|8 Oct||Lincolnshire v Nottinghamshire||13-3|
|3 Dec||Worcestershire v Lincolnshire||8½-7½|
|21 Jan||Warwickshire v Lincolnshire||6½-9½|
|18 Feb||Lincolnshire v Leicestershire||9-7|
|13 May||Essex v Lincolnshire||6½-9½|
|10 Jun||Lincolnshire v Norfolk||8-8|
|1st Jul||Suffolk v Lincolnshire||7½-8½|
Lincolnshire v Nottinghamshire
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
Lincolnshire hosted Nottinghamshire in the first match of the new county season at the Lindum Atrium in North Hykeham. We were thrashed by Nottinghamshire in the opening match of last season’s campaign and the Lincolnshire team were hoping to exact some revenge for that defeat. Nottinghamshire were far below full strength and on paper Lincolnshire were the favourites to win. However matches are never won on paper and the match still has to be played. On looking at both line ups it was clear that we held a significant advantage at the top half of the order but that the bottom half was more evenly matched. In fact the match didn’t quite pan out as expected. The Nottinghamshire top boards played very well but their cause wasn’t helped by a total collapse on the lower boards. Lincolnshire won the bottom eight boards, something that we have never done before. So the margin of victory was much larger than it should have been according to the respective player grades but nevertheless still very impressive. Nottinghamshire were weaker than usual and we can be sure that when we play our next match against them they will be seeking retribution. The next match for Lincolnshire will be on Saturday December 3rd when we meet Worcestershire at a neutral venue. Hopefully we will be able to build on the great start that this opening win has given us.
|Lincolnshire (Home team)||Nottinghamshire (Away team)|
|1||W||Chris Dorrington||Grantham||228||1-0||Robert Richmond||West Bridgford||192|
|2||B||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199||½-½||Peter Mercs||Gambit||183|
|3||W||Samuel Milson||Louth||198||1-0||Brian Thompson||West Bridgford||180|
|4||B||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||197||½-½||Glenn Halfpenny||Ashfield||171|
|5||W||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||189||½-½||Derek Jarvis||Ashfield||171|
|6||B||Jason Dilley||Grantham||185||½-½||Geoff Gibson||Ashfield||171|
|7||W||Harry Russell||Louth||182||1-0||Andrew George||Newark||168|
|8||B||J Stuart Williams||Grantham||180||0-1||Somton Ukken||West Nottingham||167|
|9||W||Peter Cusick||Grantham||179||1-0||Onos Kofi-Ofuafor||Gambit||167|
|10||B||Stephen Prior||Grantham||176||1-0||Anita Somton||West Nottingham||165|
|11||W||Joe Kilshaw||Grimsby||168||1-0||Alex Combie||Newark||164|
|12||B||Denis Georgiou||Scunthorpe||165||1-0||Aditya Munshi||West Nottingham||164|
|13||W||Keith Palmer||Louth||163||1-0||David Levens||West Nottingham||160|
|14||B||Alastair Summers||Peterborough||156||1-0||Neil Graham||Ashfield||158|
|15||W||Ian Burridge||Newark||156||1-0||Brian Hayward||Gambit||154|
|16||B||Kevin McCarthy||Lincolnshire||156||1-0||Drag Sudar||Gambit||153|
Worcestershire v Lincolnshire
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
After a thumping win over Nottinghamshire in their first match Lincolnshire were brought crashing back to earth when they went down narrowly against a much improved Worcestershire team by 8½-7½. To be honest Lincolnshire never looked like winning the match as Worcestershire stormed in to a 7-1 lead. With the match almost lost Lincolnshire launched an amazing fightback to give the Worcestershire team some nervous moments but the damage had already been done. The size of the task was too great and eventually Worcestershire secured the vital half point they needed for victory with one game still left in play. Worcestershire thoroughly deserved their victory and Lincolnshire will be hoping for a better performance after Christmas when their next opponents are Warwickshire.
|Worcestershire (Home team)||Lincolnshire (Away team)|
|1||W||Pavel Besedin||Worcestershire||202||1-0||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199|
|2||B||Nick Arkell||Stourbridge||184||0-1||Samuel Milson||Louth||198|
|3||W||John Edge||Halesowen||183||1-0||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||197|
|4||B||Lee Davis||Malvern||181||0-1||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||189|
|5||W||Peter Kitson||Worcester||178||½-½||Jason Dilley||Grantham||185|
|6||B||Dan Lambourne||Redditch||177||½-½||Peter Cusick||Grantham||179|
|7||W||Kevin Hurney||Worcestershire||177||½-½||Stephen Prior||Grantham||176|
|8||B||Joseph Friar||Kidderminster||174||0-1||Murray Smith||Lincoln||170e|
|9||W||Brian Turner||Malvern||169||1-0||Denis Georgiou||Scunthorpe||165|
|10||B||Gregg Dyett||Stourbridge||162||0-1||Ivan David||Grantham||164|
|11||W||John Wrench||Kidderminster||157||1-0||Keith Palmer||Louth||163|
|12||B||Stephen Woodhouse||Worcestershire||157||1-0||Alastair Summers||Peterborough||156|
|13||W||Nigel Towers||Redditch||152||0-1||Chris Holt||Grantham||156|
|14||B||Gary Jackson||Worcestershire||148||1-0||Ian Burridge||Newark||156|
|15||W||John Varilone||Kidderminster||146||0-1||Andy Hebert||Grantham||154|
|16||B||Ray Collett||Worcester||145||1-0||Graham Ladds||Newark||149|
Warwickshire v Lincolnshire
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
Lincolnshire travelled to Syston to play against Warwickshire knowing that a win was desperately needed to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the national stages of the Minor Counties competition. Warwickshire fielded a much stronger team than the last time that they played Lincolnshire but Lincolnshire still held an advantage in grading on every board bar one. However matches are not won on paper and have to be won over the board. Denis Georgiou set the ball rolling for Lincolnshire when his opponent mixed up his move order early in the opening and walked straight into a kingside haymaker which forced immediate resignation. With the early win on the board Lincolnshire kept their noses in front until the end of the match. The Louth duo of Keith Palmer and Samuel Milson were the last two players to finish. Lincolnshire were 8-6 up at this stage and Keith calmly converted his advantage in to a win to see Lincolnshire over the line. Samuel dug in and managed to draw an inferior looking endgame to make the final score 9½-6½. Lincolnshire had made hard work of winning the match but nevertheless the win was important as they seek qualification to the national stages of the Minor Counties competition. The last match at home against Leicestershire on February 18th will decide our fate.
|Warwickshire (Home team)||Lincolnshire (Away team)|
|1||B||Don Mason||Shirley||197||½-½||Chris Dorrington||Grantham||228|
|2||W||Henrik Stepanyan||Sutton Coldfield||194||½-½||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199|
|3||B||Tony Hynes||Warwickshire||191||½-½||Samuel Milson||Louth||198|
|4||W||Mark Page||Kenilworth||187||1-0||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||197|
|5||B||Golam Ali||Sutton Coldfield||175||0-1||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||189|
|6||W||Marcus Walsh||South Birmingham||174||1-0||Jason Dilley||Grantham||185|
|7||B||Tony Hickey||Boldmere St Michael||173||0-1||Harry Russell||Louth||182|
|8||W||Simon Smith||Warley Quinborne||172||½-½||Stuart Williams||Grantham||180|
|9||B||Keith Escott||Sutton Coldfield||171||½-½||Murray Smith||Lincoln||E180|
|10||W||Anthony Green||Lichfield||170||0-1||Stephen Prior||Grantham||176|
|11||B||Mark Cundy||Olton||166||0-1||Denis Georgiou||Scunthorpe||165|
|12||W||Gary Hope||Olton||160||0-1||Ivan David||Grantham||164|
|13||B||Keith Thomas||Boldmere St Michael||157||0-1||Keith Palmer||Louth||163|
|14||W||Jon Turner||Warley Quinborne||151||½-½||Ian Burridge||Newark||156|
|15||B||Robert Wallman||Olton||148||1-0||Andrew Hebert||Grantham||154|
|16||W||Roy Lawrence||Sutton Coldfield||138||½-½||Graham Ladds||Newark||149|
Lincolnshire v Leicestershire
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
With several regular players unavailable for this fixture I was not very optimistic about our chances of defeating a Leicestershire team who had fielded some strong teams thus far in the campaign. I am very fortunate as a captain to be able to call upon several players who might not necessarily be in the strongest team due to their grading but are almost always willing and able to step in to the breach should they be needed. This was one of those cases and although our resources were stretched to the limit we eventually managed to get sixteen players to the Atrium building at North Hykeham to face our old foes.
To my surprise Leicestershire also had several players unavailable and whilst they out graded Lincolnshire on most of the boards it was not as bad as I had expected. This lifted my spirits and I was more hopeful that we could extend our proud unbeaten run at the Atrium, a venue that we had never lost at since we started playing there way back in 2009.
Although the match was close on the top eight boards Lincolnshire dominated on the bottom eight boards and eventually emerged victorious by a 9-7 scoreline. Only a late fightback by the visitors narrowed the margin of victory and Lincolnshire were always in control of the match.
Notable victories came from two of the last minute replacements, both of them with the black pieces. Veteran Ian McDonald was playing his first match of the season and showed that the old guard are still dangerous opponents for anybody. Scunthorpe’s Steve Lewis was called up at less than 48 hours’ notice and despite having only recently been discharged from hospital he produced a resolute performance which saw him produce a win on debut.
This result means that Lincolnshire moved to the top of the table and are joint MCCU Champions with Worcestershire for the 2016-17 season. The next match for Lincolnshire will be on Saturday May 13th when they will play in the Minor Counties Quarter Final.
|Lincolnshire (Home team)||Leicestershire (Away team)|
|1||B||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||200||0-1||Shabir Okhai||Syston||194|
|2||W||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199||½-½||Alan Agnew||Ashby||185|
|3||B||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||196||½-½||John Denton||Melton Mowbray||188|
|4||W||Stuart Williams||Grantham||181||½-½||Brian Galligan||Syston||178|
|5||B||Murray Smith||Lincoln||E180||0-1||Ray Burgess||Thurnby||182|
|6||W||Peter Cusick||Grantham||171||½-½||Phil Horspool||Wigston||174|
|7||B||Joe Kilshaw||Grimsby||167||½-½||Sean Sheahan||Shepshed||174|
|8||W||Denis Georgiou||Scunthorpe||164||1-0||Richard Vann||Ashby||177|
|9||B||Keith Palmer||Louth||162||0-1||Paul Colburn||Braunstone||172|
|10||W||Ian Burridge||Newark||161||½-½||Robert Taylor||Syston||170|
|11||B||Chris Holt||Grantham||160||1-0||Ben Davies||Loughborough||E170|
|12||W||Kevin McCarthy||Lincolnshire||160||1-0||John Mitchell||Loughborough||157|
|13||B||Steve Lewis||Scunthorpe||157||1-0||Jim Miller||Loughborough||158|
|14||W||Alastair Summers||Peterborough||156||0-1||Tom Brown||Kirby Castlers||148|
|15||B||Ian McDonald||Lincoln||146||1-0||Jim Bingham||Braunstone||155|
|16||W||Graham Ladds||Newark||144||1-0||Mike Salisbury||Braunstone||151|
Essex v Lincolnshire
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
Lincolnshire travelled to Peterborough to face old foes Essex in Minor Counties Quarter final on Saturday 13th May. The teams have met in the competition in five out of the last six seasons and although Lincolnshire lost the first three matches we managed to defeat Essex in last season’s quarter final. So the team arrived in a confident mood but everybody was expecting a tough encounter.
Essex had adopted the tactic of playing a lower rated player on the bottom board so that they could field their best players who were both Fide Masters on the top two boards. The match was very close for a while and at one point Essex held a 4-3 lead. However Lincolnshire stormed back to lead 6-5 and a superb win by Chris Dorrington on top board inflicted a hammer blow to our opponents from which they never recovered. Paul Cumbers calmly converted his advantage to give Lincolnshire victory with two games remaining.
It was a fantastic team performance and everybody played their part. We are proving to be a difficult team to beat at this level but we cannot afford to get complacent. Our next match will be against the holders Norfolk at Peterborough on Saturday June 10th. Lincolnshire will be looking avenge their defeat in last year’s final but know that they will have to be at their very best if they are to make it through to finals day for the second year in a row.
|Essex (Home team)||Lincolnshire (Away team)|
|1||B||Jonathan Rogers||Essex||218||0-1||Chris Dorrington||Grantham||228|
|2||W||Andrew Lewis||Manningtree||216||1-0||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199|
|3||B||David Sands||Essex||199||½-½||Samuel Milson||Louth||198|
|4||W||John Hodgson||Essex||192||0-1||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||197|
|5||B||David Spearman||Essex||194||½-½||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||189|
|6||W||Tim Hebbes||Essex||194||½-½||Jason Dilley||Grantham||185|
|7||B||Jeff Goldberg||Essex||188||½-½||Harry Russell||Louth||182|
|8||W||Ivan Myall||Chelmsford||184||½-½||Stuart Williams||Grantham||180|
|9||B||Kevin Bowmer||Loughton||188||½-½||Peter Cusick||Grantham||179|
|10||W||Philip Gregory||Essex||178||½-½||Murray Smith||Lincoln||179|
|11||B||Ian Reynolds||Billericay||175||1-0||Denis Georgiou||Scunthorpe||165|
|12||W||Larry Marden||Essex||173||½-½||Ivan David||Grantham||164|
|13||B||Elliot Cocks||Essex Juniors||162||0-1||Keith Palmer||Louth||163|
|14||W||John White||Essex||162||½-½||Chris Holt||Grantham||156|
|15||B||Philip Staniland||Essex||166||0-1||Alastair Summers||Peterborough||156|
|16||W||Jay Sharman||Essex||88||0-1||Andy Hebert||Grantham||154|
Lincolnshire v Norfolk
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
Lincolnshire travelled to Peterborough aiming to reach their second successive Minor Counties Final when they met the holders of the trophy Norfolk. Lincolnshire had narrowly lost in last year’s final to the same opposition and knew that a hard fought match was in prospect if they were to progress to finals day at Warwick.
We were dealt an early blow before the match had even started. I received a telephone call at 11.15am from Denis Georgiou telling me that Joe Kilshaw had been involved in a road traffic accident on his way to the match. Thankfully Joe was unhurt but was unable to play so some quick thinking was needed if I was going to be able to find a substitute at short notice. Denis was travelling with Nick Stead near to Lincoln when he rang me so I was able to divert them to pick up Kevin McCarthy who they literally had to drag out of bed to play. It meant that we didn’t have to default any boards and Kevin was to play an important role in the closing stages of the match as we will see later.
The match was always going to be very tight and started cautiously with several draws. Lincolnshire drew first blood when Nick Stead won a very nice game and by his own admission made amends for his own poor performance in the quarter final. Andy Hebert had played aggressively from the very start against Norfolk captain Antony Hall and was able to convert his material advantage in to an endgame where his pair of bishops and passed pawn proved stronger than his opponent’s lone rook. However Norfolk fought back with two wins and the match was all square again.
Chris Holt produced a controlled performance to edge Lincolnshire in front but then I myself lost after turning down an early draw offer on move fifteen. At this point I was very unhappy with myself for not taking the draw because I knew the extra half point was going to be crucial. Murray Smith held his nerve to grind out a win and after two more drawn games Lincolnshire led by 7½-6½. There were still two games left in play and Lincolnshire needed just a draw from either of these games because the board count would be in our favour in the event of a drawn match. Norfolk need to win both matches to sneak home but were not without hope because they looked to have an advantage in both games.
Norfolk duly won one of the remaining games to level the match. The tension in the air was apparent as players from both teams crowded around the board to watch the last match in play. Kevin McCarthy had the fate of his team in his hands. He knew that a draw was enough to see us home despite being short of time he was able to move quickly and confidently using the 10 second per move increment to build his time up to a more comfortable level whilst at the same time frustrating any attempts that his opponent made to squeeze anything out of a totally drawn position. Eventually his opponent conceded the inevitable draw and although the match was drawn at 8-8 Lincolnshire narrowly edged home on board count by a margin of 39-40.
So the late substitute and Lincolnshire’s most reluctant chess player proved to be the hero of the day. The team showed tremendous fighting spirit and will to win. This was an extremely tough match which frayed a lot of people’s nerves including my own. I am expecting more of the same drama and excitement when we travel to Warwick on Saturday July 1st for the County Championship finals day to where we will play against Suffolk. Hopefully we can overcome the disappointment of the defeat in last year’s final and go one better by lifting the trophy.
|Lincolnshire (Home team)||Norfolk (Away team)|
|1||W||Chris Dorrington||Grantham||228||½-½||Michael Harris||Norfolk||213|
|2||B||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199||1-0||Stephen Orton||Norfolk & Norwich||201|
|3||W||Samuel Milson||Louth||198||½-½||David Lemoir||Fakenham||194|
|4||B||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||197||½-½||Ken McEwan||Broadland||194|
|5||W||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||189||0-1||Roy Hughes||Broadland||190|
|6||B||Jason Dilley||Grantham||185||½-½||Jonathan Wells||North Norfolk||188|
|7||W||Harry Russell||Louth||182||½-½||Gerald Moore||Broadland||186|
|8||B||Stuart Williams||Grantham||180||½-½||Dave Dempster||Norwich Dons||173|
|9||W||Murray Smith||Lincoln||179||1-0||Daniel Frean||Broadland||175|
|10||B||Denis Georgiou||Scunthorpe||165||0-1||Cor Dekker||Wymondham||174|
|11||W||Ivan David||Grantham||164||0-1||Steve Moore||Norwich Dons||171|
|12||B||Keith Palmer||Louth||163||½-½||Trevor Ansell||Fakenham||161|
|13||W||Chris Holt||Grantham||156||1-0||Mervyn Hughes||Norwich Dons||170|
|14||B||Alastair Summers||Peterborough||156||0-1||Terry Turner||Norfolk & Norwich||163|
|15||W||Andy Hebert||Grantham||154||1-0||Antony Hall||Diss||165|
|16||B||Kevin McCarthy||Lincolnshire||156||½-½||Jonathan Burrows||Norwich Dons||161|
Suffolk v Lincolnshire
Report from Nigel Birtwistle
After battling their way through two very hard fought matches in the quarter final and semi-final matches Lincolnshire returned to Warwick to play the Minor Counties final for the second successive year. Lincolnshire were looking to put behind them the defeat they suffered in last year’s final but knew that their opponents Suffolk would provide a stern test and a very difficult match was in prospect. I had some very difficult decisions to make in selecting a side for the final. Almost every player was available to play so unfortunately some players were going to have to miss out if I was to keep the average rating of our team under 180 which was required by the rules of the competition. Eventually I settled for a very strong line up in which the average grade of our team was 179.93. Suffolk by comparison weighed in at exactly 180.
I had seen that Suffolk had been fielding a lower rated junior player on board 16 in their previous matches which enabled them to strengthen their middle to lower order. I decided to follow suit and brought in the very promising young Grimsby player Arya Parnian to the team for his first match of the season. Suffolk fielded International Master Alan Merry on board 1 which was going to be a difficult test for Chris Dorrington and this proved to be a crucial encounter.
Lincolnshire drew first blood after a couple of hours of play when Harry Russell led his opponent into a tricky variation of the Najdorf Sicilian and drew a fatal mistake from his opponent to score us our first point. Several draws followed before the Grantham duo of Chris Holt and Ivan David won their games to put us three points in front. However Suffolk fought back with two victories to narrow the deficit.
By his own admission Samuel Milson has not been at his best for much of this season. In last year’s final he also suffered a horrible defeat. But this time he was able to put all his woes behind him and put together a crushing Kingside attack which his opponent was unable to withstand. Going in to the closing stages of the match Lincolnshire were leading by 7½-6½ with two games left. I knew that the board count was not going to favour us this time if the match was drawn so we needed another point from somewhere.
Chris Dorrington had won a pawn in the middlegame but was now faced with a difficult queen and pawn endgame. The spectators looked on nervously as Chris slowly and methodically increased his advantage. He was totally unfazed by the pressure however and won a couple more pawns before forcing the exchange of queens. A pawn race ensued with both players promoting to a new queen but Chris had seen further and a forced sequence enabled him to force yet another queen exchange which forced his opponents resignation. Lincolnshire had won the match!
Suffolk won the last match in play to make the final score 8½-7½. The match had been a particularly bloodthirsty encounter with six decisive results on the top eight boards. For me personally it had been another nerve racking experience. Since I took over the captaincy in 2009 Lincolnshire had been knocked out in the quarter finals twice and had been beaten in three semi-finals as well as last year’s final. I had begun to wonder if we would ever win the Minor Counties competition under my captaincy but the players have remained incredibly loyal and have shown tremendous determination to bounce back from these setbacks.
This was an unforgettable day in the history of Lincolnshire chess. The only time that Lincolnshire had won the Minor Counties competition previously was way back in 1989. There were three survivors from that team that played in the final this year. Myself, Nick Stead and Keith Palmer were all much younger then but all of us agree that the common factor binding the legends of 1989 to the present day team is a fantastic team spirit. After the presentation of the trophies the team went out for a meal in Leamington Spa to celebrate our victory.
Now that we have finally achieved our goal what is next for the team? We can try and defend the Minor Counties trophy or maybe we can be brave and opt to enter the Open section for one season instead. This would be a very tough proposition if we decide to mix it with the big boys for a season. Whatever we decide to do I know that I can rely on the continued support of such a dedicated and enthusiastic group of players and it will be my pleasure to continue to captain the team if asked to do so.
|Suffolk (Home team)||Lincolnshire (Away team)|
|1||W||Alan Merry||Bury St Edmunds||232||0-1||Dorrington, Chris||Grantham||228|
|2||B||Adam Taylor||Suffolk||206||½-½||Nick Stead||Grimsby||199|
|3||W||David Spence||Suffolk||207||0-1||Samuel Milson||Louth||198|
|4||B||Edmund Player||Bury St Edmunds||201||1-0||Paul Cumbers||Grantham||197|
|5||W||Graham Moore||Ipswich||195||1-0||Nigel Birtwistle||Grantham||189|
|6||B||Shaun Munson||Ipswich||195||1-0||Jason Dilley||Grantham||185|
|7||W||Ian Wallis||Ipswich||187||0-1||Harry Russell||Louth||182|
|8||B||Nicholas Savage||Ipswich||180||½-½||Stuart Williams||Grantham||180|
|9||W||Silas Peck||Ipswich||176||½-½||Stephen Prior||Grantham||176|
|10||B||Alexander Peters||Bury St Edmunds||177||½-½||Murray Smith||Lincoln||179|
|11||W||Leon Burnett||Suffolk||171||½-½||Peter Cusick||Grantham||179|
|12||B||Timothy Lunn||Ipswich||174||½-½||Joe Kilshaw||Grimsby||168|
|13||W||John Feavyour||Saxmundham||166||0-1||Ivan David||Grantham||164|
|14||B||Andrew Shephard||Ipswich||153||1-0||Keith Palmer||Louth||163|
|15||W||Ed Kirkham||Felixstowe||150||0-1||Chris Holt||Grantham||156|
|16||B||Jaden Jermy||Bury Knights||110||½-½||Arya Parnian||Grimsby||136|