Breaking news - Watford retain Hertfordshire League championship - more follows
Among the FIDE law changes to become effective 1 July appears the following:   "10.2   The total score of any game can never exceed the maximum score normally given for that game ..." .   This outlaws results such as 1:1/2 in FIDE-rated events.    Memories of Aberystwyth 2014, anyone?
Watford poised to compete in next year's 4NCL - see details in right-hand column below






Two Watford teams took part in this event over the weekend of 22-23 April in Solihull, near Birmingham.   

Eleven teams played in Division 2 including, with many of our strongest juniors unavailable, the Watford teams.  

After the first day's play, Watford 1 were the only team with a 100% record while Watford 2 were one of four teams in joint second position.   However, on Sunday, nothing went right and both teams finished in mid-table.

Watford teams have competed in this event for the past three years.  It reckons to be an elite event, not open to near-beginners, through the operation of a rule that requires all squads to have an average grade of ECF75.   There is some flexibility for strong juniors who have yet to acquire a grading, but not much.   


After a hard day's play at April J4NCL, children and parents relax over dinner

J4NCL 2017-18 weekend 1 looks very likely to be 30 September/1 October at Daventry Court Hotel, Daventry. The other weekends are likely to be 20-21 January and 21-22 April at Park Inn, Telford. Please note that dates and venues have changed from those previously mentioned here.

More background on J4NCL appears at


Membership of the English Chess Federation is, to all practical purposes, compulsory for those wishing to participate in most organised chess activity. See for a definitive guide.  It's worth highlighting that juniors are entitled, on application, to get their first year's membership free.  

ECF membership is entirely separate from membership of Watford Chess Club although most Watford club members are also ECF members.  You do not, of course, need to be an ECF member to play friendly (non-competitive) games.  

To become an ECF member for the chess year 2016-17, which ends on 31 August, you need to pay your subscription before 30 June.  Subscriptions for 2016-17 will not be accepted after that date.   Shortly afterwards, the ECF website will commence to accept subscriptions for 2017-18.   For anyone who is a newcomer to organised chess, it's problematic whether it is worthwhile joining the ECF in April (when their membership will expire in a little over 4 months) when, in early July, they should be able to take out 2017-18 membership which will last for almost 14 months.   However, for almost everyone who has played competitive chess since 1 September last, joining by 30 June is a "must".



Hertfordshire Chess League, 2016/7

 Slip-ups by opposing teams mean that Watford now (20 April) have a respectable chance of retaining the Division 1 title, which they have won for the past 4 years.   In their final match, against Royston, Watford hold  a decisive 3.5-0.5 lead.   A win there leaves them with 15 match-points (+6 =3 -3) from a maximum possible of 24. Nearest challengers Little Heath have 13 (+6 =1 -4) with one match to play -- against Royston who remain in third place on 11 (+5 =1 -4) and also yet have to play Bishops Stortford.  

Either Little Heath or Royston (but not both, because at least one will lose ground through the match involving those two clubs) can draw level on 15 match-points, in which case the tie-breaker is game-points where Watford currently have a slender, but by no means unassailable, advantage.

The Watford team has meanwhile progressed to the final of the "open" county knock-out cup, the Russell Trophy, where Hemel Hempstead will provide the opposition.

Watford 2 (+5 =1 -6) and Watford 3 (+1 =1 -8) are each playing in Division 2, with the former in mid-table but the latter facing inevitable relegation.   The club has withdrawn its fifth team from the main league but Watford 4 (+9 =1 -2) are challenging to win Division 5.   Another team is doing well (+7 =2 -2) in the related under-120 league.    A Watford team has also reached the final of the county under-140 knockout cup, where it will face Stevenage.

The separate Hertford & District League, restricted to players graded under 160, has been contested by the club's junior team (+1 =1 -6) against adult opposition. The juniors have found the opposition tough but have enjoyed the experience.  Full results of all events may be found in the "Latest Results" section.


Watford J4NCL team in October 2016 - seated L to R, Christian, Karan, Kian, Jeff


News in brief:

Omowale Nelson scores 4/7 in the Southend FIDE Open, 14-17 April, while 11-year-old Adithya Pramod Paleri registers a ELO1903 performance  (+1 =3 -2) including draw against an FM

Theo Hurrell 3rd with 4.5/7 in Maidenhead u-10's, 12 April

Ernest Karumazondo jt 3rd with 3.5/5 in St Albans u-181, Param Vyas jt 2nd with 4/5 and Geir Erik Nielsen 3.5/5 in u-121, 1-2 April

Adithya Pramod Paleri 2nd with 4/5 in Nottingham u-160, 1-2 April

Ernest Karumazondo 3.5/5 in Hampstead u-2200, 11-12 March

A games cafe has opened at 87 Queens Road, Watford.   Distinguishing feature is that it stocks a wide range of games, including chess, for hire (cover charge, £1.50 per hour) for play at the cafe.   Menu at

Lettie Ganyushin 5/6 in Bury St Edmunds u-9 rapidplay, 5 March


Upcoming Congresses (mainly local):

Until this is updated, please refer to the ECF Calendar 







The club committee has agreed, in principle and subject to detail, to enter the 4 Nations Chess League (the adult equivalent of J4NCL, although also open to our stronger juniors) which meets over five weekends in 2017-18.

Those five 4NCL weekends are now confirmed as 11-12 November, 13-14 January, 10-11 February, 24-25 March and 5-7 May (3 days), all at De Vere Wokefield Park, near Reading, a total of 11 rounds.  All games are ECF-graded and FIDE-rated so "gold" 2017-8 ECF membership will be required.  Contact Roger Lancaster if interested.

Main points to note are that it's one round each day, with the rate of play being 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 per move).  That means a 60-move game could conceivably take as long as 6 hours, far longer than local league chess.   Starting times are normally 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 of a weekend.


Junior club membership

The junior waiting list is currently closed.  Use the "Contact Us" link if interested in joining.

As well as its Tuesday club-nights, the club offers two-hour (6-8) training sessions on Sunday evenings at The Happy Hour pub in Eastbury Road which are free and open to non-member juniors.   You can just turn up.   At least one adult member of Watford Chess Club is always present to supervise matters.

Coaching for juniors

We're still looking for club members willing and able to give talks (with large demonstration board available) on any aspect of chess to our juniors - preferred start time 7.0 with 30 minutes duration but flexible to accommodate speakers. Choice of three levels - basic (mainly targeted at juniors below ECF50), intermediate (ECF50-100) or advanced (ECF100+) at speaker's choice 


 Jeff Tomy, joint winner of London under-10 championship, December 2016, with Southern Counties junior organiser, Angela Eyton
Keith Arkell simultaneous

The English Chess Federation's "Chess Master @ The Local" programme arrived at The Happy Hour pub in Eastbury Road, Watford, on 25 August.   

Main event of the day was a simultaneous display given by international grandmaster Keith Arkell starting at 7.0.   Keith initially took on 12 opponents and, as the first batch of games ended, the retiring opponents were replaced by fresh faces. There was free entry, with ECF prizes plus a £20 meal voucher from The Happy Hour awaiting the first person to beat Keith.

Local juniors turned out in numbers to take on the grandmaster, along with some adult members of the club and rather more members of the general public who had been attracted by the publicity.   In all, 20 people played against Keith (a couple more than once!) but only former Zimbabwean international Ernest Karumazondo prevailed.

For more information, go to this Watford Observer article


Kian, Christian, Ralitza, Karan and (background) Maanav hard at work against grandmaster Keith Arkell 



L to R, Maanav, Theo and Layla in play against Keith Arkell 

Kian Shah, 9, ran grandmaster Keith Arkell close but former Zimbabwe international Ernest Karumazondo (background) was the only one to beat him


Club committee and officers

The club's Annual General Meeting took place at the Town & Country Club, Halsey House, Rosslyn Road, Watford commencing 7.45 on Tuesday 6 September 2016 and the following appointments were made:


(** = committee)




** President

Mike Boyce

** Club Secretary

Paul Littlefair


Jerry Rudge

** Membership Secretary


Juniors Secretary

Roger Lancaster 

Tournament Secretary

Mike Boyce

Match Captains

Andrew Stone (1st, Russell)

Mace Carnochan (2nd) 

Cecil Sloan (3rd)

Paul Littlefair (Sharp)

Sanjay Vig (4th, u-140 k-o)

Pete Edwards (u-120 & u-120 k-o)

Christian Bland (Hertford & District)


Geir Erik Nielsen

Equipment Curator

Mace Carnochan

** Other Committee members

(up to 5 additional positions)

Roger Lancaster

Cecil Sloan

3 vacancies


Philip Abbott


 Main points from AGM - annual subscriptions unchanged except for £5 junior increase to cover extra J4NCL costs, Cecil Sloan elected to executive committee, Watford fifth team withdraws from Herts League (although u-120 team remains) due to insufficiency of available players, and Watford junior team poised to compete in Hertford & District League



March 2016:  Watford 1 team (L to R, Aman, Jeff, Dhruv, Avi) with the J4NCL runners-up trophy 


 Youngest (Harish) and oldest (Simon) players at Keith Arkell simul

 Theo Hurrell celebrates third place in the Shenley u-10 event, November 2016

Aberystwyth 2014 - FIDE amends rules


Those interested in the history of this dispute can find details at ... cle?id=118  

The new draft FIDE Laws of Chess, just published, 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.  


Interim Child Protection Policy

Club members are asked to note the addition, effective 2 November 2015, of an extra sentence reading "The Interim Child Protection Policy shall be interpreted as applying to vulnerable adults as well as to children." 


 Barry David, seen here (left) with  the President of Armenia Deaf Sport, finished 6th in the World Deaf championships held in Yerevan, May 2016