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English County Championship Finals 2017


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Report by Steve Mann, 02/07/2017


The finals of the various sections of the English County Championships were held at Warwick Trident College, Trident Park, Poseidon Way, Leamington Spa, CV34 6SW, on Saturday, 01/07/2017.


Seven sections were contested: Open, Minor Counties, U-180, U-160, U-140, U-120, and U-100.  Yorkshire had teams in the Open, captained by Peter Ackley, and the U-180, captained by Rupert Jones.  Both teams were meeting the “old enemy”, Lancashire.


The Open was held in a somewhat cramped side-room to the main conference room, which held the other sections apart from the U-120 and U-100 which were housed on the floor below.


Yorkshire’s Open team was pitted against a Lancashire team for which all the stops had been pulled out, even including two players more generally regarded at Greater Manchester players.  Yorkshire noticeably lacked James Adair and Matthew Webb.  The average grades of the teams were virtually equal.


The first results were a handful of draws, then Lancashire scored two wins, which must have been somewhat demoralising for the remaining Yorkshire players.  Nevertheless, the Yorkshire men managed to level the score, but with only a few games left, some with Yorkshire players a pawn down, the only hope for a win was that Richard Palliser could summon up a win from what in fact ended as a draw.


The final score was 8-8, with Lancashire winning on board count.  Lancashire had last won in 2010.  Thus Yorkshire, who had won in 2014 to 2016, did not manage to equal Lancashire’s unique run of four consecutive wins in 1966 to1969.


Team captain Peter Ackley is nevertheless to be congratulated on orchestrating a highly creditable performance.


Yorkshire’s U-160 team fared better.  This section was played alongside the Minor Counties Championship (broadly for counties who haven’t had significant success recently), the U-180 and U-140.  Yorkshire soon created a two-point lead early on, starting with a seven-move win, and held that lead until the closing stage when the lead increased to three, resulting in a final score of 9½-6½, making them 2017 U-160 champions.


Rupert Jones, as captain, was presented with a trophy inscribed “British Chess Federation Counties Third Team Championship”.  For those interested in such things, this trophy had originally been the third-team trophy (1987-1992), then U-175 trophy (1993-2009), becoming the U-160 trophy from 2010 onwards, with the BCF becoming the ECF en route.  The players received individual mementos to keep for themselves.


In all, it was a bitter-sweet day, on which Yorkshire beat Lancashire 17½-14½ on aggregate.