Joining the ECF (English Chess Federation)

Special General Meeting

Notice is hereby given that a Special General Meeting of the Sheffield & District Chess Association will take place on Monday 21st May, 2018, at Stradbroke Community Centre (in the grounds of Stradbroke Primary School), Richmond Road, Stradbroke, Sheffield, S13 8LT, starting at 8.15 p.m.

The meeting has been called at the request of the Executive to vote on the proposition

that the Sheffield & District Chess Association submit for grading by the English Chess Federation the results from the S&DCA leagues (winter & summer), its team knock-out competitions (Richardson and Haystead Cups), and the Sheffield Championship. To apply starting August 31st 2018.

Cost Implications

 This has cost implications in that at the end of the grading season the ECF would charge to the S&DCA a sum fixed annually (currently £16) for each player who has more than three games included, but was not (by the end of the season) a member of the ECF at Bronze level or above. The present cost per person of Bronze ECF membership is £16.

Such fees charged by the ECF to the S&DCA would then be charged to the member clubs concerned.

Thus S&DCA league players would need to be ECF members, or else the S&DCA would pass on to their clubs the fee (currently £16) charged by the ECF to the S&DCA per such non-member.

 Operational Considerations

 Whereas league secretaries currently enter results into “Chessnuts” (which will cease to produce “Yorkshire” grades after June 2018), they would (from 31st August) enter their results in a similar manner into the ECF’s similar web-based “League Management System” (LMS), which provides the same kind of on-line result reporting as “Chessnuts”.

LMS provides for generation of the half-yearly ECF grading-data submissions, which would then be signed off and submitted to the ECF by an ECF Grader such as Phill Beckett or Steve Mann.

Woodseats B v Rotherham B

Having narrowly lost at Rotherham earlier in the season, we were out for revenge in the return match at the Red Lion.  A good start was made by winning the toss!  Peter faced the French defence from Andy but decided not to play the much discussed Reti gambit.  A draw was soon agreed.  Both myself and Dave C had not made the most of our openings and were down material.  I had hints of an attack but once that was rebuffed by Ed, I played a shocker of a move to lose, albeit being 2 pawns down at the time.  Dave had also got a good attack going against Phil.  However, one accurate capture of a pawn by Phil proved crucial and we were losing 2.5-0.5.

Over on the other side of the room, Michael was playing well against Michael and found a mating attack to win, maintaining his 100% record for the B team this season.  David M was also on top against Mick and once he got his rook and Queen surrounding his opponents King it was just a matter of time.  A neat mate with a pawn won the game and left the match score all tied at 2.5-2.5.

As all of the other games had finished relatively quickly, Martyn and Colin played for around half an hour with a big crowd of players watching.  Plenty of pressure!  A tense endgame resulted with Martyn defending well with a knight against bishop, down a pawn.  Both players were running short of time and when Martyn managed to swap his knight for Colin’s last dangerous pawn, a draw was agreed.

Two 3-3 draws in a row now and our season is looking up!  Next up is a trip to face Nomads C later this month.


Woodseats B

This has been a difficult season so far for the B team.  Having lost our first 4 matches, we finally picked up a win in December in a home game against Barnsley B.  Unfortunately, another 2 losses followed and so we headed out to Barnsley for the return match with only 1 win from our first 7 games.

On the way to the venue, me, Peter and Steve were discussing potential opponents and likely openings.  Peter should be buying a lottery ticket as he thought that I would be playing Neil Todd and that the French defence would be played, and this is exactly what happened!

My game was first to finish.  Although I tried a new opening for me of playing 2-b3, Neil didn’t take the gambit pawn and I was ‘out of book’ quickly.  Fortunately for me I whipped up a king side attack and with Neil’s pieces off side I managed to break through for the win.  Peter was playing a complicated affair with Tony, although he appeared to have more space and 2 good bishops.  A creditable draw was the final result.  When I looked at Steve Moon’s game he was down material and not impressed with his position.  Richard was able to convert for the win.  Steve Daykin had played most of his match standing up.  At first I thought it was a tactic to intimidate his opponent but Steve later explained it was a way of coping with his varifocal glasses.  Unfortunately for him, his attack fizzled out and Arnold surrounded Steve’s King forcing a resignation.  Looking at the remaining 2 games, I thought we had chances in both.  David Margerison was up on material but with opposite coloured bishops, a draw was the final result.  This left us 3-2 down with just Dave Cook playing.  He was winning, then blundered to be behind on material.  However, he still had attacking chances.  In mutual time pressure both he and Tony appeared to leave their queens hanging.  Tony ended up resigning leaving the match drawn at 3-3.  A good result for us.

Next up is a home game against Rotherham B and a favourable result would put us back in contention with the others at the bottom of the division.



Woodseats B Team

We started our first season in division 3 following last year’s promotion this week.  First up was Nomads C at home and looking at their line-up, I expected a tough game.  All of the team played well and battled into the night but unfortunately, we succumbed to a 4-2 defeat.  An excellent win by Steve Moon and draws for Brendan and Bill, both of whom were probably better in the final position, were our points scorers.




Next up was a trip to Rotherham B – always a pleasant venue to visit with friendly opponents.  Unfortunately, our top two boards were unavailable for the game but after a desperate e-mail, I managed to get a full complement of players.  Many thanks to those who stepped up to the plate, especially Alexander who had a test at school the next day.  To aid Bill’s pre-match preparation I made him suffer football heaven on Radio Sheffield on the drive to Rotherham.  A call from Brian the Blade in particular seemed to wind him up somewhat!  Once again, I was expecting a tough match and once again the team played above themselves.  However, we were to fall to our second 4-2 defeat.  Bill was particularly unlucky as we were 3-2 down with just his game left.  He valiantly played on in a drawn position trying to secure our first team points of the season but pushed too hard leading to his resignation.  Steve Daykin was our only winner on the night with draws for Dave and Brendan.


Doncaster 4ncl

Here is my win with black against a 163 graded player. Hoping some of my form can continue into the new season…

[Event “Doncaster 4ncl”]
[White “Evans, Michael”]
[Black “Frith, Shane”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A57”]
[WhiteElo “163”]
[BlackElo “145”]
[PlyCount “70”]


Food for thought-report from the Sheffield AGM

Here are my notes from the Sheffield and District Chess Association AGM which took place at the Red Lion tonight. The agenda and supporting documentation are on the Association web site so I’ll stick to pointing out items that may be of interest to our members. Please circulate as I can’t think straight any more…..
The meeting started on time at 7:30 with all clubs represented apart from the University.

Both John Fryer and Peter Willoughby announced that they were stepping down from their current posts. If anyone is interested in becoming a League Secretary, organising Saturday chess or helping run one of the rapidplay events, I’m sure the Association would love to hear from you.
All clubs were asked to think about whether they could host the Hope Valley, Gurnhill or Crabbe Shield and make offers at the Fixture Meeting. Steve Mann said he would be happy to run a tournament if a venue could be provided. Bill looked interested in providing a venue…

Rule Changes
In order to be passed, a two thirds majority was required. I’ve indicated voting as it was relayed from the chair:

1. The proposal to have a single time limit of 75 minutes per player for the whole game was passed with 20 in favour and 5 against. This will therefore take immediate effect.
2. The proposal to have a single time limit of 90 minutes per player for the whole game unless either team wanted a limit of 75 minutes was defeated with only 3 votes in favour and a forest of cards against. There was confusion in the room about the wording and impact of this so I wasn’t surprised it failed. However, with better wording, a similar proposal might stand a chance in future.
3. The proposal to move (back) to having one team promoted and one relegated failed to get the required number of votes with 16 in favour and 10 against. The main argument against seemed to be that it is more fun if you have a greater chance of being promoted and having 4 teams out of 8 swapping divison each year means you avoid seeing the same old faces across the board. More of this later…

4. A proposal (which we didn’t discuss at our AGM) to get rid of playoffs by resolving ties for championships/promotions/relegations using results of matches between the tied teams was passed with 22 in favour and 3 against. I was comfortable to vote in favour given our experience of a playoff this season and the fact that the league secretaries were keen to see it passed.
The next item of interest was the formation of teams into league divisions. As the proposal to cut promotion and relegation to 1 team had been defeated, surely this would be a formality…

Division 1

Worksop A and Rotherham A declined promotion (!). As the rest of division 2 consists of B teams, the line up for next season looks strangely familiar. With a strong looking University in Division 2 now, it is probably not going to be the best season to finish bottom:
Chesterfield A

Nomads A


Ecclesall A

Hillsborough A (formerly Stannington)

Woodseats A

Barnsley A

Darnall & H A

Division 2

As above, no change from the top end of the division. At the bottom, University were promoted in their absence but Worksop B declined promotion from DIvision 3 so only Barnsley B were relegated. SASCA/RJ B wanted to be relegated so a casual place was offered to anyone who wanted it (including our B team – politely declined). There were no takers and SASCA eventually relented.
Worksop A

Rotherham A

Chesterfield B

Nomads B

Hillsborough B (formerly Stannington)

Ecclesall B



Division 3

With 1 promotion and 2 relegations, Division 3 bucks the trend and looks a bit different to last year. Note that as one team (SASCA/RJ C) collapsed part way through the season, there is 1 team relegated and 2 new arrivals from Division 4 including our very own B team…
Barnsley B

Worksop B

Clay Cross

Aughton A

Nomads C

Hillsborough C (formerly Stannington)

Rotherham B

Woodseats B

Division 4
Due to having only 1 team relegated into it but 2 promoted, there was a danger of having too few teams in this division but Sheffield Deaf agreed to stay up and Darnall & H B took the final casual vacancy when Worksop again declined a promotion. Ecclesall belatedly realised they have 2 teams in this division.
Ecclesall C

Barnsley C

Chesterfield C

Aughton B

Ecclesall D

Sheffield Deaf

Ravenfield A

Darnall & H B
Division 5

This division might have struggled for numbers but a couple of clubs switched from the 400 league so there’s a decent selection of sides here…


Worksop C

Nomads D

Woodseats B

Ravenfield B

University B (?) – this was mentioned but as they weren’t present at the AGM it was unclear to me if it is a confirmed entry
The 400 league will be finalised later.

Just when we were packing up to go home, along came a serious bit of AOB…

As you probably know, our match results, league tables and grades are managed via the Chessnuts website. This is a free service that has run for many years. However, the man behind Chessnuts is going to retire at the end of this season and is looking for someone to take over the running of the system. If nobody can be found to take on the work, we in the Sheffield and District Association along with several other leagues in Yorkshire will face having nowhere to post results and having no grading of our games. Steve Mann has written a paper on the impact which should appear on the Association website at some point.
The options discussed were:

1. Hope that someone takes over Chessnuts. Apparently a couple of people have shown an initial interest. If this interest is sustained, the Association could look at providing some sort of financial support/incentive.

2. Have all Sheffield and District games graded by the English Chess Federation (ECF). This would require every player to be at least a Bronze member of the ECF (£16 was quoted as the current annual fee).
3. Have, say, the top 2 divisions graded by the ECF and not bother for the rest. There is a concern that people on fixed incomes may struggle to pay £16 and would be lost to local chess.
4. See if anyone else could accommodate us. There is at least 1 other results/grading system which works outside the ECF.
After much debate, the chairman took an action to …do something…probably set up a sub-committee to present options to a future Extraordinary General Meeting. It was agreed that doing nothing and then having the debate next year would be disastrous.

Meeting closed and I was home at 10:30.

Dave Toft (Club Chairman)

Anything could happen!

Andrew Ledger writes this morning:
“I’m hoping to have some decent games in the Isle of Man in a few weeks time. Would be nice to post a game against Kramnik or one of the many others there: As you’ll see, it’s ‘quite strong’ and the first round is a completely random draw, so anything could happen”.

Hooray-I’ve won a game!

This is the first game I’ve won since last August-per ardua ad astra! The new season beckons!

Peter Hulse