Match Report: Didcot 1 v. Cumnor 1


So last Thursday, the 24th January, saw Cumnor 1’s first match of 2022, away in the Deep South at Didcot.

Following our great first half of the season a win or a draw would see us go second, over taking Banbury, and as such we got out about our strongest side. Unfortunately, at least for us, Didcot also had pulled out all the stops and the match card looked very closely balanced:

Don’t be deceived by Joe Conlon’s rating – he is a very strong titled player coming back to “proper” chess after a bit of a break.

Well, what to say … After riding our luck a bit through the first half of the season the chickens came home to roost, so I’ll keep this short but the most important thing is we were outplayed – Didcot were definitely the better team on the night. I’ll gloss over Mark and Eldar who both had games they probably want to forget, and while Liam had more chances it probably won’t feature amongst his top 10 either. Even Nigel, one of our three draws, I know was not happy with his play. So that leaves me, and especially Stuart.

My game was fun if not wonderfully correct:

I got move-ordered in the opening going into a setup Peter obviously knew much better than I, and my 10. O-O was just very short-sighted, I knew the form his attack would take and I castled straight into it. Having no sensible counter-play I managed to make some complications with 20 Nfd5 which I muddled through  into a better endgame, which I then misplayed. Thankfully for me Peter missed a horrible blunder by me near the end (in time trouble) and it ended as a draw – probably overall a fair result, though I came away feeling a little lucky.

Stuart’s game was also not a thing of subtle strategy, here it is, along with some annotation that Stuart sent around:

I first wandered over at about move 15, and was amazed to see Black’s King so open – “this looks fun” was very much my thought. I don’t play 1.d4? nor the Kings Indian (except by transposition), so I don’t know if this is mainline theory but it does look like a good try by white! Stuart did everything but win it – he just needed to get the knight out and get on with the attack rather than worry about niceties such as the e4 pawn – something it is much easier to say when firstly it is not your game, and secondly somebody has kindly provided some analysis! Anyway Joe survived Stuart throwing the kitchen sink at him, and an honourable draw was the result – and a good game to look over.

So 4.5-1.5 was the final result

Oh well. Well played Didcot again, and I really shouldn’t feel upset that we are “only” third in the table!


Match report: Cumnor 1 v. Didcot 1

So last night chess returned to Cumnor Old School for the first time in over 18 months!

It was so nice to welcome Didcot 1 for one of the opening matches of the 21-22 season, and just great both to see so many familiar faces after all this time and to welcome a new one or two into the fold. COVID of course meant we had to be careful about a few things like keeping socially distanced where possible and having the Old School’s windows open in late September, but all in all it didn’t intrude too much into an enjoyable evening.

As for the games Stuart was first to finish. He dropped a pawn to Andy early in the opening, only for Andy to return the compliment with interest, losing a knight to a queen fork. It was over soon after that once Stuart activated his pieces, 1-0 Cumnor.

I (Ian) was next. I had a bit of an advantage out of the opening – more space; a bit of an initiative; a little bit of pressure down the d file; more active pieces. Basically while I had no game winning threats white’s position was easier to play than black’s. Florian worked hard to activate his pieces, but as is typical in such position he got a bit too optimistic, which lead to dropping a knight, and soon after the game. 2-0 Cumnor.

Eldar was playing a fascinating game on board 1 against Nick Gough, a heavyweight clash indeed! Eldar on the black side of an Advance French had grabbed white’s pawn on d4 with his queen, so while a pawn up his queen had very few squares and it would have been so easy to let it get trapped. One position I remember distinctly. On first glance Be3 won the queen, but on looking harder back rank threats saved it – all very complicated! Anyway Eldar navigated all the problems, and as is his way won with the extra pawn. In fact Eldar has previous here, winning a very high quality game in the same line against Dave Hackett in 17-18 4NCL, see below for the game.

So Cumnor were 3-0 up, and couldn’t lose. but the other 3 boards were far from foregone conclusions. Simon’s game on board 5 against Gary Reynolds was interesting. Gary as white had mangled his pawn structure with doubled, isolated h pawns to gain pressure down the open g file against a backward pawn on g7. On going through some of the game afterwards Simon and I demonstrated our different chess philosophies, I very much liked White because of the pressure, Simon preferred black because of the long term structural advantage. As is often the semi-conducting monster told us the truth was somewhere in between … Let’s say dynamic equality. After various excursions Simon lost in the endgame – I suspect as much because he was much lower on time as anything else. 3-1 to Cumnor.

I didn’t see the end of the other two games as I was going through Simon’s with him. On board 6 I thought Mark looked good early on, but his opponent managed to unravel his position and established a strong knight on e5 which Mark couldn’t kick away with a pawn. It went down to a Q+B endgame, which Tony won – 3-2 to Cumnor.

So it came down to board 3. The last time I saw Nigel’s game he was 2 pawns down in a N+P endgame. But, as is his way, he managed to swindle a win. Nigel, how do you keep doing this? A few lessons would be much appreciated. 4-2 to Cumnor!

So a tough and exciting match – I think we just deserved to win it, but then again I’m biased. And with Cowley drawing at Banbury it leaves us top of the table!

Fixtures are out

Please spread the news far and wide: The fixtures for 2021-22 have been released!

Cumnor 1 will be playing in the first division with 6 other teams: Didcot 1, City 1, Oxford Univ 1, Witney 1, Banbury 1 and Cowley 1. This should provide some tough games but with Covid we will have to wait to see the strength of some of these teams.

Thu 30-Sep-21 Cumnor 1 v Didcot 1
Thu 07-Oct-21 Cumnor 1 v City 1
Thu 21-Oct-21 Cumnor 1 v Oxford Univ 1
Thu 28-Oct-21 Cumnor 1 v Witney 1
Thu 18-Nov-21 Banbury 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 25-Nov-21 Cumnor 1 v Cowley 1
Mon 24-Jan-22 Didcot 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 10-Feb-22 Cowley 1 v Cumnor 1
Mon 21-Mar-22 City 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 31-Mar-22 Cumnor 1 v Banbury 1
Mon 11-Apr-22 Witney 1 v Cumnor 1
Thu 28-Apr-22 Oxford Univ 1 v Cumnor 1

Cumnor 2 will be playing in the third division (so I guess we should celebrate a promotion at some point) with 6 other teams: Abingdon 1, Oxford Univ 3, Cowley 3, Wantage 2, City 3 and Witney 3.

Mon 04-Oct-21 Abingdon 1 v Cumnor 2
Thu 14-Oct-21 University 3 v Cumnor 2
Thu 21-Oct-21 Cowley 3 v Cumnor 2
Thu 04-Nov-21 Cumnor 2 v Wantage 2
Mon 22-Nov-21 City 3 v Cumnor 2
Mon 06-Dec-21 Witney 3 v Cumnor 2
Thu 03-Feb-22 Cumnor 2 v Cowley 3
Thu 17-Feb-22 Cumnor 2 v City 3
Tue 22-Feb-22 Wantage 2 v Cumnor 2
Thu 03-Mar-22 Cumnor 2 v University 3
Thu 17-Mar-22 Cumnor 2 v Abingdon 1
Thu 21-Apr-22 Cumnor 2 v Witney 3

I am looking for our first competitive over the board game in over 18 months! If you would like to get involved in the best Chess Club in the whole wide world check out our New Members page, (the “best Chess Club in the whole wide world” claim was taken by a small sample of Cumnor players who were asked the question).


As you will probably be aware the Coronavirus has taken its toll on the sporting calendar. The chess leagues have also been affected with all league matches (in Oxfordshire) being postponed for the next 3 weeks. This will affect Cumnor 1’s matches against Didcot 1, Colwey 1 and City 1. While Cumnor 2 has only one match postponed against Witney 4.

As soon as we learn anything new I will post it on the website, please see below for the latest announcement.

The OCA Chairman and Secretary have been informed that within the next couple of days the ECF will be advising local leagues to suspend matches for a period of three weeks, owing to the potential to transmit coronavirus. We therefore strongly recommend that the ODCL fixtures scheduled to take place in the period Monday 16 March to Sunday 5 April are not played.

We will consult with the Committee and will reassess the situation in due course. It is too early to decide on rescheduling matches, whether the suspension should be lifted after 5 April, and on what to do if the matches in the 2019-20 season cannot be completed.

See the news item on the OCA website for details.

Fixtures are out!

The new season is upon and is due to kick off this week.

Cunmor 1 will playing in division 1 for the first time and will play their first match away to City 1 on 7th October before home matches against Didcot 1 and Cowley 2.

Cumnor 2 kick off with home matches against Witney 4 and Didcot 3.

We are always looking for new players so drop us an email / call or pop along to the club on Thursday more information can be found here.

All fixtures are subject to change.

Cumnor 1 v Didcot 2 [Match Report]

With the only two games left a few things in division two of the Oxfordshire Chess League needs to be finalized.

TrophyBicester 1 are heading back into division 1 after a two year absence, with Cumnor 1 being the only team to win against them this season. At the bottom, Didcot 2 look like they are heading for the drop but they would stay up if they win their last two remaining games. One game against Cumnor 1 and a relegation decider against City 2.

But before we get too ahead of ourselves Didcot 2 needed to beat us to have any chance heading into the City 2 game. The return fixture earlier in the season saw Didcot 2 win against Cumnor 1 but Didcot would need a monumental effort to get the wins they need to reach safety.

Daniel’s game was interesting for two reasons, the first being it only lasted 13 moves and less than 30 minutes, while most of us have barely sat down Daniel was getting up with a victory. This isn’t too unusual, Daniel is known to play quickly and is often the first to finish but I think this could be a new record! Secondly, the win takes his percentage score to 93.75% (with 7 wins and a draw from his 8 games) which is not only the highest in the club but the highest in the league! The Bernard C Wyatt Memorial trophy is awarded to the player who scores the highest percentage in the league who has played more than half the games and it looks like it has Daniels name on it this season.

Gareth was the next to finish, with a victory on board 4. I was playing on board one against Roger Thetford, our game was close, I did have some play against his Kingside and a past pawn however Roger closed it off and I had to accept a draw.

Andrew had an exciting game with many tactics yet had to settle for a draw. This meant Didcot’s faint hopes on staying up where ended. Mark picked up a win on board 6 and Zoe completed the rout with a clinical triumph in a Rook endgame.

Cumnor 1 v Didcot 2

The result means Cumnor 1 have reached 13 points which is a record for us in the second division and we still have a game in hand which is away to Cowley on Monday. Cumnor 1 will finish 3rd in the table (again a record) unless Cowley beat us 4-2 or better on Monday evening.

Check out the table here.

Didcot 2 v Cumnor 1 [Match Report]

Last Wednesday saw Cumnor 1 take on Didcot 2 at the Marlbourgh Club in Didcot.

Unfortunately, Cumnor’s team was suffering even before the first pawn had been moved: both Andrew and Zoe became unwell on the day of the match, forcing Zoe to pull out. Special thanks goes out to Robert Steel who stood in at a very short notice.

Didcot 2 Cumnor 1
1 Thetford, Roger (130) 0-1 Terrington, Simon (173)
2 Harvey, John (129) 0-1 Glenn, Liam (147)
3 Webb, Andrew (127) 1-0 Varney, Andrew (147)
4 Harkins, Sam (128) 0.5-0.5 Alvarez, Francisco (115)
5 Jacobs, Robert B (123) 1-0 Steel, Robert (85)
6 Reynolds, Gary (126) 1-0 Slade, Richard ()
Match played on 3 Dec 2014. 3.5-2.5

The bottom two boards, Richard and Robert, did not have the best of evenings.

Both lost their games but they were playing strong opponents with much higher grades.

Pako had to dig-in when he went against two connected outside past pawns but with some pressure on theKingside he managed to exchange down to an endgame with Knight v Bishop and pawn. The Knight was just about to sacrifice itself for the Pawn when the players agreed a draw.

Andrew, who was feeling unwell, played well but then made a mistake which eventually proved fatal.

With the match already lost for Cumnor, the top two boards carried on regardless. Simon reached an interesting endgame with no easy win, but in true Simon-style came through a combination which saw him in a much better position.

Liam’s game was also very interesting, and you can play it through below.

The result keeps Cumnor 1 in fourth place in division 2, and demonstrates that one week you can beat top of the table Bicester then the next week lose to bottom team Didcot!

Going down to the wire…

We are into the last few weeks of the season, but there is still plenty to play for.

In Division 1, Witney 1 are the champions winning 11 games out of 11, while MCS/B1 are going to be relegated back to division 2.

At the top of division 2, Witney 2 and Didcot 1 have only one game between each other to settle the title, a shoot out!

A win or draw for Didcot 1 will mean they are Champions while a win for Witney 2 means they will receive the title.

Both have been at the top of the division for most of the season with a massive 9 points between Witney 2 in second and Cumnor 1 in third, the difference between third and last is 8 points.

At the wrong end of the table it’s gone down to one game. Cowley 3 play Cumnor 1 on Monday and any result for Cowley 3 will save them at the expense of Bicester 1.

In Division 3, is all done and dusted with Didcot 2 winning the title and Abingdon School being relegated with a game in hand.

Division 4 is an all-Witney affair, at the top is Witney 4 and at the bottom are Witney 5. Cumnor 2 currently sit 4th with 5 wins 2 draws and 5 losses.

The Frank Wood Shield, in the final is between Didcot 1 and Oxford City 1.

Cumnor 1 v Didcot 1 [Match Report]

Thursday night saw Cumnor 1 lose by the closest margin (2.5-3.5) to top-of-the-table Didcot 1.

Cumnor 1 Didcot 1
1 Terrington, Simon ( ) 0-1 Gough, Nicholas L (179)
2 Stevens, Gareth (142) 0-1 Robins, Andrew S (157)
3 Varney, Andrew (145) 0-1 Sheridan, Martin (142)
4 Varney, Daniel (142) 1-0 Jacobs, Robert B (126)
5 Glenn, Liam (141) 1-0 Harvey, John (132)
6 Sayers, Mark (138) 1/2-1/2 Duck, Mike J (107)
Match played: 27 Feb 2014 2.5-3.5

Daniel won his game first in typical fashion winning in under hour, it took another hour before Gareth lost his game. Simon lost his game on the top board and Mark played out a drawish game on the bottom. Liam finished his game with Quadruple Fork! Forking his opponents King, Queen, Rook and Bishop. In Andrew’s game, he went an exchange up but went in to the endgame with Rook and Bishop v Queen with little time on the clock, he lost the game and the match fell from Cumnor’s grasp. Cumnor 1 need to dust themselves down with the next game on Monday against Oxford City 2.

The updated table can be found here.

Didcot 1 vs Cumnor 1 / Cumnor 2 vs Witney 4 [Match reports]

It was a mixed week for the two Cumnor teams this week with one win and one loss between them.

On Wednesday, the first team travelled to Didcot still looking for their first league win of the season.

Didcot, the team who were in division one last season, had a very strong team and when I say very strong I mean very very strong. Their fourth board being graded 171!

Didcot 1 Cumnor 1
1 Olehnovics, Andrejs (189) 1 – 0 Stevens, Gareth (149)
2 Gough, Nicholas L (179) 1 – 0 Glenn, Liam (140)
3 Crockart, Scott (173) 1 – 0 Bennett, Steven (114)
4 McInnes, Graham (171) 1 – 0 Cluley, Graham (113)
5 Cooper, Bernard D (157) 1 – 0 -Default-
6 Harkins, Sam (122) 1 – 0 Steel, Robert (87)
Match played: 6 Nov 2013 6 – 0

The Cumnor 1 team fell to a 6-0 loss but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Gareth Stevens looked to have made it to the endgame with a draw – however his opponent managed to force a win. Liam Glenn should have also picked up something from his game after gaining a tremendous amount of counterplay against his opponent’s king.

Meanwhile, Graham Cluley lost rapidly to his 171-graded opponent, at the hands of the Staunton Gambit.

Cumnor 2 had a better night on Thursday, with a 4-2 win over Witney 4.

Cumnor 2 Witney 4
1 Varney, Zoe (136) 1 – 0 Flory Mark (114)
2 Sayers, Mark (134) 1 – 0 Gilders Ian (113)
3 Carr, Robin (126) 1 – 0 Sheremetyeva, Elizaveta (114)
4 Cluley, Graham (113) 0 – 1 Coburn, Matt (101)
5 Ives, Marc ( ) 0 – 1 Blackwell, David ( )
6 Steel, Robert (87) 1 – 0 Murray, Jon (85)
Match played: 7 Nov 2013 4 – 2

Zoe Varney had a great endgame against her opponent on board one with minutes left. Mark Sayers and Robin Carr both won their games.

Graham Cluley is kicking himself endlessly over a blunder he made, giving away his Bishop – which he never recovered from.

Robert Steel picked up a win on the bottom board.