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)

Teams are invited for the inaugural North East Chess League (2019-20)

Rd 1: Sunday, October 13, 2019

Rd 2: Sunday, November 10, 2019

Rd 3: Sunday, November 24, 2019

Rd 4: Sunday, January 19, 2020

Rd 5: Sunday, February 16, 2020


6 teams of 5 players each. Five rounds, all-play-all. Games will be FIDE-rated.

Matches start 2:30pm. Time control: All moves in 90 minutes, plus 30 seconds per move

Teams will receive a total of bonus game point per match if they include a) at least 1 junior player under 18 years old; and separately b) at least one male and one female player. (0.5 bonus points for each)

The winning team will be awarded a trophy and receive medals, and there will be medals for the best individual performances.  Individual Entry fee: Free for Gold/Platinum ECF members. Team entry fee: £20.

Possible League Teams (2 per county)

(Teams can unite players from various clubs)

  1. Newcastle/Gosforth/Morpeth/Jesmond/Tynemouth (Northumberland)
  2. Forest Hall (Northumberland)
  3. South Shields/Leam Lane (Co. Durham)
  4. Durham City/Durham University (Co. Durham)
  5. TBA (Cleveland)
  6. TBA (Cleveland)

Proposed Venues (to be confirmed):

  1. Forest Hall Ex-Servicemen’s Institute, Crescent Way North, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 9AR
  2. Darlington Cockerton Band & Musical Institute Club, Woodlands Road, Cockerton, Darlington DL3 9AB
  3. Middlesbrough/Teesside (to be arranged)
  4. Gosforth Empire Club & Institute, 32-34 Salters Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1DX
  5. Durham (to be arranged)
  6. South Shields/Leam Lane (to be arranged)

If there are 6 venues offered (one for each team), the 5 home venues will be chosen by the public drawing of lots by July 1. It is assumed that teams will host the League free of charge, and make available tea, coffee and light refreshments.

Potential teams should contact timpeterwall@gmail.com by June 25 if they would like to enter, and if they can host a round of the League.

All nine matches have now been played in Round 1, with the best (grade handicap) giant-killing acts achieved by Tynemouth D over South Shields, Gosforth B over Forest Hall Bullets, and Forest Hall Fianchettos (average age 13!) over Morpeth B. A single-match elimination round will take place in both the Knockout and Plate by June 8. Round 3 will see a full lineup in both competitions.

Round 1

(Teams in bold qualify for the Trophy, defeated Round 1 teams go into the Plate)

Gosforth A  4-3.5 Leam Lane

Gateshead 3.5-4 Forest Hall AlphaZeros

Tynemouth D 3.5-2  South Shields

Morpeth A  4-3.5  Forest Hall Epaulettes

Forest Hall Candidates 2.5-1.5 Gosforth C

Forest Hall Fianchettos 3.5-3 Morpeth B

Alnwick 2.5-4 Jesmond

Forest Hall Bullets  3-3.5  Gosforth B

Forest Hall Desperados  2.5-3 Tynemouth B

FM Charlie Storey of Morpeth and 16-year-old James Moreby (Gosforth), the joint winners of the 2018-19 Northumberland Open Individual Championship, are to share the prestigious Zollner Viking Trophy after agreeing to forego a playoff match.

In one of the closest Zollner Championships in recent years, Storey and Moreby finished on 5/7, ahead of Tim Wall (Forest Hall) on 4.5 , and Roger Coathup (Morpeth), Yichen Han and Zheming Zhang (both Forest Hall) on 4.

At the NCA Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 16 May, Charlie and James will be presented with the silver-plated Zollner Trophy, which features a resplendent Viking warrior and dates back to 1930, when it was first won by C. W. Fallows after being gifted to the Northumberland Chess Association by Louis Zollner, the Danish Consul in Newcastle.

The George W. Sell Trophy, for the Under 170 County Championship, will be presented to a multiple former winner of the Zollner, Paul Bielby (South Shields), who scored 6.5/7, ahead of Bob Mitcheson (Morpeth) on 4.5 and Mike Smith (Forest Hall), Martin Seeber (Morpeth) and John Marsh (Leam Lane) on 4.

The Colin Gilroy Trophy, for the Under 140 County Championship, resulted in a three-way tie for first on 5/7 between Ciaran Macdonald (Forest Hall), Eddie Czestochowski (South Shields) and Bill Noble (Gateshead). The trophy will be awarded to the winner of an all-play-all playoff match, which is currently underway. In joint fourth place were Dave Stebbings (Gosforth) and Weiming Xu (Forest Hall) with 4.5.

Also being presented with trophies will be the winners of the three Northumberland League Divisions.

Division 1 winners, Forest Hall A, will be joined by Division 2 winners Tynemouth B and Division 3 winners Gateshead.

The AGM will also feature the election of officials to the NCA Executive Committee. All members of the NCA are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting, which will take place at Forest Hall Ex-Servicemen’s Institute, starting at 7:30pm. Anyone wishing to volunteer for one of the positions on the Executive should contact the NCA Secretary, Tim Wall, before the meeting at: timpeterwall@gmail.com.

It is with great sadness that we report the death on Sunday, 17th March, of John France, a much-liked member of Gosforth Chess Club. He was 61 and had been seriously ill for some months.

A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, 2nd April, 12:45pm, at St. John the Baptist Church, Grainger St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5JG (near Newcastle Central Station). (Reception afterwards at the Royal Station Hotel)

John was widely known as one of the friendliest, warmest people on the local chess scene, who would always have a kind word of encouragement for young players.

He served for some time as secretary of Gosforth Chess Club, and was a keen club, league and congress player in recent years. When he became ill, he donated many of his extensive collection of chess books to Forest Hall Chess Club, with the wish that they provide enjoyment and instruction for a new generation of players.

A devoted family man, he became more active as a chess player over the last decade after playing guitar in a popular local band, The Katy Freeway, under the stage name Dusty Roads, for several years.

John is survived by his partner Val, and his children Alice, Lizzie and Tom.

Online entries are now being accepted for the Northumbria Masters 2019, which will take place at a superb new venue, Novotel Newcastle Airport, on 23-27 August, 2019.

There are 3 FIDE-rated tournaments, each of 9 rounds: Northumbria Masters, Challengers (Under 2050 FIDE, 180 ECF) & Major (Under 1825, 150 ECF). In addition, there is a one-day Junior Rapidplay on Friday 23 August. The total prize fund for all events is £5,100, thanks to generous sponsorship from Capital Bridging Finance Solutions, the English Chess Federation and Northumberland Chess Association. To take advantage of special room rates at Novotel Newcastle Airport (£69 single occupancy, £79 double occupancy) book via: guaranteedevents.com/northumbria-masters

You can download a copy of the entry form via the ECF website. More info is available from https://www.northumbriamasters.com (now live).

Sadly, due to a sudden family bereavement, the Northumbria Masters will not now be going ahead on its scheduled dates of February 16-20, 2019. It is planned to organize the event in the same format later in the year.

All entrants so far will be reimbursed immediately. Any questions should be addressed to: timpeterwall [at] gmail [dot] com

A longer announcement is available on the Forest Hall Chess Club website.

A new junior chess club, the Jesmond Junior Chess Academy, is starting at the Jesmond Royal British Legion, 3 West Jesmond Avenue, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 3EX (the same venue as Jesmond Chess Club), on selected Tuesdays from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.

It will be holding its first club on Tuesday September 25. Further sessions will be on the following Tuesdays through the autumn: October 9, 16 & 30; November 6; December 4 & 18.

From January 2019 it is hoped to run the club weekly every Tuesday, from 5:30pm-7:00pm.

Children of all levels from beginner upwards are very welcome! To join/request more information, please contact Tim Wall on 0750 372 2366.

The North East qualifying event for the UK Open Blitz Championships will take place on Saturday 8th September, 11am-6pm, at RGS Newcastle Junior School cafeteria, Lambton Road, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4RX.

There’s a total of £5,000 at stake, and the top 2 players qualify for the UK Open Blitz Championship in Birmingham on December 1. The top two female players not already qualified for the Open will go through to the UK Women’s Blitz Championship, also held there on the same day. For the Newcastle qualifier, there are also Under 18, Under 11 and Under 9 prizes, donated by Northumbria Junior Chess Association.

For full information and online entries, go to this page on the ECF website.