British knock-out chess championship, quarterfinal draw (games to be played 1 December):  Nigel Short v Alan Merry, Gawain Jones v Like McShane, Matthew Sadler v Jonathan Rowson, David Howell v Jonathan Hawkins.   Semifinals 2-3 December, final starts 4 December.
Watford reach semi-final of Russell Trophy, the Hertfordshire open team knock-out competition
Sunday evening sessions (6-8) for juniors have resumed at a new venue, Coach & Horses at Croxley Green


The club meets on Monday evenings (except 25 December and 1 January) at West Herts Sports & Social Club, Park Avenue, Watford, from 6.30 to 10.45.   

Chess is played in the Function Hall although members and visitors also have access to the separate and comfortable lounge bar area - as well as alcoholic beverages, the bar serves tea, coffee and soft drinks and a limited range of snacks including rolls.   Juniors have priority during the first hour .   There is ample free parking on Mondays at the new venue.

Members are asked to remember that glasses brought to the playing area need to be returned to the bar - they lack their own means of propulsion - and that the hall should be left tidy.


Sunday evening junior sessions (6-8) for juniors resumed at the Coach & Horses pub, Croxley Green, on 12 November.  

Sessions at The Happy Hour pub have ceased due to the pub's closure.   An article appears in the online (a search will reveal this) and print editions of the Watford Observer. There is an online petition against the closure at  







Next J4NCL weekend is 20-21 January at the Park Inn, Telford, with Watford having already entered three teams.   Any other juniors interested in taking part are invited to get in touch and, if there is sufficient demand, the club will consider running a fourth team.

Three Watford teams competed in the first J4NCL 2017-18 weekend (30 September/1 October) at De Vere Wokefield Park, near Reading, with 16 of our juniors spending part or all of the weekend there.   Our strongest team played in Division 1, which this year is FIDE-rated, and the other two teams in Division 2.   All three scored 50% or slightly better.

On the Saturday, Watford 1 lost 3-1 to Barnet Knights 1, drew 2-2 against 'English Queens' and won 2.5-1.5 against Barnet Knights 2.   Next day, the team lost 0-4 to 'The Duchess' and beat Camberley A 3.5-0.5.

Watford 2 drew 2-2 with Oxfordshire A and beat both Oxfordshire B 3.5-0.5 and Warwickshire Girls 3-1 before next day drawing 2-2 with Welsh Dragons Blue and losing 0-4 to 'Sleepless Knights 2'.  

Watford 3 lost 0-4 to Welsh Dragons Green and 1-3 to Warwickshire under-10 before receiving a third-round bye.   The team then went on to draw 2-2 with Camberley B before beating Oxfordshire C 2.5-1.5.

Final J4NCL weekend is 21-22 April 2018, again at Park Inn, Telford.   

Watford Juniors 1 (L to R, Avi, Kian, Aman, Roshan) at October J4NCL

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.  The new rules  now appear on the 4NCL website.


Watford Juniors 2 (L to R, Alexander, Dharmik, Bruno, Param.  Not shown, Karan) at October J4NCL 

Watford Juniors 3 (L to R, Zak, Siena, Avie, Theo.  Not shown, Lettie) at October J4NCL

More background on J4NCL appears at


Om Deshpande 5/5 winner, St Albans u-110, 29 October

Nikhil Valecha 4/6 at Brainstorm R'dplay u-8, 28 October

Siena Gurjar 5/6 at SE Girls u-8 Rapidplay, 15 October

Siena Gurjar 6/6 winner of Chelmsford u-8, 7 October

Jeremy Davies got to meet and play ex-world champion Garry Kasparov on 4 October, game appears below.

Omowale Nelson 4.5/7 in Isle of Man Major, 25 September-1 October

Andrew Stone scored 3/4 to win the Capel Cup (the Hertfordshire open individual championship) held 23-24 September while Sanjay Vig came second in the Bunce Cup restricted to those rated u-135

Kian Shah scored 4.5/9 (+3 =3 -3) in the European Youth u-10 championship 5-14 September in Romania.  


Until this is updated, please refer to the ECF Calendar 






The club is, for the first time, competing in the 4 Nations Chess League (the adult equivalent of J4NCL, but also open to juniors) which meets over five weekends in 2017-18.

Over the first weekend of 11-12 November, Watford edged a narrow 3.5-2.5 win against Fischer's Catch, a team including several strong Welsh juniors, in round 1 and scored a more comfortable 5.5-0.5 against Cambridge University 3 in round 2.  League table below, go to for more information.

The four later weekends are 13-14 January, 10-11 February, 24-25 March and 5-7 May (3 days), also at De Vere Wokefield Estate, near Reading, making a total of 11 rounds.  All games are ECF-graded and FIDE-rated. 

Main points to note are that it's 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.

Watford will, in all probability, enter a second team in 4NCL in 2018-19.    League table after round 2 of 11:

  P W D L GP Pts
The Pitstop 2 2 0 0 10 4
Iceni 1 2 2 0 0 4
Oxford 3 2 2 0 0 4
Watford 2 2 0 0 9 4
Wessex B 2 2 0 0 4
All Anands on Deck 2 2 0 0 8 4
Crowthorne 2 2 0 0 4
CSC 2 2 2 0 0 4
West is Best 4 2 1 1 0 8 3
Kent KJCA Kestrels 2 1 1 0 3
Fischer's Catch 2 1 0 1 2
CSC 3 2 1 0 1 2
Iceni 2 2 1 0 1 7 2
Surbiton 2 1 0 1 7 2
Barnet Knights 2 2 1 0 1 7 2
Oxford 4 2 1 0 1 2
Throw in the Tal 2 1 0 1 6 2
Poisoned Pawns 2 2 1 0 1 4 2
Brown Jack 2 2 0 1 1 1
K Kings 2 2 0 1 1 5 1
Camberley Juniors 2 0 1 1 5 1
MK Phoenix 2 2 0 1 1 5 1
Sussex Martlets 3 2 0 0 2 0
Iceni 3 2 0 0 2 3 0
Barnet Knights 3 2 0 0 2 2 0
Brown Jack 3 2 0 0 2 0
Invicta Chess 2 0 0 2 0
Cambridge University 3 2 0 0 2 ½ 0
D&D United 0 0 0 0 0 0
Barnet Knights 4 2 0 0 2 0 0



Simon Charles, en route to winning the club rapidplay on 1 August, takes on Theo Hurrell with eventual runner-up Cecil Sloan in the background



The junior waiting list closed on 20 September but will reopen later in the year.  Use the "Contact Us" link for more information.    

The Sunday evening training sessions (6 until 8) at The Happy Hour have now been discontinued, due to the pub's closure, but have since recommenced at the Coach and Horses at Croxley Green.



 The 2017/8 season began in early October.   Watford is running 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.   Watford teams are also contesting the four knock-out cup competitions.

As last year, the Watford team in the separate Hertford & District League (under-160 players only) is an all-junior side.



The club's Annual General Meeting took place on Tuesday 5 September 2017 and a motion passed adjourning matters to a further session held on Tuesday 10 October, following which the following elections/appointments were made:   


(** = committee)




** President

Hanisha Gurjar & Jennifer Hurrell (joint)

** Club Secretary

Paul Littlefair 


Hanisha Gurjar & Jennifer Hurrell (joint)

** Membership Secretary


Juniors Secretary

Roger Lancaster 

Tournament Secretary


Match Captains, 2017-18


Andrew Stone (1st, Russell)

Mace Carnochan (2nd) 

Cecil Sloan (3rd)

Paul Littlefair (Sharp)

Sanjay Vig (4th, u-140 k-o)

Pete Edwards & Geir Erik Nielsen (joint u-120 & u-120 k-o)

Christian Bland (Hertford & District)

Sanjay Vig (4 Nations Chess League)

Various (Junior 4NCL)


Geir Erik Nielsen 

Equipment Curator

Mace Carnochan 

** Other Committee members

(up to 5 additional positions)

Roger Lancaster, Cecil Sloan, Sanjay Vig, Darrell Pigott, Simon Charles 


Philip Abbott 




 Slip-ups by opposing teams meant that Watford narrowly retained the Division 1 title, which it has now won for the 5th consecutive year, before completing a "double" by winning the county open knock-out cup (known as the Russell Trophy) for the third time in those years.

Watford amassed 15 match-points (+6 =3 -3) from a maximum of 24. In a close finish, this left them just ahead of Hemel Hempstead and Little Heath (both with 14 match-points), Royston (13), Hertford (12), St Albans (10) and Bishops Stortford whose total of 6 match-points meant relegation.

Watford 2 (+5 =1 -6) and Watford 3 (+1 =1 -10) each played in Division 2, with the former ending in mid-table but the latter relegated.   Watford 4 (+10 =1 -3) won its last match to gain promotion, albeit only on tie-break, from Division 5. Another Watford team finished third (+8 =2 -4) of eight teams in the related under-120 league while yet another lost to Stevenage in the final of the county under-140 knockout cup.

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










Watford Chess Club email address

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (allow up to 2 days for reply)

English Chess Federation (up to date)

Hertfordshire Chess Association (this seems last to have been updated by Noah, just before the flood)

Hertfordshire Chess League results (up to date)

Hertfordshire Schools Chess Association (variable but currently seems up to date)



The English Chess Federation's "Chess Master @ The Local" programme arrived at The Happy Hour pub in Eastbury Road, Watford, on 25 August 2016   

Local juniors turned out in numbers to take on grandmaster Keith Arkell, 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 


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.    


1 e4 c5 2 g3 d6 3 Bg2 Nf6 4 d3 e6 5 f4 Be7 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 00 Bd7 8 Nc3 00 9 h3 Rc8 10 g4 Nd4 11 g5 Ne8 12 Be3 Nxf3+ 13 Qxf3 f5 14 Qe2 Bc6 15 Rae1 fe 16 Nxe4 b6 17 Bd2 Qd7 18 h4 Nc7 19 h5 Rce8 20 c4 Bd8 21 h6 g6 22 Bc3 d5 23 Nf6+ Bxf6 24 Bxf6 d4 25 Bh3 Bb7 26 Kh2 Qc6 27 Rf2 Bc8 28 Bg2 Qd7 29 a3 Rxf6 30 gf Rf8 31 Qe5 Ne8 32 f5 Rxf6 33 fe Rxe6 34 Qh8+ Black resigns