Christmas Handicap Review

The 32nd annual Crowthorne Chess club Christmas Speed Handicap Tournament Party was held on Friday night (20th), and gave us the nerve-wracking exciting chess we’ve come to expect from the speed handicap format. I saw at least three games where the winner delivered mate with three seconds left on the clock, and there were an extraordinary number of unintentional queen sacrifices, including one in the final.

In order to speed things up the games were of ten minutes duration this year, instead of the usual 15, and there were 25 players, not quite a record but certainly a good turnout.

We played with three groups in the first stage this year, and the winners of the three groups were Scott, Bob and Mark (Cross), who were joined by Richard, Pradeep, Colin (Purdon), Andy and Daniel in the knockout stage. The final was between Andy Pollock, competing in his first CCC speed handicap, and Bob, runner up 20 years ago. Andy played an exciting tight game but Bob, who had been on terrific form all evening, finished off by winning the final, and getting his name on the Harvey-Ironside Shield for the first time.

The speed format doesn’t suit everyone, and the wooden spoon and bottle of wine was taken by Ken.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the setting up and tidying away, and also to Carolin, one of the Erfstadt chess exchange visitors this autumn, who gifted a large selection of German cakes and biscuits. And finally, an extra special mention and thanks to a good friend of the club, former long-time club member Peter Larwood who travelled from afar just to be with us for the evening.

Have a wonderful Christmas everybody.

Many thanks to Jonathan for the above report, and for organising the tournament with his usual efficiency.

Christmas Events

It’s that time of year again, and there are two social events for Crowthorne Chess Club members to put in their calendar!

A message from Jonathan, our club secretary:

The time has come for you to let me know if you’re planning to attend the Crowthorne Christmas Handicap tournament, also known as our Christmas party. I need to know how many are attending, so as to order the right amount of food. Also, it helps me organise the structure of the event (how many first stage groups there need to be, etc). If you’ve already let me know your intentions, there’s no need to do so again.

As a reminder: it’s in the Wellington College social club, Friday 20th December, start time 7:30.

As well, there is a Camberley/Crowthorne Christmas meal on Friday 13th December, not very long away at all, in La Galleria in Yateley. Would interested people let myself or Christine know?

Summer event: Random Opening Rapidplay Tournament

To complement the fixed opening rapidplay held earlier in the summer, Crowthorne Chess Club held a random opening rapidplay, with a different opening in each round. The results of the tournament, held yesterday evening with eight members playing were:

1st Harvey Duckers with 6 points (out of 7)
2nd Mark Taylor with 5
3rd Jonathan Welton with 4.5

The openings for each round were as follows:

1 Queen’s Gambit Accepted
2 Najdorf with 6 Be3
3 Fajarowicz variation of the Budapest
4 King’s Bishop Gambit
5 Open Ruy Lopez
6 French Winawer poisoned pawn
7 Grob


Summer event: Mini Rapid Trompowsky Tournament

Yesterday the club held a themed blitz tournament where all the games started with the position arising after the moves
1.  d4    Nf6
2.  Bg5  Ne4

This took most players off the beaten track and into very varied and unknown territory, and as a result many interesting games ensued.

Twelve members participated, and the event was held as an all-play-all blitz. Richard Webb won with an impressive 10/11, with Derek Johnson in second place with 8.5 and Ken Coates and Harrvey Duckers sharing third with 8.

Summer Mini Blitz Tournament

As part of our summer events Crowthorne Chess Club held a blitz tournament in the club room on Wednesday 10th July. With 10 club members playing, it was an all-play-all with a time rate of 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move.
The results were recorded using state-of-the-art technology (a whiteboard – see the image below). Colin came first with 8 points, Richard was second with Daniel (the only junior playing) third with an impressive 6 points.

Many thanks to Kim for providing the video

Khyber Cup 2019

The Khyber Cup, which was held on Sunday June 16 fulfilled all the traditional Khyber cup elements: good natured but closely fought games in a friendly environment, and weather going from imminent rain to a lovely summer’s day. Even the traditional winner, Richard Webb, won the event, adding his name to the shield for the 19th time. Runner up was Paul Sloane and there was a three-way tie for the wooden spoon. Many thanks to John Upham for being a generous and perfect host.

Thanks also to Paul Sloane for providing these photos (click to see full image):

Christmas Handicap – The Results!

The speed handicap tournament is a Crowthorne chess club Christmas tradition, with this year being its thirty first year. We had an amazing 29 players this year, which I believe is a new record. Because of the large number of entrants, the group stage was split into 4 groups of 7 or 8 players, the first time we’ve needed to have four groups.

The two top players from each group went up to play in the knock-out stage. These were: Richard Webb, James Love, Harvey Duckers, Andrew Kirby, Dave Hemmings, Scott Leadbetter, Robert Starley and Louise Head. After hard fought quarter- and semi-finals, we reached the final between eight times previous winner Richard, and Scott, entering the handicap for the very first time. The game was evenly balanced, before Scott allowed Richard to unleash a winning attack to win the game and the tournament.

Congratulations to Richard who adds his name to the Harvey-Ironside shield for a phenomenal ninth time, proving he still has the speed of mind and hand to win after an absence of nine years from the handicap. Commiserations to Scott, who nonetheless was the clear winner of the most Christmassy costume, with his eternally memorable snowman onesie.

At the opposite end of the results, the other knock-out was between Pradeep and Bob, in which Pradeep produced an opening novelty, an astounding king sacrifice, which secured him the wooden spoon and bottle of fine Harrods wine. Many thanks to Pradeep and the other parents who sportingly joined in.

Thanks to Christine for organising the lovely buffet, and thanks also to all those who helped set up the room and helped contain the evening’s chaos.

I will make a few amendments to the arrangements next year to make it easier to support the increasing number of players.

Khyber Cup Report

Jonathan has provided the following report on this year’s Khyber Cup, which was held on Sunday (!st July):

The annual Crowthorne Chess Club Khyber Cup was held today, in glorious sunshine. We had a good attendance with fourteen players, and a very high average standard of ability.

There were joint winners this year: Colin Purdon and Richard Webb. Both won all their games except their encounter against each other which was drawn, giving them 4.5 points each. Both winners already have their name on the Khyber Cup shield, including in 2009 when the were again joint winners. Well done Colin and Richard.
Harriet Haslehurst took home the bottle of wine.

We had two junior players this year, Daniel Shek and George Taphouse, both of whom performed well and above their expectations, coming away in the points. Between games they ran for miles around the garden, occasionally roping slow moving adults in to games of piggy-in-the-middle and the like.

Many thanks to John Upham for his excellent organisation and generosity in hosting the Khyber again.