Club Blogs

29th October 2014

An odd situation arose on Monday evening when the K team visited Fenton C. The match finished as a more than convincing win for the home side by 3½-½ with a draw by Paul Shelley being the only thing to spare the blushes. The following day, it appeared that one of the Fenton payers had been one grading point higher than he should have been. His game was awarded to his opponent and another point deducted from the home side'd score giving a final result as a 1½-1½ draw! Controversy sparked yet again in a fourth division tie between Cheddleton and Fenton. . Meanwhile, across the room, the G team were going down to another defeat by Fenton A with Jacob Boswell and Sam Beardmore getting the draws that avoided a clean sheet for the hosts.

26th October 2014


This week in the North Staffs Chess League there was a rare week of no home matches for the club. However, they still had three away matches, so there was plenty of action for the players to get their teeth into, across divisions two, three and four.

The key match came in the third division against Newcastle. Tensions were high between Newcastle D and Cheddleton G, with both sides desperate to kick start their seasons with a win. Newcastle had gained a mediocre two points from three games, whilst Cheddleton G lost their opener 3-1 to Cheddleton F. Neither side could afford to lose. Nevertheless, Newcastle D showed that they had the experience to do the job and finished up as 3-1 winners. On the night, Barry Jones looked as though he wasn’t going to let anything stop him and gave the hosts an early lead. Meanwhile boards two and three showed that experience is far more important than meaningless grades and draws were agreed on both boards.

Captain Sam Beardmore will need his side to respond quickly in their next matches if they want to avoid languishing at the lower end of the table this season.

In the second division, there was another crucial match this time for the D team, against Holmes Chapel B. Cheddleton D were fresh from succumbing to a 3-2 defeat against their C team counterparts but this was never going to be repeated and they achieved a comfortable 3.5-1.5 win in their second match of the season. Following poor results the previous night for Cheddleton G, Jacob Boswell and Jacob Cartlidge were instrumental in the D team’s victory, with Boswell providing a shock result in defeating Ben Scattergood on the top board.

In the fourth division, Cheddleton H moved up to second in the table (only behind Crewe Pawns on points scored) after coming away with a good 2-2 draw against Meir B where the four players with the black pieces all won.

21st October 2014


This week saw three fixtures for the club, involving four teams, across divisions two, three and four. This set of matches now means that all of the club’s teams have now played at least one game, which will enable them to put their league ambitions into perspective; with either a significant improvement or maintenance in standards required for each team.

The highlight fixture was in the second division - an all Cheddleton affair between the C and D teams, with the C team edging a 3-2 victory. Prior to the match being played, it seemed as though it was going to be a walk in the park for Cheddleton C but, in reality, the match was very closely fought and the eventual result seemed something of a triumph for them as they were outgraded on three boards. Both teams still have realistic title chances as the Division is much smaller this season and the teams are all fairly evenly matched.

In the third division, champions Cheddleton F fell short of expectations in only drawing with Alsager B. However, a draw isn’t a disastrous result in terms of points in comparison to other sports, such as football and rugby.

The Fifth Division match resulted in a convincing win for the J team against Fenton D which took them momentarily to the top of the table. The J team were rather unfortunate last season, finishing bottom despite not playing particularly badly in a single match. With luck, this fine start will enable them to push on from last season, and achieve a consistency that they had previously struggled to obtain.

19th October 2014


The 2014 Annual General Meeting of the English Chess Federation took place last week at the Malmaison Hotel in Birmingham.

Unusually, there were three important matters that affected the Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club. Firstly, the Club President, Roger Edwards who recently held the position of President of the ECF himself, was awarded the President’s Award for Services to chess by the new President, Dominic Lawson, former editor of the Spectator. Mr. Lawson is now a presenter on BBC radio and is the son of former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, and is also brother of television personality, Nigella Lawson.

Photograph by permission of Lara Barnes. Roger – on the left – is being presented with the award by the new President of the ECF, Mr. Dominic Lawson

Secondly, the voting for the ECF Player of the Year, resulted in a resounding win for Cheddleton’s Senior Professional in the National Chess League, Keith Arkell. Keith, who now lives in Devon, has been playing for the club for seven years. He recently won the first-ever European over 50s Championship and this obviously stood him in good stead with the voters.

Keith seen in action here for Cheddleton against Jonathan Nelson of Blackthorne in February of this year.

The third item of local interest was the appointment of club member Traci Whitfield as ECF Director of Junior Chess. Traci is responsible for the training of many of Staffordshire’s junior players and has done a great deal of useful work locally and thoroughly deserved the resounding vote of confidence that gave her this position.

13th October 2014


This week only saw two fixtures for Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club. However, both were all Cheddleton affairs, with one match producing an very surprising result.

The First Division saw Cheddleton A face Cheddleton B in a battle of experience against youth. The B team, led by Sam Beardmore, were lower graded than the opponents on every board and with the A team having years of experience on the B team, Beardmore’s side faced an almost impossible task.

Amazingly, Cheddleton B raced into a 2-0 lead, although, that was soon to be halved by Dave Buxton. With time gradually falling on the remaining two boards, only the experience of First Division pressure enabled Roger Edwards and John Yee to drag the A team along the line and come away with a 2.5-2.5 draw. Nevertheless, Cheddleton B achieved a fantastic result, which should give them great hope for the forthcoming season in what is an incredibly difficult league. Without doubt, the result of the match must go to Jacob Boswell, who in playing Simon Edwards was graded 38 points lower, still managed to achieve the win, whilst losing to begin with. This underlines the fact that grades can be made to mean nothing.

Division Four saw Cheddleton H against I, with both hoping for a successful year at the top of the division. The I team, consisting of ‘Knackered Knight’ star Jacob Smith, engaged in a close match against their Cheddleton compatriots. Unfortunately, Cheddleton I didn’t have enough of a cutting edge, with both the team and Smith succumbing to defeat, by 2.5-1.5. Board four saw another upcoming Cheddleton star in Joe Alcock, who was in and out of the J team last season. Alcock is expecting a regular place this time and a win here did his hoes no harm at all.

6th October 2014


This week saw the start of the club’s campaign in the North Staffs and District Chess League, and the beginning of seven months of joy, frustration or agony for all the players. Cheddleton have ten teams across five divisions, with teams of five in divisions one and two, and teams of four in divisions three, four and five. There are also four league cup teams and two county cup teams. With the rich mixture of young players with high potential and experienced players, who know how to win, the club’s teams will be able to compete on all fronts this season. The first week’s matches showed, if nothing else, that many of the younger players will need to make the most of the time they have in matches, with 75 minutes, including an additional 10 seconds per move, if they want to have a better chance of success.

Five Cheddleton teams were in action this week, in divisions one, three and five, producing a mixed bag of results. In the First Division, a much weakened Cheddleton A, missing Leek Congress and ‘Knackered Knight’ champion Rob Shaw, managed to come away with a 2½-2½ draw against Holmes Chapel A. Cheddleton A will be hoping for a full strength side in the coming weeks if they want to have any chance of snatching the title back from Stafford A.

In the Third Division, there was an all Cheddleton affair, with team F overcoming team G 3-1. Cheddleton F, who were the title winners last season, and are certainly among the favourites this season, will be delighted that the experience of their side helped them to overcome their Cheddleton rivals. Cheddleton G, led by Sam Beardmore, showed that their youth and enthusiasm and the high quality of their play should keep them in with a shout at the top of the division this season even though their first outing was pointless.

Finally, in the Fifth Division, Cheddleton J and K shared the points in a 2-2 draw. However, either side cannot be content with dropping points in a league so competitive last season that it saw a gap of just six points between first and last.

29th September 2014


The chess club’s annual general meeting was attended by over sixty people this year and consisted of the usual review of last season, election of officers and outline of plans for the coming year. As always, this was followed by the pre-season tournament for the Knackered Knight. This tournament, which has a very fair description of the trophy on offer to the competitors in its title, always follows on from the club’s A. G. M. It tests how sharp the thinking skills are of the players, with just 10 seconds for each move, meaning that the people who make the intuitive moves can end up reaping the rewards.

In terms of grading, there were three hot favourites for the competition: Rob Shaw (graded 201), Dave Buxton (179) and Simon Edwards (167). However, with the length of time of the matches, abilities needed to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, Shaw lived up to expectation and walked away with the trophy, winning all 5 matches. Surprisingly, it is five years since he last won it which shows that, on the whole, this kind of chess is a great leveller even if it was not in evidence this time. Buxton and Edwards followed closely behind in equal second, scoring 4/5 each. The performance of the tournament must without doubt go to Jacob Smith. Smith, rated at just 44, was seeded 32nd out of 38; despite that, he managed to surprise the rest of the field and finish equal 4th with a score of 3½/5.

With the North Staffs District Chess League about to commence, with players like Jacob Smith performing above what their rating suggests, then the club should be hopeful of seriously competing for the titles across all five divisions this season.

22nd September 2014


The 13th Leek Chess Congress was held at Westwood College, Leek, between 12th and 14th September. The congress consists of three sections: The A.H. Brooks and Co. Section (for players graded between 153 and 220); The Croda Section (for players graded between 121 and 152) and the Westwood College Section (for any player graded below 120). There were a total of five rounds, one on Friday evening, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. As usual, the Congress was a great success, with over ninety entrants, which helped to contribute a significant amount of prize money.

In the A. H. Brooks Section, there was a three way tie for first place between Alistair Hill of Battersea, Ali Jaunooby of Denton and Robert Shaw of Cheddleton, with all three players the highest ranked in the competition, scoring 4/5. Shaw and Jaunooby agreed a draw in the final round, making sure that they had at least a share in the first place and making the others in contention have to fight the harder to join them.

The Croda Section saw an outright winner in John-Paul Taylor of Macclesfield, scoring 4.5/5. Taylor’s grade dropped considerably last season and so he was playing in a tournament with opposition that seemed rather weaker than that to which he had become accustomed. He was a comfortable and well-deserved winner. Finishing an admirable second was Karl Lockett of Crewe, scoring 4/5, leaving a four way tie for third between James Rothwell, Carl Gartside, Michael Connor, and Doug Barnett all finishing on 3.5/5.

Finally, in the Westwood College Section, Colin Mace of Wellington raced ahead of the opposition to finish on 4.5/5. Mace was fighting to finish in the top three last year and suffered a final round defeat. This year he coped with any opposition put before him to take the section. There was a three way tie for second in this section between Paul Bamford, Martin Gill, and promising young player Carmel Barwick – all achieving 4/5.

One noticeable feature of his year’s congress was the unusually high number of female players taking part. 9% of all players was quite a remarkable feature with three females on the top four boards of the Westwood College section in the last round – two of them juniors. Last year’s winner of this section – recently crowned Channel 4 child genius of the year – Sharon Daniel of Bolton was forced to play in the top section this year and had a reasonable but unspectacular weekend.


Puzzle of the Day

The Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club, Westwood College, New Hall, Westwood Park Avenue, Leek, Staffordshire.

Club Chairman Robert Milner - 01782 550112.