Tim Wall

27 August 2021

The 2021 Northumbria Masters Congress was in full swing on Friday 27 August, with a record 212 players playing across a total of six events.

The biggest UK chess congress this year, the Northumbria Masters Congress kicked off on Thursday evening at the Marriott MetroCentre hotel in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, firmly putting the North East on the international chess map.

Players from a total of 19 different countries played their first moves in the international congress – which is the first to take place in the North of England since the last Northumbria Masters in August 2019.

The congress has been sponsored by Chess in Schools and Communities, an educational charity that teaches chess to children in primary and secondary schols across the UK, and by the English Chess Federation, which is providing support to talented young players aiming to become Grandmasters and International Masters.

Four-way tie for first in GM event

After 2 of the 9 rounds, there was a four-way tie for first in the GM norm all-play-all, with England’s IM Ravi Haria and Marcus Harvey leading the charge for a Grandmaster norm, accompanied by GM Tamas Fodor of Hungary and Conor Murphy (Ireland) all on 1.5/2.

Harvey and Murphy have just qualified as International Masters after impressive performances in all-play-all tournaments earlier this month, also held in England as the country gradually restarts serious over-the-board competition after the pandemic.

Ravi Haria, who looks set to become a Grandmaster soon after scoring norm at the Wood Green Invitational just days ago, was in sparkling form in Round 1, notching up an enterprising 36-move win against IM Peter Roberson after a kingside pawn push set up Damiano’s Mate (with a pawn wedge corralling the king on g8) on the h-file.

form in Round 1, notching up an enterprising 36-move win against IM Peter Roberson after a kingside pawn push set up Damiano’s Mate (with a pawn wedge corralling the king on g8) on the h-file.

White: Ravi Haria (to play)

Black: Peter Roberson

After 36 g6! Black resigned, as there is no good way to prevent 37 Rdh4 and mate on h8.

Slovenian WIM Zala Urh leads IM norm chase

In the IM norm all-play-all, there was a clear leader – 18-year-old Women’s International Master Zala Urh of Slovenia on 2/2.

Also with a plus score were England’s Jonah Willow and James Moreby, both 18 years old, 13-year-old Yichen Han (Netherlands), and Im Andrew Muir of Scotland.

Moreby and Han are local talents residing in Newcastle upon Tyne, just a few miles from the tournament, but both are set for a move: Moreby to go to university in London, and Han to attend Magdalene School in Oxford.

James Moreby’s Round 1 win finished with a pretty tactic against Harry Grieve:

White; Harry Grieve (White)

Black: James Moreby (Black, to play)

After 38…Rxc1! Black wins, due to 39 Qxc1 Nf3+! 40 Kf1 Qh1+, winning White’s queen.

White played 39 Rxg6+ but then resigned.

Gormally has lucky Round 2 escape

In the Masters (Open) tournament, with a total of 81 players, there were plenty of thrills and spills, with top seed GM Danny Gormally of Northumberland coming close to defeat in his 2nd round game versus Welsh international Tim Kett, but eventually scrambling a draw.

After 2 rounds, there were 11 players on a maximum 2/2 points: GM Marian Petrov (Bulgaria), IM Brandon Clarke, GM Keith Arkell, GM Peter Wells, IM Michael Basman, Peter Sowray, Steven Jones and Thomas Eggleston (all England), Hamish Olson (Scotland), Roland Bezuidenhout (South Africa) and Bao Nghia Dong (Vietnam).

The veteran IM Michael Basman, 75, world-famous for his eccentric opening schemes, joined the leading group on 2/2 with a surprise endgame checkmate after he looked likely to struggle for a draw.

In the following position, Nigel Borthwhistle (White) has just blundered with 57 Qd6-d4??

After 57…Qf1+! a shocked Birtwhistle (White) had to resign, as he was faced with forced checkmate after 58 Ke4 Qf5 mate, or 58 Kg4 Qf5+ 59 Kh4 Qh5 mate.

Play continues at 2 rounds a day through to Monday evening in the two all-play-alls, the Masters (Open), the Challengers (Under 2000), Major (Under 1750) and Minor (Under 1500).

For live games from the Northumbria GM, IM and Masters, go to:




Pairings and crosstables can be found at: chess-results.com

Dear Northumbria Masters Congress participants,

I am writing to you to welcome you to the 2021 Northumbria Masters Congress, which we hope will be an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone in the chess community attending.

Covd-19 government regulations

Before the Congress begins, there are some common-sense things I would like to bring to your attention, particularly about the risks related to Covid-19.

First of all, each of us should act responsibly to protect each other and reduce the risk as much as possible from the virus, which remains a danger to everyone, even as more and more people get vaccinated.

Of course, the best way you can help to keep everyone safe is to get fully vaccinated if possible, and if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, to take a PCR test.

Second, please read the government regulations on Covid before you travel to the Congress. They are in place to reduce the risks, so please follow them as closely as possible:


Face Coverings and Social Distancing

In line with government guidelines, we recommend that you consider wearing a face covering (a mask or visor) while playing and moving around in the Playing Hall. Please note, while we see this as a sensible recommendation, this is a question of personal responsibility, and not mandatory.

Please be considerate towards your opponent – remember that the primary purpose of a mask or visor is to protect others, rather than yourself. If we all act responsibly, we can reduce the risk of anyone contracting the virus or becoming ill.

Please also be responsible when it comes to social distancing. There is no requirement to shake hands before or after a game – you can simply wish your opponent good luck beforehand, and offer a polite congratulation or commiseration afterwards.

Check Your Entry & Register before Round 1

Please check that your entry is correct on Chess-Results: http://chess-results.com/tnr574711.aspx?lan=1 and that the byes you requested have been registered here, on the ‘Entries Received’ page: https://northumbriamasters.com/entries/

Please remember: You should register by email or text message before Round 1 between 9:00am and 4:00pm on Thursday 26 August by emailing: timpeterwall@gmail.com or sending a text message to: +44 750 372 2366. Not registering runs the risk of being left out of the pairings, which will be published on Chess-Results.com at 4:30pm on Thursday 26th – 2 hours before play starts.

What to Do After Your Game is Finished

Your result will be registered by you leaving your signed scoresheet on the board at the end of the game. At this point, you become a spectator, not a player, in that round. We would kindly request therefore that you leave the Playing Hall at this point.

Equipment and Ventilation

The Congress Control Team will ensure that chess sets and clocks are disinfected between rounds, and that the Playing Hall is kept as well ventilated as possible during rounds. This means that participants and spectators should avoid standing near open doors to reduce noise levels for people playing their games.

Withdrawals and Hotel Cancellations

If you withdraw from the Congress at any point, please let the Control Team know immediately. This will prevent unnecessary defaults. Please also note that the Marriott MetroCentre will charge you in full for any hotel rooms cancelled at less than 24 hours’ notice.

I am sure that there will be further questions and concerns that you have. Please do write to me with these, and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as possible and to keep everyone informed.

I look forward to seeing you when you arrive at the Congress.

Best wishes,

Tim Wall

Congress Director

Northumbria Masters

Thanks to an impressive total of 193 entries for the Masters (Open), Challengers (Under 2000), Major (Under 1750) and Minor (Under 1500) tournaments, we have now reached the maximum capacity for players in the public events at the Marriott MetroCentre.

Anyone still wishing to enter any of these public events should write to Tim Wall, the Congress Director (timpeterwall@gmail.com), stating their FIDE and ECF ratings, and the tournament they wish to enter. They will be placed on a last-minute waiting list, and contacted if a place becomes available.

Please note: applications to join the waiting list will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

NEWS UPDATE: August 5, 2021 – A total of 167 entries have now been received for the Northumbria Masters Congress. Only another 11 places are available for the public events (Masters Open, Challengers Under 2000, Major Under 1750 and Minor Under 1500).

Entries To Close Soon

Once these places have been taken up, entries will be closed on the website and applications will only be taken to join a waiting list to enter.

Final All-Play-All Places

We expect to announce the final place in the GM norm all-play-all (a 2380+ GM norm seeker) and the final place in the IM norm all-play-all (a 2200+ IM norm seeker) in the next few days.

Anyone interested in taking up the final GM norm and IM norm all-play-alls places may apply in confidence to: Tim Wall (timpeterwall@gmail.com)

Junior Bursaries – No More Applications

PLEASE NOTE: No more applications for The John Robinson Youth Chess Trust junior bursaries for Under 21 players are currently being accepted. The players receiving the bursaries will be notified in the next few days.

The Northumbria Masters Congress is nearing its capacity of 180 players, and the last two dozen or so places are expected to be filled in the coming days. Once maximum capacity is reached, entries will be closed and players enquiring about entry will be put on a waiting list.

As of August 3, a total of 153 entries had been received for the Northumbria Masters Congress, including:

  • The following players for the GM norm all-play-all: GMs Tamas Fodor Jr (HUN), Matthew Turner (SCO) & Alexander Cherniaev (RUS); IMs Ravi Haria, Peter Roberson, Matthew Wadsworth & David Eggleston (all ENG); FMs Marcus Harvey (ENG) & Conor Murphy (IRL). There remains 1 player to be confirmed (2380+ required, any nationality). Interested players should contact Congress Director Tim Wall (timpeterwall@gmail.com).
  • The following players for the IM norm all-play-all: IMs Peter Large (ENG), Andrew Muir and Roderick McKay (both SCO); FMs Jonah Willow, James Moreby, Harry Grieve (all ENG), Iain Gourlay (SCO), Yichen Han (NED); and Shreyas Royal (ENG). The final player is expected to be confirmed in the next few days.
  • 59 entries for the Northumbria Masters (Open), including 4 Grandmasters (Danny Gormally (ENG), Marian Petrov (BUL), Peter Wells & Keith Arkell (both ENG); 2 International Masters (Brandon Clarke and Mike Basman – both ENG); and 3 FMs – Murad Abdulla (SCO), Peter Sowray and Rafe Martyn (both ENG).
  • 38 entries for the Northumbria Challengers (Under 2000).
  • 12 entries for the Northumbria Major (Under 1750).
  • 26 entries for the Northumbria Minor (Under 1500).