Yorkshire Chess News





Silver Rook


On 23rd January this webmaster posted a notice explaining how he planned to document the second phase of the Silver Rook competition.  Having read that, the controller, Andrew Zigmond, advised that my understanding of things was not quite how he was actually running things, which he considers is what the AGM voted in.  For the record, I quote the main part of what he said, with his permission, below.


In the first phase, teams in each of two separate groups of teams (group 3a and group 3b) each played the other teams in their allotted group to identify the “top” teams in the group and the remaining “lower” teams in the group.


The writer and others, some present at the AGM, understood that the “top” teams from the two original groups would then combine in a “final” section or “play-off” section wherein each “top” team would play each “top” team it had not already played so that, over both first and second phases, all the “top” teams had played an “all-play-all” determining from among them which team was winner of the Silver Rook and also those qualifying for promotion, as of right, to the I. M. Brown.  This is a well-established and well-known type of competition format.  Those who understood that things were being run that way believed also that the “lower” teams would similarly play each other in a parallel second-phase group, giving those teams more matches, but without those teams being any longer involved in determining the winner of, or the teams earning promotion from the Silver Rook.


The system being implemented turns out to be one in which, after the initial phase, ALL the teams go into a single second-phase pool from which ALL teams are theoretically in the running for winner and promotion honours, deviating from normal “group” systems.  It is this recombining of all teams which causes some perceived problems, not the “group” system itself if run properly.  With such group systems there are always, of course, possible problems with clubs’ short-notice venue booking for the second phase.


Given that the Silver Rook was to be played over less rounds than necessary for an all-play-all (Andrew’s own preferred format), the initial two groups were, it transpires, purely to determine the pairings for the remaining rounds.


The result is that the “top” teams play all the other “top” team but only one set of “lower” teams, whereas the “lower” teams get off more lightly by playing all the other “lower” teams but playing only one set of “top” teams.


This has the effect of a sort of “fun” handicap competition.  However, to work effectively as a handicap competition (nobody’s actual objective!), it ought to have a greater number of second-phase matches in proportion to the initial phase.  This is fortunate in the case of the 2023-24 Silver Rook in that the unfair effects of this handicapping system are underdeveloped and hence largely mitigated.  Further, the relatively wide spread of team strengths in group 3a has meant that “top” teams from 3a enter the second phase with a relatively unassailable lead over the “bottom” teams, though this is more by luck than an inherent feature of the system.


Those who see problems with the system, as is being run, are worried mainly that “lower” teams could in theory finish in either of the top two final places.  The “lower” teams ought, arguably, to be competing for the A. G. Sunderland Cup (not the Silver Rook), a possibility YCA officials could even at this late a stage put to the six teams involved.


So, we should perhaps approach the second phase of the Silver Rook with humour, though two people have mentioned that they will be monitoring how things go.


Reporting on this website will continue essentially as planned.  The “all” webpage, however, becomes the one showing what determines the Silver Rook winner and the teams earning promotion as of right to the I. M. Brown, while the page originally labelled “Play-off” is renamed “ ‘Top’ Teams” and serves for those monitoring the outcome of events as something interesting to compare with the “All” page, which was originally intended just to show the matches of the “lower” teams without singling them out as a distinct category.


The ”All” page originally showed a team’s initial group (“A” or “B”) before its name and for the above-mentioned monitoring is now includes the team’s placing in the group.  (B1, B2, and B3 were differentiated by using Yorkshire tie-split rules to avoid making things untidy with “B1-3=”.)


Andrew’s recent explanation mentioned in the first paragraph.

The team with the most points at the end of the season will win the trophy and also be eligible for promotion along with the second placed team (and the third if one of the teams above them declines the option). While the initial group stages have decided the remaining fixtures those teams that did not make the top half in their group are not eliminated and could still gain promotion although it is statistically hard for them to do so.


How things were recorded in the draft minutes is as follows.  The 10/10/12 option 3 seems to be what is being adopted, albeit with a late entry making 33 teams (10/10/13 teams respectively in three divisions), and that seems to tie in with the writer’s and others’ understanding.

Rupert Jones expressed that Leeds may enter another team. This would create 10/10/13. The AGM voted on how it would manage both a 10/10/12 and 10/10/13 structure.


10/10/12 league structure proposals:


1. 10/10/12 all play once – which would mean two extra weekends for division three.

2. Four divisions 12/12/6/6

3. Four divisions; however, the bottom two divisions would be split into a 3a and 3b, with the top teams playing for promotion into the IM Brown.


The AGM voted in favour of option 3.


10/10/13 league structure proposals:


1. Split division three with a jamboree.

2. To have four divisions with a 10/10/7/6 split.


The AGM voted in favour of option 2.


Andrew Zigmond expressed that although he was not necessarily in favour of the voting outcomes, he will do his best to make things work.


How things were communicated to Silver Rook captains on 27th June 2023, only seen by the writer very recently, was as follows.

There are currently twelve teams in the division. Initially these teams will be split into two pools of six and play an all play all against the other teams in that pool. This will take until December to complete.


The top three teams in each pool will then go into a championship pool and play the three teams they haven't already played. The lower three teams will do the same (see PS).


The main practical problem this will cause - and I did make this point at the AGM - is that it won't be possible to confirm fixtures for the second half of the season until the initial pools are completed which could result in venues not being available. If this is going to be a significant problem please let me know - there is a workaround for this.


Finally to note that the structure of the Silver Rook is always fluid and if the new structure doesn't work it can be reported back to the AGM with a request not to repeat it going forward.




*It occurred to me while writing this that the "lower" pool could compete for a trophy of their own - possibly the old AG Sunderland Cup. This would generate a bit more interest as teams would have something still to play for. I would need to clear this with the committee but given that the committee's preferred proposal was to split the division into two and reinstate the AG Sunderland I can't see why they would object.