A former President of Leamington Chess Club

Perhaps many of our members are already aware of this fact, but for those who aren’t or perhaps haven’t heard the story for a while, I wanted to share what I have discovered about our 1890 President. I happened to come across the extract below from the December 1890 Hereford Times, which talks about the best Politician Chess players of the era. I was intrigued by the line towards the end of this article, which says, “The Speaker, we presume, is a chessplayer, since he is the President of the Leamington Chess Club.” Strictly speaking, the rest of the extract isn’t relevant to this story, but I include it anyway, as it still makes for interesting reading.

The next item, from ‘E.A.’ (i.e. Edwyn Anthony) in the Hereford Times, was quoted on pages 491-492 of the December 1890 BCM:

‘The popularity of the game of chess, since its introduction not so long ago into the smoke-room of the House of Commons, has been a constantly increasing quantity – not, indeed, a very surprising fact. Mr Gladstone has stated more than once that the British House of Commons does more work than any other legislative assembly in the world, and, apart from the intrinsic claims of the pastime most akin to science of any in existence, an absorbing recreation like chess must needs be a great help to relieve the tedium of the weary hours of waiting which every member who does his duty by his constituents must necessarily undergo. Lord Randolph Churchill is, we believe, the best player on the Conservative side but, casting our eyes for the moment on the Liberal benches alone, we find that Caissa ranks among her votaries some of the ablest members of the party. Strongest as a chessplayer stands Mr Newnes, the president of the British Chess Club. Next come the following group among whom there is no considerable difference in the strength: Mr Bradlaugh, Colonel Nolan, Sir Julian Goldsmith, Dr Hunter, and Mr Atherley-Jones. And, in close company therewith, we have the well-known and well-honoured names of Sir Charles Russell and Mr Winterbotham. The Speaker, we presume, is a chessplayer, since he is the president of the Leamington Chess Club. Mr Gladstone is acquainted with the moves, but, so far, history fails to record any game played on the checkered field by the greatest player on the political board of ancient or modern times.’

I was intrigued by this and set out to see if I could find out who had held the dual offices of Speaker of the House of Commons and the Presidency of Leamington Chess Club. The wonders of google being what they are, it didn’t take me long to find out …


Arthur Wellesley Peel (son of Sir Robert Peel) was a British Liberal Politician who represented Warwick and following subsequent boundary changes Leamington and Warwick and was Speaker of the House of Commons from 1884 to 1895, when he was raised to the peerage. I haven’t been able to glean anything as to Arthur Peel’s playing strength or how active he was in the game. However, the Encyclopaedia Britannica says that throughout his career as Speaker, “he exhibited conspicuous impartiality, combined with a perfect knowledge of the traditions, usages and forms of the House, soundness of judgement, and readiness of decision upon all occasions.”

We would expect no less!

Ben Graff

Club Tournaments

At Leamington Chess Club, we have a number of club tournaments that all members are welcome to participate in. All of our events allow members to enjoy playing each other in a friendly atmosphere and the range of competitions is such that there should be something for everybody.

The Club Knock Out event commences in September and runs through the course of the season. All those who lose in the first round of the club knock out are eligible to play in the Knock Out Plate Competition, the first round of which runs in parallel to the second round of the club knock out. This guarantees our members at least two games in our main competitions each season. Games in both these events are sent for grading.

In addition, we run an All-Play-All competition, that anybody joining at any point in the year is welcome to enter. Players play two games against each other at a time limit of 30 minutes each. The winner is the person with the most points by the close of play on the Tuesday before our AGM in April. There is also an U125 Plate for players whose grade at the start of the season qualifies them. Games in this competition are now also sent for grading.

The Club Championship is decided by a match between the winner of the All-Play-All event and the winner of the knock out competition.

The George Boots Memorial Shield is given to the player who overcomes the largest grading gap to win a game at standard time controls, in any competition in the Leamington and district League.

In addition to these events, we hold a handicapped rapidplay tournament, just before Christmas each year. We are always open to other ideas that members may have for further events. Please let Ben Graff or Steve Burnell know if there is an event you would like to see.

Past Winners

Club Champions

2001 George Boots
2002 Nick Waterman
2003 Nick Waterman
2004 Peter Leggett
2005 Guy Greenland
2006 Steve Burnell
2007 Dan Aldridge
2008 Steve Burnell
2009 Andy Price
2010 Dan Aldridge
2011 Steve Burnell
2012 Adrian Walker
2013 Tom Darling
2014 Tom Darling
2015 Tom Darling
2016 Tom Darling
2017 Tom Darling
2018 Andy Collins

Club Knockout Cup

1990 Roy Hadfield
1991 Andy Price & R. Gill
1993 Andy Price
1997 Andy Price
1998 R. Gill
2000 Andy Price
2001 C. Abrahams & David Hodgkins
2002 David Hodgkins
2003 Jason Madden
2004 Steve Burnell
2005 Steve Burnell
2006 Steve Burnell
2007 Dan Aldridge
2008 Jason Madden
2009 Andy Price
2010 Dan Aldridge
2011 Dan Aldridge
2012 Andy Price
2013 Dan Aldridge
2014 Tom Darling
2015 Ben Graff
2016 Tom Darling
2017 Ben Egid
2018 Andy Collins

Club Knockout Plate

2012 Andy Collins
2013 Oladejo Olaleye
2014 Ben Graff
2015 Andy Collins
2016 Oladejo Olaleye
2017 Rob Mantell
2018 Rob Mantell

Rapidplay All-Play-All

2003 Roland Spracklen
2004 Jason Madden & Roland Spracklen
2005 Jason Madden
2006 Steve Burnell
2007 Steve Burnell
2008 Steve Burnell
2009 Jason Madden
2010 Steve Burnell
2011 Steve Burnell
2012 Adrian Walker
2013 Tom Darling
2014 Tom Darling
2015 Tom Darling
2016 Tom Darling
2017 Tom Darling
2018 Tom Darling

All-Play-All U125 Plate

2012 Roy Hadfield
2013 Peter Leggett
2014 Jason Madden
2015 Jason Madden
2016 Rob Mantell
2017 Rob Mantell

George Boots Memorial Shield

2003 Phil James
2004 Roland Spracklen
2005 Roland Spracklen
2006 Jason Madden
2007 David Hodgkins
2008 Owen Clarke
2009 Jason Madden
2010 Owen Clarke
2011 Mark Armitage
2012 Andy Price
2013 Andy Collins
2014 Ben Graff
2015 Peter Leggett
2016 Peter Leggett
2017 Peter Leggett
2018 Richard Lorch

Christmas Handicapped Rapidplay

2012 Owen Clarke
2013 Ben Graff
2014 Andy Collins
2015 Oladejo Olaleye
2016 Andy Collins

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2010-11

By Steve Burnell, Club Chairman
Looking back on 2010-11, Leamington Chess Club had a very encouraging and enjoyable season in the Leamington and District Chess League. The Club ran four teams – one in each of the four divisions. Several players who had joined the Club in 2010 had their first full season playing in the League, and this made the job of the four Team Captains rather easier – with a larger pool of players to call on.

In Division One, the A Team enjoyed a reasonable season, finishing in fourth place behind Olton A, Solihull Checkmates and Solihull A. Olton A were clear winners again and never really looked like being overtaken during the season.

In the Second Division the B Team finished towards the bottom of the table after a very promising start. Adrian Walker and Ben Graff enjoyed good seasons during their first full year at the Club.

The C Team did very well in Division Three finishing in second place and being right in the title race for most of the season. Congratulations to Roy Hadfield and Jason Madden of this Team. Roy had the best overall League results of all our players with 7 out of 10 for his League games. Jason provided the Club with its only Honour in the League by winning the under 140 Individual KO Cup with a convincing 2-0 victory in the Final.

The D Team had a difficult season and although they finished bottom of Division four, it was so tight at the bottom with three teams being separated by only one point. Congratulations to Mark Armitage whose victory on Board One against an opponent from Shirley who outgraded him by 37 points, gave Mark the Club’s trophy for the best individual result in a League game. Well done also to Tom Bridson who played his first full Season for the Club and had a very creditable overall performance.

In the Team KO Cups we entered one team in the Open, one in the Under 700, and two in the Under 120 Cup. None of these Teams made it through to the Finals, which were held at Leamington Club at the end of April.

For the coming season, commencing September 2011, we will be fielding four League teams again, with one in each Division and four Cup teams. We are also planning to enter a team for the first time in the National KO Cup run by the ECF.

We are always delighted to welcome new players of any strength, so if you are thinking of taking up chess, or are an existing player looking for a club, then please contact us or come along to a club night at The Home Guard Club in Portland Street on a Tuesday.

Finally, here is an interesting game and a fine win by Mark Page for Leamington A against Banbury B in the league match between the teams. Annotations are by Mark.

Gary Jackson – Mark Page
Leamington A v Banbury B, 8 December 2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 [An aggressive and popular option against the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence. The next few moves can be played in a variety of orders introducing different possibilities if either side wants to avoid the variation as played. For instance, Black can throw in h5 at some point, holding back the advance of White’s g-pawn – though that makes it almost impossible for Black to ever castle – while White can try an early a4 to undermine the Black queen side pawns, though this does compromise his own king safety. Its really all a matter of taste – or what side you get out of bed that day!] e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 0–0 9.Qd2 Be6 10.0–0–0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 [This has all been played many times and now 12 g5 b4 would be normal when both sides aim straight for the opposing king with very sharp play.] 12.h4?! [White tries to reinforce his kingside attack with an extra pawn to prise open the Black king, but this turns out to be rather slow, and soon it is the Black attack which is making the running.] Nb6 13.h5 b4 14.Nb1 a5 15.g5 Nfd7 16.g6 a4 17.gxh7+ Kxh7 18.Na1 [The white knights present a sorry picture entombed on a1 and b1, and even though they do cover some important squares around the White king, their passive position essentially means that White is playing with 2 pieces less in the middle-game. Black is already much better.] d5 [18…Bxa2 was possible but I preferred to open up the centre to bring more pieces closer to the White king.] 19.exd5 Nxd5 20.Qd3+ Kh8 21.Bd2 [Probably White should first play 21.h6 forcing g6 and only then 22.Bd2, but the position is still very bad for him.] 21…Nc5 22.Qe2 Qc7 [Although material is level and the Black king has been temporarily inconvenienced, Black is winning in this position. Now the heavy pieces start to gang up on the weak c2 square (and the inviting target of the White king which is completely immobilised on c1), while the knights hop about causing disruption in White’s rather unco-ordinated ranks.] 23.Qg2 Rfc8 24.Rg1 Bf6 [It wouldn’t be a good idea to let White play 25 Qxg7 mate!] 25.Bg5 Bxg5+ [25…Nf4 26.Bxf4 exf4 27.h6 g6 was even stronger, but the move played is OK.] 26.Qxg5 [Threatening mate on g7 again. But even though Black has not managed to make any direct mating threats yet, it is the Black attack which is much more convincing in the long run.] f6 27.Qd2 Bf5!? [Maybe not the strongest, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to set a very nice trap, especially as we were both under some time pressure and White might well have fallen for it.] 28.Bc4 [Unfortunately White didn’t swallow the bait! If White snatches the piece with 28.Qxd5?? then 28 …Nb3+ forces him to give up his queen (when 29.Qxb3 axb3 30.Bd3 Bxd3 31.Rxd3 Rxa2 is obviously terminal) since 29.axb3 allows Black to sacrifice his Queen to win the game 29 … Qxc2+! 30.Nxc2 Rxc2 mate] 28…Nb6 29.Be2 Ne6 [29…Qf7 30.Qxb4 Qxa2 is the computer’s preferred coup de grace, but close to the time control I was rather more concerned with hanging on to all my pawns.] 30.Bd3 Bxd3 31.Qxd3 Nd4 32.h6 g5 33.Qg6 Nd5 34.Qd3 Nf4 35.Qd2 Nxf3? [Rather carelessly overlooking the obvious win of the White queen with 35…Nde2+ 36.Qxe2 Nxe2+ 37.Kd2 Nxg1, but the win is still close at hand.] 36.Qe3 Nxg1 37.Rxg1 Rd8 38.Nd2 Qa7 39.Qxa7 Rxa7 40.Rf1 Rad7 41.Rf2 e4 and White Resigned as he’s losing more material because of the threat of e3 and mate on d1. And the poor knight on a1 still has no squares! Time: White 1hr 22mins; Black 1hr 19mins

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2011-12

By Ben Graff, Club Chairman
Looking back on 2011-12, Leamington Chess Club had a very encouraging and enjoyable season in the Leamington and District Chess League. Our members have been very active in a range of League, Club and other events and next season promises to be another exciting one.

We are always delighted to welcome new players of any strength, so if you are thinking of taking up chess, or are an existing player looking for a club, then please contact us or come along to a club night at The Home Guard Club in Portland Street on a Tuesday.

Individual Club Tournaments
Congratulations to Adrian Walker who is our new club champion. Adrian won the All-Play-All event by a huge margin and went on to beat Andy Price in the Play Off Final, following Andy’s equally good win in our knock out event. Congratulations also to Mark Armitage for winning the U-125 All Play All and to Andy Collins who won our inaugural Plate Competition. A special mention also to Roy Hadfield, who had an excellent run to the final of the Knock Out. All of our competitions were extremely well supported and a lot of enjoyable Chess was played. We will be running the same events in 2012/13 with the All-Play-All starting again in June and the Knock Out Competitions towards the end of August. Steve Burnell will be in touch with you all, to book your entries!

Leamington and District League
The Club ran four teams – one in each of the four divisions. A number of players who had joined the Club in 2011 had their first full season playing in the League and their excellent contributions all made a big difference this year. The influx of new talent should certainly stand us in good stead next year.

In Division One, the A Team enjoyed a reasonable season, finishing in fourth place behind Stratford, Olton A and Banbury. Congratulations to Andy Price whose victory against Alan Lloyd of Stratford who outgraded him by 32 points, gave Andy the Club’s trophy for the best result in an individual League game.

In the Second Division the B Team finished sixth in a league which did not have much to choose between any of the teams. Ola Oladejo and Tom Darling had very good first seasons for the club and wins for the team against second placed Banbury B and third placed Solihull B were amongst the highlights.

The C Team finished seventh in Division three, but again there were a lot of positives. Andy Collins had a very strong first season for the club on Board one and the team drew with the eventual winners Olton C.

The D Team were our most improved team, coming fourth in Division 4 this year, having been bottom last year. Ben Egid 5/5 and Richard Lorch 3/3 led the charge in their excellent debut seasons for the club.

In the Team KO Cups we entered one team in the Open, two in the Under 700, and one in the Under 120 Cup. It wasn’t really our year in the Cups this year, but we did manage to reach the final of the Open, before losing heavily to an Olton team who outgraded us significantly.

National Club Championship
For the first time, Leamington entered a team in the National Club Championships. We lost narrowly to both Rushall and Alwoodley, but these were enjoyable matches and we will enter a team again next season.

Individual League Tournaments
Leamington players featured strongly in Leamington and District Chess League individual events this year. Adrian Walker and I shared joint first in the U-150 section of the Leamington rapidplay with 5/6. Jason Madden reached the semi final of the League Open Championship. I reached the final of both the Open and the U-140 and probably wished I hadn’t, but I did pick up the League’s trophy for best game prize which was something.

Changes in Officials/Leavers
At our AGM Steve Burnell stood down as Chairman and Guy Greenland stood down as Secretary. I took up the position of Chairman and Tom Darling became our new Club Secretary. I wanted to again take this opportunity to record my thanks on behalf of all of us to Steve and Guy for all that they have done for the Club in these positions over the past few years. The Club really is in great shape and we owe them a big debt of gratitude. Of course Steve remains our A team Captain and is now also our tournament organiser, so no rest for the wicked really!

I also wanted to record my thanks to Mark Page, who is leaving Leamington to play for Kenilworth (which is where he lives) after 84 games for us. Mark has been our Board one for a long time and has played a massive part in the success of our A team over the last few years. We will miss you Mark and wish you well (except for when you come back with Kenilworth to play us!) Mark’s favourite game for Leamington is below.

Having won most of our trophies, Adrian Walker is also leaving the club, as he is moving to Stroud. (Albeit, he might still have time to win this seasons All-Play-All if he is quick!) Adrian’s energy and enthusiasm will be greatly missed, as will his ability to predict likely opponents first 15 moves. Can we still borrow your data base Adrian?!?

Roy Hadfield is also leaving to pursue other Chess interests. Roy is a former Chairman who has served our club with distinction in a number of different capacities over the years and we wish him well.

Final Thoughts
So a really good 2011/12 for the club and we look forward to 2012/13 with enthusiasm. As promised, Mark’s favourite game (with his comments) is below …

M E Page – J Vickers
Banbury v Leamington, Bd 1, 18.09.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 e6 6.Be3 d6 7.f4 Nge7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 a6 10.Bf2 [Not very clever if White is going to play d4, as this could easily lead to the loss of a tempo] Rb8 11.Qd2 Qa5 12.d4 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Rd8 14.Nb3 Qc7 15.a4 b6 [15…b5 16.axb5 axb5 17.Nd4 would only be very slightly in White’s favour. The move played is rather passive.] 16.g4 Bb7 17.Rae1 Ba8 18.Bg3 b5 19.axb5 axb5 20.f5!? [White decides its time to lurch forwards] Nc8? [20…b4 21.Nd1 exf5 22.exf5 also gives White attacking chances, but would have been a better bet.] 21.f6 Bf8 [21…Bh8 22.g5±] 22.Bf4 Rd7 [22…Ne5! would have been more to the point] 23.Bh6 Qd8 24.Bxf8 Qxf8 25.Re3 Ne5 26.Rh3! [Now White throws a pawn into the attack to stir things up] Nxg4 27.Qg5 Nxf6 [27…Ne5? 28.Rf4 with the threat of Rh4 would be winning immediately, so Black has to give up a piece] 28.Rxf6 b4 29.Ne2 Qg7 30.Nbd4 [Not best, but White wanted to throw his minor pieces into the fray] Na7? [Black should have pushed the knight backwards with 30…e5 31.Nb3, but after 31 …Nb6 32.Nd2 White should still be winning] 31.Nf4! [I won’t begin to claim that I saw all the following complications, but its clear that White has virtually all his pieces pointing at the Black King, and that Black has rather fewer defending, so it wasn’t too hard a decision to sacrifice a piece] e5? 32.Nfe6! [After the previous move it should have been very obvious where the knights were heading, so it was not a good idea to waste a move forcing the reply] Qh8 [32…fxe6 33.Nxe6 Qxf6 (if 33…Qe7 34.Rxg6+ hxg6 35.Qxg6+ Qg7 36.Nxg7 Rxg7 37.Qe6+ Rf7 38.Qh6 wins) 34.Qxf6 Rf7 35.Qh4 wins] 33.Nf5! [A second knight sacrifice. And Black can only take one piece at a time] fxe6 34.Rxg6+! [And now a rook, though this is quite clearly untouchable, as 34 … hxg6 35.Qxg6+ wins the queen and mates shortly] Kf8 35.Rf6+ Rf7 [35…Ke8 36.Rxe6+ Kf8 was a better try, when White would have to find 37.Rf3! Bxe4 (37…Rf7 38.Nh6 Rxf3 39.Qe7#) 38.Nh6+ Bxf3 39.Qf5+ Qf6 40.Qxf6+ Rf7 41.Qxf7 mate] 36.Rxf7+ Black resigns [As after 36 …Kxf7 37.Qe7+ it is mate next move whichever square Black goes to.]

White 1hr 11mins; Black 0hr 52mins

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2012-13

It has been an overall positive season, marked by solid and occasionally spectacular form in all four divisions of the league, as well as numerous good runs in the individual KOs. A first ever victory in a National Club KO rounded out the season in style.

The A Team finished in 6th position out of 9. The highlight was a 3.5-0.5 win at Daventry, which also saw Dan Aldridge hand the 207-rated Chris Ross his only defeat of the season.

After a bad start, the B Team rebounded to finish 4th of 7. They achieved a rare 4-0 win; somewhat improbably, this came away from home against eventual winners Banbury.

The C Team came 7th of 9, although they might have finished substantially higher if not for miscommunications which led to multiple games being forfeited. The highlight was a 2.5-0.5 win at eventual champions Shirley.

After a good start, the D team were disappointed to finish 7th of 9 with a record of W5 D2 L9, though they did finish a long way ahead of the bottom two. There were also some good wins; like the B and C teams, they won against the eventual champions, 2.5-0.5 at Olton.

Club KOs
Leamington entered one team in the Open, two in the U700, and one in the U120. However, as these teams combined for 1 win in 5 matches, perhaps the less said about these the better! There were several close defeats, and reason to believe that we can improve on this showing next year.

Individual KOs
Leamington were represented in each of the four finals. Andy Collins came up against frequent champion Colin Searle in the Open final, and took the opening game after a long and fluctuating struggle. Colin fought back in game 2, however and after a win each in the tie breaker won an epic match in game 5.

The U150 final was contested between two Leamington players, Tom Darling and Ben Graff. After escaping with a draw in game 1, Tom edged the 2nd game to win the title.

In the U120, Guy Greenland made it all the way to the final. There, he fought back from a defeat in game 1 to force a tiebreaker, but his opponent, Stuart Calderbank, ultimately prevailed.

Peter Leggett was our representative in the U90 final. He was unlucky to come up against a player in Michael Woodford whose grade has since risen into the 150s, but still managed to rebound from an initial loss by forcing a creditable draw in game 2.

Club Competitions
Dan Aldridge, who had to withdraw from the previous year’s Knockout, won back his title after seeing off Steve Burnell (on the 2nd rapidplay tiebreaker), Tom Bridson, Andy Price and Ben Graff. Meanwhile, a strong Plate competition saw Ola Olaleye defeat Steve Burnell in the final.

In the All-Play-All, Tom Darling edged Steve Burnell by half a point for the title, helped by playing 7 more games than his rival. The U125 award went to Peter Leggett.

Tom also won the Club Championship, defeating Dan 1.5-0.5 in a pair of rapidplay games courtesy of a risky gambit in the 2nd game.

The George Boots Shield, given for the best single game performance was won by Andy Collins, who overcame a 38 point gap to defeat C Searle (128 v 166) in game 1 of their Open final.

ECF National Club Intermediate Championship
Leamington secured victory after a dominant showing against clubs from Bushbury, Alwoodley and Maidstone. Across the three matches, which were played in Leamington, Leicester and London, the team won 7 games, drew 4 and lost just one, and every player who took part returned a plus score (Steve Burnell 2/3, Ben Graff 1.5/2, Tom Darling 2.5/3, Andy Collins 2/3, Guy Greenland 1/1).


Our gratitude goes to two members who are leaving after a number of years of service. Guy Greenland is moving away from the area; he had been a member of the club for over a decade and also helped to run numerous tournaments in the region. Reg Warnes is retiring after half a century at the club; he has remained a strong player well into his 80s and took an A-Teamer to a replay in his very last club Knockout match. Both players will be missed, and we wish them both well in the future.

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2013-14

It’s been an eventful year, with a pretty even mix of very good and rather bad results.

The biggest disappointment, of course, was the last place finish and probable relegation of the A Team. A terrible first half of the season saw 1 win and 7 losses in 8 games, and despite a late revival which brought a rare three wins on the spin, a last day defeat to the champions Kenilworth A left the team a point from safety.

Rather more reason for cheer was provided by the B Team; they used an excellent start to reach 3rd place out of 7 teams, their highest finish for many years. Ben Graff’s win over the 190-rated Andrew Paterson was a particular highlight.

The C Team were another side who got off to a good start; they were threatening to reach first place around the mid-way point of the season. They slipped rather in the second half, but their finish of 6th from 8 teams was deceptive given that they were only six points from the top and had an even record of W5 D4 L5, with a +2 game difference.

The D Team proved consistent with last year, with an identical finish of 7th of 9 and the same number of wins (5). They were the only Leamington team to achieve a whitewash, twice besting Kenilworth D 3-0.

Club KOs
Leamington entered a team in the Open, U700 and U120. The U700 team was only one to muster a win, and Leamington were once again not represented in the Finals night which we hosted. Maybe next year?

Individual KOs
League Competitions Officer Jason Madden introduced a new handicapped rapidplay KO for this year, which Leamington players had substantial success in. Jason reached the Semis, while Ben defeated Tom Darling in the Final, meaning that a Leamington player won one of these competitions for the second year in a row.

Rob Mantell, playing in the U90 for the first time, reached the Final and only lost after he took his opponent to a rapidplay replay.

There were also Leamington players in the other three competitions, with top performers being Mark Armitage in the U120 (Quarter Finals), Jason Madden in the U150 (Quarter Finals) and Tom Darling in the Open (Semi Finals).

Club Competitions
With defending champion Dan Aldridge missing the Club KO, it was tough to predict the winner. Tom Darling managed to come through, winning tough matches with Ben Graff, Steve Burnell and Andy Price, all of which went to tiebreakers. Meanwhile, Ben edged Ola in the Plate.

Tom also won the All-Play-All for the second year in a row, winning six games in the final month of competition to edge Ben by a point. The U125 award was comfortably won by Jason Madden.

The Club Championship is given to the winner of a match between the Club KO and All-Play-All winners, so Tom also took this award.

The George Boots Shield, given for the best single game performance was won by Ben Graff for his aforementioned giant-killing; he overcame a 45 point gap (145 v 190).

ECF National Club Intermediate Championship
This competition took on a new format this year, taking place over a single weekend in High Wycombe.

We were defending champions in the Intermediate section, and easily won our first two matches to reach the final. Unfortunately, Bedford then proved the better team, and we had to settle for 2nd place. Still, a fun way to spend a weekend, and we intend to send at least one team next season as well.

Simon Harris, a popular member who had served as both a team captain and Treasurer, appears to have left the area. We lost contact with Simon early in the season, and hope that all is well with him; he shall be missed.

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2014-15

This was Leamington’s best season over the board for some time, though on the down side we did lose some of our stalwart players for various reasons.

The A team were able to return to the top division at the first time of asking, dominating in Division 2 with 11 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. All five regular players scored over 50%, and Dan, Adny Price and Andy Collins didn’t lose all season.

Also in Division 2, the B team were doing well until we lost a few players; they then had difficulty fielding a team. Forfeiture of their last two games saw them slip to 7th.

Early on, it seemed that the C team might run away with Division 3, but Alex moving back to Spain made things harder in the second half of the year. They still came third, only three points off first place, and never had a loss worse than 2-1 all year. Jason scored 11 points from 12, becoming the first Leamington player to get his name on the Stanley Gibbins Trophy, and Ola won the best game prize for his win against Colin Searle.

The D Team had their best finish for some time, 5th out of 9, and welcomed a new player, Sumiran, who finished with a plus score in his first season.

Club KOs
Leamington entered a team in the Open, U700 and U120, and all three made the semis. The U120 team went on to reach the final, our first for a long time, though they ultimately lost 3-1 to Banbury.

Individual KOs
Our best haul in some time, with two of the five competitions won by Leamington players. Ben defended his Handicapped Rapidplay crown from last year, and Ola added the U150 title.

Club Competitions
The KO Cup was won by Ben for the first time. He knocked off Tom B to reach the semis, then beat Tom D and Ola after replays. Andy C picked up the plate for the second time.

Tom D won the All-Play-All for the third year in a row, good scores against his main rivals seeing him home by a point and a half. The U125 award was comfortably won by Jason Madden for the second time in a row.

The Club Championship is given to the winner of a match between the Club KO and All-Play-All winners. Tom and Ben each had a rapidplay win as Black, before Tom won the tie-breaker, again with the black pieces.

The George Boots Shield, given for the best single game performance was won by Peter Leggett this year, beating a player rated 35 points above him.

ECF National Club Intermediate Championship
This tournament moved to Birmingham but kept the same format. There were several more teams in our section this year (U150 average).

We came 5th out of 10, wins in our first and third matches being offset by losses in the other two. It was a fun tournament, and we certainly intend to be back next year.

Steve Burnell moved back to the north after nearly 30 years in the area, playing for Kenilworth then us. He reminded us what we’ve been missing only a few months later, representing Braille Chess at the NCC and beating Tom in a 60 move epic.

Alex Bonillo had only been with us for a few months before returning to Spain, but made a major impact, pushing the C team to the top of the table with his exploits on board one.

Dan was another big loss. His move to Ireland finally went through late in the season, but he’d already helped ensure prmootion by then, so left on a high.

Undoubtedly the biggest loss was David, who unexpectedly died during the season. You can read more about his eventful life on his memorial page.

We should also mention former player Towan Kosted, who died last month. Towan was well remembered as a player and captain by all those of us who knew him.

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2015-16

Leamington had an outstanding season this year, winning a good share of the league silverware, both in team matches and individually.

The A team held fast in a competitive Division 1, consolidating their position, having returned to the top flight at the start of the season. Captain Tom Darling won 57% from 14 games, losing only three times. The team were ably abetted by new member Blake Morgan holding his own on the top board of the league.

Due to unforeseen circumstances the B team had to drop out of division 2.

The C team were joint winners of Division 3, winning 10 and drawing 1 match out of the 15, with their victory sealed in a nail-biting final result which was out of their hands. In a very welcome return to the club, Rob Gill scored an awesome 88%, taking 3.5 points out of 4 on a competitive board 1. Bogdan Boraciu took a similarly staggering 85%, with 11 out of 13, including a number of comebacks which amazed onlookers, who saw near-doomed positions brought back from the brink. Yet another significant contribution came from Nigel Morris, who took a substantial 71%, scoring 10 out of 14.

Division 4 was also won by a Leamington team, with the D team taking 10 wins and a solitary draw from 14 games. A deep and strong squad included newcomer Joshua Altamura taking 88% with 3.5 out of 4 games and three players scoring 100% records: fellow newcomer Richard Stone-Johnston, Sumiran Lohani and Richard Lorch. No squad member took less than 50% from their games, a remarkable statistic.

Club KOs
Two of our KO teams won their sections, the U700 and U120 teams, with the open team knocked out first round. In the U700 Tom Darling was undefeated on board 1 and Captain Jason Madden and bottom board Rob Mantell similarly remained undefeated in the competition.

The triumphant U700 team, for the final match, L-R Nigel Morris, Rob Mantell, Rob Gill, Jason Madden (Capt), Tom Darling

In the U120, captain Mark Armitage was also undefeated, ably supported by Joshua Altamura, who won in both the games he played. In the final Roy Hadfield and Peter Leggett both won their games, along with Joshua, which combined with Mark’s draw meant an emphatic victory against Solihull.

U120 team champions, final match line up, L-R Joshua Altamura, Roy Hadfield, Mark Armitage (Capt), Peter Leggett

Individual KOs
Oladejo Odelaye won the the open competition, seeing off chairman Tom Darling, Peter Drury and Jason Madden, after last year’s U150 title.

Joshua Altamura continued his excellent first season by winning the U125 cup, beating Sumiran Lohani, Rob Mantell and Steve Rumsby along the way.

Club Competitions
The KO Cup was won by Tom Darling, who beat Andy Price, Tom Bridson and Sumiran Lohani. Ola won the plate, triumphing over Andy Collins in the final.

Tom D won the All-Play-All for the fourth year in a row with a mighty 23 out of 26. The U125 plate went to Rob Mantell for the first time, with 5/15.

The Club Championship is usually given to the winner of a match between the Club KO and All-Play-All winners; when the same player wins both of these, he plays the plate winner. This meant that Tom D took on Ola in a pair of rapidplays, managing to win both.

The George Boots Shield, given for the best single game performance was won by Peter Leggett for the second year in a row, this time beating a player rated 52 points above him.

ECF National Club Minor Championship
We came runners up in the minor section this year. Good performances from Tom D and Andy C on board 1 were ably supported by a 3.5 from 4 from Peter.

Sadly Joshua Altamura moved on from the club after a barnstorming first season, moving to Oxford for work.

Review of Leamington Chess Club Season – 2016-17

Our recent promotions meant that all three of our teams were in relegation battles this season, with two of the three managing to stave off the drop.

The A team started well, with three wins out of the first four matches. Once our star player Morgan Blake (4/5) left the area, points became harder to come by, but we had enough in the bag to secure our place with a few games to spare.

In Division 2, the B team also started well, but struggled to field a full team in the middle of the season, leading to a couple of costly forfeits. Andy Price came in and helped the fight with 5.5/8, but a narrow failure to draw the last game at Solihull sadly led to a relegation.

The C team struggled early on in their first crack at division 3, losing their first five. As the season wore on, though, they managed some impressive wins, and beat Stratford 3-1 in a relegation showdown at the end of the season. Rob Mantell’s score of 4.5/9 was our best as the team upset expectations.

Club KOs
We were unable to repeat last season’s success in these competitions, with the Open and U120 teams both failing to win their opening match.

Individual KOs
Jason Madden was able to add to our trophy cabinet, picking up the U125 trophy for the fifth time. Tom Darling (in the Open) and Ola Olaleye (in the handicapped rapidplay) also made finals, making for another solid year in these competitions.

Club Competitions
Ben Egid won the club KO for the first time, beating Ola in the final with a strategic masterclass.

Tom won the rapidplay for the fifth time in a row, scoring 9/12 and beating Andy Collins in a series of four tiebreakers after they both finished with the same score. He also defended the club championship against Ben.

Rob had another productive year, winning the Plate for the first time and repeating as the U125 rapidplay winner.

The George Boots Shield, given for the best single game performance, was won by Peter Leggett for the third year in a row, this time beating a player rated 32 points above him.

ECF National Club Minor Championship
Peter’s big win came on the first day of this competition, an improbable comeback from a queen down. Sadly, that was an isolated highlight, as we won only one of our four matches.

Sumiran Lohani returned to India early in the season. He was one of our most popular players while he was here, as well as being cnosistently successful over the board; we wish him well in his new job.

Chairman’s Review of 2017-18 Season

For Leamington Chess Club, the past year was rather low-key. We fielded two teams in the Leamington & District Chess League. The A-team in Division One finished sixth out of eight, ahead of Solihull B and OltonB, winning four matches, drawing one, and losing nine. The B-team came bottom of Division Three, with two wins, two draws, six losses, and disappointingly, two matches defaulted. In the League Open Knock-Out Competition we exited in Round One, losing to Shirley & Wythall: our Under-120 team did make it to the second round, thanks to a bye, only to be defeated by Daventry.

Tom Darling flew the flag for Leamington in the League’s individual competitions. Though not progressing too far in the Open Knock-out, he must be congratulated on winning the Rapid-play. For overall performance in league matches, Andy Collins deserves mention, with an average of 50% on Board One for the A-team, against very high-graded opposition. Ben Eigid also had a good season, mainly on Two, but with occasional outings on top board. If only these two had been better supported on Boards Three and Four – and I have to plead guilty here – then Leamingotn A would have been respectably placed in Division One. In the last B-Team match of the season, Jacob Preston-Bridges, our youngest member, played his first game for the club, which he drew.

Over the past year we have missed the contributions of four previously active members – Jason Madden, Nigel Morris, Ola Olaleye, and Andy Price. Jason, apparently, is now withdrawing from his Leamington League activities as well, and is unlikely to return to us any time soon. Perhaps there is some hope that Nigel and Ola might reappear, should their work commitments change. However, I understand that Andy Price no longer wishes to play league chess, and is leaving us. If so, this is a very sad loss: Andy has been a mainstay of the club for decades. To find the actual year he first joined, we need to consult the old Treasurer’s Book in the archive – it was in the late 1970s, I think.

Undoubtedly, the absence of these four good players was a contributory factor in our poor league performance this season. But we should take a long view, always bearing in mind that the club has been in continuous existence since 1851. Inevitably there will be comings and goings, peaks and troughs. Back in December 1873, the Leamington Courier, no less, declared in an editorial that the Chess Club was “dying of inanition” – a word seldom seen in local newspapers these days; it means “exhaustion due to lack of nourishment.” But then a club member wrote in to say this was a mistake, comparing the club to “a smouldering fire which only, I believe, requires poking up and fresh materials added to render it lively again, and make it afford genial warmth and produce activity and interest.” Well, here we are, nearly 150 years on from that low point. Leamington Chess Club continues with the same ethos; and still provides the opportunity to play chess regularly, whether at a social or at a more competitive level.