Category Archives: Stoke League

What’s involved in competitive chess?

The first match of the season for Holmes Chapel Chess Club was in Division 1 of the Stoke League against Newcastle, at home . The Club exists mainly for competition against other clubs rather than for social chess between members, and competitive chess looks like this:


The electronic box is a chess clock, which contains two timers. You make your move, then hit the lever on your side of the clock, which stops your timer and starts your opponent’s timer. When he makes his move, he hits the lever on his side of the clock, so that his timer stops and yours starts. The clock measures the time that each player spends thinking about his moves.

In blitz chess, each player has five minutes thinking time, and the player whose time runs out first is the loser. The game cannot last longer than ten minutes and the pace is fast and furious, particularly in the last few seconds. It’s actually good to watch and is frequently hilarious.

In the Stoke league,  all the moves have to be played in 90 minutes, so the game cannot last longer than three hours. This is suitable for league chess on a weekday evening when time is limited by the venue – usually a social club or an upstairs room in a pub. However, this time control is still a bit quick. Tournaments played on weekends usually have a slower playing speed, allowing for games to take up to five hours.

Also on the table are score sheets and pens. Both players must record their moves, so that any dispute about the game can be resolved by playing through the score. It also enables the players to use a computer to study their game later.

Most of the Holmes Chapel team will not be happy when they play through their game – they lost to Newcastle by 4.5 – 0.5, John Turner (left) gaining a draw, and everyone else losing.l8995

New members would be very welcome – our venue is the Vic Club in Holmes Chapel, and our club evening is Thursday.

Cup Match Against Macclesfield

Start of chess matchIt’s the first match of 2012, and it’s against Macclesfield in the Stoke League Cup over eight boards. And it’s down to business …

Chess match in play

Macclesfield did well to hold our top three boards to draws, but they did even better lower down the board order. With one game to go, we were a point adrift, and we needed a full point from Jon Blackburn to tie the match. If he lost or drew, the match was lost.

Last game to finishWith everyone else looking on (which makes it easy, of course), Jon checked with his queen. In terrible time pressure, Jon’s opponent had a choice of three king moves, two of which would draw and one which succumbed to checkmate. He chose the wrong one.

CheckmateCheckmate! Win for Jon, we draw the match, but win on board count. I hope our good fortune extends to the rest of this year!

Down to earth ..

Well, the Quadruple is out of the question after we were beaten by Stafford in the Stoke League Cup, and the Triple looks a bit less likely after we lost to Stockport Blues. So to cheer us up a little, here’s our only win from 4NCL Round 2:

Summer starts for me next week – we’re escaping to New Zealand for six
weeks, so I want to get the teams sorted for the next 4NCL weekend as soon as possible, as I won’t be there.

Rounds 3 & 4 are on the 15th/16th of January at the DeVere hotel, Wychwood
Park, which is near Crewe. I have not booked any hotel rooms, as I assume nobody will be wanting to stay at the hotel. We shall be playing the two Bradford teams – the B team on the Saturday and the A team on the Sunday.

I would like to hear from the squad:
(a) whether you are available for either the 15th or the 16th.
(b) whether you are available for both.
(c) whether you would LIKE to play both rounds.

I shall finalise the teams on Sunday, December 19th, so please let me know
your availability at least by then, but as soon as possible would be good.

Rounds 5/6 will be upon us soon after that – February 19th/20th at the
Barcelo Majestic Hotel. I shall be booking six rooms at the hotel, and will need to know your availability by Sunday, January 30th. Of course, if you could let me know earlier, that would be great.

My best wishes to you and yours for the festive season and the new year. If
you want a white Christmas, then I hope the east wind continues to blow for you. I
don’t mind one way or the other – I’m looking forward to a barbie on the beach on Christmas Day!