The second annual Gambit v Ashfield Summer Fun Challenge took place this week.

Due to work and other commitments Ashfield were without some of their higher graded players which left us much stronger on paper, especially when Tom arrived unexpectedly. Their team was supplemented by two Gambiteers and Mark Darlington. Both sides had 9 players in rounds 1 & 2, increasing to 10 players each after a couple of later arrivals. As last year, which ended in a very narrow 20.5 – 19.5 win for us, it was a 4 round Swiss with the time control being 10′ + 5″ increments. Ashfield fought well early on, narrowly losing rounds 1 & 2 to be 10.5 – 7.5 behind, but we eventually emerged 24.4 – 13.5 winners.

There were a few decent giant killings. Phil Morgan beat John Swain, David Levens beat Pete Mercs and Neil Graham beat Mike Naylor who also lost to Brian Hayward. Mike Barnes was the only player to win all 4 games last year and repeated that this time. Tom also won all 4 games while our new member Jose Vieira scored 3.5. Pete recovered from his 1st round loss to David to score 3 points, and John Huthwaite also got 3 points. Ashfield have promised us a much tougher battle next year.

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Sale Raises £380 For Charity

A sale of the late Steve Foster’s chess books and CDs has raised £380. £190 has been donated to Headway Nottingham and £190 has been donated to Maggie’s Nottingham. Many thanks to everyone who made a donation by buying a book or CD.

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Council Increases Parking Charge

The council has increased the charge for parking on Mansfield Road to £1 per hour until 10pm (previously 8pm). Parking on North Sherwood Street might still be free (tbc).

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Rapidplay Championships 2018-19

Congratulations to Florian Biermann who has won the third Gambit Rapidplay Championship. The previous two championships (2016-17 & 2-17-18) had been won by Mike Barnes. It is a 5 round graded Swiss, controlled this season by John Swain, which takes place throughout the season, where the paired players play half hour games against each other twice, once with white and once with black. It was very competitive with none of the 10 players leading by more than 0.5 points in any round. Only 7 pairings (out of 25) resulted in 2-0 wins and there were 12 1-1 draws.

Florian, Peter Mercs & Graeme Jennings took an early lead in round 1 after 2 – 0 wins over Mike Naylor, Drag Sudar & Graham Gibson respectively, with Mike Barnes 0.5 points behind after beating John Huthwaite 1.5 – 0.5. In the other pairing, Mark Radford drew 1 – 1 with Derek Padvis.

In round 2 Peter (on 2 points) scored an impressive 1.5 – 0.5 win over Mike B (1.5) to take the lead as Florian (2) and Graeme (2) drew 1-1. Mike N (0) beat Graham (0) 2 – 0 and there were two 1 – 1 draws between Derek (1) & Drag (0) and between Mark (1) & John (0.5).

Florian (3) beat Peter (3.5) 1.5 – 0.5 to overtake him and take the lead in round 3 as Graeme (3) faltered by only drawing 1 – 1 with Mark (2). Mike B (2) moved into joint 2nd place after beating Derek (2) twice. Mike N (2)’s challenge took a hit after a damaging 1 – 1 draw with John (1.5). Meanwhile, in the wooden spoon race, Graham (0) took a point off Drag (1) in a 1 – 1 draw.

In round 4 Florian (4.5) achieved a useful 1 – 1 draw with Mike B (4) to stay ahead of him and Peter (4) joined him with a 1.5 – 0.5 win over Graeme (4) whose challenge all but ended. Mike N (3) again failed to get into the leading group after only drawing 1 – 1 with Mark (3). There were two 1 – 1 draws between John (2.5) & Drag (2) and between Derek (2) & Graham (1).

Going into the final round, only 3 players, Florian (5.5), Peter (5.5) & Mike B (5) had a realistic chance of winning the championship. Mike B threw away his chance to win the title for the 3rd year running after a surprising 2 – 0 defeat by Drag (3). Peter scored a 1.5 – 0.5 win over Mike N (4) but this left Florian needing just 1.5 points to become joint winner. Florian was not prepared to settle for joint first and his competitive spirit shone through as he beat Mark (4) 2 -0 to become the champion. In the other pairings, Graeme (4.5) beat Derek (3) 1.5 – 0.5 and John (3.5) drew 1 – 1 with Graham (2).

Final Scores:
7.5 Biermann
7.0 Mercs
6.0 Jennings
5.0 Barnes, Sudar
4.5 Huthwaite, Naylor
4.0 Radford
3.5 Padvis
3.0 Gibson

John Swain also ran a graded U100 Rapidplay tournament which was an all play all between 4 players. Ronnie Watson emerged the winner on 5 points after 2 – 0 wins over Ken Heath and Robert Baker and a 1 – 1 draw with Marian Talmacel who came 2nd on 4 points after he beat Robert 2 – 0 and drew 1 – 1 with Ken. Ken and Robert drew 1 – 1 so Ken came 3rd on 2 points with Robert on 1 point.

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3rd Team Return To Division 3

Our 3rd team were relying on West Bridgford 1 to take at a least a point off Newark 2 in the final match of the season to stay up at Newark’s expense. Rather disappointingly for such an important match WB took just 4 players to Newark and ended up losing 3-2. Newark 2 finish 6th on 11 points, the same as our 3rd team, but with a far superior board difference of -2 compared to Gambit 3’s -15.

The real damage was done in the two league matches between our 3rd team and Newark 2 who won both with an aggregate score of 9.5 – 0.5. Had our 3rd team lost them both 3 – 2 they would have stayed up on board difference.

Not many teams have been relegated with 11 points. Since the league changed from 9 to 8 teams in a division in 2005-06 only 4 other teams have gone down with 11 points, and 2 with 12 points. The fact that University 1 won division 2 with just 19 points shows how tight the division was this season.

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Gambit Club Championship – Week 2 (Rounds 4 & 5)

Report by Club Championship Controller John Swain

Drag Sudar (163) defeated  FIDE Master and eight times Gambit Champion Michael Barnes (200) in round 4 to take sole lead with 3.5 points.  Champion in 2018 Pete Mercs (184) emerged victorious against another former Champion Steve Hunter (167) so setting the stage for an exciting final round duel with Drag.   Derek Padvis (123) also had a fine game, beating Mike Naylor (172) to set up a meeting with Michael Barnes.

Drag knew that a draw against Pete would secure him the title on tie-break if Michael beat or drew with Derek, but a play-off would be needed if Derek won since they had drawn their individual game in round 1.  Nevertheless, Drag continued to play his normal aggressive style and defeated Pete.  Congratulations to Drag on his first Gambit title!  Michael, winning against Derek in a close encounter, had to settle for second place.  John Huthwaite was outright third on 3.5.

Final scores were:

1st –         Drag Sudar (163)                               4.5 points out of 5
2nd –       Michael Barnes (200)                      4 points
3rd –       John Huthwaite (150)                     3.5 points
4th=        Dick Edwards (125)
                Pete Mercs (184)
                Mike Naylor (172)
                Derek Padvis (123)                          all on 3 points
8th=        Florian Biermann (173)
                Brian Hayward (140)                       both on 2.5 points
10th=      Gary Hopkinson (129)
                Steve Hunter (167)
                Keith Roper (136)                             all on 2 points
13th–       Graham Gibson (114)
                Alan Groves (93)
                Ken Heath (71)                                  all on 1.5 points
16th         Peter Gorecka-Marshall (137)    0.5 points

My thanks to all who played and made my first time as Championship controller a very pleasant experience.  The time handicap system, inherited from Drag, who organised this event for many years, with the additional tweak of a five-second increment, seemed to work well.

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2018-19 Club Championship Week 1

Our club championship is held at the end of each season over two weeks with 3 rounds in the first week and 2 rounds in the second week, controlled this year by experienced arbiter John Swain. The time each player gets depends on the difference in grades between the two players. If the difference is up to 15 points, each player gets 20 minutes. If the difference is 16 to 30 points, then it’s 25 & 15 and if the difference is more it’s 30 & 10. In addition each player gets 5″ increments from move 1.

Last year’s champion Pete Mercs got off to a good start by beating Mike Naylor and Dick Edwards but in round 3 he lost to Mike Barnes who had beaten John Huthwaite and Brian Hayward in the first two rounds. Steve Hunter also began well with wins over Keith Roper and Florian but then blundered against Drag Sudar and lost a rook. Mike N recovered from his 1st round loss to beat Alan Groves and Graham Gibson. Derek Padvis, who had frustrated Drag in round 1 by holding him to a draw, beat Ken Heath in round 2 and drew with Dick in round 3. Brian should have joined those on 2 points but let Florian get away with a draw in round 3 in a won rook and pawn endgame.

The scores after week 1 are:
3.0: Mike B
2.5: Drag
2.0: Pete M, Steve, Derek, Mike N
1.5: Dick, Brian, Florian, Gary, John
1.0: Graham, Alan
0.5: Peter GM, Ken
0.0: Keith

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2018-19 Individual Performances

With the season almost over we are still waiting for some results.
Gambit 1 will finish 2nd or 3rd in div 1 depending on the result of Mansfield v Newark 1.
Gambit 2 have finished 6th and will stay up in division 1.
Gambit 3 will stay up in division 2 if Newark 2 fail to beat West Bridgford 1.
Gambit 4 have finished 7th (bottom) in division 3 so will go down.
Gambit 5 will finish 1st or 2nd in division 5 depending on the Uni 2 v EMCA 1 result.

It was a tough season for the club as 3 of our teams were battling to avoid relegation after 3 of our teams won promotion last season. Even so, there were some great individual results (these are based on players’ August grades).

These were the best wins:

Keith (136) beat Tim Walker (189)
Graham (114) beat Lavanya Maladkar (146)
John S (164) beat Pete Ackley (189)

John’s win was a bit lucky as Pete fell for a mate in 2 when winning, but they all count.

Theses were the best draws:

Drag (163) drew with Chris Dorrington (222), Tom Adams (193) & Steve Prior (189)
John S (164) drew with Paul Cumbers (199), Pete Mercs (184) & Stuart Williams (180)
Brian drew with Brian Thompson (174) , Jonathan Finn (166), Graham Ladds (155) & twice with Dave Flynn (159)
Graeme (170) drew with Jonathan Tait (203) & Michael Barnes (200)
Steve (167) drew with Jim Burnett (192) & Shabir Okhai (192)
Derek (123) drew with Will Atiomo (144) & Ritika Maladkar (142)
Mike N (172) drew with John Molyneux (200)
Keith (136) drew with Shane Bhayat (162)
John T (137) drew with Armaan Gogia (163)
Mick H (120) drew with Will Eyre (142)
Mike B (200) drew with Jonah Willow (215)
Graham (114) drew with Oliver Alderton (e130)

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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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