Scottish National Chess League 2023-24, Round 9 (21st April 2024): Report


Scottish National Chess League 2023-24, Round 9 (21st April 2024): Report

The final Round of this season’s SNCL took place on Sunday 21st April. This season has been the first to be run over 9 Rounds instead of 7. It has been a long journey. Round 1 had started during a time of severe storms and rain with some teams unable to travel. Round 9 coincided with the final Round of the Candidates tournament in Toronto won in dramatic fashion by 17-year old Gukesh from India. The Candidates tournament had a direct impact on the running of Round 9 since our very own Arbiter, Andy Howie, was employed at the Candidates as Deputy Chief Arbiter. So it was without Andy but in the capable hands of Ruaraidh McKay, John McNicoll and Glynis Grant that Round 9 commenced. For the three Dundee City teams there was mostly pride to play for since nothing was at stake. The A-team knew that they were going to relinquish the National Title, the B-team knew that they had already been promoted to the top Division next season with a Round to spare. The C-team were sitting clearly mid-table in Division 3. Because of this we used the opportunity to give some young players a run-out in the C-team, in particular two of our promising young players Adam Clark (J-18) and Matthew Hunter (J-15).

In Division 1, Dundee City A took on Bon Accord. Following approval from Chess Scotland for fast-improving younger players to accelerate upwards the Board order, we were given permission to play Rishi Vijayakumar (J-12) on Board 1. Rishi set the ball rolling with a straightforward win over the very experienced Robert Lothian (2038). One of his teammates described his victory as Rishi being in ‘cruise control throughout’ – am I am sure that this will be the first of many wins that Rishi will have on Board 1 of the A-team. Another win followed from Stephen Hogg on Board 5 plus draws for David Findlay and Ed Spencer, thus earning the team a 3-2 victory over their talented opponents.

In Division 2, Dundee City B were playing Oban in the last round. On Board 1 Gary Weir gained a solid draw against Duncan Campbell. However, wins for Matthew Deighan and Ian Sneddon plus a draw for Joshua Crofts earned Dundee City B a win by 3-2.

In Division 3, our Dundee City C team also fared well against Edinburgh 3. Adam Clark picked up a draw on Board 1 against David Montgomery. Then Ana Seijas Otero capped a wonderful campaign with another nice win. There were wins also from Matthew Hunter and Daniel Coleman, the latter essaying the dangerous Jobava opening. So the final result against Edinburgh 3 was 3.5-1.5.

At the end of play, Round 9 finished with 3 wins for the Dundee City teams. In the final reckoning for the whole season of play, the A-team ended up in 3rd place behind Dunfermline Knights and Wandering Dragons. Dundee City B came 2nd in Division 2 behind runaway leaders Lenzie Basilisks. In Division 3, our Dundee City team ended up in a very creditable 7th place out of 16 teams. It has been a long season but a very rewarding one for Dundee City – roll on next season of the SNCL!

Alastair Dawson

TAFCA Round-Up & Club Championship


Castlehill D 0-4 Dundee A

  1. Harley, Trevor 1333  0-1 Ophoff, Jacques (CM) 2253 
  2. Atkins, Graham 1302  0-1 Spencer, Edwin A 2132
  3.  Alijani, Afshin  932 0-1 Cohen, Sir Philip 1842
  4. McLeod, Robert  885  0-1 Dawson, Alastair G  1764

Castlehill C 2-2 Dundee B

  1. Wardlaw, Tom  1440 0-1 Crofts. Joshua 1629
  2. Noble, Ray 1432 0-1 Anderson, James 1546
  3. Young, Colin 1427 1-0 Emery, Keith 1533
  4. Kelly, Conor 1378 1-0 Flood, Raymond 1442

So the A Team end the successful defence of their title with an expectedly comfortable win. Didn’t see any of the games, but they were all completed fairly quickly against the no doubt brave efforts of their opponents, who unfortunately now drop into Division 2.

A marked contrast to the other contest of the evening, featuring two sides battling for their own survival. All the games were still playing into the 11th hour, all fiercely contested into the endings. In the end, the 2-2 scoreline secured both sides position in the 1st Division for next season. The only game I can offer is my own – an horrifically typical example of my inability to get a result from any favourable/level position the last few years, and a stark illustration of needing to take the hint. But it does illustrate how competitive the match was!

Club Championship

Round 3

Sim, Christine 984 1-0 Smart, Douglas

A nice win for Christine to continue her fine Club Championship campaign.

Richardson Cup Semi Final


A cursory dip into the history of Dundee Chess Club tells us that we have not reached the semi-finals of the Richardson Cup for many years. Even rarer is of the Club having reached the final – and one has to go back over 30 years when a team led by GMs Paul Motwani and Colin McNab laid their hands on the trophy. So our trip to the Edinburgh Ukrainian Club last Saturday was going to be a notable one since we were to face Bank of Scotland in the semi-final. Looking at the gradings, on paper, our team led by Jacques Ophoff and Rishi Vijayakumar seemed to have slight edge on the top 4 boards. Conversely, we were slightly weaker on average than our opponents on the bottom 4 boards. I should also be mentioned that we arrived in Edinburgh without one of our star players, Helge Magnussen, who was in Germany for an important family matter.

Once the match got going, the first match to finish was on Board 6 where Euan Dawson agreed a draw in a blocked position with Jamie Mollison. Soon after, a similar occurrence happened on Board 7 where his Dad reached an impasse in a Queens Gambit Exchange variation. As it turned out, these two draws proved to be pivotal since it meant that, by getting points from the bottom boards, our top players might be able to secure the wins. And that is how it turned out. As the afternoon progressed Rishi was next to finish with a draw against William Bennett (2174). The next two matches to finish were on Boards 1 and 5. On the top Board, Jacques with the white pieces gradually ground down his highly graded opponent (V Tushynyski 2154). Soon after that, Joshua Crofts on Board 5, first won a piece and then the game against Chris James. Then, in a tour de force attack, David Findlay got the better of the very talented Jorge Blanco (2155). An amazing result was thus unfolding when, with 6 games finished, we were already leading by 4.5-1.5 with two of  our top boards (Jacques and David) supported by Joshua on Board 5, producing outstanding wins . By late afternoon 2nd last to finish was Ed Spencer who agreed a draw with Mike Chisholm. Then in a huge tussle, the last game to finish saw Matthew Deighan lose out in an endgame against Stuart Ballantyne.

Remarkably, when all the dust has settled, we had won the match 5-3 and have now reached the Richardson Cup Final for the first in many, many years. We now face the daunting task of facing a super-strong Edinburgh team in the final to be played in Glasgow on Saturday May 18th.

Alastair Dawson

BOS 3-5 Dundee Chess Club

1. AM Volodymyr Tushynskyi 2154 0-1 FM Jacques Ophoff 2255

2. William Bennett 2174 ½ -½ Rishi Vijayakamar 2156

3. Jorge Blanco Sanjuan 2155 0-1 David Findlay 2124

4. Mike Chisolm 1937 ½ -½ Ed Spencer 2135

5. Chris James 1917 0-1 Joshua Crofts 1897

6. Jamie Mollison 1915 ½ -½ Euan Dawson 1891

7. Nigel Chapman 1851 ½ -½ Alastair Dawson 1858

8. Stuart Ballantyne 1787 1-0 Mathew Deighan 1830

Dundee C v Perth B & Club Championship


There was a bit more resting on this match than I realised…

My only thought going in was that if we’d won 4-0 we’d overtake Perth for promotion. I didn’t mention this to the team in advance, not wanting to add any pressure and thinking it a tad unlikely to say the least!? Unknown to me at the time, it seemed that a win or draw for ourselves, would also win the 2nd Division title for our friends across the water, Newport Knights. Perhaps the presence of our always welcome bud Marcus Wylie should have been a clue?! Meanwhile, we were selfishly thinking just of ourselves, and looking for a result against our other friends from the Fair City.

Dundee CPerth B
11442Ray Flood01John Williamson1424
21435Bruce Wallace10Ian Caldow1397
31318Robert Burnett01James Graham1379
41310Horson Hyginus10Ian Washington1317

Well, we didn’t get off to a great start. I blundered a piece early on, and didn’t realise I had till a couple of moves later! I was discussing a club matter outside with Alastair, and on returning to the board noticed John’s queen on b4 and casually noted 14. Qb4, not appreciating that the regal lady had captured my bishop on that square. When it dawned, what would normally be a resignation was replaced by a daze, as I stumbled on for a few moves trying to work out what had happened.

Robert was meanwhile having an off-night and succumed quickly to James, but our star signing Horson prevailed in a long struggle against old stager Washington Gambiteer. Then Bruce gradually converted his pawn plus against skip Ian to secure the draw, and suddenly Marcus was nowhere to be seen! Not that there was much else to see. I began to think there might be slight salvaging chances in my game, but of course that was nonsense, though I made John work a bit.

So Newport are Champions by a single game point tie-break, and Perth follow them into Division One; congrats and commiserations to them both.

Another third place finish for us. Disappointing as the team certainly had the potential to top the table, but that would have required rather better leading by example from the skipper, who has been frankly awful since lockdown (and ok, not exactly a shining star beforehand either).

Club Championship Round Three

Vladyslav Drabych 1660 ½-½ 2163 David Findlay

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our highly promising pal Vlad was taking on Dundee legend and defending Champion David. The result may have raised a few eyebrows, but Vlad has been posting great performances over the season, and David admitted he was unusually out-prepared in his favourite Philidor/Czech Pirc hybrid. Vlad was solid as a rock, and David certainly had no complaints afterwards.

Dundee A v Castlehill B

BoardGradeDundee ACastlehill BGrade
12132Ed Spencer10Andy Rowe1596
21842Sir Philip Cohen10Kam Wan1586
31764Alastair Dawson10Fergus Milne1471
41629Joshua Crofts10Keith Rose1458

A rather more comfortable win than certainly I expected. Despite the grading difference, Castlehill boast a strong and experienced side. Rather all went wrong for their players on the night, and some unusual errors sealed their fate.

So Dundee A win their 11th successive title in rather more emphatic fashion than last season, when it went right to the wire with St Andrews and Castlehill A. A 100% record so far, with only one game lost all season. Well played everyone.

Dundee Chess Club Championship


Round 3 on 18/03/2024

1 Dawson Alastair G 1764 (2)   0-1  (2)  Ophoff Jacques 2253
3 Spencer Edwin A 2132 (2)   1-0  (2)  Emery Keith 1533
4 Seijas Otero Ana Belen 1370 (1) 0-1 (1½) Crofts Joshua 1629
5 Clark Adam 1500 (1½)     1-0  (1)  Burnett Robert 1318
6 Bisset Lewis (1)        0-1  (1)  Collins Andrew 1300
7 Agnew Ronnie 1150 (1)     1-0  (1)  Soutar Brian 0
9 Carroll Norrie 938 (1)      0-1  (1)   Ewing David 1100
11 McHugh Kara (0)       0-1  (½)  Watson Thomas
12 Leaburn Jnr Steven (0)    0-1  (0)   Wallace Bruce 1435

No shocks or surprises, but some near things and certainly plenty of interesting chess to be had on a busy Club Championship night. A few games unable to go ahead, but we were informed in advance, thank you.

Well played everyone 🙂

Scottish National Chess League


Rounds 7 and 8, Sunday 17th March, 2024: Report for Dundee City.

And so the day finally arrived. Our three Dundee City teams faced some difficult matches for Rounds 7 and 8. With the final Round not taking place until Sunday 21st April, this particular Sunday was a time to put down markers to define season outcomes for the respective teams. There was an extremely slim chance that our A team could regain top spot but it would depend on the leaders of the competition experiencing complete meltdowns and losing most of their games. With this realisation, the A team faced a very strong Edinburgh West team in the morning – and they excelled themselves. Classy wins by Ed Spencer over IM Craig Pritchett and by Andrew Wright over Neil Farrell set the scene. These wins were then followed by draws by David Findlay and Helge Magnussen to secure a famous 3.5-1.5 victory. The win by Ed over IM Craig Pritchett was particularly special.

In Division 2, Dundee City B were up against CSBOS2. As has been the case several times this season, our team managed a 3-2 victory. This time, there were wins for Alastair Dawson and Ian Sneddon ably supported by draws from Gary Weir and Joshua Crofts. Gary has recently returned to chess after an absence of several years and his experience proved to be invaluable in helping the team to a well-deserved win.

In Division 3, our C team had a less fortunate morning. Up against Edinburgh West B the only win came from Ana Seijas Otero. Subhayu Banerjee drew his game on Board 3 but there were no additional points forthcoming. Edinburgh West B are one of the strongest teams in Division 3 and it was a great experience for our talented Junior, Matthew Hunter, as he played his first SNCL game on Board 4. So, after the morning’s play, our C team faced a loss of 1.5-3.5.

In the afternoon, our A-team were up against Championship leaders Dunfermline Knights. Again, the A team put up a huge fight with the outcome being a 2.5-2.5 draw. On this occasion, wins for Ed Spencer and Helge Magnussen set the scene and they were supported with a draw from Andrew Wright. In Division 2, Dundee City B faced local rivals Perth. On paper, this should have been a straightforward win for Dundee City. But the games did not go entirely to plan. Wins for Alastair Dawson and Joshua Croft gave our B team a good start. A draw followed from Andre Babin on Board 1. Then we were left with 2 games – one between Gary Weir and David Hall; the other between Ian Sneddon and James Graham. With tensions high, Gary’s game ran into a rules dispute as his opponent’s clock ran down to one minute. With the Arbiter called, the ruling did not fall in Gary’s favour and a game loss was recorded. Then with a loss in the remaining game the result was a 2.5-2.5 draw – a great result for Perth. But celebration for Dundee City was to follow (see below).

In Division 3, our C team had another frustrating afternoon. Yet again, Ana was the star player and she was the only player to win. It should be said that Ana has, so far, had an outstanding season at the SNCL winning 6 points from 8 games. Apart from Ana, the only other player to add to our score was Adam Clark who secured a hard-fought draw. In the end it was another loss for the C team by 1.5-3.5.

So where does this leave our Dundee City teams with one round to go? In the Championship Division, Dunfermline Knights remain in pole position with 14 match points closely followed by Wandering Dragons (13 points) and Stepps (12 points). Dundee City A are in fourth place on 11 points and will have to relinquish the national title, most probably to Dunfermline or possibly Wandering Dragons. In Division 2, the match points gained by our B team place them in second place (13 points) behind runaway leaders Lenzie (16 points). But the third place team in this league, Forth Valley B presently only has 10 points – meaning that our B team are guaranteed promotion into Division 1 with one Round remaining. So exciting times ahead for Dundee B next season – many tough games lie ahead for them. In Division 3, the two losses for Dundee City C resulted them dropping down the Division into 10th place out of the 16 teams. Our C-team has had some gruelling encounters so far this season. That said, we have given opportunities to play in this team to several of our young up-and-coming players including, Adam Clark, Eve Kenicer and Matthew Hunter. The experience that they have gained with be invaluable for them in the future. We now look forward to Round 9 of the SNCL that will take place on Sunday April 21st, this being followed by a national blitz tournament in the afternoon – so exciting times ahead!

Alastair Dawson

Richardson Cup 2024


1 2257 CM Ophoff, Jacques ½v½  IM Mckay, Roderick M 2179
2 2121 Findlay, David John 1v 0 Tsang, Sai Kong 1940
3 2130 Spencer, Edwin A 1v 0 Taylor, Allen 1693
4 2084 Magnussen, Helge 1v 0 Myant, Martin 1673
51873Dawson, Alastair½v½Roger, Michael1509
61807Deighan, Matthew J0v1Knak-Watt, Peter1509
71629Crofts, Joshua1v0Mcfadden, Aidan
8Clark, Adam1v0Mcquat, Ryan

This year, Dundee Chess Club was paired against Cathcart in the quarter-finals. We were awarded a Home tie and, thanks to work in the background by Alan Borwell the match was held at the Inchture Hotel in the small village of Inchture just a few km out of Dundee. The match took place last Saturday (March 9th) with a 12.30 start and with the standard rate of play of 90 minutes for all moves plus a 30 second increment for each move made. Due to illness, the Cathcart captain, Alistair Maxwell was unable to play and, as a result, the Cathcart team was somewhat weakened. That said, they were ably led on Board 1 by IM Roddy McKay.  For Cathcart, the bottom 4 Board players did not hold FIDE ratings- – but, as play started, it was clear that they were all very able players and that a close match was likely.

For Dundee, our strongest player, Jacques Ophoff, locked horns with IM Roddy McKay on Board 1. Jacques himself is a CM and the tussle that ensued with Jacques having the Black pieces resulted in a draw. With Alistair Maxwell absent, our trio of David Findlay, Ed Sepncer and Helge Magnussen led the line for the team on Boards 2,3 and 4. Their 3 wins placed Dundee in a dominating position and it was left to Alastair, Matthew, Jacques and Adam to secure the victory on the lower Boards. There were some scary moments for Alastair as he held out for a draw while Matthew stumbled against his opponent. But Joshua and Adam ran out convincing winners on the bottom two Boards resulting in a 6-2 win. Although the points win was emphatic, the scoreline hides just how tough some of the games were. In the Richardson Cup there are no easy games! 

At the time of writing the draw for the Richardson semi-final has now been made. Dundee have been drawn against Bank of Scotland who emerged victors in the quarter-final over a strong Bon Accord team from Aberdeen. Dundee have been drawn as the Away team and so we head for a tough battle in Edinburgh on Saturday April 13th.

Alastair Dawson

Dundee B v Castlehill D


Dundee B vCastlehill D 
1 1560 Gordon RobertsonB ½v ½ Trevor HarleyW 1333
2 1546 Jim AndersonW 1v 0 Gordon ThomasB 1292
3 1533 Keith EmeryB ½v ½ Norman WaughW 1158
4 1442 Ray FloodW ½v ½ Moritz BogsB 1120e

A perhaps tougher than would have been anticipated result given the gradings difference, but that comes down to the apparently now standard problem of players far better in strength than their ratings, published or estimated.

An important result for the B team though, but with a tough run of fixtures to come, work is still needed to stay in the top division. A C Team promotion to save them this season is unlikely to say the least!

Dundee D v Dundee C


Division Two 26/2/24

BrdGradeDundee D 1v3Dundee C Grade
1 1300e David EwingBv 1 Ray FloodW1442 
21150  Ronnie AgnewW 0v 1 Bruce WallaceB1435 
3938  Norrie CarrollB 0v 1 Robert BurnettW1318 
4 885 Henri MeadowsW 1v 0 Doug SmartB 

An as expected if not without incident result. The C Team adjusts to life without Jonathan, and we wish him well. Many thanks to Doug for stepping in last minute and pleased that he enjoyed his game against vastly under-rated Henri. We do need to find someone to bring down the C Team’s average age though…