News and Events

Still Time to Enter the Witney Weekend Congress, 3 & 4 November

posted 22 Oct 2018, 07:48 by Gerard O'Reilly

The Sixth Witney Chess Congress will take place on the weekend of Saturday & Sunday 3 & 4 November 2018. It has four sections (Open, U170, U145 & U120) and a prize fund of nearly £2000. Tim Dickinson and Priscilla Morris, very familiar to Cowley members as our regular friendly and efficient controlling team for our Summer and Christmas Blitzes, will be the controllers at Witney.

I warmly commend to you and encourage you to support this local weekend congress. Please follow the link above to find out more and to enter.

There are sections for players of every strength, though the Open section will, I hope, be of particular interest to ambitious Oxfordshire players because it incorporates the first leg of the 2018-19 Oxfordshire Individual Chess Championship. The Open section at Kidlington next February incorporates the second leg. The title of Oxfordshire Chess Champion and the Championship Trophy will go to the eligible player with the highest combined score in the Open sections of the two events.

Note on Eligibility for the title of Oxfordshire Champion
A player will count as eligible to win the title of Oxfordshire Champion provided that either (i) his or her (main) home at the time of both events is in Oxfordshire, or (ii) he or she has played a combined total of at least four games in the Oxfordshire League and (representing the Oxfordshire Open team) the Chilterns League before the end of January in the season in which both events are held. In the event of eligible players being tied for the highest combined number of points, the title will be shared.
  In clause (i) above, the point of speaking of a player’s ‘main home’ is that, for example, Oxfordshire students who may be residing away from home in their university town during term will be regarded as eligible for the Oxfordshire Individual Championship if their parental home to which they return during university vacations is in Oxfordshire. Those students and others whose main home is outside Oxfordshire will be eligible for the Individual Championship if they satisfy clause (ii) above.

"Queen of the Chessboard: Checkmating for Beginners"

posted 13 Oct 2018, 04:04 by Saracen

Half-term event for GIRLS ONLY!

All girls are welcome to Cowley Chess Club on Tuesday 23 October from 1-3pm for this free relaxed beginners' workshop, open to the public. Do you already know how the pieces move? Want to experience the thrill of checkmating more often? Come learn from friendly club volunteers.

Master some basic mates so you can finish your game with a bang and rack up more wins. Discover the art of pattern recognition, key to improving your chess game. From the bread-and-butter back-rank mate to the elegant Anastasia's mate, get acquainted with these snazzy techniques and put them to work for you.

Register in advance if possible, but you can also just turn up on the day. Contact Sara:

Part of the Oxfordshire Girls' Chess Festival 2018

No Chess on 3 September (AGM)

posted 24 Aug 2018, 07:16 by William Burt   [ updated 25 Aug 2018, 12:48 ]

A reminder that on Monday 3 September the club is holding its Annual General Meeting and, as a result, no chess will be played that evening. A copy of the minutes from last year (draft for approval at the AGM) are attached to this post.

In my original post I forgot to mention the start time: 7.30pm, probably in the upper room at Rose Hill Methodist Church.

Will Burt
(Minutes Secretary)

Ray Starkie: funeral arrangements

posted 19 Jun 2018, 03:39 by Gerard O'Reilly

Simon Charles (an old friend of Ray's and a former member of Cowley), who is arranging matters, has told me that Ray's funeral will take place at 2pm on Monday 23 July at the Oxford Crematorium (Bayswater Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 9RZ).

After the funeral, there will be some light refreshments available from about 3.45pm, thanks to the kindness of Vicki Hatch, a colleague of Ray's, at Solution Family Services, 61-63 Cuddesdon Way, Blackbird Leys, Oxford OX4 6SB. (Simon asks me to mention that it is a blue building.)

Gerard O'Reilly

Juniors' Night Monday 18 June

posted 16 Jun 2018, 01:49 by Saracen

This Monday the 18th is Juniors' Night. The club welcomes all juniors, whether members or not, for an evening of informal chess. Teens and children of all ages are welcome to come on a drop-in basis. Juniors and any accompanying parents may arrive any time from 6pm. Adult club members start arriving from 7:15, and the kids can stay on as late into the evening as they like.

Children who are members of Cowley Chess Club attend free. Others pay £2.

This would be a great opportunity for anyone who's thinking of playing in next week's Cowley Blitz tournament to get some practice in with a clock. Those who prefer slow chess are welcome to play without a clock, as always.

Drop me a line if you have any questions!

Sara Sengenberger (

Cowley Handicap Competition

posted 3 Jun 2018, 14:15 by David Robson

Congratulations to Max Lawson for winning the Cowley Handicap Competition. Max faced Bruno Currie in the final. Because of the large difference between the grades, and the rules of the Handicap Competition, Max had 50 minutes on his clock and Bruno had 10. Starting with a closed Sicilian, Bruno immediately launched into an attack. Max defended extremely well, and so the attack only resulted in a nominal material advantage. In the end, thetime difference was too much and Max won. Well done Max!

Ray Starkie (1955-2018)

posted 22 May 2018, 02:27 by Gerard O'Reilly   [ updated 7 Jun 2018, 10:00 ]

I am very sad to have to announce that Ray Starkie died yesterday.

He was taken ill earlier this year and subsequently diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, but the cancer had already spread too far for it to be treatable.

Ray had been a member of Cowley Chess Club for over 40 years, playing throughout that time for our Division 1 teams in the League. He also served as a team captain, as Chair of the Club and as Editor of the club’s magazine, The Chequered Board. During my time at Cowley I have frequently had occasion to appreciate his courtesy, dry wit and always thoughtful comments and advice on club and county chess matters, and I was very fortunate to have him as a Cowley 2 teammate in the last few seasons.

We shall miss him greatly.

Gerard O’Reilly (22 May 2018)

Cowley Summer Blitz, 25 June (and OCA Prizegiving)

posted 21 May 2018, 09:54 by Gerard O'Reilly

This year's Cowley Summer Blitz will be held on Monday 25 June at the club in the Main Hall downstairs beginning at 7.15pm. All chessplayers are welcome. We look forward to selcoming not only Cowley members but many visitors, too!

During the evening we shall also be hosting the OCA Prizegiving for the season now drawing to a close. We therefore hope that the captains of trophy-winning teams for the League Divisions and the Frank Wood Shield (or their representatives) as well as the individual award-winners for the County Individual Championship and the best individual performances in the League will be able to come along both to play in the Blitz and to be presented with their trophies.

For full details of the event, and how to enter, see our Cowley Blitz page.

Gerard O'Reilly
(21 May 2018)

Club is open for Bank Holidays

posted 6 May 2018, 06:31 by Saracen

The club remains open during the Bank Holiday Mondays in May and August. Come down and top up your chess reserves with some social chess from 7:15 onwards. Visitors are welcome to drop in!

Cowley 4 wins third division

posted 2 May 2018, 02:16 by Saracen

Last night Cowley 4 narrowly won against Banbury 3, giving our team the third division title by a whisker. The top four teams finished within a single match point of each other!!

Going into the season, Cowley 4 looked perfectly average and were expected to end up in the middle of the division. It was only at Christmastime that I noticed our record was looking rather good and we might even be contenders for the division title! Jasmine and Stephen performed quite well, but results from the rest of us weren't out of the ordinary. Our good results remain something of a mystery.

Perhaps the answer lies in the squad's ability to turn out consistently for matches, which meant we invariably fielded a decent team. In our first seven matches - 42 games - only three substitutions were needed. We were also helped by players from other teams, and by newcomers to the club who arrived partway through the season and were good enough to play for us when we were short.

So it seems the recipe for our success was a solid base of dedication topped with lashings of luck and a little sprinkling of clever play!

Sara (Captain, Cowley 4)

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