As part of this year’s Northumbria Masters, we are organising 3 special excursions to some of North East England’s most attractive tourist destinations. 

These trips will be led by myself and my good friend Paul Robson, whom many of you will know well from various chess events. Between us, we know plenty of interesting stories about these historic attractions!

If you would like to join us on these trips, please let me know by email to: which trips you would like to make, and for which rounds you require a half point bye.


  1. Half point byes should be booked with me before the end of the previous round. Once pairings are published, we are not allowed to change them, according to FIDE rules.
  2. You are responsible for booking your own tickets to Bamburgh Castle, The Tempest theatre tickets, Vindolanda Fort & Roman Army Museum and Durham Castle.
  3. The Northumbria Masters takes no responsibility for these tickets, but we will take you free of charge by car from the venue, Novotel Newcastle Airport, to these destinations (and get you back in good time for the next round). If you prefer to take your own car, you are also welcome to join us on the excursions.

Here are the details of the trips:

Excursion 1: Bamburgh Castle & ‘The Tempest’

Saturday 24th August, 2:00pm-9:00pm

(Bye required for Round 3)

Visit to Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, & Performance of ‘The Tempest’

Including: Tour of Bamburgh Castle, the home of Uhtred of Bebbanburgh in ‘The Last Kingdom’.


Cars depart from Novotel to Bamburgh Castle (55 mins, 47 miles): 2:00pm

Bamburgh Castle visit: 3:00pm-5:00pm

The Tempest performance: 5:30pm

Arrive back at Novotel: About 9:00pm

Castle tickets: Adults £11, children £5.50 (family and other discounts available)

PLUS: Highly entertaining performance of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ by The Handle Bards, an acclaimed all-female cycling theatrical troupe, at Bamburgh Castle, Saturday August 24, 5:30pm

Poster for The Handlebards’ production of ‘The Tempest’ (image courtesy of The Handlebards)

Buy tickets here:

Prices: Adults: £16.00, Children (10-18 years) £10.00  

The Handelbards on tour (Image courtesy of The Handlebards)

Excursion 2: Vindolanda Roman Fort & Roman Army Museum

Sunday 25th August: 9:15am-2:00pm

(Bye required for Round 4)

Vindolanda Roman Fort, part of the Hadrian’s Wall fortifications (Wikicommons)


Cars depart from Novotel: 9:15am

Return to Novotel by 2:00pm

32 miles from Novotel Newcastle Airport, travel time 40 minutes

Please note: You can buy joint tickets to see both Vindolanda Fort and the Roman Army Museum: Adult £11.60, Child £6.85 (family & other discounts available)

Excursion 3: Durham Castle & Cathedral

Monday 26th August, 9:00am-2:00pm

(Bye required for Round 6)

The Gatehouse to Durham Castle, the traditional home of the Bishops of Durham since the Norman Conquest (Wikicommons)


Cars depart Novotel: 9:15am

Travel time 35 minutes, 22 miles

Guided Tour of Durham Castle: 10:15am-11:15am

Walk around Durham Cathedral (200 metres from Durham Castle) & Durham’s historic city centre 11:15am-1:00pm

Return to Novotel by 2:00pm

Tickets to Durham Castle can be booked in advance by calling: +44 (0)191 334 2932 or email:

The magnificent interior of Durham Cathedral (Wikicommons)

I look forward to welcoming you to the Northumbria Masters tournament and invite you to join us on an excursion or two – if you are either taking a break from the chess, or are accompanying players at the tournament.

I am sure you will enjoy your stay in the beautiful and historic North East of England!

To book your place on any of the excursions, please contact Tournament Director Tim Wall at:

Mobile (also SMS and What’sApp): +44 (0) 750 3722366

There is still time to enter the 2019 Northumbria Masters, where a total of 6 GMs and 7 IMs lead the field at what promises to be one of the UK’s most exciting International Opens this year.

To avoid a late entry fee, it’s best to enter before Friday 16th August.

The top seed and reigning champion, Alexander Donchenko (GER, 2615), faces a tough challenge from a bevy of GMs, including Dutchman Roeland Pruijssers, Australian Justin Tan, Ukraine’s Andrei Maksimenko, England’s Danny Gormally and Russia’s Alexander Raetsky.

Other players to watch out for include English IMs James Adair, Alan Merry, Brandon Clarke and Gary Quillan, plus the world’s second-highest rated 12-year-old, Siddarth Jagadeesh of Singapore.

Apart from GM Danny Gormally, the local North East England contingent includes IM David Eggleston, FM Charlie Storey, fresh from his IM norm at the British Championship, and Dutch-born Yichen Han of Newcastle, the highest rated junior for his age resident in the UK.

As of August 9, entries for the Northumbria Masters stood at 42 players, of which 16 represent national federations other than England.

In the Challengers (Under 2050 FIDE & Under 180 ECF) event, there were 20 entries.

And in the Major (Under 1825 FIDE and Under 150 ECF), there were a total of 22 entries.

There are also plenty of places left in the Junior Rapidplay, which is the first-ever FIDE-rated Rapidplay for juniors in the North East England.

To enter the Masters, Challengers, Major or Junior Rapidplay, simply fill in the online entry form and pay via PayPal or Credit/Debit card to secure your place.

All queries are welcome to the Tournament Director, Tim Wall, at: or +44 (0) 750 372 2366.

We look forward to seeing you at Novotel Newcastle Airport on Friday 23rd August! And remember, if you’re planning to enter, don’t leave it until the last minute – a late entry fee of £10 will be payable for anyone entering after Friday 16th August.

The July 2019 ECF Grades and the August 2019 FIDE ratings will be used to determine which sections players are eligible for in the 2019 Northumbria Masters.

While the Northumbria Masters tournament is open to all players, this rule applies to the Challengers (Under 2050 FIDE & Under 180 ECF) and Major (Under 1825 FIDE and 150 ECF).

Please note: We are using a double qualification system: That is to say that BOTH your FIDE rating AND your ECF grade must be below the limits to qualify for the ECF grading & FIDE rating limited tournaments.

For example, if a player’s FIDE rating rises from 1800 to 1900 on the August 2019 FIDE rating list, but their ECF grade falls from 155 to 145 on the July ECF grading list, they would be ineligible to enter the Major (Under 1825 FIDE and 150 ECF) and have to play in either the Challengers (Under 2050 FIDE and 180 ECF) or the Masters. Having EITHER an ECF grade OR a FIDE rating higher than the limit means a player must move up a section.

Conversely, if your August 2019 FIDE rating and July 2019 ECF grade were to fall below the limits, you would be allowed to enter the lower section if you wish to do so.

Also, the August 2019 FIDE ratings will be used to determine performance prizes in all sections (Masters, Challengers and Major).

If an entry is received for one section, and due to grade and/or rating changes it is necessary to move up a section, then that player will be informed by email of the change.

No extra entry fee will be charged in such cases (eg when a player is transferred from the Challengers to the Masters, their entry fee would remain the same as they paid to enter the lower section).

If a player expresses by email the wish to withdraw from the congress rather than move up a section, that player’s entry fee will be automatically returned to them. Please note, however, that the congress does not accept any liability for cancelled accommodation or travel costs in such cases.

If you think you may be required to change section after the July ECF grades and/or FIDE ratings are published, please feel free to get in touch with the tournament director, Tim Wall, at: We will endeavour to answer all your queries in a timely manner.

Thanks to the John Robinson Youth Chess Trust, there are a total of 20 bursaries available for players under the age of 18 on August 23, 2019 – 10 for players in the Masters, and 10 for players in the Challengers (Under 2050) or Major (Under 1825). To be eligible for a bursary, players should be resident in England.

Players receiving a bursary from the John Robinson Trust will be reimbursed their entry fee (£60 for the Masters, or £40 for the Challengers/Major).

The bursaries will be awarded on a first come, first served basis.

To indicate that you would like to be eligible for a bursary, please write to Tournament Director Tim Wall at: All awards will be made in confidence.

21-year-old German Grandmaster Alexander Donchenko is vying to to win the Northumbria Masters for the second year running. Donchenko, who won the 2018 Northumbria Masters with 7/9 in a strong field of 50 players (average rating: 2215) currently faces four other GMs (England’s Danny Gormally, Russia’s Alexander Raetsky, Ukraine’s Andrey Maksimenko and the Czech Republic’s Vojtech Plat).

To enter this year’s Northumbria Masters and have a crack at the Grandmasters, go here.

I am writing to invite you to play in the 2019 Northumbria Masters – some for the first time, and some hopefully for an enjoyable second visit. You will all be very welcome!
Last year, the 2018 Northumbria Masters was a great success, featuring a very strong field of 7 GMs and 11 IMs in a total of 50 players.  
This year we have more space at a superb new hotel venue, Novotel Newcastle Airport, where the players and their families can stay and relax. Because of our new, bigger venue, we have no rating restrictions – in fact, we have three FIDE-rated sections (Masters – open to everyone), Challengers (U-2050) and Major (U-1825) running from 23-27 August, over the Bank Holiday weekend. 
Starting on the morning of Friday August 23, we also have a one-day FIDE-rated Junior Rapidplay, with Under 11 and Under 14 sections.
Please do take a look at our entry form (online via our website and also attached to this email), and share it with your friends. Our partners Guaranteed Events Ltd have arranged a special room rate of £69 per person (single occupancy), and £79 per person (double occupancy) at Novotel Newcastle Airport. Please note: This is only available when booking through their dedicated website.
The hotel has 126 very comfortable rooms, has a spacious playing hall accommodating up to 120 players, a stylish restaurant and bar, and secluded outdoor picnic area. There is ample car parking at the hotel, which is free for all competitors, accompanying persons and spectators. It is also very convenient to get to: literally 300 metres from the A1(M) in Newcastle, just 3 miles from Newcastle Airport, and 4 miles from Newcastle Central railway station. 
We aim to provide an enjoyable chess holiday experience for all participants and their families. With this in mind, players can order up to 3 half point byes in Rounds 1-8, and we are organising half-day excursions to the North East’s most iconic tourist destinations: The castles of Northumberland (Alnwick, Lindisfarne & Bamburgh); Exploring Hadrian’s Wall and the Segedenum Roman Fort museum; and a trip to the historic city of Durham, including its Castle and Cathedral. (More details of these trips will be available on our website shortly.)
As the Northumbria Masters is designed to provide title norm opportunities, we are offering special assistance to titled players. Entry for GMs, WGMs, IMs & WIMs is free, and we are also in a position to offer free accommodation to a number of these players with local chess players in their homes. 
(For these and other conditions, titled players are requested to contact me personally. Accommodation with local hosts will be made available  on a first come, first served basis.)  
I look forward to welcoming you to Newcastle for what promises to be a great chess tournament and holiday experience!
For regular updates on the numbers of entries and new developments, please visit our social media pages:

Twitter: @NorthMasters

Facebook: 2019 Northumbria Masters

GMs Vojtech Plat (CZE), Danny Gormally (ENG), Andrey Maksimenko (UKR) and Alexander Raetsky (RUS) and are the first grandmasters to confirm their entry in the 2019 Northumbria Masters, to be held at Novotel Newcastle Airport, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 23-27 August.

The Northumbria Masters is back, with a new date and superb new venue. The international congress will now take place at Novotel Newcastle Airport from 23-27 August 2019, with the following 9-round FIDE rated tournaments:

Northumbria Masters (eligible for title norms) Prize fund: £2,950

Challengers (Under 2050 FIDE, Under 180 ECF) Prize fund: £975

Major (Under 1825, Under 150 ECF): Prize fund: £975

Junior Rapidplay (Under 11 & Under 14 sections) – a one-day tournament on Friday 23rd August with numerous prizes and trophies

Special B&B rates at Novotel Newcastle Airport (£69 per double/twin room, single occupancy, or £79 per double/twin room, double occupancy) are available only when booking via:

To enter, download the entry form here:

For any further queries, please contact the congress director, Tim Wall: timpeterwall [at] gmail [dot] com

Tel: +44 (0) 750 372 2366