World championship match (Carlsen v Caruana) started Friday in London - first 5 games drawn, 6th game Friday at 3.0
4NCL, round 1, 17/18 November - Saturday's pairings include Barnet Knights 4 v Watford 1 and Shropshire 2 v Watford 2



The club meets on Monday evenings (6.15 - 10.45) at West Herts Sports Club, 8 Park Avenue, Watford WD18 7HP.   It is open on public holidays except 24 and 31 December 2018.

Chess is played in the Function Room although members and visitors have access to the separate and comfortable lounge bar area - as well as alcoholic beverages, the bar serves tea, coffee, soft drinks and a limited range of snacks.   Juniors have priority during the first 75 minutes.   

There is usually ample free parking on Mondays.   

Intending new members of all levels and abilities (with the obvious proviso that they know how to play chess) are welcome.  Club policy is that newcomers are allowed three visits as guests to sample the atmosphere and decide whether they wish to join the club - or, in the case of juniors, the junior waiting list.  (Juniors on the club waiting list are able to continue as guests).

Sunday evening sessions for juniors at Croxley have ended.



The 2018-19 competition has now begun.    Watford 1 (league champions for 5 of the past 6 years) has started with 2 wins from its first two matches while other Watford teams have had mixed fortunes.

Watford runs four teams in the main section of the league (in Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively) and a fifth team in the under-120 league.   

Last year, by way of change, Watford's first team (14 pts) could only finish third behind Little Heath (17) and Hemel Hempstead (15).

None of the other Watford teams were promoted or relegated, each finishing in mid-table.   In the separate under-120 league, the Watford team won comfortably.    The Watford team in the separate Hertford & District League (under-160 players only) was an all-junior side - except for one match where adults had to help out.   Our team won three and drew one of its 8 matches.

New players interested in representing the club in 2018-19 should get in touch!

Go to the foot of this column for league rule changes applying for 2018-19:







Second weekend of the 2018-19 season is at St Johns Hotel, Solihull, over the weekend of 19-20 January and we will shortly be assembling teams for this.   Most juniors play for the complete weekend but we can normally accommodate those who can play Saturday only or Sunday only.   Third and final weekend is 2-3 March in Daventry.

An unexpected sequence of events restricted Watford to just one team for the first J4NCL weekend of 29-30 September but we hope to be back to full strength (2 or 3 teams) for the two later weekends.   On the plus side, our September team (Alan, Aman, Avi, Theo, Sean, Avy) was strong enough to finish joint third (+3 =1 -1) in Division 2 - although the tie-break meant that the team missed out on a trophy.

Watford's Saturday J4NCL team - from back to front, Alan, Theo, Sean, Avy

To maintain its elite status, Division 1 is restricted to teams with average strength ELO1400 (or ECF standardplay equivalent) while Division 2 is open to teams with average strength ECF85 (whether standardplay or rapidplay).  

To meet FIDE requirements, Division 1 games will be played with a longer time-control, i.e. all moves in 80 minutes but with 10 second increments from move 1.   Saturday's games will commence 10.0, 13.30 and 17.0 with Sunday's games at 10.0 and 13.30.  Coaching sessions have been retained, aligned with the Division 2 timetable, but Division 1 players will be unable to attend these unless their games finish early.  These rules appear on the 4NCL website.

More background on J4NCL appears at




Tired of playing the boring old computers that always beat you or play so weirdly you can't understand what is going on, asks webmaster Geir Erik Nielsen? Read our article on Artificial Intelligence and how you can install it at home

Also embedded in the updated article is now a video of how to get the best of Arena and Leela at home.

As a teaser for it all, and as an incredibly instructive game, here is how Leela deals with the Benoni




Happy walkers on completing the 9km walk

Darrell, Geir, Phil and Cecil after the walk

Club members and others raised £610 (plus Gift Aid contributions) to support Alzheimer's Society on Saturday 15 September when taking a 9 km walk through Cassiobury Park and Whippendell Woods.   "Relive" the walk by going to

You can still contribute to the fundraising by going to  



The junior waiting list has now reopened and, to join the waiting list, you should use the "Contact us" facility to notify a child's name, gender, and year and month of birth.

Sunday evening training sessions at the Coach & Horses have now ended with the last session having taken place 1 July.




Cecil Sloan 3.5/5 at Central London u-2000, 3/4 November

Avy Dasgupta 4/6 at St Albans LJCC u-10 qualifier, 7 October

Club championship (Price Cup) second round pairings are at

Watford retained Cheshire Board after an 8.5-8.5 draw with St Albans, 24 September

Andrew Stone retained (tied 1st) the Herts Closed Championship, 22/23 September, with 2.5/3

The club's annual 10-minute tournament on 17 September was won by Andrew Stone in a play-off with Michael Lubarto (pic below) after each finished on 4.5/5

Jeff Tomy 4.5/6 (jt 4th) in UK Chess Challenge u-12 terafinal 15-16 September

Mace with Price Cup

Club champion Mace Carnochan with the Price Cup

Mace Carnochan conceded just one draw in 14 games while undertaking his simultaneous display on 3 September

Club rapidplay, 13 August, results at

Watford Junior (u-12) Rapidplay, 30 July, results on this site and at



Until this is updated, please refer to the ECF Calendar 






The 2018-19 season begins on 17-18 November when the first two rounds of this 11-round Swiss tournament will take place in Daventry, Northants.   The first round draw is shown at the foot of this column.

Watford's team selection (two teams, each of six players, taking part) for November has almost been finalised - there's one vacant spot on Sunday 18 November - from its squad of, currently, 20 club members including 7 juniors.   The next weekend is 12-13 January, this time in Bedford, and we are looking to strengthen our squad before then and so are very much open to further expressions of interest in taking part.    (You can use the 'Contact us' facility on this webpage to get in touch).

The three later weekends (9-10 February, 13-14 April, 4-6 May) are all at Daventry which is roughly 60 miles from Watford via the M1 and A45.   The two Watford teams will compete against 37 others.

If we can get our first team promoted out of Division 4 this season, that would open up the possibility of a third team taking part in 2019-20.   As an approximate guide, Watford 1 is intended to comprise players rated ECF150+ while the optimum Watford 2 team will comprise players in the ECF120-150 bracket although we aim to rotate team selection for our second team in order to give a wide range of players experience of playing under 4NCL conditions - details follow below.

If next year we can enter a third team, this would open up more playing opportunities to those in the approximate ECF80-120 range.

Main points to note are that 4NCL entails one round each day, with the rate of play 40 moves in 100 minutes (plus 30 second increments from move 1) followed by the rest of the game in 50 minutes (again with 30 second increments). That means a 60-move game could conceivably take as long as 6 hours, far longer than local league chess.  

Starting times are 2.0 on the first day of a weekend, 1.0 on the middle day of a three-game weekend, and 11.0 on the final day.  In theory, reserve games start one hour later on each day but, in practice, few (if any) seem to take place.   All games are ECF-graded and FIDE-rated.

Go to for more information, game scores appear at




If you are a member of Watford Chess Club (the "Club") or a junior on the Club's waiting list, your personal data will be processed by the Club for the purposes of Club and membership administration and to facilitate your participation in club competitions and similar events.  For fuller information, click "Privacy Policy" link under "Policies and Procedures".

Stone vs Lubarto

Andrew Stone and Michael Lubarto in blitz face-off on 17 September



Results as follows:   1 Ivan Chetverikov (£100 + £25 u-10 prize) 5.5/6; 2 Emily Maton (£70) 5; 3= Kyrylo Tokar, Max Yau (£20 each) 4.5; 5= Lettie Ganyushin, Tuhin Mitra, Ethan Yau 4; 8= Avyukt Dasgupta, Theo Hurrell, Dev Kotecha, Olivia Lisowski 3.5; 12= Harshini Mahesh, Elias Ruzhansky, Derek Yuan (these three shared £25 u-8 prize), Seb George 3;  16= Aarav Chavan, Parth Malhotra 2.5; 18= Daniel Ayoola, Timo Birke, Ishaan Chadha, Zara Dhorne, Oscar Kong, Rory Lynn 2; 24 Rohan Tathare 1.5; 25= Dhruv Kotecha, Thenral Manimaran 1.   Click item in 'Policies and Procedures' menu or go to  for cross-table.

The 2nd Watford Junior (u-12) Rapidplay is scheduled for Monday 27 May 2019 and the 3rd for 29 July 2019 although these dates are provisional at this stage.



1 Andrew Stone 4.5/5 (after playoff); 2 Michael Lubarto 4.5;  3 Jerry Rudge 4;  4= Ernest Karumazondo,  Mace Carnochan, Paul Littlefair (minor trophy winner), Omowale Nelson 3;  8= Nick Papathanasopoulos, Geir Erik Nielsen, Cecil Sloan, Nicky Cleaver 2; 12= Darrell Pigott, Pete Edwards, David Healey 1.   




The 2018 Annual General Meeting was held at West Herts at 7.45 on Monday 10 September. The agenda below omits various attachments sent by the club secretary.   There proved to be no contentious issues; club membership subscriptions kept at 2017-18 rates; new constitution adopted;  officers, secretaries and committee all elected as per agenda.


1.  Receive apologies for absence

2.  Approve minutes of September and October 2017 AGM

3.  Receive report from the President on the 2017-18 year, and to approve the Accounts for the financial year ending 31st July 2018

4.  Agree Club membership subscriptions for 2018-19

5.  Decide whether to adopt proposed new Constitution

6. Present trophies to winning individuals

7.  Elect Officers, Secretaries and Committee for 2018-19:



(** = committee)


Nominations received for 2018-19


** President/**Treasurer (joint)

Hanisha Gurjar, Jennifer Hurrell

Hanisha Gurjar, Jennifer Hurrell

** Club Secretary

Paul Littlefair

Paul Littlefair

** Membership Secretary



Juniors Secretary (newly **)

Roger Lancaster

Roger Lancaster

Tournament Secretary


Andrew Stone 

Match Captains

Andrew Stone (1st, Russell)

Mace Carnochan (2nd)

Cecil Sloan (3rd)

Paul Littlefair (Sharp)

Sanjay Vig (4th ,u140ko)

Geir Erik Nielsen/Pete Edwards (u120,u120ko)

Christian Bland (H&D)

Andrew Stone (1st, Russell)

Ernest Karumazondo (2nd)

Cecil Sloan (3rd)

Paul Littlefair (Sharp)

Geir Erik Nielsen/Pete Edwards (4th )

Sanjay Vig (u120,u120ko)

Christian Bland (H&D)


Geir Erik Nielsen

Geir Erik Nielsen

Equipment Curator


Bradley Mead-Herbert

** Other Committee members

(up to 4, previously 5, additional positions)

Simon Charles

Roger Lancaster

Cecil Sloan

Sanjay Vig

Simon Charles

Bradley Mead-Herbert

Cecil Sloan    

Sanjay Vig


Philip Abbott

Philip Abbott

 8.  Any Other Business  

Paul Littlefair




The following rule changes apply for 2018-19: 

3.6.4 Each pair of players decide on a rate of play. A proxy (e.g. team captain) may act on behalf of a player who is not present.
3.7.4 The home player (or a proxy acting on their behalf) must first decide, before starting the clock, whether they wish to invoke the 35 moves in 75 mins, plus 7 moves each 15 minutes rate of play. If they decline, the away player (or a proxy) then can decide. Note that the player choosing to play this rate of play travels in the event of the match continuing after adjournment.
3.8.1 For games played using the Fischer Timing rate of play (all moves in 70 mins plus 10 secs) clocks are stopped immediately by the player having the move when “time” is called and the game shall be sent for adjudication.
4.1.1 In grade-limited competitions, U120 League, knockout, etc, the ECF Grading List autumn revision will determine the grade for the whole season ahead, i.e. the January Grading List will be ignored.
4.1.2 In grade-limited competitions the team playing White on odd boards will be determined by the toss of a coin. 

Note:  Para 4.1.1 refers to what is colloquially described as "the August grading list", being the revised and definitive version of that normally published at the end of July ("the July grading list") 



Those interested in the history of this dispute can find details at ... cle?id=118  The FIDE Laws of Chess now include a new law 10.2 reading "The total score of any game can never exceed the maximum score normally given for the game ..." which covers this point.     







Everyone is welcome (to access, click on pictorial below) at Geir Erik Nielsen's YouTube channel at

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Watford Chess Club email address

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English Chess Federation 

Hertfordshire Chess Association 

Hertfordshire Chess League results 

Hertfordshire Schools Chess Association 

4 Nations Chess League (incl. J4NCL) 

Tournament chess results (main site for this)



Jeff Tomy (left) collects his share of first prize at St Albans, April 2018, from chief organiser Ray Claret.


4NCL Division 4 Round 1 Pairings

Two  of the competing 39 teams elected not to take part in round 1, the remaining 37 being paired (including one triangular match) as follows:

1 The Full Ponty - - - Fischer's Catch
2 Rook & Roll - - - West is Best 3
3 Ashfield 1 - - - Camberley Juniors
4 Sussex Martlets 3 - - - Warwickshire Select 2
5 Crowthorne 1 - - - The Pitstop
6 Check Innmates 3 - - - All Anands on Deck
7 MK Phoenix 2 - - - Iceni 3
8 Barnet Knights 2 - - - Wessex B
9 Oxford 3 - - - Wood Green Youth
10 Oxford 4 - - - Throw in the Tal
11 Chesstivus - - - Check Innmates 2
12 Poisoned Pawns - Next Generation - - - Shropshire 3
13 Wessex C - - - Celtic Tigers 2
14 Shropshire 2 - - - Watford 2
15 Crowthorne 2 - - - Ashfield 2
16 Banbury Bulldogs - - - Barnet Knights 3
17 Barnet Knights 4 - - - Watford 1
20 West is Best 4 - - - Cambridge University 3
21 Cambridge University 3 - - - CSC 3
22 CSC 3 - - - West is Best 4