Year Book 2019-20 Contents
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ECF Online County Championships
Two ECF Online County Championships are being launched. One is for teams not limited in any way by grade, and one which is limited by grade. Each of these two sections has an initial “Group” stage to afford qualification for Championships which represent different levels of relative strength. In the Open-Grade section there are two seeded Divisions, the first Teams are of 12 players, or more by mutual agreement.
Yorkshire has entered an Open-Grade team captained by Daniel Sullivan, who is captain of the over-the-board U-180 team. Other Northern Counties listed as entering are Cheshire & NW (Open grade), Cumbria (Open grade), Northumberland (Open grade and U1850) are also listed as entering, but no sign of Lancashire!
Results in an initial qualifying “Group” stage of the Open-Grade section, arranged in 2 all-play-all groups of 6, will determine which teams progress to the KO stages of four strengths of Championship, which would perhaps be best understood as “Open”, “Major”, “Intermediate” and “Minor” Championships, though slightly different, somewhat misleading names have been adopted.
Matches are to be played on Saturdays, starting at 6.30 p.m., at a rate per player of 60 minutes for the whole game, with 15 second increments per move from the start.
The full rules appear at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ECF-Online-County-Championship-2020-Rules-1.pdf. The organisational structure diverges radically from the over-the-board system, and could have implications for the over-the-board championship. At the end of the process there should be winners of the following confusingly named championships:
Would not names Open, Major, Intermediate and Minor for the open-grade sections be more intelligible to the average player?
A “Group Stage” starts on Saturday 13/06/2020, with a match (potentially) each Saturday through to Saturday 25/07/2020. That allows for 7 matches per team and hence all-play-all groups of (up to) 8 teams.
The LMS website says the system is as follows:
Open Division 1 of the group stage is a qualifier for the Open and Major Open Championships
Open Division 2 of the group stage is a qualifier for the Challengers and Minor Championships
(Open teams are divided between Divisions 1 and 2 according to rule A.1.5, Div. 1 teams being stronger deemed than Div. 2 teams, team strengths being based on lists of players provided before the start.)
U1825 Section of the group stage is a qualifier for the U1825 and U1825 Challengers Championships.
In the Open-Grade section the group stage is being run with two seeded groups, as follow:
(updated to reflect aborting of round 1 on 13/06/2020, and consequent re-arrangement)
Knock-out stages then follow for each of the above 6 Championships:
Semi-Finals on 08/08/2020,
and Finals on 22/08/2020.
Qualification by teams from the group stage to the KO final stage is as follows:
There is to be a cross-division practice run on Saturday 06/06/2020, so that people can get to grips with the on-line system.
A player is eligible to represent one of the following historical counties of England in the Championship if the player is an ECF member or supporter, is not barred from ECF online Clubs, has an active chess.com playing account (and has not held any others); and meets one of the following criteria:
(i) Birth in that county.
(ii) Five years’ domicile in that county at any time.
(iii) Two months’ immediate previous and present membership of a club either in or affiliated to that County.
(iv) One month’s immediately previous and present domicile in that County.
(v) Present attendance as a student at a school, college or university in that County.
Team entry has closed, but eligible players may still sign up to their county team at any time before their county's last group match.
Results should appear on the ECF’s LMS at https://ecflms.org.uk/lms/node/60070/home
The playing platform is chess.com: https://www.chess.com/club/ecf-online-english-county-championships
Implications for Over-the-Board Championships
There are those who for some time have felt the present system of rigidly graded-limited county team championships, with entry by nomination from Unions, would be better replaced by one allowing direct entry by counties. Some Unions do not make any nominations for the Open section, for instance, and maybe another Union could provide an extra team. Side-lining the Unions could enable more teams to enter the ECF events.
A significant feature of the on-line version is that the open-grade section allows any county to enter as many teams as it can as determined by the number of players wishing to play. The playing strength of the separate championships is determined by the spread of playing strengths of teams which have entered. It is rather as though congress players could not specify a “section” they wished to enter, and the final entry was then slip into equally sized sections, according to grade: strongest in the top section, weakest in the bottom section. The parallel support for grade-limited sections retains that option for those which prefer it.
Direct entry by counties to the o-t-b Championships would somewhat undermine the raison d’être of some Unions. It has been said that the SCCU is opposed to direct entry by counties for such a reason, and one wonders what the impact on the NCCU might be, given that they are virtually on their last legs (Yorkshire and Lancashire!).