The current pressident of the Northumberland Chess Association John Wheeler has been awarded The President’s Award for Services to Chess by the ECF 2019 awards for being actively involved in chess in Northumberland for 40 years. In addition to this, the Northumberland Chess Bulletin has won the Magazine of the year award for it’s impressive content.

Read more about the ECF awards

This years Zollner book is now available! The book is 70 pages and contains all games played in this years Zollner, Sell and Gilroy competitions with diagrams and light annotations where appropriate. The price is £8 per copy if collected from John Wheeler. He will bring some copies to Gosforth Chess Club on Monday evenings and to NCA meetings in September. Email if you’re interested any wish to reserve a copy. Electronic copies are available for the same price for those with special requirements.

South Shields Chess Club hosted this years Unofficial Blitz Championship of the North East.

The Event at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word. Playing Chess at this Iconic Venue overlooking River Tyne certainly makes a change from change from the normal venues. The room was airy, bright and gave opportunities to pop out onto the viewing platform to get some fresh air and watch the cruise ships and ferries coming up the Tyne. The competition was well organised by Brian Towers and his team, attracting 49 players from all over the North East and even as far as Edinburgh.

The Event has received a lot of positive feedback already and demonstrates that there is an appetite for more one day events, so we hope that other clubs will take up the challenge. Consisting of 9 rounds of 5 mins + 2 games, the tournament was well contested. The overall Winner was David Walker of Leam Lane and South Shields, second Charlie Storey and third David Mooney. Simon McGuiness and Jack Erskine–Periera  picked up Grading prizes, John Turnock the Senior Prize and Max Turner the Junior Prize.

A full set of results can be found on the Chess Results website

We do hope this Event will become part of the Local Chess Calendar and may even be considered as the Official  Blitz Championship of the North East next year, please send any feedback to Eddie Czestochowski on this or any aspect of the competition.

Forest Hall won the 2018-19 Northern Counties (NCCU) Open Club Championship from Heywood, Lancashire, in a thrilling final hosted by Harrogate Chess Club on May 26.
The Open final took place alongside the Seniors and Minor finals, also held at Harrogate one the same afternoon, which were won by South Shields and Heywood, respectively.
In the Open final, Heywood were leading 2-1 with one game to go and looked favourites to win the title as their top board, Brett Lund, had the advantage. But then, in a sudden twist of fortunes, Forest Hall’s Tim Wall managed to turn the tables with a desperate kingside onslaught that produced a checkmate with only a minute to spare.
The board 1 win meant that both teams had 2 game points each, but Forest Hall triumphed on board count.
The fact that a total of seven teams took part in this year’s club competitions is due in large part to the campaigning of NCCU President Bill O’Rourke (also the Heywood team captain) who encouraged more teams to enter.
The finals day at Harrogate Chess Club was a splendid afternoon, with each team contributing sandwiches and other snacks and beverages for the players. The chess was hard-fought, but played in an excellent, friendly spirit.
Heywood 2-2 Forest Hall*
(*Forest Hall win on board count)
1 Brett Lund (208) 0-1 Tim Wall (207)
2 Martyn Hamer (191) 0.5-0.5 Zheming Zhang (184)
3 Peter Jowett (191) 1-0 Chris Goodall (173)
4 Bill O’Rourke (159) 0.5-0.5 Ravi Wariyar (162)

So there’s been no love so far for either halving the size of Division 1 or removing promotion and relegation. But perhaps Option 3 is James Turner’s suggestion: re-inflate Division 1 to 12 teams, so at least 3 teams will be fighting to avoid 2 relegation places. (Or even to 13, which would equalise the whites and blacks.)

What if we tried a one-off “reset” of Division 1’s membership, but without removing promotion and relegation? On the basis that a team who didn’t care very much to be the 10th team in a league of 10, might feel better about it if they could collude with two other teams, ahead of the League Meeting, to all enter Division 1 at the same time?

(Regarding the other two divisions, I would prefer 12-8-10 to 12-11-7, with a mid-season split in Division 2. Firstly because Division 2 is “sticky” – if after a season you need to juggle the numbers, you can usually convince teams to come up to Division 2 faster than you can convince them to drop down to Division 3. Secondly because leaving Alnwick in a 10-team Division 3 rather than a 7-team Division 3 means you can give everyone else 4 homes, 4 aways and 1 Alnwick-away.)

The “Big 8” clubs right now are Durham City, Forest Hall, Gosforth, Jesmond, Leam Lane, Morpeth, South Shields and Tynemouth. That leaves 4 places. Which of the following teams/clubs would be willing to join a 12-team Division 1 with three of the others?

Forest Hall 2nd team – YES
Tynemouth 2nd team – YES
Morpeth 2nd team
South Shields 2nd team – YES
Gosforth 2nd team
Leam Lane 2nd team
Newcastle University
Jesmond 2nd team
Durham City 2nd team


Nothing reassures an anxious public like a fixed-width table. Party like it’s 1989!

Rec = received. Sub = submitted.

                        Dec     Jun
Northumberland        Rec Sub Rec Sub  
League                Yes Yes Yes No
Summer Knockout '18   No
Summer Knockout '19   ---In Progress---
Individual Champs     Yes Yes Yes No
Congress '18          Yes Yes
Not held: Rapidplay '18. No info: Rapidplay '19. Dec '19 list: Congress '19.

Gosforth              No      Yes No
Morpeth               Yes Yes No  No
South Shields         Yes No  No
Tynedale              No      Yes No
Tynemouth             Yes Yes No
No info from: Alnwick, Forest Hall, Gateshead, Jesmond, Leam Lane, Newcastle University.

                        Dec     Jun
Durham                Rec Sub Rec Sub
League                Yes Yes Yes No
Individual Champs     No      No
Ungraded: Ron Evers '18, Ron Evers '19. 
Not held: Congress '18, Rapidplay '18. No info: Congress '19, Rapidplay '19.

Bishop Auckland       Yes Yes Yes No
Durham City           No      No
Cleveland grader doing: Darlington, Hartlepool, Peterlee. No info from: Hetton Lyons.

                        Dec     Jun 
Darlington            Rec Sub Rec Sub
League                No      Yes No
                        Dec     Jun
NCCU                  Rec Sub Rec Sub
Club Championships            Yes No
County Matches        Yes Yes Yes No

As I mentioned a few months ago, I’m going to be changing the website server that hosts the Northumberland Chess website. From the 28th of June, the website might be inaccessible for a day or two until this is completed. Everything will look very similar and you’ll still be able to access the website at A few upgrades that have been made will become live as well.

South Shields Chess Club invite you all to come to The Word Central Library in South Shields and spend a few hours to play some blitz chess on the 6th of July 2019, the competition will be FIDE rated, many people will already have a FIDE Reference number, but if not all we require is your date of birth, we intend to run a 9 round competition, starting around 11am and finishing about 3pm, including a lunch break. The competition will be in THE ROUND, the top floor exhibition area, you will have fantastic views overlooking the Tyne river. Free parking at the Mill Dam car park the building is fully accessible with lifts taking you up to the 4th Floor. We have a limit up to 60 players so we would advise that you book a place in advance to secure entry. Prize money may vary subject to the actual number of entries on the day, but it our intention to split any profits, if there are any, 50% to the Durham Chess congress next May and 50% to Cancer UK.

1st Prize £150
2nd Prize £100
3rd Prize £50

2 x grading prize of £30 (cut-offs to be decided on the day according to entry), Junior (U18) prize – £20, Senior (S65) prize – £20

Maximum of one prize per entrant.

Advertised start time: 11:00am
Time control: 5+2 (game in 5 minutes with a 2 second increment)

Entry £10, payable on the day but please advise you are coming so that we can prepare the admin. Current entries can be viewed on Chess Results.

Email for entries: and any more information you may require about the event.

Promotion and relegation between Divisions 1 and 2 isn’t working. There is a gulf in grading that has gotten wider over the past decade: nine of the ten Division 1 teams, at some point this season, had a higher-graded player on board 5 than the eventual Division 2 winners had on board 1. (The team that didn’t, finished four points adrift at the bottom.)

The result is promoted teams having to be persuaded to go up. I’ve heard as many grumbles over the years from teams unwillingly inserted into Division 1 as from teams unwillingly excluded. But if we have a slightly smaller Division 1, like this year’s 10, we end up relegating a Leam Lane Aces or a Jesmond Knights. I am very reluctant to make Jesmond’s first team prove they can win Division 2 with a perfect score. It would be a novelty for a week, then it would be like London Irish in the Championship.

I see the problem as one of supply and demand: when there used to be 30 clubs in the league, it was a privilege to secure one of approximately 12 places in Division 1. Now there are 12 clubs, it isn’t. Clubs who feel strongly that they should be represented in Division 1, already are, with room to spare. And so players who feel strongly that they should be playing in Division 1 are better off speaking to their club’s Division 1 captain than trying to win Division 2. In geek-speak, the algorithm that sorts players into divisions by skill is too efficient, since it operates in real-time within clubs rather than annually at the League Meeting, and a too-efficient sorting algorithm causes stratification.

I see two options:

  1. Chop Division 1 in two. Have a Premier League and a Division 1 with a strict limit of 6 teams each, playing each other twice. Edinburgh went down this road in the mid-00s when they had the same problem. There would need to be a transitional season where teams know that they’re fighting for a place in the top 6. If we simply took the top 6 teams from the season just finished, Morpeth would kill me.
  2. Make Division 1 an “Open” division. You don’t have to be promoted to it, you just enter it, but you enter it to win it (or because you like testing yourself against the top players). There is no carrot for finishing third-from-bottom. Conversely there is no stick to force the Division 2 champions to make the step up, so that team would be “pyramid champions” (of the world’s smallest pyramid) and be eligible to defend their title the following season. Optionally, Division 1 could be treated as a separate county from 2 and 3 for eligibility purposes. So if you’re a Keen Konstantinos, you can play for one club in Division 1 and another club across Divisions 2 and 3.

I would prefer option 2 over 1, because option 1 could just give you twice as many games against the same people, but I would prefer option 1 over the status quo.

Does anyone feel strongly that they want to keep the current Division 1 and not do either of those things? (Click here to leave a comment)

Chris G