcastle and Stafford in the semi-final of the Gothard cup, with Newcastle going through on board count thanks to Michael's win.

Diarmid can't save B
26/03/08 Diarmid was the sole winner for the B team as they went down 2 - 3 at home to Cheddleton C.

More points for D
26/03/08 The D team picked up two more points as wins for Martin and Watson led them to a 3 - 1 victory at home to Cheddleton E.

C survive Timless
25/03/08 The C team won at Rooks last Wednesday despite the absence of regular board 2 Tim. Alex, Francis, Nic and geoff all won.

Another point for E
19/03/08 Wins for Steve and Derrick enabled the E team to pick up a point at home to Meir C.

Martin secures the win
19/03/08 Martin claimed the draw that won the B teams match against Knights under the 2 minute rule, being a clear queen ahead. In truth it looked more like a two second rule! Martyn and John contributed full points towards the victory.

Supporting their own
16/03/08 Ten Newcastle players - over half the club's regular membership - turned out over the weekend to support their local congress. Pete was the club star, taking first place in the U120 section, with Alan undefeated second in the U165. A Diarmid-Michael draw in the last round prevented either from sharing second place spoils with Alan.

Derrick wins in vain
12/03/08 Derrick produced the E teams sole point in their home defeat by Alsager B.

D back to winning ways
12/03/08 Wins by Geoff and Pete helped the D team to victory over Cheddleton D.

Paul and Geoff fail to save Terriers
09/03/08 Geoff and Paul both won in the MCCU U100 Staffs Terriers v Notts semi-final which the visitors won on board count.

No more Cheddleton A
09/03/08 The A team played their third and final league match of the season against cheddleton a on Friday, going down 1½ - 3½ despite Alex's win. There could still be the small matter of the eight board final having these teams at its core.

Derrick prevents whitewash
09/03/08 Derrick's win prevented the E team being whitewashed by Cheddleton H on Friday.

C sink
06/03/08 Alex's win was not enough to stop the C team losing at home to Cheddleton B last night.

B back to winning ways
05/03/08 Wins for Alan, Martyn, Diarmid and Pete saw the B team back to winning ways against Rooks tonight.

C complete the bad (k)night
28/02/08 Newcastle's Black Wednesday was complete when the C team went down at Knights despite Francis' win.

No home comforts tonight
27/02/08 B and E team members could muster just one win between them - by Alan - as both teams lost at home tonight.

Gothard Semi
26/02/08 Have at last received draw for Gothard semi: Stafford at home by end March. Chances of a mutually convenient Wednesday look slim, so may need to play on another day.

D downed again
25/02/08 The D teams hopes of retaining their third division title took another battering as they went down at Fenton A, Geoff's win being the bright spot for Newcastle.

D date
24/02/08 The D teams visit to Cheddleton D postponed from December will now probably take place on 18th April.

B lose at Cheddleton C
22/02/08 Martin was the only Newcastle winner as the B team went down 2 - 3 at Cheddleton C tonight.

Newcastle into 8 board final
20/02/08 Newcastle moved into the final of the 8 board cup with a 5½ - 2½ victory over Stafford featuring wins for Martyn, Tim, Diarmid and Martin. Their opponents will not be known for a while as Cheddleton have postponed their visit to Holmes Chapel.

New date
20/02/08 The E teams home match aginst Fenton B which was postponed before Christmas to allow Fenton to play a Withnall cup match has been rearranged for next week.

Pointless week for Newcastle
15/02/08 The E team completed a bad week for the club, being whitewashed by Hassell.

D downed by Alsager
13/02/08 Pete was the only winner as the D team went down to Alsager A by 1½ - 2½

One draw too few
13/02/08 4 draws proved to be insufficient for the A team when they took on Holmes Chapel Kings tonight.

Alsager match alive
07/02/08 Alan has not claimed the Alsager match as a default win but negotiated an alternative date of 30 April to play it.

Draw Double
06/02/08 The A and E teams both drew their matches tonight against Cheddleton A and Alsager C respectively. Newcastle winners were Alan, Michael, Paul and Derrick.

Alsager forget
31/01/08 Alsager called off their match at Newcastle having failed to put a team together for it. The match will probably count as a default win for Newcastle, though I have not yet had confirmation of this from Alan.

C go second
26/01/08 The C teams home win against Macclesfield moved them up to second in the table. Alex, Tim and Geoff all won against the 4 man visitors.

New date for A
26/01/08 The A teams home match against Cheddleton A which was postponed earlier in the season has now been arranged for 6th Feb.

Two points for B
23/01/08 The B team picked up both points at Knights tonight on the back of wins for Alan, Martyn and Martin.

C beaten
19/01/08 Tim was the only Newcastle winner as the C team lost at Cheddleton C last night.

Little joy for E
17/01/08 The E team managed just two draws between them in going down 1 - 3 at Kidsgrove B last night.

A better Stafford
16/01/08 The A team got the better of stafford tonight thanks to wins from Alex and Martyn.

D team back on track
15/01/08 Victories for Watson, Pete and Geoff enabled the D team to get back to winning ways at Meir last night.

Newcastle Hassle Hassell
09/01/08 Paul, Steve, Derrick and Brian all recorded wins as the E team put Hassell to the sword.

C get bragging rights
09/01/08 Wins for Alex, Nic and Geoff for the C team were countered by a single B team victory by Martyn as the C team bagged the bragging rights in the second division derby.

Geoff Wreaks Wrekin Havoc
06/01/08 Newcastles Geoff Lee carried all before him in the minor section of the Wrekin Congress this weekend to claim victory with a perfect five, a full point clear of his nearest rivals.

A team welcome the New Year
03/01/08 The A team started 2008 with an excellent 4 - 1 victory at Holmes Chapel thanks to individual wins from Alex, Barry and Michael.

D team suffer Festive Hangover
02/01/08 The D team went down 1½ - 2½ to Kidsgrove A despite a win from John. Obviously they had not kept in training over the Xmas break.

Newcastle dumped out of Withnall
02/01/08 Newcastle had no joy in the Withnall cup, managing just two draws by Derrick and Richard as they went down 1 - 4 to Boldmere St Michaels.

No captain, no problem
19/12/07 The D team were without captain John for tonights home match against Stafford B, running out 3 - 1 victors on the backs of wins for Watson, Geoff and Pete.

3 man Newcastle go out of U110
12/12/07 With Watson, Paul, Steve, Derrick and Brian all unavailable for a variety of reasons, Newcastle found themselves with only three boards for the U110 cup encounter with Cheddleton. Geoff's win was insufficient to overcome the deficit.

Newcastle bye in Gothard
12/12/07 A total entry of 6 teams for the Gothard (county U151 cup) means that two clubs get byes into the semi-finals. Newcastle are one of the lucky pair.

C suffer postponement
11/12/07 Last nights C team match at Meir was postponed.

A draw against Stafford
05/12/07 The A team drew against Stafford A tonight, Alan being our only individual winner.

Not us Gov!
04/12/07 I'm reliably informed that the incident mentioned in the item below occurred in a different match on the same night.

E go down at Fenton
03/12/07 Geoff was the only Newcastle winner as the E team lost at Fenton C in a match which apparently featured a resignation in a stalemate position!

B edge past Macclesfield
03/12/07 Martyn and Martin got the wins that secured the B teams match victory at Macclesfield tonight.

Newcastle 1 Holmes Chapel 1
28/11/07 At the club tonight the B team beat Rooks on the back of wins for Martyn, John and Pete, whilst the C team lost to Knights despite wins for Alex and Tim.

Withnall Date
26/11/07 Newcastle will entertain Boldmere St Michael in the Withnall cup (county U101) on 2nd January 2008.

D run continues
26/11/07 The D teams unbeaten start continued with a 2½ - 1½ win at Cheddleton E on Friday, Watson and Geoff being winners on the night.

A on form
26/11/07 Last Thursday's 4 - 1 win at Alsager featured wins for Alex, Ralph and Alan.

Point for E
22/11/07 Wins for Paul and Derrick secured the draw for Newcastle E against Cheddleton F last night.

U135 cup team fall at first hurdle
17/11/07 The U135 cup team had only three draws to show for their visit to Cheddleton last night.

Derrick flies the flag
14/11/07 Derrick was the E teams sole point scorer as they went down 1 - 3 at home to Cheddleton H.

Newcastle win the clash of the Bs
10/11/07 In a hard fought match Newcastle B just edged past Cheddleton B by 3 to 2 with wins for Alan and Martyn.

E complete set
09/11/07 The E team (unfortunately) completed the set of results last night, losing at Alsager B to go with their earlier win and draw. Geoff won, but the rest of the team could only muster a single draw between them.

D set the pace
07/11/07 The D team moved to the top of division 3 with a 3 - 1 home success against Fenton A on the back of wins for Pete and Geoff.

C victory
06/11/07 The C team earned a good 3 - 2 victory at Macclesfield last night, Alex and Geoff getting the wins.

Close, but not close enough
02/11/07 The A team went down 2 - 3 at Cheddleton A tonight, Martyn being the sole Newcastle winner.

D held at Alsager
31/10/07 The D team picked up a point at Alsager in a match in which each team won one board, Pete being Newcastle's winner.

New Date
31/10/07 The Newcastle B fixture at Cheddleton C previously postponed has been rearranged for Fri 22nd February 2008.

Newcastle Halloween double bill
31/10/07 The Newcastle second division teams were both at home tonight with the B team getting a scare from Meir A before escaping with a draw whilst the C team appeared to make a better fist of things by winning 3½ - 1½ against Cheddleton C. Newcastle winners on the night were Martyn, Pete, Francis and Geoff.

Club supporting the county
28/10/07 Geoff and Paul turned out for the county U100B team yesterday against the A team, while earlier in the season Alex played for the open side and Peter for the U125s. County captains are always pleased to hear from others wishing to play.

8 board team safely through
24/10/07 The 8 board team safely negotiated their first round match against Meir, conceding just two draws, to set up a semi-final clash with either Alsager or Stafford. Given the relative grades of the two teams the result was not unexpected, but as ever in such matches the opposition fought hard and were close to getting something on several boards.

D take point at Meir C
23/10/07 Paul and Steve kept their heads to get the wins needed to draw the match at Meir C after the team went 0 - 2 down early in the match.

U90 team put out
18/10/07 Richard and Tom played their first games for the club in the clubs first match in the newest competition. Despite the scoreline there were some hard fought games. Richard was a pawn down for much of the game, but reached a King and equal pawn ending. Derrick played solidly well into the middle game, but then in quick succession missed the opportunity to win the exchange followed by folling for a trap. On top board Steve fought back from getting a poor position in the opening to being if anything slightly better before falling from grace.

D sneak past Kidsgrove A
18/10/07 A solitary win (for Pete) plus three draws gave the D team a narrow victory at Kidsgrove last night.

17/10/07 The C team were unable to progress tonight going down 2 - 3 to Rooks. It could have been worse - Geoff, the teams only winner played some unnecessarily double-edged moves when an outside passed pawn up, but his opponent in severe time trouble was unable to take advantage.

D commence defence with win
10/10/07 The D team started the defence of their division three title with a 2½ - 1½ win at home to Meir helped by the individual wins for pete and Geoff. Thats all five league teams succesfully breaking their ducks at their first attempt.

Winning start for E
04/10/07 The E team started their season with a win at Alsager C with individual victories for Geoff, Stephen and Derrick.

A point
03/10/07 The A team started their campaign with a hard earned point at home to Holmes Chapel Kings. Captain Alan was our only winner.

03/10/07 The E teams home match with Cheddleton G due to be played next week has been postponed until the 23rd April.

Honours even
21/09/07 The first Newcastle derby of the season ended with honours even with wins for Alan and John for the B team being balanced by ones for Alex and Geoff for the C team.

Next weeks Headline
21/09/07 : 'Newcastle top division 2'.
In other words the Newcastle derby kicks off the second division derby next week.

AGM report
06/09/07 The AGM was the usual unexciting uncontroversial event. Captains and officers as last year, with Paul additionally taking on the U90 cup side as non-playing captain, and Martyn to captain a venture into the Gothard cup - the county U151 competition. Teams as suggested on the AGM agenda circulated by e-mail.
11 members stayed behind to play in the AGM quickplay, which was won by Alex with a score of 4½/5. Full results to appear shortly on the internal competitions page.

AGM confirmed
01/09/07 ... for Wednesday 5th Sept. 7.30 start.

31/08/07 AGM should be the first Wednesday in September, so I'm assuming it is unless I hear otherwise!

Provisional grades
21/07/07 Provisional Newcastle grades for the coming season:
Steve Bruce is now 145, Daniel 154 and James 115. Both Steve Cooper and james are recorded as being 16 years old!

Ten teams for 'Castle?
05/07/07 At the league AGM yesterday we made provisional entries of 5 teams in the main competitions - one each in divisions 1, 3 and 4, and 2 in division 2 - one in each cup - there are now four of these with the introduction of an U90 competition - and made a statement of interest in the rapidplay which will now be tried as a summer contest.

Champion secretary
21/06/07 Club Secretary Alan took the honours in the June ½-hour competition, winning with a round to spare by beating Alex in round 5.

Alan takes over
13/06/07 Alan took over the lead in the June ½-hour with 2 wins taking him to 3½/4. Meanwhile Martyn put in a couple of entries for the slime of the year award finding a perpetual a bishop down in one game, and a stalemate a rook down in the other.

Early lead for Alex
06/06/07 Alex took an early lead in the June ½-hour, being the only player on 2/2 after the first night. However others will have a chance to catch him as he is taking a pair of ½ point byes next week. Those only able to start next week will be awarded two ½ point byes for this weeks rounds, so don't be afraid to join in in the middle of the competition. No need to enter in advance, though more players have promised to turn out next week.


The season in figures
28/05/08 Average grading figures for divisions, teams and boards can now be found under Misc - 07/08 in figures. It is easy to see from these why many people regard Meir C as the team of the season.

Final Performances
27/05/08 The performances page has been brought uptodate with the results of all the matches played in the season now included.

North Staffs on tour
27/05/08 Five North staffs players descended on Cheltenham this weekend to participate in the Cotswold Congress. As I was last to finish and needed to rush off to catch a train I only glanced at the final charts, so the following may be inaccurate, but ...
Geoff Lee was joint winner of the minor (upto 100), Carl Gartside and Roger Walker were joint winners in the Major (upto 125), Martyn Harris joint third in the Premier (upto 155) and Alex Richardson obtained a plus score in the Open.

Cheddleton take U90
27/05/08 Cheddleton took the inaugural U90 cup by defeating Kidsgrove 2½ - 1½ in a closely fought contest.

Final Final date
21/05/08 The outstanding cup final between Cheddleton and Kidsgrove should be taking place this Friday 23 May.

Shorter nights = shorter games
21/05/08 With the league season now complete the focus changes to the rapidplay league. Most of the fixtures are in June/July, but the Holmes Chapel derby was moved forward to avoid clashing with the league AGM and was played last night. One decisive match, one drawn one means the two Holmes Chapel teams are there at the top of the table to be shot at by the rest.

Terriers out
18/05/08 The Terriers lost 5 - 7 to Suffolk in the quarter finals of the U100 inter-counties event. Out but not disgraced. Full results on the County page

And the winners are ...
10/05/08 With the season all but over, most of the titles have been decided:
Division 1Cheddleton ANewcastle A
Division 2Cheddleton BNewcastle B
Cheddleton C
Division 3Alsager ANewcastle D
Division 4Cheddleton HCheddleton G
8 board cupCheddletonNewcastle
U135 cupMacclesfieldCheddleton
U110 cupFentonHolmes Chapel
U90 cupCheddletonKidsgrove

(U90 added 27th May)

Stafford take Hickman
01/05/08 Stafford edged the Hickman final 3½ - 2½ in their big beast clash with Cheddleton last night, both teams having average grades of 175.

Two more finals
25/04/08 The 8 board and U135 finals were played out at Cheddlton tonight. The hosts beat Newcastle 5 - 3 in the 8 board but were pipped 2 - 3 in a match of 4 draws by Macclesfield in the U135 cup.

Penultimate performances
24/04/08 Performances page given penultimate update for the season.

Rapidplay League
23/04/08 I've eventually got around to designing some fixtures for the rapidplay league, which can be found together with some brief rules on the downloads page.

One-ten to Fenton
22/04/08 No, not a bus-based murder mystery, but a cup final victory for Fenton in the under 110 competition. The remaining three finals all take place this Friday at Cheddleton.

The unofficial version
18/04/08 Readers of my pages will have noticed that I have scrubbed Alsager results from the first division tables, though all the scores of matches they have played are still available in the cross-chart and on other pages. This is my unofficial 'Ken Bates' treatment; the official tables are as they appear on the league website.

Final Finalist
18/04/08 Cheddleton beat Holmes Chapel in the 8 board cup on Wednesday to complete the line-up for the cup finals - they will entertain Newcastle in this competition.

North Staffs at the congress
14/04/08 Four North Staffs clubs were represented at the County Congress held over the weekend in Bloxwich. The Associations star performance came from Fenton's Richard Cantliff who was clear winner of the Minor section with 4½ points. Also on the winners rostrum was Newcastle's Alex Richardson, though he had to share his first prize in the Premier section with Philip Bonafont from Hemel Hempstead.

Martyn Harris (Newcastle) was involved in the second place pile up in the Major, sharing his position with Richard Desmedt (Wombwell), Andrew Farthing (Worcester City), Brian Foreman (Melton), Graham Hughes (unattached), Alan Papier (Clifton), and Paul Tinton (Chorley). Fortunately the sections grading prizes were on this score to provide a boost for the funds for distribution.

Geoff Lee (Newcastle) shared second place in the Minor with Richard Gillespie (Shifnal/Telford), John Gibbs (unattached) and Andrew Smith (Tamworth) - Andrew successfully mating with knight and bishop in the last round to secure his position.

Cheddleton's Simon Edwards and Craig Whitfield won a grading prize and the county U21 trophy respectively - age not grade! Stephane Pedder ensured that all four North Staffs clubs were involved in the prizes by picking up the slow starter prize in the Major.

Other prize winners:
Major first: Brandon Clarke (Littlethorpe)
Premier joint third: Richard Bryant (Telepost), D M Cooper (Bushbury), Lee Grinsell (Bushbury)
Grading Prizes: Shakeel Choudhary (Mutual Circle), Athar Mehmood (Newport), Ravi Patel (Walsall Kipping), Colin Vernon (Worcester City), Paul Williams (South Birmingham)
Junior Prizes: Mark Talbot (St Helens), Henry Broadley (Chorley), Henrik Stepanyan, Astkhig Stepanyan and Harinder Dhesi (all Sutton Coldfield)
Slow Starters: Tom Robinson (Redditch), Malcolm Phipps (Boldmere st Michaels)

In all 33 of the 96 starters received prizes.

Alsager out of division one
14/04/08 Alsager have withdrawn from division one, ongoing problems in getting teams out having resulting in their fulfilling just five fixtures. They hope to back next season, though probably in the second division.

Postponement update
09/04/08 So far this season there have been over 30 postponements, about a third of which have now been played. The third and fourth divisions have new dates for all their postponed matches, whilst the second division needs only a date for the match that Newcastle C postponed at Cheddleton B last Friday. There appear to be more gaps in the first division, but this may be a case that the dates arranged have not reached my ears. New dates that I am aware of apear on the relevant divisional pages, but I have not yet added all of them to the club pages.

Alsager no show
07/04/08 Alsager failed to turn up for their match at Holmes Chapel Kings on Thursday. Unfortunately communication has not been Alsager's strong suit, and I fear this is an indication that they will not be making any real attempt to catch up on their fixture backlog.

Me on grades
06/04/08 It is difficult to find information about the merits of chess grading systems beyond unsupported assertions that Elo is 42 and equally free-standing counter claims that it is not, so I have compiled some ideas of my own which can be found under Misc-MJH on grades. As ever my general ignorance has enabled me to write the article without worrying about facts getting in the way of my opinions.

Knights First
04/04/08 Holmes Chapel Knights became the first team to complete their league fixtures when they entertained Macclesfield on Wednesday.

County finals
02/04/08 The finals of the county cup competitions will take place at Stafford on 30th April.

More performances
31/03/08 Performances page now updated to include the mini congress and all other games upto last Friday.

More views
28/03/08 I have added some comments from Roger Edwards and more of my own to the page about the evolution of our system.

Publish and be damned
19/03/08 Yes, my report on the Newcastle Mini Congress can now be found here

Mini over
16/03/08 The fourth Newcastle mini has ended with each section having a clear winner
U165: Craig Whitfield, U120: Pete Shaw, U90: Nick McLean. A full list of winners together with a report and photos will appear shortly on the congress page.

Cheddleton into Hickman Final
16/03/08 Cheddleton beat Walsall Kipping 3½ - 2½ to reach the final of the Hickman Cup (County Open).

New dates
16/03/08 Rooks v Cheddleton C now on 9th April, Holmes Chapel - Cheddleton 8 board semi-final now 16th April. The Cheddleton A v Alsager match that had been rearranged to Good Friday is to be moved further.

Fenton out of Withnall, Jackson
14/03/08 Fenton's interest in the county cups for this season ended with a 1 - 4 defeat by Boldmere in the Withnall and a concession to Bushbury in the Jackson necessitated by player unavailability on the only logistically convenient date.

Bills view added
11/03/08 Bill Armstrong has sent in some additional views about the evolution of our system which I have added at an appropriate point to the page describing the possibilities generated by the committee.

Master Malcolm
10/03/08 Malcolm Armstrong won the Newcastle Masters which was completed tonight with a score of 3½/4 - the original field of six became five when Simon found that commitments with his new job prevented him playing the post-Christmas rounds.

Performances ...
09/03/08 includes all games up to 7th March.

County U9s progress
09/03/08 The County U9s came fourth out of 8 teams in their heat to reach the final of the EPSCA competition with a score of 21½/36. Congratulations to all who took part, and of course to Traci who managed the team.

Terriers out, but may still be in
09/03/08 The Staffs Terriers (county U100 team) lost on board count to Nottinghamshire in the semifinals of the MCCU competition. They may still reach the national stages, though it appears that the rules now feature a play-off for third place and the privilege of doing so.

Committee meets - your views wanted
05/03/08 The committee would like to put forward some proposals at the AGM for the further evolution of the league. Clearly it would be advantageous if these fitted in with the views of the membership at large. I have created a separate page about the ideas generated at the meeting. Please pass on any comments to any committee member and/or make sure that your club sends someone to the next meeting when it is hoped to formulate the proposals.
Note that the description of proceedings is my version of happenings. For an alternative view of points made please see Mark Whitby's League site.

Rapidplay league
05/03/08 Matches in this years rapidplay should be taking place in June and July. Entries for the competition should be given to me (email is fine) ASAP so that I can generate fixtures. The only change in the rules from last year is that the individual grade limit has been raised to 130. I believe that all clubs that played last year have already payed for a rapidplay team, but I still need confirmation of entry.

You are invited too
05/03/08 It was decided at last nights committee meeting (no vote 'cos nem con) that the agenda for future committee meetings will be circulated additionally to those clubs who do not have a member on the committee, the intention being that such clubs may then send someone to the meeting who although not entitled to vote could still participate in discussions.

No more Postcards?
05/03/08 The committee would like to do away with postal communication of match results, just using email instead. However for this to work all teams/clubs would need to email results to both myself and Mark Whitby (official league site), which is not happening at the moment. The idea of emailing two of us is that if one us has a computer/ISP on the blink hopefully the results will still get into the system via the other. Let's see whether we can prove the email approach viable in the remainder of this season so that we can vote postcards out at the AGM.
Apologies - I've forgotten to ask Mark which of his email addresses he is willing to have published, so you will need to visit the League Site to find one. Also on a personal note I am still on dial-up. If you like to send scans of a results card please try to make sure the file size is reasonably small. Thanks.

Stafford into Hickman Final
03/03/08 Stafford beat Lichfield 3½ - 2½ with the help of five draws to reach the final of the Hickman Cup (County Open), where they will play the winners of the Cheddleton v Walsall Kipping match being played on 15th March.

More performances
24/02/08 You know the drill.

Terriers join Bulldogs
23/02/08 The Staffs Terriers joined the Bulldogs in the knock-out stages of the Midland Counties U100 competition by beating Worcs 7½ - 4½ at Newcastle Bridge Club today. The Staffordshire teams finish level on six points at the top of the West Zone table. My interpretation of the rules is that the Traciers, sorry Terriers, finish Zonal winners. The Midlands semis and Final are both due to take place in March, and with three midlands places available in the national stages the outlook is bright for Staffs in this competition.

Cheddleton reach U90 final
22/02/08 Cheddleton beat Hassell 3 - 1 to set up a final with Kidsgrove in the U90 cup.

Kidsgrove into U90 final
21/02/08 Kidsgrove reached the U90 final by beating Holmes Chapel 3 - 1 last night. In the final they will visit the winners of tonights Hassell - Cheddleton clash.

Geoff Lee adds Warks to collection
17/02/08 Newcastles Geoff Lee was the most successful of the North Staffs players at this weekends Warwickshire congress, finishing tied first in his section with 4½/5. Also present were Staffords Malcolm Armstrong and Stephane Pedder, Newcastles Martyn Harris and Alex Richardson, and Cheddletons Roger Walker and Carl Gartside.

Mini Entries now listed
13/02/08 I have now added a list of entries to the Newcastle Mini-Congress page.

Two Finals Ready
02/02/08 This years U135 cup final will be between Cheddleton and Macclesfield, the U110 final will be contested by Fenton and Holmes Chapel. Thats four different clubs already into finals, and with a Newcastle - Stafford semi final in the 8 board it means that at least half of the Associations clubs will be involved, with possibly as many as seven clubs filling the 8 places available.

New month, new Perfs
02/02/08 Need I explain?

Lichfield use home advantage
01/02/08 One of the advantages of playing at home is that it is usually easier to get a strong team out, and Lichfield did this to good effect to beat Cheddleton 3½ - 1½ in the Gothard Cup (county U151).

Staffs into MCCU U100 semis
31/01/08 With just the Staffs Terriers v Worcs match to go in the Western section of the MCCU U100 championships the table reads Staffs Bulldogs 6 points from 4 matches, Staffs Terriers and Worcs 4 from 3, Shropshire A 4 from 4 and Shropshire B 0 from 4. The Bulldogs have already qualified for the MCCU semi-final stages, and will be joined by the winners of the last match. My reading of the tie-break rules is that if the Terriers win they top the group as they beat the Bulldogs earlier in the season, a draw would see the Terriers qualifying on the back of superior aggregate score against the other teams, a win for Worcs would see them qualify as runners-up since the Bulldogs beat them. Not a bad position for Staffs to be in given that Worcs and Shropshire contested the national final last year.

Two defaults
28/01/08 Alsager B have defaulted last Fridays match against Cheddleton G, whilst in the U135 cup Meir were unable to raise a team to travel to Macclesfield tonight. Thats Macclesfields second default win in this competition. Last year Newcastle reached the U110 final on the back of two defaults and promptly lost to Kidsgrove. Macclesfield will be hoping that this sort of history does not repeat itself.

Warks whack county Open
28/01/08 The county open team went down 5½ - 10½ against Warks in the last of their Midland Counties matches over the weekend.

Second win for Terriers
27/01/08 Staffordshire Terriers, the county U100 team drawn primarily from the north of the county, gained their second win of the season on Saturday by beating the Shropshire B team 9½ - 2½. A win in their final group stage match next month would take them through to the next stage of the competition.

Four eights and two sevens ...
22/01/08 ... yes there really is only one point separating the top six teams in division two at the moment!

New Alsager dates - correction
21/01/08 I am reliably informed that Alsager A's match at Fenton was rearranged to 28th Jan, not 21st.

New Alsager dates
20/01/08 Alsager A have been busy finding new dates for some of their postponed matches:
Fenton A away now 21 Jan,
Cheddleton E home now 31 Jan,
Stafford B home now 21 Feb.

More Perfs
13/01/08 Yes, I've updated the performances page again!

Masters III
07/01/08 Simon was unable to make the third round, so Martyn found himself playing instead.
Alex 1 - 0 Martyn, Alan 1 - 0 Gerald
Barry 0 - 1 Malcolm.
Leading Scores: Malcolm 2½, Alex, Simon 2.

Fenton advance in Withnall
20/12/07 Fenton defeated Lichfield in the first round of the Withnall cup (county U101) by a comfortable 4½ - ½ score, the match being hosted by Stafford. I suspect though Fenton will be the first to admit that on grades they were the big boys in this match.

Terriers so close against Shropshire
15/12/07 Last weekend the Staffs Terriers visited Shropshire A in the inter counties championship, going down 5½ - 6½. Geoff Lee (Newcastle), Robert West (Fenton) and Nick McLean (Cheddleton) were the Terriers individual winners.

Fenton go back to the future
12/12/07 After Xmas Fenton will be returning to one of their former homes, namely the New Penny. I shall reinstate the relevant old map once they have completed their pre-Xmas home fixtures.

County Open munched by Manchester
10/12/07 The county open team went down 5½ - 10½ to Manchester in their second match of the season. There is still a chance of progressing to the knock-out stages though if they can win their last round-robin match against Warwickshire.

More Performances
09/12/07 Now include all games upto this weekend.

Performances updated ...
27/11/07 ... to include all games upto the weekend.

Torquay is nice at this time of year
26/11/07 I know 'cos I was there over the weekend rather than being here to update the site.

League site sighted
26/11/07 Mark tells me that the new league site is available at and also I shall get my first view after uploading this.

Estimated grade
22/11/07 Robert Taylor (Fenton) has been allocated an estimated grade of 85 for use in his next five games, which will then be reviewed. Consequently he is now eligible for only one of the Fenton division 4 sides - note that this restricted eligibility will not apply retrospectively to the games he has already played. Hopefully other clubs will also contact league secretary Robert Milner for estimated grades for their ungraded players once they have played a few games, particularly where it is clear that the strength of the player exceeds 60.

'Twas a 3 - 1 draw
22/11/07 The Alsager Hassell match was 3 - 1 at the board, but an eligibility problem means that it is a draw for league purposes. For grading purposes the results at the board counts, so it is important that these are shown on the results card.

Speaking too soon?
20/11/07 With reference to the item below, I've just received a different version of the match outcome, which would leave Hassell looking for their first point, but not their first win as they have beaten Newcastle in the U90 cup. I shall try to reconcile the scorelines over the next few of days.

Nobody pointless
16/11/07 Or at least no team are pointless after Hassell picked up their first one by drawing at Alsager C last night.

Secretary no longer an unsung hero
16/11/07 Its good to see that the ECF are noticing whats happening north of Watford and giving credit where it is due. Just ignore the bit about the NSDCA being guilty of exploitation!

Newcastle Masters II
12/11/07 Round two scores:
Malcolm Armstrong = Alex Richardson
Simon Hood 1 - 0 Alan Paling
Gerald Acey 1 - 0 Barry Jones.
Leaderboard: Simon 2, Malcolm 1½, Gerald & Alex 1, Alan ½, Barry 0.
The third round is on January 7th.

First sight of performances
11/11/07 I've calculated my first set of performance data (see Misc-Performances) for the season. So far 175 people have played, over 40 of whom have already reached the 5 game mark that I use as a minimum for reporting a performance.

Hull's not hell for Craig
11/11/07 Craig Whitfield enjoyed his visit to Hull for the recent congress there. Despite being the lowest graded player in the U200 section he still came joint third.

Terriers get county bragging rights
28/10/07 The Terriers (Staffs U100B) defeated the Bulldogs (Staffs U100A) 9 - 3 yesterday to claim the bragging rights for the season, the result not in line with the closeness of the teams gradings. The Terriers included players from Cannock, Cheddleton, Fenton, Kidsgrove, Meir, Newcastle and Walsall.

County Open team starts strongly
15/10/07 The County Open team had an 11 - 5 win over Worcrestershire in the opening match of their 2007/8 campaign.

Juniors compete
15/10/07 80 players took part in the county junior congress on Sunday. Mail problems meant that there were a larger number of entries than normal to be processed on the day, but despite this play started only a few minutes late and finished on schedule. I shall add a list of winners later.

U125 gain comeback win
08/10/07 After a year in Limbo the county U125 team returned to action with a 9½ - 6½ win over Shropshire.

Newcastle Masters I
08/10/07 With typical understatement I've decided to name the strong players tournament the Newcastle Masters. Round one scores:
Alex Richardson = Alan Paling
Barry Jones 0 - 1 Simon Hood
Malcolm Armstrong 1 - 0 Gerald Acey.
The second round is on November 12th.

Slow Updates
08/10/07 Apologies for lack of updates over the weekend - I was away in Weymouth. I have just had time to update the divisional pages so far. Other pages will follow shortly - probably around midnight, but no promises!

False Start
24/09/07 Tonights Fenton derby has been postponed, so it falls to the Newcastle derby on Wednesday to start the season.

Leicester goes Green
23/09/07 Conrad Green (Hassell) won the U80 section at this weekends Atkins congress in Leicester with 4½ out of 5 - he was unable to defeat a Mr Bye in round one.

New season upon us
21/09/07 The fourth division Fenton derby kicks off the season on Monday, so its the last chance to preview the coming year.
Nobody to win division 1
On the same principle that whoever finishes above Utd will win the premiership, whoever finishes above Cheddleton A will win our division 1. However I think nobody will finish above Chedleton A, so nobody will win the title.
All at sea in two and three
My crystal ball remained cloudy when I turned my attention to division two. The addition of Macclesfield and Cheddleton B to the starting line up does nothing to simplify the task of picking a winner in this race.
As for the third, Cheddleton will be determined to pick up the one division that eluded them last year, whilst Newcastle will be equally keen to retain their title. Last years runners up were Fenton B, but it is their A team involved this year, so they will want a say. Newcomers to the division Alsager A and Stafford B will do nothing to make things more predictable.
Fourth in 4?
Cheddleton will look to gather all the medals in the fourth. The Bees of Fenton and Kidsgrove may look the best bets to try to stop them, but I suspect they will end up fighting for fourth place.
Up for the cups
Cheddleton will confirm that their strong players are more numerous and stronger than those of other clubs by taking the 8 board.
Newcastle, minus Diarmid Gibson, Michael Roberts and Tim Stevens, will be be hard pushed to make it 4 wins in 5 years in the U135, though the winner of the Cheddleton-Newcastle first round match will probably be marginal favourites.
As ever lots of clubs will fancy their chances in the U110, and justifiably so as their is no obvious winner there.
Purely on paper Kidsgrove look likely to be Cheddletons main rivals for the U90 cup, our new competition, but until we see the sides that clubs choose to field making predictions is a mugs game. Which is why I do it.

Meir start trophy collection
18/09/07 Meir have won their first trophy since taking on their latest guise with a 5 - 3 win over Fenton in the annual South Potteries Challenge.

Alsager online
09/09/07 Alsager now have a site that can be found at

Earlier derby
31/08/07 Holmes Chapel have moved their Knights-Rooks derby match (216) forward a week to the 7th Nov.

Fixture changes
31/08/07 Match 103 Stafford A v Alsager now Thu 4th Oct.
Match 223 Macclesfield v Newcastle B now Mon 3rd Dec.
Download files have been updated to reflect these changes.

29/08/07 Despite what I thought were careful checks an error has already been found in my fixtures. Match 234 Macclesfield v Cheddleton C should be on Mon 11th Feb, not Monday the first! I have (says he confidently) changed the download files and club pages to reflect the correct date.

Fixtures out
28/08/07 Fixtures for the new season can now be downloaded from the fixture downloads page.

Strong Dates
28/08/07 Dates for the strong players individual are Mondays 8 Oct, 12 Nov, 7 Jan, 4 Feb and 10 Mar

Fenton move again
22/08/07 Fenton have ended their brief sojourn at the Pool Dole Inn and can now be found at Temple Street Methodist Church, Temple Street, Fenton ST4 4NW.

Cheddleton 2 in 2
20/08/07 Cheddleton have entered an extra team for the coming season, to be placed in division 2 alongside their B team and taking the number of teams in that division to eight.

08/08/07 In order to produce these before the end of the month I shall be starting work on them shortly. Please let me know of any further changes to entries ASAP.

Leek Congress
08/08/07 Unfortunately it has not been possible to make all the necessary arrangements for this congress this year, so a 2007 version will not take place. The good news is that arrangements for 2008 are sufficiently well advanced that you can be confident that it will reappear after a gap of a single year.

Alsager Blank
03/08/07 I've received instructions from Steve Brown (Alsager) that in the fixtures Alsager's first team should appear simply as Alsager, with their second, third and fourth teams labelled A, B and C respectively. If this is likely to cause anyone problems please contact Steve directly - I've no desire to play piggy in the middle.

Fenton 3
02/08/07 On reviewing their resources Fenton have reluctantly decided that they can only run three teams this coming season instead of the four they had hoped for. Consequently they will not be fielding a second division team this coming season.

More draws
30/07/07 I have extended my laws page to give some examples of claims under the 'two minute rule' and what I think might happen. Note of course these are purely personal opinion - I am not a qualified arbiter.

Staffs-related Ultimi
22/07/07 Several juniors with Staffordshire connections won their sections at this years Northern gigfinal of the UK Land Chess Challenge: Conrad Green (Hassell) and Ravi Patel (Park Hall) both won U10 boys sections, Henrik Stepanyan U11 boys, Craig Whitfield (still occasionally Cheddleton) U12 boys and Astghik Stepanyan U13 girls. Although the Stepanyans are in Sutton Coldfield, they represent Staffordshire in junior events.
Others scoring at least 50% include Tom Davies (St Wulstans), Charlie Latham, Edward Davies, Jade Lawton, Joshua Hollins and Matthew Kelly (all Hassell), Peter Aston and Thomas Bestwick (both St Edwards), Adam and Ebrahim Arshad (both Endon High), Thomas Adams (Cheddleton), Andrew Smith (Wilnecote), Peter Hallen (Westwood) and Ben and Ellen Scattergood (Holmes Chapel).

Extra Third
22/07/07 Cheddleton have added a second third division team to their entries for the coming season.

21/07/07 I'm considering running an individual tournament for strong players to take place on selected Mondays at Newcastle.
So where's the conspiracy?
The big problem with strong players is that there aren't many of them. Hence the usual model of last minute entries, byes and withdrawals is not likely to work. Instead interested parties need to conspire together to make it happen. Anyone with a current or recent 150+ grade interested in joining such a conspiracy please contact me ASAP to see whether we can muster a suitable quorum.

First sightings of new grades
21/07/07 Provisional grades for the new season can now be found on the ECF site.

Minor rules rewrite
18/07/07 I have finally got around to rewording my Misc-New Rules page to take account of the divisional limits being of the 'at most' variety rather than 'less than' type.

Dubai Juniors
15/07/07 Craig Whitfield took part in the 6th Dubai Junior Chess Championships earlier this month, his score of 6½/9 leaving him in a tie for 7th to 16th places in a field of 135 players.

Hassell on Thursday
08/07/07 Hassell have now made arrangements to play their home matches on Thursdays at Newcastle Bridge Club.

Not the AGM Minutes
05/07/07 This is my unofficial report on the league AGM. Any inacurracies are all my own fault. Sections in italics are my own comments.

An excellent turn out saw all clubs represented, with the numbers being further swollen by the presence of County President David Buckley and Secretary Andrew Davies and a delegation from Hassell who successfully applied for membership of the Association for their club. Business was conducted with considerable good humour - there was much laughter and only once was there even a hint that a disagreement might get heated. We are lucky that relations between clubs appears to be in such good order. Fight hard at the board, but away from it co-operation is the order of the day. Long may this attitude last. Although there was a late finish, progress through the agenda was steady with just the odd sticking point where people started talking at cross purposes.

Reports were mainly brief, if not shorter. I'd forgotten that as league rep to the county I might be expected to give a report (my partner in crime Bill Armstrong conveniently being elsewhere), so I quickly made a mention of the county congress and of the fact that the county will be running a full set of teams bar the U175, with Alan Thomason having agreed to captain the U125 team that was leaderless last year, and passed the baton on. David Buckley is keen to reduce the north-south divide in the county. Opportunities exist to meet our southern neighbours by competing individually in the county congress, as clubs in the various county cups, or by teaming up with them in the Staffordshire teams at open, U150, U125 or U100 level. If interested don't wait to be invited but put your names forward. A list of the current county captains is available on the Staffs County site. There was also a suggestion that an attempt should be made to revive the Stoke league v Wolverhampton league fixture.

The treasurer (Bill) submitted a very clear written report to be studied in his absence. The recommendations that he made were all accepted. In particular club treasurers will be pleased to note that this means a freeze for entry fees, remaining at £9 plus £2.50 per fixture for 5 board teams, £7 plus £2 per fixture for 4 board teams, £7 for 8 board cup and £4 for the other cups.

Fred was not present to give his results secretary report. I would have liked to suggest that all results be e-mailed to both Mark Whitby and myself, with us undertaking to provide Fred with a (say) monthly printout, but it did not appear reasonable to do this in his absence.

The normal lack of opposition meant that the usual suspects got elected to the usual posts. There was a short discussion about the committee, with some clubs having no representative on it (nor any nomination to be on it!). It was decided that such clubs could by arrangement with the secretary attend committee meetings in a non-voting capacity. Since the committee is more a discussion forum than a decision making body - Robert struggled to discover from his records the last time the committee actually voted on a matter - such non-voting attendees would hardly be second class citizens.

The trophies were presented, with the fourth division cup reverting to its intended purpose rather than standing in for the missing U135 cup as it has done for the past few years. A final effort will be made to track down this errant piece of silverware; meanwhile Pete Tideswell has undertaken to use his contacts to try to get an attractive quote for a possible replacement.

A discussion followed on the problems with the 'two minute rule' within our competitions as we have no arbiter present, and captains may not feel comfortable acting as joint arbiters in this area. If necessary copies of the game and final position can be sent to Robert, who will either resolve the problem himself or, if it involves Cheddleton, make use of his contacts to get a ruling. A copy of the position is sufficient if the claim is 'cannot win by normal means', but if the 'and/or is not trying to win by normal means' part of the law is being invoked a copy of the scoresheet is needed.
Since the claimant is short of time his scoresheet may well not be uptodate. However he should be allowed to update it from his opponents. Where both players are short of time and no complete record is available only claims under the first part of the rule are available. Normally the bias is going to be against the claimant. ie unless it is clear that draw is the correct outcome the claim will fail. However if no record is available because the non-claimant failed to keep score even though they had more than 5 minutes on their clock I would not be surprised to learn that a more sympathetic view of the claim would be taken.
In practice many of the problems in this area arise either because one or both players do not know of the law, or do not understand what it means. It is not a loophole allowing one of the players to escape with an (undeserved) draw. Rather it is a case that if a totally dead position is reached the players have achieved a draw regardless of remaining time, and that if it is clear a player does not know how to make progress or is deliberately wasting time they cannot expect a win. The process of sorting out a claim is often referred to as arbitration rather than adjudication since the arbiter is not interested in 'best play'. Decisions are based on what has happened and what could reasonably and legally happen - written/verbal analysis are not part of the process. Blunders might reasonably happen, exotic helpmates don't.
Given players and captains acting with integrity and not trying to claim results to which they are not entitled only a few claims are likely to be sufficiently unclear in their merits that referral onwards is necessary.

It was decided to continue with the new system for a further year on an experimental basis so that clubs could try making adjustments to their operation in the light of experience gained last year. A few suggestions for tweaking were aired, but none gathered substantial support. The possibility of raising the division 2 limit to 700 was raised. Although this would have left room for the creation of a fifth division it was felt that the change might prove counter-productive in its effect on the top two divisions. When entries were subsequently asked for the 11 teams put forward for division 4 were felt to be insufficient to justify the creation of a fifth division even though it means a full fixture list and a fairly wide range of ability in the fourth.

Hassell, a club formed of pupils and parents from Hassell Street School in Newcastle were accepted into the association. It is intended that they will play matches at the bridge club on either Mondays or Thursdays following negotiations with the bridge club.

Provisional League entries Updated 20/08/07:
Division 1Division 2Division 3Division 4
HC KingsHC KnightsCheddletonCheddleton
NewcastleHC RooksFentonCheddleton

If there are no further entries in division one the teams will play each other 3 times.
As it was decided to play the rapidplay league as a summer event, entries will be collected for this at a later date.

It was agreed to run a 4 board U90 cup competition. Cup draws:
8 boardU135
FentonvH Chapel
byevH Chapel
byevH Chapel
AlsagervH Chapel
Next years AGM has been fixed for the first Wednesday in July at a venue to be determined.

Meir Re-appear
03/07/07 Caverswall Chess Club have moved again, this time to the Royal British Legion Club on Meir Road, Normacot. They have decided to adopt the Meir name, which has been missing from the local chess scene for several years. I have added a map to what is now the Meir page.

U90 cup?
27/06/07 Amongst the proposals to be considered at this years league AGM next Wednesday (4th July) is one that we should have an U90 cup competition. I suspect though that this will not generate as much discussion as the business of deciding whether to continue with our experimental system for which no doubt various amendments will appear on the night as well as straight ayes and nays.

Rapid Results
21/06/07 76 players turned out for the Leek Rapidplay on 10th June, enough to keep the organisers of the event on their toes, though there is still room for more should anyone else feel inclined to turn out next year. North Staffs representation was relatively modest, but this meant that those who did play got the opportunity to face a different set of opponents than they meet in the league.
The Cheddleton section for players graded under 190 was won by Bolton's Mike Surtees with a score of 7 out of 9, half a point clear of Roger Williamson (Aigburth). Joint third on 6 were David Buxton (Cheddleton), who also won the Alan Wilshaw Memorial Trophy for best placed North Staffs player, and David Stephenson (Hull St Andrews) who also won a grading prize. Frank McCabe (Widnes) and Edward Taylor (Wallasey) also won grading prizes in this section.
David Gothard from Derby won the St Edward's Section for players graded under 130 with a score of 8. A point behind were Mitchell Burke (3Cs) and Richard Desmedt (Wombwell). Grading prizes were won by Andy Stott (Fenton), Nick McLean (Cheddleton) and Russell Edwards (SASCA).

Rumour Mill
21/06/07 My spies tell me that on the assumption we continue with the new format Alsager are intending to enter 4 teams next year, and that some of these will be exploring the odd numbered divisions to fill in the gaps in their experience last season.

Staffs run ends
10/06/07 The County Open team's run in the minor counties came to end at the semi-final stage when they were well beaten by Norfolk.

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