2nd Team Stay Up

Our 2nd team have finished 6th in division 1 with one match to go after Ashfield 1 lost 3-2 to Newark 1 in a match they needed to draw to go above us. Gambit 2 are now guaranteed to finish above Ashfield 1 even if we lose our final match v Grantham 1.

Our 3rd team missed a chance to secure safety in division 2 after losing 3-2 to Long Eaton who go above our 3rd team and are now safe. John H and Gary lost quickly to Dave Williams and Sam Clayton. Peter GM and Keith gave the team hope with wins over Norman Davies and Andy Robins but Brian was unable to get the draw required against Alex Bentley. Our 3rd team now need to draw v bottom placed Ashfield 3, unless Newark 2 fail to beat WB 1 in which case they would not be able to catch up with Gambit 3.

Gambit is the only club with at least one team in division 1 since 1991-92 when the league was restructured from 3 divisions of 14+ teams to 5 divisions of 9 teams (reduced to 8 teams in 2006-07). Ashfield didn’t have a team in division 1 in 1992-93 but have had at least one in the following 26 seasons so are hoping their 2nd team finishes in the top two in division 2 to keep that run going. Mansfield have also only missed out once, in 2009-10 when they won division 2 with 27 points. Grantham have had 4 seasons without a team in division 1, West Bridgford 6 seasons (and next season will be their first time without one 2 seasons in a row) and University 7 seasons (including their time as Students before combining with Varsity Staff in 1999). West Nottingham have been in division 1 in 11 of the last 17 seasons and every time they were relegated (6 times) they always bounced back to be promoted the next season. Next season will be their first time with a team in division 1 3 seasons in a row. Newark have been in division 1 in 11 out of the last 16 seasons. The other currently active clubs that have had a team in division 1 since 1991-92 are Long Eaton 12 times, Radcliffe & Bingham 4, Central twice and Nomads once.

Gambit are one of 5 clubs with 2 teams in division 1 in a season during that period. We have achieved this 11 times, University 6 times, Ashfield 5, Oxclose/Fiveways 5 and Grantham 3 times. University had 5 successive seasons with 2 teams from 2003 to 2008. Oxclose/Fiveways had 4 from 1996 to 2000. Gambit will match this next season, our previous best runs being 3 seasons twice, 1991 to 1994 & 2001 to 2004 (immediately after the merger with Dark Horses (formerly Oxclose/Fiveways).

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2019 Nottingham Congress

The congress took place at the high school again and had a turnout of 164. More of this later. The playing venue is very pleasant and this year the controllers tried out the Swiss Manager pairing system for the first time, and introduced increments for all 4 sections. Overall this worked very well.

8 Gambiteers played (and John Swain was a controller). Their scores were:
Open: Peter Mercs 3.0
Major: John Huthwaite 3.5, Steve Hunter 3.0, Peter Gorecka-Marshall & Drag Sudar 2.5
Inter: Mick Harper 3.5
Minor: Maggie Gretton & Graham Gibson 3.0

Pete M had the pleasure of playing top seed, grand master Oleg Korneev, in the first round and regarded it as a free lesson. Although he lost he clearly learnt something as he went on to get a tournament performance rating (TPR) of 208.

Steve had a frustrating weekend with 4 draws just one win. In two of the games he did look as if he could break through but it wasn’t to be.

Pete GM had a very lucky win in round 1 when his opponent turned down a draw offer only to walk into a mate a move or two later. He then beat another 150 player before losing to the eventual winner of the section. On Sunday he drew and lost to two 150s and had a very good TPR of 158.

John Huthwaite was unbeaten all weekend, winning 2 and drawing 3. He drew with Steve in round 1 (the organisers didn’t set the ‘same club’ flag in Swiss Manager but it was the first time that they had used the software). In the final round, in typical counter-attacking style, he punished Drag’s errors, although he did miss a mate in 3 at the end.

Drag began well with a draw and two wins. He’ll probably try to claim the beers on Saturday night affected him on Sunday but the hangover had gone before the start of round 4 in which he messed up badly. Then he threw away a very good position v John.

Graham missed a chance to finish joint 2nd after losing in the final round.

Swiss Manager threw up some interesting pairings. In the Major section in round 4, there was one player on 3 points and 6 players on 2.5. Drag was the highest graded of those on 6 yet was given a down float to play someone on 2 points. That does not appear to be right.

Ungraded players won the Major section and the Minor section. The Major winner had no ECF or FIDE grading history. He joined WB recently and after some friendlies was given a league match grade of 100. Clearly he was much better than that!

It can be difficult to assess how good an ungraded player is. We’ve got it wrong twice at Gambit. When Mike Naylor joined us he had no grading history. After friendlies we guessed 135 or so. His first grade turned out to be 159. When Tom joined us he had a 4 year old grade of 154F, based on a handful of games. We gave him a match grade of 147 but soon realised we were way off after he beat John Swain in Gambit 1 v Gambit 2, and his new grade turned out to be 192.

The Minor winner was in the low 140s 20 years ago (high 150s in ‘new money’). Without knowing what grading history he provided, or the organiser’s reasoning, it’s difficult to say whether it was right for him to be in the Minor section; based purely on his grading history he arguably should have been in the Major section.

Maybe the entry form should state that ungraded players with no recent playing history (i.e. no way of assigning a reasonably accurate estimate) will not be eligible to win any of the major prizes but may be awarded a lesser prize if they do well, as we don’t want to discourage them altogether, yet we have to be fair to the graded players.

In 2017 a local player kindly donated a sum of money to increase the 1st prize in the Open section to £650 in the hope it would attract more titled players. Although it didn’t do so, last year 2 grand masters and 2 international masters entered. Last July, the Notts AGM decided, amid some opposition, to increase the first prize to £1k. Yet only 2 grand masters and 2 international masters entered this time. Alam Merry (IM) won the £1k but 3 other titled players, Oleg Korneev (GM), Mark Hebden (GM) and Jonah Willow (FM) had to share the 2nd prize (£250) & the 3rd prize (£100). There is a view that more titled players might play if it was FIDE rated. Financially the experiment backfired as we needed about 15 extra entries to cover the extra £350, but the entry was similar to previous years.

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1st team gives 2nd team a boost

Our first team scored an impressive 4.5 0.5 win at Ashfield 1 to boost the 2nd team’s chances of staying up. Tom won a pawn and the subsequent rook and pawns ending v John Molyneux. John S won a piece v David Levens. Mike B played conservatively v Glenn Halfpenny and gradually gained the upper hand. Pete was in a fairly equal position v Steve Burke who felt the need to create activity as his team was losing but only ended up creating a weakness on his K side which Pete exploited. Mike N was lucky to get a draw from Jerry Herrington who was a pawn up but, seeing the match was lost, probably decided it was more important to get to the bar as soon as possible. Ashfield 1 still remain slight favourites to stay up at Gambit 2’s expense but they are now under increased pressure to get at least a draw v Newark 1, and possibly 2 if our 2nd team gets something from their match v Mansfield.

Our 3rd team boosted their chances of survival in div 2 with a draw against promotion chasing Nomads 1. The top 3 boards, between John H, Brian & Keith and John Harrison, Dave Flynn & Shane Bhayat, were drawn. Gary went down to Maurice Hill but Peter GM beat Will Eyre to earn the important point. The 3rd team now have 11 points with 2 matches left, against relegation rivals LE and Ashfield 3. LE have 8 points with 3 matches left and Ashfield 3 have 7 points, also with 3 matches left. Newark 2 are also in danger as they 9 points with two matches left.

The 5th team had another blip in their promotion hunt after losing 1.5 2.5 to Uni 2. Mick lost to Ewan Fewell who has an estimated match grade of 120 but is clearly much better having won all 7 of his league matches, including over Peter GM earlier this month. Ronnie lost to Bernado Pincheira. Ken beat Vanorld Vanderpuye but Maggie could only get a draw against Kaushik Kuralla. Gambit 5 have 17 points with 2 to play. Uni 2 have 16 with 2 to play. Uni 3 have 14 but with 3 to play. WN 4 have 12 but with 4 to play (including the missing result v EMCA on 15 Feb). With EMCA 1 and WB 4 still to play, the 5th team should be able to get the 3 points they still need to ensure promotion.

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Weeks 27 & 28 – Gambit 4 are down

Our 4th team lost to leaders Grantham 3 3.5 1.5 so are now bottom of div 3 on 6 points, three points adrift of 5th placed Central 1. It was always going to be a difficult season after getting promoted last season.

Our 5th team had a blip after an administrative error. Captain Ken was without Mick and Maggie for the match v Central 3 and asked who was still eligible. He was incorrectly told that Onos was (only Gary and Peter GM are) and asked him to play. Onos won his game v Mick Frings to give our 5th team a 3-1 win but as he was ineligible the board result was reversed and 1/2 point transferred to Central 3 to give them a 2.5 – 1.5 win. Gambit 5 are still top of div 5, 3 points clear of Uni 2 and Uni 3 but Uni 3 have a match in hand.

Our 3rd team got a valuable point at leaders Uni 1 in div 2 and lie 5th on 10 points with Newark 2 6th on 9, Long Eaton 7th on 8 and Ashfield 3 bottom on 7. Newark 2 look most likely to go down as they have to play 3 of the top 4 teams while 6 points have to be distributed between the other 3 teams at the bottom who have to play each other.

Our 1st team look as if they’ll finish in the top 4 in division 1, but have an important role in deciding who might go down as they still have to play against 8th placed Grantham 2 and 7th placed Ashfield 1. Gambit 2 picked up two important points at WN 1 to join Ashfield 1 on 8 points but with a vastly superior ‘goal difference’. Ashfield 1 have good opportunities to pick up a point or two v either Gambit 1 or Newark 1 but our 2nd team have to play Mansfield 1 and Grantham 1 so Ashfield 1 are slight favourites to edge out our 2nd team for the 3rd season in a row.

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Steve Bak

Ashfield’s Steve Bak sadly died suddenly earlier this month. He will be a huge loss to Ashfield cc and our condolences go to all his friends at the club.

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League Weeks 25 & 26

Our 5th team beat a very weak Uni 3 by 3.5 – 0.5 to go 3 points clear in division 5 and now look firm favourites for promotion. There were wins by Mick H, Ronnie & Ken while Maggie drew.

The 2nd team beat Ashfield 1 by 4 – 1 to overtake them in division 1, although Ashfield 1 are still favourites to stay up as they still have bottom placed Grantham 2 to play. Mike N had a good draw with John Molyneux and Steve drew with Steve Burke. Drag, John S & Onos had fine wins over Glenn Halfpenny, David Levens & Jerry Herrington.

Our 4th team also had a good win, 3 – 2 at WB 2. John T & Mick H beat Dylan Meyer & Steve Wootton. Derek played well to draw with Will Atiomo and Maggie drew with Frank Hill. Only Graham lost, to Chris Budd. This keeps Gambit’s slim chances of staying up alive but they have to win their final two matches and hope that both Central 1 and Nomads 2 lose all theirs.

The 3rd team crept closer to relegation from division 2 after a 1.5 – 3.5 loss to WB 1. Peter G-M was the only winner, beating Chris Budd. Keith drew with Matthew Bubis but John H, Brian & Gary all lost, to Robert Richmond, Dushan Malinage & Steve Wootton. They are 6th, one point above Long Eaton and two above Ashfield 3 who have sadly lost their best player, Steve Bak.

Our 1st team will stay up in spite of their worst efforts. They drew at Mansfield to lie 5 points clear of relegation. There were solid draws from Tom, Pete M & Mike N against Jim Burnett, Pete Ackley & Kev Simpson and John S beat Janos Wagenbach, but Mike B had a horrible loss to Ken Morrison.

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League Weeks 23 & 24

Gambit 5 were the only winners, beating EMCA 2 3-1 to go top of division 5 by two points.
Mick H & Maggie won while Ronnie & Ken drew.

A heavily out graded Gambit 4 gained a really good draw v West Nottingham 2. Graham produced an excellent win over Lavanya Maladkar who is graded 45 points higher than him. John T played well to draw against Armaan Gogia who is graded 44 points higher. Derek drew with Ritika Maladkar, 15 points higher. Mick H drew with Vidura Mendis but Maggie lost to Simon Scott after looking good for a draw.

Our 3rd team were battered 4.5 – 0.5 at Newark 2, with only Brian managing to draw, v Graham Ladds, but are still 3 points clear of relegation.

Our 2nd team missed an opportunity to at least draw at high flying Newark 1. Steve played solidly to draw with Zoltan Tardi and Onos had a crazy game with Keith Aiton with both players launching king side attacks but eventually it petered out to a draw. Drag missed an opportunity to win Andy George’s queen for rook & knight but later Andy allowed a check mate when it looked as if the game was going to be drawn. John S was rook and a pawn against David Coates’ rook and 3 pawns but had an opportunity to force a draw, which unfortunately he missed. On board 1 Florian missed a chance to take a strong grip on the position against Alex Combie, instead playing a move which eventually cost him the game.

Our 1st team’s relatively poor season continued with their 5th loss of the season, this time 3-2 to WN 1. There were 3 winning king side attacks, unfortunately only one was for us with Florian smashing through Ross Murphy’s position. Tom & Pete M lost to Jonah Willow’s & Shabir Okhai’s king side attacks. Mike B got away with a draw with Antony Clare in a better position but beginning to run short of time. Mike N was an exchange up but missed the correct continuation and eventually was also fortunate to draw with Rob Willoughby who arguably could have won if he had played on in a queen plus pawns ending.

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League Weeks 21 & 22

Two wins, two defeats and a draw.

Our 2nd team beat Grantham 2 4.5 – 0.5. There were two k-side mating attacks by John S & Drag over Chris Holt & Ben Mason. Steve and Onos outplayed Chris Hill & Grenville Wollerton. Mike N had a comfortable draw with Francis Bowers.

Our 5th won 4-0 by default over EMCA 2 – again. The LMC had overturned the win by default earlier this season only for EMCA 2 to fail to turn up for the rearranged match.

Our 3rd team drew with Ashfield 2. There were good wins by John H & Peter GM over David Levens & Bob Taylor, cancelled out by losses by Onos & Gary to Jerry Herrington & Nigel Wright. Keith drew with Phil Morgan who wrote on the Ashfield site “Keith outplayed me in a rook ending and deserved to win. I was saved by guillotine time control. He was on the brink of victory, but with 30 seconds left accepted my timely draw offer”.
If our 3rd team had used increments Keith & the team would probably have won.

Our 1st team lost 4 – 1 at Grantham 1. Tom could not defend his R+B v Q ending against Chris Dorrington. Mike N was outplayed by Steve Prior. John S drew with Stuart Williams. Mike B was unable to convert his 2 pawn advantage over Nigel Birtwistle. Pete M “took one for the team” by trying to win against Paul Cumbers from an equal position but lost.

Our 4th team missed out on a draw v Central 1, losing 3.5 – 1.5. The top three boards were draw by John T, Derek & Graham against Mark Radford, Andy Sutton & Oliver Alderton. Mick H fell to a simple trick by Mick Frings who took his f3 knight and then played Qh2# supported by a bishop. Maggie played well to go a whole rook up but then it went horribly wrong as she lost a knight and then an exchange and finally allowed Lucas Kacprzak to create two k-side passed pawns.

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30th Annual Nottingham Rapidplay

8 of us entered the Rapidplay on Sunday and two of us won shares of grading prizes.

Florian was the star performer in the Open section, winning a third share of the U185 grading prize with 4 points from his 6 games after losing to GM Mark Hebden in the final round.

Drag won a fifth share of the U170 grading prize with 3 points even though he was 25th seed out of 29 players.

Tom scored 3.5 points and had to play against IM Ameet Ghasi who is a bit of a Rapidplay specialist and won the Open section with 6 out of 6, including a win over Mark Hebden.

Pete M began well with 1.5 out of 2, including a win over Eric Gibbon 196 (who Drag probably should have at least drawn with) but then it all fell away, including a loss to Central’s Mark Radford who also won a fifth share of the U170 grading prize.

Mike N scored 3.5 points in the Major section. He was in contention for a prize but lost in the final round.

In the Intermediate section Mick H, Graham & Maggie scored 4, 3.5 & 2 points respectively.

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League Weeks 18 & 19

Our 1st team edged out the 2nd team in the return fixture, after making a tactical adjustment to their board order. On board 1, Tom escaped with a draw after Drag won an exchange. On 2, Pete M drew with John S who had the edge earlier in the game. Mike B beat Onos on 3 and Mike N exploited an uncharacteristic error by Steve to win a rook and pawn for a bishop. On board 5, John H escaped with a draw when Brian’s advantage evaporated in time trouble.

Our 3rd team came away from Ashfield 3 with a 3.5 – 1.5 win, helped by Ashfield’s board 4 not turning up. The other 4 boards saw wins for Gary & Keith over Trevor Lewis and Nigel Wright, and defeats by John H & Brian to Alex Webster & Steve Bak.

Our 4th team were beaten 4 – 1 by Radcliffe & Bingham 1, with only Mick H winning, against Ben Vaughan. John T lost to Chris Dunworth, a 190 standard player who was 218 at the turn of the century. Derek, Graham & Maggie lost to Nick London, Marcel Taylor and new member Mick Sandham who last played graded chess 20 years ago. The 3rd division is so tight that there are only 5 points between top and bottom.

Our 5th team lost 2.5 – 1.5 to West Nottingham’s next generation of youngsters but are still well placed for promotion from division 5.

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