Revival of Inter-County Chess
A while ago the ECF announced its plans for both on-line and over-the-board inter-county chess in the summer of 2021, and the traditional-style over-the-board 2021-22 season, Covid restrictions permitting. Inconsistency and lack of explicitness in terminology in various missives so far have reduced clarity, but the following seems a reasonable summary.
1) ECF On-Line County Championships
These consist of three events, each with a qualifying stage if the number of entries necessitated this:
a) ECF On-Line Open Counties Championship, 2021 (with no rating limitations)
Entries are Devon, Northumberland, and Surrey.
The first of the three all-play-all matches is scheduled for 19/06/2021.
b) ECF On-Line Minor Counties Championship, 2021 (ave. rating of team members of 1900 max. – 160 grade as was)
Entries are Berkshire, Cheshire & N. Wales, Cumbria, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Northumberland, and Somerset.
Four matches, were played on 12/06/2021. Whether the competition is being run as a Swiss or as a knock-out is unclear.
c) ECF On-Line Under-1800 Counties Championship (all players rated under 1800 - 146.7 grade as was)
Entries are Essex, Leicestershire, and Northumberland.
Yorkshire was unable to find a captain for any possible teams, for a variety of reasons, such as likely candidates being tied up administering Covid vaccinations, through inadequate IT resources and competence, down to simply not being interested in on-line chess. Consequently, whereas Yorkshire had one team in the previous such event, this time round it has none. This does perhaps suggest that the growth in enthusiasm for on-line chess competition is among those who perceive chess as an individual competition, viewing team chess as merely a novelty side-line.
Support among other counties has been limited, with negligible support for the Open, and Under-1800, but more support for the rating pick-and-mix approach of the “Minor” event, which inherits its name from the entirely different event it replaced (which was essentially for counties who had not won anything recently).
Dates set for matches were:
12 June, 19 June, 03 July, 17 July, and 21 August.
2) Regional Over-the-Board Pre-season Inter-County Competition
This initial foray into over-the-board chess will of course be dependent on how the pandemic and consequent restrictions develops.
The initial stage is to consist of a number of regional events, each contested by counties within the region concerned. These regions will probably correspond to the Unions, though it seems possibly some re-jigging might occur in the light of actual entries received.
Dates set for matches are:
14 August, 04 September and 25 September.
A National Final Stage between the Regional winners may subsequently be held, depending on how things go.
3) ECF (Over-the-Board) Counties Championships, 2021/22
It is hoped the normal ECF Counties Championships will take place as usual, following Union competitions from October 2021 to March 2022, with Unions nominating entries to the ECF National knock-out stage held from April to July 2022.
4) NCCU County Championships 2021/22 – Any Aspiring Yorkshire County Captains out there?
The NCCU, like so many other organisations, is tentatively looking toward holding some kind of AGM in the near future, though how long it will take counties to work out to what extent they can engage in over-the-board inter-county chess again still seems very unclear at this stage.
In Yorkshire there is the periodically recurrent problem of finding captains to add to the uncertainty as to the extent to which players will feel able to re-engage. Present Open captain Peter Ackley cannot countenance over-the-board chess wearing a face mask (which might be obligatory, one way or another), though he otherwise could in principle continue. Present Under-180 captain Daniel Sullivan expects to be too busy administering Covid vaccinations. Present Under-160 captain Rupert Jones entertains hopes for long-term foreign travel (perhaps emigration?).
Anyone champing at the bid to play in county matches again might well consider whether they might taking on the captaincy of the relevant team. Under the new system of one less rating-limited section, the Yorkshire county teams (if the section is entered) would be