6 March 2021

Firstly, and most importantly, I hope everyone is keeping safe and well!

Secondly, a big welcome to those of you who have contacted me during the pandemic/lockdown period expressing interest in Wetherby Chess Club and asked to be added to the circulation list - I am just sorry, we have not been able to meet and welcome you properly during this period.

Update (no, update!)

I have to apologize for the lack of news or contact over the last few months. Basically, there is still nothing to update you on and no news about any resumption to OTB chess activities or league action. Hopefully the pandemic rates will continue to improve and we will soon start to see the route back to normality and from there the resumption of physical chess activity.

I am sorry also that I have not arranged any online chess activity for the club. As some of you know, I retrained to work in dementia care and started a new job just before the pandemic began and as you might imagine, this has just exploded over this difficult period as carers and their loved ones have struggled. Unfortunately, having less time will impinge on my chess life and particularly my ability to continue with the organization of club activities in the way I did before the pandemic. John G had kindly started to help with the club management as we grew in our second season. So, this is an early notice if there is anyone else in the club who is also able and willing to help in this regard when we restart please let me know.


The club website has been revamped during the last few months and now includes these Newsletters and issues of The Bugle (newsletter of the Harrogate Chess League).

Online chess & invitation

I know several people have been playing regularly on the various internet chess platforms. For anybody not already doing so and wanting to take part in some online chess events, Paul M has kindly arranged for any Wetherby Chess club member who is not already involved, to be invited to the regular Alwoodley Chess online tournaments which includes members from different clubs (including our sister club Limewood). So again anyone who is interested in this, please let me know.

I've not been able to play online much or regularly, but I am pleased to have discovered the delights of correspondence (Daily) chess which fits my working patterns better. My chess highlight during the pandemic has been getting to play against a Ukranian GM (just the small matter of an OTB rating of 2529 elo to deal with!). The game lasted 5 months and 59 moves (hehe, I resigned not him!) but I avoided a quick loss so felt it was a 'win' for me! :) Anyway, it was a great lesson and a total privilege and as a bonus the GM has very kindly offered to analyze the game with me - wow! Hope you have also been able to generate some chess memories and most importantly have fun during this difficult time.


Of course we can't have an email without a puzzle, so try this one ..... this position is taken from a 30m+30s game I have been able to play on lichess - I'm white and my opponent (1955) here played 14... c5xd4 , what is the move I managed to find that forced his resignation? (I was chuffed - never won a game in so few moves!)

I'm conscious that - as for me - circumstances or intentions may have changed for some of you since we had to suspend club activities, so, if for whatever reason, you want to be removed from the circulation list please let me know.

Hope to be able to catch up properly as soon as we can

Keep safe and Best wishes


Puzzle answer...

The eye is drawn towards threats to black's exposed kingside.... but 15 Rxd4! wins a piece as the black knight is pinned to the queen

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2 September 2020

Hope everyone is keeping well and safe! Apologies for the lack of any recent contact - my work has been particularly busy during the months of lockdown and there hasn't been much to report over the summer.

The good news is that over the last few months I've been approached by a few people interested in finding out a bit more our club and perhaps joining us when we restart, so a hearty welcome to John, Lewis and Alec - hopefully we'll be able to meet and welcome you in person sooner rather than later :)

League news

Sadly, there is no news on any OTB restart. There are no dates yet for the resumption of either Harrogate or York chess leagues. The AGMs for both leagues have not been held either so issues in particular about promotion/relegation for York (ie will our first team be in Division 1) have not been discussed (thanks to John G for overseeing the York league aspects on the club's behalf to date).

The only club chess activity was earlier in the summer when Wetherby Chess entered a team for the annual Harrogate Chess League Jamboree - which this year was held on line. Thank you to Mick, Alan and Paul for joining me in the 4 board team. All the Harrogate league clubs put in a team (barring Ilkley) and it was a good fun with all players competing against opponents from different teams. The only consistent factor being, we were all massively outgraded by our opposition. Anyway, it was still a fun evening and we weren't totally outclassed and didn't finish bottom (we benefited from a grading handicap bonus also) . Thanks to Mick Stokes for organising the event.

I've attached copies of the 'The Bugle' sent over the summer, which gives a record of the Jamboree event and also other Harrogate chess league news such as it is. You view them all in our Bugle section.

ECF membership"

For those of you who play competitively, you've probably seen something directly about renewing your annual ECF memberships which are due now. Of course this year is difficult for the ECF as there is currently no OTB chess, so I think there is a concern that if members don't renew in a timely manner or wait until leagues start again then the ECF may have financial difficulties. With this in mind and to help encourage early renewal, The Chess and Bridge Company - is offering special enhanced discounts until 13 September - essentially I think it offers you a discount equal to the cost of your chosen membership. The ECF renewal page with all the details & member benefits etc is here: ECF membership partners & benefits


Can't finish without some chess! - here is a position from my game in the Harrogate Jamboree earlier in the summer.

I'm white against a much stronger player (164 ECF) - two pawns up with only a couple of minutes left on the clock (my opponent has even less) I have the pressure of trying to pull off the greatest win of my very humble chess career ..... what to play to win!? .

C Tatham v B Coop 15June2020

It's not the easiest puzzle...well, it was certainly too tough for me in the game with a few seconds to think about it! (answer below)

Anyway, will report back when I have any further news to pass on

Keep safe and Best wishes, Chris

Puzzle answer...

42 Qe7! sets up a mating net which can only be avoided if black gives up the queen, for example:
42 ...Qe1
43 Qf8+ h5
44 g4+ Kg5
45 h4+ Qxh4 (Kxh4 - Qh6 mate!)
46 Qx7+ Kh6
47 Qxh4 (and the black queen is lost).

the natural 42 .... a3 is way too slow..
43 Qf8+ Kg5
44 h4+ Kh5
45 g4+ Kxh4
46 Qh6 mate

I played what I thought was the natural 42 Qxa4?? which is actually only good for a draw after:
42.... Qe1+
43 Qa7 (c5 allows Qf1+ with forced repetition); (Kg2 allows forced repetition otherwise it is black that checkmates white)
43.........Qd1+ (fortunately my opponent played Qf1+)
44 Kg2 Qxc2+ and black starts to hoover up all the white pawns

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15 June 2020

Harrogate ECL Annual Jamboree

Well played team, as expected it was a tough night opponent wise but hopefully everyone still had fun, and I personally find it much nicer to play people you know than total strangers - Pity we couldn't watch each other's games and make it a bit more of a social event.

Many thanks for playing tonight and making sure Wetherby was able to put out a team, unfortunately Ilkley didn't manage it.

Here is the report on the match from Michael Stokes:

It's been an exciting evening waiting for the results to come in and trying to predict who would win. I thought KOST were favourites but an excellent performance from Chris Tatham of Wetherby damaged their chances.

Final scores:
Team A : Archbishops 3
Team B : Wetherby 1 + 0.5 handicap = 1.5
Team C : KOST 2
Team D : Woodshifters 1
Team E : Empress 3

This is the 6th Jamboree and the 5th time there has been a tie. This is the first time I have not played in the event and it is the 3rd time my team Archbishops have tied. On the previous two occasions the tie break went against us but this time with the result being settled on the individual game between the two teams I declare that the first winners of the Rowley Marks Trophy are Archbishops. Condolences to Empress who put up a good fight in defence of their title.

Well done to everyone,

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6 June 2020

Harrogate ECL Annual Jamboree

Hope everyone has been coping well and remaining well during the lockdown period. I know quite a few people have adapted to and been playing a lot of online chess and some like me have used the time to do more of other things (work in my case!).

You might remember the annual Harrogate League Chess Jamboree - an evening where all the Harrogate chess league teams get together and have an all play all team format. Last year we put in a team of 4 and had a fun evening meeting up with other teams for a friendly/competitive and fun evening of chess. This year the event is still being held but of course won't be in Harrogate but will be migrating online to the free chess server - lichess (https://lichess.org) - (I know the Limewooders among you tend to use chess.com!)

Please see the forwarded email from Mick Stokes who is the Jamboree organizer - the event is planned for Monday 15th June and I have indicated to Mick that Wetherby should hopefully be able to field at least one team of 4. I will play so we have one player at least! If you would like to play also please could you let me know by Friday, so I can let Mick know relevant details and make arrangements etc.

If you have any queries or need any help with lichess etc just let me know. Thanks and best wishes, Chris

Forwarded message from: Michael Stokes 29 May 2020

I hope you are all well and not suffering too much from the absence of OTB chess. It is clear that we shall not be up and running again in the foreseeable future but Gordon has agreed that I can put forward a proposal as to how we could hold the Jamboree despite the lockdown.

It would be also be special if we could hold the event this year because we now have a trophy to play for. I am delighted to notify you that Jack Duckworth offered to finance a trophy for the league. As you know we already have the shield donated by Peter Cloudsdale for the league champions so Jack agreed that the new one could go to the winners of the Jamboree. I have purchased a silver salver that Jack insisted was called The Rowley Marks Trophy in recognition of Margaret who founded the league and Gordon who has been running it for the past "900 years".

The suggested date is Monday 14th June. The way it works is that you send me your team(s) by email for me to receive by no later than 7pm on the 14th, Team names must include email addresses. I make the draw and email to all players which hopefully will be sorted by 7.30pm. Whoever is drawn with the white pieces goes into lichess and sets up the game. That player then emails their opponent with the website address which includes the specific code for their game. So the opponent enters that web address and gets through to play the game. The players email me and their team captains with the result. No ringers allowed! Therefore, you can only choose from those who have played for your team(s) during the current campaign. For Ilkley as you haven't played this season, you can choose from last year's only. As always, though, I will allow some flexibility if one team is short and another has a spare player. Andrew, if you want to enter a separate team from existing members of Harrogate Youth Chess Club this will be allowed. Rules re handicaps and tie-breaking are as last year.

The date is over two weeks away which gives players time to familiarise themselves with the system, maybe by playing other members of their team.

Presentation of prizes and collection of £1 per person entry fee can be sorted by later arrangement.

Please all let me know asap if you have any questions or suggested improvements and if you feel that you could enter a team.

Best wishes, Mick

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28 Mar 2020

Well as you might expect there isn't much of a club update, so more checking everyone is ok during this difficult time; don't want anyone to feel isolated or alone so if anyone wants a chat, friendly game online or needs anything (even a spare toilet roll - and no I don't have a stockpile! - just let me know :)

Anyway by means of a small update, for completeness here to what I suspect will be the last Harrogate League Bugle of the season that I received last week: Bugle 327. (You can also view it in our 'Bugle' section.)

Some chess opportunities

Given there won't be any opportunity for OTB chess for the foreseeable future (and even longer maybe), the only real chess opportunities are online and as you might imagine there are quite a few initiatives springing up, so I've put together a few below in case they are of interest - if you are interested in playing online and haven't got an account or don't know what to do, and would like some advice, just get in touch and I can help you with this:

1 - ECF online - ECF have started running regular tournaments online and other well known events (eg 4NCL) are moving online. You can find out more details here - https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-support-for-moving-chess-online/

2 - Club challenge - A number of chess clubs have established an online playing presence and set up regular inter club matches via social media. In fact our sister club Limewood & Scarcroft has been specifically 'tagged' - see the social media exchange below:

With my Limewood twittermeister hat on, I had to respond in the negative for the first team battle but this is a weekly event during the lock down period - I responded saying we might be able to get a joint Limewood & Wetherby team together to take part in future weeks - so if you fancy taking part and making a team please let me know (Paul maybe something for Limewood members also?)

3 - Yorkshire team chess on lichess server - Anthony asked me to mention this and see if anyone was interested in joining - the new Yorkshire team on the lichess server where the idea is to set up some matches against our lichess teams - you can find out more details at - https://lichess.org/team/yorkshire

4 - twitterchesstournament - the 3rd edition of this free and friendly online tournament is just starting - I've played in the first two editions and made some good friends in a fun competition which has grown rapidly and now has 128 players from across the world - of all strengths, including titled players. I've managed to persuade a couple of people to participate with me from Limewood (Steve) Wetherby (Anthony). If you've nothing better to do and want to spectate at a one sided mauling you can watch me start my campaign on lichess ( https://lichess.org/ ) at 4pm tomorrow (Sunday) when I will be playing what I expect to be a very short game against a 185 graded player who will also be streaming his thoughts on the game in real time (will be a good lesson for me if nothing else!)

Anyway, just a few examples of how you can get involved in some chess in the lockdown period if you want. And of course, if you just want a casual game I'm always happy to have a game, so let me know.

Chess puzzle

Ok just so you don't get too rusty, here's a tactical problem from one of my recent games - I'm black and was struggling (not change there!), how did my opponent simplify and find a way to also win material - white to play

Favourite apps/software

Next update I will put together a list of some of my favourite free chess apps, software and websites, so there may be something you've not seen that might be of interest, and likewise if there are any that you particularly like, please feel free to share them also.

Ok conscious this has been quite long email, so just to reiterate hope everyone is keeping safe and well and not too bored with the enforced home isolation. (there's so much 'Doctors' you can take! ;)

Puzzle answer:


The bishop is loose on d7, so 1... ♘xh7 2. ♘xd7 wins a pawn and continues White's initiative.1... ♖fd8


2. ♘g5 is also good for White but not as good as the main line.2... ♗xf6


White is doing well after other moves, but this is by far the cleanest.3... ♖xd7

4.axb5 axb5


And White is two clear pawns up and winning comfortably

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17 Mar 2020

Latest update including important notice....


Given the escalating nature of the pandemic and developing national and local chess guidance/pronouncements, it won't be surprising to know that sadly all face to face Wetherby Chess activities - OTB matches, club nights are suspended until further notice. Of course a key benefit of our chess activity is the social interaction and friendships developed through our shared love for the game, so it will be a difficult period, more so for the fact that it is for as yet an unknown length of time. Just to say, that for those who fancy a game of chess online over the coming days/weeks, I'm available most times, so let me know if you want a game - or indeed if you've not played online previously and would like to try it, let me know if you need any help getting started (setting up account etc) - if there's a few of us, we could even have a virtual club night/tourney! :)

Some free chess reading

Given we are all going to be spending a bit (lot?) more time at home - there are a couple of free chess related items might help while away a few hours......

NIC (New in Chess) have released their Feb 2020 online magazine for free (no sign in or payment details etc required - https://browserclient.twixlmedia.com/64405b80479198eb2373b5595d030073/202002

In case you missed it, ECF has just issued their 2020 yearbook as a pdf - https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Yearbook-2020-complete.pdf

As well as the usual ECF organisational information (plans, reports etc), there is an interesting report (courtesy of Chess Magazine) of all the year's tournaments/congresses including some annotated games etc together with other resources, (eg some endgame studies) Last week's matches

It seems a bit academic now but a quick summary of last week's matches...

Wetherby 2 had 2 matches on Tuesday and Thursday losing both 4.5-1.5 against Acomb Tuesday and RI SuperKnights. The matches were closer than the scoreline suggested - as we had to default a board on both nights and yours truly lost a couple of shocking games - including running out of time a rook ahead in Q+2R v Q+R ending (where I inexplicably forgot to press my clock at least once in the last minute) - I haven't dared analyse this game yet but am sure there a number of puzzles about the number of checkmates I missed :-(

Our points on Tuesday came from draws from Ian (v Rick Woocock) and Mick (a good one v Rodney Michinson) and Paul S (v Herbert Lockwood). Ian and Paul were the scorers on Thursday - a very good win for Paul v Noel Stewart and draw for Ian v Paul Jones

Anyway a puzzle from my game v Derek Toyne (132) on Thursday - I had blundered a pawn stupidly but was still hopeful of holding a draw with opposite coloured bishops - here I played the nondescript Bc7 (really just waiting) but I missed a move that would have brought me right back in the game and reduced the pressure - what did I miss here as black?

Wetherby 1 were playing the anticipated Cup Plate semi final at home v Ye Olde Starre Inne 2 and triumphed 3.5-1.5 with everyone in amongst the points with draws by anthe wins coming from Paul G & Paul M and draws from Philip David P and Frank. It's just a great pity it's not clear whether or when this Cup will be completed with the suspension of the season.

Limewood members will have seen this one already, but repeated here for those that haven't as it is a good one - how did Paul M produce a nice finish in his game as black in this position?

Ok that's about it, just left to say stay safe and healthy and importantly don't feel alone in what might prove to be quite an isolating time, if it won't make it worse I'm always around for a chat if you're bored.... :)

Will report back when I hear about any definitive news about any resumption of chess activities

Puzzle answers

Puzzle 1

36 …... h5! (just totally didn't consider this move as it seemed illogical to deliberately weaken my king's protection - but here it is perfectly safe - the bishop has nowhere to go to maintain protection of the f5 pawn) - lesson for me - need to open my mind to *all* possible moves in a position

37 Bxh5 Rxf5+ and black is back in the game with the chance of gaining the initiative

Puzzle 2

...…. Rxd1+

Rxd1 Nb3++ (a very nice finish!) Rxd1 Nb3++ (a very nice finish!)

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8 March 2020

Just the one match played last week - Wetherby 1 being home to bottom dwellers (with Wetherby2!) Acomb Tuesday. So on paper and team gradings (some 40 points to the good per board on average on the top 5 boards) it should have been a reasonably comfortable match - famous last words! - after going 2-0 pretty quickly with wins from Frank and John - the other games looked a more tricky.

After Philip secured a draw against Stefan Reiss making it 2.5-0.5 we were nearly there. David had been doing really well against the ungraded Mindy (who has already secured 3 wins against us this season) but unfortunately his advantage fell away as time ticked down and Mindy managed to turn the tables and was surprised and relieved to win - so this was 2-1.

Paul was up against the tricky Herbert Lockwood (137) who managed a good move in the following position which Paul has kindly shared:

Herbert as white here played...……what?

After this move, Paul was on the defensive and battling to save the game - Herbert was under pressure but managed to eventually convert the win in an endgame after swapping off pieces. So this made it 2.5-2.5 with only David P still playing - and his game was very drawish against Ric Woodcock who was playing a very solid game depite being outgraded by 50 points - it was difficult to for either side to make progress due to Ric's solid bishop planted securely in the board and David's knight similarly placed on the adjoining square. Ric had already offered a draw which David had declined seeing the match score - so it was a question of playing on and hoping for a slip from our opponent - fortunately a few moves later it did come, when Ric recaptured a pawn on g2 with the wrong piece (a bishop instead of the rook) - after David's back rank rook shuffled along to g1 the poor bishop was pinned against Ric's undefended rook and was lost and so he resigned giving us a relieved 3.5-2.5 win to maintain our promotion push - well done David for sticking at it - and with Uni Bishops also winning this week, looks like it will all depend on the last game (not exactly sure what the current state of play is at the table is not updated and Uni Knights withdrawal adds further confusion)

This week's fixtures

All matches start at 7:30pm

Finally, one other little bit of news - many thanks to John for procuring for us a Club Championship trophy - we'll have to get this to Paul (sorry for the delay!)

Puzzle answer

26 Nb6! (forking queen and rook; if 26... Rxb6 then 27 Rxa8 wins the exchange as happened in the game)

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2 March 2020

Best news of the week, our 2nd team won our match of the season (probably cos yours truly wasn't playing!) - a fantastic 3.5-2.5 win against the impressive young ChessNuts junior team (currently in 3rd place in the league). Yes they were 'blooding' a few new players but still had their 166 grade on top board (unlucky Paul S!).

So congratulations to the team! - our points came from wins by Ian, Alan (who overcame a 100 grade) and most notably from Charles - who secured his first competitive win (nice one!). Also with a good draw from Mick against a higher graded opponent, it was enough to see us through in a hard fought match - it is nice to finally convert one of these tight battles which we often have in to a win - so we still have hope of lifting ourselves off the bottom. Will have to decide if I drop myself for the rest of the season :)

Then on Thursday, our Harrogate A team was back in action after a couple of months off with a home fixture v the Woodshifters.

We've were in the bigger room which we've been able to secure a bit more frequently, so it was lovely to have a few members also enjoying a club night at the same time and of course aided cake and mince pies kindly brought in by Frank (thank you sir!). Anyway, despite putting out a strong team (we didn't qualify for any handicap points) and a tough battle, it was a narrow 3-1 loss. Our winner was Paul S who got the best out of a very entertaining Kings Gambit, crushing Gordon (129 grade) in only 17 moves. Nice one Paul, I've attached his game in pgn and as a good visualization and calculation puzzle from a variation in the game - what is the best move for black here?

PGN: Gordon Marks-v-Paul Salisbury

You can see here Gordon's latest edition of 'The Bugle' with his perspective of the match and showing the latest league table.

So it looks like the interclub face-off when it comes will determine who gets the wooden spoon! :)

This week's fixture

There is only one - Wetherby 1 is home to Acomb Tuesday on Thursday 5th - John has already sorted the team out and made arrangements for this one. We'll have a club night also, so if you're not playing and fancy a casual game and watching the match then please come along!