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News Items From the 2014/15 Season

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Last Gasp Silverware
28/05/15 Newcastle took advantage of their final chance for silverware this season, beating Walsall Kipping 3½ - 1½ in the final of the Withnall Cup with wins from Paul, Watson and Brian and a draw from Nic. Congratulations to them, and to Pete, without whom other team members would have been forced onto higher boards.

Quick Alex
22/05/15 Alex finished top in a field of 18 at the club's end of season quickplay on Wednesday with a perfect score of 5, ahead of Reinhold on 4. Full results on the internal competitions page.

Complete draw
16/05/15 Alex, Alan, Richard, Paul and Nic all drew as Newcastle's league season was brought to a close by the B team sharing the spoils at Cheddleton C.

Default win
13/05/15 Alsager A have defaulted their match against our A team at the bridge club tonight.

E end
08/05/15 The E team ended the season with defeat at Cheddleton I, with just Paul's draw to show for their night's work.

More points for A
06/05/15 The A team picked up two more points against Cheddleton B with Alan's draw somewhat overshadowed by wins by Alex, Reinhold, Barry and Martyn.

Point for F
30/04/15 A win by Alberto was enough for the F team to get a point against an overgraded Fenton D last night.

Withnall walkover
28/04/15 Newcastle are through to the final of the Withnall Cup as Sutton Coldfield have conceded the semi-final.

B make it a full set
25/04/15 The B team drew at Cheddleton D last night, going with Wednesday's win and loss to make a full set of results for the club for the week. Barry's draw backed up wins by Pete and Paul to get the point.

F on form, but C crushed
22/04/15 The F team beat Cheddleton G tonight thanks to wins by Richard and Edward and a draw from Brian, but the C team were crushed by Cheddleton G in a match which there is nothing good to report for Newcastle.

C fall short
13/04/15 Martyn, Pete and Paul all drew in the C team's match against Alsager B; not enough to pick up a point.

Point for B
13/04/15 The B team took a point from their home match against Crewe Rooks, with Martyn and Nic winning and Brian getting a draw.

County Success for Nic
13/04/15 Nic finished joint first in the Minor section of the county congress held at Leek over the weekend. Well done.

A and E to A & E
08/04/15 The A and E teams both lost tonight with just a single point form Martyn's win to show between them.

D end on a high
02/04/15 The D team completed their fixtures last night with a resounding 3½ - ½ victory over Stafford B. John (who else?) got the draw; Alan, Pete and Alberto provided the wins.

C lose at Alsager
01/04/15 Not an April fool I'm afraid, but the C team lost at Alsager B last night, despite Pete winning and Nic securing a draw.

Newcastle at the Mini
30/03/15 Alex winning the open section and Thivyaa sharing top spot in the U130 were the Newcastle highlights at the mini. Also playing were John, Richard, Pete, Nic, Alberto, Derrick and Edward, plus the imimitable Francis. Raj made a special guest appearance for one round, whilst Alan and Brian showed their faces in support, and Jeff made a flying visit too.

Mixed night
25/03/15 Meir B got some measure of revenge for monday's matches, beating our E team 3 - 1 despite Brian's win. The D team however won at Crewe Bishops, Alan winning and John, Watson and Alberto all sharing the spoils on their respective boards.

Two wins at Meir
23/03/15 Newcastle enjoyed their visit to Meir tonight with the C team running out 3½ - ½ winners against the hosts A side, and the F team winning 3 - 1 against Meir C. Paul got the solitary draw; Martyn, Pete, Nic, Richard, Brian and Edward all won.

Excellent win for E
21/03/15 Jeff, Nic and Ben all won in support of Paul's top board draw as the E team recorded a large win at Cheddleton H last night.

First loss for A
18/03/15 The A team lost their first match last night, with draws from Alan and Martyn all they had to show for their efforts against Cheddleton A.

Point for F
18/03/15 The F team fared better than the A, wins by Richard and Paul enabling them to draw with Meir D.

D win
18/03/15 The D team won at Kidsgrove last night, with John and Watson providing full points and Alan and Brian halves.

Match off
18/03/15 Nic has called off the B team match at Cheddleton this Friday due to a lack of players available to play twice in the week.

Non-routine win
13/03/15 The A team won at Cheddleton B tonight, with Alex, Alan and Barry winning and Reinhold drawing. It was far from being a routine win though, with considerable resistance on all boards.

Mixed Bag
11/03/15 The C team beat Stafford B tonight thanks to wins from Pete and Thivyaa supported by a draw from Paul, but he D team lost heavily to Crewe Bishops, with Jeff's draw needed to prevent a whitewash.

F lose again
10/03/15 The F team lost at Fenton C last night, with just a pair of draws from Paul and Ben to show for their efforts.

1½ again
07/03/15 Last night it was the turn of the F team to come up short on 1½ points, with Richard drawing and Alberto winning.

1½ twice
05/03/15 Newcastle scored 1½ points in each of last nights matches. Alex won and Nic drew for the B team against Holmes Chapel B, and Barry won and John drew against Alsager B. Neither effort was enough to glean a league point.

C all contribute
02/03/15 Martyn and Nic both won, and Pete and Paul both drew as all the C team contributed to their victory over Fenton A tonight.

D back to winning ways
27/02/15 A win by Alan backed by draws from John, Watson and Alberto gave the D team their first win since December.

A scrape a draw
25/02/15 The spectators' nerves were frayed as Barry's game, the last to finish appeared to oscillate between a win and a draw. However Barry did win in the end, supporting Reinhold's win and Alex' draw to enable the A team to draw with Holmes Chapel A.

No point for E
25/02/15 Draws from Jeff and Thivyaa were not enough for the E team to hold Alsager C tonight.

Double drat
20/02/15 The D team picked up a point at Cheddleton G tonight thanks to Richard and Alberto getting wins, but the C team lost to Cheddleton F with just draws by Nic and Paul to show for their efforts. Martyn meanwhile, having turned down the chance of a draw by repetition, had a lightbulb moment in the quiet of the back of the returning transport, realising that another line he had declined to follow was winning. Drat and double drat.

Two Dates
16/02/15 Newcastle's Withnall Cup semi-final against Sutton Coldfield will be played on Tues 28th april at Rugeley. The F team's visit to Cheddleton J has been put back a week at the host's request to Fri 6th March.

Captain's Innings
13/02/15 Captain Richard was last to finish in the F teams delayed home fixture against Cheddleton J. His win added to Ben's victory and Brian's draw saw the team gain a narrow overall win.

Mixed night
11/02/15 The E team lost tonight despite Brian's individual win, but the Withnall cup team progressed to the semi-finals thanks to wins by Nic and Watson backed up by draws from Pete and Paul.

James on form
10/02/15 Former Newcastle member James Rothwell was on form at the weekend's Frodsham congress, coming joint second in the U160 section with a score of 4/5.

South of England Juniors
05/02/15 Thivyaa made the long journey down to Yateley Manor (Hampshire) over the weekend to compete in the U11 section of the South of England Juniors. She finished in a three way tie for first with 4½/5, the section having 56 starters. Well done Thivyaa.

One that got away
05/02/15 "I/we should have won" that is a commom refrain in the chess playing fraternity, yet it is difficult not to believe that with last night's major cup semi-final against Crewe. Boosted by the free point provided by a no-show by one of the visitors, John reckons he missed a win en route to a loss, Pete was well on top when his game came to an abrupt stalemate stop and Nic was surely well on top at one stage in his game too. Perhaps the most interesting game was Thivyaa's with her opponent saccing two pawns and the exchange to keep her king in the centre, and then showing that his speedier development could be decisive. Good luck to Crewe in the final. In cup competitions if one has to lose it is nice to be able to claim to have lost to the eventual winners.

Date set
03/02/15 Cheddleton A's visit to play our A team should now happen on 18th March.

Open Out
02/02/15 The open team lost to Stafford in the semi-finals in a tough encounter in which Reinhold and Paul won and Alex and Richard drew.

Match off
02/02/15 Cheddleton A have postponed their visit scheduled for 18th Feb to play our A team. Alan is working on find a new date.

A build a lead
29/01/15 Wins by Reinhold, Martyn and Barry enabled the A team to win at Holmes Chapel and go temporarily at least 3 points clear at the top of the table.

C crunched
29/01/15 Paul and Watson gained draws, but that was all the C team had to show for their visit to Crewe Bishops last night.

Points for B and E
27/01/15 The B team picked up a point at Macclesfield thanks to wins by Alex and Alan and a draw by Richard. At the same time the E team were drawing at Fenton B, Jeff winning and Brian and Alberto drawing.

January grades out
26/01/15 Version 1 of the January grades has been published.
John D125-4
No grade yet for Jeff or Leon. Old grades will continue to be used for league matches, except for Alberto whose grade replaces his estimated one.

Win some, lose some
21/01/15 The D team found the going tough against Cheddleton F, with only Alberto's win troubling the scorer's from Newcastle's point of view. The E team fared better against Cheddleton I, winning their first match of the season thanks to wins from Thivyaa and Jeff, and draws from Paul and Richard.

A achieve again at Alsager
20/01/15 All the team contributed to the A side's first division success at Alsager with Martyn getting a win and Alex, Reinhold, Barry and John repelling all efforts to obtain an equalising victory.

All hands to the pump
14/01/15 With the B, C and D teams all in action tonight and various people unavailable for assorted reasons, the club were fully stretched tonight. Martyn and Nic won for the B team as they went down 2 - 3 against Cheddleton D, whilst the C team edged to victory against the D team with wins by Reinhold and very late sub Richard answered by one by Alberto. Thivyaa and Watson provided the draw.

C crushed at Cheddleton
09/01/15 The C team when in for synchronised trench digging at Cheddleton G tonight. Martyn scrambled a draw after gifting a piece, but the others were not so lucky.

Frustration for F
09/01/15 The F team looked well in their match against Cheddleton K for much of the night, but fell frustratingly short despite Alberto's win and Brian's draw.

Complete draw
07/01/15 The D team produced four draws against Kidsgrove tonight. Unusually, Watson was first to finish, though he left before spectators emotions were pulled in various directions as advantages materialised and then disappeared again on each of the other boards. Neither Barry nor John were able to complete wins, so it was left to Alberto to complete the job, holding a N+4 v B+6 ending.

Jeff, not Geoff
07/01/15 Despite the spelling in old grading lists, it is Jeff Tombs that we now have on our strength.

Semi moved
22/12/14 The Newcastle v Stafford Open cup semi-final has been moved forwards from Wed 4th to Mon 2nd Feb.

Paul can't save F
18/12/14 With Derrick a very late withdrawal, Paul's win was not enough to save the F team from defeat against Fenton C last night.

First win for B
17/12/14 The B team picked up their first win of the season at Crewe Rooks tonight with Reinhold, John and Nic winning and Martyn also making a small contribution.

D make point
16/12/14 Wins for Alan and Watson enabled the D team to draw last night, thereby taking three out of four points against title chasing Fenton A.

8 board claim
13/12/14 Newcastle have claimed their Open Cup match against Alsager, though we have yet to receive acknowledgement of that from them.

D defeat Fenton
10/12/14 The D team triumphed 2½ - 1½ over Fenton A at the Bridge Club tonight with the help of wins by Alan and Alberto and a draw from John. Alberto's win came courtesy of a mobile phone, but as he was a piece and pawn up at the time for no compensation, one can hardly say the win was undeserved.

Winning run ends
10/12/14 The C team's winning run came to an end at Kidsgrove last night with Pete and Paul's contributions of win and draw respectively being insufficient to carry the team to success.

F win again
08/12/14 The F team maintained their 100% record with a narrow victory over Fenton D thanks to wins by Brian and Ben backed up by Richard's draw.

Good Night
03/12/14 Newcastle's A and F teams both won tonight. Barry's win was enough to see off Stafford A as Alex, Reinhold, Alan and Martyn all drew with varying degrees of difficulty, whilst for the F team Paul was happy to see his draw overshadowed by wins for Derrick, Alberto and Edward.

C beat the Bishops
01/12/14 Wins by Martyn and Pete, backed up by Watson's draw saw the C team pick up a further two points in the rearranged match against Crewe Bishops.

01/12/14 The F team will entertain Cheddleton J on Friday 13th Feb, the match having been postponed from early November. The Withnall Cup match against Meir will be played at the Bridge Club on Wed 11th Feb.

Rush for Crewe
28/11/14 Following a desperate search for an appropriate date we have settled on trying to play our home match against Crewe Bishops this coming Monday 1st December.

Point for B
28/11/14 The B team picked up a point at Holmes Chapel last night, with Alan, Nic and Watson all drawing to support Alex's win.

Mixed Bag
26/11/14 The B team came unstuck against Cheddleton with Alan winnning and Richard getting a draw, but the C team had a comfortable win against Kidsgrove with Martyn, Pete and Paul all winning and Thivyaa drawing.

Pete and Paul again
19/11/14 Pete and Paul both won for the second time this week, which with Martyn's draw gave the C team their first victory of the season.

Another D draw
19/11/14 A win for Alan backed by draws from John and Watson enabled the D team to share the spoils at Alsager B last night.

Good point
18/11/14 The E team picked up an excellent point at Meir B last night thanks to wins by Pete and Paul.

Draws 2 Losses 3, away win
17/11/14 Whislt I was making a fool of myself at Torquay, the Intermediate Cup team were entertaining Cheddleton. John and Watson drew, the others didn't.

Major Progress
13/11/14 Holmes Chapel have decided not to take up the place in the major cup that they were provisionally allocated at the league AGM, leaving Newcastle with a bye into the February semi-finals where they will face Crewe.

Perry Pain
12/11/14 Newcastle's Perry cup team lost at Alsager last night, with Brian and Paul's draws being insufficient for progress.

Alsager off
11/11/14 Tomorrow's Open Cup match against Alsager has been called off by Alsager who are unable to raise a team. Can't see that we'll find a satisfactory date between now and the semi-final week to play it on - New Year's Eve anyone? - so I suspect that after a bit of huffing and puffing we'll have to end up claiming the match. Still, no excuse now for not having a decent turnout for friendlies.

More Gloom
06/11/14 The C team lost at home to Cheddleton F last night despite Paul's win.

D doubled
04/11/14 The D team suffered an early season double at the hands at Meir A, the second leg coming last night despite draws by Alan, Watson and Alberto.

A sprint from the blocks
31/10/14 The A team dressed in their best metaphorical Halloween finery to horrify Cheddleton A, with Reinhold, Martyn and Barry winning and Alex and Alan contributing draws.

Co-ordinated disaster
29/10/14 The C team managed to co-ordinate their ineptitude at Stafford, with all four players finding ways of coming second.

Cup delay
29/10/14 Newcastle's Intermediate cup match with Cheddleton has been put back two days to the 14th November, still at the Bridge Club.

Thivyaa four
29/10/14 Thivyaa has now completed her adventure in the European Junior Championships in Georgia. After a slow 0/2 start partly due no doubt to travel exhaustion and novelty factors, she recoverd to a final score of 4/9 and rating performance of 1268. Well done.

More progress in the third
22/10/14 At the Bridge Club tonight the C team drew against early division three leaders Meir A with Paul winning and Martyn and Nic drawing, whilst the D team obtained their first match win of the season in the same division with Barry and Alberto getting full points and John and Watson halves.

Brian gets a point
21/10/14 Brian's win enabled the E team to pick up their first point of the season at Alsager C tonight. Nic and Paul contributed draws.

B draw with Maccs
16/10/14 The B team drew with defending division two champions Macclesfield last night, with Alan and John contributing a full point each whilst Nic drew in a game that either player might have won.

F First
14/10/14 The F team secured the club's first league victory of the season at Meir last night, beating the host's D team with the help of wins by Nic, Richard and Alberto.

Match Off
11/10/14 Crewe have postponed their visit to play our C team this Wednesday, 15th October. New date yet to be determined. I fancy a Sunday afternoon.

Derby all square
08/10/14 The C and D team shared the honours in their clash with Alan winning for the D team and Paul for the C. At the same time the E team were going down at home to Fenton B despite Brian's win and Richard's top board draw.

Back down to earth
01/10/14 A pair of 1 - 3 defeats for the D and E teams with Derrick mustering the only Newcastle win brought the club back to earth after their Shield success.

Thivyaa for Georgia
01/10/14 Thivyaa will be one of 28 players to represent England in the European youth Championships in Georgia in the second half of this month, games starting on the 19th. Follow her progress in the U10 girls section here.

Newcastle retain Shield
01/10/14 Newcastle retained the South Cheshire Shield by beating Kidsgrove in the final match last night with the help of wins by Nic and Pete.

And they're off
24/09/14 The league season started with the D team picking up a hard earned point at Stafford B. Alan picked up a full point whilst Alberto and Richard both drew.

Down to the wire
18/09/14 Newcastle's South Cheshire Shield lost to Alsager last night despite Richard's win on his return to action. We now have to win our last match at Kidsgrove on 30th September to win the shield outright, or draw to share it with Alsager.

Newcastle at Leek
15/09/14 The three Newcastle entrants finished closely packed together in the C section, Nic and Thivyaa scoring 3 points and Derrick 2½.

Edging closer
10/09/14 The South Cheshire Shield team picked up another point last night, this time at Alsager, thanks to wins from Nic and Ben. Another point from the return fixture next week would secure the title. Failing that a win in the last match at the end of the month would also do.

Rapid Reinhold
06/09/14 Reinhold won the AGM rapidplay with a perfect score on Wednesday. The AGM itself passed peacefully.

August Grades
28/08/14 The August version of the grades to be used for the coming league season were published earlier in the week. There are no changes to the Newcastle values from the provisional list published last month and showing lower down this page.

Club AGM
21/08/14 This year's AGM will be on Wed 3rd September at the Bridge Club, immediately followed by the AGM rapidplay.

Alex well clear
21/08/14 Alex won the summer half-hour, two points clear of Reinhold, Alan, Martyn, Jon Blackburn and Thivyaa. Eighteen players turned out on at least one of the three weeks of the competition.

One wins enough
17/08/14 John was Newcastle's sole winner in the clubs South Cheshire Shield match at Crewe, but it was enough to secure a match victory.

Six teams
17/08/14 In order to satisfy club members voracious appetite for playing most weeks, we have decided to enter a sixth team in the league, doubling up in division three. Alan sent notification to the powers that be a week ago, but last time we spoke had not received acknowledgement. It seems reasonable to assume that we would have heard had there been a problem in accepting th entry.

Alex takes the lead
06/08/14 After four rounds of the summer half-hour Alex has a clear lead on 4/4, a point ahead of the chasing pack. The final two rounds will be on 20th August.

Summer half-hour starts
30/07/14 Fourteen players turned up for the first two rounds of the summer half-hour competition. Current scores are available here. The next two games are next week, with new entrants able to claim a couple of ½-point byes for the games missed this week.

First sight of grades
24/07/14 The first draft of grades for the coming season has been released. Changes shown in the table below are relative to last August, not the January list. Don't be too surprised if there are changes to these before the season starts.
John D129-4

Former members listed include
Paul Wallace (Lichfield)210
Richard Lee (Cambridge Uni)202
Andrej Furjel (Weymouth)196
Alex Richardson (Fenton)188
Geoff Marchant (Wallington)178
Daniel Sullivan (Sheffield Nomads)177
Ian Jamieson (Kidsgrove)162
Dave Cork (Crawley)151
James Rothwell (Ormskirk)150
Simon Maydew (Shifnal & Telford)150
Catherine Hiley nee Ashton (Rugeley)144
Nick Lowe (Altrincham)143
Derek Northage (Kidsgrove)124
Carl Mustafa (Alsager)95
Robert West (Fenton)91

Putting down a marker
24/07/14 New club Crewe were the visitors to the Bridge Club last night. Brian's win secured a home victory, enabling us to put down a marker for judging future clashes.

Summer half hour
19/07/14 This year's summer half hour will take place over Wednesdays 30th Jul and 6th and 20th August.

Fixture switch
19/07/14 I'm told that the Crewe-Newcastle fixtures in the South Cheshire Shield have been switched, so that the earlier match is now at home.

Newcastle start with win
13/07/14 Wins by Watson and Brian enabled the club's South Cheshire Shield team to start their defence of the title with a victory over Kidsgrove.

Diarmid back at the board
13/07/14 Former Newcastle member Diarmid Gibson, now resident in Scotland, was seen back at the board in the recent Scottish and Commonwealth Championships where a modest score reflected rustiness rather than ability.

Newcastle at the jamboree
28/06/14 With the help of guest appearances by Steve Hill and Dave Johnson the club were able to field three teams in this years jamboree. The open team finished ½ point behind the winners Cheddleton with Alan and Pete contributing two points each. We split our strength in the U130 section, so weren't expecting to challenge for the title. However the two teams scored a respectable near 50% 7/16 between them, with Brian winning both his games.


Final performances
22/05/15 The final performances chart for the season can be found in the usual place.

Honours list 2014/15
14/05/15 Time to start listing all the honours for the season. I'll keep this list at the top of the column until complete, when I'll date it and allow it to sink with the rest of the news. - done!
WinnersRunners up
Division 1Holmes Chapel ANewcastle A
Division 2Cheddleton DCheddleton C
Division 3Fenton AMeir A
Division 4Fenton BCrewe Pawns
Division 5Meir DCheddleton K
Newcastle F
Open CupStaffordHolmes Chapel
Major CupCheddletonCrewe
Inter CupMeirStafford
Minor CupAlsagerFenton

8 board to Stafford
11/05/15 Holmes Chapel have conceded the open cup final to Stafford, being unable to assemble a team for the match. An unfortunate end to the competition, but with Holmes Chapel's playing resources having been cut this season not one to get on one's high horse about.

Cheddleton take Major
01/05/15 Congratulations to Cheddleton for their win in the major cup final at Crewe on Wednesday.

Arkell defence
29/04/15 Keith Arkell starts the defence of his European Seniors 50+ title today. He is seeded three in a field of over 40, behind England's John Nunn and Zuran Sturua of Georgia. (The original entry list of 87 didn't distinguish between players in different sections.) The event is being played in Eretria, Greece, with games starting at 1600 Greek time. Games are being covered by Chessbomb and no doubt other live game sites too. An opportunity for those playing him in the simul at Fenton in June to do some prep.

A cup and a league
28/04/15 Congratulations to Alsager who beat Fenton in the Perry cup final last night, and to Meir D who secured the fifth division title at the same time but different place.

Cheddleton D take division two
25/04/15 Congratulations to Cheddleton D who secured the point they needed last night to be crowned division two champions.

Fenton take division four
23/04/15 Fenton leapfrogged Crewe Pawns last night, beating them in what was both sides last game of the season, thereby clinching the division four title. A few sweaty brows during that match I suspect.

Holmes Chapel Champions
18/04/15 Holmes chapel secured the first division title in their last match last night by winning at Cheddleton A. Congratulations to them.

North Staffs at the County Congress
13/04/15 Prominent performances by North Staffs players at the county congress include Malcolm Armstrong joint third in the open, half a point behind the winners; Jon Blackburn and Greg Willett joint second in the major, again half a point behind the winner; and Nic Wright joint winner of the minor.

Mini winners
30/03/15 Prize winners at the weekends mini congress were
Open: 1st Alex Richardson (Newcastle), 2nd Malcolm Armstrong (Stafford)
U160: 1st Karl Lockett (Crewe), 2nd= Pavel Nefyodov (Stafford), Phil Cattermole (Macclesfield) and Kasian Capatina (Fenton)
U130: 1st= Thivyaa Rahulan (Newcastle) and Andrew Barker (Alsager)
U100: 1st Robert West (Fenton), 2nd= Carl Mustafa and Richard Martin (both Alsager)
Kangaroo: Greg Willett (Crewe).

A full report should appear on the congress page in the near future.

Stafford win Wolverhampton League
27/03/15 Stafford have won the Wolverhampton league for the first time since the 1981/2 season, being unbeaten as they gleaned seventeen points from their ten games. Congratulations to them, but hope they're still suffering a celebratory hangover when they play us after Easter.

Inter and Open
10/03/15 I have omitted to point out that the Inter cup final will be contested by Meir and Stafford, the latter being the only club to provide two finalists this year. The open cup final has been put back to mid-May.

Third final
07/02/15 The Major cup final will be contested by Crewe and Cheddleton on 29th April.

Two finals
05/02/15 Cup results in so far confirm the line ups for two of the Associations finals. In the Open cup Holmes Chapel will face Stafford and in the Minor cup for the Perry Trophy Alsager will face Fenton. Matches are pencilled in for 30th and 28th April respectively. However this is just me trying to keep personal track. For official confirmation you will need to look elesewhere.

Ripping Yarn?
Jan 2015 Yes and no.
Sometimes Newcastle member Francis Westfield has published his book "Jack the Ripper: a Scientific Analysis" in which he deduces whodunnit from an initial field of 200. Available from Amazon for a mere £5.99, hopefully from this link. You've read the rest, now discover the truth.

Estimates superceded
26/01/15 The January grades have now been published. For league purposes most of them are merely a matter of interest as the August grades continue to hold sway. However for those previously playing off an estimated grade the January grade now counts. The two most active players this affects are Fenton's Kas Capatina who weighs in at 133 and Newcastle's Alberto Gissi who is now 90.

I have also spotted Gordon Parker (Alsager) 136, Steve Cross (Crewe) 158, Rakshpal Khandekal (Crewe) 96, Allan Beaumont (Cheddleton) 91 and Roy Gray (Macclesfield) 112 plus one or two occasional first division players whose exact immenseness is of lesser import. Not that I guarantee that I haven't overlooked anyone.

North Staffs in Shropshire
05/01/15 Eleven North Staffs players made their way to Telford to play in the Shropshire Congress over the weekend. Karl Lockett (Crewe) and Ben Scattergood (Holmes Chapel) scored 3½ in the major (U160) for a share of 4th place, whilst Brian Birchall (Alsager) found the same score worth only a tie for 7th in the minor (U125). To rub salt into the wound Ben was named top junior in the congress and Karl won a U145 grading prize but Brian's effort went unrewarded.

Jon Blackburn (Cheddleton) and Doug Barnett (Alsager) also played in the major, with the numbers in the minor being swelled by the presence of Julian Hawthorne (Kidsgrove), George Scattergood and Les Hall (both Crewe), Derek Whitehurst and Stuart Hull (both Fenton) and Sandra Blackburn (Cheddleton).

The rest of us had best be warned that that lot have already shaken off any post-Christmas lethargy.

Malcolm in Hastings
31/12/14 Stafford's Malcolm Armstrong is currently playing in the Masters at Hastings. After 3 of the nine rounds he is on 50% having drawn with a French WGM, beaten a Sussex junior and lost to an Hungarian IM. Details on the event website, where you can also find live games and commentary. Chessbomb also carries live game coverage, and doubtless other sites do too.

March Mini
21/11/14 Advance notice that the 11th Newcastle Mini Congress will (probably) take place on 28th and 29th March, which is the weekend before Easter.

First sight of performances
08/11/14 With 26 players now having played 5+ games I've decided to publish the first set of performances. Yours truly seems to be a leading candidate for the dunces cap and Kas Capatina for the worst estimate prize. See Misc-Performances.

Good Week for Slow Starters
08/11/14 Going into the week seven of the leagues 36 teams were still on zero points, but by the end of the week this had reduced to two.

Leading the Charge
02/11/14 The most active players in the first month of the season were Pete Windows with 8 games ahead of Nic Wright on 7 and Tom Healey 6. Then comes a bunch on 5: Jacob Boswell, Karol Grzybowski, Kas Capatina, Alberto Gissi and Alan Paling.

28/10/14 Barnett, Brown, Birchall, Barker. As seen for Alsager B at Meir last night. Now that's what I call a B team!

Fantasy Constitution and rules
23/10/14 As a variation on fantasy football the North Staffs secretary plays fantasy Constitution and Rules, which would be fine if he didn't then expect everyone to take his fantasies as the real thing. No surprise that Rambling Rook has something to say - see Oct 23rd in his diary.

Locals at Leek
15/09/14 This years Leek congress saw the players divided into three roughly numerically equal sections with the boundaries falling at about 150 and 120. The three way tie on four for top spot in the A section included Rob Shaw (Cheddleton and Macclesfield). Malcolm Armstrong (Stafford) and Simon Edwards (Cheddleton) were amongst those a half-point behind.

The B section was headed by Jean-Paul Taylor (Macclesfield) on 4½ ahead of Karl Lockett (Crewe) on 4. Doug Barnett (Alsager), James Rothwell (formerly Newcastle) and Carl Cartside (sometimes Cheddleton) were amongst those on 3½.

Carmel Barwick and Martin Gill (both Crewe) scored 4 points in the C section, this securing them joint second with one other competitor.

North Staffs at Manchester
15/09/14 Alsager members Doug Barnett and Brian Birchall enjoyed success at the recent Manchester Autumn Congress, with Doug winning the Major (U165) section with a score of 4½/5 and Brian being joint second in the Knights (U125) section.

Fixture Downloads
03/09/14 Divisional, cup and Newcastle fixtures can be downloaded from the downloads page, as can an all fixtures one page summary. A booklet of grades will follow shortly - I won't make a separate announcement.

Fixture numbers
03/09/14 I've made a start on setting the site up for the new season. Please note that the fixture reference numbers used are those originally allocated to each match. It appears that on the North Staffs site these numbers have been changed so that the fixtures can appear in strict numerical order despite alterations to the schedule.

Meir resited
17/08/14 Meir's latest website can be found here. Crewe have also established a web presence with their site.

Tough going for Suzie
09/08/14 Suzie Blackburn is currently in Tromso representing wales in the Women's Olympiad. A series of tough matches has left her with just one point so far from four outings. Several sites carry live coverage including tromsolive, the official site, and Chessbomb.

Full House at Jamboree
28/06/14 Sixteen teams competed in the rapidplay jamboree at the bridge club last night, filling the building to capacity. Cheddleton won the Open section with 6½/8, a half point clear of Newcastle, with alsager a further point back in bronze medal position.

The ten teams in the u130 section were headed jointly by Crewe and Cheddleton More with 7 points; Cheddleton Blackburn coming third on 5½. Full results here.

AGM delayed
23/06/14 The Norths Staffs AGM has been put back one week to Mon 14th July, still at Meir, with an 8 pm start.

Leek Pile-up
16/06/14 There was a five-way tie at the top of the U210 section of the Leek rapidplay yesterday, with Simon Edwards, Rob Shaw, Jonathan Blackburn, Ali Jaunooby and Pablo Padilla Cabero all scoring 4½/6.

Pawel Los was the clear winner of the U145 section with 5½ points, with David Broadbent and Geraint George tied second on 5 points.

Full results can be viewed on the Tournament Director site.

County Cups Spread
16/06/14 Each of the four county cup competitions were won by different clubs: Hickman by Stafford, Gothard by Cheddleton, Jackson by Lichfield, Withnall by Walsall Kipping. Match cards for the finals can be found on the County Cups page.

And Crewe makes ten?
06/06/14 Moves are afoot to create a Crewe Chess Club who would then apply to become the tenth club affiliated to the North Staffs Association.

Rapidplay Jamboree
01/06/14 This year's rapidplay jamboree will take place on Fri 27th June at Newcastle Bridge Club, 7.30 start. I believe that this is the date of the rest day between the group and knock-out stages of the World Cup.

Usual format of two rounds teams of four with half an hour for each player on the clock for each game. Open and under 130 sections. January Grades. NB Rapidplay grades take precedence over standard play ones. Cost is £1 per team payable on the night, but entries (to me) MUST be made in advance.

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