In a highly unusual move, Chess & Bridge Ltd have removed from sale the book by Raymond Keene and Byron Jacobs on the recent world championship match.   C&B tweet "We apologise to customers who purchased it from us and offer a refund/exchange.  Our customers deserve better".  

New ECF grades expected to be published around 25 January.



The club meets on Monday evenings (6.0 - 10.45) at West Herts Sports Club, 8 Park Avenue, Watford WD18 7HP.   Juniors have priority during the first 90 minutes.   There is usually ample free parking on Mondays.   

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 and soft drinks.     

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 apply to join the club.

Watford v Uxbridge, junior match, 7 January


The 2018-19 competition began in October.   Watford, league champions for 5 of the past 6 years, and reigning champions Little Heath currently lead Division 1.  

Provisional league table as at 15 January below.    In the match between the two leaders on 2 January, Watford hold a slender 2.5-1.5 lead with one game undecided.

DIVISION 1   P   W D L   MPs   GPs
Little Heath 1   5   4 0 1   8   15
Watford 1   5   4 1 0   9   16.5
St Albans1   7   3 1 3   7   16
Royston 1   5   2 2 1   6   13
Hertford 1   6   3 0 3   6   14
Hemel Hempstead 1   6   1 1 4   3   16
Hemel Hempstead 2   6   0 1 5   1   9.5


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.   At this early stage of the season, the teams have had mixed fortunes.

Watford also runs an all-junior team, playing against adult opposition, in the separate Hertford & District League.

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:







Third and final weekend of the 2018-19 season is at Daventry Court Hotel over the weekend of 2-3 March.   Most juniors play for the complete weekend but we can normally accommodate those who can play Saturday only or Sunday only.   

Unfortunately, we were not able to raise a team for the second J4NCL weekend in Solihull.   Earlier in the season, 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.  






London junior finals, 28-30 December:   Jeff Tomy 6/9 (jt 4th) in u-12 major, Maanav Nagda 6/9 (jt 5th) in u-12 minor

The London Club Championship is on Saturday 29 June, details at   Contact Roger Lancaster if interested in participating.

London junior finals, 15-16 December:   Maanav Nagda 4/7 in u-10 major, Avyukt Dasgupta 5/7 and Jake Tomy 4.5 in u-10 minor

Judith Tomy 5/6 at Camden LJCC u-8 qualifier, 1 December

Club championship (Price Cup) third round pairings are at


Mace with Price Cup

Club champion Mace Carnochan with the Price Cup

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 began on 17-18 November when the first two rounds of this 11-round team tournament took place in Daventry and continued with two further rounds in Bedford on 12-13 January.   Next 4NCL weekend is 9-10 February when we are back in Daventry which will also be the venue for later weekends of 13-14 April and 4-6 May.

Watford has a squad of 23 players, including 7 juniors, from which to select two teams (six players each) for every round.  Watford 1, aided by a little good fortune, has won its first four matches but Watford 2 - which has had no such luck - has struggled against some strong opposition. 

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 ECF155+ while the optimum Watford 2 team will comprise players in the ECF120-155 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.

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



"The calculation of grades for players and the publication of grading lists is recognised as being a core function of the Federation. Annual grading lists have been published since time immemorial, and for the past few years the time interval has been six-monthly.

"The Board recognise that there is a clear demand from many sections of the chess community for more frequent grading lists. They have set a target of providing monthly grading capability for the 2019/2020 season. The present method of calculating grades was devised to handle batch processing of of results, with each batch containing a significant number of results for each active player. This method of calculation is statistically unsound once the frequency of calculation is such that the number of results in each batch for the majority of players is small. Moving to more frequent grading lists will require us to replace the ECF calculation method with a more suitable one. For this reason there is no merit in a half-way house of, for example, quarterly grading lists.

"We assure organisers that, at least for a transitional period, there will be no requirement for leagues or club competitions to submit interim results while the event is still in progress, although as at present with six-monthly lists such interim submissions will be encouraged"




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 Luberto 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.





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

SackAndMate banner




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 table after 4 rounds

    P   W D L   GP   MPts
1 Ashfield 1   4   4 0 0   18   8
2 Watford 1   4   4 0 0   17½   8
3 Crowthorne 1   4   3 1 0   17½   7
4 Check Innmates 2   4   3 0 1   17   6
5 Wessex B   4   3 0 1   16½   6
6 Warwickshire Select 2   4   2 2 0   14½   6
7 West is Best 3   4   3 0 1   14½   6
8 Oxford 3   4   3 0 1   14   6
9 Celtic Tigers 2   4   2 1 1   15   5
10 Poisoned Pawns - Next Gen   4   2 1 1   14½   5
11 Throw in the Tal   4   2 1 1   13½   5
12 Sussex Martlets 3   4   2 1 1   13   5
13 Wood Green Youth   4   2 1 1   11½   5
14 The Full Ponty   4   2 0 2   15½   4
15 MK Phoenix 2   4   2 0 2   15   4
16 Ashfield 2   4   2 0 2   14½   4
17 Shropshire 2   4   2 0 2   14   4
18 All Anands on Deck   4   1 2 1   13   4
19 Banbury Bulldogs   4   1 2 1   12   4
20 CSC 3   4   2 0 2   11   4
21 Shropshire 3   4   2 0 2   10½   4
22 Fischer's Catch   4   2 0 2   10   4
23 Crowthorne 2   4   2 0 2     4
24 West is Best 4   4   ½ 2   12½   3
25 The Pitstop   4   1 1 2   11½   3
26 Iceni 3   4   1 1 2   6   3
27 Wessex C   4   1 0 3     2
28 Rook & Roll   4   1 0 3   9   2
29 Barnet Knights 2   4   1 0 3   8   2
30 Barnet Knights 3   4   1 0 3     2
31 Oxford 4   4   1 0 3     2
32 Check Innmates 3   3   1 0 2     2
33 Watford 2   4   0 0 4     0
34 Barnet Knights 4   2   0 0 2   3   0
35 Barnet Knights 5   0   0 0 0   0   0
36 Camberley Juniors   3   0 0 3   -2½   0
37 Chesstivus   2   0 0 2   -3   0
38 Cambridge University 3   1   0 0 1   -3   0