Friday, 13 January 2017

HOCCC: 1966-72 Rapid Development (of the North Essex Chess League) part 3

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

Ray Keene was elected president of the League, reflecting his visits to give simultaneous displays and his assistance with adjudications. The burden of work which fell upon the shoulders of the General Secretary had become very considerable with the introduction of the knockout competition and the expansion of the championship into two divisions, so separate officers of League Championship Secretary and Knockout Tournament Controller were created to spread the load. The first incumbents were John Standley of Colchester and Gareth Tucker of STL respectively.

Both STL and RAMC withdrew from the championship in 1971/72, and competed only in the Knockout. By so doing, they opened the way for a significant change in the operation of League competitions. Until then, every club had been expected to field its first team in the first division, and to enter the other competitions according to its wishes. But there now followed the rather more logical concept of clubs entering the competitions to which they were best suited. Withdrawal from the championship was a great disappointment for the players of STL, who had performed well enough to finish in mid-table in both of the two preceding seasons, and who on one occasion scored a sensational 5½ - ½ victory over Essex University. The departure of two or three key players was the reason for their enforced retirement from the premier event. Today's players who have been around long enough to have visited STL will remember not only the luxurious playing conditions but also the interesting novelty of a large blackboard on which results were entered as soon as games finished. This could have quite a demoralising effect on visiting teams unfortunate enough to suffer a couple of early reverses!

Voting rights at committee meetings, which had always been vested only in club representatives, were extended so as to include officers. This was a very logical step, as it was the officers who provided much of the continuity, some clubs changing the identity of their representatives fairly frequently.
RAMC departed at the end of the 1971-72 season, as did founder member Hoffmans, who had seen a steady decline in membership and who had latterly been reduced to a playing membership of seven.  Most people playing in the League today are unaware that at one time the whole concept of organised inter-club play in the area probably hinged on the ability of this gallant little club to subscribe to it. Every former club has played its part in the development of the League, but none more so than Hoffmanns. Although never in contention for honours, the club achieved several notable results. At one time or another wins were recorded against every other first division club, with the exception of Essex University, including a famous victory over mighty neighbours Chelmsford.

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

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