Basildon Chess Club Championship 2023 The 2023 Club Championship commenced on 23rd March 2023. 10 entries were received.
The winner will have the honour of an engraving on the ancient(!?) Club Champions shield, which dates back to the latter part of the 20th century.
The tournament consists of two all-play-all (once) groups. The winner and runner-up of each group will qualify for the semi-final. In the event of a tie for 1st/2nd place, the head to head game will act as a tie breaker. If this was drawn, 1st/2nd place will be decided by the toss of a coin. In the event of a tie for 2nd/3rd, a Rapid play off will take place. No tie breaker in this case.
The semi-finals will be Winner Group A v Runner-Up Group B and Winner Group B v Runner-Up Group A.
The time controls for all non-rapid games will be 80 mins + 10 secs per move.

TLDR The Club Championship was won by Justin Baptie, beating Radu Bara in the final.

Club Championship Group Matches
Pos Group A JB DM AG PL MM Pts             Pos Group B DK RB PS SH RS Pts
Q1 Justin Baptie x -B 1W 1B 1W 3/3 3 Dave Kraszewski x 0B ½W 1B 0W 1½/4
=4 David Millward (WITHDRAWN) -W x -B -W -B 0/0 Q1 Radu Bara 1W x 1B 1W 1B 4/4
=2 Arunas Gedvilas 0B -W x ½B 1W 1½/3 5 Paul Savin ½B 0W x 0B 0W ½/4
Q2 Peter Laundy 0W -B ½W x 1B 1½/3 4 Steve Higgins 0W 0B 1W x 0B 1/4
=4 Mandar Mane 0B -W 0B 0W x 0/3 Q2 Robbie Staff 1B 0W 1B 1W x 3/3

Knockout Matches
Group A 2nd Place (Rapid) Play-Off
31-Aug-2023 Peter Laundy ½ 1-½ 0 Arunas Gedvilas
Semi Finals
26-Oct-2023 Peter Laundy 0-1 Radu Bara
23-Nov-2023 Robbie Staff 0-1 Justin Baptie
15-Feb-2024 Radu Bara 0-1 Justin Baptie
Group Match Reports Group A
23rd March - Arunas got off to a flying start against Mandar, who managed to blunder a piece early on and then never recovered.
13th April - Newly crowned Essex Minor champion Peter continued his strong run of form with a convincing win against Mandar.
4th May - A hard fought battle between Peter and Arunas ended with a draw in a Q+5Ps ending, where any attempt to push too hard for a win would likely end in a loss.
25th May - Arunas played with a material deficit for most of the evening against Justin, but was still there fighting with both clocks showing less than 5 minutes. However, Justin effectively nullified Arunas' dangerous advanced pawns and ended with a neat rook and pawns mate.
8th June - Material was level for most of the game between Peter and Justin, but the latter always seemed to have a positional plus. In the rooks and bishop endgame, the weakness of Peter's central pawns proved to be decisive as Justin finally broke through to claim the win.
13th July - A solid start from Mandar against Justin, looked to have nullified the latter's k-side pawns. However, it only takes one mistake - and Mandar made a big one to allow a breakthrough. Justin becomes the first of our semi final qualifiers.

Group B
30th March - Disaster for Paul. After fending off Robbie's early attack and winning the exchange after a q-side retaliation, three hours of effort and concentration was ruined when he dropped a rook to a knight fork in the ending, prompting an immediate resignation.
13th April - Dave scraped a draw against Paul after misplaying the opening and middlegame. Paul missed an opportunity to finish things and, although a pawn up, the rook and double bishop ending proved to be holdable for Dave.
4th May - Is this the changing of the guard? Old stalwarts Paul and Dave K were both handed defeats by rising stars Steve and Robbie respectively. Paul 'blundered' the exchange, although in hindsight it was an inspired sacrifice. Then, instead of taking advantage, he fell for a cheap knight fork (again!) and resigned. Dave was always struggling to control things against Robbie in a fairly wild game. Having finally got what he thought was a winning advantage, a major miscalculation occurred in time trouble, allowing Robbie to force through his e-pawn to promotion.
25th May - Radu started his campaign in familiar fashion, with an all out attack against Steve's king - featuring his h-pawn (no surprise there). Steve was unable to find all the defensive answers, so Radu broke through and claimed the win .
13th July - Robbie continued his perfect run against Steve, keeping a positional advantage from the opening and eventually turning this into yet another win. His prize is a guaranteed sem-final place in his first appearance in this event.
10th August - Radu played as expected against Dave K, who was unable to cope with the attack on his king. An exchange sacrifice opened things up, and was later followed by mate. A very bad night for the Pirc !!
7th September - Paul obtained a big (winning?) advantage from the opening against Radu, and also forced an early exchange of queens, only to blow it all with an error giving away a rook and prompting his immediate resignation. So Radu and Robbie are the qualifiers and all that remains is their head-to-head to determine who plays Justin and Peter in the semi-final.
14th September - Steve made an early decision to swap his fianchettoed bishop for Dave's knight, but after the exchange of queens, Dave had the active pieces and more space. This eventually led to material gains and a checkmate with rook and bishop.
28th September - The final group game was a totally expected rollercoaster. Radu created great tactical complications, most of which were met by Robbie's stern defence. Even after losing the exchange, Robbie had sufficient compensation. It all hinged on a Radu check on move 49. Two choices - 50 Kf2 with an almost certain draw, or Ke2 with mate in 6. Robbie chose the latter, Radu pounced and now has a semi final against Peter, while Robbie has to face the mighty Justin.
Knockout Match Reports 31st August - The withdrawal of David M meant that Peter and Arunas required a play-off to decide the 2nd semi-finalist from Group A. Two Rapid games (10m+5s) were played. The first game ended in a draw, but in the second a complicated position was handled with better clock discipline by Peter as Arunas overstepped the time control. The 1.5-0.5 result means that Peter reaches semi final where he will play the winner of Group B.
26th October - Peter had the white pieces in the first semi-final, against Radu. In spite of an early exchange of queens, Radu managed to conjure up his trademark tactical melee. Objectively worse, a substantial time advantage helped Radu to put the pressure on Peter and this eventually resulted in a mistake which allowed a lethal knight fork, followed up with a checkmate. So Radu makes the final for the 2nd year running and is just one step away from retaining his title. Peter can console himself with the fact that he's getting closer every year. Maybe next time?
23rd November - Robbie's match report "I was white, e4 c5 and I played an alapin. Even game with the computer ever so slightly liking white up until move 10 where Justin spent 30 minutes calculating some very long and complicating lines which would have made for an explosive game, however he decided against it and a few short moves later I started to make some inaccuracies which lead to being a pawn down with little to no counter play in return, needless to say Justin was more than capable of converting the rooks, bishop and pawns endgame despite having less than 2 minutes on the clock in the end".
15th February 2024 - Justin finally gained revenge over Radu for previous defeats, with a convincing win in the final. Radu didn't help himself by sacrifing/losing a piece in the opening and Justin never let his advantage slip. So it's congratulations to Justin for regaining the title he last won in 2019. As for the rest of us, we will have to up our games in 2024!