Thursday, 29 December 2016

HOCCC: 1966-72 Rapid Development (of the North Essex Chess League) part 2

The material for this post is the fifth extract taken from the booklet "The History of the North Essex Chess League" by J. Priestley.



The League's Individual Championship was divided into two sections, Premier and Challengers, and a total of 26 competed. It remained as two tournaments from then on although the entry did not expand in proportion to the increasing number of players taking part in the team competitions; and in subsequent years was often somewhere around the 20 mark and no higher. Players would meet in their own homes, or at club premises, so that a six round event was likely to require every contestant to make three journeys to an away venue. Journeys could be quite a distance for those living on the perimeter of the League's area, which may explain why the event was not as well supported as might have been expected. Another factor to take into account was that not all the entrants ran cars, especially in the early years. A fairly fanatical degree of enthusiasm was required for a player to take on the travelling commitments to remote places in the depths of winter.  Image the journey by train from Witham to Southminster via Shenfield and Wickford, an itinerary undertaken by Roy Heppinstall in order to play against Maldon's John Dodgson. A Braintree player faced an even more arduous journey, with three changes of train, if paired with the same opponent. It was not until 1984 that anybody had the idea of converting the event into a weekend tournament. Entrants were then only required to undertake two journeys, on successive days, to the venue and could benefit from the competitive atmosphere generated by all the players being congregated together. Certainly the idea was well received, for it attracted some 50 competitors, about double the usual number, and the event has been run in this way ever since.

A strange thing about chessplayers is that they do not seem to socialise with each other to any great extent outside the realms of the game itself. Two players can meet at matches on many occasions over several years, perhaps playing against each other a number of times, yet they are unlikely to meet at any other location and very often each will know very little about the other over and above the way he plays chess.  When the Individual Championship was converted to a weekend tournament it was held at the Sportsman Club in Braintree, where the facilities provided the ideal opportunity for players to get together for activities completely unrelated to chess. Many competitors took full advantage, thus making the event into a useful social gathering as well as a tournament. Any passer-by who happened to see Colchester's Andy Lingard arriving at the venue with snooker cue in hand would probably have needed a lot of convincing that he was there to compete in the area's individual chess championship! By now the Individual was no longer being run as two separate tournaments. Instead it was run as one event with the Challengers Trophy being awarded to the player graded 140 or below who achieved the best score.
League Individual Championship 1968/69
Premier
Points

5
J. A. Dodgson, B. Beavis, A. F. B. Scibor
J. R. Priestley
4
R. Heppinstall
E. Whitehead, A. J. Lait, L. Frain
3
D. R. Gold, K. Lucas
B. J. Hunt, P. C. Elliott
2
D. F. Imrie, F. M. Spiers

Challengers
Points

S. Simpson
P. Lawrence
5
H. A. Travers, C. Vince
V. Goetz
3
P. Hewlett, P. W. Selfe
W. H. Parker
2
C. E. Smith, E. G. Tribe, I. Rumsey
1
S. D. George






Marconi won the championship in 1968/69 to begin a period of domination which extended well into the 1970's. Colchester began a similar period of ascendency in the second division.


In the following season, 1969-70, Wickford and STL joined the League. Wickford had been regarded as prospective members ever since the League was founded, and the eventual arrival of the club brought to fruition the links which had been forged and nurtured over a period of years. The club had joined the Essex League in 1964, but by 1968 the eastern section of that League's third division had been decimated by the withdrawal of Burnham, Ghyllgrove and the Basildon town club. A change of direction had been called for, and the club turned to its old friends in the north for the active competition it so keenly sought. Wickford can claim to have quite a lot in common with Braintree, for not only do both clubs have a solid nucleus of experienced and long serving players quite capable of beating the very best opposition on their day, but also both can justifiably say that playing performance is not accurately reflected in the list of League honours which appears at the end of this book. Such lists are, of course, always about winners rather than those who came close. In their very first match Wickford defeated champions Marconi, their only first division defeat of that season, and went on to finish third. They were also third the following season only two points behind the winners. Often they made a good start to a season, only to fall away later, another characteristic shared with Braintree. Wickford's challenge for honours was, perhaps, strongest in its earliest years of membership when there was no club in the neighbouring town of Billericay. When the chessplayers of Billericay decided the town was quite big enough to support a club of its own some depletion of Wickford’s potential was perhaps inevitable, but always they have remained highly respected opponents never to be taken lightly by the opposition.

The other newcomers, STL, were chessplaying employees of Standard Telecommunications Laboratories, a company based in the far west of Essex at Harlow. The fact that the club's application for membership was so keenly submitted, and received, speaks volumes for the high level of enthusiasm which existed on both sides, for the club faced a journey of at least 20 miles to each away match and a similar journey confronted every other club for the return fixture. As it happened, home and away fixtures were discontinued after the previous playing season, so any given journey was no longer scheduled to take place every season, but every other season instead, which was not quite so daunting. On the other hand, the Knockout Tournament was introduced at this time, so the luck of the draw could cause the same journey to occur twice in the same season, and would inevitably do so for some.

For the first few years the Knockout was run on a similar basis to football's World Cup Finals, with the teams divided into groups and with each group conducted on an all-play-all basis to produce qualifiers for the later rounds, which were run as a straight knockout. Then, as now, the tournament was for teams of four and most clubs entered more than one team. The tournament was structured in this manner so as to guarantee each team a certain number of fixtures before possible elimination, thus compensating for the reduction in the number of championship fixtures resulting from the discontinuation of the home and away system. The tournament threw together players from the entire range of playing strength, and thus offered to second division players the chance to meet first division opponents over the board. This enabled the tournament to take on some of the romance associated with the F.A. Cup, for "giant-killings" soon became a regular feature. 'A' teams were often toppled by 'B' opponents and, now and again, by 'C' category players as well. Even the mighty Chelmsford A once lost to Braintree C. To add even more spice to the event the rate of play was accelerated to 35 moves in 1¼ hours as opposed to the 30 required in the championship. This was designed not only to give the tournament its own identity, but also to reduce the number of unfinished games requiring to be adjudicated.

Nineteen teams competed in the first season. Although the rules provided for tie breaks in the event of 2-2 match results in the Knockout rounds, this did not extend to the final itself. The two finalists, Essex University and Wickford, the latter's strength being a further endorsement of the club's strength in its early years of membership, promptly succeeded in drawing the match and, accordingly, shared the title. This was a remarkable result from the University's point of view, because an unforeseen chain of events obliged them to arrive with only three players and one board was thus lost by default. The rules were later altered to provide for a reply in the event of a drawn match in the final. To date, the amended rule has always produced an outright winner, and the tie of the first season remains unique.

1970 saw arrivals in the form of Writtle and a team from the Royal Army Medical Corps at Colchester. RAMC was another small club owing existence to a temporary preponderance of players in a small community. The club competed for only one season in the championship, where the exploits of leading player Doug Pallett were never going to be enough to disguise the deficiencies in playing strength further down the team. Only six game points were won in the entire season, but as three of them were gained in the same match the indignity of finishing without a single match point was avoided. Writtle also struggled in their opening campaign, but for them a bright future lay ahead. The principal pioneers of Writtle club were Ivor Smith and Len Frain, the league's first secretary who, as a serving police officer, had been stationed at both Braintree and Colchester, and represented both, before moving on to Writtle. He thus had the rare distinction of playing a part in the establishment of two clubs, Braintree and Writtle.
The distribution of honours was becoming very much to a set pattern with Marconi and Colchester carrying off the first and second division championships respectively for the third successive season. Not for the first time, though, the margin of victory for Marconi was game, rather than match, points. Clubs frequently found themselves separated by such slender margins after a whole season of competition. It was often a mistake for a player to concede half a point to his opponent once a match result had been settled, rather than to play on and, if necessary, opt for adjudication. Sometimes, at the end of a season, odd half points so conceded could make all the difference between honours or merely coming close to them. Marconi also won the Knockout in 1970-71 and became the first club to achieve the 'double'. So great was the domination of the club that the feat was promptly repeated in the following season.

See also: Essex-Suffolk Border League, formation of the NECL, first two years of NECL,1966-1972 part 1

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Unexpected

It might only last briefly but the league tables for NECL Divisions 1 and 2 have somewhat unexpected leaders.

Colchester C were promoted last year and are currently sitting top of Division 2. Colchester B were also promoted last year and are currently sitting top of Division 1, they have played more games than their rivals so are unlikely to stay there long.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

League update

In Division One, Colchester A have won their only game (against the B team). They are in 7th place having played fewer games than all other teams but if they win their games in hand will move up to 1st. The newly-promoted B team are proving to be competitive in the same division, and are currently in 6th place. They have played four games with one win and three defeats. They have lost just once on boards 1 and 3 and twice on board 2.

Colchester C, also newly-promoted, are currently in 1st place in Division 2. They started with a 4-0 away win at Dunmow and followed this up with a 2.5-1.5 win over Chelmsford B.

Colchester D lost their only match so far, on default, due to a mix-up about the venue for the match.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

HOCCC: 1966-72 Rapid Development (of the North Essex Chess League) part 1

The material for this post is the fourth extract taken from the booklet "The History of the North Essex Chess League" by J. Priestley.


1966-72 Rapid Development
When the tide turned, it did so quickly. Not only did both Hoffmans and Coggeshall pledge to carry on, for one season at least, but also applications for membership came in from newly formed groups at Maldon and Essex University. Oddly enough, the University had long been regarded as a likely candidate for membership, but previous approaches had produced no indication of any chess activity. Now, suddenly, the players were there. Naturally, both applications were eagerly accepted.
The season 1966-67 was unquestionably the most significant in the League's entire history. In the preceding summer there had been doubt whether membership would be sufficient to enable a proper competition to be run, but the season had actually run with a record seven clubs competing, and in the following summer preparations were in hand for the formation of a second division as well as the admission of two more new clubs, namely Witham and Marconi. ln addition, representative matches had been played against Ilford Chess Club, at that time the strongest club in the County, and the Suffolk League, and match play rules had been comprehensively formulated to replace the somewhat brief and basic rules which had operated since the League was formed.  Quite a transformation!
From then on the future of the League was assured, and apprehensions concerning survival were finally banished from mind. Though purely academic, it is interesting to speculate on what would have happened had events taken a different course in the summer of 1966. If neither Maldon nor Essex University had materialised, and both Coggeshall and Hoffmanns had withdrawn, could the three remaining clubs have ensured the League's survival? It is almost certain that competition between the three would have continued, for the players enthusiasm would have been sharpened by the outcome of the preceding season's championship where the clubs had been in such close contention. Perhaps each club would have met the others three, or even four, times a season rather than twice so as to expand the fixture programme. But would competition of this nature, which could hardly be described as a proper league, have continued for very long if no new blood had been forthcoming? It seems reasonable to suppose that enthusiasm would have declined in the face of a prolonged series of meetings between the same three opponents, for inevitably they would not have remained so well balanced in playing strength and results would have become predictable. Had this led to the discontinuation of organised competition, the belief that the area could not support league chess would have been firmly implanted in the minds of the principal characters, especially having regard to the demise of the Border League not long before, and it might have been a long while before anyone was ready to try again.
It is also valid to consider the situation from a different viewpoint by asking how enthusiastic a new club would have been to join a league having only three members, especially if that club happened to be in the south of the area and within reach of the greater variety and security offered by the Essex Chess League.
Such apprehensions may seem far-fetched when viewed from the haven of today's thriving activities, but they were real enough then. Nobody knew that the arrival of Essex University. Maldon, Marconi and Witham and those who followed was so soon to occur, but everyone was aware that organised club chess had never previously taken sufficient root so as to remain permanent in the area. In the minds of the committee of the day the League had, for a short while, stood on the very brink of what might easily have been an irreversible slide into oblivion.
This most eventful of seasons ended with Colchester winning back the championship. Not many people would have expected this to be the club's last triumph in the championship for several years to come for the team was certainly imposing, including as it did the powerful juniors Congdon, Buis and Rose. Tim Congdon was to go on to represent England in the Glorney Cup and later attain a grading of over 200. Unfortunately for Colchester, all three were destined to leave the area in pursuit of further education and only Mike Rose was to return, and then only for a short while. The club has rarely featured prominently in the first division since but has often done well in the second, especially in the early years of that competition.
Also, in that significant season of 1966/67, the League held its first general meeting since its formation. A proper constitution was adopted providing for annual general meetings to be held in future at which officers would be obliged to offer themselves for re-election by the League's players as a whole, rather than to serve indefinitely under appointment by the committee. Such meetings also afforded every player a direct relationship with the running of the League and the opportunity to put forward his suggestions.
Coggeshall withdrew before the start of the 1967/68 season. As with Wethersfield, their tenure of league status had been short, but their contribution to the promotion of competitive chess in the area had been invaluable. With the arrival of Marconi and Witham eight clubs competed for the championship and all but Witham fielded a team in the new second division.
Strangely enough, although the concept of four board teams had never been seriously considered for the first division, it was readily adopted for the second. This may have been due to the fact that, initially, the second division was not regarded as having the same formality as the first. In the past, players who had not been selected had, from to time, been tagged on to the end of the team to play their counterparts from the opposing club on a friendly basis, and the same friendly and informal atmosphere was carried forward when competition was regularised into a proper division. Those who had played on a friendly basis were not necessarily the best players available, for the custom had been to offer games to everyone who wanted to play an opponent from another club without regard to playing strength, so sometimes near beginners turned out while players with greater experience stayed at home. This practice, too, was continued into the second division so that, for a while, it offered open house to anybody who wanted to play rather than only to those who qualified on playing ability. Competitive instincts gradually overshadowed this noble concept, but the same high ideals can still be seen today, principally in some of the teams towards the lower end of the third division. Only recently Chelmsford club, for one, succeeded in fielding over the course of a season every single member who had expressed a desire to play. The second division found instant favour with two different categories of player. There were those who had clamoured for a place in the club's team, but who had rarely achieved selection, and there were also those who had often been asked to play but had declined to do so, feeling that their playing ability was not sufficient to enable them to take on somebody in the opposing club's best six. A good example of this type of player could be found at Hoffmanns, whose overall membership supported the fielding of ten players, but not many of the ten felt up to the demands of appearing in the first six. So, although the first division had always represented a struggle, the club had found no difficulty in taking up its place in the second.
In its early days the fixtures in the second division coincided with the first, so that clubs met ten-a-side. Whilst convenient from the point of view of administration, the arrangement tended to stretch available equipment to its absolute limits. Visiting teams were always called upon to bring clocks, and sometimes sets and boards as well. Nevertheless it was not unusual to find one or two games in progress without the aid of a clock, for sometimes the combined resources of the two clubs could not muster ten in working order. Sometimes, too, the visiting club forgot to bring any. The use of clocks was not compulsory, even in the first division, reflecting the fact that newly formed clubs were not fully equipped, and the rules simply provided that clocks had to be used where available. In fact, the rules remained so worded until as recently as 1985. Happily, murmurs of slow play have rarely, if ever, been heard, for those who have played without clocks usually tended to be from the lower ranges of playing strength where moves are often played at quite a fast rate.
The Witham club had been formed with the aid of some counselling from the League, pursuant to the policy of helping to create new clubs in the area. Like the League itself, the club grew rapidly from humble beginnings. In its first season, one match was drawn and thirteen lost, and in all seventeen matches were played before the first win was finally registered. But within a few years the club became a major force both in numerical and playing strength, culminating with the capture of the first division championship in 1973.
The other newcomers, Marconi, were also to enjoy considerable success and were soon to dominate the championship. Happily the club has rarely been troubled by the problems of dwindling membership so often encountered by company clubs, and for much of its life has enjoyed a level of support comparable with rivals whose catchment areas comprise entire towns.
The previous season's arrivals, Essex University and Maldon, also established themselves as League stalwarts, although neither has succeeded in capturing the championship to date. But both made good starts, with the University finishing third in each of its first two seasons and Maldon becoming the first winners of the second division. In those days the first and second divisions were known as Divisions A and B. The numerical suffix did not appear until the formation of the third division in 1976.
1967/68 saw Chelmsford regain the championship from Colchester. Facilities continued to expand. A team was entered in the Postal Chess League, and grading was introduced. Ray Keene, arguably the leading British player of the day, gave a simultaneous display. A League Magazine appeared for the first time, and became an established feature of the League in the years that followed.
Stan Wooller, the Secretary of Hoffmanns, emigrated to New Zealand and received a warm tribute at the A.G.M. for all his efforts during the League's formative years. Stan Wooller's role in the creation and development of the League cannot be understated, for it was he who played a principal part in the establishment of contact between clubs in the area which led to the first meeting in 1964, and it was he who did so much to maintain the Hoffmann Club's membership of the League at a time when its withdrawal might have placed the future of the League itself in jeopardy.
Until now, all clerical duties had been undertaken by the General Secretary, but owing to the expansion of activities the post of Tournaments Officer was created to deal with yet another new venture, an individual championship. Andrew Lait of Marconi was the first holder of the office, and he also dealt with grading. Nineteen players competed in the first individual championship, run on the Swiss system, which was won by Gordon Campbell, a Marconi player who had also played for Chelmsford.
1968/69 saw no further additions to the League's ranks. Representative matches were played against Ilford Chess Club and the Rest of Essex, and the League also staged the Essex & Norfolk county match. The existence of the League had soon become known to those in the south of the County, and these matches reflected the fast growth of contact between the two areas. In fact, about a dozen of the League's players were already playing regularly in County matches at this time. County matches have been played in the League's area ever since, albeit infrequently. Not long after the Norfolk match the League was host to the clash of the titans, Essex and Cambridge, which saw some of the country's leading players assembled together under a North Essex roof. Such an event would have been considered a completely unrealistic pipe-dream only a few years before. Spectators were able to enjoy the sight of Jonathan Penrose, playing against Ray Keene, then the highest graded player in the country. It was well established now that there was something north of Brentwood.



See also: Essex-Suffolk Border League, formation of the NECL, first two years of NECL

Saturday, 1 October 2016

HOCCC: The first two years of the North Essex Chess League

The material for this post is the third extract taken from the booklet "The History of the North Essex Chess League" by J. Priestley.

The First Two Years

The five clubs promoting the venture were optimistic that additions could be made to the League's membership quite quickly. There were, after all, a handful of known clubs who had shown interest, and who might decide to join once the League had proved itself to be viable. There was also the feeling that other clubs might already exist in the area. The existence of the known clubs had come to light in a relatively short period, and it seemed reasonable to suppose that there might yet be one or two more remaining to be discovered. Halstead, Dunmow, Felsted and Braintree Technical College were thought to be possible areas for such a discovery. But there was to be no addition to the League's numerical strength in that first season, nor in the second season either, and the enthusiasm of the players, many of whom were seeking their first taste of competitive chess, tended to obscure the fact that the League actually stood on somewhat insecure foundations.

None of the three major partners, Braintree, Chelmsford and Colchester, then enjoyed the level of membership seen in subsequent years, although none was in any real danger of failing to fulfil its fixtures. Both Hoffmanns and Wethersfield, however, were very small clubs born from that curious quirk of fate which sometimes causes a disproportionately large number of chessplayers to find themselves assembled within a small community. So far as the Hoffmann club was concerned, the simple law of averages decreed that the inevitable turnover of staff which takes place in any place of employment must eventually reduce the number of the chessplaying variety, and a reduction to an average level would probably leave insufficient to support league chess. But at least this was likely to be a reasonably slow process. By comparison, the Wethersfield club lived in absolute peril. As service personnel, all were liable to transfer at short notice and all were certain to return to the United States within a short time when tours of duty ended. There was no guarantee that Uncle Sam would provide enough, or even any chessplaying replacements. There was certainly a very real danger of the League’s membership being reduced to four clubs in a short time, and some risk of a further reduction to just three.

Play began in-the autumn of 1964 and a very successful season was enjoyed. Colchester completely overwhelmed the opposition by winning all their matches except one, where they were held to a draw by second placed Chelmsford. League tables in the form we see today were not published in the first two seasons, and League records of results have not survived, but the well-kept records of Colchester Chess Club reveal that, in the first season, third, fourth and fifth places were occupied by Wethersfield, Hoffmanns and Braintree respectively.

There are very few players still competing in the League today who experienced an away match at Wethersfield. The approach was via several miles of unlit, winding country roads through the intense blackness of night which prevails when there is no sizeable town within close proximity. On arrival at the camp entrance, one had the uneasy feeling that armaments were close at hand. Somehow the sentry's directions were always misconstrued, so there then followed a tentative drive along a labyrinth of dark roads and shadowy buildings in search of the sergeants' mess. Once found, however, the warmth of the American welcome fully compensated for the rigours of the journey, and an enjoyable match ensued. It is interesting to speculate on what would have happened had there been a full scale alert while a match was in progress, for it was widely believed that in such an event American Air Bases were totally sealed for security reasons. Would visitors have been hurriedly escorted out or firmly enclosed within? Fortunately perhaps, the question never arose. At the end of the first season, the inevitable transfer of U.S. personnel took place leaving the Wethersfield mainstay, Sergeant Roland Goad, without a team. The League was fortunate that he should be the one left behind for he took over the vacant post of League Secretary and fulfilled his duties with considerable energy and ability until he, too, was recalled the following year. Braintree also benefited from his services as a player until his departure.

In those days there were some thousands of American servicemen stationed in Britain, sufficient to include amongst their ranks enough chessplayers to justify tournaments and other events. Roland Goad featured prominently in these events and could perhaps be said to have been the strongest American player then living in Britain. Certainly he was one of the best players in the League in its first two seasons, as well as one of the most popular.  He was the winner of an individual Lightning Championship held at Hoffmans in 1966, the first of a number of lightning events which took place in the League's early year's.

So, in the summer of 1965, the League was reduced to just four clubs. Contacts had been maintained with all the known clubs, but had borne no fruit. Enquiries had also failed to unearth any new clubs. The recruiting drive even extended to the offer of help to any individual hoping to start a new club in his area, in the form of counselling and loan of equipment, but this idea also brought no result. It was resolved to carry on competition between the four remaining clubs and hope for some early success in the recruiting campaign, and play began accordingly in the autumn. Then, in November, contact was made with a small group at Coggeshall who were keen to try their hands at league chess. After a brief consultation among the four member clubs the fixture list was hurriedly amended so as to include the Coggeshall club, although formal election into the League did not occur until the Committee next met in the following January, by which time a number of matches had already been played!

It was a brave venture indeed by the Coggeshall players. The group was so small that meetings took place in private houses, and premises were hired only for the purpose of playing league matches. But more significant than the club's size was the fact that the average age of the players was around seventy. Travelling was always going to be a problem, and some were in failing health.  A fairly rapid injection of younger blood was needed to ensure the survival of league status, but this was not to be.

As with Wethersfield, an away match at Coggeshall was a memorable experience. Matches were played in a building  which very much resembled a Victorian workhouse. It was never quite as cold as the description may suggest, for the old iron stove which stood squarely in the centre of the room provided a reasonable amount of heat. But it also provided a reasonable amount of smoke and the lighting was exceedingly poor, and the combination of the two must have constituted an even bigger handicap to the elderly hosts than it did to the younger visitors. Conditions there would not have appealed greatly to players accustomed to the high degree of comfort offered by most clubs today, but were readily accepted by the hardy pioneers of the League's early days.

Thoughts had turned to the acquisition of a trophy, a clear indication of confidence in the League's future.  A Braintree businessman, Mr G. Kalms, learned of this and very kindly presented the League with a silver cup which remains the first division trophy to this day. Mr Kalms was elected as the League's first president in acknowledgement of his donation.

The 1965/66 playing season itself produced one of the most dramatic finishes in the entire history of the League. The three major clubs, Braintree, Chelmsford and Colchester, completely overran the two minnows, but no one of the three managed to break clear of the other two. Braintree could have done so, for they went into their last match a point ahead of Chelmsford and three in front of opponents Colchester. A draw would have been sufficient but nerves failed when most needed. The match started well enough. And at one time a win seemed likely, but the tension caused good looking positions to somehow erode away and, in the end, not even a draw could be salvaged. Even then all hope was not lost, for the season's final fixture brought together Colchester and Chelmsford in a situation where the winner would secure the championship. A tight match was therefore guaranteed and, if it finished as a draw, all three clubs would be level on match points but with Braintree placed first by virtue of a superior game point score. But, on the day, Chelmsford snatched victory 4-2 and with it the first of the club's many League honours. Memories of that fateful night lingered long in the minds of the Braintree players, for eleven years were to pass before the club finally laid hands on the League's premier trophy.

Two seasons had now been successfully completed. If anything, enthusiasm among the players ran at an even higher level than at the beginning of the venture, for already there was a detectable increase in playing strength bought about by participation in competitive, as opposed to purely friendly play. In those days the League was administered wholly by the committee, and did not hold general meetings, and it is likely that many who played in the League did not know of the major problem which the management was about to face. In its meetings to date much of the committee's time had been dedicated to ingenious ideas for unearthing further chess activity in the area, or even creating it, so as to add to the League's membership of five clubs. But now it was more a case of trying to ensure that membership did not fall below that number, for both Hoffmanns and Coggeshall had indicated doubts about their ability to enter a team for the following season.

So anxious were the committee to ensure the availability of sufficient activities that even a liaison with clubs well into Suffolk was considered, and on one occasion two representatives from Stowmarket attended a committee meeting. The idea, however, created no more than the setting up of an annual inter-league match between the League and the Suffolk League, which in the end lasted only for a few seasons. John Priestley, who had replaced Roland Goad as General Secretary, volunteered to play for Hoffmann's in the hope that one more player would tilt the scales towards survival as a League club. Even so, the continuation of both Hoffmanns and Coggeshall remained in the balance during that summer of 1966, and there was no sign of any prospective new members. The League was facing its darkest hour.

Today we are acclimatised to the notion of four board matches. In 1966, however, four board matches were looked upon as very much of a novelty, and sufficiently far removed from the established concept of inter club competition between premier teams to defy suggestion. In many quarters, even competition between teams of six was considered to be somewhat lightweight, for it was quite usual to find leagues operating with eight, or even ten, in a team. Nevertheless, it seems strange that the notion was never seriously considered as a solution, for it certainly would have guaranteed the survival of Hoffmanns, if not Coggeshall as well. Furthermore, the major clubs, whose membership supported a team of six players with some to spare, could have entered two teams and the number of competing players alike. The status of the League, in comparison with others, would have been reduced by such an innovation, perhaps considerably so in the eyes of some, but survival of a viable nucleus of clubs was the paramount objective at that point in time. Possibly, however, the committee members were unknowingly blessed with a sixth sense, for as things turned out reduction of teams to four boards would have made no difference to survival of the League, and would have been very much a retrograde step.

See also: Essex-Suffolk Border League, formation of the NECL

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Club competitions

The winners of the club competitions for 2015/16 are:

  • Club Championship: Nathan Barnes
  • Tony Locke Rapidplay: Svein Kjenner & Matt Stemp (tie)
  • Club Shield: Pete Smith
  • Grand Prix: Norbert Voelker

The Club Shield was awarded to the best performance by a player graded under 120ECF in the Club Championship. The Grand Prix was won by the player with the highest combined score in the Club Championship, Tony Locke Rapidplay and NECL matches.

The Club Honours page has been updated to show the 2015/16 results and also now includes more historical results than previously.

The position at the top of the page is taken from the decisive game in the Club Championship (N Barnes - N Voelker). It shows the position after Black's 36th move. Nothing particularly special about the position, except that neither the White rook or bishop had moved at all in the first 36 moves. So, is the game still technically in the opening until White completes development?

Sunday, 25 September 2016

HOCCC: The formation of the North Essex Chess League

The material for this post was taken from the booklet "The History of the North Essex Chess League" by J. Priestley.  It follows on from this post about the Essex-Suffolk Border League.

Formation

The scene was now set for a rapid series of friendly matches between the various clubs in the group, with the match-starved Chelmsford players alone completing half a dozen such fixtures in the first few weeks of 1964. With the frequency of fixtures approaching that in organised competitions, talk soon turned to the possibility of forming a league in which all could compete.

Braintree, under the energetic leadership of Colin Smith, were predominant in these discussions and it was they who called an exploratory meeting at Braintree Institute on 3rd April 1964. Exchanges of information had revealed that clubs were known to exist at Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Hoffmann, Wethersfield, Wickford, Ghyllgrove, Kedington, Burnham-on-Crouch and Clacton but, although all were invited, only the first five named sent representatives on the day, although Clacton indicated that they might wish to take part if a league could be formed. Of the others, Kedington felt that they were not yet ready for the commitment of regular league chess, while Burnham, Ghyllgrove and Wickford all concluded that entry into the Essex League was more suitable to their geographical locations at the southern end of central Essex, and were considering such a liaison.

The response had been slightly disappointing, but enthusiasm ran infectiously high. Although many who attended the meeting had officiated at club level, nobody knew very much about running a league. Possibly, this was just as well, for any voice of experience might well have materially dampened enthusiasm by casting serious doubts on the wisdom of setting up a league of just five clubs. But if anybody had such apprehensions they were unheard in the jubilant spirit of adventure which dominated the proceedings and it was resolved to form a league under the title "North Essex Chess League". Matches were to be played over six boards on a home and away basis. A place was reserved for Clacton, but in the event it was not taken up. Colin Smith was elected chairman, and Len Frain secretary. The latter found himself on the move from Braintree only shortly afterwards and was replaced by another Braintree member, Brian Heath, who acted in a temporary capacity for the first season. The League was to be administered by a committee consisting of chairman, secretary and one representative from each club. Only the club representatives had the power to vote.

The area had seen a remarkable transformation in a short period of time. Only a few months before it would have seemed to the observer that there was no likelihood of organised competition being re-introduced for quite a long while, the previous venture having failed for want of support in an area larger, and thus with a greater population than that covered by the new league. But there was still some way to go before the new league could justifiably describe itself as established.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

HOCCC: The Essex-Suffolk Border League

Before the North Essex Chess League was formed there was the Essex-Suffolk Border League. Three games from this league have been included in previous posts, the material for this post was taken from the booklet "The History of the North Essex Chess League" by J. Priestley.


The Scene Prior to Formation

In 1963 the County of Essex could have been divided, so far as the active chess player was concerned, into two distinct portions. In the extreme south lay rich and fertile territory in which a substantial number of clubs could readily be found, all thriving under the stimulus of active competition provided by the Essex Chess League. The remainder of the County, in contrast, comprised a large area of barren wasteland populated only by a very small number of clubs which were both underactive and poorly publicised. For a while, little or no contact existed between these clubs, far less any organised competition, so that each club was somewhat akin to a sudden oasis in a desert. Chess activity in the area was thus at a very low level, so low that many were unaware it existed at all. Indeed, a newcomer to Essex at that time who enquired about facilities for the game might easily have been offered the advice "there's nothing north of Brentwood".

The situation is, however, very different today, for activities in the area comprising the central and northern parts of Essex have developed to a level comparable with those in the south since the formation of the North Essex Chess League. This is the story of the birth, and subsequent growth, of the League.

It is known that chess clubs have existed in the area for about 100 years, and possibly longer. Colchester Chess Club has records dating back to its formation in 1888, which reveal that the club was soon engaged in friendly matches against clubs from Chelmsford, Clacton and Sudbury. But although such encounters took place regularly over many years, it appears that no organised competition existed specifically for clubs in the area until 1950, when the Essex and Suffolk Border League was formed. Before then, competitive chess came only in the form of the Essex County Trophy, in which clubs from the area competed for a long period. Chelmsford actually won the event more than once in the 1930's. Colchester also played in the National Club Championship for quite a while.  As both events were on a knockout basis, even the successful could expect no more than a handful of matches in a season. The competitions must have involved considerable travelling too, for most of the entrants in the Essex County Trophy came from the far south while opponents in the National Club Championship were likely to be situated even further afield. The formation of the Essex & Suffolk Border League must have been very welcome to all those who relished the challenge of regular competitive play against opposition within reasonable distance.

But the League never really developed in the way its promoters had no doubt hoped. Although it covered the sizeable area from Chelmsford in the south to Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmunds in the north, membership was always confined to about half a dozen clubs, and competition was destined to last for just twelve seasons. In its final years, membership consisted of only five clubs who met over six boards once a season. Chelmsford found themselves playing just one home match in every other season, arising from the alternation of venues with old foes Colchester. The other three surviving members, Clacton, Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, were all played "halfway" at either Colchester or Sudbury. The luxury of a home match was a similar rarity for both Bury and Clacton.  Under these conditions it is, perhaps, hardly surprising that enthusiasm fell away, and play in the League ultimately ceased in the area, for by that time no club was still taking part in the Essex County Trophy, a fact which no doubt helped to give rise to the myth that there was nothing north of Brentwood.

If the Essex & Suffolk Border League had succeeded in maintaining its existence for just a little while longer, the development of competitive chess in the area might well have taken a very different course from the one it subsequently did. Central and northern Essex saw a substantial rise in population between the late 1950's and the mid 1970's, and indeed the population has continued to expand right to the present day. Inevitably, the newcomers included chessplayers, some of whom swelled the ranks of existing clubs while others set about forming new clubs after failing to find any existing ones within reach. Ironically, the new clubs first started to appear in 1963, just after the demise of the Border League. Had there been a local league available some may well have joined it, but as there was not it meant that the area had no central agency through which clubs could readily make contact with each other. As a result, a newly formed club often remained in total isolation from any others until some while after its formation.

Even the most undaunted explorer would have had difficulty in tracking down every single pocket of chess activity which existed at this time. Enquiries of official sources ought to have unearthed Colchester, for they alone had been affiliated to the British Chess Federation. Discovery would have led on to Chelmsford and Clacton, both known to Colchester, but no further, for the established clubs knew nothing of the new ones. Advertising a small club or society on a continuous basis has never been an easy matter and was even more difficult then than it is today, for nowadays we have the useful media of comprehensive local directories, free "advertiser" newspapers and a large network of community centres which were virtually non-existent in 1963. So contact between clubs often came about only after diligent enquiries by newly appointed club secretaries desperately seeking opposition against which their clubs could play. Gradually, contacts were made and friendly matches arranged, and the desert wastelands started to show a few signs of fertility.
Incredibly, a newly formed club in Chelmsford actually operated for some months within half a mile of the Chelmsford club itself before contact was established between the two. The new club had been formed at the Hoffmann Company (now Ransome Hoffmann Pollard) and, although membership was small, the enthusiastic efforts of secretary Stan Wooller had led him into contact with other small clubs as far apart as Kedington (Haverhill), Ghyllgrove (Basildon) and the United States Air Force Base at Wethersfield as well as a more substantial group at Braintree. A number of friendly matches had taken place between members of this group before contact was established between the two Chelmsford clubs. It happened when Chelmsford's John Priestley wrote to local companies asking if there was any chess activity taking place in sports and social sections, and received a very prompt response from Stan Wooller to the effect that at Hoffmanns there most certainly was!

See also, a game from the past: 1, 2, 3

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Martin Harris

Colchester Chess Club mark the sad death of Martin Harris 1957 - 2016

Martin Harris came to Colchester Chess Club 3 years ago at a time when the club was on a low ebb and he was a big factor in its recovery. He played for all the teams, sometimes at a moments notice. He had been known to walk miles just to get to a game, when playing he was tenacious and dogged in his approach. He also went to many congresses, including Bury St Edmunds 2013 where he came joint first in the under 120 section. This year he was named player of the year, completing 24 graded games. He also had a great sense of humour and would entertain us with jokes and games.

A valued club member and friend, he will be missed.

Post from John Duff-Cole

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A game from the past 3

The Essex & Suffolk Border League was formed in 1950 and ran for twelve seasons. When it finished there were just five member clubs: Colchester, Chelmsford, Clacton, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. The North Essex Chess League was formed a couple of years after the Border League stopped and covered a smaller geographical area.

D Brown, with the Black pieces, is the Colchester player in the game below.

[Event "Essex & Suffolk Border League"] [Site "?"] [Date "1959.11.09"] [Round "?"] [White "Smith, M. C."] [Black "Brown, D."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A50"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "1959.11.09"] [WhiteTeam "Ipswich"] [BlackTeam "Colchester"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 b6 3. d4 Bb7 4. d5 d6 5. e4 c6 6. Nf3 g6 7. Be2 Bg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bf4 cxd5 10. cxd5 Ba6 11. Bxa6 Nxa6 12. Qe2 Nc5 13. Rfe1 Re8 14. Nd4 $2 Qd7 $2 (14... Nfxe4 $1 15. Nxe4 Bxd4 {Black has won a pawn}) 15. b4 e5 16. dxe6 Nxe6 17. Nxe6 fxe6 18. Rad1 e5 $6 (18... Nh5 $142 $11 {with a discovered attach on the c3 knight} 19. Rxd6 $2 (19. Bxd6 Bxc3 20. Be5 Qc8 21. Rc1 Bxe5 22. Rxc8 Raxc8 $17 {Black has a clear edge with a rook and two minor pieces for the queen.}) 19... Qe7 $19 {White has no way of protecting both his minor pieces}) 19. Bg5 Kh8 {There was an error in the game record at this point. The moves Qd2 Rec8 were missing but make sense based on the subsequent moves so have been added. It is possible that Qd3 was played instead of Qd2 and that a different rook move was made (though the latter is unlikely).} 20. Qd2 Rec8 21. Qxd6 Qxd6 22. Rxd6 Rf8 $2 (22... Rxc3 {was much better, though white would still be much better, Black's chances of holding for a draw would be improved.} 23. Bxf6 Bxf6 24. Rxf6 Rd8 25. Re6 $16) 23. f3 Ng8 24. Red1 h6 25. Be3 Bf6 26. b5 Rad8 $2 {While Black already had a lost position this makes things easier for White.} 27. Rd7 $1 Rxd7 28. Rxd7 Rd8 29. Rxa7 Rd3 {The fork of the two minor pieces is easy to deal with.} 30. Nd5 Bg5 31. Bxg5 hxg5 32. Kf2 Rd2+ 33. Kg3 Nh6 $2 34. Nf6 {Resigns, mate can't be stopped Board 5 Ipswich (5) - (1) Colchester 36 moves in 90 minutes Played at Ipswich Chess Club} 1-0

See also, a game from the past: 1, 2

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A game from the past 2

Below is a game played in 1957 between Ipswich and Colchester. It was played in the Essex & Suffolk Border League - a predecessor to the North Essex Chess League. G Sainsbury, with the Black pieces, was a Colchester Chess Club member for a number of years.

[Event "Essex & Suffolk Border League"] [Site "?"] [Date "1957.03.25"] [Round "?"] [White "Smith, M. C."] [Black "Sainsbury, G. H."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "1957.03.25"] [SourceDate "2016.08.18"] [WhiteTeam "Ipswich Chess Club"] [BlackTeam "Colchester Chess Club"] 1. Nf3 b6 2. g3 ({The only comments on the original score sheet (made by M. C. Smith): "What about"} 2. e4 Bb7 3. Bc4 Bxe4 $2 4. Ng5 $1 {"winning". The annotation is inaccurate though as after} d5 {Black is fine}) 2... Bb7 3. Bg2 f5 4. c4 Nf6 5. O-O e6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Re1 O-O 8. d4 d6 9. Qc2 (9. d5 $5 { is a more dynamic choice} exd5 10. Nd4 Qd7 11. cxd5 {White has an isolated queen's pawn but has a decent long-term advantage due to the semi-open c-file.} ) 9... h6 $2 10. Nh4 {Missing a much better move} (10. Ng5 $1 {wins material} Nc6 ({the alternatives are no better - White wins the exchange no matter what Black does} 10... hxg5 11. Bxb7) (10... Bxg2 11. Nxe6 Qc8 12. Nxf8 Be4 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. f3 Ng5 15. Ng6) 11. Nxe6 Qd7 12. Nxf8 Rxf8) 10... Bxg2 11. Nxg2 Nc6 12. d5 {best} Nd4 $2 13. Qd3 $16 {OK, but White missed the opportunity to win material.} (13. Qd1 $1 $18 e5 14. e3 {The knight has no where to go. The difference between Qd1 and Qd3 is that on d3 the pawn moving to e3 gives Black the f3 square for the knight.}) 13... e5 14. Nh4 Ne4 15. Ng6 $1 Rf6 16. Nxe7+ Qxe7 17. f3 Ng5 18. f4 exf4 $2 (18... Ne4 $142) 19. Qxd4 {There was no need to take the knight yet} (19. Bxf4 $1 Nh3+ 20. Kg2 Nxf4+ 21. gxf4 c5 22. dxc6 Ne6 23. Nd5 Rg6+ 24. Kh1 Qf7 25. b4 {White is a pawn up and has a protected passd pawn on c6.}) 19... Nf3+ 20. exf3 Qxe1+ 21. Kg2 fxg3 22. hxg3 Rg6 $14 23. Qf2 Re8 24. Rb1 Qxf2+ $2 {With the queens swapped off the advantage of two pieces against a rook is magnified.} 25. Kxf2 a6 26. Bd2 Rf6 27. Re1 Rxe1 28. Kxe1 g5 29. Ne2 Rf7 30. Nd4 Re7+ 31. Kf2 Kf7 $2 32. Nxf5 {Resigns Played at Ipswich Chess Club Ipswich (7) - (1) Colchester (5-1 prior to adjudication) Time Limit: 36 moves in 90 minutes} 1-0

See also: A game from the past 1

Monday, 8 August 2016

DITO 4

An opening disaster caused by playing a sideline which an opponent was able to prepare for, taken from Barnes, N (ECF:146) 0.5 - 0.5 Kjenner, S (ECF:154) (2016).

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 is the Scotch Opening. 4...Qh4 is a sideline, but not a bad one. This was the move that White had expected Black to play.

5.Nb5 is not the most common reply but does give scope for Black to go wrong. The knight threatens to fork the king and rook by capturing on c7. 5...Bc5 replies with a stronger threat.

6.Qf3 is one way of protecting the f2 pawn and also sets a trap.

6...Ne5 looks strong as it threatens the white queen on f3 and so seems to be bringing another piece into the attack with tempo.

However, Ne5 was a serious error allowing White to win material.

7.Qf4! was the prepared trap. According to the computer the best option for Black is 7...Qxf2+ 8.Qxf2 Bxf2+ 9.Kxf2 and White has won a piece for a pawn. The game continuation was 7...Qxf4. White missed the best move here - 8.Nxc7+ as after 8...Kd8 9.Bxf4 the knight on c7 is safe as 9...Kxc7 10.Bxe5+ Kd8 11.Bxg7 and White has an even greater material advantage than if Black allows the knight to take the a8 rook.

White's preparation ran out on move 7 though and 8.Bxf4 Bd6 9.Nxd6 cxd6 leaves White much better (more than +2 according to the computer) but the advantage is not as clear cut as after 8.Nxc7+.


Previous opening disasters: DITO 1, DITO 2, DITO 3

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Club competitions

The games listed below are the outstanding games from the 2015/16 Club Championship and 2015/16 Tony Locke Rapidplay. Final date for completion of these games is Wednesday 31st August. Incomplete games will be defaulted by one or both players at the discretion of the tournament secretary.

 

Club Championship

WHITE  BLACK
Pete SmithV Clive Bellinger
John Duff-ColeV Svein Kjenner
Ed GoodmanV Mark Johnson
Svein Kjenner V Mark Johnson
John Duff-ColeV Ed Goodman
Clive BellingerV Nathan Barnes
Pete SmithV Mark Johnson
Svein KjennerV Ed Goodman
Phil DaleyV John Duff-Cole

 

Tony Locke Rapidplay

Clive Bellinger V Matt Stemp
Phil Daley V Svein Kjenner
Nathan Barnes V Ed Goodman
Pete Smith V Dave Chatfield
John Duff-Cole VPete Smith
Dave Chatfield V John Duff-Cole
Ed Goodman V Pete Smith

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Trophies

Three trophies won by Colchester this year. This brings the total to seven in the last three years, after a barren period going back to 2005.

On the left is the Al Scibor trophy - awarded to the adult player with the best performance in the NECL league. This year it was won by Norbert Voelker with a 92% score from 12 league matches. This is the 3rd year in a row that this trophy has been won by a Colchester player (Alex Orava and Eldar Lachinov in the previous two years). Svein Kjenner was 2nd in the standings (for the 2nd year in a row) with Clive Bellinger, Matt Stemp, Martin Harris, Nathan Barnes and Mike Wagstaff also doing well.

In the middle is the NECL Division 3 trophy, won by the C team, who have now been promoted to Division 2.

On the right is the Roy Heppinstall Memorial Shield awarded to the winners of NECL Division 2. The B team were the winners this year, the A team the year before. So it is the C team's turn next...

The Club Honours page has been updated to show known achievements by teams representing Colchester Chess Club.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

July ECF Grades

The July 2016 ECF Grading List has been published. The standard play grades for active Colchester players are:

RefNameAgeStandardPrevious
139627EGooding, Ian191B189B
302172LVoelker, Norbert184D182E
186371LStemp, Matt176D172D
297026AOrava, Aleksandr162D163D
301977ASchnell, Felix155E167E
299554CKjenner, Svein152B154D
140673FBarnes, Nathan148A146A
120924DWagstaff, Michael144C148C
250046CBellinger, Clive129C133C
155695CDaley, Phil119C121C
150405JHarris, Martin116A118A
117812LRemmer, Brian110C107C
213710ASmith, Peter108C111C
293018DJohnson, Mark105B104B
283272AHarris, Peter105D95D
298130AJaufarally, Mohammud104A102A
301854EGonzales, Denzel96F105F
227455DDuff-Cole, John92C93B
256466LGoodman, Ed86D84C

A few players have increased their grades - with Peter Harris (+10) and Matt Stemp (+4) having the most significant increases.

 

The rapidplay grades for active Colchester players are:

RefNameAgeRapidplayPrevious
186371LStemp, Matt175F180F
140673FBarnes, Nathan149E155E
299554CKjenner, Svein149D148D
250046CBellinger, Clive139F136F
293018DJohnson, Mark108D109D
150405JHarris, Martin102D101D
298130AJaufarally, Mohammud97A91B
227455DDuff-Cole, John92F87F
155695CDaley, Phil85F85F
256466LGoodman, Ed70E74F
283272AHarris, Peter62E68E
301407BParker, Leon1748F54F

There are other Colchester players who have played some rapidplay graded games in the last half-season (but not enough to have a grade yet).

 

A few players have increased their grades - with Mo Jaufarally (+6) and John Duff-Cole (+5) having the most significant increases.

Friday, 22 July 2016

DITO 3

An opening disaster caused by not paying attention to the line being played and just playing "normal" moves for the opening without checking...

Today's DITO shows an example of a common idea against the Slav, or rather a common idea that is not often seen as Black doesn't normally allow it, taken from Forrester, A (ECF:134) 0 - 1 Barnes, N (ECF:146) (2016).

Nothing wrong with the first few moves 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Bxc4 4. e3

However, 4...Nf6 is dubious as Black is giving the pawn back and allowing White to develop freely at the same time. Nf6 is normally played in the Slav but this is not the right time, 4...b5 is best.

White's reply is obvious, but after 5. Bxc4 Black is just losing after playing another "normal" Slav move (5...Bf5).

White can now win material and get a better position, with a tactic that Black should be well aware of if they are playing this opening...

White is a pawn up, for no compensation, after just six moves and the rest (should be) simple. Black made things worse by playing 6...Qc8 7. Bxf7+ Kd8, which the computer evaluates as being nearly the equivalent of a piece down for Black.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Club Championship - round 5

The draw for the fifth round of the club championship has been made. Currently in the lead (based on completed games) are Nathan Barnes, Clive Bellinger and Norbert Voelker on 3/4, though there are a number of incomplete games so exact positions/scores could change. For the purposes of making the draw, incomplete matches have been counted as being draws - scores will be updated as matches are completed.

 

Round 5

WHITE  BLACK
Nathan Barnes (3)V Norbert Voelker (3)
Pete Smith (2.5)V Clive Bellinger (3)
Brian Remmer (2)V Felix Schnell (2.5)
Phil Daley (1)V Martin Harris (2)
John Duff-Cole (1)V Svein Kjenner (1.5)
Ed Goodman (1)V Mark Johnson (1.5)

 

Incomplete matches from previous rounds

WHITE  BLACK
Svein Kjenner V Mark Johnson
Felix SchnellV Phil Daley
Clive BellingerV Felix Schnell
John Duff-ColeV Ed Goodman
Clive Bellinger (2.5)V Nathan Barnes (2.5)
Felix Schnell (2)V Norbert Voelker (2.5)
Pete Smith (2)V Mark Johnson (1.5)
Svein Kjenner (1)V Ed Goodman (0.5)
Phil Daley (0.5)V John Duff-Cole (0.5)

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Colchester A round-up

Colchester A finished in 4th place in NECL Division 1, with two draws and a defeat in their last three matches seeing them slip away from the top of the table. 4th place was a decent result for a team who had only been promoted to the top division in the previous season.

 

Twelve matches were played by the A team, with five wins, three draws and two defeats in the league; a win (on board count) and a defeat in the knockout. The player statistics (by board) are:

 

Board 1 (Total 5.5/12)
Matt Stemp2/2
Ian Gooding3.5/7
Alex Orava0/2
Nathan Barnes0/1

 

Board 2 (Total 6.5/12)
Alex Orava2/2
Nathan Barnes1/1
Matt Stemp3/6
Norbert Voelker0.5/1
Felix Schnell0/2

 

Board 3 (Total 7/12)
Felix Schnell2/3
Nathan Barnes2.5/4
Alex Orava1/2
Norbert Voelker1/2
Mike Wagstaff0.5/1

 

Board 4 (Total 7/12)
Svein Kjenner2/2
Alex Orava1/1
Felix Schnell1/1
Norbert Voelker1/1
Nathan Barnes1/2
Clive Bellinger0.5/1
Mike Wagstaff0.5/2
Martin Harris0/1
John Duff-Cole0/1