Summer League team - Previous seasons

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No competition was held in 2020 or 2021 due to Covid. We did not enter a team in 2022.

2019 Team Captain's Report

This was our seventh consecutive year in Division A, a period which has seen us blossom from perennial relegation strugglers to established members, finishing last year as both league and cup runners up.

We started this season with a cup match at Denton followed by a league match at Blue Club. We got off to a winning start at Denton, albeit our 4½-1½ win came courtesy of Nick and I winning the last 2 games using our 10 seconds increments. However, Blue Club were then ruthless in their defence of last year's double, winning all games bar one, with Mike proving to be the splendid exception. The opening fixtures were then played out once more, this time with both matches at our venue, with a league fixture against Denton followed by a cup match against Blue Club. The outcome was virtually identical with a win against Denton by 3½-2½ and another 5-1 defeat to Blue Club who ended our quest for a third successive cup final.

The season then finished with a couple of league matches against Chorlton. Firstly, we played their second team away. Summer holidays meant that we were outgraded on all boards, but we put up a fine performance to draw the match with Steve Douglas achieving an important win on his return to competitive chess. The final game was at home, but of course against their first team, so the odds were even more heavily stacked against us. However, we fielded a stronger team including debutant James Harrison on board 3. Reg got us off to an excellent start with a quick win which you can enjoy on the club's website, and all the other games were closely fought and continued until the last 10 minutes of the playing session. The score reached two each with two to play. As Mark was struggling, James played on when offered a draw hoping to exploit his apparent edge only to run out of time just as Mark conceded his game. The loss by a 2 point margin was enough for Chorlton 2 to move ahead of us in the league by a superior game points difference of just 1. However, our tally of 3 match points was still 2 better than bottom club Denton and will secure us yet another season in the top flight.

Once again we had a good spread of members representing the club with 12 different players turning out over the season. Reg was our sole ever present playing half his 6 games on top board and the other half on board 2. I think he perhaps preferred the latter where he scored 2½ of his 3 points. Mike impressively matched his tally of 3 points from just 4 games. Another 5 players played in at least half the matches. Nick was the top scorer with 2½ points from his 4 games, while I scored a more modest 2 from 5. Mark achieved 50% from his 3 games on top board while Dave and Vijay had just a draw each to show for all their efforts. Others to play were Sheraz who won one of his two games, while Steve's 100% record was offset by blank scores for Bill, Tom and the unlucky James.

Thank you once again to all those who played over the Summer, contributing to our continued success in the top division of the league.

Tony Lane 10 September 2019
1st team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
05/06/2019 Cup Denton A Won 4½-1½
10/06/2019 A Div Blue Club I A Lost 1-5
25/06/2019 A Div Denton I H Won 3½-2½
02/07/2019 Cup Blue Club H Lost 1-5
30/07/2019 A Div Chorlton II A Draw 3-3
27/08/2019 A Div Chorlton I H Lost 2-4

27/08/2019 - Altrincham 2 Chorlton I 4

All bar one game went in to the final 10 minutes of the playing session. The exception was a quick win for Reg over his 180 rated opponent, where time also appeared to be a key factor given that his opponent's tactics of playing quickly promptly backfired on him. Reg used his time successfully to see further down the line than his opponent and pull off a splendid early win.

Reg was then able to spend most of his evening watching the battle unfold on the other boards. Dave and I finished about the same time, both struggling with time pressure. Dave saw his early initiative come to nothing as he accepted defeat. I came through a dodgy opening period, but my opponent failed to capitalise, and then lost significant material with unsound sacrifices. Unfortunately I made an oversight and used up time dealing with the ensuing complexities, such that I felt it prudent to offer a draw with only 90 seconds left which my opponent accepted.

Nick also then agreed a draw with little time left in which to seek to win his rook and pawn ending. As usual Mark was playing several moves with less than a minute on his clock and was struggling with a material disadvantage. At this stage debutant James Harrison was offered a draw by his opponent with both players having about 4 minutes left. In view of the probable need to win to draw the match he gamely played on looking to exploit an apparent small advantage in a knight and pawn ending. Sadly he ended losing on time just after Mark had conceded defeat on top board.

So the final result was a 4-2 win for Chorlton which not only denied us the win we had needed to secure runners up in the league, but also saw us move below their second team in the league by falling half a game point short of their total for the season.

Reg Clucas (156) vs Joao Rita (180)
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30/07/2019 - Chorlton II 3 Altrincham 3

We visited Chorlton with a typical summer league team, suffering from a number of absentees enjoying their summer break elsewhere. As a result we were outgraded on all boards.

I was up against the largest grade deficiency of just under 30 points against Stan Foulkes on board 2, but after a nice opening combination I emerged with rook and 3 pawns for bishop and knight after 20 moves. However, entering the last quarter of an hour on my clock with a time advantage to my opponent of over half an hour, I decided to offer a draw which was accepted. Just at that point Bill advised me he had lost his game on board 5 leaving us with a bit of ground to make up. Steve was the only member of our team ahead at that point.

Matters started to move in our favour as Steve successfully converted his 2 pawn advantage - a welcome return after a short absence from competitive chess. Mike then managed to provoke an error from his opponent permitting him to sacrifice his last piece to ensure promotion of his last pawn, which queened with check while one of his opponent's remaining 3 pawns was one square short of promotion. The shock of this turnaround proved too much for his opponent who left the room with just over a minute left on his clock, returning after he had lost on time, only to collect his coat on what proved to be a miserable wet night for him.

So the match had now swung a point in our favour with two to play. Unfortunately Reg had a totally blocked position on the kingside with his opponent having all the play on the queenside. His defence there was duly breached with initially the loss of a pawn followed by a further weakening of his position featuring a pawn on the sixth and a queen and knight invading the area around his king. His opponent missed the pretty mating finish but won by simply exchanging queens.

Meanwhile Vijay had a slightly inferior rook and pawn ending. However, his opponent thought he could preserve a pawn advantage with a rook move, which was sadly mistaken as that move was illegal! The resultant 2 minutes penalty brought Vijay approximately level on time with 9 minutes to go as well as level on position after winning the pawn. Shortly after his opponent offered a draw which Vijay accepted with the consent of his captain to draw the match.

02/07/2019 - Altrincham 1 Blue Club 5 (Alan Yarker Cup)

Two years ago Tony went on holiday, leaving me (Reg) in charge of the team for a Cup match at Blue Club, and we scored a famous victory en route to winning the trophy that season. This year he was again on holiday, but sadly there was to be no repeat of that 2017 result. Although we had a stronger team than in last month's League match, we still had a large grading deficit so a repeat of the 5-1 defeat was no surprise.

Like last week, I had the offer of quick draw, which was tempting against a higher graded opponent, but I was slightly better so played on, so was last to finish and didn't see much of the other games. Not being Magnus Carlsen I was unable to convert my small advantage so eventually had to settle for a draw after all. Dave also drew, and reports "Very interesting and exciting game against David Toole who sacrificed first one pawn against my Dutch defence and then a second to leave me very weak on the black squares with my King under constant threat. I was able to find a way to give one pawn back to free my pieces and suddenly with time trouble for both of us looming it was me on the attack. He offered a draw in a position which was very unclear and even after analysing it afterwards we weren't much clearer!" These two draws were on boards with a modest (~20 points) grading deficit - the other four boards were outgraded by around 45 points each, so Tom, Sheraz, Vijay and Mike all did well to put up a decent fight before succumbing.

Vijay - "I came out of the Nimzo Larsen attack in the opening very well with an extra flank pawn. With both the Kings long castled, I was looking to activate a King side Knight and threw it in the middle of the board. However, it backfired as I overlooked a Queen move which could switch from King side to Queen side by attacking my knight. Once his Queen was rerouted it was a matter of pushing the pawns and taking control which he managed to do faster than me."

Mike - "I was playing black in a closed Sicilian, fairly standard opening, no direct contact for the first 10 moves or so. I then made the strategic error of making the first moves to open things up - with the benefit of hindsight I would have been better to sit tight for a few more moves and consolidate and wait to see what he intended to do. He then attacked down the centre and exposed the weaknesses that I had created. It became quite complicated as I tried to hang on to a somewhat broken position with less than perfect piece coordination. After about 30 moves, the material was still equal with the heavy pieces and a couple of minor pieces each on the board. He then made a final push and my position fell apart with the unavoidable loss of a rook and I resigned on move 35."

25/06/2019 - Altrincham 3½ Denton I 2½

(by Reg) Denton were missing some of their stronger players, and we outgraded them by nearly 40 points per board on average, but we struggled to win by the narrowest possible margin. I was first to finish with a short draw after a poorly played opening, on the face of it a disappointing result, but in view of the subsequent match result it may have been a good decision! Nick finished soon after, with a convincing win. At this point Tony was a pawn up, Mark H had a piece for 2 pawns, and Dave was comfortably level with Black, so although Sheraz seemed to be struggling, 2 pawns down with all minor pieces exchanged, we were on course to win the match. And Sheraz turned the tables after an exchange of Queens, doubling Rooks on the 7th rank which led to regaining his pawns and subsequently winning. Mark then calmly converted his advantage in the endgame to take us past the winning post. Just as well, because we then suffered disaster on the two remaining boards. Tony seemed to be coasting after winning a second pawn, but got involved in a tactical sequence which he did not calculate correctly, handing the win to his opponent. And Dave's Knight was stranded, unable to retreat without allowing mate, after which he collapsed rapidly.

10/06/2019 - Blue Club I 5 Altrincham 1

After our cup win at Denton we opened our summer league campaign with a much tougher task at last year's double winners Blue Club. Mike saw us off to a splendid start with a win on board 5 with his tried and trusted attack against the King's Indian defence. It wasn't until my failure to spot a powerful long range queen check when playing on increments that Blue Club levelled the scores. However, my subsequent scan of the other 4 games did not fill me with confidence, with only Bill's position looking good. All 4 games had reached rook and minor piece endings. Reg had a rook for knight and pawns which unfortunately proved to be unstoppable. Vijay had 3 extra pawns but his opponent had the only rook which proceeded to hoover them up. Bill and his opponent had 2 rooks and a bishop apiece, but when Bill marched his king in to the centre of the board to win a pawn he fell victim to counterattack, avoiding a mating net only at the cost of losing a rook. Finally, Nick's 2 pawn deficit was too much to prevent his opponent's expert execution of the ending prevailing, resulting in a 5-1 overall defeat. Perhaps we can look forward to a better outcome next month when Blue Club visit us for the next round of the cup?

05/06/2019 - Denton 1½ Altrincham 4½ (Alan Yarker Cup)

We got the summer season off to a good start in Denton's new venue, the palatial Ashton Masonic Hall. After helping the hosts find the light switches, and showing them how to set the clocks for the now compulsory incremental time control, we finally got down to play some chess. Grades were closely matched, and scores were level after the first 3 games to finish. Vijay lost a piece after having a promising position, but playing some moves in the wrong order. Mark H drew in what seemed a dominant position, but unable to break through. Reg then levelled the score, after surviving his opponent's Kingside pawn storm. Mike put us ahead, not seeming to have too much problem dealing with his opponent's Wing gambit against the Sicilian.

Then the excitement began! Both Nick and Tony had winning advantages - Tony had grabbed a pawn in the opening, and extended the advantage to 2 Knights & extra pawns v Rook & pawns - but with time running short this was not a simple win. Although Tony's time dropped below 10 seconds at one point, he eventually managed to liquidate into a winning pawn ending. Nick played on increments for even longer, the exchange up but having to deal with his opponent's counterplay, until his opponent eventually hung his other Rook.

2018 season

2018 Captain's Report

After struggling to stay in Division A for most of the time since our promotion in 2012, we were encouraged last year by a respectable fourth placed finish with a 50% record from our 5 league matches. Moreover, last year's AGM came one week prior to our cup final against Worsley, which we went on to win 3½-2½ with 5 draws and a splendid clinching win by Reg.

This year the number of teams in the top division was reduced from 6 to 5 as Chorlton 2 opted to move down a division with the bottom team Bury, while Worsley opted not to move up a division with promoted Marple. I am pleased to report our results improved still further, as we finished runners up in the league with 5 points from our 4 matches and again made the cup final.

We started the season with cup and league fixtures at Marple. Danilo was able to play in the opening cup match which we won convincingly 5½:½. The league match was much closer but a default by Marple was decisive as we won 3½:2½. A number of our higher graded players returned for the cup semi-final against Denton resulting in another convincing 5:1 win, but we were then held to a draw at Denton in the league after being 3-1 down at one stage. The season came to an exciting close as we defeated last year's champions Chorlton 4:2 to set up a climax of a double header against Blue Club where the winner would achieve a league and cup double. We came within seconds of winning the league, as with the scores level, Dave took his opponent to a finish where both had less than 10 seconds on their clock in a finish using 10 second increments. It was Dave who finally made the decisive blunder. The cup final was played yesterday, and I'll update you on that at the end of this report.

The number of players representing the club was 14 which equalled the record set way back in 1991, and if Marple had not defaulted a board, Steve Ward would have made it an outright record of 15. Prior to yesterday's cup final I was the only ever present and therefore was able to secure most points, but my 3½ from 6 games was equalled by Reg who played one game less. Mark Hann, Mark Whalley, Dave and Bill all played in at least half the matches, and all bar Bill achieved at least 50%, with Bill unable to replicate his opening win at Marple. A sign of our success this season is that none of the other 8 players lost a match. Mike, Danilo and Tom Tomkins scored 100% as did Samuel with two fine wins on the back of his success at the Manchester congress during his brief visit from Italy. Jeff Foy drew on his debut, Sheraz and Steve Douglas also drew their games, and Nick drew both games he played.

And so to last night's cup final. Unfortunately, there was to be no glorious finish to the season and Blue Club triumphed 4½:1½ in a well fought contest where Mark Hann, Reg and Dave all earned draws which resulted in all 3 finishing in the top 10 for the season on the Summer League website statistics. Reg's draw took him ahead of me in total points for the season with a haul of 4, while I had the consolation of assisting my opponent Mark Whitehead to his perfect score of 6 wins from 6 matches. That put Mark second in the performance statistics to his colleague Lee Kay who defeated Mark Whalley after holding off Mark's king side attack.

As usual I thank all those players who turned out to make my job easy and who contributed to our most successful season in Summer League chess.

Tony Lane 11 September 2018
1st team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
07/06/2018 Cup Marple A Won 5½-½
05/07/2018 A Div Marple I A Won 3½-2½
24/07/2018 Cup Denton H Won 5-1
08/08/2018 A Div Denton I A Draw 3-3
21/08/2018 A Div Chorlton I H Won 4-2
28/08/2018 A Div Blue Club I H Lost 2½-3½
10/09/2018 Cup Final Blue Club A Lost 1½-4½

10/09/2018 - Blue Club 4½ Altrincham 1½ (Alan Yarker Cup Final)

Once again we lost out to Blue Club, though unsurprisingly given the large grading difference. Blue Club had the same 6 players as in the recent league match, but shuffled their board order somewhat, whilst we had 5 of the same players, with Sheraz replacing Samuel who has returned to Italy. Only on board 1 was there parity between the players' grades, with Mark H drawing with Tim Hilton. On the remaining boards we were outgraded by between 20 and 40 points on each board, so Reg and Dave did well to get draws, with Mark W, Tony and Sheraz losing.

28/08/2018 - Altrincham 2½ Blue Club I 3½

A win would have given us the championship, and we came close but not quite close enough. Blue Club had a full strength team which outgraded us by over 20 points per board, but this didn't faze Mark W who was once again first to finish, this time with a win. Reg then drew in a heavy piece endgame which had been level throughout. Samuel scored another fine win with the Black pieces, and has improved hugely since his defeat against the same opponent last year - at this rate he will be on board 1 this time next year! Tony on board 6 was the most heavily outgraded and lost a piece which cost the game. At 2½-1½ we were still on course for a win as the remaining games (Mark H and Dave) were level in material. However both were under some positional pressure, and more significantly, time pressure, and it was this which proved decisive as first Mark, then Dave succumbed to errors as time ran short, in Dave's case whilst living on the 10 second increment.

21/08/2018 - Altrincham 4 Chorlton I 2

Since we were promoted to A division 6 years ago, our main ambition has usually been to avoid relegation, but after this result we are assured of at least second place, with a chance of winning the title! All the more remarkable, as Chorlton have won this league more times than any other club, including 6 of the last 7 years. However they have suffered this year from unavailability of many of their leading players, so that we actually had a slight grading advantage for this match.

Mark W got us on the scoresheet with a quick draw. Soon afterwards Samuel, fresh from winning the Major section at the MCF congress, continued his good form with another win. The scores were level when Reg lost after having made weakening pawn moves in front of his King, but Dave restored our lead, winning a piece and converting easily. Tony reached a Knight & pawn endgame in which he won a pawn, but due to time shortage agreed a draw. At 3-2 we needed a draw from Mark H to clinch the match. The position was level, but as time ran short Mark lost a couple of pawns and the Rook endgame looked like it might be difficult to hold. But Houdini Hann managed to engineer a theoretically drawn position (h and f pawns) and received a bonus when his opponent's frantic efforts to win in the time scramble led to him giving away his Rook.

So both the League and Cup will be contested this year between ourselves and Blue Club. To win just one of these would be a big ask, but we did beat them in last year's semi-final, so it can be done!

08/08/2018 - Denton I 3 Altrincham 3

There was an early setback when Mark W lost on board 1. Nick had a steady draw in a blocked position, and Tony also drew; after a wild game with chances for both players he and David Holt decided that neither deserved to lose so agreed a draw. Bill then lost in the endgame, so at 3-1 down it was left to Reg and Mike to save the match. Reg seemed to be winning with three extra pawns, but Mike was the exchange down for a pawn. However he got a couple of passed pawns rolling, after which his Bishop was superior to his opponent's Rook. Reg then only had to avoid a couple of tricks by his opponent to square the match.

24/07/2018 - Altrincham 5 Denton 1 (Alan Yarker Cup)

Once again we have reached a Cup Final! It looked like it would be a close match early on, when Sheraz and Mark W both drew. However we won the remaining four boards (Mark H, Reg, Dave and Tony) for a comfortable victory.

05/07/2018 - Marple I 2½ Altrincham 3½

Once again we had several players unavailable for a visit to Marple, this time in the league. But Marple were also struggling to raise a team, and in fact had to default board 6. With the aid of this free point we just scraped the victory. There were draws for our new member Jeff Foy, Tony, and Steve Douglas, in his first game since December. Bill lost to the same opponent he beat in last month's cup match, leaving Reg to score the decisive point when his opponent allowed a Queen invasion which forced mate.

07/06/2018 - Marple ½ Altrincham 5½ (Alan Yarker Cup)

We started our defence of the cup we won last year with a comfortable victory. We were missing some regulars, but Marple were also understrength, so we had a grading advantage. We only conceded a draw on board 3 (Nick), with Danilo, Tony, Bill, Tom and Mike all winning. Tony got lucky when his opponent made a mistake at the point he should have gone a pawn up with strong position. Instead he lost a bishop for a pawn and fell in to a mating attack from 2 rooks and a knight. Dan's finish was lovely to watch as he completely dominated an ending where he had bishop and pawn for rook due to total control of the white squares.

2017 season

2017 1st Team Captain's Report

This was an unprecedented fifth consecutive year in Division A of the summer league. Although this sounds impressive, it comes on the back of finishing bottom of the league the last 2 years and only being reprieved by other teams unwilling to be promoted to experience the regular mauling we suffer. In fact our only win in the last 4 years was back in 2013, amazingly 4:2 against 3Cs, and even that was achieved with them defaulting the bottom 2 boards.

Imagine our surprise then, as we emerged from our first league match with a 5½:½ victory against Bury. Better still, that opening league success followed a narrow cup victory over Denton. That result was actually 3:3. I was under the impression that Mark had lost on the top board and that I needed to win to avoid us going out on board count. My match continued with me turning down draw offers and going on to lose, the only person on our team to lose that night. However, on discovering Mark had actually drawn, I was consoled by the fact that Dave's win on board 2 had therefore seen us through to the next round on board count.

Players are often not available for summer league matches, and I found myself unavailable due to a summer holiday for the next league and cup match. Reg ably deputised, and I returned to find we had built on our early success with a solid draw in the league at Chorlton 2 and a very impressive cup semi-final victory at favourites Blue Club 4½:1½. In fact, the season continued to get better, as my return couldn't stop us winning and a 4:2 victory over Denton had us dreaming of a league and cup double. Sadly, our dreams were crushed with Blue Club exacting revenge for their cup exit with a 5½:½ league victory, in which Samuel Toniolo was unfortunate enough to make his debut. Nevertheless, a win in our final match against Chorlton would put us within 1 point of the league champions, but a 5-1 defeat actually saw us finish 4 points adrift of the champions Chorlton and 3 points behind Blue Club. We still have our cup final to look forward to, which is at home to Worsley next week. As they played in Division B, we start as marginal favourites and hope to bring another trophy back to the club.

The usual quota of 11 members represented the club in the 7 matches played. In his first season at the club, Mark Hann was the only person to play in every match where he remained impressively unbeaten on top board with 6 draws and a win. It is indicative of the success we had this season, that Mark was one of 8 players achieving 50% or more. Whereas Samuel lost his sole game at Blue Club, Tom won his only game against Bury to achieve a perfect score. Mark Whalley's only defeat in his 5 matches was in his last game at Blue Club, while Dave Newell only lost a couple of his 5 matches on board 2. Reg, Richard, Nick and I all scored 50%. Bill and Sheraz completed the squad and chipped in with useful draws, Sheraz making his debut for the club after his free transfer from Bury.

Thanks to all the team members. I am pleased you were able to share in some success at last after such a tough time in recent years in the summer league, and I look forward to another glorious cup final victory next week.

Tony Lane
5 September 2017

2017 2nd Team Captain's Report

Firstly I would like to thank all those who competed for the team in this season. We were able to fill each board for each match and for some games I had a choice of who to pick. The season consisted of only six games, the first three away and the last three at home. Four players were needed for each match. There are 7 teams in the 3rd division and two matches remain to be played by other teams but at present we lie joint third with 5 points.

The first two matches were away at Heywood and Denton and the travel seemed as arduous as the chess, particularly the first match which was at Heywood, we lost 3-1 and then found the motorway closed with inadequate detour sign posting to get home. The second match was at Denton where we drew the match with a win from Bill and draws for Sheraz and Nick. I lost and as the second worst player in the club I made my best tactical move of the summer, that this was my last game for the team this season. Our fortunes improved at our next match, our last away match but nearer to home at Chorlton V where with wins from Bill, again, and Nick and Vijay, and a draw from Richard our best result of the season with ½-3½ was achieved.

The run of 3 home matches started with a bad defeat from Worsley with losses on every board apart from Denis who won. Although Denis was then dropped the team won its next match which was against Chorlton IV, Chorlton was the only club we managed to beat this season.

In the last game against Ashton the team suffered its worst loss, despite reinstating Denis, with every board losing apart from Vijay who achieved a draw. Each board was however well contested and the whole team was out graded, some heavily.

The main contributors were Bill and Vijay with 4 matches and 2 wins each, Denis, Nick and Peter played in three matches, Nick with 2 wins and Denis with one. Pete, Richard and myself played two matches and Sheraz one.

Again my thanks to all who competed for the team during the summer season

Steve Ward

1st team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
06/06/2017 Cup Denton H Won* 3-3
13/06/2017 A Div Bury H Won 5½-½
04/07/2017 A Div Chorlton II A Draw 3-3
10/07/2017 Cup Blue Club A Won 4½-1½
25/07/2017 A Div Denton I H Won 4-2
07/08/2017 A Div Blue Club I A Lost ½-5½
29/08/2017 A Div Chorlton I H Lost 1-5
12/09/2017 Cup Final Worsley H Won 3½-2½
* on board count

2nd team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
21/06/2017 C Div Heywood A Lost 1-3
28/06/2017 C Div Denton III A Draw 2-2
18/07/2017 C Div Chorlton V A Won 3½-½
01/08/2017 C Div Worsley II H Lost 1-3
15/08/2017 C Div Chorlton IV H Won 2½-1½
29/08/2017 C Div Ashton H Lost ½-3½

12/09/2017 - Altrincham 3½ Worsley 2½ (Alan Yarker Cup Final)

We won this trophy for the first time in our history, in a very close match. Grades were very evenly matched, with the board results as follows -

1. Mark Hann (169) ½-½ Simon Wright (158)
2. Reg Clucas (154) 1-0 Adam Scoular (-)
3. Dave Newell (147) ½-½ Damien McElvenny (151)
4. Mark Whalley (142) ½-½ Jack Virgin (149)
5. Richard White (136) ½-½ Andy Kelly (140)
6. Tony Lane (138) ½-½ George Harman (128)

The five drawn games were finished first, so all depended on my game. My opponent, Adam Scoular, is currently ungraded, but his previous games in the Summer League had been 6 wins and 2 draws for a grading performance of 175, so obviously a strong opponent. In a rook & minor piece ending I had an advantage, but missed the opportunity to play a strong continuation, after which the advantage dissipated. After exchange of rooks the position below was reached which is completely level. In fact the Knight is better than the Bishop in this position due to the black pawns being on the same colour squares as the Bishop, but there are no realistic winning chances for either side.

However, under the competition rules if all six games are drawn then the winners are decided by a coin toss. And despite the fact that Tony had 'won' the toss at the start of the match to give us White on odd boards, he is not exactly renowned for his prowess in this regard, and twice in one night would have been pushing our luck. So despite a time deficit I played on to see if something would turn up. And luckily it did!

Adam Scoular v Reg Clucas
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There was an amusing postscript to this game. When my opponent resigned, he accidentally knocked my King over. Tony was watching from a position where he could not see the clock, and when he saw my King on its side he assumed I had lost on time in a won position. Fortunately he found out the truth before we had to call for a defibrillator!

29/08/2017 - Altrincham I 1 Chorlton I 5

Chorlton needed only to draw the match to clinch the league championship, and they weren't taking any chances, putting out a very strong side which outgraded us on average by 30 points per board. Mark H produced yet another creditable draw against a higher rated opponent, as did Tony - Tony even seemed to be winning when his kingside attack netted him a material advantage of Queen & pawn vs Rook & Bishop, but his opponent did not throw in the towel and a draw was eventually agreed due to time pressure. Dave, Reg, Sheraz and Nick were confronted with even bigger grading differences, and were all beaten.

07/08/2017 - Blue Club I 5½ Altrincham I ½

Blue Club gained their revenge for the earlier Cup defeat. This time the grading deficit was even greater at over 30 points per board, and we were unable to cope, with the exception of Mark H, who gained a creditable draw on board 1 against 205 graded Aidan Rawlinson. On board 2 Reg had a level position, but with his opponent declining a draw, with 5 minutes each left without increments it was down to a sudden death finish lottery, and Reg did not hold the winning ticket. On board 3 Samuel played his first game for our first team, and put up a good fight in a sharp Sicilian Dragon against the experienced Bob Newton before going down. On board 4 Mark W stumbled into a mate in 1. Tony on board 5 came closest to a win, but failed to press home his advantage and subsequently succumbed to his opponent's counterplay. Even on board 6 Blue Club had a 170 grade player, Mark Whitehead, to whom Bill lost when his Queen was trapped.

25/07/2017 - Altrincham I 4 Denton I 2

Tony's game was a straightforward win after winning a knight on move 12, then further material and mate inevitable when his opponent resigned at the same time as Bill admitted defeat after going the exchange down early on. Shortly after Richard won with an unstoppable pawn in his endgame. Dave was comfortably ahead and his opponent conceded to give us 3 points. Mark H's game was complicated when his opponent made a sacrifice which completely altered the dynamics of the game with just a few minutes on the clock. However, Mark survived the complications, his opponent offered a draw which Mark was happy to accept after checking it won us the match. Nick looked as though he would win but with a couple of minutes left and no obvious finish agreed a draw when rook and 2 pawns against rook.

10/07/2017 - Blue Club 1½ Altrincham 4½ (Alan Yarker Cup)

A suberb result for our team. Blue Club were hot favourites to win this competition, having beaten the holders & League champions Chorlton in the previous round. But despite being outgraded by an average 20 points per board, we did not lose a single game, winning all three boards with the White pieces (Dave, Mark W & Nick on boards 2, 4 & 6) and drawing the three with Black (Mark H, Reg & Bill on boards 1, 3 & 5). So we have reached the final of this competition for only the second time, the last time being in 2002. Hopefully we can go one better this time and actually win it!

Bill was first to finish with a highly respectable draw, soon followed by myself (Reg) - after a slightly disadvantageous opening I managed to exchange all the pieces to reach a drawn pawn ending. At this point things were evenly balanced - the top two boards were difficult to call, but Nick was clearly winning, a piece ahead on board 6, balanced by Mark W who seemed to be losing on board 4. A few minutes later Mark was walking round the room waiting for his opponent to move, and as he walked past me said "I think it's mate!" I assumed he meant he was being mated, but a look at the position showed that he had turned the tables and was on the verge of giving mate himself. So now we were 3-1 up and needed just a draw from the top two boards. And Dave was by now clearly winning - his opponent made what Dave describes as "a horrible strategic decision to castle Queenside, when castling Kingside would have been equal". His opponent offered a knight sacrifice which if accepted would have led to perpetual check, but Dave coolly ignored it and further improved his position, forcing the exchange of queens after which he was able to safely take the sacrificed knight and force resignation. So now 4-1, and it was just a question of whether Mark H could survive serious time shortage in an equal ending, which he duly managed to do.

04/07/2017 - Chorlton II 3 Altrincham I 3

Mark Hann drew on board 1 with David Knox, a good result since David, although these days some way below his peak grade of 200+, is still a formidable opponent. Dave lost a pawn on board 2 and this proved decisive ultimately. On board 3 Reg exchanged a piece for three pawns, though obtained a slightly worse position, but after an error-strewn endgame by both players his opponent made the final, fatal error. I didn't see the finish of Richard's defeat on board 4. Mark W spurned several draw offers against John Reyes, and his confidence was well founded as he won the endgame. Sheraz was delayed due to heavy traffic but overcame the time deficit to draw on board 6.

13/06/2017 - Altrincham I 5½ Bury ½

This was the first League match we have won in the Summer League since 2013! Although the teams were similar in grade, everything seemed to go right for us on the night. Tom had a quick win on board 6, followed by a good win by Mark W against a higher rated player, then a win by Tony and draw by Bill saw us over the line. The top two boards went on quite a bit longer and finished within a few minutes of each other, with Mark H and Reg both winning King & Pawn endings.

06/06/2017 - Altrincham 3 Denton 3 (Alan Yarker Cup)

We scraped through on board count. The decisive win was Dave on board 2, which outweighed Tony's defeat on board 6, with all the other games drawn. Tony actually could have drawn, but played on in the mistaken belief that he needed a win to win the match. Mark H had a 16 move 'Grandmaster draw', whilst Reg was completely lost, then completely winning, but eventually accepted a draw due to time shortage. Mark W and Richard also drew. Our recent successful Wahltuch Trophy run also began with a close match against Denton, so we will take this result as a good omen.

2016 season

2016 1st Team Captain's Report

Last year was the first time we had played in Division A for 3 consecutive seasons. The chances of extending that run had not looked good, as we had stayed up by virtue of just a solitary win in 2013 and just 2 draws in 2014 including one at Marple who were relegated instead of us in the last match of the season. The 2015 season also saw us go without a win in the league, and needing a win yet again in our final match of the season against newly promoted Chorlton 2, we were only able to draw and therefore finished bottom of the league. However, I ended last year's report on a positive note, pointing out that the rules state that the team finishing at the bottom of a division shall normally be relegated to the next lower division, but the team finishing at the top of the lower division has the right not to be promoted. That had happened in 2014 when Denton remained a Division A club despite being bottom of the league, and I am pleased to say the same applied this year, so that we were reprieved and stayed for a fourth consecutive season in Division A.

Playing in the top Division does provide good experience against stronger players, but of course proves very difficult to win matches. Unsurprisingly, this has been a recurrent theme of the current season. We still have one match to play at Denton tomorrow but at the time of writing we are without a win this season. The league started with a 4:2 defeat to the eventual champions Chorlton 1 and was followed by a cup exit 3½:2½ to Oldham. Amazingly, this score was replicated in the following 3 matches against Rochdale, Chorlton 2 and Oldham again in the league. Our board count in the 4 league matches played was therefore a very respectable 9½ for and 14½ points against. This of course contrasts with our league points score of "nul points."

Eleven members again played in our 5 matches to date. Mark and myself have been ever present and have been rewarded by scoring 5½ of the 12 points the club has gained so far this season. Mark's performance has been the more impressive as he is unbeaten with 4 draws and a win whereas I have been more erratic with 2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw. Reg has played in all the games other than the opening match against Chorlton, and with 2 draws against very strong opponents has covered the absence of Yaroslav well. He has been assisted on top boards by Karl and John who drew their 3 matches played on top board. Like them, Bill achieved 50% after a fine win at Oldham, and Nick, Richard, Thomas and Callum all contributed to our overall points score with a draw apiece. Sadly, Tom was the only person to miss out on troubling the scorers, despite a heroic return at Oldham last week when he turned out at very short notice.

Thank you once again to all the team members who toughed it out again in the top flight. As usual, the last match looks as though it will be decisive, as Denton are currently faring worse than ourselves, having lost all their matches and scoring fewer board points. A win there should secure Division A chess for a fifth consecutive season, and as we know, if the worst should happen and we finish bottom we can always be reprieved again and stay in Division A. (Subsequent to this report we avoided bottom place, as described in the match report below)

Tony Lane
30 August 2016

2016 2nd Team Captain's Report

This season of summer league is a mixed bag but mostly disappointing. We entered the league knowing very well that the club members will be mostly on holiday during this period. It is always a challenge to put up the best team. In spite of it we have put up a decent show in this season.

The season started with the home fixture against Sale. There was not much expected from this fixture as we were outplayed on every board by at least 40 rating points. There was a ray of hope to salvage some pride when I (Vijay K) had material advantage on the bottom board and looked to win but squandered that advantage with a bad move and went to lose. We lost the fixture 0-4.

The second fixture was again a home fixture against Oldham B. We were playing higher rated players again but was brave effort by the team to draw the fixture 2-2. Steve Ward won on the bottom board giving us early lead. Pete H and Tom H drew their games and it all depended on the top board where Steve D fought hard to salvage but could not hold on.

The third fixture was a away fixture against Denton C team. This is an unfortunate fixture where we had to default 2 boards as we could not put up a full team. We started the fixture to draw and were well on course with Vijay K winning the second board. Tom H had a drawish game but went on to fight till the end. Unfortunately it still ended in a draw. We lost the fixture 1.5-2.5

The fourth fixture was another away fixture against Chorlton D team. We were boosted with a new addition to our team in the form of Sam T. Sam is a chess prodigy from Italy who joined our club. Sam gave us a quick win on the second board. I (Vijay K) was on the top board for the first time and went to squander the king and pawn end game. Steve W and Wayne K went on to draw their respective games. We managed to draw the fixture 2-2.

With one more home fixture to go our aim will be to get our first win and ensure we do not finish at the bottom of the league.(Subsequent to this report, the team won its final match as described below)

Vijay Kakarparthi
1st team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
05/07/2016 A Div Chorlton I H Lost 2-4
12/07/2016 Cup Oldham H Lost 2½-3½
19/07/2016 A Div Rochdale H Lost 2½-3½
02/08/2016 A Div Chorlton II A Lost 2½-3½
22/08/2016 A Div Oldham I A Lost 2½-3½
31/08/2016 A Div Denton I A Draw 3-3

2nd team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
21/06/2016 C Div Sale H Lost 0-4
28/06/2016 C Div Oldham II H Draw 2-2
27/07/2016 C Div Denton III A Lost 1½-2½
09/08/2016 C Div Chorlton IV A Draw 2-2
06/09/2016 C Div Marple II H Won 3-1

06/09/2016 - Altrincham II 3 Marple II 1

We finally have our first win in this season. For this fixture we fielded a strong team and after comparing the grading points of the opponents I realised they had also fielded a strong team. They matched our rating in every table. Tom H had an early loss with white on the third board. Pete H had a good game against higher rated opponent in a Sicilian game. It was even in the knight and pawn end game but Pete managed to find opportunities to penetrate and eventually won. The fixture was tied 1-1 at this stage. It was Bill's turn on the top board to finish next. Bill was up on material and his opponent was struggling on time as well. With not much light at the end of the tunnel his opponent kept on fighting until his time ran out. We were leading 2-1 at this stage. Steve D was the last to finish on the second board. He had an interesting game with his c pawn reaching the 7th rank in the middle game. His opponent decided to trade his queen for 2 rooks but could not hold on for long. This win ensured we won the fixture 3-1.

31/08/2016 - Denton I 3 Altrincham I 3

We got the draw we needed to keep Denton below us at the bottom of the table, thus keeping ourselves in A division for next season. John agreed an early draw, exactly what we needed if repeated on the other five boards, but unfortunately Bill had to resign shortly after. A draw from Tony and a defeat for Nick left us 3-1 down with 2 to play and once more staring relegation in the face. Captain Tony watched on anxiously preparing to sink with the ship, only to find Dave Holt gifting Mark a win by moving his king to the wrong square to enable Mark to promote his only pawn. So now a win from me (Reg) would save the match - a tall order, as (a) I have yet to win a league game in our four seasons in A division, and (b) I have never in my life beaten anyone graded over 190. What transpired is the following typical bloodthirsty Sicilian, with the players attacking on different sides of the board -

Reg Clucas (146) vs Kamil Celinski (191)
(PGN viewer by

22/08/2016 - Oldham I 3½ Altrincham I 2½

Another agonisingly close defeat against a strong Oldham team. Only boards 5 & 6 were evenly matched in terms of grades, and we duly achieved one point from these two boards, courtesy of Bill continuing his good form. We were heavily outgraded on the top 4 boards, but Mark is another player in good form and scored a good win over Tim Hilton. Tony and Nick were unable to overcome the grading deficit, so at 3-2 down we required a win from myself on board 1 to draw the match. This never looked likely, but neither was I in any danger of losing as we played out a minor piece ending until we each had only a couple of minutes left before agreeing a draw - a result I have to be happy with as my opponent, Phil Armstrong, is top of the Summer League performance table this year.

09/08/2016 - Chorlton IV 2 Altrincham II 2

Vijay reports - We drew the fixture where all of us were playing higher graded opponents. I messed up the king and pawn end game on the top board in a c3 Sicilian to gift the game to my opponent. Our new member Sam played beautifully to win the second board in an advance variation of the French defence. He put his opponent in a lot of trouble with his sharp tactical game. Steve W was held to a draw in a king and queen end game on the 3rd board. Wayne held his opponent to a draw on the 4th board in an opposite colour bishop end game.

02/08/2016 - Chorlton II 3½ Altrincham I 2½

Outgraded by 15 points per board on average, we came very close to getting a result but in the end suffered yet another narrow defeat. Callum was playing his first Summer League match for three years, and made a solid draw on board 6. There was an early defeat for Richard on board 2, and on board 1 I had a difficult endgame but with drawing chances until I moved my King in the wrong direction, blundering into a mate in 3. So ½-2½, but on the other boards both Tony and Mark had the advantage, and Thomas was fighting for a draw with two pawns for a piece. Thomas duly drew and Tony converted his advantage, so a win from Mark would tie the match. After avoiding his opponent's lengthy attempts to draw by perpetual check Mark was able to exchange queens into an endgame a piece ahead, but his King was too far from his two remaining pawns to prevent their exchange, leaving a drawn position.

27/07/2016 - Denton III 2½ Altrincham II 1½

A gallant effort by Thomas and Vijay, who were the only two players available. Vijay had a good win with Black, and Thomas pressed hard on board 1 for the win which would have tied the match, but eventually had to concede a draw.

19/07/2016 - Altrincham I 2½ Rochdale 3½

Rochdale defaulted board 6, but they outgraded us by quite a margin on the other five boards, where we obtained draws from Karl, Mark and myself. A defeat for Nick left the match all square, with Tony's three passed pawns appearing to have the better of his opponent's knight. However, his opponent found a clever tactic with the knight to delay Tony's pawns and allow his own pawn to queen first, which decided the game and match.

12/07/2016 - Altrincham 2½ Oldham 3½ (Alan Yarker Cup)

Karl made a welcome return to the team after missing the winter season, and had a solid draw on board 1. Further draws followed from Nick, Richard, Mark and Tony. The deciding game thus turned out to be my early defeat on board 2. So we were unable to invoke the rule which dictates that if all 6 games are drawn, the winner is decided by a coin toss.

05/07/2016 - Altrincham I 2 Chorlton I 4

Very good performances on the top 3 boards from John, Mark and Tony who scored two draws and a win respectively against much higher rated opponents. But Chorlton made their grading advantage tell on the lower boards, winning all three.

28/06/2016 - Altrincham II 2 Oldham II 2

The team recovered well from last week's heavy defeat. Steve Douglas had a strong opponent on board 1 and was unable to hold a pawn down ending, but a solid draw from Peter and a convincing win from Steve Ward left the match in the balance. Thomas had an endgame with R+P vs N+2P which proved impossible to win, resulting in a tied match.

2015 Season

This season we entered a second team in D division (4 boards) in addition to our first team in A division.

2015 Captain's Report

At the time of the AGM last year, we still had a match to play at Marple from which we needed a point to avoid relegation from Division A of the league. As a club, we have always found it very tough in Division A, being instantly relegated after two promotions in the 1990s, and only remaining in the top flight in consecutive seasons in the glory years of 2002 and 2003. In 2002 we even made the cup final, and some of you may recall the stalwarts of that team Messrs Fish, Walden, Donkin and Sullivan. Remarkably, we managed to draw our last match of the 2014 season at Marple to relegate them as we finished with 2 points for the season. As a result, we played this season for the first time in Division A for three consecutive seasons. The fact this was achieved with just 2 draws last year and a sole victory the year before against a team that defaulted the last two boards, did not exactly inspire us with much confidence for the year ahead.

However, the season did get off to a good start, as we made the most of our favourable cup draw at Sale. The poor facilities at their venue The Railway pub was fortunately matched by a poor performance from their team which enabled us to win 5:1. This was a score that was reversed in the following round when we were well beaten by Oldham. In the league, there were again 5 teams in Division A, with Chorlton 2 replacing Marple. In the first 3 games we were heavily out-graded and although losing all three matches managed respectable scores of 2:4 against Chorlton and Rochdale and 1½:4½ against Denton. So just like the previous two years, our Division A fate went down to the final game of the season. A win against newly promoted Chorlton 2 would see us safe again. However, it was not to be, the result being a draw. I opted to accept the offer of a draw from my opponent, which enabled me to watch the splendid entertainment that Nick provides at the end of each summer league season in his hair raising time trouble finishes. As treasurer, I think he should seriously consider selling tickets for these end of season games to pay for the rent!

Eleven members played in our six matches. Just like last year, only one player scored more than 3 points, and this year it was the unbeaten Richard White who played in five of the six matches. Richard's return as a regular offset the absence of Karl this year. Yaroslav had achieved this score last year but only made three games this season, from which he obtained a draw in the final game against Chorlton 2. Again, just like last year, only one player scored more than 2 points and that was Mark Whalley and not me this time. Mark got off to a great start with two wins at Sale and Chorlton. I did manage 1½ points, and just like Reg relied upon the opening game at Sale for my only victory in 5 matches. Nick and Bill both achieved the same 1½ points tally from just 4 and 3 games respectively. Tom Hague was another beneficiary of the opening match at Sale where his debut for the summer league ended in victory, a performance that he was unfortunately not able to repeat in his next two matches. Both Steves, Douglas and Ward, and Wayne also put in an appearance during the season.

My thanks go to all team members for making my job so easy this year. To finish on a positive note, I should point out that there is still the possibility of continuing next season in Division A. This is because the rules state that the team finishing at the bottom of a division shall normally be relegated to the next lower division. The team finishing at the top of that lower division shall have the right of promotion. Final composition of divisions as decided by the AGM may also take into account the playing strength of teams. Although Marple did not survive last year, bottom club Denton did remain in Division A in 2014, and therefore a fourth consecutive season in Division A may yet come to fruition.

Tony Lane
8 September 2015
1st team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
08/06/2015 Cup Sale A Won 5-1
23/06/2015 League Chorlton 1 A Lost 2-4
07/07/2015 Cup Oldham H Lost 1-5
21/07/2015 League Denton I H Lost 1½-4½
10/08/2015 League Rochdale A Lost 2-4
25/08/2015 League Chorlton II H Draw 3-3

2nd team fixtures
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
30/06/2015 League Denton III H Lost 1-3
14/07/2015 League Chorlton V H Lost 1-3
29/07/2015 League Worsley A Draw 2-2
18/08/2015 League Chorlton VI A Won 2½-1½

25/08/2015 - Altrincham I 3 Chorlton II 3

In a very tight final match we just failed to get the win that would have taken us off the bottom of the table. Yaroslav and Reg had early draws on the top two boards, followed by Tony. Mark lost when his king was trapped in the centre without pawn cover, but Richard levelled the scores with a good win, which means he is undefeated in all his Summer League games for both teams. So as in last year's decider at Marple it all came down to Nick's game, and another time scramble. Nick had the better of a queen and pawn ending, but was unable to evade a perpetual check, so the game was drawn and with it the match.

18/08/2015 - Chorlton VI 1½ Altrincham II 2½

The second team finished its fixtures with a win which was not quite enough to lift them from the foot of the table; they finish in a three way tie with three match points, but an inferior game points difference. Bill continued his good form in the Summer League with a win on board one. Wayne agreed a draw to clinch the match after seeing that Steve D had won a piece, showing great confidence in Steve's ability to finish the game off - confidence that Steve did not share judging by some of his annotations below!

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10/08/2015 - Rochdale 4 Altrincham I 2

We did well to limit the margin of defeat since we were outgraded on average by about 35 points per board. The outstanding result was a quick win by Bill, but Steve Douglas and Mark both gained highly creditable draws. Steve was actually a pawn up in a rook endgame, but the unfavourable position of the pieces meant he was unable to force a win. Mark had a level position but was very short of time when his opponent very sportingly offered a draw.

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21/07/2015 - Altrincham I 1½ Denton I 4½

Our depleted team was heavily outgraded but still managed three good draws from Nick, Richard and Steve Ward.

14/07/2015 - Altrincham II 1 Chorlton V 3

Wayne bravely played on in a drawn position in an attempt to gain the win which would have drawn the match, but to no avail. As in last week's first team match, Richard and Bill were the only scorers, with draws on boards 1 & 2.

07/07/2015 - Altrincham 1 Oldham 5 (Alan Yarker Cup)

Oldham brought a strong team, but only outgraded us by about 10 points per board, so the margin of defeat was a bit disappointing. Only Richard and Bill managed to draw. Yaroslav lost on time in a winning position, and Tony had a good opening but his game gradually degenerated. Mark had another failed opening experiment, and Reg blundered a pawn which was enough to decide the game.

23/06/2015 - Chorlton I 4 Altrincham I 2

We put up a good performance despite being outgraded by almost 30 points per board. Nick and Richard had good draws with the black pieces against higher rated opponents, and Mark had an excellent win. Reg reached an equal endgame on top board but had insufficient time to find the accurate moves that would have held a draw.

08/06/2015 - Sale 1 Altrincham 5 (Alan Yarker Cup)

We overcame the distractions of Sale's noisy venue to score a comfortable victory, earning a home quarterfinal against Oldham. Wins by Reg, Mark, Richard, Tony and Thomas saw us safely through.

2014 Captain's Report

The predictions I made for the Manchester League this time last year may have proved well founded, but those made for the Summer League were way off the mark. Last year had seen us play in the top flight of the Summer League for the first time since 2004, and like then we had struggled to secure any individual wins let alone match victories. At the time of the AGM, our season had finished but other clubs still had matches to play. I had noted that Denton, who drew with us earlier that season, were our only hope of avoiding the drop, but had concluded my report with the remark "I trust we can get back to winning ways again next season in Division B". As things turned out, Denton did not add to their single point tally, and so we remained in Division A. This season, not only has the Summer League Season not come to a conclusion, but we also have one match to play later this week at Marple. We are in a similar position to last season, with our single point leaving us next to the bottom of the table, and the bottom team is .... Marple! This is surprising given the potential strength of their team, but they do seem to be able to call upon some big guns when required However, I am making no predictions this season, although I do note that our last match last season was against Marple and we lost 3½:2½.

The Summer League's very existence was in some doubt this season, but due to some last minute organisation which has been a feature of the League throughout its existence, the season did eventually get under way, albeit with a reduction in teams from twenty-five to nineteen. As a result, Division A was reduced from seven teams to five, with Stockport and 3Cs notable absentees. No clubs were promoted so Denton survived from last year. In the three League matches played to date, we lost 4:2 to Denton, 4½:1½ at Chorlton but then picked up our solitary point against Rochdale with the help of a default on their bottom board. In the cup we won 4:2 at Worsley before being eliminated in the semi-final by Denton 5:1.

In the five matches played to date, eleven members have played. Reg and I have played in all five, which has helped us achieve our points tallies of 1½ and 2 respectively. The only player to achieve more is Yaroslav who was on holiday for the semi-final but scored 2½ points from the previous four matches. During the year, Reg has setup an excellent website for the Summer League and reference to its performance statistics shows that Yaroslav is ranked with a grade of 194 from his matches which places him seventh on the list of all Summer League players. Perhaps he will rise even further if he can pull of a hat trick of wins against Alex Longson of Marple having defeated Bob Newton of Rochdale and Hope Mkhumba of Chorlton. Following his move to deepest Cheshire, Karl has managed to return for two matches this summer, but his lack of points indicates he may be suffering from jet lag. Nick, Bill and Mark have all played three matches and scored 1½, 1 and half a point respectively. Richard, Tom, David Johnson and Steve have all put in an appearance during the season.

Whatever the result later this week, my thanks go to all team members as we continue to improve in the top flight of chess in the Summer Season.

Tony Lane
2 September 2014
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
11/06/2014 Cup Worsley A Won 4-2
17/06/2014 League Denton 1 H Lost 2-4
01/07/2014 League Chorlton 1 A Lost 1½-4½
22/07/2014 League Rochdale H Draw 3-3
19/08/2014 Cup Denton H Lost 1-5
04/09/2014 League Marple 1 A Draw 3-3

04/09/2014 - Marple 1st 3 Altrincham 3

An exciting end to the season, with the drawn match keeping us above Marple and thus ensuring that we will again be in A Division next summer. With just Nick's game to finish the match score was tied; eventually with Nick and his opponent both down to their last 20 seconds a draw was agreed. Yaroslav had another impressive win against a 190+ graded opponent, taking his grading performance for the Summer League to 204 and fourth place overall. Tom also won and Tony drew.

19/08/2014 - Altrincham 1 Denton 5 (Alan Yarker Cup Semi Final)

We were well beaten by a strong Denton side. Ali Jaunooby, winner of the Major Open at the recent British Championships, was again on board 1 and made short work of Reg. Mark, Karl, Nick and Bill did not fare much better, but Tony produced a "Captain's innings" on board 6 to score our only point.

22/07/2014 - Altrincham 3 Rochdale 3

A good performance, since we were outgraded on every board. Although it took a default to enable us to halve the match, the result could have been even better, with time trouble playing a decisive part in some of the games. Yaroslav managed to win with very little time left, as his two advanced passed pawns proved decisive. Reg also outplayed a higher graded opponent, but missed the winning move in time trouble, and subsequently lost. Nick had a difficult endgame which under normal circumstances might have had winning chances, but with less than a minute left he wisely took a draw by repetition. Tony moved up to board 3 at the last minute due to Karl being delayed in traffic, and was unable to avoid defeat. Mark drew on board 4 to leave the match tied.

01/07/2014 - Chorlton 1st 4½ Altrincham 1½

Excellent performances by Yaroslav and Richard, who gained a win and a draw respectively against opponents graded over 30 points higher. Unfortunately the rest of the team failed to score.

17/06/2014 - Altrincham 2 Denton 1st 4

Yaroslav was outgunned on board 1 by 200+ rated Ali Jaunooby, but the remaining boards were more evenly matched. Reg eventually drew after both players missed winning chances. Tony also drew and Bill won after his opponent exceeded the time limit. Defeats for Karl and Mark left the score 4-2 to Denton.

11/06/2014 - Worsley 2 Altrincham 4 (Alan Yarker Cup Quarter Final)

Wins by Reg, Nick and David Johnson, with draws by Tony and Yaroslav, saw us through to the semifinal. Our opponents will be Denton.

2013 Captain's report

Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
24/06/2013 League Rochdale A Lost 1-5
03/07/2013 League Denton A Draw 3-3
30/07/2013 League Stockport H Lost ½-5½
06/08/2013 League 3Cs H Won 4-2
12/08/2013 Cup Oldham A Lost 2-4
27/08/2013 League Chorlton H Lost 1-5
03/09/2013 League Marple H Lost 2½-3½

After finishing next to the bottom of the league in 2010 and next to the top in 2011, we followed this up with a championship performance in 2012 with 5 wins out of 5. We therefore decided to make a return to the top flight for the first time since 2004. Looking back to those days, it is interesting to note that our regular top 3 that season comprised Jonathan Fish, Daniel Sullivan and Dave Bryan. The top boards of the top division is a tough place in which to play and that year none of them tasted victory and they amassed just 2½ points from the 10 games they played. Our replacements in 2013, namely Yaroslav, Reg and Karl, managed to play 13 matches but still scored only 2½ points, although Karl had the pleasure of tasting victory against 3Cs. Although the final table is not yet available**, it is almost certain that we will return to the happier hunting ground of Division B next summer, given that 4 of the other 6 teams attained more points than us from the first half of their season and one of the other two teams is a strong Marple side. Denton, who drew with us earlier in the season, is our only hope of avoiding the drop.
**Subsequent to this report, the final league table shows that we did not in fact finish bottom, so should again be in the A division next summer.

Our season began with a league match rather than the normal cup fixture, as Heywood decided to drop out of the tournament at the last minute enabling us to progress to the quarter finals. I missed the first match and Reg filled in as captain but only he and Steve Douglas were able to draw in a heavy opening defeat. I was back for the next match at Denton, where I had a wonderful game until it all fell apart right at the end, a defeat that could prove costly given that David Hughes won his game and the other 4 team members drew to enable us to half the match. The next game was another heavy defeat 5½:½ to Stockport, but this was followed up by a 4:2 victory over 3Cs, assisted by 2 defaults, a swindle by Nick and Karl's impressive victory on board 2. Buoyed by this victory we had a very close cup match at Oldham, losing 4:2 in a match where many of the games were closely contested. Nobody won in our next league match against Chorlton to whom we lost 5:1 and the season ended with another defeat 3½:2½ to Marple. Our final league tally of 1 win and 1 draw from 6 matches was similar to 2004 where we also had one win and one draw from the five matches played that season.

We were able to call upon the services of 13 members to play matches, and Steve Ward was only denied the 14th slot by 3Cs default. Last year nearly all 7 players who played 3 or more matches scored 50% or more and 3 totalled 4 points from their games, whereas this year only one of the seven playing 3 games or more managed 50%, being Bill McCartney with 2 wins from 4, and nobody exceeded the 2½ points I obtained from my 6 matches. Nick matched Bill's score of 2 points from his 5 matches and David Hughes and Richard White both had the satisfaction of winning during the season. Other members supporting us during the season were Tom, Callum, Steve, Wayne and David Merrifield.

Thanks as always go to all the team members and in particular, providers of transport to the away matches. I trust we can get back to winning ways again next season.

Tony Lane
24 September 2013

2012 Team captain's report

Our performances in the summer league in recent years have been a real rollercoaster ride.  In 2009, we finished second and politely declined promotion to division A.  In 2010 a league resolution was passed at the AGM to promote and relegate one team only rather than two. That was fortunate for ourselves as we finished next to bottom with our narrow victory over Chorlton 4 resulting in relegation for our opponents and a narrow escape for ourselves.  However, 2011 saw us finish once more as runners up, albeit with no automatic promotion.  I am pleased to report that our rollercoaster did not see another dip in performance in 2012. 

The season began very encouragingly, when we defeated Oldham’s first team in the cup 4½:1½ despite being heavily out-graded.  We were therefore feeling very confident going into our opening league match against Oldham’s second team, as boards 4 and 5 from the first match were their top 2 boards in the league game.  Our confidence was not misplaced and we emerged 5:1 winners.  A reverse scenario followed with a league match against Stockport 2 succeeded by a cup semi-final against Stockport’s first team.  Although we won our league match 3½:2½, cup glory proved beyond our reach against a very strong Stockport team, where David Hughes saved us from a whitewash with a fine win on the bottom board.  Following our cup exit we were able to concentrate on the league.  The next match was at home to Bury, but unfortunately I only found out on the Tuesday of the match that they were still under the impression we played our home games on a Thursday.  Two of our players were unable to play that day but we hastily rearranged the match for the Thursday with a slightly weakened team.  However, our squad showed the strength and depth of our resources, and with 3½ points from the bottom 4 boards we were able to retain our 100% league record.  Our last 2 games were again against a single club, firstly Chorlton 4 and then Chorlton 3.  The first match at Chorlton was a resounding 4½:1½ victory.  This meant we went into the last match with both teams on a maximum 8 points 4 points clear of the field.  However, Chorlton had a better board count by the narrowest ½ point margin.  We therefore needed to win to secure the title.  The game proved to be a splendid team effort with 3 wins and 3 draws securing the title.  There is now a feeling that after 8 successive years in Division B we should take our place again in Division A.

Eleven members of the club were able to share in our success.  Our squad strength was demonstrated by the fact that all 4 players playing 1 or 2 games during the season won all their matches.  In 2011, Reg had played 3 matches without any success.  This year he played 3 and won the lot.  David Hughes was only slightly behind him winning 2 of his 3 matches.  Of those players turning out on more than 3 occasions in the season, Bill McCartney was the top percentage scorer with a two third success rate from his 6 matches and his top score of 4 points was matched by Yaroslav and myself, the 2 ever present members of last season.  It was good to see Nick back in action, chipping in with 3 draws towards the end of the season.  Finally, Tom secured a 50% success rate from the 6 matches in which he played, and his matches remain the ones to watch at the end of the time control as he continued to produce amazing swindles against his opponents. 

My thanks therefore go to all those members who brought us such a successful summer season, and of course to the usual regular drivers who assist with transport arrangements in our away matches. 

Tony Lane

2011 Team Captain's Report

In 2009 we finished second in Division B and requested not to be promoted due to the significant playing strength difference of the top two divisions.  From our point of view, the decision proved to be well justified, as last year we struggled to survive in our normal Division B setting.  Our decision also influenced the passing of a league resolution at the 2010 AGM to promote and relegate one team only rather than two.  This also avoids wholesale changes in league composition, given that there are now typically four divisions of only five or six clubs.  If the rules had not been changed in this manner, we would have been relegated last year, as our sole victory by the narrowest single point margin was over Chorlton 4 who were duly relegated.  They were replaced by Bramhall and East Cheshire, but a request by Bury to drop down a division resulted in second place Denton being promoted to Division A to replace them.  

As often is the case, the season started with a cup match, and we justified our billing as favourite at Urmston by winning 3½:2½.  This was followed by our first league match at Chorlton against their  third team, where a 4:2 win ensured we equalled our points tally for 2010 after completing our first league match.  I then repeated the mistake made in earlier years of taking a summer holiday and entrusting captaincy of the next match to Nick, who duly advised me on my return that we had been defeated 3½:2½ by Stockport 2.  However, we were soon back on track with our next fixture against Bramhall and East Cheshire which was a newly merged club in 2010.  Their entry to the Summer league last year had not only seen them gain promotion with an unbeaten record, but saw them also inflict our heaviest defeat in the cup by the margin 5:1.  It was therefore nice to gain revenge this year with a 5½:½ victory, albeit assisted by the fact that they were only able to compete on 4 boards and defaulted the other 2.  Our most emphatic victory was followed by our most emphatic defeat 5:1 to Denton in the semi finals of the cup and the season finished with a draw at Bury.  When I first put pen to paper, our 5 points from 4 league matches placed us a point clear of Chorlton 3 and Stockport 2 at the top of the division.  If they were to draw their outstanding match then we would finish as champions in the unlikely event of Bramhall and East Cheshire defeating Stockport 2 in their other outstanding fixture.  This appeared unlikely, as BEC had lost their other three matches to date and gained only 3½ points from an available 18.  Indeed, I can now confirm following an update of the MCF website last Sunday, that Stockport won both their matches leaving us 3 points adrift of them as runners up and guaranteeing us Division B chess again next summer. 

As was the case last year, 10 members played during the season.  Although Karl had asked to be rested for the summer, we were strengthened by Yaroslav’s debut in the summer league.  He missed the opening cup match at Urmston but played the remaining 5 games on top board.  In the penultimate game he defeated the 190+ rated Ali Jaunooby who had recently played in the British Championships.  The win was particularly satisfying as he had narrowly missed out in a close match between them in the Manchester League earlier in the year.  It was therefore surprising that Yaroslav lost his last match at Bury and with it his 100% record for the season.  However, I am delighted to report that this enabled me to draw level with him as top scorer with 4 out of 5 following my win at Bury on Board 2.  Bill also played 5 matches and finished with a respectable 50%.  Nick had a tough season on Board 2 with his 4 matches producing a draw.  Of the 4 players completing 3 games, David Hughes was the most successful with 2 points, Callum had a 50% record, Richard had a crushing victory against BEC and another debutant, Reg, found that first point elusive.  I played Reg on top board in the cup at Urmston, Nick played him in the middle at Stockport and he played on the bottom board in the cup against Denton, but sadly we failed to find his best position.  I suspect that he is looking forward again to playing in the Manchester league with its more sedate time control.  Tom followed up his 100% success of last year with a second unbeaten season from the 2 matches he played and David Merrifield stepped in at the last match at Bury to secure an honourable draw. 

My thanks to all those members who shared in our successful summer season, and in particular to David Hughes, Bill and Nick who assisted with the transport arrangements to away matches. 

Tony Lane

2009 Team Captain's Report

Once again, we knew summer had arrived when our opening match saw us eliminated from the Cup Competition in characteristic fashion. We started our season in the comfortable surroundings of the Northern Lawn Tennis Club at Didsbury. Due to a communication breakdown, our bottom board did not arrive , but fortunately Reyer Gerlagh had brought his 2 boys Peter and Joris, so he filled in on the bottom board. Even better, he secured a fine win and with victory for Joris, the Gerlagh family achieved a plus score on the night. Sadly, the team as a whole could not quite match it and we went out 3½:2½.

As regards the league, I reported last year that it appeared Rochdale were opting out of promotion and no teams were willing to be promoted from Division C, so that we would again be competing with the same teams. In actual fact, that was not the case and Bury replaced the promoted Rochdale while Denton and Salford were promoted to replace the second teams of Bury and Oldham. This worked out very well for us, as we started the league season with victories over both Salford and Bury and finished the season with a win at Denton. The only 2 teams we lost to were therefore the 2 teams who did remain in Division B, namely Stockport 2 and Chorlton 3. Again the matches were close affairs, with all wins bar our 4½:1½ victory over Salford being by the narrowest of margins 3½:2½, while our heaviest defeat was 4½:1½ at Stockport 2 with a narrow 3½:2½ defeat to Chorlton 3.

11 members played during the season. Bill and I played in all 6 matches, and Bill achieved 3 points to be joint top scorer of the season, while I was just behind with 2½ points. The other players to score 3 points were Joris who won all 3 matches he played in and Kurt who won 3 out of 4. Like Joris, Reyer's win at Didsbury in the Cup gave him a 100% record, while Peter won both his next 2 games after his defeat at Didsbury to give the Gerlagh family a very impressive aggregate score. They will be sorely missed following their return to the Netherlands.

Nick again battled manfully on top board securing 3 draws from his 4 matches, while Tom's persistence paid off with victory in his 5th and final match at Denton. The other members to play during the summer were Wayne Kranz , who helped out by playing at both Didsbury and Stockport , and Richard White and Callum McNulty who both drew the matches they played.

Overall, our results were good enough to secure us 2nd position as we finished with identical points to Stockport 2 but with 15½ points compared to their 15 points to secure 2nd on board count. The relegated Bury, won all 4 matches after their early defeat to ourselves to go back to Division A. We politely declined the opportunity to play in Division A , as we have been there before and it is not a pleasant experience!

We therefore ended the season pleased to maintain our position in B division and we look forward to the season ahead.

Tony Lane

2008 Team Captain's Report

We started our fourth successive year in Division B of the Summer League with the customary opening cup match. As often reported in prior years, the result once again saw us concentrating early on the league. Although last year's Round 1 elimination was a close affair with elimination to Eccles on board count, the same cannot be said this time around. We were well and truly hammered by a team from Oldham that massively outgraded us, and it was left to Steve Ward on the bottom board to prevent the whitewash with a fine win.

Our league fixtures were once again very close affairs, indicating that the B Division is an ideal league for us in the summer. Indeed, the first two matches against Stockport and Bury 2 were both even affairs, and it was only an unusual lapse by our bottom three boards at Chorlton 3 that resulted in our first defeat 4½:1½. This was followed by a further draw to the eventual champions Rochdale and the season ended with a flourish with a fine win at Oldham 2 3½:2½.

Again the number of participants in the 2008 summer league season reached double figures. Our strategy is to try and hold out on the top boards, and leave it up to the middle and lower order to carry us through to victory. As expected, Nick and I therefore had a torrid time on the top boards. I managed to draw 3 of my 5 games, whereas Nick drew one of his 4, but sadly neither of us tasted victory all summer long. The middle of the team proved more solid with Karl unbeaten in his two matches and Bill and Tom both gaining 50% from 5 and 4 matches respectively. In the lower order, David Merrifield was our top points scorer and most successful player with 3 wins out of 4 games, and Steve Ward had a very creditable performance with 2 wins from 4. The other people to play during the summer were Kurt Linke, Callum McNulty and Tom Hague with 4, 3 and 1 appearance respectively.

The 2009 season is now under way and with Rochdale opting out of promotion and Stockport 2 and Oldham 2 escaping relegation in the absence of any teams willing to be promoted from Division C, we find ourselves competing with the same teams again in the current campaign.

2007 Team Captain's Report

I could report that we finished third for the third successive season in Division B of the Summer League. However, you may recall last year that we were disputing the official position in the 2006 season, as our records indicated we had defeated Bury 2, 3½:2½ as opposed to the official records that had credited us with a draw. I am pleased to say that after a year of lobbying for the correct result to be reflected in the Summer League records, our victory over Bury 2 has now been confirmed and the additional point earned has been sufficient to secure for us the B Division Championship for 2006 on board count. As pointed out last year, both Stockport 2 and Chorlton 3 who now move to second and third in the league in that year, both opted to remain in B Division in 2007 and this would also have been our preference. However, it is nice to know that the trophies are currently being engraved and our name will appear as 2006 Division B Champions. Our third place finish last year was therefore not quite as impressive, but we were in fact only one win away from catching Chorlton 3 at the top of the table.

As usual, the season started with a cup match, and as is often the case saw us concentrating early on the league. The cup match at Eccles was a close affair, finishing 3:3, but as our wins were on the lower boards we were eliminated on board count. Our league fixtures started with a reversal of fortunes against Bury 2 from the position that had secured us the 2006 title. This time they won 3½:2½. However, we were able to follow that up with a resounding 4½:1½ victory over the eventual champions Chorlton 3, who went on to win all their other 4 matches. Our remaining 3 matches were all close fought affairs, with a 3½:2½ victory over Oldham 2, a defeat by the same score to Stockport 2 and finally a 4:2 victory against Urmston who having been promoted the season before were relegated in 2007. In fact they swapped positions once more with Rochdale.

We just about managed double figures in the number of participants in the 2007 Summer League season. Tom and myself played in all 6 matches and were relatively successful with 4 and 3 points respectively. We suffered a little on the higher boards from Richard and Nick not being available as much as in prior years. Nick secured 2 draws on top board from his 3 games and Richard had a win and a draw from his 2 matches. Karl and Bill filled in admirably with Bill playing 5 of the 6 matches and persistence paying off with a win at the last one at Urmston. Karl secured 2 wins from his 3 matches. The top points scorer and most successful player last season was Kurt who went through the season unbeaten finishing with 4 out of 5 points. David Hughes, Graham Bird and David Merrifield were the other people to appear during the summer with 3, 2 and 1 appearances respectively.

The 2008 season is now underway and with Chorlton 3 again opting out of promotion, the 6 teams competing in the league reverts to those playing in our 2006 championship year, with Rochdale again replacing Urmston.

2006 Team Captain's Report

Last season, following our relegation from Division A, we were not that far off from being promoted back to the top Division finishing third in Division B. The outcome of the 2006 season, at least in the eyes of the organisers, was an identical finish with a third position secured just one point behind Stockport 2 and Chorlton 3. However, I have to report that the official position is currently being disputed as we have been credited with a 3½:2½ defeat at the hands of Bury 2, whereas our records indicate that the match was drawn. If the latter proves to be correct, the additional point would bring us level with the top two teams, and our board count should be sufficient to secure the championship. This would be very worrying, if we were forced to play in A Division this year, as there is a significant gulf in the Summer League between A and B Divisions. However, both Stockport 2 and Chorlton 3 opted to remain in B Division and this would clearly have been our option, even if we had officially secured the title. However, the query over the Bury result is currently being pursued, as it would be nice to hold the trophy even though we opted not to be promoted.

The season started with a Cup match against Bury's first team, where we struggled and lost convincingly 5½:½. Our first league match was against Bury's second team, which is the subject of the disputed outcome, but obviously proved to be a much more appropriate level of opposition than their first team. As we believe the Bury match was a draw, we consider ourselves to be unbeaten in the league, as we followed that result with a victory at Chorlton 3, a draw at Oldham 2, and a victory and draw at home to Rochdale and Stockport 2 respectively.

Although eleven players played in the Summer League, Kurt Linke and Dan Thompson played only one game each. Of the other nine players, Dave Bryan and Nick Lowe struggled on the top boards, but all other seven players scored 50% or more. Daniel, Graham and myself all achieved 50%, while Tom, Richard, Bill and David achieved between 58% and 75%. Tom and Nick played in every game. Last year Tom also played in every match and had scored an impressive 3½ points from his six games. After four games of the currently campaign he had just 1½ points, but victories in the last two matches ensured he matched last year's impressive performance.

The 2007 season has now just commenced and with none of the teams opting for promotion, there is just one change to the opposition with Urmston's first team replacing the relegated first team from Rochdale.

2005 Team Captain's Report

If you recall, we entered last season with some trepidation on the back of a relegation from Division A, as the last time that had happened in 1998, we followed it up with another relegation to Division C. However, in line with the confidence I expressed at the last AGM, we avoided a repeat of that double relegation blow and comfortably consolidated our position in Division B with 5 points from our 5 games and a positive board count of 16:15, finishing third ahead of Bury 2 and both other first teams from Rochdale and Urmston.

As usual, the season kicked off with a cup match. We were narrowly beaten 3½:2½ to one of the top clubs in the Summer League, Chorlton. Our league campaign then got off to a poor start with a 4:2 defeat at Rochdale when Jonathan Fish, our top board, was unfortunately involved in a car accident on his way to the game resulting in a crucial default. Fortunately, Jonathan emerged unscathed but regrettably was unable to play in any more of our games that Summer.

Tom Tomkins was an ever present and scored an impressive 3½ points from his 6 games. Another 5 players played 4 matches. Of these David Bryan, David Merrifield, David Hughes and myself all managed to score 50% or more and Nick Lowe narrowly missed out with 3 draws from his 4 games. The top percentage score from 3 games or more was Graham Bird who scored 2 points and was unbeaten throughout the summer. Other valuable contributions were made by Richard White, Kurt Linke, Daniel Sullivan and Karl Lockett.

After the Rochdale match, a victory by 4:2 against Urmston contributed to their downfall. We were then narrowly defeated 3½:2½ against Oldham 2, before drawing with Chorlton 2 and finishing strongly with a victory by the margin 4½:1½ against Bury 2 to secure our position in Division B.

We therefore look forward to the coming campaign when champions Chorlton 2's place is taken by newly promoted Chorlton 3 and relegated Stockport 2 take the place of Urmston 1.

2004 Team Captain's Report

Last summer was the first time in the Club's history that we completed a third successive season of topflight summer league chess in Division A. The previous season had been our most successful in the summer league, being the first time we had won twice in a season, which had enabled us to finish fourth in the table. Regrettably, we were unable to sustain this impressive performance and were relegated back to B Division where we joined the first teams of Rochdale and Urmston and second teams of Chorlton, Bury and Oldham for the current season's competition. However, the season did have its uplifting moments with another exciting cup run, resulting in narrow victories over Urmston and Eccles before semi-final defeat to Peoples by a score of 4½:1½. Peoples have become our bogey team in cup competitions. As you may recall they also defeated us in the final in 2002. Our elimination this year was much narrower than the score suggested with a number of hard fought games, and was notable for a tremendous board 1 victory by Jonathan Fish over the highly rated Alan Smith.

Our season started with a cup match at Urmston which we drew but won on elimination of the bottom board result. However, our success was followed by two league defeats by a margin of 4½:1½ to Chorlton, the ultimate champions, and Oldham. As there are only 6 teams in the division, the next two matches against the lower rated Swinton and Bury teams were crucial. We were given hope by a narrow victory 3½:2½ at Swinton but could only draw with Bury to leave us 3 points behind them with only our last game to play. The outcome of that was a 4:2 defeat to 3Cs, the result of which was academic with relegation already our fate. The season concluded with our cup semi-final exit at Peoples.

On the whole, despite the outcome, I consider we competed well in what is an extremely tough division. Our results were achieved without Andrew Walden who had been ever present the previous year achieving 2½ points from his 6 matches played on the top 2 boards. His absence was partially offset by the availability of Jonathan for 5 of the 8 league and cup matches we played, but such is the strength in the division that he was only able to add 1 draw against Bury to his victory at Peoples. Daniel Sullivan was also only available for 3 matches as his study at Keele University continued to disrupt his season. He helped us out with a couple of draws on the top boards. We also benefited from the summer league debut season of Dave Bryan who picked up a win and a draw and more importantly enabled Nick Lowe and myself to play further down the order where we were able to both achieve 3½ points from 8 and 7 games respectively. Graham Bird matched my percentage score with 2 points from 4 games and Tom Tomkins was the top percentage performer with 2 wins out of 3 in a very successful debut season for him. In addition to the above, Kurt Linke, David Hughes and David Merrifield all tasted victory during the season, bringing our representative players for the season up to 10.

The last time we were relegated from Division A was 1998 when we lost all 6 matches and were relegated the very next year to Division C before storming back to the top flight with 2 successive promotions. With our current squad I would hope we could consolidate our position in Division B this coming season and avoid a repeat of the double relegation blow of 1998/99.

2003 Team Captain's Report

Last Summer we had the pleasure of playing in Division A of the summer league for the second successive year. This was a first, as our history in this league is to finish in the promotion or relegation positions and we are inclined to move through Divisions A to C on a bit of a roller coaster ride. We were hoping to build upon our best ever performance achieved in 2002, when we registered our first ever win in Division A and preserved our elite status by courtesy of the League deciding to relegate only one team as opposed to two previously. That season had been further boosted by a narrow defeat in the Cup Final to Peoples as opposed to our normal first round elimination. Although we reverted to type as far as the cup competition was concerned losing 3½:2½ in the first round to Chorlton, I am pleased to say that we did indeed build upon our earlier achievement by registering two victories from the five league games played to finish fourth in the table enabling us to look forward to our third successive season of top flight summer league chess.

I have to say that for a large part of the summer we anticipated the worst and relegation loomed large after the first three matches. These resulted in a 4:2 defeat to 3Cs, a 4½:1½ defeat at Oldham and another 4:2 defeat to Chorlton. However, these teams proved to be the stronger opposition finishing first, second and third respectively at the end of the season. The turning point, as ever, came when I went on holiday and came back to find we had stormed to an impressive 5½:½ victory at Manchester University. This was followed by an exciting 3½:2½ victory over Swinton which resulted in us finishing 2 points clear of both Swinton and Manchester University with a record 4 points haul for the Club in this Division.

This success was achieved despite the absence of our most successful summer league player of 2002, Mike Donkin, who had played in all 10 league and cup matches that season and had remained unbeaten until the Cup final. However, we were well served by our youth policy with Daniel Sullivan achieving the best percentage score with 3½ points from his 4 games and Jonathan Fish winning both his league matches on the top board and failing only in the cup match. They were well supported on the higher boards by Andrew Walden who was our only every present and achieved 2½ points from his 6 matches played on either boards 1 or 2. Nick Lowe was almost unbeaten, grinding out 4 draws from the 5 games he played. Further down the boards Ian Pratley and David Hughes made impressive debuts with 2½ points from 4 games and 2 points from 3 games respectively. Once again the Club was well represented by 12 different players during the season. The above mentioned were supplemented by myself, Richard, Graham, Karl, Kurt and Dan.

The 2004 campaign will again be spent in the company of just 5 other top teams, the only change from last year being the promotion of Bury to replace Manchester University. We look forward to improving still further upon our highly creditable recent past performances.