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Northumberland Chess Congress 2016

Three club members took part in the 52nd edition of this event, Held in North Shields on September 23-25.

In the Major, for players graded 165 and below, Tim Wrigley (148) was seeded 15th of the 39 entrants. In round 1 he had a fine draw against the top seed, Kevin Wilson (169 in the August grading list) of Darlington. Tim ,with black, offered a draw after 2 hours of play. The offer was finally accepted after three and a half hours! In round 2, Tim had white against John Marsh (141) of Leam Lane. Tim went queen and pawn to rook and bishop up and duly converted. In round 3 he played Stephen Hall (161) of Hetton. On losing a queenside pawn, Tim pushed his f, g, and h pawns in desperation, Stephen pulled his pieces back and Tim pinned one of them, winning the exchange and later the game. In round 4 he played Usai Mauro (160) and, in his own words, swindled a draw from a lost position. The final round saw him play the second seed, |Graham Ashcroft (165). Tim resigned when 2 pawns down in an endgame involving pawns and two rooks each. So he finished on a very creditable 3/5, recording an average score in the low 160s Рwell done, Tim!

Steve Larkin (120) was seeded 20th of the 44 entries in the Minor, for players graded 135 and below. He took a bye in round 1, and in round 2 had white against Faithful Richard, graded zero. This grade had not stopped Faithful drawing with Stan Johnson in round 1, nor did it stop him taking Steve to a King and 6 pawns each ending, which Steve managed to win. In round 3, Steve had black against Norman Anderson (124) of York and, by a crass miscalculation, he lost a bishop for a pawn on move 11. Game over, it seemed, until Norman allowed Steve to fork his queen with a knight check on move 19. Queen to bishop and knight up and the game was on once more. Steve went on the attack with queen and rook, only to see his exposed king trapped in a mating web involving rook, bishop and knight. In round 4, Steve had white against Dennis Beagarie (110) of Tynemouth. Steve did most of the pressing but was unable to find a way through and a draw was agreed. Finally, Steve had black against Brian Whittaker (110) of Thornaby and was given an object lesson a) in how to deal with the French Defence and b) in how to launch an unstoppable sacrificial attack. His final score was 2/5 – should do better!

In the Foundation event, for players graded 105 and below, Dave Humphries (c75) was seeded 10th of the 13 entries. He took a bye in round 1, and in round 2 faced young Harry Wilson. In their first game Dave, with white, allowed a bishop to be trapped and lost. In the second, with black, he was a pawn down but still very much in the game when his time ran out. Sadly, he had an enforced bye in round 3. He made up for this disappointing start with 4 wins on the Sunday against two youngsters, Roshan Gupta and Will Walmsley, both of whom, if Dave is to be believed, are relative newcomers to the game. He finished fourth equal in the event.

So the Tynedale flag was flown at the Congress with mixed results, with Tim certainly making an impressive start to the season.