ECF Minor Open County Championship

Details for the Minor Open matches are given in the tabbed display below. Click on the tabs to open the sub pages. Details include all match tables and all games played.

Eight teams are contesting the first stage of the Minor Open: Berks, Cheshire and North Wales, Cumbria, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Northumberland and Somerset. There is something to be said for Online competition: in OTB competition, Essex has rarely played these counties, if at all. One exception: Berks at one time were regular SCCU competitors, but it is many a season since they entered; they attempted a revival at U100 level in 2019-20 but did not contest either match. Hants we played in a BCF U175 SF in 1997 and if you go back far enough, Hants were once a part of the SCCU.

Navigation: Minor Open | U1800 | National Pool | Minor Open on ECF LMS

Guide to playing games on

Several games on the first day failed to start or were late starting. This may have something to do with players not knowing the full requirements for making or receiving the Challenge, which differs in one important respect with what players may be used to on Lichess. In Lichess, the Challenge is issued in the player’s Profile. In the players should first be linked as Friends and when giving and receiving the Challenge, they should both be in “Live chess“.

Here is the guide:
  1. Join your opponent as a “Friend”. A simple step which makes the challenge easier. Either player can do this.
    When the pairings are published, find your opponent’s username. Sign into your account. Then click on your opponent’s username when you know it and click on the Add Friend button, to send an invitation. Your opponent will need to accept this invitation, so check back later. If your opponent makes the invite, respond when you get the message to accept. The Friend link can be removed when the game has been played.
  2. On the match date, if you are to play White, you will need to issue a Challenge to your opponent. Do this, say, five minutes before the due start time, as follows:
    1. Sign into your account. Find the Play menu (usually down the left side bar) and click on Play to open it, then click on Live chess. This is important to be in Live chess.
    2. The screen displays a large board and to the right of that several options.
    3. Click on the button Play a friend – now you understand why it is important to invite the opponent as a Friend.
    4. Select your opponent from the list of Friends.
    5. Now set up the details of the time control:
      1. Click on Time, then on the More button and finally Custom;
      2. Type the minutes 60, secs 0 and inc 15 and click OK;
      3. Set the Rating dropdown to Rated and the Colour dropdown to the colour you are playing (White or Black – usually White makes the Challenge, but sometimes Black may have to do it).
    6. When all the requirements of 5. have been set, click the Play button and wait for your opponent to respond. Be ready for your opponent to accept the Challenge BEFORE the due start time of the game, as the game will then be in play.
      Also important: don’t start any other games against anyone else while you are waiting. Be disciplined; concentrate ONLY on the game you are preparing to play.
    7. If your opponent does not respond by the due start time, send a message. Tell your opponent to be sure to be in Live chess (Play/Live chess) to receive your Challenge.
  3. Play the game.

To receive your opponent’s Challenge (e.g. if you are playing Black): you need just the same to go into the Live chess area. So sign into your account, click the Play menu, select Live chess and wait. When you receive the Challenge, make sure it is from the opponent you are expecting to play and do not accept Challenges from any other player, check it is set correctly (60 0 | 15, Rated, with the correct Colour and if all is correct, accept. If the details are wrong, send a message to your opponent.

Download this guide: Guide to (pdf)

Essex Minor Open match details

 Date Round Home team Score Away Team
12 June 2021 Qual 1 Berks 3½-6½ Essex
19 June 2021 Qual 2 Essex 9-3 Hants
3 July 2021 Qual 3 Northumberland 7-5 Essex
17 July 2021 Qual 4 Essex 9-3 Cumbria
21 August 2021 Qual 5 Glos v Essex

Played 12 June 2021

Board Berkshire v Essex
1 Robert Starley 2113 0-1 Andrew P  Lewis 2310
2 John Wager 2023 ½-½ John H Hodgson 2055
3 George Green 1843 1-0 Ian Reynolds 1998
4 Mark Taylor 1826 1-0 Martin McCall 1976
5 Paul Janota 1819 0-1 Ian Hunnable 1933
6 Soham Kumar 1795 0-0 Chris Hampton 1927
7 James Love 1606 0-0 Istvan Karacsony 1921
8 Witold Koreywo 1536 0-1 Harry Zheng 1914
9 Bill Upton 1410 0d1 Edgar Wilson 1912
10 Ivan Sayer 1353 0-1 David Flynn 1911
11 Aanya Adhikari 1206 1-0 Mae Catabay 1585
12 Anrudh Raj 1200 0-1 Rezin Catabay 1311
  Average 1645 3½-6½ Average 1897

The Essex team assembled by Peter Nickals held a substantial rating advantge; indeed Essex outrated Berks on every board. Two games failed to start and a third was decided by default. The webmaster’s own game was 40 minutes late starting, despite both players having at various times issued challenges. Subsequent investigation has brought us a clearer understanding of the process, which may have prevented the games that failed to start; so we have added a clear and concise guide (yes, another).

The games that were played

Played 19 June 2021

Board Essex v Hampshire
1 John Hodgson 2041 (W) 1-0 Richard Thurstans 1989 (B)
2 Martin McCall 1986 ½-½ Daniel Shek 1921
3 Julian Corfield 1955 ½-½ David Graham 1855
4 Chris Hampton 1927 1-0 James Chilton I 1816
5 Edgar Wilson 1912 1-0 Melissa Hamilton 1641
6 David Flynn 1911 0-1 George Feltham 1618
7 George Horan 1866 1-0 Alan Willis 1608
8 Harry Zheng 1862 1-0 Fionn O’Donovan 1606
9 Michael Spurr 1845 1-0 Manoj Chandar 1573
10 Gerald Conley 1659 0-1 Matthew Deacon 1548
11 Dai Harris 1600 1-0 Philip Ware 1528
12 Rezin Catabay 1311 1-0 Stephen LeFevre 1392
  Average 1823 9-3 Average 1675

Essex had an average rating advantage of 148 points a board, outrating Hants on every board but one. This made for a comfortable afternoon, Essex winning by 8-2 with two draws and only two casualties.

John Hodgson, with a Sicilian Maroczy Bind, lined up his big guns along the back rank b,c and d-files and advanced his mobile pawn centre. Thereafter, the contrast in the activity of the two camps was startling. John converted his mobile pawn front to a pair of advanced passed pawns on c6 and b5, when Black could have resigned. Resignation came 10 moves later. Edgar won the exchange and a pawn with a three move combination at move 15 and had no trouble converting his advantage with the inexorable advance of his K-side passed pawns.

Chris Hampton lost the exchange, but White, in acute time shortage (inside his last minute against Chris’ 26 minutes) immediately blundered (34 Ra5?) allowing Chris to counter to expose the weakness of White’s back rank. White’s time ran out, but in the final positionl, if 36 Kh1 Qxb4! wins the errant rook on a5.

Martin McCall secured an outside pawn majority which was the only difference in a minor piece ending. Martin was able to force a passed pawn home to win a knight, but at the cost of two pawns and White skillfully made those two pawns count to force a draw.

George Horan won against a Dutch Defence in which Black allowed George too much space in the centre, while Harry Zheng overcame White’s eccentric strategy in a Catalan. Michael Spurr established a winning K-side attack in only 19 moves and Black had seen enough. Rezin, meanwhile, had won a bishop but still had to keep his head when White counter-attacked with his remaining heavy artillery. With mate threatened, Rezin coolly found a combination to exchange his queen for two rooks, delivering mate nine moves later.

In the last game to finish, Julian Corfield dodged a bullet, his opponent opting for repetition when he didn’t have enough time to find the mate that was there.

This win puts Essex at the top of the table by half a game point over Northumberland; these two clash in the next round.

Played 3 July 2021

Board Northumberland
v Essex
1 Max Turner 2312 (2343) (W) 0-1 Ian Reynolds 1998 (1915) (B)
2 David Mooney 2205 (2200) ½-½ Julian Corfield 1955 (1983)
3 John Boyd, 2098 (2080) 1-0 Chris Hampton 1927 (1923)
4 Chris Izod, 2082 (2058) ½-½ David Flynn, 1911 (1863)
5 Robin Nandi 1929 (1990) 0-1 Harry Zheng 1862 (1915)
6 Phil Eastlake, 1872 (1803) ½-½ Michael Spurr 1845 (1863)
7 Andy Trevelyan 1849 (1893) 1-0 Edison Figueroa 1799 (1908)
8 James McKay 1767 (1630) 1-0 Colin Newton 1745 (1743)
9 Mark McKay, 1823 (1750) 1-0 Gerald Conley 1659 (1683)
10 Raj Mohindra 1703 (1773) 1-0 Ruqayyah Rida 1630 (1231)
11 Ian Chester 1573 (1660) ½-½ Dai Harris 1600 (1570)
12 Andrew Hutchins 1489 () 0-1 Mae Catabay 1585 (1525)
  Average 1892 7-5 Average 1793

Out-rated by an average 99 points a board, Essex couldn’t avoid coming second to the all-conquering Northumberlanders. Nonetheless, all three Essex wins were impressive, not the least of these being the top board performance of Ian Reynolds, giving 314 points, yet outplaying his opponent with 9 …Bc6! forcing the fork of knight and bishop or lose a pawn. As there are games in the database with this position, we presume it’s a known trap; either way, an impressive dispatch in 24 moves.

Update: Ian Reynolds has kindly supplied the background to his game: “I have had that line v the Nimzo twice before yesterday’s game. In those games my opponents played 7 Bd2 and 7 Ng3. I had waited for 7 Rb1 with the key of Bc6 and Bd4 after b5. So it is book. My opponent clearly did not know the line and was 25 minutes ahead of me on the clock when he played f3 which is poor. Pity I missed Qh4+ at the end losing a second P after Qd6. I suspect the football match was more attractive for my opponent than playing on!”

Another half point might have accrued in the last game to finish, had Dai found 56 … Ke6! (and if then 57 Nf6 h6!) rather than repeat moves for the draw – but it couldn’t change the result.

Northumberland top the table with 6/6, while Essex are =2nd with Cumbrian and Cheshire & N Wales on 4 points.

Next match is on 17 July, against Cumbria.

Northumberland games

Played 17 July 2021

Board Essex
v Cumbria
1 Andrew Lewis 2300 (W) 0-1 Holden Davis 2032 (B)
2 John Hodgson 2041 ½-½ Roy Ellames 2027
3 Ian Reynolds 1998 1-0 John Grave 1978
4 Ashley Freeman 1991 1-0 Neil Jones 1872
5 Julian Corfield 1955 ½-½ Roger Hart 1864
6 Ian Hunnable 1929 0(def)-1 Greg Millar 1773
7 Chris Hampton 1927 1-0 Gary Sharkey 1706
8 David Flynn 1911 1-0 Peter Caulfield 1653
9 Harry Zheng 1862 1-0 David Wright 1619
10 Michael Spurr 1845 1-0 Alan Llewellyn 1571
11 Mae Catabay 1585 1-0 Guy Griffiths 1555
12 Rezin Catabay 1311 1-0 John Lydon 1526
  Average 1888 9-3 Average 1765

Essex comfortably converted a clear advantage on paper (+123 average) to a 9-3 win, easily overcoming the default point gifted and the surprise defeat of Andy Lewis as the result of a murderous pin (18 …Qb6).

Is the Cumbria Board 2 the one-time Harlow player?

Essex Minor now have their destiny in the own hands, facing Gloucestershire in the last fixture of the qualification round on 21 August; winner progresses to the Finals on 18 September, where Northumberland once more awaits.

To be played 21 August 2021

Board Home Team
v Away Team
1   v  
2   v  
3   v  
4   v  
5   v  
6   v  
7   v  
8   v  
9   v  
10   v  
11   v  
12   v  

Match report and games will appear here.