ECF County Championship Finals 2013-14

On the right, from right to left: Messrs Adair, Palliser and Ledger scored 2/3 between them on the top three boards

On the right, from right to left: Messrs Adair, Palliser and Ledger scored 2/3 between them on the top three boards

Yorkshire’s Tour de Force!

At this time of year it’s hard to resist making references to the fantastic summer of sport that’s been unfolding over the last few weeks. There’s been the World Cup, Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix of course but this website is all about Yorkshire chess, so how could we not begin by reflecting on our very own Grand Depart. God’s own country made the first two days of this year’s Tour de France an occasion that will live long in the memories of both the spectators and the riders themselves. It was a truly inspiring weekend and became to Yorkshire what the 2012 Olympics was to London.

Perhaps the spirit of the Grand Depart inspired Yorkshire’s thirty two representatives in the ECF County Championship Finals as they travelled down to Warwick last Saturday to take on Middlesex in two of the seven sections. The main event of course was the Open section where Mark Birkin led a particularly strong side into battle. Meanwhile Rupert Jones captained an Under 160 side that had proven formidably resilient in previous rounds of the competition having seen off Kent by a single point and then Cambridgeshire by a couple of points.

Mark continues with the sporting analogies in his report on the Open team’s match below:

Matty Webb (right in the baseball cap) won what was widely proclaimed to be the most interesting game of the day on board 6 against Robert Eames, who threw the kitchen sink at him

Matty Webb (right in the baseball cap) won what was widely proclaimed to be the most interesting game of the day on board 6 against Robert Eames, who threw the kitchen sink at him

Young guns shoot down Middlesex

In a week when Latin American dreams of dominance were cruelly exposed by Germany’s footballers, Yorkshire’s premier chess players put on a performance that was similarly Teutonic in its power and efficiency.

It was appropriate that the county’s player of the season, Matthew Webb, should lead the way in his first appearance for the Open team. He scored the first full point of the match as Yorkshire’s younger generation initiated a blitzkrieg in the early stages that laid the foundation for victory. Hot on the heels of Matty’s success came wins for David Grant, who followed up his important semi-final win with another convincing performance; and James Adair, who seemed to benefit from sound opening preparation to emerge strongly from the opening and never appeared in trouble thereafter. Oskar Hackner’s opponent navigated to a queen and pawn ending with level material but was then unable to hold on.

David Grant's attractive win on board 11 helped to get Yorkshire off to a flying start

David Grant’s attractive win on board 11 helped to get Yorkshire off to a flying start

Like Germany at half time against the Brazilians in that World Cup semi-final, Yorkshire were already home and hosed. As the match drew on the more experienced players also prospered. Jon Nelson and Jim Burnett both overcame highly rated opponents and Colm Barry’s positional judgement proved more than a match for his adversary’s pretension to dynamics. Later on it was John Cooper who completed the job in style and brought the match score to a rather convincing 11½ – 4½.

Overall I felt that we were good value for our win but readers can judge for themselves as the games are all available in the viewer at the end of this post. It was an exceptional team performance on the day, so thanks and congratulations to all participants. I would also like to thank those other players who made a valuable contribution in earlier matches of the campaign but were unable to play in the final – Martin Carpenter, Julian Chapman, Matthias Gantner, Ihor Lewyk, Mark Rogerson, Daniel Sullivan, Paul Townsend, Jean-Luc Weller and Winston Williams.

Here’s the final match scorecard:

Yorkshire 11½ – 4½ Middlesex
James Adair 1 – 0 Richard Bates
Richard Palliser ½ – ½ Jochem Snuverink
Andrew Ledger ½ – ½ Tomer Eden
Jonathan Nelson 1 – 0 Richard McMichael
David Adams ½ – ½ Colin Crouch
Matthew Webb 1 – 0 Robert Eames
Oskar Hackner 1 – 0 Andrew Stone
Alan Walton ½ – ½ David Okike
Jim Burnett 1 – 0 Carsten Pedersen
Colm Barry 1 – 0 Jochen Wittmann
David Grant 1 – 0 Peter Ackley
Kieron O’Driscoll ½ – ½ Steven Coles
John Cooper 1 – 0 Colin Mackenzie
Phil Watson 0 – 1 Mateusz Dydak
Peter Shaw ½ – ½ Ian Calvert
Mark Birkin ½ – ½ Guy Batchelor


Strength in depth proves decisive for U160’s

Peter Braham (standing), Tom Wills (looking disconsolate!) and Jonathan Swallow (on the right) faced a stern test on the top three boards in the U160 section and came away with 1/3 between them

Peter Braham (standing), Tom Wills (looking disconsolate!) and Jonathan Swallow (on the right) faced a stern test on the top three boards in the U160 section and came away with 1/3 between them

Let’s return once again to our sporting analogies. No matter what the sport any good and successful team captain or manager will tell you that it’s important to have a strong squad of players that can perform effectively in the roles that are assigned to them. Having no weak links in your team makes it so much harder for the opposition to beat you. At the World Cup Germany didn’t necessarily have the individual superstars in their line up that some of the other sides could boast but they had no real weaknesses and they played very effectively as a unit. The whole was greater than the sum of their parts.

Similarly, Rupert Jones has fashioned a very effective unit in the Under 160s section of this year’s county championship. He’s been careful to try and position players in the line up so as to take advantage of their strengths and he’s also managed to get a substantial pool of players from across the county involved in the campaign. The team representing Yorkshire in the final on Saturday drew on players from all four corners of the county.

The real secret of our success has been the consistent strength in depth of the team. In all three rounds of the knockout out phase a similar pattern has emerged. Yorkshire have competed fiercely in the top and middle orders and have held the balance. Further down the boards they have been truly destructive and scored heavily.

A rare photo of your correspondent playing chess! At this juncture I was wracking my brains trying to remember the best way to refute 7... d5?! in the Giuoco Piano. I managed in the end!

A rare photo of your correspondent playing chess! At this juncture I was wracking my brains trying to remember the best way to refute 7… d5?! in the Giuoco Piano. I managed in the end!

It was no different on Saturday. Just like their Open section counterparts, the U160s got out of the blocks very quickly and their opponent’s just couldn’t make up the ground. On board 15 Pete Mason won his game with Black in just twelve moves and shortly after this Dave Shapland completed a similar rout with White in thirteen moves. Having played for less than one hour Yorkshire were already two points up.

Middlesex arrested the early momentum by winning on board 7 and then drawing on board 9. With hindsight perhaps this was a critical moment in the match because Bill Clark told me later that he was worse when he offered the draw and hadn’t expected his opponent to accept the offer.

After this the tide turned back rapidly and permanently in Yorkshire’s favour. Ken McIntosh restored the two point advantage with a smooth win on board 13 and then David Stothard increased the lead to three points by grinding out a win in a rook and pawn endgame. More draws came for Randy Donahue, David Adam, our Captain Rupert Jones, Jonathan Swallow and young Tom Wills on board 2 who was disappointed not to have converted an early advantage.

The team went ‘over the top’ when Andy Leatherbarrow pounced on a tactical oversight by Nigel Colter to win on the spot, Alan McIntosh beat Steve Sonnis on board 16 and Robin Browne (after missing a couple of tactical shots in the middle game) finally overcame Atreya Mandnikar on board 5 in a one-sided king and pawn ending.

Middlesex did score further consolation points on board 1 and board 4 but the truth was Yorkshire never really looked in danger of relinquishing their early advantage. The familiar pattern was reflected in the final match score card (below). Yorkshire scored -2 on the top eight boards but held their own and kept the score tight whilst the bottom eight boards scored +6!

Middlesex 6 – 10 Yorkshire
Kevin Millward 1 – 0 Peter Braham
Paul Kennelly ½ – ½ Tom Wills
Charles MacAleenan ½ – ½ Jonathan Swallow
William Phillips 1 – 0 Gawain Ako
Atreya Mandnikar 0 – 1 Robin Browne
Richard Thursby ½ – ½ Rupert Jones
Frank Zurstiege 1 – 0 Paul Clarke
Greg Breed ½ – ½ David Adam
Peter Morton ½ – ½ Bill Clark
Keith Jones 0 – 1 Dave Shapland
Nigel Colter 0 – 1 Andy Leatherbarrow
John Woolley ½ – ½ Randy Donahue
Charlie Cooke 0 – 1 Ken McIntosh
Jagdeep Dhemrait 0 – 1 David Stothard
Michael Price 0 – 1 Peter Mason
Steve Sonnis 0 – 1 Alan McIntosh


There are no fewer than 25 games in the viewer below! All of the Open games and nine from the U160. Plenty for you to enjoy.


18 Responses to “ECF County Championship Finals 2013-14”

  1. Matt

    Jul 18. 2014

    Fantastic summary which I figure was all made much easier given you were a spectator for the vast majority of the match! What a lovely 13 move win in the final Dave. Awesome stuff!

    Ps. I bet you would have won quicker with the Kings Gambit – hahahaha

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Jul 18. 2014

      My brother managed about 6 or 7 one year vs Lancs ;)

      It always helps a team a lot to have that sort of very early win though. The open match was live over the web of course and actually entirely non stressful to watch because it was so obviously one sided.

      The eventual 11.5 really didn’t flatter.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Rupert Jones

    Jul 18. 2014

    Dave is this your report or is it still on the way? Fantastic weekend and the curry was excellent in the Corner Cafe later!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Rupert Jones

    Jul 18. 2014

    I ‘m an idiot of course its Dave. I will be writing something as an add on…Thanks Dave/ Mark for excellent reports; I note that the Middlesex website has been v quiet! An early reminder that everyone in Yorkshire can play county chess; first we need volunteers to put their hands up to be captains…The un160’s or its equivalent have been in 7 finals in the last 12 years, winning 4; this is the 3rd time the Open team have won this century & the 180’s have been in the final three times; winning once. But from 140 down no one has been to a final EVER!! Lets change that!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Matthew Parsons

    Jul 18. 2014

    Liked matt webbs game. Sign of a confident player. Well played. Nice to actually see your games matty. Moves 15- 18 seemed to decide the outcome of the game.

    David – nice game, but wouldnt it be nice to actually have a game that lasts longer than 15 moves? Sign of a strong county team.

    Really looking at those players in the u160, you could as easily be on board 1 as well as board 10. Lots of strong players of similar ability.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Jul 18. 2014

      The strength in depth in Yorkshire chess is just massive on paper :) Organisation, a Rupert notes, has been the problem!

      Even the open team this year – where Mark did a tremendous job organising – was ‘forced’ to field players like me/Daniel Sullivan in the semi.

      No, we’re not remotely awful players, but we really aren’t very near the top 16 in Yorkshire. Daniel actually said at the time that he’s probably not in the top 16 players in Sheffield :) I was very happy not to have to play in the final.

      At least Mark’s work meant we filled those bottom four boards for the semi fairly sensibly. It has often been a major weakness and our record in quarter/semi finals over the years genuinely isn’t good.
      (Mind you, the SCCU teams do also seem to have been really struggling on boards 15/16 this season.).

      Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      Jul 18. 2014

      Thanks Matthew, I can’t deny my confidence is quite unshakeable at the moment so just enjoying it as much as possible :-)

      I can however virtually guarantee a loss quite soon in fact, the upcoming European Club Cup in Bilbao this September beckons… I suspect I’ll not be on bottom board either so a true test of my current form.

      I’m not sure I’d relish the opportunity to face Dave, we can certainly agree whatever the outcome the game would be very short! ha

      Reply to this comment
  5. Martin Carpenter

    Jul 18. 2014

    Are we allowed to claim Matty for the in between age group?

    The crop of juniors just going to/(and coming from!) University right now is quite amazingly strong, as is the set of very established players/very strong players coming back to the game post retirement.

    For some reason the generation(s) in between have mostly tended to stick closer to 180 than 200 meaning that we need all the open team representatives we can claim :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      Jul 18. 2014

      Do you know how old I am Martin? :-)

      Reply to this comment
      • Martin Carpenter

        Jul 18. 2014

        FIDE do :) Too old for the junior team I’d afraid as is Lang.

        Harsh but we’ve got to give everyone else a chance! Even being strict they’ve got Adair, Weller (J), Hackner, Grant, Brown, Weller (P), Li for starters…..

        Reply to this comment
        • Martin Carpenter

          Jul 19. 2014

          Actually is it just me who finds FIDE publishing full birth dates for everyone publically rather creepy? Rather modest by their overall standards I guess…..

          Just checked and 55 are fairly safely the two biggest age groups in the top 30. Combined they actually outnumber everyone else. You could do a quite sane semi juniors – seniors match :)

          The team in the middle would struggle rather vs either.

          Reply to this comment
          • Matt

            Jul 19. 2014

            Interesting idea! I’d be excluded then :-(

          • Martin Carpenter

            Jul 19. 2014

            Well you could get ‘opted in’ as a slightly over age junior ;)

            Mostly interesting as an observation of course – we’ve seemingly got roughly as many very strong (just ex) juniors from a span of about 5 years as we had from the previous 20(30 even?) combined.

            I presume this to be mostly dumb luck but maybe there’s some planning underlying it.

            To be fair the team ‘in between’ does have both Richard P and Ledger in it :) How many 190’s you’d get depends on quite who you allow to count. 5 or 6 I guess.

  6. Dave

    Jul 18. 2014

    Perhaps I should explain Matty’s reference to the King’s Gambit.
    Having driven for 4 hours to get to the match (we were delayed for ages on the M6) I sat down at the board 15 minutes after the start time and in no fit state to concentrate on playing chess. When my opponent played 1…e5 I seriously considered playing the King’s Gambit, which I have never played over the board in my life.

    Luckily for me I hadn’t completely lost all sense for I made myself sit there for 5 minutes and think it through before eventually deciding that I should play the continuation I knew best whenever there was a choice to make. By the time I got to a stage in the game where I actually had to start thinking for myself (when he played 7…d5?!) I had managed to sort my head out and concentrate properly.

    Matthew P, normally I’d have agred with you that it was a shame to have such a short game but, bearing in mind the travails of the drive down I was glad of a short game and a speedy victory!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Adrian Dawson

    Jul 18. 2014

    Execellent results and very exciting games to play through. Congratulations to the Yorkshire teams!

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      Jul 22. 2014

      Thanks Adrian, it was a pleasure to be apart of. Let’s hope we can continue our successes into next season!!

      Reply to this comment


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