Khyber Cup 2023!

This year’s Khyber Cup is being held on Saturday the 29th July, kindly hosted by Harriet Haslehurst.

Please see Jonathan’s email for the address and other details.
Could you aim to arrive for a 10am chess start.

Lunch: There are plenty of eating choices on the High Street and still more within easy walking distance. We can decide which suits us best on the day, or make a booking if we know approximate numbers.

Entry to the Khyber Cup is not restricted to Crowthorne chess club members. Relatives and friends are warmly invited.

For those not familiar with the Khyber Cup, it is our friendly summer rapid play tournament. 5 rounds of half hour games with a break for lunch. We are usually blessed with fine weather, making it a relaxing, friendly and sociable day, apart from the chess.

We hope you’re able to attend this historic event. Please let Jonathan and Harriet know if you would like to attend.

Christmas Handicap

The SECOND Christmas Handicap of 2022 took place last Friday, 9th December, the first having been delayed from last year into this due to Covid. And we are getting back to pre-pandemic attendee numbers with a very healthy 21 competitors. The event was played in the Pinewood Centre Bar & Cafe in our usual Thursday night spot, although rather more of us than usual and certainly more Christmas jumpers. (No onesies this year, unfortunately.)

Given the number of players, we had three groups in the group stage, and played to 12.5 minutes instead of the usual 10 or 15 minutes. This worked out about right, finishing as we did around 11pm.

Coming top of group 1 was Shree, closely followed by her sister Saachi and friend Csilla. The three girls between them scored an impressive 14 from 18 – and bear in mind that, allowing for games between themselves, the maximum they could have scored was 15.

Mat was the standout star of the second group with 5 from 6, just a whisker in front of an on-form Louise.

In group 3 Ashton romped home, winning all 6 games, and finishing two points ahead of nearest rivals Christine and Colin.

Ashton continued to power through to meet Louise in the semi-final, at which point we had our first draw in the tournament – and second, third and fourth, before Ashton finally won and went on to meet Shree in the final. In the final game Shree started well but Ashton slowly gained the advantage and eventually won the game.

So, well done Ashton, a new name on the trophy. Well played Shree, your turn will come.

Meanwhile, competing for the wooden spoon was myself and James. James was playing his first speed handicap, and it showed – he actually THOUGHT about his moves and thus was doomed to lose on time, but thereby won a wooden spoon and the customary bottle of wine (although he wisely chose to swap it for a pint of Old Crafty Hen).

All-in-all, a fine 35th Christmas Speed Handicap. Thanks to everyone for playing.

Derek wins the Khyber Cup

A belated write-up for our traditional summer tournament (the webmaster claims he was otherwise engaged in August), which was played on July 30th. Thanks to Jonathan for the details and photos.

The sun always shines on the Khyber Cup and we were fortunate enough, as so often, to be able to hold the event outdoors in ideal weather conditions, with a backdrop of one of the few lawns in the country still verdant green.

The Khyber chess this year produced more than the usual ups and downs, with some players riding high or unexpectedly low at lunchtime and undergoing a complete reversal of fortunes in the afternoon. To win the event though one needs to score well both before and after lunch, and this year the most consistent player was Derek, whose string of victories was only interrupted by a draw against Harvey, leaving Derek the clear winner a full point ahead of joint second place Ken and Zak. So Derek’s name will be engraved on the Khyber Cup trophy for the second year in a row, only the third player to achieve this distinction. Congratulations to Derek. Congratulations also to Zak, playing in his first ever OTB competition and finishing in an impressive joint second place on 3.5 points.

No wooden spoon this year, because we had none handy to give out, but the bottle of wine was awarded to Christine.

Thank you to John Upham for the loan of the tables and chairs. Thank you to everyone who played in this Crowthorne Chess Club institution, hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and hope to see you all again for next year’s Khyber Cup.

Winner Derek Johnson with the John Purkis Shield
The Players (minus Zak, the photographer)

Christmas Speed Handicap Results

We finally held the thirty fourth Crowthorne Christmas speed handicap tournament last night (Saturday 2nd April) shortly before Easter, having postponed the event on its original date, shortly before Christmas, due to Covid restrictions. Nonetheless, a number of people thoughtfully entered into the spirit of the occasion by wearing their Christmas jumpers, and Scott even appeared in his legendary snowman onesie. Attendance was roughly half that of the previous over the board tournament in 2019, but that didn’t make the chess any more refined: the same extraordinary twists and turns of fate occurred on the boards as ever.

The winners of the two groups were Scott and Daniel and, appropriately perhaps, they were also the two finalists. Daniel reached the final beating Harriet in the semis after a hard-fought game in which he ingeniously sacrificed a queen to reach an advantageous bishop and pawn ending, converting it to a win through precise and careful technique. Scott had a somewhat quicker semi-final win against Mark (Cross) in a choppy tactical melee typical of the speed handicap.

In the final Scott played the opening which has given him so much success this season, the Black Lion defence albeit move in advance as white, and it delivered the goods for him again. Daniel’s king came under pressure along files and diagonals, leading to Scott delivering an on-the-board checkmate.

Congratulations to Scott for his first Speed Handicap win and fine performance all evening. Daniel’s turn will surely come.

At the other end of the field of achievements, Christine deprived Colin (Purdon) of the wooden spoon and bottle of wine. Thank you to her and to all who attended.

Christine Receives the coveted Wooden Spoon (plus consolation prize) from Club Secretary, Jonathan Welton
Congratulations to this year’s Christmas Handicap winner, Scott Leadbetter!

Many thanks to Jonathan for organising another enjoyable Christmas Handicap.

Christmas Handicap – CANCELLED

Owing to the increased risk of transmission posed by the omicron variant, Wellington College has made the (entirely understandable) decision to close the bar until further notice.

As a result, the Christmas Handicap will NOT take place this Saturday (18th December).

(“Cancelled” may be a bit strong, as we are considering alternative ways of holding the tournament in the New Year.)

Richard Webb wins the Khyber Cup

Congratulations to Richard for winning the Khyber Cup this year. This year the event was held online, using a slightly faster time control of 10m+5s for the entire game rather than the traditional 20m+10s used for the over the board event. Thanks are due to Jonathan Welton, who organised the event using as the platform.

Richard won the 5 round Swiss tournament with 4.5 points, a full point ahead of Harvey Duckers and Mark Taylor, who shared second place with 3.5 points.

Full details of the tournament can be found at the event on

Richard’s best game was probably his first round encounter against Jonathan. Jonathan got a slightly passive position out of the opening, and it is impressive to see how Richard managed to gradually increase his advantage to a winning one, whilst giving his opponent virtually no counterplay, despite Jonathan’s best efforts.

As can be seen in the Honours Board Page, Richard is no stranger to winning the Khyber competition!

Khyber Cup 2020

The Khyber Cup is back!

This year’s Khyber Cup will take place on Saturday 5th September, 14:00.

This is a 5 round Swiss, with 10m+5s time control and a couple of minutes between rounds for a breathing space.

There is a Zoom session available for those who want to talk between rounds. Note that you should mute and turn off your speaker when playing to avoid being distracted. Nonetheless, avoid commenting on people’s in-progress games just in case they still have their speaker on.

This is a friendly event; please feel free to invite friends and family to join. Note that it is only open to members of the Crowthorne Team on Lichess. If you or your invitees, are not members you will have to join first (and to do that you will need a lichess membership).

For more details, please refer to Jonathan’s email.

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.