Lincolnshire Chess Association

Minor Counties Competition (2017-18)

MCCU Minor Counties Championship
Position Teams Pl W D L Pts
1 Lincolnshire 4 4 0 0 8
2 Warwickshire 4 2 0 2 4
3 Worcestershire 4 2 0 2 4
4 Nottinghamshire 4 1 0 3 2
5 Leicestershire 4 1 0 3 2

MCCU Minor Counties Championship Match Results
Date Match Result
28 Oct Leicestershire v Lincolnshire 6½-9½
18 Nov Lincolnshire v Worcestershire 11½-4½
20 Jan Nottinghamshire v Lincolnshire 7½-8½
24 Mar Lincolnshire v Warwickshire 10-6
12th May Lincolnshire v Norfolk 9½-6½
9th Jun Lincolnshire v Devon 10-6
7th Jul Surrey v Lincolnshire 9-7

Leicestershire v Lincolnshire

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

The MCCU fixture list always provides Lincolnshire with some difficulties in selecting a team in alternate seasons. Last year we had the luxury of two home games in Lincoln and two matches at neutral venues. This season we are faced with two matches away from home and two matches at neutral venues. So getting a strong team for every match will not be easy due to the amount of travel involved and the fact that Lincolnshire are also current the defending Minor Counties champions makes us the team that everyone wants to beat.

The first fixture of the season saw us travel to play Leicestershire at Thurmaston. I was very pleased to be able to field a strong team and I was hoping that the team could win an away fixture against Leicestershire for the first time since 2009. When myself and the new Leicestershire captain John Denton exchanged team sheets it was clear that the sides were very evenly matched on paper. Our matches against Leicestershire are always very hard fought contests and it looked like this would be no exception.

Surprisingly however the match didn’t quite pan out as I had anticipated. Lincolnshire were always in control of the match and after a few drawn games the wins started to come in and we never relinquished our lead. By the time Leicestershire had registered just their second win of the day Lincolnshire had already recorded five victories of their own to secure the match. The final two games in play were drawn to leave Lincolnshire winners by a 9½ - 6½ margin.

This was an excellent team performance by Lincolnshire in their opening fixture especially away from home against difficult opposition. Another milestone in my captaincy was also achieved when we won away against Leicestershire for the first time since I became captain in 2009. Hopefully we will be able to continue our good form when we travel to play Worcestershire at a neutral venue on Saturday November 18th.

Date: 28/10/17
Venue: Thurmaston
Leicestershire (Home team) Lincolnshire (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 W Bao Nghia Dong Loughborough 215 0-1 Chris Dorrington Grantham 228
2 B Martin Burrows Wigston 196 ½-½ Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 199
3 W Shabir Okhai Syston 202 ½-½ Samuel Milson Louth 195
4 B Alan Agnew Leicestershire 199 ½-½ Paul Cumbers Grantham 193
5 W Phil Horspool Wigston 183 1-0 Nick Stead Grimsby 192
6 B John Denton Melton Mowbray 180 0-1 Stephen Prior Grantham 192
7 W Graham Sharpe Heathcote Arms 177 0-1 Jason Dilley Grantham 188
8 B Sean Sheahan Shepshed 178 0-1 Stuart Williams Grantham 182
9 W Robert Taylor Syston 178 0-1 Ivan David Grantham 177
10 B Ray Burgess Thurnby 176 1-0 Joe Kilshaw Grimsby 175
11 W Paul Colburn Braunstone 172 ½-½ Keith Palmer Louth 168
12 B Constantin Gramaticu Syston 170 ½-½ Denis Georgiou Scunthorpe 166
13 W Karl Potter Syston 163 ½-½ Francis Bowers New England 161
14 B Mike Salisbury Braunstone 150 ½-½ Chris Holt Grantham 159
15 W Graham Booley Heathcote Arms 149 ½-½ Andy Hebert Grantham 158
16 B Jim Bingham Braunstone 146 ½-½ Arya Parnian Grimsby 139

Lincolnshire v Worcestershire

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

After winning their opening match against Leicestershire last month, Lincolnshire travelled to the neutral venue of Frolesworth in Leicestershire to face Worcestershire. The Lincolnshire team was much changed with six players who played against Leicestershire being unavailable. However I was able to call upon the services of several players who might not normally be in the team on grading when everybody is available. These players are always keen and enthusiastic to play when given the chance and once again they did not let the team down.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Worcestershire also had several players unavailable and that we out graded them on every single board. Still the match was never going to be won on paper and the tag of being the favourite is never an easy one.

Joe Kilshaw got Lincolnshire off to a perfect start when he launched a sacrificial attack on his opponents castled king and chased the monarch all the way over to the queenside where he administered the final blow. After this early win Lincolnshire never looked back and eased their way to a comfortable 11½-4½ victory. I was impressed with the manner of our victory with all of the players who deputised in this match performing excellently.

Lincolnshire’s next match will be on Saturday January 20th 2018 away against Nottinghamshire. I am expecting a strong response from Nottinghamshire who will no doubt be very keen to gain revenge for the heavy 13-3 defeat we inflicted on them when the two sides met last season.

Date: 18/11/17
Venue: Frolesworth
Lincolnshire (Home team) Worcestershire (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 B Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 199 1-0 Kevin Hurney Worcestershire 191
2 Paul Cumbers Grantham 193 ½-½ Dan Lambourne Redditch 181
3 B Nick Stead Grimsby 192 ½-½ John Edge Halesowen 178
4 W Stephen Prior Grantham 192 1-0 Lee Davis Malvern 176
5 B Murray Smith Lincoln 185 1-0 Gary Jackson Worcestershire 172
6 W Stuart Williams Grantham 182 ½-½ Brian Turner Malvern 170
7 B Ivan David Grantham 177 ½-½ Geoff Marchant Malvern 167
8 W Joe Kilshaw Grimsby 175 1-0 Stephen Woodhouse Worcestershire 166
9 B Denis Georgiou Scunthorpe 166 ½-½ John Wrench Kidderminster 161
10 W Peter Cusick Grantham 162 ½-½ Mike Hadley Halesowen 160
11 B Ian Burridge Newark 162 0-1 Nigel Towers Redditch 160
12 W Chris Holt Grantham 159 1-0 Ray Collett Worcester 145
13 B Graham Ladds Newark 146 1-0 David Smith Worcestershire 145
14 W Chris Hill Grantham 145 ½-½ John Chester Kidderminster 137
15 B Ian McDonald Lincoln 142 1-0 John Varilone Kidderminster 134
16 W Arya Parnian Grimsby 139 1-0 Dave Spowart Kidderminster 130

Nottinghamshire v Lincolnshire

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

An away fixture against Nottinghamshire is never an easy prospect and Lincolnshire travelled to Bramcote in Nottingham knowing that if they could win then it would be the first time that had won away against Nottinghamshire during my tenure as captain. Nottinghamshire fielded a very strong side and were obviously keen to avenge the 13-3 defeat that they suffered when they visited the Atrium last season.

My pre match preparations were not helped when both Jason Dilley and Chris Holt were forced to withdraw from the team on Friday evening due to the effects of flu. Fortunately I was able to call upon the services of two very reliable substitutes in the shape of Stuart MacDonald and Ian McDonald. Both of these players were to play a very important part in the match that followed.

Lincolnshire didn’t get off to the best of starts when they lost four of the first five games to finish which included a shock defeat for the usually reliable Chris Dorrington on board 1. At 4½-½ down a heavy defeat looked on the cards and many teams would have folded at this point. However over the last few seasons Lincolnshire have become a difficult side to beat and showed great resilience to dig in and slowly claw back the huge lead that had been built up by our opponents. Both of the late substitutes Ian and Stuart scored impressive wins which once again highlighted the importance of having strength in depth and having players who were prepared to step in and play at short notice despite not having been selected in the original sixteen man team.

With two games left to play the match was still tense and was tied at 7-7. Both myself and Paul Cumbers held an advantage in our games but there was still work to do. Although I was a pawn up in a Queen and minor piece endgame the win was not easy so I tried to keep the pressure on whilst keeping an eye on the other game. Then Paul’s opponent allowed his bishop to be trapped which assured Paul of an easy victory. I quickly decided to force a repetition of moves to gain the draw which took us to 7½ points and Paul duly converted his advantage in to a win to leave Lincolnshire winners by an 8½-7½ score line.

After a disastrous start this was a fantastic team performance by Lincolnshire. The character shown by our team showed tremendous team spirit and grim determination to achieve victory in the match. This result means that Lincolnshire has qualified for the knockout stages of the Minor Counties competition with a game to spare. Our last match is on Saturday March 3rd against Warwickshire. Hopefully we can continue our momentum with another win as we look to defend the trophy that we won last year.

Date: 20/1/18
Venue: Bramcote
Nottinghamshire (Home team) Lincolnshire (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 B Craig Whitfield Nottinghamshire 188 1-0 Chris Dorrington Grantham 228
2 Robert Richmond West Bridgford 188 ½-½ Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 199
3 B Jiri Jires Gambit 180e 0-1 Samuel Milson Louth 195
4 W Brian Thompson West Bridgford 180 0-1 Paul Cumbers Grantham 193
5 B Alex Combie Newark 180 0-1 Nick Stead Grimsby 192
6 W Peter Mercs Gambit 178 1-0 Murray Smith Lincoln 185
7 B John Swain Gambit 177 0-1 Stuart Williams Grantham 182
8 W Daniel Broughton West Bridgford 175 ½-½ Ivan David Grantham 177
9 B Andrew Walker University 171 0-1 Joe Kilshaw Grimsby 175
10 W Richard Truman West Bridgford 169 1-0 Keith Palmer Louth 168
11 B Andrew George Newark 167 1-0 Francis Bowers Lincolnshire 161
12 W David Flynn Nomads 166 ½-½ Andrew Hebert Grantham 158
13 B Mike Naylor Gambit 165 1-0 Graham Ladds Newark 146
14 W Florian Biermann Gambit 147e 0-1 Ian McDonald Lincoln 142
15 B Julian Cast Long Eaton 163 0-1 Stuart MacDonald Grimsby 142
16 W Oliver Graham Gambit 162 1-0 Arya Parnian Grimsby 139

Lincolnshire v Warwickshire

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

Lincolnshire met Warwickshire in the final match of the season knowing that a win would give them a clean sweep of four straight victories for the season and give them undisputed first place in the MCCU team championship but a defeat would see Warwickshire take the title. The match should have been played on 3RD March but had to be postponed due to heavy snowfall which made travel impossible. It was not an easy task to rearrange the match in the space of three weeks and I eventually managed to achieve this but not without difficulty.

On the eve of the match were hit by two late withdrawals neither of which could be helped. Fortunately I had a couple of reserves on standby and we were able to plug the gaps without having to default a board. For quite a long time the match was pretty even but then Lincolnshire began to turn the screw in the later stages of the match and eventually ran out winners by a 10-6 margin. Notable performances came from late substitutes Kevin McCarthy and Stuart MacDonald who both notched the full point. This once again emphasised the importance of having a strong squad with dedicated reserve players who can step in and do a job for the team when called upon. Francis Bowers also recorded a fine win against a very dangerous junior player who could be one to watch in the next few seasons.

Lincolnshire’s next match will be on Saturday May 12th in the Quarter Final of the Minor Counties Championship. At the time of writing our opponents are not yet known. However as experienced campaigners in this competition we know that there are no easy matches at this stage and we will have to be at our very best as we look to continue our defence of the trophy that we won last year.

Date: 24/3/18
Venue: Underwood, Nottinghamshire
Lincolnshire (Home team) Warwickshire (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 B Chris Dorrington Grantham 231 ½-½ Henrik Stepanyan Sutton Coldfield 209
2 Murray Smith Lincoln 197 0-1 Tomasz Sygnowski Sutton Coldfield 209
3 B Paul Cumbers Grantham 196 1-0 Nurul Amin Chowdhury Westminster 190
4 W Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 196 1-0 Nicholas Walker West Bromwich 187
5 B Samuel Milson Louth 193 1-0 Marcus Walsh South Birmingham 178
6 W Stephen Prior Grantham 191 1-0 Golam Ali Sutton Coldfield 174
7 B Nick Stead Grimsby 187 ½-½ Keith Escott Sutton Coldfield 172
8 W Francis Bowers Lincolnshire 165 1-0 Chirag Guha Sutton Coldfield 171
9 B Keith Palmer Louth 163 ½-½ Simon Smith Warley Quinborne 161
10 W Andy Hebert Grantham 161 0-1 Tony Hickey Boldmere St Michael 159
11 B Kevin McCarthy Lincoln 161 1-0 John Mildenhall Sutton Coldfield 163
12 W Chris Holt Grantham 160 0-1 Marek Soszynski Sutton Coldfield 163
13 B Denis Georgiou Scunthorpe 159 1-0 Gary Hope Olton 159
14 W Arya Parnian Grimsby 147 ½-½ Amrik Singh Warley Quinborne 157
15 B Stuart MacDonald Grimsby 141 1-0 Keith Thomas Boldmere St Michael 155
16 W Ian McDonald Lincoln 139 0-1 Roy Lawrence Sutton Coldfield 137

Lincolnshire v Norfolk

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

Lincolnshire travelled to Peterborough to face old rivals Norfolk in the Minor Counties Quarter Final and knew that a tough match would be in prospect. In last season’s semi-final Lincolnshire defeated the same opposition on board count after the match had finished tied at 8-8. So we were under no illusions that the task ahead of us would be very difficult but by no means impossible. I was fortunate enough to be able to field our strongest team of the season with the team average grade being exactly at the 180 maximum mark. Teams who compete in the Minor Counties competition must always field a team whose average grade does not exceed 180. Norfolk by comparison was a little weaker than the side that we played last season.

In these matches solid chess is required and getting an early lead always helps. Fortunately Lincolnshire were able to achieve both of these aims on the day. We established an early two point lead and increased the lead still further in the match. This proved too much for Norfolk and although they rallied with a couple of wins near to the end of the match the job was already done and we ran out comfortable winners by 9½-6½.

Our opponents in the Semi Final will be Devon who are newcomers to the competition but they have already proved their pedigree by winning the under 180 competition last season. There will be a significant amount of travelling for our team to a neutral venue but hopefully we will be able to field another strong team as we bid to reach finals day at Warwick for the third consecutive season.

Date: 12/5/18
Venue: Peterborough
Lincolnshire (Home team) Norfolk (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 W Chris Dorrington Grantham 231 ½-½ Andrew Brett Writtle 200
2 B Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 196 1-0 Stephen Orton Norfolk & Norwich 197
3 W Samuel Milson Louth 193 ½-½ Roy Hughes Broadland 194
4 B Paul Cumbers Grantham 196 ½-½ Ken McEwan Broadland 190
5 W Nick Stead Grimsby 187 1-0 Ieysaa Bin-Suhayl Broadland 189
6 B Stephen Prior Grantham 191 1-0 Gerald Moore Broadland 188
7 W Jason Dilley Grantham 189 1-0 Trevor Ansell Fakenham 178
8 B Murray Smith Lincoln 197 ½-½ Daniel Frean Broadland 175
9 W Stuart Williams Grantham 182 1-0 Steve Moore Norwich Dons 168
10 B Joe Kilshaw Grimsby 183 ½-½ Jonathan Burrows Norwich Dons 167
11 W Ivan David Grantham 169 1-0 Antony Hall Diss 164
12 B Keith Palmer Louth 163 ½-½ Brian Jeffery Fakenham 161
13 W Denis Georgiou Scunthorpe 159 ½-½ Meryn Hughes Norwich Dons 159
14 B Chris Holt Grantham 160 0-1 Andrew Hartland Lowestoft 158
15 W Stuart MacDonald Grimsby 141 0-1 Paul Badger Broadland 156
16 B Arya Parnian Grimsby 147 0-1 David Payne St Johns Norwich 149

Lincolnshire v Devon

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

Lincolnshire travelled to the village of Kemerton in Worcestershire to face Devon in the Semi Final of the Minor Counties competition. With no home fixtures at all this season it was the sixth time that we had been asked to travel and this was the longest trek of the campaign by a considerable distance.

We were without our usual top board Chris Dorrington for this match and combined with the absence of three more of our middle order players it meant that on grading we would be out rated by Devon on a large majority of the boards. Fortunately for us the location of the venue meant that I was able to call upon the services of Grandmaster Matthew Turner and this gave the whole team a huge boost ahead of the expected tough contest.

Devon drew first blood when Nick Stead went down to an unexpected rare early defeat but Andy Hebert soon levelled things up again. Young Arya Parnian playing on board 16 paid for his lack of experience by losing a drawn endgame and we were behind in the match again. I am sure that Arya will benefit from his matches for the first team this season and will become a much stronger player as a result. However this was the last time that we were ever behind in the match and wins for Joe Kilshaw, Matthew Turner Francis Bowers, Peter Cusick and Ivan David propelled Lincolnshire in to an 8-6 lead. I had worked out that even if we lost the last two matches the board count tie break would still be in our favour. However in the end board count was not even needed to split the teams because our last two players in play Paul Cumbers and Denis Georgiou both played very well in time trouble to win their games to make the final score 10-6 to Lincolnshire.

This victory was an absolutely superb team performance with several players being drafted in to the team despite not having featured at all in our previous match. This shows the character that we have within the team with every player ready to do their bit for the team if given the chance. Before the match I thought that the key battleground would be on boards 7-16 because I knew that Devon had a large number of players graded 170- 185 who would give us some problems due to being able to out rate us by about ten points per board in that area. But the players on those boards produced a stunning performance to overturn the form book on its head and destroy their opposition by a three point margin. I will have some serious selection dilemmas to ponder when I select the team to travel to Warwick for finals day on Saturday July 7th.

Our opponents in the final will be Surrey a team normally seen in the Open competition but this season they have somehow ended up in the Minor Counties competition. Despite the fact that Lincolnshire are the current holders of the Minor Counties trophy Surrey will start the match as huge favourites. They have a much larger pool of players to select from by comparison to ourselves who usually only select from a squad of about twenty three players. However we are used to causing an upset or two and we will have to produce another great result if we are to retain the trophy that we won so brilliantly last season.

Date: 9/6/18
Venue: Kemerton
Lincolnshire (Home team) Devon (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 W Matthew Turner Lincolnshire 248 1-0 Jonathan Underwood Seaton 191
2 B Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 196 ½-½ John Stephens Plymouth 189
3 W Samuel Milson Louth 193 ½-½ John Fraser Exeter University 192
4 B Paul Cumbers Grantham 196 1-0 Graham Bolt Exeter 188
5 W Nick Stead Grimsby 187 0-1 Stephen Homer Newton Abbot 181
6 B Murray Smith Lincoln 197 ½-½ Tim Paulden Exeter 189
7 W Joe Kilshaw Grimsby 183 1-0 John Wheeler Cosham 187
8 B Ivan David Grantham 169 1-0 Mark Abbott Exmouth 186
9 W Keith Palmer Louth 163 0-1 Brian Hewson Tiverton 179
10 B Denis Georgiou Scunthorpe 159 1-0 Paul Hampton Seaton 175
11 W Peter Cusick Grantham 169 1-0 Jos Haynes Tiverton 176
12 B Francis Bowers New England 165 1-0 Steven Martin Sidmouth 184
13 W Chris Holt Grantham 160 0-1 Dennis Cowley Torquay 175
14 B Andrew Hebert Grantham 161 1-0 Jon Duckham Tiverton 166
15 W Kevin McCarthy Lincoln 161 ½-½ Paul Brooks Newton Abbot 166
16 B Arya Parnian Grimsby 147 0-1 H William Ingham Teignmouth 157

Surrey v Lincolnshire

Report from Nigel Birtwistle

Lincolnshire travelled to Warwick to play in their third successive Minor Counties Final against Surrey knowing that a difficult task was in prospect if they were to successfully defend the trophy that they had won last season. Both teams were missing players and when the teams were announced it looked like the match would be a close one.

Lincolnshire started better than their Southern Counties opponents and went in to an early lead. The match looked very good for us as we steadily built up a three point lead. However several games turned in the last hour of play and I saw our healthy lead cut down until our opponents took the lead. With two games left we were losing 7½- 6½ but if we could score 1½/2 then we would tie the match and win on board count. Unfortunately for us we ended up losing one of those games and with the match lost we conceded a draw in the remaining game to leave Surrey as winners by a 9-7 margin.

Although we failed to defend the Minor Counties trophy this year the team should be proud of their efforts. It should be remembered that Lincolnshire does not have vast numbers of players to choose from unlike many of the other more populous counties that we come up against. Our squad is a small one but the players are committed and dedicated to the cause. The loss against Surrey brought Lincolnshire’s run of eleven consecutive victories to an end. Hopefully we will bounce back in determined fashion and try to reach finals day again next season. I am happy to continue as captain again next season because the enthusiasm and team spirit shown by the Lincolnshire team makes my decision a very easy one.

Date: 9/6/18
Venue: Trident Centre, Warwick
Surrey (Home team) Lincolnshire (Away team)
Board Colour Name Club Grade Score Name Club Grade
1 W Chris Briscoe Surbiton 208 ½-½ Nigel Birtwistle Grantham 196
2 B Russell Granat Farnham 198 ½-½ Samuel Milson Louth 193
3 W Gwilym T Price Godalming 198 ½-½ Paul Cumbers Grantham 196
4 B Robin W Haldane Streatham 192 0-1 Nick Stead Grimsby 187
5 W Julien Shepley Guildford 183 1-0 Jason Dilley Grantham 189
6 B Julian Way Ashtead 172 0-1 Murray Smith Lincoln 197
7 W David Sedgwick Mushrooms 173 1-0 Stuart Williams Grantham 182
8 B Philip Stimpson Guildford 167 0-1 Joe Kilshaw Grimsby 183
9 W Nick Faulks Surbiton 166 1-0 Ivan David Grantham 169
10 B Owen Phillips South Norwood 162 ½-½ Keith Palmer Louth 163
11 W Graham Alcock Surbiton 155 1-0 Denis Georgiou Scunthorpe 159
12 B Jon Eckert Ashtead 152 ½-½ Peter Cusick Grantham 169
13 W H Trevor Jones Guildford 154 1-0 Andrew Hebert Grantham 161
14 B James Fox Streatham 152 ½-½ Chris Holt Grantham 160
15 W Anthony Collins Dorking 142 1-0 Kevin McCarthy Lincoln 161
16 B Nicholas Grey Surrey 142 0-1 Arya Parnian Grimsby 147