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'A' Team (2007-14)

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This page gives highlights of the A-team's progress from 2007-14 where it played in Division 1 (mostly) and (more recently) Division 2 of the Berkshire League.

On other pages in this section you will find:

  • A-team: Latest information for 2016-17 with highlights and results tables of the previous two seasons (2014-16)
  • B-team: Each season's highlights from 2008-2013; and its reincarnation from 2015-16
  • Results tables: Summary tables for both teams from 2008-present.


It was a tense end to the season. We either needed to win our last two matches or have one win and sufficient points advantage to avoid relegation. We therefore put up a strong team in our first match against Bourne End B, winning 5-1. This still left us with having not to lose too heavily against Henley A away. In the event we lost 4-2. We both finished with 4 points but we had 29½ game points vs Henley's 27½. In the event it probably didnl;t matter, since with winners of Division 3 not wanting promotion and Sandhurst, the winner of Division 2 withdrawing, both Henley and Bourne End (the bottom two teams) are playing again in Division 2 in 2104-15.

It was a season of unpredictable results. Although we lost earlier on against two stronger teams - Maidenhead B and Reading C - we then went on to beat Sandhurst B, the eventual winners, by 4½-1½. we thought we were on the up when we drew with Wellington College. However, since away games mean late return for their school children, they decided to withdraw from the league, so the game is discarded from the league table.

Our last game before Christmas (against Henley A) saw some toing and froing with some keenly fought games. We were missing two of our regular top players (Steve and Ben) and the players were more evenly matched. Brian made a welcome return winning against a significantly stronger player. At around 10pm the score was 2-2, and the outcome uncertain. Newcomer Chris had done a dubious (Fritz will judge this later!) bishop for pawn sacrifice and had a dynamic situation, while Jim's game was fairly even with most pieces and pawns still on the board. However, Chris's opponent was under time pressure so congratulations on keeping up the pressure with quick moves, that resulted in a 2 rooks vs. queen ending which Chris won. We then all huddled round Jim's game, thinking a draw would mean a match win. However, an unexpected knight takes pawn sacrifice exposed Jim's king to an imminent mate, so the match ended in a 3-3 draw.

2014 started with two draws, one against weaker (on paper) team Bourne End B and the other against stronger team Reading C. Sandhurst got their revenge in the return match winning 3½-2½ and this time we improved our scroe against Maidenhead B, drawing 3-3. This brought us to the final two games described in the first paragraph. A table of our results is shown below. We finished 4th out of 6th in the League.

Thu 17th OctReading CHome1½-4½
Mon 4th NovMaidenhead BAway2-4
Wed 4th DecSandhurst BAway4½-1½
Thu 12th DecHenley AHome3-3
Wed 8th JanBourne End BAway3-3
Thu 6th FebReading CAway3-3
Thu 13th MarSandhurst BHome2½-3½
Thu 3rd AprMaidenhead BHome3-3
Thu 24th AprBourne End BHome5-1
Tue 6th MayHenley AAway2-4

* Newbury score is shown first. Match points 4. Game points for: 29½; against: 30½.

Our top points scorers were Danny Sparkes (4pts from 5 games), David Skyrme (4½pts from 7 games) and Ilan Dwek (4pts from 9 games).

For more detail on the results, full league tables, match cards and individual player records, go to the Berkshire Chess Federation website.

2012-13 Season

A disappointing season, where even more players from the B-team were called upon to help the A-team such that some were more regular in the A-team than the B-team. We didn't manage to win a single match, scraping just two draws late in the season against Crowthorne B and Wellington College A. In contrast to our 1 point, Sandhurst the champions scored a clean 10 out of 10. In virtually every case though, the opposing team were stronger on paper with the average grading of players being 20-30 points higher - that's our excuse anyway.

Played: 10: Won: 0; Drawn: 2; Lost: 8. Position 10th out of 11 in Division 1 - Relegated.

Scroll down for reports of earlier seasons. There is also a summary chart of both teams performance 2007-13 in the Berkshire League.

Our Players

The team of 6 players is drawn from the following players (ECF 2013 grades shown in brackets):

  • Danny Sparkes (172) - Danny often works late shifts, so cannot play for us as regularly as we would like
  • Mike Marlow (159) - Our honorary president, who taught at Mary Hare before retirement
  • Steve Morgan (156) - Steve has played for us for several years and plays regularly
  • Jim Hanson (155) - Jim is our treasurer and a regular player
  • Simon Brickman (149) - Simon works in London so can only get to the occasional game
  • Roly Piggott (147) - Roly's main team is Wantage but he will play the occasional home game for us
  • Ilan Dwek (140) - Although he lives in Reading, Ilan was once a pupil at our venue, the Mary Hare school
  • Ben Dyer (135) - Ben runs our championship and is a regular player
  • Chris Snook-Lumb (est 125) - A chess returner, who plays in other leagues as well to get a lot of games
  • Brian Medhurst (118) - Brian also plays bridge competitively, so it's a toos-up who gets him on Thursdays!
  • Keith Savoy (117) - Keith keeps the club going (he is a key holder) and plays regularly
  • David Skyrme (101) - Our secretary/webmaster; has declined in performance recently but aims to improve"
  • Ken Byrd (94) - Another chess returner, like several of us, he re-started playing chess after retiring and a long chess-free gap

Going just three years back, we could boast a stronger team. Alas, most of the players listed below who played then do not now play for us, having moved away from the area. Our philosophy is that anyone (whatever their strength) who wants to play in our A-team gets at least a couple of games in a season.

Berkshire League

As well as ourselves, teams in Division 2 in 2009-10 were the A teams of Bourne End, Crowthorne, Maidenhead and Wellington College, and both A and B teams of Camberley, Reading and Sandhurst - 11 teams in total. Each team plays each other once only during the season (from October to May), either at home or away.

Normal FIDE chess rules are followed with a few minor expections (e.g. about mobile phones and recording games). Clocks are used. The time limits are 30 moves within the first 75 minutes (of each player's time) and all the remaining moves in a further 15 minutes.

2011-12 Season

Although now playing in a lower division, two of the teams more experienced members have moved away, and thus borrowing players from the B-team has continued. The team has done well and in a tense last match of the season, postponed until late May, a 4-2 win against Crowthorne C secured promotion. The final tally of results was:

Played 9: Won 6, drawn 1 and lost 2. Position: 2nd in Division 2.

2010-11 Season

With one match being postponed, the A team had played just three matches at the turn of the year. It struggled a bit to field a strong team, on occassions having to 'borrow' players from our B team. The narrow win against Maidenhead was sandwiched between two significant losses. The new year 2011 saw a change of fortunes when the team beat Camberley B away and then drew with Reading B. However, this improvement was not to last, and the team lost all its remaining fixtures by at least 2 games in every match.

Played 9; Won 2; Drawn 1; Lost 6.

2009-10 Season

The first team had another excellent season, despite being without strong players James Foster and Clive Walley for much of the time. We actually won six of our ten matches and only lost to the teams stuffed with titled players. Danny Sparkes had an outstanding season on top board, beating FIDE Master Paul Cooksey and drawing with wunderkind Felix Yonosa (who scored 50% in the British Championship when only 12!).

Our links with Wantage Chess Club, who play in the Oxford League, are keeping us healthily stocked with players, so that we don't have to rob the triumphant 2nd team of important members. Roly Piggott won a crucial game v Wellington College. Captain Keith Savoy had a much better season and Martin Bush also had some important victories. Lewis Martin had several match-winning, nailbiting finishes and he will be greatly nissed next year when he leaves school to study engineering Bristol University. We could be struggling, in fact, but veteran Mike Marlow is promising to play a bit better now that he is retiring from teaching recalcitrant teenagers.

Played 10; Won 6; Drawn 0; Lost 4.

As noted above our team during this season included several experienced players who no longer play for us. As a consequence, today's A-team (see top of page) is weaker, which accounts for its relegation to Division 2. Compare the grades of our current players (above) with those who were available in 2009-10 but are no longer with us:

  • Chris Briscoe (203)
  • James Foster (179)
  • Daniel Sparkes (177)
  • Mike Marlow (172)
  • Clive Whalley (168)
  • Lewis Martin (166)
  • Martin Bush (153)

2008-9 Season

The first team had their most successful season since I have been here since 1977! We came 4th in the league. We were helped for the last three matches by Chris Briscoe (Grade 193), who lives in Surrey, asking to play for us on top board, thus giving all of us easier games - we even outgraded Reading, though we only drew. Our most successful player was Danny Sparkes, who scored 7 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, really a top class performancethat should see his grade go up into the 170's.

Played 9; Won 4: Drawn 3; Lost 2.

2007-8 Season

Since Christmas, the first team (Newbury A) have played four matches and managed only two draws - against Reading B and Crowthorne. In spite of this, it has been our best season from many years. We were unable to play already relegated Bracknell, who were unable to make any of the rescheduled dates offered. The net result is that we finish up exactly half-way down the league table (fifth out of nine teams in Division 1) with the following results:

Played 8; Won 3; Drawn 3; Lost 2.

The games have been so tough that on top board, Mike Marlow did not win a single match and yet his grading went up tem points! Everybody else won at least one game, and the other players were Lewis Martin (a student at Mary Hare School), Danny Sparkes, Clive Walley, Martin Bush and long-serving captain, Keith Savoy.

This page last updated 10th August 2016

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