South Shields NCCU Senior Club Champions 2017


The following is a report submitted by the indefatigable Paul Bielby . A stalwart of the Chess Scene in the North of England and regular player for South Shields for a number of years now.  He can been here holding the Club Championship Trophy he won in 2015. You can also see some examples of his other passion , his paintings on the wall.

Until I retired from teaching 5 years ago I had been concentrating so hard on Junior Chess I had never thought very much about Senior Chess. Sure I knew that some tournaments offered a small prize for the best veteran, but that was all.Retiring allowed me to play more chess for myself. I won the Senior (over-60) competition at the Palaeochora Tournament in Greece, came back home and won the first NCCU Senior Championship for the newly instituted John Littlewood Cup for over-60s. I was hooked on Senior Chess. FIDE stepped in and altered their definition of Senior players so that their Senior Competitions were played in two age-groups, over-50 and over-65.The ECF followed FIDE into running their Senior Championship in two separate sections. I played in the Over-65s and shared top place at the British Championships at Warwick in 2015. Senior Chess, which has been big in Germany for some years, is starting to spread. My favourite Malta tournament has now introduced a Senior Section, sticking to the German pattern of Over-60.

What about Senior Chess in the North of England? The NCCU still runs the John Littlewood Cup competition subsumed within its Individual Championship. In addition it runs a Seniors competition for Club teams. I persuaded a number of my South Shields colleagues to join me in entering the competition this year.

A word about the NCCU Senior Club competition. It is for teams of four from one club. Their average age must be over 55 and no individual can be younger than 35. It is run as a knock-out competition. In the event of a drawn match the first tie-break is board count. To justify this the team with white on board 1 has black on boards 2 and 3 and white again on board four. If board count is equal the team with the higher average age wins. This year’s competition attracted 7 entries, South Shields were given a bye in the first round – straight through to the semi-final. There we met Darlington who had beaten Beverley in R1, and beat them 3-1. In the final we were due to meet Heywood from the Manchester area.
Leeds City Centre Chess Club arranged for us to use their club room for the match and on 22nd July the teams lined up for the match.

South Shields v. Heywood                                                                           

  1. Joe Watson v Martyn Hamer
  2. Paul Bielby  v Paul Timson
  3. Brian Towers v Bill O’Rourke
  4. Eddie Czestochowski v David Almond

The Captains tossed for colours and South Shields were White on boards 1 and 4; Heywood on boards 2 and 3. South Shields were on average by several years the older team.

My game against Paul Timson was the first to finish.  He had the better of the opening and pressed hard, but swapping off pieces enabled me to hold things and a draw was agreed with a rook and seven pawns each left on the board.  At this stage it looked quite possible that all four games might be drawn, allowing us to win on average age!

Joe, who has been a tower of strength for South Shields since his return to chess, was the next to finish with a showy checkmate at the end.

Joe Watson – Martyn Hamer

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bb4 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. Bg5 Ne7 8. Ne2 Ng6 9. c3 Ba5 10. Bg3 h6 11. Be3 Bb6 12. d4 c6 13. Bd3 Qc7 14. h3 Re8 15. Qd2 d5

Absolutely nothing in it so far

  1. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Bf4 Nfd7?

Black would get a better game with 17, dxe4 18. Nxe4 Nd5. Now White wins a pawn

18… exd5 cxd5 19. Rfe1 f6 20. Bg6 Rf8 21. dxe5 fxe5 22. Qxd5 Kh8 23. Bxe5?

The simple 23. Bd3 is much to be preferred

23… Nxe5 24. Qxe5 Qxe5 25. Rxe5 Rxf2 26. Kh2

Avoiding Black’s trap 26. Re8+?? Rf8+

26… Bd7 27. Re7 Bc6 28. Be4 Bxe4 29. Nxe4 Rxb2 30. Rf1 Rc8 31. Rff7 Rc4?

A horrible blunder. 31. Re2 is safe enough. Now White forces mate.

32… Nf6!

Black resigns – there is no defence.

This put us one up but, being on top board also meant board count would give us the match with only one draw from our final two games needed.  It was not going to be easy though.  Eddie  , the junior in the side aged 54 ,had been a pawn ahead in his game, but got himself into serious time trouble and succumbed.

All square again and all depended on Brian.  Could he get a draw?

Bill O’Rourke  –  Brian Towers

1… e4 d6 2. f4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O c6 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. a4

This game seems to have turned itself into a sort of Kings Gambit declined

9… Nxe4 10. Bxf7 Rxf7 11. Nxe4 d5 12. Ng5 Bxg5 13. fxg5 Rxf1 14. Qxf1 Nc5 15. b3 Ne4 16. h4 Bg4 17. Ba3 Qb6 18. Qd3 c5 19. Nb5 c4 20. Qd4 cxb3 21. Qxb6 axb6 22. cxb3 Rc8 23. Rf1 Ng3 24. Rf2 Ne4 25. Rf4 Bd1 26. Nd4 Nc5 27. Nf5 Re8 28. a5

White has a slight advantage here and knows he needs to win.  He aims to increase the pressure on the Q side

28… Bxb3 29. axb6 Ne6 30. Rf3 Bc4 31. Nd6 Rf8 32. Rxf8 Nxf8!

Much better than 32. … Kxf8 when White wins the b-pawn unhindered.

33… Nxb7 Nd7 34. Bc5?

A blunder after which Black is clearly winning

34… Ba6 35. Kf2 Bxb7 36. Bd4 g6 37. Kf3 Kf7 38. g4 Ke6 39. Kf4 Kd6 40. h5 Kc6 41. Bf2 Kb5 42. Bd4 Kc4 43. Ke3 Nc5

After which point – with both players down to about 2 minutes each – nobody wrote down any moves.  The game lasted for several more moves, White blundered away his bishop and resigned just before his clock fell.

So we won the match by 2½-1½.  Desperately close; desperately exciting,  Age and experience won out in the end.  We really enjoyed our experience of Senior chess and very much hope that other  clubs in the North-East will join in next year .

Our thanks also go to Dave Patterson who was part of the team that beat Darlington in the previous Round . This was as always a club effort by South Shields.

Paul Bielby accepting the Seniors Trophy from Bryan Bainbridge