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News Items From the 2015/16 Season

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Off the Mark
30/06/16 The South Cheshire Shield team picked up a point in their first match, with Thivyaa's win and draws from John and Nic enabling them to share the spoils with Alsager.

Big boys get organised
29/06/16 I've had confirmation that Newcastle will be entering a team in the open section of the Jamboree alongside the previously announced U130 sides.

Author Derrick
26/06/16 Derrick tells me that he has written an article which appears in the July edition of Chess Magazine. You'll need to look to discover what it is about.

Shield debut delayed
24/06/16 Newcastle's first game of this year's South Cheshire Shield has been put back by a week at the request of Alsager.

Club AGM
08/06/16 Early warning that the club AGM will take place on Wed 7th Sept.

C Champions
28/05/16 The C team became champions of division 2 when Fenton A lost 1 - 4 at Cheddleton C last night, the "1" being enough for our C team to take top spot by ½ game point on tie break.

Family Affair
19/05/16 Sandra Blackburn won Newcastle's end of season quickplay last night, with husband Jon joint second alongside Reinhold, with eleven others trailing in their wake. Full results on the internal events page.

Wait and C
13/05/16 The C team lost at division 2 title rivals Cheddleton C tonight, with Paul winning and Martyn and Alberto getting draws. Now there will be a fortnight's wait to see if Cheddleton also win their final match in which case the title will be decided by game points. Else it will be Newcastle's.

F end on high
11/05/16 The F team ended on a high winning 3½ - ½ against Fenton D and putting paid to the visitors title hopes. Wins from Richard, Alberto and Ben did most of the damage, with Derrick also chipping in with a draw.

Major Mauling
29/04/16 The Major Cup team lost in their final tonight, with draws from Martyn and Nic all they had to show from their visit to Cheddleton.

Inter Triumph
27/04/16 In a hard fought contest with Crewe, Newcastle emerged winners of the Intermediate cup thanks to wins from John and Nic and draws from Paul and Watson.

C crawl on
21/04/16 The C team picked up another point in their hunt for the second division title, with Nic and Alberto winning and Paul drawing in their delayed match at Holmes Chapel

Belated win for D
20/04/16 Having already secured the division three wooden spoon, the D team woke up with a victory in their final match, with John's draw added to wins from Martyn, Pete and Alberto, albeit the last being by default.

Draw becomes win
16/04/16 A draw for the B team at Cheddleton B last night thanks to wins from Alex and Nic and a draw from John became a win when it was discovered that Cheddleton were overgraded.

Mixed Night
13/04/16 Alan was the only winner as the A team slumped against Cheddleton A, but for the F team Ben's draw backed up wins from Alberto and Edward to secure a match win.

Another down week
07/04/16 The club suffered two more defeats last night, with Watson being the only Newcastle winner, for the D team against Kidsgrove. Thivyaa also drew for the same side, whilst Alberto and Jeff got a share in the spoils in their match against Alsager B. The net result was that the D team won the wooden spoon with a match to spare, and the E team finished their program on a down note. All this after the B team had gone down at Fenton A on Monday with Alberto winning and Alex drawing.

B scrape a draw
01/04/16 A defaulted board and draws from Alex, Alan and Alberto enabled the B team to pick up a point at Holmes Chapel rooks last night.

No points for the club
30/03/16 Nic managed a win for the E team, Watson a draw for the D, but on all other boards it was gloom as the club lost two matches tonight.

Points for the club
23/03/16 The B team won at home to Crewe A tonight with Alex and Alan providing draws to back up wins from Thivyaa and Pete. The other scheduled match at the club didn't happen as Fenton overlooked it, possible confusing their A team visit with their B team one next week. It will probably go down as a default win for our C team.

Point for F
21/03/16 Brian and Alberto won as the F team took a point at Meir C.

C collapse at Cheddleton
18/03/16 The C team lost at Cheddleton B despite Martyn's win and Nic's draw.

B spring to life
16/03/16 The B team had a convincing win at home to Cheddleton C thanks to wins from Alex, Paul and Pete, backed by draws from Alan and Alberto.

F Fade
16/03/16 After reaching a series of promising positions against Meir D, the F team subsided to defeat with only Richard's win to show for their efforts.

New Date
09/03/16 The A team will play their final home match against Cheddleton A on 13th April.

Match off
08/03/16 Richard has called off Wednesday's F team home match against Fenton D.

Alberto wins ...
05/03/16 ... but the rest lose as Newcastle D went down at Cheddleton E last night.

Mixed night in the second
03/03/16 Alex and Ian drew as the B team went down at home to Cheddleton B, but the C team fared better with John and Nic's draws backing up wins from reinhold and Barry to secure a narrow win over Crewe A.

F move forwards
29/02/16 The F team gleaned two more points at Cheddleton G on Friday, with Richard and Derrick winning and Jeff drawing.

A win as E draw
24/02/16 Ian's win was enough for the A team to secure a narrow victory over Stafford A tonight as Alex, Reinhold, Barry and Alan all drew. Meanwhile Paul and Jeff got the wins that enabled the E team to pick up a point against Crewe C.

Friday suits F
19/02/16 The F team won their Friday home match against Cheddleton I, with Richard, Brian and Derrick all drawing, and Jeff providing the vital full point.

Minor Disaster
17/02/16 Brian's win was the only score for Newcastle as they crashed out of the Minor Cup for the Perry Trophy tonight.

Newcastle make Major Final
16/02/16 Wins by Martyn and Watson, backed by draws from Paul and Nic saw the major cup team reach their final, where they are likely to be outgraded by whoever wins the other semi.

13/02/16 The B team's visit to Holmes Chapel to play the Rooks will now be on the 31st March.

E win
10/02/16 The E team put more distance between themselves and the division 4 wooden spoon with a home victory over Meir B. Jeff won, and Paul, Alberto and Nic all drew.

D downed again
10/02/16 The D team went down at Crewe tonight with Pete and John drawing. Martyn suffered a triple one disaster - with a minute left on his clock he set up a mate in one only to fall victim to a similar threat. Oh, and he was one piece up and one pawn down at the time.

Confirmed date
10/02/16 I have had confirmation that the F team will entertain Cheddleton I on Fri 19th Feb.

Useful point for C
10/02/16 The C team picked up a useful point at Macclesfield on Monday thanks to Reinhold, John and Nic getting draws to back up Barry's win.

New Date
10/02/16 The C team's visit to Holmes Chapel Rooks will now take place on 21st April.

Better End
05/02/16 The week ended on a more encouraging note, with the E team winning at Cheddleton F thanks to wins form Alberto and Brian, and a draw from Paul.

Coming second
03/02/16 The B and D teams got more practice at coming second tonight. Against Macclesfield Ian won and Alex and Pete drew, whilst Nic was the sole point scorer for the D team with his win.

Mixed Fortunes
27/01/16 The A team lost narowly to Holmes Chapel tonight, with Martyn winning and Alex and Reinhold getting draws, whilst the U130 cup team progressed to their final with Nic and Pete winning and Paul and John drawing.

January grades out
27/01/16 January grades have been published.
John D119+5
Old grades will continue to be used for league matches

Racking up the losses
20/01/16 Two more defeats tonight, both by the narrow 1½ - 2½ margin. Alan, Thivyaa and Watson all drew against Meir A, and Edward won and Richard drew against Chedleton H, but this was not quite enough to gain any league points.

First win for E
18/01/16 The E team picked up their first win of the season at fellow strugglers Fenton C tonight with wins from Paul and Derrick and a draw from Brian.

First club win of 2016
14/01/16 The clubs first win of the new year came from the C team, but at the expense of the B. Wins from Martyn and Nic were answered by one from Alex, whilst Paul, Richard, John and Pete all drew.

Shropshire Nic
12/01/16 Nic was one of a sizeable contingent of North Staffs players to take part in the Shropshire Congress in Telford over the weekend. Nic's score of 3½ was the highest from that contingent, but still not enough to make the main prize list. I haven't seen the list of grading prizes, which might include one or more other local lads. Full results can be found here. Sharp eyed readers will spot a couple of Maydews there.

Third Time Nearly Lucky
06/01/16 The C team were the club's third side in action in 2016, and managed a draw on the back of wins from Martyn and Nic and a draw from Paul.

Same again
05/01/16 The D team also started the new year with a loss, their defeat at Alsager A being by the same narrow margin as their home match against Alsager. Watson got the win and John the draw.

Slow restart
05/01/16 The F team were first in action in the new year, but went down at Meir D despite Richard's win and Jeff's draw.

Alex goes Crazy
24/12/15 Alex won last night's crazy chess competition at the Bridge Club despite my best efforts to disrupt progress. Pete came second, with John third.

D win, F draw
16/12/15 Draws from Martyn, John and Pete backed up Watson's win to give the D team a narrow home victory over Stafford B, whilst at Crewe the F team shared the spoils with the hosts, with full points coming from Brian and Edward.

B reach Christmas on the up
14/12/15 Wins from Barry and Martyn backed by draws from Paul and John enabled the C team to win their last match of 2015 at Fenton A tonight.

Handicap lift
10/12/15 Alberto will be driving up to the Santa Handicap at Crewe on 30th December, and is willing to give a lift to other interested club members.

Drawing Wednesday
10/12/15 The B team drew at Crewe A last night, with Alex and Alberto winning and Alan drawing. Meanwhile at the bridge club the clash of division 4's bottom teams also ended all square with Jeff and Derrick getting the Newcastle wins.

Newcastle end the week on a high
05/12/15 A win by the F team at Cheddleton I enabled the club to end the week on a high after the earlier disappointments. Nic, Rhys and Edward all won and Richard drew.

A Disaster
03/12/15 The A team suffered a disastrous evening at Stafford, going down 1 - 4 with only Reinhold scoring. En route to their defeats, Alex allowed what he deemed a good position to dissipate, Barry turned down a draw offer, Alan exchanged queens to prevent his opponent taking repetition and last to finish Martyn, having scrambled enough to rebuild a small time reserve, still failed to spot a draw in a somewhat unbalanced poition in which he had rook, knight and bishop against queen and four pawns.

C beats B ...
30/11/15 ... but unfortunately its Cheddleton C beating our B on Friday, despite a win from Alberto and draws from Alex and Pete.

Mixed Fortunes
25/11/15 The C team picked up two more points, this time against Cheddleton B, with wins from Barry, Nic and John. However the F team were beaten narrowly by Meir C, with Jeff winning and Ben getting a draw.

Second win for D
23/11/15 The D team picked up their second win of the season, this time at Meir, beating their A team thanks to wins from Martyn and John and a draw from Watson.

19/11/15 The B team's victory last night was by a score of 3½ - 1½ rather than as originally reported, with Alberto winning. Can't get the captains nowadays.

B beat Fenton A ...
18/11/15 Alex and Thivyaa got the wins which backed by draws from Alan and Alberto enabled the C team to beat Fenton A at the bridge club tonight.

... but C come a cropper at Crewe
18/11/15 Meanwhile at the Anglers at Crewe the C team came second despite Martyn's win and draws from Paul and Watson.

Three matches
18/11/15 Go away for a few days and there are thre matches to catch up on. First the A team did the club proud as they won at Cheddleton with wins from Barry and Alan backed up by draws from Alex, Reinhold and Ian. Then on Monday the F team did less well at Fenton D, with just Richard's draw to show for their visit. Finall y last night the club went out of the open cup. Alan was the only winner, with Reinhold, Ian, Martyn and Paul all contributing draws. Two more matches tonight to report on soon.

First win for D
10/11/15 The D team picked up their first win of the season tonight, with Kidsgrove being their victims. Watson took a draw to back up wins by Martyn and Pete.

A pair of draws
09/11/15 Games rather than matches I'm afraid, so Paul's and Jeff's efforts didn't gain any match points for the A team when they visited Fenton B last night.

Spectator sport
04/11/15 Several other members of the club attended the Bridge Club in support of the Perry Cup team entertaining Cheddleton, and were rewarded with some interesting games to watch. Jeff held his nerve on the last board to finish to secure a win, which in conjunction with Alberto's enabled Newcastle to advance on board count.

A switch
03/11/15 Cheddleton A have postponed their visit to Newcastle on 11th November. Instead there will be a partial switch with Newcastle visiting Cheddleton on 13th Nov with the date of the home match to be arranged later - the full sitching date of 30th March already sees the club room full with two matches.

D frustrated
30/10/15 After three results in the D team's match at Cheddleton D, we were traioing 1 - 2 with just Watson winning. John's game turned his way late on, but he had to take a draw as he had too little time to complete the win.

Little joy for E
29/10/15 Despite Jeff's win and Paul's draw the E team suffered another defeat last night, this time at Crewe C.

B win
28/10/15 The B team picked up two useful points by beating Homes Chapel Rooks, with Alan, Nic and Alberto all winning and Alex taking a relatively quick draw.

F double their tally
25/10/15 The F team doubled their points tally to 2 with a draw at Cheddleton H on Friday, with Richard and Jeff both winning.

Point for D, not for E
21/10/15 The D team drew with Crewe B with Martyn's win backed by draws from John and Watson, whilst the E team who also picked up two draws through Alberto and Brian had to settle for a defeat at the hands of Cheddleton F.

8 board moved
17/10/15 Newcastle's open cup match at Stafford has been moved to Tue 17th Nov.

Double draw
14/10/15 Two match draws at the club tonight as the C and F teams took on Macclesfield and Cheddleton G respectively. Reinhold held his nerve under time pressure to win on top board for the C team, and was supported in his efforts by draws from Barry, Nic and John. Ben won his first game of the season for the F team, with captain Richard also bringing home a full point.

Disappointing Night
07/10/15 For much of the evening it looked like we would win both matches played at the Bridge Club, but late drama left us with a draw and a defeat. Barry and John won in the draw against Holmes Chapel Rooks, with Paul providing the half-point, whilst against Alsager A Martyn, Watson and Brian all drew.

Brian to the fore
06/10/15 Brian picked up the E team's sole point as they went down 1 - 3 at Alsager B tonight.

B bounce back
05/10/15 The B team bounced back from the disappointment of their loss against the C by winning at Macclesfield, with full points being provided by Alex, Alan and Pete.

First bragging rights to C
30/09/15 The C team narrowly won the first bragging rights in their opening encounter with the B team, with wins by Reinhold and Paul outweighing that from Derrick.

Decisively indecisive
29/09/15 There were no draws in the E team's season opener at Meir, with allthis decisive play leading to an indecisive match draw. Well done to Paul and Alberto for their wins.

Slow Start
24/09/15 The club started their league fixtures for 2015/16 with a 2 - 3 defeat for the A team at Holmes Chapel, with Martyn winning and Alex and Alan drawing.

Friendly Fire
17/09/15 Nine Newcastle members travelled to Crewe last night for a pre-season friendly, and squeaked a narrow victory thanks to wins from Alan, Pete, Alberto and Derrick backed by draws from Paul and Richard. Thanks to Crewe for a pleasant evening. My opponent even bought me a drink. You'll gather from the fact my name is missing from the list of contributors to the Newcastle cause that said drink was spiked.

Alex and Thivyaa star at Leek
16/09/15 Alex and Thivyaa were joint winners of their respective sections at the Leek chess congress over the weekend, both scoring 4/5. Nic also had a good congress, leading going into the last round before coming a cropper, and Derrick reports himself pleased with his play. It was also good to see Ivan playing. Results should be appearing on the tournament director website, though at the time of writing only the top section page is complete.

Alex takes AGM quickplay
03/09/15 Alex won the AGM quickplay with a score of 4½/5, a point clear of Richard, even though he had to endure a few scares along the way. Full details on the internal events page.

At the AGM itself nothing much of note occurred, with finances being sufficiently healthy to justify freezing the fees. There was significant support shown for a pre-season friendly against Crewe on 16th Sept at their place, and I have since confirmed with Crewe that we will aim to make it an 8 board match. The longest discussion was probably over whether to field a team in defence of the Withnall Trophy won last year as we have often encountered problems with county cup matches in the past, last year being no exception. Nic is considering whether in the light of comments made by those with experience of county cup captaincy he is willing to lead a team this year.

Extra Point for Richard
01/09/15 The August revision of the July grades has given Richard an extra point, taking him to 120. No changes for other Newcastle players.

Fixture switch
01/09/15 We have agreed with Holmes Chapel to reverse our A team fixtures with them, so we travel to Holmes Chapel on 24th Sep and they come to us on 27th Jan.

Alex, Reinhold share ½-hour
21/08/15 When the dust had settled afer the completion of the summer half-hour on Wednesday, Alex and Reinhold were left standing clear of the rest of the fielf with a score of 5/6. Full results on the internal competitions page.

Club AGM
15/08/15 This years Newcastle AGM will be on Wed 2nd Sept at the Bridge Club, 7.30 start. As usual it will be followed by a 10 minute tournament.

Reinhold moves clear
13/08/15 Reinhold moved clear at the top of the summer ½-hour contest last night, reaching a perfect 4, a point clear of Alex, Malcolm and Martyn.

Four lead summer half
06/08/15 Alex, Reinhold, Alan and Malcolm Armstrong lead the summer half hour after winning their two games on the first evening. Details on the internal competitions page.

Title goes
31/07/15 Newcastle last their grip on the South Cheshire Shield on Wednesday when they lost at Crewe despite Alberto's win and John's draw.

First sight of grades
25/07/15 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 D114-15

Former members listed include
Paul Wallace (Lichfield)222
Richard Lee (Cambridge Uni)203
Andrej Furjel (Weymouth)192
Geoff Marchant (Wallington)178
Daniel Sullivan (Sheffield Nomads)176
Ian Jamieson (Kidsgrove)164
Dave Cork (Crawley)157
James Rothwell (Ormskirk)157
Simon Maydew (Shifnal & Telford)152
Nick Lowe (Altrincham)144
Catherine Hiley nee Ashton (Rugeley)136
Derek Northage (Kidsgrove)125
Robert West (Fenton)101
Carl Mustafa (Alsager)90
Ivan Prikazchikov59

Point at Alsager
19/07/15 Newcastle picked up a point at Alsager in the South Cheshire Shield on Tuesday, with Alberto winning and John and Paul drawing. Apologies for the late report but I've been away for a few days.

Newcastle edged by Crewe
11/07/15 Crewe edged past Newcastle 2½ - 1½ in the South Cheshire Shield on Wednesday, with Nic winning and Paul drawing. Apologies for not having found time for reporting this earlier.

Newcastle at the Jamboree
04/07/15 Two wins by both Alex and Alan helped Newcastle's open team to joint third in the jamboree. In the U130 section, our A team came joint second, with Alberto and guest Dave Johnson both contributing two points, whilst after a bright first half the B team faded out of contention.

Thivyaa in Turkey
29/06/15 Thivyaa is currently playing for England in the U11 girls section of the European Schools Championships in Konya, Turkey, and after 5 of the 9 rounds is on 2½. Today is a rest day. You can follow her progress on the official site.

Winning start to South Cheshire Shield
18/06/15 You'll gather that I've been away for a while, hence this belated report of the club's win in their opening match of this years South Cheshire Shield campaign. Pete and Brian won, John contributed his usual draw.


Jacob Retains Rapidplay Title
27/06/16 Jacob Boswell retained his South Potteries Rapidplay title on tie-break from Simon Edwards and Kasian Capatina, all scoring 4½/6.

Crewe back on the Circuit
13/06/16 Congress players will be delighted to learn that Crewe is once again to be on the congress circuit, courtesy of the enthusiasts at the league's newest club. The congress will take place on 14th to 16th October at the Ibis Styles Hotel on Crewe Business Park so should have excellent playing conditions. The limit for the minor section is a pleasingly low U105, which coupled with the Open, U165 and U135 sections means there should be a good competition for everyone. The congress will be a typical 5 rounder with one game Friday evening followed by two games each on Saturday and Sunday, whilst locals will be comfortable with the time controls which include a 10 second increment. More details here.

This is not the first chess congress in Crewe as for several years Roger Edwards organised one at the motor works. Indeed the Newcastle mini was in the first instance held as a substitute available to local players whose wish to play the Crewe Congress in 2005 was thwarted by the venue's unwillingness to confirm availability.

I hope that Crewe Chess Club's latest venture goes well, and urge as any people as possible to support them by taking part in what should be a very pleasant weekend of chess.

Final performances
31/05/16 The final performances for the season are now available at the usual place. (here)

Honours list 2015/16
28/05/16 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 1Cheddleton AH Chapel A
Division 2Newcastle CCheddleton C
Division 3Crewe BCheddleton D
Division 4Alsager BCrewe C
Division 5Meir DCheddleton G
Open CupStaffordHolmes Chapel
Major CupCheddletonNewcastle
Inter CupNewcastleCrewe
Minor CupCreweMeir A

Almost there
11/05/16 Meir D are all but champions of divison 5, needing just to avoid picking up penalty points to give a negative game score in their final match. Barring this unlikely scenario, Cheddleton G will be runners up.

First Tie-breaker
07/05/16 The new tie-break rules for determining divisional champions came into operation after last night's draw between Cheddleton E and Crewe B left the latter level on points with Cheddleton D at the top of division 3. Crewe get the silverware on game points.

Double Trouble for H Chapel
29/04/16 One match denied Holmes Chapel victory in two competitions last night as the top five boards of the Open Final also constituted the final first division league match. A narrow overall defeat to Stafford left them as cup bridesmaids, whilst an equally narrow loss over the top five boards meant they finished behind Cheddleton A at the top of division one. More importantly (of course) the Stafford win consigned Newcastle to their second divisional wooden spoon, having claimed the division 3 one earlier.

Belated Report
24/04/16 I've finally got around to putting up a report of sorts for the mini-congress that was held at the start of the month.

Fourth Finish
16/04/16 The fourth division was finished on schedule last night, with Fenton's defeat leaving Crewe in the silver medal position behind Alsager. All the other divisions will be working overtime.

Alsager take Division 4
12/04/16 A draw in their final game at Meir B last night enabled Alsager B to take the fourth division title. Well done to them. A triumph for team togetherness as the core quartet only missed a total of 4 games between them.

Mini Results
04/04/16 Rich Wiltshir got his name on the congress honours boards by winnimg the Open section ahead of Alex Richardson, Simon Edwards and Pavel Nefyodov. Richard Szwajkun took the U160 a half point clear of Alex Cartlidge, whilst Jack Healings ran away with the U130, his final winning margin being 1½ points from his closest pursuers Andrew Barker, Doug Barnett, Sandra Blackburn and Nic Wright. Simon Layhe in the U100 was the congresses only 100% scorer, with Robert Perry and Les Hall left in his wake in joint second spot. Pointswise Julian Hawthorne had a much better Sunday than Saturday, and so picked up the Kangaroo prize. Hopefully I won't take quite so long this year as last to sort through my photos and write up a proper report.

Final finalist
25/03/16 Holmes Chapel beat Macclesfield 4½ - 3½ to reach the final of the Open cup. Full line-up for finals is
Open:Holmes ChapelvStafford
Minor:CrewevMeir A

New date for Open semi
15/03/16 The remaining cup semi-final, that between Holmes Chapel and Macclesfield in the Open event, will now be played on 24th March.

Maccs on the move
02/03/16 From 14th March 2016 Macclesfield Chess Club will meet on Mondays at The Queens Hotel, 5 Albert Place, Macclesfield, SK11 6JW, which is directly opposite the station. Those used to visiting the Liberal Club for chess can make use of the same directions and parking facilities.

Perry Final Delayed
02/03/16 Crewe and Meir have agreed to put back their Perry Cup Final match by a week to Weds 4th May.

Updated grade booklet
08/02/16 The NSDCA grades booklet available from the downloads page now shows Jan 16 and Aug 15 grades. For league purposes category A to E August grades continue to apply, with Jan grades used only for those with an F category or no published grade in August.

South Potteries Rapidplay
07/02/16 Steve Emmerton is organising the second South Potteries Rapidplay which will take place on Sunday 26th June at Fenton Chess Club. The entry fee of £5 covers the chess and a buffet. All moves in 30 mins, trophy for the winner.

Southern Juniors
06/02/16 The Southern Junior Chess Championships were held at Yateley Manor last weekend, with a mixture of events open to all juniors and closed sections restricted to those in the England squads. Ivan Prikazchikov out-performed his grade in scoring 2/5 in the open U11 section, as indeed did both Thivyaa Rahulan and Jacob Boswell when scoring 3½ and 3 respectively in the U12 closed and U16 closed sections. Well done to all.

January grades out
27/01/16 The January grades have now been published, and supercede estimated and f category grades used in the first half of the season. However A-E category grades from August will continue to apply for the balance of the league season.

With a quick look I have spotted from Cheddleton: Thomas Crick now 86F, Ethan Gilman-Hawkes 45F, Jamie Jones 40, Victoria Sheldon 27F and Christian Tattum 79F.

Crewe: Steve Ballantyne 101, Richard Hind 31, Lukasz Holcman 120, Neville Layhe 139, Simon Layhe 38, James Marshall 65, Rafal Pytel 134, David Timmis 62.

Fenton: Chris Brian 76, Glyn Valentine 147.

Macclesfield: Peter Caulkett 113, Philip Colville 136F, Roy Gray 119F, David Mallinson 112, Alan Millward 76F.

Alterations to the estimated grades of other players may be announced at any time.

Century Up
23/01/16 I've just uploaded my latest performances table, which now has over 100 players with the 5+ games under their belts needed for me to publish the result of my calculation for them.

Santa Price
01/01/16 David Price won the inaugural Santa Handicap at Crewe on Wednesday, ahead of Kas Capatina, Brian Birchall and Simon Layhe. The event is David Hulme's brainchild, and on the basis of no good deed going unpunished, he was rewarded by being given no time to draw breath whilst co-ordinating the hectic proceedings. He'll be the first to admit though that without the support of his clock setters and room arrangers even his duracell bunny abilities would have been insufficient. The format ensured a mixture of meetings with old foes and new opponents, and I strongly suspect that most if not all players went away with stories to tell of missed opportunities or lucky escapes. The counter-attraction of a night making polite conversation with the in-laws over a glass of home made wine didn't stand a chance. 10/12/15 A couple of dates for previously postponed matches:
104 H Chapel A v Stafford A now 18th Feb 2016
405 Fenton C v Alsager B now 15th Feb.

Doubles goes North
06/12/15 Defending champions Alex Richardson and Steve Emmerton led going into the last round of the 320 section at the North Staffs doubles, with four teams just a half point behind. However a last round 2 - 0 win enabled the Macclesfield pairing of Colin Davison and Phil Cattermole to jump to the top of the pile when the music stopped, with Alex and Steve having to be content with second place this year. The 230 section was won by Sturat Hull and Mike Smith ahead of Neville and Simon Layhe. Full results here.

Singles at the doubles
30/11/15 If there are any players out there who would like to play in the doubles on Saturday, but lack a teammate, let me know and I'll try to pair you off.

Julian Joy
30/11/15 Kidsgrove's Julian Hawthorne came joint third in his section at the Preston Congress over the weekend with a score of 3½/5. Half a dozen other North Staffs players fared less well, or worse.

Updated booklet
05/11/15 I have updated the grades booklet available from the fixture downloads page to include a greater number of players.

Bury St Edmunds
03/11/15 Kidsgrove's latest acquisition Rich Wiltshir was joint winner at last months Bury St Edmunds chess congress.

First sight of performances
03/11/15 I've put up the season's first set of performance figures found at misc-perfs. 138 players have appeared so far, with ten having played the necessary 5 games for me to include a performance figure.

Alasager Perry Withdrawal
30/10/15 Alsager have had to withdraw from this year's Perry cup competition due to a shortage of eligible players.

North Staffs at large
27/10/15 Through their exploits in last season's 4NCL Cheddleton have recently competed in the European Club Cup where they finished 22nd of the 50 teams present. The absence of GMs Jonathan Hawkins and Simon Williams from their normal 4NCL line-up inevitable weakened their team, but it did give an opportunity for Stafford's Malcolm Armstrong, a fixture in the Cheddleton 4NCL B team, to take part. Detailed results here.

Also available here on are details of Bill Armstrongs exploits at the Autumn Braille Chess Association tournament.

Thivyaa Rahulan is currently playing in the girls U12 section of the world youth and cadet championships in Greece. Chess will also allow you to follow her.

17/10/15 A pair of Cheddleton derbies have been postponed - matches 308 between the D and E teams, and match 505 between H and I. New dates to follow.

Match moved
09/10/15 A second division four match has been postponed; this time match 405 in which Fenton C entertain Alsager B is moving to Novemebr 30th.

Return of the Doubles
07/10/15 After a one year gap the North Staffs doubles is returning to Holmes Chapel on Sat 5th December. More info here.

Division 4 Postponement
05/10/15 Match 406 between Crewe C and Meir B has been put back from 14th October to 11th November.

Return of the Rooks
03/10/15 George Scattergood has asked for the Holmes Chapel second team to be referred to as the Rooks once more. I've updated the web pages (I hope) to reflect this, with the downloads pages to be changed shortly.

Santa Handicap
27/09/15 David Hulme is organising a rapidplay Santa Handicap at Crewe Chess Club on 30th December, with lower graded players receiving both time and points handicaps. Normal 7.30 start with £1 entry fee. David would love to hear from those interested in playing.

August Grades Booklet
01/09/15 A booklet in pdf form is now available from the fixtures downloads page giving the August revisions of the July grades for (most) NSDCA players. Except for F category and estimated grades, these are the grades to be used throughout the season.

Leek Congress
28/08/15 The traditional seasons opener of the Leek Chess Congress will soon be upon us. Grades of current entrants range from roughly 60 to 200, so there will be someone your size to play, and as several entries have come from outside our area, you can also anticipate some games not against the usual suspects. Robert Milner will be pleased to receive your entry.

Crewe title
26/08/15 Crewe completed the South Cheshire Trophy season unbeaten, drawing their final game at Alsager last night and winning the competiton by four points.

24/08/15 Fixtures for the 2015/16 season are now available from the downloads page.

Two fingers to the AGM
14/08/15 I decided it was about time that I updated my Stoke League Rules page to account for the changes to rules and constitution made at this year's AGM, and have now done so. On checking against the version on the League website I find that the rules there don't fully reflect all the agreements made. Twas ever thus.

3 or 4? 2 actually
13/08/15 After much agonising as to whether to place their 6th team in divisions 3 or 4, Newcastle have settled on division 2. They will not be entering a 7th team. Meanwhile Stafford have confirmed their B team as being in division 3, so I've no further excuses not to start writing the fixtures.

Fenton adjust
12/08/15 Fenton have adjusted their league entries, moving their A team up from division 3 to division 2, and their C team from 5 to 4.

07/08/15 No, not a hyper modern football formation for dealing with a red card. Its a confirmed list of Cheddleton entries in the league reading from division one downwards.

Fenton and Crewe entry refinements
05/08/15 Fenton have reluctantly decided that their return to division two will have to wait a little longer, so they are again entering a team in each of divisions 3 and 4, and two teams in division 5.

Meanwhile Crewe have decided that a fifth team would be too rapid a rate of expansion, so are sticking to the four definite entries announced at the AGM. I have updated the entry table lower down this column.

Cup Draws
H Chapelbye
Meir AvMeir B

Too Good
02/08/15 Meir have decided that their players are too good for the intermediate cup, and so have transferred their entry in that competition to the major cup.

Grading server
31/07/15 The ECF has transferred their grading site to a new server, which should lead to improvement in the service provided. The old server gave rise to frequent error messages, and functionality had to be restricted in order to stop the site falling over completely. Hopefully he error messages will now be a thing of the past, and functionality will in due course be expanded.

Senior Moment (or more)
25/07/15 Holmes Chapel's Pat Bennett had several moments to enjoy playing board two for one of the Wales teams in the European Seniors in Vienna, gaining 12 rating points whilst scoring 4/8.

League entry update
25/07/15 Holmes Chapel have confirmed entries in divisions one and two, plus a team in the Open Cup.

Not the AGM Minutes
14/07/15 Most of the NSDCA had the sense to stay away from last nights AGM, those who did go were rewarded with one of the most turgid events that it has been my misfortune to attend. Not that discussion of the new rules and constitution dominated. Roger made clear that there was little point in rehashing all the arguments of previous meetings, and these were dealt with with sufficient lack of fuss that taking this as the yardstick one might have expected the whole affair to be over by nine.

When I finally succumbed to the temptation to look at my watch for the first time it was gone 8.30, and we were closing in on the end of the various reports. These were mostly succinct and relevant though not revelatory, but the gaps between them were filled with visits to various obscure deadends often leading to confusion. I think I heard the question "is that just the results secretary report or the publicity one too" shortly after Steve had delivered his statement which he had started by saying would be both and clearly contained elements belonging to each.

The closest thing to a newsworthy comment I can recall is that ECF membership fees will be going up after after 3 years of being constant, though perhaps there were other items that did not filter through my battle to retain the will to live.

The reports are an essential part of business but to the majority who think that AGMs are too long this seems an obvious area for a more ruthless approach.

Fortunately it is not only good things that come to an end, and we moved on to the proposed new constitution. Suitably numbed, most people put up their hands obediently when told to do so, and we are now the proud owners of a shiny new constitution.

Andrew now sensibly pointed out that we should not be considering rule changes until after elections, and after suitable humming, harring and sorting out exactly which item number consideration of the new rules should become, a vote endorsed Andrew's view.

Election of officers was not a case of the usual suspects continuing in the usual posts. Roger became honorary, but for the first time in living memory we had a contested post when David Hulme was put forward against Andrew for Chairman. Both candidates were asked to speak, and then vacated the premises whilst we did the dirty and elected David. I'm convinced that this was not an anti-Andrew vote, but that David spoke with such infectious enthusiasm that the temptation to vote for him in the hope that he will light up our future was irresistible.

Peter Evans agreed to take over as treasurer from Bill who had announced his retirement some time ago, Steve stays as pubultsmaster, or whatever the appropriate concatenation is, and Robert seemed surprising pleased to be re-elected General Secretary from a field of one.

Onto fixtures secretary, and I heard my name being muttered from somewhere in the general direction of the Meir and Crewe seats. Apparently I was being nominated to stand against the approved candidate Mike Smith from Fenton. It transpired that there were enough Luddites in the room who didn't believe that Mike's computer program could match my handcrafted fixtures to get me elected. Or otherwise they wanted me inside the tent pissing out rather than outside pissing in. I kept my head down during the vote, so I've no idea of my margin of victory or of whom voted which way except in a couple of obvious cases.

David Hulme then further surprised us by taking on the long vacant Events Secretary post too, whilst further changes saw Peter Evans and Bob Perry became our representatives on the county committee.

Most trophies had been returned and were presented to their new holders, though I was somewhat surprised to learn that one was apparently currently across the pond. Both the new treasurer and the meeting as a whole were happy to accept Bill's final set of budgeting recommendations. Alan nicked my copy of these, or maybe I was only ever reading his, but I think it said no change on the fees front.

Onwards, and once more Andrew pointed out that the agenda order was not optimal as all changes should be considered before looking at the composition of the league. Another vote and shuffle. Proposal to do away with entries at AGM defeated, as was attempt to lengthen time controls by 5 minutes per player. F-category grades to be regarded as estimates rather than published grades, sideways reserving to be kept. Proposed new rules accepted.

I'm sure that many players would like extra time - who likes to admit to being good at short time controls? - but as ever there are twin hurdles of late night access to clubs and players potentially returning home at a time when another ten minutes make a difference. It was also the first time I can remember hearing the "it'll lead to better chess argument" at a North Staffs meeting, but I've read it on enough occasions elsewhere that I feel that had we only taken advantage of all such opportunities we would all be playing at GM level. Anyway, this time it was the late night returns that did for the proposal, amd although this was made in reference to junior participation I'm fairly sure that there are those in their second childhood who feel the same way. It might help if at an appropriate place in the rules it said something along the lines of "the normal starting time is 7.30" so that references to 7.40 are seen as the end of a period of grace rather than as the start from which events inevitably drift.

I'm well known to be anti both the new rules and new constitution, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be proved wrong in my fears, but the hostility shown by part of the establishment towards the floor after they had in quick succession voted to retain both entries at the AGM and sideways reserving in defiance of their betters does not bode well.

League entries were submitted as below. Inevitably at this stage these are subject to change, but experience shows that they do give a good indication of the likely shape of the league. I shall update the table and small print as refinements arrive.

League entries as at 13th Aug 2015
Div 1Div 2Div 3Div 4Div 5
H ChapelH ChapelKidsgroveFenton
A third Cheddleton team in division 5 would not be a surprise. Has arisen, alongside just one team in each of divisions one and four: 7/8/15
Crewe may field an extra team in one of the bottom two divisions. Extra team not to happen 5/8/15
Fenton were unwilling to go beyond saying they expected 4 teams with one in each of divisions 4 and 5 being near certain. Reading between the lines we might additionally expect an A team highly likely to appear in either divisions 2 or 3, and another team to ply its trade no higher than division 3:- Confirmed teams in div 3 and 4 and two in div 5 5/8/15. Changed to promote A and C teams one division each 12/8/15.
Holmes Chapel were not present, so I've simply entered same as last year. - confirmed 25/7/15
Newcastle said one in each division with a sixth team either in 3 or 4, and an outside chance of a seventh team in a low division. No 7th team, 6th team in div 2 confirmed 13/8/15
I didn't catch all of the comments from the top table, but I think I heard that the Stafford B team might be moved to division 4. Confirmed div 3 13/8/15

Cup entries were collected and I think were:
Open: Cheddleton, Holmes Chapel, Macclesfield, Newcastle, Stafford
Major U150: Alsager, Cheddleton, Crewe, possibly Fenton, Meir (added 1st Aug), Newcastle
Intermediate U130: Alsager, Cheddleton, Crewe, Meir (transferred to major 1st Aug), Newcastle, Stafford
Minor for Perry Trophy U110: Alsager, Cheddleton, Crewe, Fenton, Meir x 2, Newcastle

These will be passed on to David as events secretary who will make the draws, which he intends to do in the presence of at least one person from outside his home club Crewe.

Next years AGM should be in the week commencing 11th July, with exact date presumably to be confirmed once a venue has been decided. At one stage Steve had felt it necessary to apologise to the meeting for the noise from the host club members, but in truth this was only really noticeable for a short period, and I suspect that those who habitually talk at a conversational level in meetings would have been asked to speak up anyway. Still it was nice to have an excuse for my failure to complete the crossword I was working on, and like several others I took advantage of the respite care available at the bar.

Nobody was mad enough to bring up any other business, so we were allowed out before eleven.

Full Jamboree Results ...
05/07/15 ... can now be found under competitions-rapidplay.

Cheddleton double at Jamboree
04/07/15 Cheddleton won both sections of the rapidplay jamboree. Their A team took the open with a perfect 8, ahead of Stafford on 6 and Newcastle and Macclesfield on 4½. Cheddleton D won by an even bigger margin, their score of 7½ being 2½ clear of joint runners-up Crewe and Newcastle A. Eight teams took part in each section.

Mini report at last
01/07/15 Belatedly barely describes the timing of my production of a report on the 2015 mini congress, but finally I've put something up.

South Potteries Rapidplay
29/06/15 A full house of 21 players took part in the South Potteries Rapidplay yesterday, with Geoff Laurence (Macclesfield) and Jacob Boswell (Cheddleton) initially tieing on 5/6, a half point clear of Martin Frischer (Crewe). The leaders then played off for the title with Jacob winning 2 - 0.

Potty Proposals
24/06/15 Rambling Rook has started to publish his series of articles about proposed changes to the NSDCA rules and constitution. Follow the link to his diary at the top of the page.

Jamboree at last
18/06/15 I've finally dredged up the enthusiasm to start sorting a rapidplay jamboree for this year, to be held at the Bridge Club on Fri 3rd July. Usual format teams of four in two sections, open and U130. Small entry fee £1 per team. Entries on the night cannot be accepted.

Arkell Simul
18/06/15 A report on what sounds like a fun night at Fenton featuring a simultaneous display by GM Keith Arkell can be found on the North Staffs site.

Leek Rapidplay
18/06/15 Keith Arkell warmed up for his simul at fenton by winning the open section of the Leek Rapidplay congress with an unbeaten 5/6. Best placed North Staffs players were Simon Edwards, Alex Richardson, Rob Shaw and Tony Soames, all with 4/6. I don't know whether there was a tie-break between these to determine the winner of the Alan Wilshire Memorial Rosebowl or whether it is shared.

Gloucestershire's Richard Dixon won the U145 section with a perfect 6, ahead of Bill Armstrong and Karl Lockett on 5.

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