We are delighted to have welcomed three new Members in recent weeks: Mircea-Marius Mesesan, who is also still with Tamworth CC, and the two returners, Ed Ng and John Broadmore, who both played for our First Team several or more years ago.


We have to thank the executor of the late Ernest Pearson from North-Western England, who died this autumn, for the bequest of a large number of old chess books, many of which will now be freely distributed among our interested Members.

We are pleased that Ernest's own love of the game and its literature will be perpetuated here through this thoughtful gift.

Our Club has reached the Final of the Cannock League, Cannock Chase Trophy by beating Stafford 3½-½. Our most notable performance was by David Howles on bottom board who beat a player graded 70 points higher than him! We meet Wolverhampton or Tamworth in the Final.


The First Round of the Sutton Coldfield Chess Club Major Championship (U160) is already under way:

  • John Mildenhall bye
  • Larry Hayden beat Peter Oliver
  • Albert Czopek v Josh Hannion
  • Rob Marks beat Ian Morley
  • Roy Lawrence beat David Howles
  • Jet Ajimal beat Chris East
  • Nigel Byrne beat Steve Palla
  • Ed Ng beat Mike Darlow

First Round losers will be entered in the Major Plate.

Updated 26-November-2019

Recent individual successes:

  • Our International Master, Ameet Ghasi, won the UK Open Blitz Championship, Birmingham Qualifier 07-Sep-2019, with a perfect score of 15 wins. He goes through to the national Final on 16-Nov-2019 in Solihull.
  • The Captain of our Dudley League and Cannock League teams, Marek Soszynski, came equal first in the Bradford Chess Congress, Major Section (U171) 13/15-Sep-2019.

Our Birmingham League 2019-2020 Captains, and squads to be registered, were selected at the Executive Committee Meeting, Monday-19-August-2019 and thereafter:

  • 1st Team (Division 1) Golam Ali
  • 2nd Team (Division 2) John Mildenhall
  • 3rd Team (Division 4) Rob Marks
  • 4th Team (Division 5) John Wassell
  • 5th Team (Minor Division) David Howles

Marek Soszynski will continue to captain our teams in the Cannock and Dudley Leagues.

Our complete Fixture List (in PDF format) for winter 2019-2020 is now available, but bear in mind that it will undergo very many updates as the season progresses.

Sutton Coldfield CC won the 14th Cold War Cake Match 12-August-2019 against our annual rivals Warley Quinborne CC. Lots of cake, lots of chess. Our very special thanks for the food goes to three women: Sue Howles, Jay Rahmatullah, and Debarati Guha.

Our thanks go to Henrik Stepanyan for giving a Simultaneous Display on 13 Boards on 05-August-2019.

Despite offering to be black, Henrik still scored 69% — winning 8, drawing 2, and losing only 3 to Rob Marks, Neil Owen, and Chirag Guha.

The Club's Blitz Tournament on 29-July resulted in a three-way tie for 1st place between Golam Ali, John Mildenhall, and Neil Owen, who each scored 6 points out of 7.

Congratulations to Marek Soszynski on achieving the official title of Correspondence Chess Expert (CCE) awarded and ratified by the ICCF and recognised by FIDE. And if Robert Marks continues to gain Expert and Master norms, he too will be awarded a title in due course.


The English Chess Federation has issued its new Grading List 22-July-2019. See the ECF Grading Database for full details.

Here are the Club's top ten in three categories:

Longplay Grade Rapidplay Grade Longplay Games
1st Ghasi 251 Ghasi
258 Stepanyan 61
2nd Sygnowski 214 Stepanyan 217 Guha 50
3rd Ortega 212 Sygnowski 216 Byrne 49
4th Stepanyan 210 Ortega 200 Hayden 38
5th Guha 186 Owen 182 Ali 37
6th Owen 169 Ali 168 Gardiner 35
7th Escott 166 Guha 167 Ghasi 33
8th Soszynski 164 Mildenhall
161 Marks
9th Lawrence 155
10th Ali
151 Hayden
142 Kent 30

The most improved player is our humble Webmaster himself, Marek Soszynski, who gained 10 grading points in longplay, and 12 in rapidplay. His longplay drawing rate of 23% (arguably an inverse measure of competitiveness) was bettered only by Chirag Guha with a truly remarkable 18%.

Congratulations to Henrik Stepanyan on winning our annual Lightning (Buzzer) Tourney on Mon-22-July-2019 for a record-breaking tenth time. Henrik (left) is shown receiving the trophy from Chairperson Keith Escott, who ran the tourney. Top finishers in this nine-rounder were:

  • 1st Henrik Stepanyan 8½ pts (£50)
  • 2nd Neil Owen 7 pts (£35)
  • 3rd Golam Ali 6½ pts (£25)
  • 4th John Mildenhall 5½ pts

Summer's nearly over and winter is in sight?! Well, it is for us chess players...

Sutton Coldfield CC, Summer Programme & Start of 2019-20 Winter Season

  • Monday 22nd July: Lightning (Buzzer) Tourney with cash prizes
  • Monday 29th July: Blitz Tourney followed by Curry Knight
  • Monday 5th August: Simultaneous Display by Henrik Stepanyan
  • Monday 12th August: Cake Match, Sutton Coldfield v Warley Quinborne
  • Monday 19th August: Committee Meeting (Squad Selection)
  • Monday 26th August: Bank Holiday (Chess Club closed)
  • Wednesday 4th September: Birmingham League Division 4, Coleshill v Sutton Coldfield
  • Thursday 5th September: Cannock League Division 1, Lichfield v Sutton Coldfield
  • Monday 9th September: Birmingham League Division 1, Sutton Coldfield v Halesowen
  • Wednesday 11th September: Birmingham League Division 5, Solihull v Sutton Coldfield
amended 28-July-2019

Brief report of the proceedings at our Annual General Meeting 01-July-2019...

  • All the officers re-elected. (Captains are not appointed till August.)
  • Individual membership fees remain at £20 a year, £10 for juniors.
  • David Howles elected as the Clubman of the Year.
  • Mike Darlow elected, unanimously, as a Life Member.
  • John Mildenhall presented with Club U170 Championship trophy.

For the second year running at a New Hall Mill open day, Sutton Coldfield Chess Club organised an exhibition stand under a canvas gazebo. Club members Rob Marks, Marek Soszynski, and David Howles spent Sunday-23-June-2019 answering queries, playing friendlies, distributing leaflets, and generally trying to enthuse the passers-by into chess — with occasional success even!

The Mill, which is located off Wylde Green Road, next to Bishop Walsh School, holds several open days a year. Website: New Hall Mill (Walmley)

Sutton Coldfield Chess Club end of 2018-2019 winter season summary report

Here are the successes or near-successes of our teams or individuals representing our club...

  • Birmingham Homer Trophy — Runners-up
  • Birmingham Individual U161 — Winner: John Mildenhall
  • Cannock Division 1 — Champions
  • Cannock Robert Ward Trophy — Winner: David Gardiner
  • Cannock Robert Ward Plate — Winner: Nigel Byrne
  • Dudley Division 1 — Runners-up
  • Staffordshire Gothard Cup — Runners-up

We also have to report one disappointment...

  • Birmingham Division 3 — Relegated
amended 22-May-2019

Our first real trophy of the season! 21-March-2019 Sutton Coldfield drew with Lichfield 2-2 and thus retained the Cannock League Division 1 Championship. Team regulars Marek Soszynski (Captain), John Mildenhall, and Nigel Byrne scored 75% between them.

We have a new captain in a new competition! David Howles is the Sutton Coldfield Captain in an extra Birmingham League, Minor Division (previously known as the "F" League) which is for teams of 3 players graded under 85. The matches are already on our Fixture List.

We just need one or two more players of that strength, or inexperienced newcomers without a grade at all, to expand the squad. Interested?

At the inaugural Solihull 960 Rapidplay 10-March-2019 Henrik Stepanyan won all 5 rounds, came 1st, and received £150 (less than originally advertised). Tomasz Sygnowski came equal 2nd. Well played!

Our first trophy of the season? Not exactly.

The tiny new Dora Cup is consolation for our 1st Team's and 2nd Team's disappointing results in the Terrill and Homer competitions, not to mention the mixed performances of our other teams this season.

The Sutton Coldfield Chess Club U170 Championship is now at Round 2, the quarter-final stage, with some of this round's matches already completed.

  • Chris East 0 Marek Soszynski 1
  • Rob Marks v Larry Hayden
  • John Mildenhall 1 Peter Oliver 0
  • Nigel Byrne v Jet Ajimal

Following the victories of 14-Jan-2019, we still have 4 teams involved in various cup competitions. We have reached...

  • Semi-Final ― Terrill Trophy ― B'ham League (1st Team)
  • Final - Homer Plate ― B'ham League (2nd Team)
  • Quarter-Final ― Chase Trophy ― Cannock League
  • Final ― Gothard Cup ― Staffordshire Association

Our Equipment Secretary, Rob Marks, approvingly inspects one of our new, handcarved, weighted and felted boxwood sets that arrived at the Club 10-Jan-2019.

Let's hope our members appreciate the enhanced playing experience provided by the chess pieces and don't blame them for their own wooden performances!

At the Shropshire Congress held 4/6-January-2019 in Telford, two of our members topped the FIDE-rated Open section: Ameet Ghasi outright 1st (£1,000), and Tomasz Sygnowski outright 2nd (£300). That's despite there being 3 Grandmasters in the field. Ameet is himself "only" an International Master who joined our Club around October-2018.


We wish all our members and visitors a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

As usual, the Chess Club will be meeting neither on Bank Holidays nor on or between 24-Dec and 01-Jan. (The Minworth Social Club itself, though, will be open throughout.) Our home programme over the holidays is:

  • Thu-20-Dec — Last meeting before the Xmas break
  • Mon-24-Dec (Xmas Eve) — Chess Club closed
  • Thu-27-Dec — Chess Club closed
  • Mon-31-Dec (New Year's Eve) — Chess Club closed
  • Thu-03-Jan — First Thursday Gambit Tournament

We are pleased to welcome new member Wojciech Czopek. Wojciech, or Albert as he is known to his English friends, has an ECF grade of 173.

Congratulations to John Mildenhall on winning (and running!) the November First Thursday Gambit Tournament. Neil Owen came second. All games started from the Hickmann Gambit: 1.c4 f5 2.e4 fxe4. White scored 47%.

A reminder that on the first Thursday night of every month the club runs a small tournament. Anyone can enter, members or not, so do come along! The starting position for all the games is decided at random before the start of the competition shortly after 7:30pm.

Congratulations to Tomasz Sygnowski and to Henrik Stepanyan for coming joint 2nd in the Birmingham Rapidplay (Open) at Quinborne Community Centre, Quinton, 21-October-2018.

Congratulations to Henrik Stepanyan on winning October's First Thursday Gambit Tournament. Our thanks go to Neil Owen, who came second, for running the pairings. All games started from the Barreiro Gambit: 1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Nc6. White scored 53%.

At the British Bangla Chess Association Rapidplay at Broadway Academy, Perry Barr, held 30-Sep-2018 Henrik Stepanyan came 1st in the Open while Marek Soszynski came =2nd in the Major.

Our Chess Club had a display stand at the New Hall Mill open day Sunday-09-September-2018. The Mill is located along Wylde Green Road, next to Bishop Walsh School.

Our gazebo attracted dozens of visitors, some to play chess, some to chat or ask questions. Hopefully a few will turn up at the Club.

Our thanks go to Rob Marks and Marek Soszynski for running the show, and to members Neil Owen, Roy Lawrence and Mike Darlow for stopping by.

September's First Thursday Gambit Tournament was won by John Mildenhall, half a point ahead of Neil Owen. The games all started from the King's (Bishop) Gambit, Steinitz Defence: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Ne7. White scored 54%. Congratulations to John, and thanks to Marek Soszynski, who came third, for running the tourney.

Visit our new First Thursday Gambit page for a history of this event including past winners.


Now available is our new Fixture List for the 2018-19 winter season across all the leagues and competitions we've entered. Altogether we have about 60 scheduled matches ― with a few more to come involving cups and maybe playoffs. This List will be regularly updated with results and postponements, from the same link.

Sutton Coldfield CC have regained the Neddy Trophy!

In the 16-board Cake Match 16-August-2018 we beat our annual rivals, Warley Quinborne CC, 17½–14½. The photo shows Sutton Captain Marek Soszynski on the left receiving the Neddy Trophy from opposition captain John Fahy. Our thanks go to our Warley hosts for 3 tasty cakes: an ale cake, a sponge cake, and a fruit cake.

Congratulations to John Mildenhall on winning the inaugural Sutton Coldfield Chess Club, Major Championship (U170). John will be presented with the trophy after it has been engraved. He beat Peter Oliver in the Final 13-August-2018. Twelve players competed altogether. The next Major Championship will be advertised in September once the winter season has started.

Our First Thursday Gambit Tourney on 02-August featured the Evans Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4. Neil Owen was the victor, conceding only half a point. White scored 53%.

The new English Chess Federation standardplay grades were issued 26-July-2018. Our top dozen current players are:

  1. Irvin Ortega 214
  2. Henrik Stepanyan 210
  3. Tomasz Sygnowski 206
  4. Russell James 195
  5. Chirag Guha 175
  6. Keith Escott 172
  7. Neil Owen 170
  8. Golam Ali 169
  9. Marek Soszynski 156
  10. John Mildenhall 153
  11. David Gardiner 150
  12. Roy Lawrence 148

For more details, visit the ECF Grading Database webpage, which is updated and revised throughout the year.

Congratulations to Henrik Stepanyan on winning our 2018 Lightning Tournament on 23-July with 8½ points from the 9 rounds. Second was Neil Owen with 6½ points. Equal third on 6 points were Marek Soszynski and the visiting former member Jan Chudzinski. The picture shows Jan (on the left) with Henrik holding the trophy. Our thanks, as ever, go to Keith Escott for running the tourney.

The following week, on 01-Aug, there was a Handicap Tournament at Boldmere CC. Henrik won that outright with Jan coming joint second.

In brief: At our Annual General Meeting 16 July 2018, the principal officers were re-elected, subscriptions stayed at £20 a year (£10 for juniors), Golam Ali was elected Clubman of the Year, and it was decided to hold a Lightning (Buzzer) Tourney on Monday 23-July.

Our First Thursday Gambit Tourney on 05-July featured the Falkbeer Counter Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5. There were 6 Rounds played at 3'+5". Neil Owen was the victor, scoring 5 wins with 1 loss. White scored 50%.

Congratulations to us on retaining the Staffordshire Chess Association, Gothard Cup (U161). In the Final on 25-Jun-2018 we beat Cheddleton CC on board count despite being outgraded overall. Our victorious team was: Nigel Byrne, Roy Lawrence, Rob Marks, and Jet Ajimal. Well done!

We had so many trophies to be presented with at the Birmingham League, Annual General Meeting 11-June-2018 that we had to send several Members to collect them. From left to right, John Mildenhall, Marek Soszynski, Golam Ali, and Neil Owen. (Not pictured at the curry house were Keith Escott, Rob Marks, and Russell James.) The trophies included the League Championship, Summer League Championship, Team Lightning Championship, and two Individual Championships.

Our First Thursday Gambit Tourney on 07-June featured the Elephant Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5. There were 5 Rounds played at 3'+5". Neil Owen was the victor, winning all his games. White scored 60%.

Congratulations to Marek Soszynski on winning the 2018 Birmingham League, Morry-Wood, Best Game prize (£30 + Shield + Certificate). The award was decided on a tie-break; perhaps it was the powerful finish that swung the decision.

Here is that finish, as played in the Open section Minor Counties match (Lincolnshire v Warwickshire) 24-Mar-2018: 31...Rxf1! 32. Kxf1 (32.Qf5+ Qxf5 33.exf5 Rb1 34.Kxf2 Rxf5+ winning) 32...Qc4+ 33. Re2 Qxe2+! 0-1.

White resigns because of the further 34.Kxe2 f1=Q+ 35.Ke3 Rf3+ 36.Kd2 Rd3+ 37.Kc2 Qd1 checkmate.

Sutton Coldfield CC have always had a great record in the Birmingham League Individual Championships. This year we have another two champions: Rob Marks (Division 3), and Chris East (Division 5). Well done to them both!


The Sutton Coldfield Chess Club, Major Championship (U170) is an ungraded, seeded knockout with all moves in 75 minutes each. It has already reached Round 2, the quarter-final stage, for which the draw is:

  • Marek Soszynski v Peter Oliver
  • Jet Ajimal v Larry Hayden
  • John Mildenhall v Chris East
  • Nigel Byrne v Rob Marks

Huge congratulations to our First Team, under the captaincy of Golam Ali, who have won the Birmingham League Division 1 Championship! A squad of 11 players was used. The most regular players, each having played 11 out of the 12 matches, were Henrik Stepanyan, Neil Owen, and Keith Escott. Henrik had the best percentage score of 86% having won 8, drawn 3, and lost 0.

Our congratulations go to Rob Marks on winning the Rugeley Rapidplay U120 Section on 07-Apr-2018. Rob scored 6½/7, and won the £120 first prize.

The First Thursday Gambit Tournament on 05-Apr-2018 featured the Budapest Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 etc.) and was won by Neil Owen. Black scored 50%. Our thanks go to John Mildenhall for running the tourney.

A fantastic performance by our Club at the Birmingham League Team Lightning Tournament 13-Mar-2018 at Olton CC. Our 1st Team, in the top section, Section A, were first by a large margin; our 2nd Team, in Section C, were second, only half a point behind the leaders. In addition, two of our players scored a perfect 5/5: Henrik Stepanyan (1st Team) and Chris East (2nd Team).

Our victorious 1st Team, the 2018 Team Lightning Champions, comprised Henrik Stepanyan, Neil Owen, Marek Soszynski, and Golam Ali.

Congratulations to the two of our Members who have reached the Cannock League, Robert Ward Trophy Final: Peter Oliver (representing Tamworth CC) and Nigel Byrne.

Our congratulations go to Henrik Stepanyan! He is the outright Warwickshire Champion 2018-2019 for his performance at the Warwickshire Open Chess Championships 2018 held in Coventry on the first weekend in March. He had twice previously only shared the title.

Our 4th Team is on a roll! Captain Jet Ajimal has seen them win 4 and draw 1 of their last 5 matches in Birmingham League Division 5. And we aren't talking narrow victories here: their total games score was an impressive 23-7.


At our second First Thursday Gambit Tournament on 01-Feb-2018 the opening randomly chosen was the Kingfisher Gambit 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4. The top finishers were 1st Henrik Stepanyan, 2nd Neil Owen, equal 3rd Golam Ali & Marek Soszynski. White scored 60%.

According to the ECF Grading List published 23-January-2018, here are our leading members based on their standardplay grades and games played in the 12 months up to 31-December-2017.

Our Top Dozen - Grades
1st Irvin Ortega 217
=2nd Henrik Stepanyan 209
Tomasz Sygnowski 209
4th Russell James 200
5th Neil Owen 179
6th Golam Ali 174
7th Keith Escott 172
8th Chirag Guha 171
=9th Marek Soszynski 163
John Mildenhalli 163
11th David Gardiner 158
12th Iqbal Dhesi 148
Our Top Dozen - Games Played
1st Nigel Byrne 64
2nd Chirag Guha 48
3rd Golam Ali 47
4th Marek Soszynski 39
5th Roy Lawrence 37
6th Henrik Stepanyan 33
7th Peter Oliver 30
8th Larry Hayden 29
9th John Wassell 28
=10th John Mildenhall 27
Rob Marks 27
12th Arthur Kent 26

For more details, visit the ECF Grading Database webpage, which is updated and revised throughout the year.

Henrik Stepanyan blindfolded.

Blindfold Consultation Game

Thursday 18-Jan-2018 Henrik Stepanyan, without sight of the board, played a single game against Members of Sutton Coldfield Chess Club in consultation.

Although Henrik (graded 211 ECF) put "The Room" under continuous pressure, after forty moves the position had resolved into a four-rook and pawns ending which though better for Henrik was probably technically equal, so the game was agreed drawn - to everyone's relief!

No, the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey picture doesn't represent how it was actually played. Henrik unaided merely sat out of sight.

Cup report: This week we have gone through to the Cannock League Chase Trophy Final (against Brewood), and were already through to the Staffordshire Gothard Cup Final (sometime in June, against Fenton or Cheddleton). However, for completeness, we must also report that by now all our Birmingham League teams have exited (or hadn't entered) their respective trophy competitions.


Following the success of our first ever thematic competition, from now on we will be holding a First Thursday Gambit Tournament on - can you guess? - the first Thursday in each and every month. So, the next one will be Thu-01-Feb.

Meanwhile, on Thu-18-Jan there will be a Consultation Match between Henrik Stepanyan and The World or, rather, The Room.

Thur-11-Jan-2018 the Club held its inaugural First Thursday Gambit Tournament. The format was 6 (was going to be 5) rounds of 10 minutes each, every game in the entire tourney starting from the same position, one not previously advertised to the players.

On this occasion, drawn out of a hat, was the Gibbins Weidenhagen Gambit accepted 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4 Nxg4. 10 players competed, with others observing. The top finishers were: 1st Henrik Stepanyan, equal 2nd Chirag Guha & John Mildenhall. Our special thanks go to Neil Owen for running the tournament.

Is the GWG, also known among other things as the Bogart Gambit, sound? Well, in our tournament White scored 55% while only 3 games out of the 30 were drawn.


Wishing all our Members a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year both on and off the chessboard.

As usual the Chess Club does not meet over this period (though the Minworth Social Club itself is open as usual). Just to be clear, we are not meeting on New Years Day.

  • Thursday 21-December - Chess Club meets for friendly chess - our last meeting of 2017
  • Thursday 4-January - Chess Club meets for friendly chess - our first meeting of 2018
  • Monday 8-January - Chess Club meets for our first home fixture of 2018 (B'ham League Division 3)

Our thanks go to Golam Ali and Keith Escott for organising and running a Super Blitz Tournament 11-December to replace a league fixture that was cancelled at short notice. The prize winners were:

  1. Henrik Stepanyan
  2. Chirag Guha
  3. Neil Owen

We are pleased to report that the following Members have progressed to Round 2 of their respective Birmingham League Individual competitions:

  • John Mildenhall (Division 2)
  • Rob Marks (Division 3)
  • Chris East (Division 5)

Thanks to everyone who turned up on Thursday 09-Nov-2017. The evening started with a 5-round blitz tourney (time control 3 minutes plus 5 second increments) run by John Mildenhall. Highest finishers were:

  1. Henrik Stepanyan
  2. Golam Ali
  3. Neil Owen

Afterwards Marek Soszynski gave a talk entitled How to Draw a Lost Position.

Great performances at the 20/20 Midlands Qualifier at Birmingham University on Sunday 22-Oct-2017.

The Sutton Coldfield A side came 2nd, losing only to last season's national champions, Warwick University. Thus we qualify for the Grand Final in Birmingham, first weekend in February 2018.

Individually, we came away with several medals plus other prizes including ICC membership, new software and books:

  • Marek Soszynski - Gold - A4
  • Henrik Stepanyan - Silver - A1
  • Noel Brown - Bronze - A3
  • Arjun Pyda - Bronze - B2

Our two Bronze Medal winners, Arjun and Noel, are shown in the picture. (Permission by 20/20 Chess.)

Well done everyone!

Our schedule for Thursday nights is as follows. From 7.30pm to 9pm there will be a small tourney on a theme (e.g. endgame or gambit). Then at 9pm there will be a talk or tuition. Here are the next few Thursdays:

  • 26-Oct - 19:30 Blitz Tourney - 21:00 How to Draw a Lost Game (Marek Soszynski)
  • 02-Nov - 19:30 Endgame Tourney - 21:00 Latest FIDE Rules (John Mildenhall)
  • 09-Nov - 19:30 Gambit Tourney - 21:00 Demo Board Talk (Henrik Stepanyan)

Our Chess Club now meets on Thursday nights in addition to our usual Monday nights. Our first Thursday night will be 19-Oct-2017 (on which date we will be in the back room, which has a separate side entrance). These Thursday nights are meant for friendly games, talks and tuition, etc. This is for a trial period until Xmas. Our league and cup fixtures continue to be Mondays only.

Good team work! All our cup sides have progressed to their next rounds by comfortable margins:

  • Terrill Trophy: Sutton Coldfield 1 5-3½ Redditch 2
  • Terrill Trophy: Shirley & Wythall 3 2½-5 Sutton Coldfield 2
  • Townshend Trophy: Rushall 6 2-4½ Sutton Coldfield 5
  • Chase Trophy: Sutton Coldfield 3-1 Lichfield


Having returned from playing in the European Deaf Club Championship in Sweden, Jet Ajimal was at last presented with the Cannock & District Chess League, Robert Ward Plate on 31-Jul-2017.

And then at the Executive Meeting 21-Aug he was appointed our new 4th Team Captain (Birmingham League Division 5).


Over three dozen people attended the Cold War Cake Match on 14-August. Unfortunately, Sutton Coldfield lost to Warley Quinborne 13½-19½. Henrik Stepanyan and Ian Morley were the only Suttonites to win both their games. Still, it was a great social evening with a buffet and of course a magnificent cake - created by Alison and Chris East.


31-July-2017 Henrik Stepanyan (who recently achieved his highest-ever ECF grade - 211) gave a 14-Board Simultaneous Display at the Chess Club.

Henrik (pictured standing) scored 11/14 (79%) losing only to Roy Lawrence (pictured far left, who was awarded the Best Game prize) and Mike Darlow; Henrik drew only with Marek Soszynski and last-to-finish Rob Marks.

Follow the fortunes of our own Chirag Guha (playing under a Welsh flag) as he competes in the 104th British Championships in Llandudno ending 5/6-August-2017. In 2014 Chirag was the British U10 Champion; this year he is playing in the British U14 Championship section in the mornings, not to mention the U180 section in the afternoons!

According to the ECF Grading List published 27-July-2017, here are our leading members based on their standardplay grades and games played in the 12 months up to 30-June-2017.

Our Top Dozen - Grades
1st Irvin Ortega 216
2nd Henrik Stepanyan 211
3rd Pablo Padilla Cabero 205
4th Tomasz Sygnowski 205
5th Russell James 202
6th Neil Owen 172
7th Chirag Guha 171
=8th Keith Escott 170
=8th Golam Ali 170
10th David Gardiner 162
11th Marek Soszynski 161
12th John Mildenhall 159
Our Top Dozen - Games Played
1st Chirag Guha 68
2nd Nigel Byrne 61
3rd Golam Ali 38
4th Robert Marks 37
=5th Larry Hayden 36
=5th Marek Soszynski 36
7th Arthur Kent 30
8th Henrik Stepanyan 29
9th Roy Lawrence 27
10th Peter Oliver 24
11th John Wassell 23
12th John Mildenhall 22

For more details, visit the ECF Grading Database webpage, which is updated and revised throughout the year.

The leaders of the nine-round Time Handicap Tournament on 24-July-2017 were 1st: (8½ points) Henrik Stepanyan; 2nd (7 points) Peter Oliver; =3rd (6 points) Roy Lawrence, and Neil Owen; and 5th (5½ points) Golam Ali. The rest scored less than 50% and should prefer to remain anonymous.

The top finishers in the Swiss seven-round Lightning (Buzzer) Tournament held 17-July-2017 were:

  1. Henrik Stepanyan 6½ points
  2. Neil Owen 5½
  3. John Mildenhall 5
  4. Marek Soszynski 4
  5. Rob Marks 3½

In the picture Henrik Stepanyan (centre) is being handed the Clubman of the Year Trophy from Treasurer Rob Marks (left) and at the same time being presented with the Lightning Trophy from Chairperson Keith Escott (right) who ran the tourney.

Headlines from the 2017 Annual General Meeting 10-July:

  • Keith Escott continues as Chairperson and Secretary.
  • Marek Soszynski steps down from the treasurership after 18 years and is appointed a Life Member. He remains as Webmaster, etc.
  • Rob Marks is the new Treasurer.
  • Henrik Stepanyan is voted Clubman of the Year for the first time.
  • Yearly membership subscriptions stay at £20 adult, £10 junior.
  • John Mildenhall returns to his role of Members Representative.
  • Newcomer David Howles is appointed Reporting Accountant.
  • The Club plans to meet for a second night of the week in addition to Mondays. Watch this space!

The two Sutton Coldfield CC members, Jet Ajimal and John Wassell, are also members of Birmingham Deaf CC, and they will be representing that club in the European Deaf Club Championship in Lund, southern Sweden, 07/12-July-2017. Bon voyage!

Our top team has won the Birmingham Summer League Open Division! Compliments to the Captain, Golam Ali, and to his entire squad, but in particular to the two players who played most games, Henrik Stepanyan with 10 points from 14 games, and Tomasz Sygnowski with 9½ points from 12 games.

For the first time in its history, Sutton Coldfield CC (as representatives of the Cannock League) entered the Staffordshire Chess Association's Gothard Cup - and beat Fenton CC in the Final five-nil! So that's another trophy in the cupboard.

The Chess Club's summer programme and remaining fixtures will be, subject to confirmation, as follows:

  • Mon 03-Jul SL-U561: SC v Rushall
  • Mon 10-Jul Annual General Meeting (followed by Executive Committee Meeting)
  • Mon 17-Jul Lightning Tourney
  • Mon 24-Jul Handicap Tourney
  • Mon 31-Jul Simul by Henrik Stepanyan
  • Mon 07-Aug Free night
  • Mon 14-Aug 12th Annual Cake Match: SC v Warley Q
  • Mon 21-Aug Squad Selection Meeting
  • Mon 28-Aug Club does not meet (Bank Holiday)

We are pleased to welcome Trevor Smith as a new member.

We are delighted to welcome the strong player Tomasz Sygnowski as a new member. Tomasz has ECF grades of 202 standard and 205 rapid. He goes straight into our Summer League 1st Team.

The season's Birmingham League Division 3 Individual Champion is David Gardiner, and the winner of the Cannock League Robert Ward Plate is Jet Ajimal. Well played both!


Seasons Greetings! A reminder that as usual Sutton Coldfield Chess Club will not be meeting on Bank Holidays (though Minworth Social Club is open as normal), so the next few weeks are as follows:

  • Monday 17-April - Chess Club closed (Easter Monday bank holiday)
  • Monday 24-April - Sutton Coldfield v Tamworth (Cannock Chase Trophy Final) - our last match of the 2016-2017 winter season.
  • Monday 01-May - Chess Club closed (Early May bank holiday)
  • Monday 08-May - Chess Club open

This year we are in 4 Cup Finals - count 'em! - all yet to be played:

  • Tuesday 04-April - Terrill Trophy (Birmingham League) - versus South Birmingham 1A @ Olton CC
  • Monday 24-April - Cannock Chase Trophy (Cannock League) - versus Tamworth @ Sutton Coldfield CC
  • Saturday 10-June - 20/20 Chess Grand Final - venue tba
  • Wednesday 14-June - Gothard Cup (Staffordshire CA) - versus Fenton @ Stafford CC

Hooray for our 2nd Team (3A), under the captaincy of Rob Marks, on gaining promotion from Birmingham League Division 3. A successful team must have successful players, and the following were unbeaten in the 11-match campaign: Marek Soszynski (10 games played), John Mildenhall (10), Neil Owen (7), and David Gardiner (4).


Congratulations to Henrik Stepanyan on coming =2nd in the Birmingham Rapidplay Open alongside GM Keith Arkell (and others) and having been beaten only by the tournament winner, GM Mark Hebden. Held 26-Mar-2017 at Quinborne Community Centre.

Sutton Coldfield CC's second trophy of the 2016-2017 winter season: the Cannock League Division 2 Championship, which we won by winning our last match of the season (Sutton Coldfield 4 Lichfield 0). Well done again!


Sutton Coldfield CC's first trophy of the 2016-2017 winter season: the Cannock League Division 1 Championship, which we retained by beating South Birmingham CC home and away. Chirag Guha and Marek Soszynski scored 100% in their games. Well done!


We are delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Owen MSc MBPsS as the Chess Club's first Performance Psychologist. Neil, already well qualified in this discipline, will be operating quasi-informally within the Club to improve individual and team results.

Congratulations go to our BDCL 1st Team on reaching the Terrill Trophy Final, and to David Gardiner on reaching the BDCL Division 3 Individual Final.

We are pleased to welcome David Howles as a new member. David will be joining our Birmingham League 4th Team squad.


The latest ECF Grading List was published 30-Jan-2017. Our three highest-graded players are Irvin Ortega (216), Pablo Padilla Cabero (202), and Russell James (200). But which of us has played the most standard games in the last 12 months? Here are our top dozen:

    Games Grade
1st Chirag Guha 84 163
2nd Nigel Byrne 57 138
3rd Rob Marks 43 141
4th Marek Soszynski 40 160
=5th Russell James 35 200
=5th Larry Hayden 35 124
=5th Arthur Kent 35 124
8th Pablo Padilla Cabero 34 202
9th Arjun Pyda 29 127
10th Noel Brown 28 137
11th Henrik Stepanyan 26 199
=12th Golam Ali 25 169
=12th John Mildenhall 25 154

Sutton Coldfield Chess Club was the only genuine club to enter the rapidplay 20/20 Qualifier held at Birmingham University 28-Jan-2017. A total of 16 teams competed, mostly universities, nevertheless our 2 teams both qualified for the Super Final (in June); in fact our A Team came 2nd.

Our top scorers were: 4/5 Rob Marks who won a bronze medal; 3½/5 John Mildenhall, Chirag Guha, Neil Owen, and Noel Brown. Four other members took part.


Sharp-eyed observers will see a grey-haired John towards the centre of the picture and, on his right, a bearded Henrik Stepanyan. [Picture by Peter Hornsby, 20/20 Chess Founder and Director.]

We are pleased to welcome Garry Britland as a new member.

In case you were wondering why on earth our previous Division 5 Captain Rory Melough stepped down mid-season, and what he could possibly be doing now that was more attractive than captaincy, have a look at Rory in South East Asia. His illustrated travelogue is certainly worth reading.

We are very pleased to have the experienced Chris East take over as our 4th Team Captain (Birmingham League, Division 5). Chris succeeds Rory Melough who is going on foreign travels for a while.

At the same time we welcome two new members - Ken Hilton and Marcin Bazydlo - who will join Chris's 4th Team squad.


Season's Greetings to all our Members, visitors, and local chessplayers!

As usual, the Chess Club will not be meeting over the Xmas period (though our venue, the Minworth Social Club and Lodge, will be open throughout). See you for our last meeting in 2016 on 19-Dec, then for the first time in 2017 on 09-Jan when we host two exciting cup matches.

  • Monday 19-December: Birmingham Division 5 (534) Sutton Coldfield v Solihull
  • Monday 26-December: Chess Club does not meet (Bank Holiday)
  • Monday 2-January: Chess Club does not meet (Bank Holiday)
  • Monday 9-January: Birmingham Terrill (Te3-2) Sutton Coldfield 1 v Warley Quinborne 2A
    Monday 9-January: Birmingham Barrington (B3-2) Sutton Coldfield 5 v Westminster 5


Following the two home matches on 10-Oct-2016 (including a 6-0 Division 1 victory) several of our members (not all pictured) went for a celebratory Curry Knight at our usual eatery, the Jahed Restaurant on Birmingham Road in Wylde Green.


The Chess Club now has its very own noticeboard in the foyer of Minworth Social Club thanks to our new Equipment Secretary, Rob Marks, seen pictured inspecting its placement and contents, which he arranged.

Derek Green, a sometime Equipment Secretary and Captain, has left the Chess Club. We thank him for his truly exceptional service to the Club over several years. And we wish him well for the future.

Here are the headlines from the night of our Executive Meeting, 22-August-2016:

  • Our Captains were confirmed for the Birmingham League winter season, including Larry Hayden as our new 3rd Team Captain.
  • The squads were selected for our Birmingham League teams, 4 of them as we will not be re-entering a 5th Team (in Division 6).
  • Two new Members were inducted: Russell James (ECF 201) and the ungraded Robert Buckley.

Unfortunately, the 11th Annual Cake Match, Warley Quinborne v Sutton Coldfield, 18-August-2016 was lost by Sutton 16½-11½.

Of our Members, only Henrik Stepanyan (Board 1) and Derek Green (Board 8) had plus scores.

Fortunately, given the event, instead of humble pie we ate delicious marzipan-topped cake instead.

Our thanks go to Henrik Stepanyan (current ECF rapidplay grade 203) for his Simultaneous Display on 15-Aug-2016. Against 14 players he scored +8 =2 -4 which is 64%. His only losses were to Pablo Padilla Cabero, Jet Ajimal, Neil Owen, and last-to-finish Derek Green.

Last year Pablo Padilla Cabero won our first-ever Time Handicap Tournament; this year 08-Aug-2016 he triumphed again. Well done! Equal second were John Mildenhall, Marek Soszynski, and Henrik Stepanyan. 14 players took part altogether, with Keith Escott officiating. The format was a 6-round swiss, each game 10 minutes in total but split by strength (maximally 8 minutes versus 2).

Henrik Stepanyan.

Well done Henrik Stepanyan! He won our Lightning (Buzzer) Tournament 01-Aug-2016 with a perfect score of 7 wins from the 7 rounds.

Henrik also becomes the first holder of our new lightning-bolt trophy specially created for the Club by Derek Green - see our Lightning Winners page.

Golam Ali came 2nd in the tourney while equal third were John Mildenhall and Neil Owen (who has rejoined the Club after his university studies).

Our thanks go, as ever, to Keith Escott for running the tournament and providing some prizes.

The latest ECF Grading List was published 23-Jul-2016. Our three highest-graded players are Irvin Ortega (217), Pablo Padilla Cabero (195), and Henrik Stepanyan (194). But which of us has played the most standard games in the last 12 months? Here are our top ten:

    Games Grade
1st Chirag Guha 71 163
2nd Nigel Byrne 55 137
3rd Rob Marks 52 140
4th Marek Soszynski 43 159
5th Pablo Padilla Cabero 42 195
6th Larry Hayden 37 127
7th Noel Brown 36 134
8th John Mildenhall 35 155
9th Roy Lawrence 33 138
10th Peter Oliver 32 113

Headlines from our Annual General Meeting 11-July-2016:

  • All of the Club Officials who stood for re-election were re-elected unopposed;
  • Rob Marks was elected as the new Equipment Secretary (succeeding Derek Green);
  • Larry Hayden was elected as the new Members Representative (succeeding John Mildenhall who is leaving the area);
  • Golam Ali was elected Clubman of the Year;
  • Club subscriptions were unchanged at £20 adults, £10 juniors.

The Club held an End of Season Party 27-June-2016 (coinciding with the England v Iceland football match) to celebrate its recent triumphs. Among other things that night, there was a free buffet, an analytical quiz [see picture above showing a few of the contestants] won by Henrik Stepanyan, and a chess general knowledge quiz won by Keith Escott. There was also a special presentation to Keith in acknowledgement of his First Team captaincy down the years. Our thanks go to Golam Ali, Derek Green, and Marek Soszynski for helping to make this such a successful evening.

Our thanks go to Pablo Padilla Cabero for his simultaneous display on 20-Jun-2016 (coinciding with the England v Slovakia football match). His twelve opponents included most of our First and Second teams, and only one ungraded player, so he did well to score 58% (+4 =6 -2) losing only to John Mildenhall and last-to-finish Golam Ali.

Yet another cup! Congratulations to Chirag Guha on being awarded the 2015-2016 W. Ritson Morry Trophy for "outstanding achievements in chess" by a junior member of the Birmingham & District Chess League.

Headlines from the Executive Meeting held 16-May-2016.

  • Our exciting summer programme was outlined, with some very special events. (More details in a separate news item soon).
  • A Lightning Trophy will be purchased to present to the winning member. This year's tourney will be on 01-Aug.
  • The Club intends to field 5 teams (as before) in the Birmingham League winter season with the following Captains: 1 - Golam Ali, 3A - Rob Marks, 3B Derek Green, 5 - Rory Melough, 6 - tba.
  • Golam Ali was elected to be the Club's Safeguarding Officer.

Congratulations to Marek Soszynski on being the outright winner of May 2016's Rhyl Major (U170) for which he received a cheque for £250.

Cannock League Trophy. 

Sutton Coldfield Chess Club's 2015-2016 winter season is now complete.

On the last night of our campaign, 25-Apr-2016, we retained the Cannock League Division 1 Championship. The impressive trophy, standing over 41cm (16") tall is pictured on the left.

This adds to the winning of the Birmingham League Division 1 Championship, the Birmingham League Team Lightning Championship, and the retention of the English Chess Federation National Club Open Championship.

What a season!

Unfortunately, our Birmingham League 2nd Team, which is in Division 2, has been relegated. Only the captain Rob Marks, and Marek Soszynski on Board 1 or 2, scored more than 50%. Next season the 2nd Team will be competing alongside our 3rd Team, which had itself been battling relegation in Division 3, but survived.

Our appreciation goes to the 10 Members who represented Sutton Coldfield Chess Club at the English Chess Federation, National Club Championships 2016 held at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham Airport 09/10-Apr-2016.

Our Club retained the Open Championship, and in the two other sections we entered we were at least placed ahead of local rivals South Birmingham, and Warley Quinborne.

Individually, the following performed above their grade: John Mildenhall, Roy Lawrence, and Arjun Pyda, but a special mention should be made of the following trio:

Game Points
Out of 4
Marek Soszynski 175 155
Noel Brown 170 127 3
Rob Marks 168 136 3

Noel's performance was all the more remarkable as he was unbeaten, and despatched a 178-graded opponent along the way.

Our other players were Henrik Stepanyan, Keith Escott, Chirag Guha, and Peter Oliver.

Marek and Rob co-managed our teams; we appreciate their work.

In 1979 a young Keith Escott, in his debut as 1st Team Captain, led Sutton Coldfield to the Birmingham League Division 1 Championship. Thirty-seven years later (pictured 11-Apr-2016), he has done it once again!

Many congratulations to him and his regulars: Irvin Ortega (unbeaten), Pablo Padilla Cabero (only 1 defeat), Henrik Stepanyan (only 1 defeat), Golam Ali, and John Mildenhall.

During the 12-match campaign, out of the 72 possible board places, substitutes were used in just 6 instances - and were unbeaten.

A magnificent, historic victory for Sutton Coldfield Chess Club, our eighth Division 1 Championship of the biggest local league in the country.

Our congratulations go to John Mildenhall on a record-breaking fourth Birmingham League Division 2 Individual Championship won 22-Mar-2016.
A great night for Sutton Coldfield Chess Club at the BDCL 2016 Lightning Team Tournament held 15-March at Olton CC.

Our A-Team won the top section while our B-Team came second in the other section. The tournament's Individual prize was won by Rob Marks on 6/6 ahead of another Sutton Coldfield player Pablo Padilla Cabero on 5/5.

We are delighted to welcome Alex Hurley as another new member of our club. Alex has joined our Birmingham League Division 6 squad.

Congratulations go to 3 of our players who have reached the Finals of various local league individual championships:

  • John Mildenhall (Birmingham League - Division 2)
  • Rob Marks (Birmingham League - Division 3)
  • Nigel Byrne (Cannock League - Robert Ward Trophy)

Which of our current Members have played the most standard-play games over the last 12 months? Well, according to the 26-Jan-2016 ECF Grading Database, here are all of us who have exceeded twenty...

1st Rob Marks 56 (pictured)
2nd Nigel Byrne 55
3rd Chirag Guha 50
4th Henrik Stepanyan 40
=5th Pablo Padilla Cabero 39
=5th Noel Brown 39
7th Larry Hayden 38
=8th Marek Soszynski 33
=8th John Mildenhall 33
10th Golam Ali 32

11th Trevor Gazee 29
=12th Peter Oliver 28
=12th Roy Lawrence 28
=14th Steve Edwards 25
=14th Des Green 25
16th Arthur Kent 24
17th Chris East 23
18th John Wassell 22
=19th Jet Ajimal 21
=19th Marek Biernacki 21

We are delighted to welcome Thomas Vanes as another new member of our club. Tom will be joining our Birmingham League Division 6 squad.

The new grades for January 2016 have been published. See the ECF Grading Database page for details. Our own Club's top ten players are:

1st Irvin Ortega 217
2nd Henrik Stepanyan 192
3rd Pablo Padilla Cabero 186
4th Golam Ali 178
5th Keith Escott 172
6th David Gardiner 164
7th Chirag Guha 161
=8th John Mildenhall 155
=8th Marek Soszynski 155
=8th Nigel Byrne 155

We are delighted to welcome Venkatesh Pyda as a new member of our club. He will be joining our Birmingham League Division 6 squad. His son, Arjun, is already playing with success in that division.


On the same night (09-Nov-2015) that two of our players progressed to the next round of their Birmingham League Individual Tourneys - Rob Marks (Division 3) and Peter Oliver (Division 5) - we were pleased to welcome the new junior, Matthew Humber to our Club.
Which of our current Members have played the most standard-play games over the last 12 months? Well, according to the 3rd Revision (25-Oct) of the ECF July 2015 Grading Database, here are all of us who have exceeded twenty...

1st Nigel Byrne 61
2nd Pablo Padilla Cabero 46
=3rd Larry Hayden 41
=3rd Noel Brown 41
=3rd Rob Marks 41
6th Henrik Stepanyan 37
7th Marek Biernacki 35
8th Marek Soszynski 33
=9th Arthur Kent 31
=9th Trevor Gazee 31

11th Chirag Guha 30
12th John Mildenhall 29
13th Peter Oliver 27
=14th Golam Ali 26
=14th Jet Ajimal 26
16th Des Green 24
=17th David Gardiner 23
=17th Chris East 23

We are pleased to welcome another new Junior Member, Arjun Pyda, who will be joining our Birmingham League Division 6 squad.


We are delighted to welcome Chirag Guha as a new Member. [Photo by Richard Stevenson.]

Chirag is the 2015 Welsh U16 Champion (though he was only 11 years old at the time of his win!) and was the 2014 British U10 Champion.

Also to be joining us is Chirag's younger brother, Anuraag Guha.

On 24-Aug-2015 the Club's Executive Committee Meeting selected the Captains and squads for the forthcoming winter season leagues.

In the Birmingham League, our Division 1 Captain is still Keith Escott, though he would like to retire from this role at the end of the season. Rob Marks is the new Division 2 Captain (although he himself starts registered in the division below). Derek Green is the Division 3 Captain. Des Green will captain both our Division 5 and our new Division 6 teams.

In the Cannock League, Marek Soszynski continues to captain our Division 1 and Division 2 (plus Chase Trophy) teams. Des Green is Captain of the Division 3 team, and also captains a Staffordshire Cup team.

Monday 17-August-2015 saw the 10th Annual Cold War Cake Match between Sutton Coldfield CC and Warley Quinborne CC.

The first round of graded rapidplay games (20m+10s) finished level at 7½-7½, but Sutton stormed the second 10½-4½ to finish overall winners on 18-12.

Alison and Chris East created a magnificent Madeira cake specially for the occasion.

Monday 10-August saw a Time Handicap Tournament of 9 rounds with each game lasting 10 minutes. Equal strength players got 5 minutes each but the strongest players against the weakest was split 2 minutes versus 8, and so on. This threw up some unlikely final placings - which was the point of the handicap! 15 players competed, the top finishers being...

  • 1st Pablo Padilla Cabero 7½ points
  • 2nd Roy Lawrence 6 points
  • =3rd Martin Berridge 5½ points
    Trevor Gazee
    Larry Hayden
  • =6th Noel Brown 5 points
    Peter Oliver

Our thanks go to Keith Escott for running the tourney, and to Derek Green for realising the format.

Our AGM decided to order a set of new DGT 2010 (SG) digital clocks, which have just been delivered. Here they are, still in their sealed boxes.

The English Chess Federation's July 2015 Grading List was published 25-Jul-2015. 37 of our actual, current Members have an ECF grade. Here they all are in standard-play grade descending order:

Irvin Ortega 213
Pablo Padilla Cabero 192
Henrik Stepanyan 191
Golam Ali 175
Keith Escott 171
David Gardiner 166
John Mildenhall 160
Marek Soszynski 159
Nigel Byrne 156
Roy Lawrence 152
Shailesh Jobanputra 152
Iqbal Dhesi 146
Larry Hayden 142
Ed Ng 137
Glenn Windows 135
Noel Brown 134
Derek Green 131
Arthur Kent 130
Rob Marks 130
Keith Lawson 129
Jan Chudzinski 124
Mike Darlow 121
Chris East 119
Jet Ajimal 118
Marek Biernacki 117
Peter Thompson 113
Jason Battersby 105
Dave Randall 95
Kyri Koni 95
John Wassell 94
Ed Brown 87
Ian Morley 77
Blazej Radzimirski 76
Trevor Gazee 60
Des Green 51
Andy Bellis 48
Vijay Venugopal 39

We are delighted to welcome back John Wassell as a Member.

On 20-Jul-2015 Henrik Stepanyan gave a 12-Board Simultaneous Display and scored +8 =3 -1 or 79% which was all the more impressive considering that 10 of the players were graded with an average of 148ECF.
Congratulations to Rob Marks on picking up a cheque for £133.33 for coming joint second in his first-ever individual congress, the U135 Section of the 3rd 4NCL Congress at Birmingham Airport 17/19-July.
The Sutton Coldfield Chess Club, Annual General Meeting was held Monday 13-July. These were the principal actions:
  • The main officers were re-elected unopposed;
  • John Mildenhall was elected as Members Representative;
  • Rob Marks was elected as Clubman of the Year;
  • It was decided to keep membership subscriptions the same (£20 adult, £10 junior);
  • It was decided to purchase 12 new digital clocks;
  • Henrik Stepanyan's Simultaneous Display was brought forward to 20-July.

We are pleased to welcome 3 new Members! Jet Ajimal (113ECF, previously with Stourbridge CC), and the 2 juniors, Mikail Ali, and Ibrahim Shariff.

In the Lightning Tournament held 06-July the joint winners on 5½ points from the 7 rounds were Henrik Stepanyan and John Mildenhall; 3rd was Noel Brown. 
Our Summer Programme of special events and meetings has now been decided. They all start after 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome to take part in the simul and the two tournaments: Members free, Non-members £1.
  • Monday 06-July
    Lightning (Buzzer) Tournament
  • Monday 13-July
    Annual General Meeting
  • Monday 20-July (amended date)
    Simultaneous Display: Henrik Stepanyan
  • Monday 10-August
    Time Handicap Tournament
  • Monday 17-August
    Cake Match: Sutton Coldfield v Warley Quinborne
  • Monday 24-August
    Committee Meeting: Squad Selection

We are pleased to welcome our latest new Member Eric Ortega - brother of Irvin.

Confirmation that Sutton Coldfield CC has won the 2014-2015 Cannock & District Chess League Division 2 Championship under the captaincy of Marek Soszynski. Altogether 11 players were used in the 8-match campaign; notably, Nigel Byrne was unbeaten in his 5 games, likewise Noel Brown in his 4.

27-April-2015 our top player, Irvin Ortega (219 ECF) gave a Simultaneous Display against 15 players including most of our First and Second Teams. Irvin scored +9 =3 -3 or 70%. His only losses were to Roy Lawrence, Golam Ali, and Jan Chudzinski.

Congratulations to Rob Marks on winning the Birmingham League Division 5 Individual Championship. He beat our own Chris East in the Final.
Sutton Coldfield Chess Club have won the English Chess Federation's National Club Championships held at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham Airport over the weekend of 11/12-Apr-2015.

Our Club won the Open, which is the top section, and also the Intermediate and Minor sections. Altogether 16 players from Sutton Coldfield played in the 3 teams with notable performances by Robert Marks, Irvin Ortega, and Marek Soszynski who each won all of their games. The picture shows Derek Green, who captained our successful Minor team, making a move; alongside him is Robert.

More of Brendan O'Gorman's photos of the event can be found on or via the ECF website. Thanks to him for permission to use them here.

We are pleased to welcome our latest Member, Craig Davis.

Sutton Coldfield Chess Club is entering the ECF National Club Championships 11/12-Apr-2015 at the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn. Our 3 teams' participation is managed by Derek Green. Altogether 16 Members will be playing for our Club. Good luck everyone!

Grade Captain
Open open Henrik Stepanyan
Major 175 avg
not entered
Intermediate 150 avg
John Mildenhall
Minor 125 avg
Derek Green

In the B'ham League Team Lightning, held at Olton CC, our 'B' Team captained by Chris East came 2nd in its section and won a cash prize. Well done!


Congratulations to our Birmingham League 4th Team (Division 5), captained by Des Green, who have reached the Final of the Jim Barrington Memorial Trophy. They will be playing Greenlands (Division 4) at Olton CC on Tuesday 14-Apr.

Welcome to new Member, Kyri Koni. Kyri will be joining the ranks of our Birmingham League 4th Team (Division 5).

  Sutton Coldfield CC has now gained its first trophy of the season, the 2014-2015 Cannock & District Chess League Division 1 Championship. We beat South Birmingham CC, at their venue in the decisive match of the campaign, to take the trophy away from them.

A special mention should be made of Nigel Byrne, David Gardiner, and Derek Green who each appeared in 3 of the 4 matches, which was more than the successful Captain, Marek Soszynski did.


Who are our top ten players, and which of us has played the most standard games in the last 12 months? According to the ECF January 2015 Grading List:

Top 10 Grades
Top 10 Games
1st Irvin Ortega
1st Pablo Padilla Cabero
2nd Pablo Padilla Cabero
2nd Nigel Byrne
3rd Henrik Stepanyan
3rd Larry Hayden
4th Keith Escott
4th Trevor Gazee
5th Marek Soszynski
=5th Noel Brown
6th David Gardiner
=5th Arthur Kent
7th John Mildenhall
7th Marek Soszynski
8th Roy Lawrence
8th Henrik Stepanyan
=9th Golam Ali
=9th Marek Biernacki
=9th Shailesh Jobanputra
=9th Des Green

Birmingham League Individual Tournaments - interim report.

Division 2: 2 Entries from Sutton Coldfield CC (out of 11 from all Clubs)
  • Nigel Byrne has reached a Semi-Final
Division 3: 1 Entry (out of 6)
  • Arthur Kent has reached the Final
Division 5: 5 Entries (out of 10)
  • Trevor Gazee and Robert Marks meet in a Semi-Final
  • Chris East has reached a Quarter-Final
Remarkably, Trevor has advanced this far without playing a single game! All thanks to a bye and a default.

What happens on a club night?
It all depends, but here's a snapshot from 12-Jan-2015: While on one side of the room there was a six-board quarter-final match (which we won), the resumption of an adjourned game, and an individual championship game; on the other side there was Henrik Stepanyan (200ECF in Jan-2014) giving an impromptu simultaneous display against five players in which he conceded only one draw.
As usual during this time of year, the Chess Club will be closed for one week; so there is no meeting on Monday 29-Dec. The first meeting of 2015 will be on Monday 5-Jan (with 2 matches occurring). Of course Minworth Social Club remains open over the Xmas & New Year period.

Our very own Noel Brown recently competed in the Minds Sports International U1900 Final [U160ECF] in London. Noel scored a very creditable 50% over the 9 rounds for an estimated performance of 145ECF, which included a draw against the tournament winner.

[Picture by permission of Brendan O'Gorman 157ECF - with whom Noel also drew.]


Welcome to new Member, Wayne Horkan. Wayne will be joining our growing Birmingham League Division 5 squad.

Congratulations go to two of our members who shared 2nd place in the Birmingham Rapidplay (Open Section) on Sunday 12-Oct-2014: Pablo Padilla Cabero, and Golam Ali. Notably, in the same round that Pablo was defeating International Master Geoff Lawton, Golam was beating our own Henrik Stepanyan.

As usual, Sutton Coldfield players form a large contingent in the Birmingham League Individual Tournaments. Division 2: Nigel Byrne, and David Gardiner; Division 3: Arthur Kent; and in Division 5: Andy Bellis, Chris East, Trevor Gazee, Des Green, and Rob Marks. That is 8 of us out of a total of 51 from the 24 Clubs.
Welcome to another new Member, Venugopal Vijay. Vijay will be joining our Birmingham League Division 5 squad.

Welcome to our latest new Member, Blazej Radzimirski. "Blaise" will be joining our Birmingham League Division 5 squad.

At the Ninth Cold War Cake Match held at the Hill & Cakemore Liberal Club 29-Aug-2014, Sutton Coldfield CC lost badly to Warley Quinborne CC by 20½-8½, surely our worst result in the event's history.

Of our own members, only Rob Marks had a plus score. Scoring 50% were Henrik Stepanyan, John Mildenhall, Peter Thompson, and Mike Darlow.

Which of us has played the most standard-play games in the last 12 months? Well, according to the ECF Grading Database published 25-Aug-2014 (i.e. Revision 1), our Club's Top Ten Most Active Players are:

     Games Grade
Nigel Byrne
67 149
 =2nd Pablo Padilla Cabero
 =2nd Ian Kingston
55 173
4th Anthony Green
5th Larry Hayden
37 151
 =6th Marek Soszynski
 =6th Golam Ali
 =8th Henrik Stepanyan
Roy Lawrence
 =8th Des Green

On 11-Aug-2014 Sutton Coldfield Chess Club ran an International Master Simultaneous Display by the ECF's Director of Junior Chess & Education, IM Lawrence Cooper. 15 people attended altogether, some as spectators.

Lawrence (graded 218 ECF, rated 2322 FIDE) drew with the two strongest players – Henrik Stepanyan, and Keith Escott (pictured seated) – but beat all the rest, scoring 86%.

After his strong performances in the Club's summer lightning tournaments, Jan Chudzinski from Poland has now become a Member and will be eligible to play in our teams. We are also pleased to welcome Robert Marks as a Member; Robert is returning to local league chess after a break of many years: his last games were for Hodge Hill Chess Club in the 1970s.

The 2nd Lightning Tournament of the summer was held 04-Aug-2014. The winner, Marek Soszynski, won all of his games. 2nd was non-Member Jan Chudzinski, 3rd was Derek Green, 4th was Larry Hayden.

We are delighted to welcome back Edward Ng as a full member. In 2002 Edward captained our 1st Team, which that year won the Terrill Trophy and on top of that the Championship of B'ham League Division 2.

This summer's 1st Lightning Tournament was held 21-Jul-2014. The joint winners with 8 points from the 10 rounds were Marek Soszynski and newcomer, Jan Chudzinski. Roy Lawrence came 3rd.

The Sutton Coldfield Chess Club, Annual General Meeting was held on Monday 15-Jul-2014 with 16 people attending. The main points were:
  • The principal officers were all re-elected.
  • The annual subscription fee was reduced to £20 for adults.
  • Des Green was elected Clubman of the Year.
After the AGM several members stayed on for a supper at the Minworth Club.

Our Summer Programme is now arranged. All events (apart from the Cake Match) are at the Minworth Social Club and start at 19:30 or shortly after.
  • Monday 14-Jul - Annual General Meeting followed by supper
  • Monday 21-Jul - 1st Lightning Tournament (£1 entry)
  • Monday 04-Aug - 2nd Lightning Tournament (£1 entry)
  • Monday 11-Aug - Simultaneous Display by International Master Lawrence Cooper (£5 entry)
  • Monday 18-Aug - Squad Selection Meeting
  • Monday 25-Aug - Chess Club closed for Bank Holiday
  • Thursday 28-Aug - Cake Match: Warley Quinborne v Sutton Coldfield
And that takes us up to September when the very busy winter league seasons start.

Sutton Coldfield Chess Club finished the 2013-2014 season with an impressive array of trophies for teams and individuals. The pictures below don't even show all of them!

Among our several winners were (on the left) Noel Brown with the B'ham League Townshend Trophy, and (on the right) David Gardiner with the B'ham League Division 2 Individual Championship Trophy.

We are pleased to welcome another new member, Andy Bellis.

We are pleased to welcome back Tony Green, who has rejoined our Club in order to play in our Summer League Division 1 side.

Congratulations to Derek Green on retaining the B'ham League Division 4 Individual Championship!
Des Green, our B'ham 3rd Team and our Cannock 3rd Team Captain, has other posts within the chess scene. He is Treasurer of the National Correspondence Chess Club, and on 13-May-2014 at the AGM of the Cannock and District Chess League he was elected its Deputy President (which leads to his becoming the President in 2 year's time).
We are pleased to welcome two new members: David Randall, and Michael Murphy. Both have already turned out for our B'ham Summer League Division 3 team, with David winning both his games.

Great news from our top two teams:
  • We have retained the Homer Trophy. Last season it was won by our First Team. This season our Second Team, captained by Arthur Kent, beat Stourbridge Division 3 in the Final.
  • Meanwhile our First Team, captained by Keith Escott, has narrowly avoided relegation from B'ham League Division 1.

At the Executive Committee Meeting held 15-Apr-2014 the Club determined, among other things and in short, to:
  • Enter 3 teams in the Birmingham (Summer) League (one more than last season);
  • Appoint John Mildenhall as Birmingham Summer 1st Team Captain (which also brings him onto the Committee);
  • Appoint Nigel Byrne as Birmingham Summer 2nd Team Captain (which also brings him onto the Committee);
  • Enter 4 teams in the Birmingham (Winter) League (one more than last season);
  • Appoint Des Green as Birmingham Winter 4th Team Captain;
  • Hold the Annual General Meeting on 14-Jul-2014; and
  • Hold 2 Lightning (Buzzer) Tournaments over the summer.

Congratulations to our victorious 3rd Team who, having already gained promotion to Division 3 of the Birmingham League, have now won the Townshend Trophy.
In the Mind Sports Chess Grand Prix held over the weekend of 29/30-Mar-2014 in central Birmingham, two of our members achieved significant successes. Henrik Stepanyan won the Saturday Rapidplay and tied for first place in Sunday's National Open Qualifier, while Noel Brown won the National Major Qualifier.

Here are some videos and a picture set of the events:
Picture of Henrik (on the left) by permission of Adam Raoof.

Our 3rd Team, captained by Derek Green, has secured promotion from B'ham League Division 4. Well done!

We are pleased to welcome new member John Healy (no, not the writer) to our Club.

Congratulations go to our David Gardiner on winning the 2014 B'ham League Division 2 Individual Championship.

In the Birmingham League Lightning Team Tournament held at Olton CC (Tyseley) 11-Mar-2014 our single Sutton Coldfield team came top in its section (B). Moreover, two of our players - team captain Derek Green, and new member Pierre-Louis Pieri - scored 100% each. The other members of our victorious squad were Chris East, Noel Brown, Ian Morley, and Des Green.

(Pictured on the night, from left to right: Noel, Derek, Pierre, and Des.) 
 Lightning Squad 2014
updated  22-Mar-2014

Our teams are having considerable success in various cup competitions. In the Birmingham League our 2nd Team (Division 2) captained by Arthur Kent has reached the semi-final of the Homer Trophy; our 3rd Team (Division 4) captained by Derek Green has reached the semi-final of the Townshend Trophy. Meanwhile in the Cannock League our 2nd Team (Division 2) captained by Marek Soszynski has reached the semi-final of the Chase Trophy. We also have a team captained by Des Green still in the Withnall Trophy, which our Club has never entered before. For dates see the Fixtures and Results page.


The new, January 2014 ECF grades were first published 26-Jan-2014, then revised 26-Feb-2014. They can be viewed through the ECF Grading Database or, in the case of local players, a dedicated Birmingham League webpage.

Our dozen most highly graded members are:

1st Pablo Padilla Cabero 203
2nd Henrik Stepanyan 200
3rd Keith Escott 177
4th Ian Kingston 173
5th John Mildenhall 166
6th David Gardiner 156
7th Shailesh Jobanputra 154
=8th Golam Ali 151
=8th Marek Soszynski 151
10th Nigel Byrne 147
11th Steve Edwards 146
12th Glenn Windows 144
Our dozen most active members in terms of graded slowplay games played in the last twelve months are:

1st Nigel Byrne 66
2nd Ian Kingston 53
3rd Golam Ali 49
=4th Larry Hayden 38
=4th Arthur Kent 38
6th Henrik Stepanyan 37
7th Roy Lawrence 36
8th Marek Soszynski 34
=9th Des Green 28
=9th Steve Edwards 28
11th Keith Escott 27
12th David Gardiner 26
updated 10-Mar-2014

Our members are succeeding in the Birmingham League Individual Tournaments with none of them yet eliminated:
  • In Division 2 Arthur Kent is through to Round 2 (the Quarter-Finals) where Nigel Byrne may yet join him. Meanwhile David Gardiner is already through to a Semi-Final.
  • In Division 4 Derek Green and Chris East are battling it out to reach the Final.
  • Lastly, in Division 6 Des Green has reached a Semi-Final.

Sutton Coldfield Chess Club are moving from The Erdington Club. We are going three miles east, back into Sutton Coldfield – meeting in the same area as our club name for the first time since 1998! This makes us the most easterly club in the Birmingham League except for Tamworth Chess Club.

Starting Monday 7th October 2013 we will be in the Lounge of Minworth Social Club, Robinsons Way (off Water Orton Lane), Sutton Coldfield B76 9BB. It's the same night of the week as before, and the same start time (7.30pm) so our fixtures will be unaffected. Please note that patrons are requested not to bring their own food or drink.
Which of us has played the most standard-play games in the last 12 months? Well, according to the ECF Grading Database as revised 25-Aug-2013, our Club's Top Ten Most Active Players are:
  1. Nigel Byrne 54
  2. Henrik Stepanyan 50
  3. Ian Kingston 48
  4. Golam Ali 47
  5. Larry Hayden 45
  6. Tony Green 43
  7. Arthur Kent 38
  8. Roy Lawrence 34
  9. Marek Soszynski 30
  10. Arron Dhesi 28
Nationally, the most active player is Alan Fraser with all of 269 games!

At the Squad Selection Meeting on 19 August 2012 we confirmed the following as Team Captains:
Birmingham League
Cannock League
Division 1
Division 2
Division 4
Divisions 1 + 2
Division 3
Keith Escott
Arthur Kent
Derek Green
Marek Soszynski
Des Green

Our new sets and boards have arrived! We now have 20 identical chess boards and 20 identical sets of pieces (with spares). No more mixing and matching, wondering which piece came from which set (like our Equipment Secretary, Derek Green, used to do, as pictured on the right), or whether a particular board is the right size.

Incidentally, this very picture was used in a hilarious Caption Competition on the English Chess Forum.

Monday 12-August-2013 at The Erdington Club was the night of our annual pre-season friendly, the so-called Cake Match between us and Warley Quinborne CC (plus guests on both sides). As in recent years, this involved 2 graded rapidplay games - and of course a cake at half time, a magnificent fruit and marzipan creation by Alison East (Chris's wife).
8th Annual Cold War Cake Match
  1. Henrik Stepanyan 1+1 Alan Agnew 0+0
  2. John Mildenhall 0+1 Andrew Moxley 1+0
  3. Keith Escott 1+0 Simon Smith 0+1
  4. Ian Kingston 1+1 Nigel Byrne 0+0
  5. Irvin Ortega 1+1 Matthew Fergusson 0+0
  6. Marek Soszynski ½+1 John Fahy ½+0
  7. Roy Lawrence 0+0 Alex Holowczak 1+1
  8. Peter Thompson 1+½ Alexander Wilson 0+½
  9. Noel Brown 1+1 Stephen Moxley 0+0
  10. Chris East 0+1 John Pakenham 1+0
  11. Mike Biddle 0+1 Peter Hughes 1+0
  12. Derek Green 0+½ Pauline Woodward 1+½
  13. Mike Darlow 1+½ Andrew Fergusson 0+½
  14. Ian Morley 0+½ Harvey Watkins 1+½

Sutton Coldfield 17½ Warley Quinborne 10½

Sutton lead Warley 6-2 down the years.
We were pleased to welcome 3 new members on 12-August: the returner Peter Thompson; the junior, Joshua Ormsby; and for Cannock League matches, Nigel Byrne.

Our second Lightning (Buzzer) Tourney of the summer was held on 05-August. Henrik Stepanyan was the victor on 8½ points out of 9. Joint second on 7 points were Steve Edwards, and Marek Soszynski.

Our Annual General Meeting was held on 17-Jul-2013. The main points were:

  • The principal officers were all re-elected, though with Keith Escott also taking on the role of Secretary.
  • We shall be remaining at The Erdington Club for the foreseeable future.
  • The subscription fees stay unchanged at £25 adult, £10 junior.
  • We shall at last be replacing all our sets with standardized new ones.
  • John Mildenhall was elected Clubman of the Year.

Congratulations to John Mildenhall on winning the Lightning (Buzzer) Tourney on 8-July with a commanding score of 8½ points out of 9. Equal second on 6 points were Steve Edwards, Marek Soszynski, and Glenn Windows. Among others taking part was new member, Keith Lawson.

Welcome to the two new members who joined us on 1-Jul-2013: Paul Bridgwater; and the junior, Jason Battersby.

  Our Birmingham League 3rd Team Captain, Derek Green, who is also our Equipment Secretary, is pictured at the Erdington Club 17-Jun-2013 with his Birmingham League Division 4 Individual Championship Trophy.

Last season this same trophy was won by our outgoing Secretary, Larry Hayden. This season Larry was Runner-up in Division 2, while Arthur Kent was Runner-up in Division 3; both received commemorative shields.

The record, down the years, of Sutton Coldfield Chess Club's members' participation and success in the Birmingham League's Individual Championships must be among the very best of all the clubs.


    Our Chairperson and 1st Team Captain, Keith Escott (pictured on the left) is presented with the Homer Trophy by Dave Brelsforth, President of the Birmingham & District Chess League, on the occasion of the League's AGM 10-Jun-2013.

(Photo by permission of Richard Reynolds.)

The Sutton Coldfield Chess Club Constitution & Rules is now available for download in PDF format.