Player of the month

Player of the month – October

Apologies for leaving this so late but I have finally decided my player of the month for October.

Andrew Ledger was a joint winner of the immensely strong Scarborough Open congress where he scored 4.5 out of 5 and played an excellent last round game against 4NCL team mate, Laurence Webb, to get a share of the lead. He also won two important league games for his club teams and is my player of the month for October.

Scarborough Chess Congress 2014 Report

There were so many really good candidates for October and I hope I don’t miss anyone out when I list the ones that have caught my eye.

Previous winner of player of the month for March, Matty Webb, continues his astounding form by winning the Hull Open at a canter with 5 out of 5. He followed this up with an excellent unbeaten Scarborough congress where he had to face tournament favourite James Adair in the final round and also had a couple of excellent evening league results.

Scarborough and Hull congresses featured a number of players who showed excellent form. James Adair also remained unbeaten with 4 out of 5 at Scarborough and 3 out of 4 in his league matches.

Jos Woolley of York played in both congresses and fared well, only dropping a point in each section. John Cooper of Hull and Jim Burnett of Doncaster also played in both congresses. They both scored 3.5 and 3 points out of 5 but Jim scored better at Hull while John fared better at Scarborough.

Jim Burnett played a whopping 16 games in October for various club teams as well as his congress matches. Dave Patrick out did this playing 19 games in October. That’s more than one every other day. He didn’t seem tired from these exploits as he managed a cash earning 4 out of 5 in the Scarborough Major.

Another prolific congress player, Robert Clegg, emulated Dave by scoring 4 in the Scarborough Major which was a replica of his excellent score in the Hull Major at the beginning of the month.

September’s player of the month, Mike Hankinson, had a terrific October too scoring 3.5 at the Scarborough Open and had 2 wins in the Yorkshire league.

Anastasios Nezis earns credit for being the lowest rated player scoring 3.5 in the Scarborough Open, while Alex Combie only lost to Andy Ledger in the open to gain 3.5 points and has added 1.5 in his league matches over this month.

Paul Salisbury is another rare player to achieve huge plus scores in both congresses last month. He finished with 4 out of 5 at both tournaments. William Egan was top of the minor at Scarborough but also added 2 points from 4 games in various league games. Geoff Ainsley scored 3.5 at Hull and 3 out of 5 at Scarborough which helped increase his live rating over the month by a massive 12 points.

There have also been some heavy hitters in local leagues. Scarborough player Simon Dixon has won 4 games out of 4 for his team in the York league.

Chris Tinker of Wakefield scored an equally impressive 5.5 out of his 6 games.

Oskar Hackner scored 4 out of 5 but fellow Sheffield league players Anthony Natt of Clay Cross, Adrian Millward of Stannington and Danny Dawson of Darnell and Handsworth got a bigger percentage with their 3.5 out of 4 scores.

Nick Sykes of Hebden Bridge was another player scoring 3.5 out of 4 and this increased his rating by 6 points on the live ratings.

The highest jump in live ratings was 21 points for Tobi Okusanya of Sheffield University who scored 100% in his three matches in October. Jerome Redhead of Clay Cross also scored 3 out of 3 in his October matches.

Max Littlewood jumped 15 rating points on his live rating and scored 4 out of 6 in the York junior congress. The York junior was won by Joshua Bridges with 5.5 out of 6.

Keighley Chess Club colleagues Paul Day and Mark Cunningham scored 3 out of 4 and 2.5 out of 3 for their teams last month, while Undercliffe C duo Andrew Walker and Derek Ludlam both weighed in with 2.5 from 3 games for their team last month.


Former Yorkshire Chess Association President and Secretary. I'm not the brains of the editorial team but I can live with being a glorified typist as well as the resident grammar pedant. I have captained Bradford A in the Woodhouse cup for over 30 years. I'm fairly easy going, sometimes diplomatic and I think my enthusiasm is infectious but not life threatening. The English chess world needs to wake up and smell the coffee before league chess collapses altogether.

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20 Responses to “Player of the month”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Nov 10. 2014

    Looks like Tony Slinger managed to cram in even more games during the month (just over 20.). They’re all a bit frightening to me. I’d almost be happy with managing that many in a season…..

    Jos sometimes seems to be preordained to score precisely 3.5/5 in every open he enters :)

    Reply to this comment
  2. Matthew Parsons

    Nov 11. 2014

    Clearly i need to do harder to get a mention, best month I’ve had in ages!

    Alas…

    But well done to those mentioned.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Matt

    Nov 11. 2014

    Your 8½ / 10 just doesn’t cut it buddy – ha!

    … but at least you’re now pushing towards the 190 barrier, target before the end of the season perhaps?

    Reply to this comment
  4. Matthew Parsons

    Nov 11. 2014

    Haha Matty,

    Suppose i did let myself down with a draw with a 140, good player though he is.

    I’m aiming for 185. Small steps!

    Be thrilled with that.

    Thought for a while that my standard grades were a but low, and that my rapids were a bit high.

    Think 185 would be about right for me right now.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Nick Sykes

    Nov 11. 2014

    Well I got a mention on the Yorkshire Chess website, I’ve made it!

    Hope to do just a well next month

    Reply to this comment
  6. Ihor Lewyk

    Nov 11. 2014

    Sorry Matthew Parsons.
    A glaring omission on my part for not including you. A truly excellent month for you.
    Please let me know if I’ve missed anyone out. I could do with as much help as possible because there are so many leagues out there.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Nick Sykes

    Nov 11. 2014

    You know what Matty I might if I didn’t have a very demanding job and 2 small children.

    I am positive you would have loads to offer someone of my level in a coaching role! :-)

    Reply to this comment
  8. Matthew Parsons

    Nov 11. 2014

    No worries Ihor, it was all very much tongue in cheek.

    How anyone is meant to pick a player of the month with the amount of the players we have is beyond me!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Andy Bak

    Nov 12. 2014

    There’s another name I could mention – Tim Hilton scored very well in the Hull and Scarborough Opens and increased his grade from 156 to 164, that’s a pretty massive leap for someone who plays as many games as he does!

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Nov 12. 2014

      He’s having a good year overall so far no doubt, but was 159 before losing three in a row just before the month started :)

      A weight of 25ish (as he started the month with) is still low enough to let your grade move about quite a bit – one of the ‘features’ of chessnuts is that it lets peoples weights drop a lot from March – September, so everyone’s live grades are quite volatile early in the season.

      Once you hit January or so the weights build up and it gets much harder for busier people to move their grades very much.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Matt

    Nov 12. 2014

    I have a lot of respect for Tim, from what I have seen of his chess I’m certain he is a much stronger player than his current grade. However, like Andy said the number of games he plays seems to hamper his overall improvement somewhat. He is also a little too obsessed with his grade (game by game) rather than focusing his attention on learning from the lessons of his previous games, but that’s another topic.

    I’m undecided whether or not I like the Chessnuts calculated weight, on one hand it means new, returning or infrequent players get a very wide range from which their grade can fluctuate and importantly what impact it has on you playing them – great, I agree with this.

    On the other hand, take a player like Peter Shaw from example, 80+ games per season. A tremendous year for him would be gaining 2 or 3 points….

    He is currently on +12 (+15 =8 -3) versus av. 174.7, I understand that on average he is playing players 20 points below his grade so shouldn’t gain a tremendous amount, however, scoring plus 12+ after 26 games to see zero movement I personally would find greatly depressing. Incidentally, some guy called Fabiano Caruana(?) scored a mere +7 in a recent tournament (against players of equal strength) and this catapulted his rating to historic heights and will go down as one of the greatest performances ever!

    So what I am getting at, in a rather overly sarcastic manner is, I feel this “weight” actually discourages players from playing more frequently, especially if they want to see a big improvement in their grade!

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Nov 12. 2014

      Not a problem with chessnuts this.

      A grade is *meant* to be a statistical prediction of future performance. If someone has played a huge number of games at a given grade then you obviously want to be very cautious about suddenly deciding they’ve improved/got worse.

      There is a structural problem of a sort in that it is basically impossible to get a field much above 175-180 average in ‘local’ chess, – or even many opens – so you have to both reach and mantain that sort of massive plus score for year after year to mantain a 200+ grade.

      As it happens, Pete’s grading performance over those 26 games is ‘only’ 196/7 so within the error margin from 194 :)

      That prospect would depress me slightly but some people seem to like winning! I’m sure it limits some of the grades for very strong ameteurs.

      There is a slight problem with new/returning peoples grades in that you wouldn’t really want to publish them before they’ve played 5 games and they actually start to mean something!

      Not an option for Jon of course :) He does make sure that playing people with very low weights hardly affects their opponents grades either way though.

      Reply to this comment
      • Peter Shaw

        Nov 12. 2014

        I think the grading system works well for players who play lots of games like me. If you’ve been the same level for hundreds of games, it should takes more than a few wins (or losses) for your grade to change significantly. This did work to my advantage during my period of awful form in late 2011/early 2012 when I only lost 10 points or so. Although I note that 3 years on, my grade still hasn’t recovered from the loss to Eddie Mellor…

        I do quite like the fact that between 24/01/12 and and 01/03/14 I played 182 games and my live grade stayed within a 4 point range (188-192). That shows I’m pretty consistent if nothing else!

        I do have an issue with the grading system for players who hardly play any games resulting in massive swings after a period in inactivity. I don’t think grades with weights below 5 (say) should be used for determining board order infringements but I guess that’s a diferent debate.

        Reply to this comment
        • Martin Carpenter

          Nov 13. 2014

          The consistency is very impressive :)

          I think we only use end of year chessnuts grades for board order, so grades with small weights not such a problem there.

          It definitely makes a pleasant change from how the ECF operated in the past year or two, where they only took the most recent 30/all games in a 6 month period if you’re over 60 a year.

          That meant you could have grades of even people with 50/60 games a season fluctuating rather more randomly than is sensible. Happily, they’ve stopped that now though :)

          Reply to this comment
  11. Andy Bak

    Nov 12. 2014

    I think the grading system works really well, even with the weightings. Martin makes the main point – it’s tough to play strong enough opposition in evening league chess to get your grade to increase.

    Grades are supposed to represent an average performance over a decent sample size, they aren’t supposed to fluctuate too much whether you’re in form/out of form.

    Plenty of players have shown that if you’re good enough, you can break out of the 170-180 bracket and get into the high 190s/200+.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Nov 12. 2014

      Even opens don’t help that much once you’re in the top half of the draw all the time. 200 is definitely more easily sustainable than it was though. Much above that in evening leagues probably still requires fairly huge scoring.

      Easier for an ECF grade of course – Paul Townsend’s 218 ecf ‘only’ took 66% percent. Division 1 4NCL, normally top board Yorkshire league etc so very tough field.

      Not that I’d really advocate changing where you play to pump your grade a little. Different matter if you’re getting bored of course :)

      I’ve often been ~5 grading pts lower in the Yorkshire league than everything else, but there’s a much more important reason for playing in that!
      (Even the season I went 10/11 was just <200 :)).

      Reply to this comment
  12. Martin Carpenter

    Nov 12. 2014

    Actually can nigh on quantify this :)

    Plenty of very strong players for Sheffield/York etc in the Woodhouse in recent years, some on really quite low boards. Only 3 even reaching even 80 per cent. Even 75 per cent is good going.

    So more than ~25 grading pts over the field you’re playing is incredibly hard to maintain over a long period.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Matthew Parsons

    Nov 13. 2014

    I respect Tim Hiltons ability as well, probably just needs more confidence in himself.

    I like his enthusiasm for the game.

    Eddie beating Peter was indeed memorable, nice guy much missed.

    I’m trying to play as much as possible this year to get my grade to a point approaching some level of accuracy.

    Someone like Peter – I don’t need his grade to know how strong he is, the evidence of this games and playing him is enough, however when you play that much chess you know that someones grade is accurate.

    For instance, i played someone last night, who only plays about 6-7 games a year, and i’m convinced his grade his 20-25 points lower than it would be if he played as much as peter.

    Though we can all be a bit too obsessed with grades, its not just Tim.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Nov 13. 2014

      Definitely! Sanest is to stick a decent error margin on them (+-5 at least), identify those players close to your level, those genuinely better etc.

      Once working out more or less where I stand, I’ve only really got mildly interested back in 2012 when I had a shot a hitting 200 live and that was mostly amusement/possible life time peak value :)

      It then went from 193 to 177 in 4 games and 171 shortly after that! And my ECF dropped 22 from July to Jan. Well deserved actually as my chess did turn horribly erratic, blunder strewn and frankly a bit rubbish at times.

      That bothered me more than my grade of course :) More stable now, if not super brilliant.

      Reply to this comment

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