A Chess Club For All

We meet from 7.30pm every Tuesday at the Hertford Club in the town centre. Either Andrew or Alan (or another club member) will usually be there to welcome you. But if you're new, best to contact one of us first.

Meet, drink and mingle from 7.15pm, Tues 2nd July at the Kings Mead, Ware before eating at 8.00pm. Pre-book with Alan first though.

Hertford fixtures and results from January 2024.
October to December 2023 fixtures and results.

Louis has provided two entertaining games from the recent St Albans Congress.

4NCL ONLINE - Well done our 4NCL teams for a very creditable set of results and thank you Dave for organising. Hertford 1 were 3rd in the their Division 1 group. Hertford 2 finished 7th in Division 3.

This has been a long journey for our intrepid chessplorers. From the dark days of the covid epidemic to the sunny pastures of normalized play, our band of friends have battled foes from across the country from Cornwall to Kent and Wessex to Scotland. They have never flinched in their desire to put the small market town of Hertford firmly on the map.
Lest we forget, this has all been enabled by the sterling effects of our mentor and leader Dave. Having already led our team to unrivalled success in the county league, he came out of semi retirement - I forget whether it was five or possibly six consecutive league titles - but I still proudly wear the T-shirt which boldly proclaims our, (or is it his) success.
We started in the lowest of the five divisions and with the support of so many of our extended club, rose to the higher echelons of the 4NCL. We even at one stage grew to three successful teams.
As your unofficial statistician,(all things number based are my passion), I have collated all nine season’s results. I could give special mention to many in this family, but suffice to say that all of us have played an integral part in this success.
May our club in all its parts go from strength to strength.

ST ALBANS CONGRESS - A great turnout by Hertford Chess Club at the St Albans Congress at the weekend with a record 12 players from our club taking part. Our top scorers were Duncan Marshall, Richard Bellamy and Gerald Gregory all with 3.5 points – Duncan in the Intermediate and Richard/Gerald in the Minor. Well done to all involved.
Full results can be found : here.

Great result on Tuesday evening (2nd April) to secure a draw (and, in all likelihood, our future participation in Division 4) against St. Albans 5, a team who until very recently have been cruising at the top of the division. Even though we were outgraded on every board and missing some key players, we dug in and got a good result.
My opponent played a Catalan, an opening I don't know a great deal about, but I played my usual sideline and seemed to get a reasonable position out of the opening despite some mildly unprincipled play. We very nearly agreed a draw by repetition early on, but I decided at the last minute to keep going and although I felt at the time I ended up a bit worse with a very dodgy pawn structure, the engine thought I was fine. Eventually, my opponent somewhat 'overplayed' it, and blundered with 30. Nf4??, and I won in the next fifteen moves or so.
How would you follow up here as Black?
I didn't get a good look at James' game but unfortunately he blundered a fork in the end. Hard luck! Zach's first classical game seemed to be going quite well from what I could see, with equal material but some nagging queenside pressure in Zach's favour - but it was always going to be tough for him outgraded by some 180 points or so, and when I looked again he was down a queen. It was a bit of a mismatch from the start, though, and Zach held his own admirably given the circumstances. So don't be disheartened, Zach!
Jem pounced on a blunder from his opponent in the middlegame and the two times I wandered over for a look he seemed to be absolutely dominating, eventually finishing the game with an unstoppable mating attack - which is a fantastic result given that his opponent is rated 1700ish.
This brings us to Mike's game, a curiously closed affair with long pawn chains for both sides and seemingly sparse opportunities to attack. Mike, up a pawn (I think?) and also with a considerable time advantage, offered his opponent a draw, which he accepted. Personally, I'd have played on - I had a tricky pawn lever idea in mind - but I concede that outgraded by a full 300 or so points and with the opportunity to secure a much-needed point for the team, a draw was probably not a bad idea.
With that point in hand it is now (again, I think?) impossible for us to be relegated! This is due to the fact that many of the teams below us have to play each other, so thought it's possible for any one of them to climb above us - even lowest-placed Watford 2 - it's not possible for all of them to climb above us. Congratulations everyone!
Thanks, as ever, are in order to our 4th team player-uppers James, Jem, and Zach for stepping in and covering for us this week - your efforts are much appreciated. And congratulations to Zach for completing his first classical OTB game. It's all uphill from here.
Louis Cowell

The following two documents give information for setting digital clocks:
Clock Settings and Using the DGT XL Clocks.
Did you know that if your opponent makes an illegal move and presses his clock that you can claim a 2 minute time bonus? But it is up to you (and ONLY you) to call it out. If this happens to you, I would suggest you let your opponent know that you intend to stop the clocks and claim an extra two minutes. Then note down the exact times on both clocks and inform your captain. The link to the video clip below explains how then to adjust the clocks. Basically you need to add 2 minutes to your own time and deduct 10 seconds from your opponents time (this latter is because they will have wrongly received an extra 10 second increment for pressing their clock after the illegal move). Note that the video clip below shows an adjustment for a 30 second increment, and also ignore any reference to move counters – we don’t use them.
You Tube Video Clip.
The three links above will disappear from this page in two weeks but they are already also available on the 'Links' page.

CLUB BLITZ TOURNAMENT - Balloons, bunting, photos, food, family, spectators and 14 players - this is what was waiting for Paul Byway at the club last Tuesday evening. His daughter Steph had suggested some time ago we arrange a surprise for him to help celebrate his 80th birthday. The secret was so well kept though that Paul decided to stay at home and miss the blitz set up to lure him to attend. No matter, Steph brought him in soon afterwards.
Gerald and Nithin finished as joint winners with 4/5 points each. An enjoyable evening for all.

LICHESS If you are a player who does not believe takebacks have a place in competitive matches then you can set lichess so that neither player can use this feature. Simply click on your user name and then 'Preferences'. One of the options shown is 'Game behavior' (US spelling) and the third choice down controls takebacks.


FRIDAY 10TH NOVEMBER - Leon Edwards captained a junior team against Watford yesterday evening on lichess. Each player had two 10 minute + 5 seconds games. Sorry though that Laurence did not get a game and Elliot only got one.
Great performance, we won all the games!
1.   Leon Edwards 2 - 0 Arjun Singh
2.   Wolfie Page 2 - 0 Samara Kaur
3.   Izyan Anshar 2 - 0 Shlok Lath
4.   Laurence Edwards: v Rashhad Musa
5.   Clancy Page 2 - 0 Neil Shah
6.   Elliot Cooper 1 - 0 Ridwaan Musa

This puzzle is from Louis' second game playing for the County U1850 team in the East Anglian County Championships in Newmarket at the weekend.

THURSDAY 12TH OCTOBER - Congratulations to Gerald who won the Minor section of the Bury St Edmunds Congress last weekend. He remained unbeaten on 4.5/5. Brian and Alan achieved 3/5 and 2.5/5 respectively. A week after the congress the organiser, Steve Lovell, contacted Brian to award him the "Giant Slayer" prize, £50, which he had overlooked earlier. Brian's achievement here was his victory over a player rated some 263 points above him.

SATURDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER - At the club on Tuesday Andrew organised a handicap blitz competition in the Chauncy Room. George won but it was good fun for everyone.

FRIDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER - At the H&D Jamboree at Allenburys on Tuesday evening we finished 3rd on 3/5 behind Welwyn, 4.5/5 and St Albans, 3.5. In the team picture below the impressive trophy for the event is shown in the bottom right corner. Other Hertford players attending were Mark Buswell and John Harris, both playing for Allenbury.

MONDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER - Andrew captained a Hertford team - Andrew, Simon, Louis and Within - at the Capes Trophy on Friday 8th September. It was held at Wanstead House, Wansted. There were 11 teams entered. The top graded team sat out for the first round and the remaining 10 teams played one game. The 5 winning teams from that went into the top Division (eligible to win the trophy and cash prizes), along with the top graded team. The first round losing teams went into the 2nd Division (only eligible for cash prizes).

We lost our 1st game so (thankfully) ended up in the 2nd Division with 4 other teams, where we won two matches and drew two matches coming joint top with Enfield (who for most of the tournament only had 3 players!). The 2nd Division cash prize for the winner was £20 which we had to share. So we won £10, which exactly covered our entrance fee! Here are the results.

Ian Capes sponsors the running of the cup. In his day, Ian’s dad played for Enfield and they frowned upon him using their “giant clocks” to play 5 minute games, so in “sort of revenge” he set up this tournament 64 years ago. Andrew

Photos from the Capes courtesy of Ian Capes.


Mike receiving the U1600 Division 1 Cup from Andrew. Duncan with the Herts & District League Trophy.

FRIDAY 28th JULY - Stephen Swanson travelled up to Dunfermline earlier in the month to compete in the '128th Scottish Championships - Open' which were held from the 7th - 9th July. He was one of 9 players to score 3.5 points over the 5 rounds which gave him joint 5th place out of 67 competitors. He didn't lose a game either. Well done Stephen!
How many of you know that Stephen won the Scottish Championship in 1975 - some 48 years ago!?

FRIDAY 30th June - Thursday evening witnessed the annual H&D blitz organised by Charles Willbe and generously hosted by Allenburys Sports & Social Club in Ware.

Hertford were well represented, fielding two of the eight teams competing. Welwyn finished on top with Hertford mid table.

Congratulations to Paul Edwards who beat Steve Zsibrita in the division 3 play-off last night. This completes the Hertford CC Championships for this season. Thanks to Mike for organising it.

Tuesday saw a good turn out for Corinne's social evening. It began at 6.00pm with a drink (expensive) at the Hop Box in Amwell End Ware. Then we managed to fit snuggly into The One Thai Cafe for dinner before moving on the Punch House almost next door. Andrew, Duncan and Alan were eventually thrown out at 11.30pm. Great evening Corinne, enjoyed by all!

FRIDAY 23rd June - Last night Hertford beat Welwyn Hatfield to win the Herts & District League. Great result - just look at that silverware! Read Andrew's report below.

I was part of a great night for Hertford Chess Club yesterday.
We were playing in the final of the Herts and District League v Welwyn Hatfield. The match was at the neutral venue of Bishops Stortford, club of Charles Willbe who organises the league and meaning the trophy shield was on display and tantalisingly close within our reach! On it was the name of Hertford, last time winners in 2013 and 2014.
Our team was Ian Capes, Duncan Marshall, myself, Dave Rudd and George Smith.
Duncan Marshall, our captain, played a blinder on the coin toss, losing it, meaning we had 3 games with the black pieces, no problem for me as I have a much better record with black.
Duncan, whose form has been magnificent this season, played on board 2 as the sacrificial lamb, leaving me and Dave on boards 3 and 4 respectively. George was the rear gunner on board 5 and Ian was the calm pilot on top board.
After about 30 minutes, disaster struck, George had been shot down in flames, and there was a great “to-do”. The rest of us were unsettled but quickly re-grouped with a firm resolve. Drawing any of our matches was no longer an option. The time ticked by. I had an OK position but pieces were being swapped off and I couldn’t see how to make progress. Dave was doing well, gaining pawn after pawn, but still thought he might be in trouble. He nervously came over to look at our boards. Duncan’s game wasn’t looking too good.

With 20 minutes to go, Dave got the breakthrough that he wanted, which meant the score was level at 1-1. My opponent was getting into time trouble. He made a mistake! I delivered check mate. 2-1 to us, but our joy was short lived. Duncan, our fearless captain, had taken a hit and was done. It was now 2-2, and all attention now turned to Ian, with the last remaining game on top board.
The game looked very drawn although Ian was a pawn up. Dave and I were in hurried whispers – “what are the rules in the Herts and District if there is a draw?”. Luckily, Charles Willbe was on hand to enlighten us. In the event of draw its “board count”, and if still drawn “board elimination” starting from the bottom board. So we had won on Boards 3 and 4, but lost on Boards 2 and 5. On “board count” this would give us 7 points each, so a draw on the top board would not decide the match. However, we then move to “board elimination” starting with the bottom board. With the memory of George’s demise expunged from history, this would give us the win that we needed because the score would go from 2.5-2.5 to 2.5-1.5 in our favour.

So Ian only needed a draw, but would he deliver it? Would he, heck! Ian is known for his drawing capability under all circumstances, even when he is winning. With the team sheet thrust under his nose, he duly delivered in magnificent style, his opponent flummoxed into submission without fully knowing the implications of accepting.
Elation ensued, Charles confirmed our win, and presented the shield to Duncan and his team (picture attached). A very proud moment for us all, and thank you to everyone who has played in the H&D this year.

Thank you for a great night.

Footnote: Dave is well known for his aversion to the Herts and District, so called “friendly” league, having refused to play in it since the 1990’s, the exact date having been lost in time. Dave was persuaded to play in this final match partly due to the absence of Mark Buswell, but mainly because of the glint of silverware which he finds irresistible. His win last night means he retains his 100% record for the Herts & District over 3 decades!

Further footnote: Duncan, Dave and myself have had a gentle personal battle over our grades this season. Over the years, it has typically been me first, then Dave, then Duncan, but the ECF June Grades, going into this last match last night, now put us in reverse order, due to Duncan’s great season and my relatively poor showing. Would the unthinkable happen next year and I would be demoted below Duncan? Maybe not, now, thanks to Duncan’s selfless action, last night, by placing himself on Board 2. This really was the “perfect” match and a perfect night!

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