Thursday, 30 June 2011


I was delighted to receive a copy of Jennifer Crook's brand new CD, Merry-Go-Round, for review.

My full review will follow soon. For now, let's just say that early impressions are very favourable and that Eddie Reader and Darrell Scott both make significant contributions.

Stay tuned for further thoughts.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Saturday Night at the Palladium

'That's where you'll find me...!'

I'm attempting to meet various deadlines this week (it's always the same at the end of a month) so a full report on this magnificent show will have to wait for a couple more days.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

CSC Update

There's an update on my activities as part of the Chess in School and Communities project here.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

2nd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament

The Second Mike Closs Memorial Tournament
The Cleveland Bay
18 June 2011

The final event in our Memorial Season, in honour of our dear friend Mike Closs, took place yesterday.

The Cleveland Bay was a new venue for our activities and it's definitely one I'd like to revisit (by the way, check out their Blues at the Bay page!). We had a quiet room all to ourselves and the buffet was absolutely magnificent (the seafood cocktail was especially good). Thank you, Peter!

The event itself featured an all-star line up and was split into various chessy activities. A blitz tournament (5-minute chess) ran throughout the day at regular intervals. Between the rounds there were lectures and a quiz.

Our room featured some great little touches

5-minute chess is a great leveller. Our best local juniors happily mixed it up with several county champions.

Dhruv v Norman

Arjun and his brother Dhruv both played in the 1st Memorial Tournament back in October. They moved to India shortly afterwards, but by a terrific coincidence they were back in town for this year's tournament.

Mike Creaney and Brian Ellis
Blitz chess requires great concentration!

Brian Whitaker and John Garnett blitzing away
But what has Jonathan spotted?

James Garner v Brian Whitaker

Aidan v Kevin

Arjun v David Wise

Battle of the Garners!

Kevin Winter came all the way from
the Leeds area to support the event

Norman v David Baillie and Julian v Dave Edmunds
These last-round games decided the top placings

David Wise - many times County Champion

Ian Elcoate, hard at work

Niall - executing a move in very delicate fashion

Now that is good concentration!

Dave Edmunds

The mighty Dhruv

Blitz King David Baillie in action against Brian Ellis

There's still some food left! Eat, people, eat!

Julian was the defending champion,

'No Kevin - the question was - do you have any points yet, not pints!'

It's amazing how Julian always manages to find a cup of coffee

Blitz Results

8/10: David Baillie

7.5: Julian Allinson

7: David Wise

6.5: John Garnett

6: Norman Stephenson, Dave Edmunds

5.5: Ian Elcoate

5: Mike Creaney

4.5: Niall Garner

4: Brian Whitaker, Brian Ellis, Arjun Tapasvi

3.5: James Garner Aidan Garner, Kevin Winter

2.5: Dhruv Tapasvi

David Baillie - Memorial Champion!
A very worthy winner

The rules of chess apply at buffets too.
It's definitely 'touch move' and 'touch take'

The first lecture of the day was presented by our very special guest, International Master Jonathan Hawkins. He talked us all through his remarkably quick win against Grandmaster Stuart Conquest.

Jonathan, who is one third of the way towards becoming a Grandmaster, is the strongest home-grown North East chess player to date. Beating Grandmasters with Black is clearly a very difficult business, but Jonathan made short work of it in this game. 19 moves is all it took.

The audience enjoyed Jonathan's talk. We all wish him well for the forthcoming British Championship.

My lecture was based on personal memories of playing against Mike. I used a game form the 1988 Guisborough Championship as the main focal point. I will return to the game in a future article.

The quiz was a real baffler. There were three sections. The first was to identify famous chess players from a series of photographs. Then there were some chess quotes to match with the players who first said them and finally a series of tactical positions to solve (all of which were taken from my own games with Mike).

If you thought the players had to concentrate hard during the blitz chess, you should have seen them during the quiz!

Elliot Closs was another very special guest

The chess pieces were able to rest while the players attempted the quiz. Some of them pulled up a chair and tried to help Ian sort out some of the answers.

One could hear a pin drop...

We finally managed to wrench the quiz papers from their hands. Well, we had to be out by 5 p.m...

Quiz Results

25 (out of a possible 29): Norman Stephenson

21: David Smith, David Wise

20: Jonathan Hawkins

18: David Baillie

17: Kevin Winter

16: John Garnett, Mike Creaney

14: Julian Allinson

13: Ian Elcoate

12:Dave Edmunds

8: Arjun Tapasvi, Dhruv Tapasvi

7: Niall Garner, Aidan Garner & James Garner

6: Brian Ellis

5: Brian Whitaker

Aha! There goes an answer...
Norman Stephenson - Quiz Champion!

Thank you to everyone who took part in this very special event. This marks the conclusion of the Memorial Season but we'll be back for another event next year.

Meanwhile, the next part of 'Memories of Mike' should follow here soon.