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Last updated 5 November 2023

News in the 2022-3 season

ECF re-elects Home Director and combines membership categories

15 Oct 2023. There were two contested elections for ECF directorships. Nigel Towers (Worcs), the incumbent Director for Home Chess, won an overwhelmingly. The vote for a vacant Non-Executive Directorship was much closer with WIM Sarah Longson (Greater Manchester) beating WGM Katarzyna (Worcs) by 125 to 99 votes. A proposal from the ECF Board to merge silver and gold membership categories starting in September 2024 was narrowly accepted by 136 to 122 votes.

GM Hebden wins Derbyshire Open

24 Sep 2023. Mark Hebden (Leics) had a perfect 5/5 score to win the Open tournament. Other winners were: Major (u2000) Dragoljub Sudar (Notts) 4½, Intermediate (u1800) Matthew Bubis (Derbys); Minor (u1500) David Dunne 4½ (Yorks); Foundation (1350) Jonah Tomsett (Notts) 4½. A total of nearly 150 players competed in this inaugural Derbyshire event. See full results.

MCCU Generation Game at Walsall

23 Sep 2023. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the MCCU, Ray Dolan (CEO MCCU) organised a massive 56-board match between young and old players at the Rycroft Community Centre Bloxwich.

MCCU generation game

Cllr Mark Statham (standing left) ready to make the first move to start the Generation Game board 1 game between Keith Thomas (Oscott CC) vs Stephen Gaskell (vice-captain of the Bloxwich Junior CC) with chief arbiter Ham Patel, and arbiter Andrew Lambert.

Warwickshire junior initiative

13 Sep 2023, Alex Holowczak writes. Warwickshire Primary Schools Team Championship is a new initiative, and I am hopeful that those of you who work in schools in the LEA areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire can enter this tournament. The rough format is to have zones of 5 or 6, with a 1-day Final on a Saturday in the Spring. We will firm up those arrangement once we know how many teams enter.

Counties square up for new season

7 Sep 2023, Peter Sherlock reports. Only three counties have entered the county team competitions. Lincolnshire and Worcestershire play for the Midland counties title in November. In the rating-limited tournaments, Lincolnshire u1850 play Staffordshire, Lincolnshire u1650 play Worcestershire and the first county match will be between Staffordshire u1450 and Worcestershire. Warwickshire is not fielding a team this year and Shrops, Notts and Leics have not returned to the competitions. Counties still have the opportunity to compete for the u2050 Midlands title because the entry date is not until the end of January. See list of fixtures.

Fast play at Coventry

3 Sep 2023. Coventry Rapidplay. IM Yichen Han completed the double with a win in the Rapidplay Open scoring 6 points from seven games. The Major (u2000) was won by Callum Davies (Wales) with 6½ points; the Intermediate (u1750) by Yaseen Rajjoub (Warks) wth 6 points and the Minor (u1500) by Vassily Sagyama (Warks) with 6½ points.

2 Sep 2023. Coventry Blitz. IM Yichen Han (Oxon) won the Open with 13 points from fourteen games. Nathanael Paul (Shrops) won the Major (u2000) with 11½ points; the Intermediate (u1750) by Pranav Mathur and the Minor (u1500) by Vihaan Mathur both from Warks Junior scoring 13½.

Worcestershire championships

27 Aug 2023. Peter Kitson came out first on tie-break with Joeseph Friar. Julie Wilson retained her Worcestershire Women's title.

Listen to Stephen Woodhouse about new funds for chess

22 Aug 2023. The Government is restoring funding to the game having withdrawn all funding in 2011. The announcement is discussed by Stephen Woodhouse, captain of Worcestershire’s first team and ECF Non-Exec Director, with Radio Hereford and Worcester’s Breakfast presenter Elliott Webb.

East Midlands tournament

12 Aug 2023. John Potter (Derbys) shared first place in the u2400 tournament with Oscar Pollack (London) and Tashika Arora (Oxon).

County team entries open for 2023/4 season

31 Jul 2023, Peter Sherlock reports. Entries are now open for Open, Minor and ratings limited (u2050, u1850, u1650, u1450) county teams for the MCCU stage. Entries should be returned by 31 August (31 December for u2050 competition). See entry form.

Midland players at the British Championships

30 Jul 2023, ECF reports. Former Leicestershire player Brandon Clarke won the Major Open and former Worcestershire player Keith Arkell the 50+ championship. The 2023 British Champion was won by top seed GM Michael Adams and the Women's Champion is Lan Yao who gained a WGM norm.

Peter Gibbs, former MCCU president dies

2 Jul 2023, Ray Dolan reports. The chess community is much saddened to receive news that Peter passed away after a long illness. Our deepest condolences to his Widow, Celia, and family. CEO Ray Dolan writes: "[Peter] was a legend...a gentleman of the game of chess." Read obituary with illustrative game.

Warwickshire lose to Yorkshire in u1650 counties final

1 Jul. Warwickshire defaulted their u2050 final match against Essex believing they had better prospects against Yorkshire in the u1650. In the end, the result was 7-9. See score card. In the Open event Middlesex beat Surrey on board count, and in the Minor Counties Cambridgeshire beat Norfolk on board count. Other winners were Essex in the u2050, Middlesex in the u1850, and Greater Manchester in the u1540 competitions.

MCCU annual meeting

24 Jun 2023, Ray Dolan reports. The union plans three events: a senior congress, a junior rapidplay, and a Generation Game during 2023-4. Officers from last year remain in post and the union welcomes Tim Walker as its ECF delegate.

Warwickshire teams in two counties’ finals

10 Jun 2023. Warwickshire u2050 team beat Surrey 9-7 and play Essex in the final. Warwickshire u1650 team beat Greater Manchester 9-7 and play Yorkshire in the final. Lincolnshire were also in action, but lost their quarter-final match in the Minor Counties 6-10 to Norfolk who play Cambridgeshire in the final. In the Open tounament, Surrey play Middlesex. All finals matches will be played on 1 July.

Kata Toma wins English Women's championship

29 May 2023. WGM Katarzyna Toma, who plays board 1 for Worcestershire, was crowned English Women's Champion for her win in the 7 round tournament held at Kenilworth. Kata required a win playing black in the last round game against Zoe Varney who led the tournament by ½ point after the penultimate round. Kata lived dangerously to secure the win and finished sole first on 5½ points.

Warwickshire bag semifinals place

20 May 2023. Warwickshire beat u1650 Midlands champions Worcestershire in an away match at Worcester. The two teams were evenly matched on players’ ratings, but Warwickshire set the pace and ran out clear winners 10½-5½. See link to score sheet.

Lincolnshire only Midland team to win

13 & 14 May 2023. In the quarter finals of the Counties Championships played over the weekend, only Lincolnshire were able to progress to the semi-finals when they play Somerset in the Minor Counties championship. Worcestershire lost to Cambridgeshire in the same competition. Staffordshire had already conceded the u1650 match against Essex and their u1450 team lost against Essex. Nottinghamshire u1450 team lost to Greater Manchester. See results and links to score sheets.

Midland GMs tie for English Seniors title

9 May 2023, ECF reports. Keith Arkell (Worcs) and Mark Hebden (Leics) tied for the 50+ on 5½ points each.

MCCU annual meeting

5 May 2023, CEO Ray Dolan reports. The annual meeting for county delegates and officers will be held on Saturday 24th June at Rolls Royce, Derby. If any player would like a matter raised, please contact one of your county delegates before 20 May. If you are interested in taking on any post, please contact CEO Ray Dolan who can explain what any role would involve. Ray would like to hear from players who can take any of the roles of: Non-executive Director; Meeting Secretary; correspondence chess controller; Safeguarding Officer; Controller for Midlands GP and Championship awards; ECF council delegate; Congress organiser.

Nottingham Congress results

15 Apr 2023, John Swain reports.GM Mark Hebden (Leics) won the Open, his third time as outright winner with IM Adam Hunt (Suffolk) and John Potter (Derbys) close behind. The Major (u1950) was won by Sammy Benzaira (Notts) and the Intermediate (u1750) by George Burdell (Derbys), the Minor (u1550) by Dylan Whitney, the Improvers (u1350) by Artemijs Gulijevs (Notts). Ununusually in a weekend congress all fisrt placed players were outright winners. Over 150 players competed and the catering made over £250 for Disasters Emergency Committee Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal.

National quarter final county matches

10 Apr 2023. Worcestershire play Cambridgeshire in the Minor Counties' at Kilworth Village Hall, Leics on Sunday 14 May. In the u1450 competition, Nottinghamshire play Greater Manchester at Newcastle-u-Lyme Bridge Club on Saturday 13 May.

Draw for national stages

9 Apr 2023. For the first time, there are no Midland teams in the Open tournament with Greater Manchester now being in the Northern Counties Chess Union. Lincolnshire and Worcestershire play in the quarter-finals against Somerset and Cambridgeshire respectively on 13 May. Warwickshire u2050 play Northumberland or Surrey in the u2040 semi-final on 10 June. No Midland team has entered the u1850 tournament. Three Midland teams play in the u1650 quarter finals on 20 May. Staffordshire play Essex, and Worcestershire and Warwickshire are paired against each other on 20 May. Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire play in the u1450 quarter-finals on 13 May. Nottinghamshire play Greater Manchester and Staffordshire play Essex.

National stages County team tournaments

15 Mar 2023. The national controller, Mark Murrell, has acknowledged MCCU’s nominated teams and drawn attention to rules about unrated players linked from the competition’s web page.

Staffordshire have new junior chess club

27 Feb 2023 a new chess academy started in Staffordshire. It will open most Mondays at the Ryecroft Community Hub, Walsall WS3 1TR. MCCU president Eunice Dolan with husband Ray offer coaching. The club was founded by Maryam Jasmin, a former primary school teacher, and is aimed at home-schooled children. Maryam says, "'There is evidence that chess provides one of the ways which help bring children together, particularly those who struggle to mix with others under differing circumstances"

MCCU nominations for County teams National stage

27 Feb. Minor counties - Lincolnshire and Worcestershire; u2050 - Warwickshire; u1650 - Worcestershire and Staffordshire; u1450 - Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire.

Birmingham Blitz Grand Prix round 5

6 Feb. Henrik Stepanyan was first on 8½ points from 9 rounds. The event was organised by Alex Holowczak and chief arbiter was Matthew Carr

Worcestershire u1650 beat Warwickshire to become Midlands team champions

29 Jan. Worcestershire won 10-4, captains having agreed to play over 14 boards at Stratford-upon-Avon. Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire each scored 2 match points, but Worcestershire ran out winners with 15½ game points aginst runners-up Staffordshire on 14 points.

IM Ameet Ghasi wins Nottingham Rapidplay

29 Jan. Ameet (Middx) was sole first in the Open on 5½ points from 6 games ahead of FM Dong Bao Nghia (Vietnam, 5) and GM Mark Hebden (Leics, 4½). Thomas Wills (Yorks) won the Major with 5 points, Andrea Passariello (Italy) the Intermediate winning all his games and ending with 6 points. There were 4-way ties for the Minor: Jeffry Bryant (Oxon), Gavin Dow (Notts), Sean Tavener (Staffs) and Jyothika Reghu (Leics). The Improver tournament first place was shared by Aashita Roychowdhury (Yorks), Mick Fings (Notts) and Matthew Stokes (Notts). The tournaments were over-suscribed and 160 players took part. The event was organised for Notts CA by John Swain, Steve Burke, Mike Naylor, Simon Scott, Marcel Taylor, Hambel Willow, Graham Neil, and John Swain.

MCCU chairman takes a national role

25 Jan. Paul Sharratt is sharing the role of Safeguarding Officer for the ECF with Jo Wildman (Kent).

Lincolnshire are Midlands team champions

21 Jan. Syston proved a happy venue for Lincolnshire when they defeated Worcestershire 10-6 to become Midlands county team champions having already beaten Warwickshire. Worcs and Warks play for the runner-up position on 25 Feb.

Shropshire congress winners

8 Jan. Jonathan Blackburn (GMC) scored 4½ points and first in the Open tournament ahead of Bruce Baer (Warks). In the Major tournament, Graham Ashcroft (Lancs), Joe Conway-Lees (Worcs) and Oleg Cukovs (Lancs) were placed 1st to 3rd. Ewan Herd (Yorks) won the Intermediate tournament outright. Sean Tavener (Staffs) and Sam Hollands (Shrops) shared the top spot in the Minor tournament.

Birmingham Blitz goes online for round 4

5 Jan 2023. Manvith Sandu (Warks) won the 7-round event with 5 points.

Lincolnshire beat Warwickshire

3 Dec. Playing at the Syston neutral venue, Lincolnshire had a convincing win over Warwickshire in the first match of the Midlands team championship. See score-sheet. Meanwhile Staffs conceded the u1450 match that was to have been played with Nottinghamshire making Notts Midlands u1450 champions.

Staffordshire u1650 team beats Worcestershire

26 Nov. In a match over 13 boards, Staffordshire ran out winners 7½ - 5½.

Birmingham Open results

20 Nov.The open was won by Piotr Denderski (Leics, 4½/5); the Major by Jack Pilley (Leics, 5/5); the Intermediate by David Collyer (Hants 5/5); and Keatan Patel (Warks, 4½/5). One hundred and thirty players entered and the tournament was organised by Alex Holowczak for Warwickshire CA.

Birmingham Blitz GP round 3

2 Nov. Round 3 at Coleshill was won by Henrik Stepanyan (Warks) on 6½ points from 7 rounds.

First Midlands county match result

29 Oct. Warwickshire u1650 beat Staffordshire in the first match of the season in a match over fourteen boards.

Shropshire New Year Chessfest back

29 Oct. After a 3-year break chess is back at New Year in Telford. Entries by 31 December.

Paul Sharratt new MCCU Finance Director

16 Oct. Paul Sharratt (Worcs) was unanimously elected to the finance post following death of Andrew Leadbetter.

Stephen Woodhouse elected Chairman of ECF Board

15 Oct. At the ECF Council meeting Stephen Woodhouse (Worcs) was elected Chairman of the ECF Board of directors. Hok Chiu (Warks) was unsuccessful in his bid to be come a non-executive director. These roles on the board are unpaid.

Greater Manchester going home

9 Oct. Damien McElvenny, president of the Manchester Chess Federation, writes that the Northern Counties Chess Union has accepted an application from MCF to join and compete in the union stages of NCCU county competitions and are resigning from the MCCU. Damien also writes: "We would like to put on record our thanks to MCCU for looking after us since 1975." The Manchester Federation was formed in 1975, but the NCCU of that era would not accept MCF as a member and MCF successfully applied to the MCCU so their players could continue to play county chess. After joining the MCCU, the Mancunians broke Warwickshire’s dominance in Midlands county chess in the 1970s and were Midland team champions for five years running, winning the title on nineteen occasions between 1975 and 2020. Manchester also won the Midlands team championships for 2nd and 3rd county teams, and the grade limited team competitions which followed them, but those teams never achieved the dominance in Midland competitions as their open team had achieved. The participation of Manchester in the Midlands competitions was always a geographical anomaly and the return of Manchester to Northern competitions is sensible. Manchester will make Northern county chess more competitive and Midland county chess easier to organise. CEO Ray Dolan wrote from the MCCU: "We are losing Manchester and wish them well."

Birmingham Blitz Grand Prix round 2

3 Oct. In the second of BDCL’s GP Bliz events, Matthew Harborne (Warks) was first on 7½ points from 9 rounds.

County teams line up

21 Sep. The Midlands Team Championship has three entries: Lincolnshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Only one team has so far entered the u2050: Stafforshire (deadline is 31 Dec), Warwickshire and Worcestershire entered the u1650 competition. Greater Manchester. Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire will compete for the u1450 title. See fixtures.

Union treasurer died after accident

13 Sep. It is with great sadness that MCCU report the death of Andrew Leadbetter (Staffs), following a road traffic accident last Thursday. He was honorary treasurer of MCCU and Staffordshire CA. Chess was only one of his many interests and you can read more in the obituary published by North Staffs CA.

Birmingham Blitz Grand Prix round 1

5 Sep. The first of Birmingham & District’s new Blitz GP events was at Wolverhampton and won by Dave Arjun (India) with 7 points from 9 rounds. The events are oraganised by Alex Holowczak and chief arbiter is Matthew Carr.

County team entries expected

4 Sep, Peter Sherlock reports. Nothing has yet been heard from Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Shropshire or Warwickshire, but entries so far are: Open/Minor Lincolnshire and Worcestershire, u2050 Greater Manchester; u1850 Staffordshire; u1650 Worcestershire; u1450 Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire.

Midlands Qualifier for UK Blitz Championship

3 Sep, Phil Austin reports. IM Jonah Willow (Notts) was first with 13½ points from 15 games in a field of over fifty players. Second was GM Mark Hebden (Leics) on 12½ and third was FM Tiruchirapalli Venkataramanan (India) on 11½ points.


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