14/07/2021, updated 15/07/2021
Re-Emergence of Over-the-Board Chess
On-line chess continues unabated, and on-line events are scheduled well into the future from all round the country. The embryonic re-emergence of over-the-board chess will probably see some events, which earlier switched from over-the-board play to on-line play, now revert to the over-the-board format.
It will be interesting to see how the Yorkshire Junior CA’s events evolve over time. They switched from over-the-board to on-line play, per force, but one wonders whether the juniors prefer on-line chess to over-the-board chess! Would a reversion to the OTB format actually lose some players? (This is purely idle speculation on the part of the writer.)
Over-the-Board Individual Competitions
Meanwhile, over-the-board chess among individuals, as opposed to teams, has been gradually increasing. Mini-tournaments have been held at local level in places such as Sheffield and Bradford, but it has hitherto been on a severely limited basis, usually in “bubbles” or up to six players. Some clubs have re-opened, though some of course close for the summer anyway.
The traditional weekend congresses of significant size had been on hold until last weekend, when the first of a new series of 4NCL weekend congresses kicked off with a 3-section event in Leamington Spa.
In the north, over-the-board congresses which are already arranged include
Conspicuous by its absence is the Bradford Congress, which would take place in September, normally. Presumably it will not be happening. This is hardly surprising, but sad.
Around now, the booking of the venue for the 2022 Doncaster Congress would be made (Jim Burnett’s job), and the entry form would be drawn up and printed (Steve Mann’s job). Jim, who even before the pandemic had wondered how much longer he would feel able and willing to keep running the congress, is now wondering whether he should not call it a day, and not attempt to go ahead with 2022.
Coincidentally, only yesterday, someone asked, inter alia, whether there was a chance the Sheffield Congress would be run next year. Well, sunbeam, if you want to take over then that is fine by me! It was last run in 2017, and, to be fair, the person posing the question had been a section controller that year. After older members of the organising team stepped down after 8 years, nobody volunteered to take over running it. One wonders how many other Yorkshire congresses will finally fold this time due to the pandemic.
Back in 1912, or about then, somebody at a YCA executive committee meeting was reported as lamenting the fact that the “young men” were not coming through to take over running things, so it is not a new problem, yet we are still here!
Over-the-Board Team Competitions
Team chess, which is more seasonal than congresses, is beginning to make a comeback, but concrete long-range plans are obviously “aspirational” (to quote from the Hull & DCA website) rather than guaranteed, as the Covid backdrop continually shifts.
The ECF planned a Regional Over-the-Board Pre-season Inter-County Competition with matches on three dates: 14/08/2021, 04/09/2021 and 25/09/2021. Invitations for entries seem not to have been sent out yet, and the dates are not in the ECF Calendar yet. Whether there would be interest in Yorkshire, and, more critically, whether Yorkshire could find a captain, is unclear.
A 2021-22 over-the-board 4 Nations Chess League season has dates and venues now in place, running from 20/11/2021 to 02/05/2022.
Local leagues are also beginning to ponder the question of what to do about resuming their over-the-board activity. Most local association websites have been largely static during the pandemic, and offer no news, but the Hull & DCA website carries a note that they hope to restart activity in September, if that is possible. One imagines that is a pretty universal aim which hardly needs stating.
The Sheffield & DCA has an Executive meeting (via Zoom) arranged for 21/07/2021, at which next steps, possibility of an AGM and so on will be discussed. In this connection, the YCA webmaster drew up a view of the impact, on over-the-board local league chess, of easing of Covid restrictions. This was welcomed by the general secretary, who asked if he could use it, say, in papers for an AGM, as it eched his own thoughts. In case it is of interest to others, it is shared here on the S&DCA webite. Organisations’ responses to legislation being replaced by “guidance” is of course accumulating day by day, and the Covid situation could have changed radically by September. (Also on the S&DCA website is a piece titled “S&DCA Season 2021-22 ?!”, which may be of interest.)
York Evening Chess League holds its AGM on 19/07/2021 (at Acomb Working Men’s Club, not Zoom), and clubs have been asked to submit entries for the 2021-22 league season, subject to all being well when it is due to start.
At county level, the Northern Counties Chess Union AGM has just (15/07/2021) been announced for 24/07/2021, by Zoom. What NCCU county matches could take place, as with so much else, is none too clear at present. Yorkshire in particular looks as thpugh it may be short of captains for various reasons.
The ECF is working on the basis of running the usual over-the-board English Counties Championships among nominees from the Unions, if possible, from April to July 2022.
Who knows? It might happen!