Northumberland rapidplay championships

This event was held at Forest Hall on Sunday March 15th. Three club members took part. Peter Crichton played in the Major (under 160) where he was ranked 6th of the 14 entries., while Steve Larkin and Damian Rudge played in the Minor (under 130), where they were ranked respectively 19th and 24th of the 26 entries. The format was 5 rounds of one hour each (30 minutes per player), with 2 rounds before lunch and 3 afterwards.

Peter’s first game was against Manoj Arora (Gosforth 130). With mistakes on both sides, the game ended in a draw. In round 2 he had a good win against Andy Robinson (Gosforth 151) and in round 3 drew with the top seed, Robert Mitcheson (Morpeth 157): this game was even throughout, coming down to an opposite-coloured bishops ending – another good result for Peter. Round 4 produced another draw, this time against Darren Laws (Tynemouth 147), so Peter went into the final round undefeated. Alas, he came unstuck against his lowest-graded opponent, Mark Younger (Forest Hall 121), who was having a blinder of a championships. With white he launched a strong kingside attack which Peter was unable to repel. So Peter emerged with 2.5/5, a good result in a strong field.

Steve’s first game in the Minor was against Ralph Firth (Alnwick 123). Steve looked good for at least a draw and maybe a win till he allowed Ralph’s knight to fork king and queen. In round 2 his opponent Richard Kuby (Middlesborough 73) resigned after touching one piece and wishing to move another (he had already made one illegal move which would have lost him the game had Steve been minded to claim it). Round 3 brought Hanif Zaman (Jesmond 115), a very sharp young lad who played very quickly and opted to force a draw by repetition. In round 4 Steve launched a speculative kingside attack against Graham Matthews (Hartlepool 114). It failed to have the desired effect, and thereafter Steve was comprehensively outplayed. Steve rounded off the day by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Dave Parlour (South Shields 101). With queen, rook and pawns against bishop, rook and pawns, Steve played the one move which made possible a forced mate for Dave – oh dear oh dear! So 1.5/5 was the unimpressive outcome.

Damian had a tough time, with a succession of strong and experienced opponents. In round 1 it was Jeff Baird (Forest Hall 117), to whom Damian lost by a miscalculation. His big moment came in round 2 when he defeated Kevin Waterman (Hartlepool 111). The euphoria was soon dispelled when he was outplayed in round 3 by Joe Chan (Gosforth 121). Against Stan Johnson (South Shields 108) he blundered and lost. His round 5 game against young Johnny Wall (Forest Hall 95)  was much closer but came down to his rook and pawns against Johnny’s queen and pawns and the queen prevailed. So 1/5 for Damian, but no easy rides and an impressive victory.

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