Re-think vital for Midlands chess leagues.

(By David Short, Lichfield Secretary)

As the weeks slip by it becomes more and more unlikely that the Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Derby and Cannock  chess leagues will be re-starting in the autumn.

Unless social distancing requirements are reduced to one metre, social chess and internal chess tournaments will not be possible-full stop.

Even if a one metre rule is introduced how can a home and away competitive fixture list be made to work.  In my view it could just work in the Derby and Cannock Leagues but not so easily in the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Leagues.

Travelling to matches in a colleague’s car will not be possible so every team member would have to drive themselves and that would rule out a lot of members who either don’t drive or who are unwilling to drive for medical or personal reasons. Another point to consider is that driving in the dark is avoided as far as possible by a good number of players.

As presently constituted the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Leagues would have less chance of competing because almost all teams are of six or five players. I would suggest that for the next season at least-whenever that starts- teams should be limited to four players.

Whilst introducing such a  major change I would go further and reduce playing time to a  maximum of two and a half hours. Getting home from matches after travelling from Lichfield to Kidderminster, Stourbridge and other venues west of Birmingham means a midnight return home, a time very unpopular with wives, many of whom, as it is,will no doubt be trying to persuade their partners to give chess a rest because of potential health risks.

On top of all that there is the problem of club room accommodation. One league match per night, ideally of just four players, might be possible at Lichfield, together with a few social games. Few clubs, certainly not Lichfield which regularly has three home games and on occasions four, could field as many teams in a Covid 19 world.

Undoubtedly there will be moves to introduce on-line inter club competitions but that has limited or no appeal to some players, myself included. Already two regular Lichfield players have indicated that they would not be interested.

Major decisions are facing the four leagues, and, disturbingly,  the Midlands premier league,Birmingham, has so far opted out of taking any decision, even the obvious one of curtailing the 2019-20 season.  To its credit the Wolverhampton League has wound up the season and used a percentage win system to decide places.



No club nights until further notice

The Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Derby chess leagues have all suspended competitions until further notice following the rapid spread of the corona virus. In common with other chess clubs Lichfield has a substantial percentage of members who fall into the most at risk category.

Secretary David Short said even if  members were very fit and not usually victims of viruses, there were wives, partners and  family members to consider and it was quickly decided to follow the advice of the English Chess Federation and suspend weekly club nights.

Now, that is a novel ruling

Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield have finished equal first in the first division of the Cannock League and the championship has been decided in a novel way which has taken people by surprise.

The sum total of the gradings of  the Lichfield players in the matches against Sutton  Coldfield was higher than their opponents and according to the rule book, they have therefore finished second.

The match was a tense affair  with the last game decided at the death in a pawn ending, Sutton winning 3-1. Ben Nevett and Arthur Hall both scored draws whilst Adam routledge and David Fone lost.

Room changes

Due to major renovations to Lichfield’s historic Guildhall which will last six months or so, Lichfield Chess Club’s meetings will be held in various committee rooms on the first floor until April.

Phase 2 of the renovation work will start after the season ends and is scheduled to be completed before the new season starts at the end of August.

Because the venue is cuently changing from week to week, it is more important than ever that anyone planning to join the club should first contact the secretary David Short on 01543 304212.

Member’s glowing tribute

Heavy work commitments prompted long time member Gary Monks to temporarily retire from chess but now he is back again and has posted a glowing to the club. “It’s been part of my life for nearly 30 years. It’s a wonderful club with great people and it is great for stimulation of the mind and for socialability” said Gary.

PLanning to take retirement or partial retirement later this year,  Gary is looking forward to being able to play more regularly.

Anniversary target

As part of its 50th anniversary Lichfield Chess Club is keen to boost its membership from 40 to nearer the 590 mark

Lichfield is one of the strongest clubs in the Midlands both from a playing and membership perspective. The club runs 15 teams in four leagues- the Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Derby and Cannock.

Playing strength varies from virtual beginner to national championship standard. Thursday night is club night which is normally held in the Guildroom on the ground floor of the Guildhall in Bore Street, starting at 7-15 pm. Because of an extensive programme of repairs running until September 2020 alternative committee rooms and sometimes being used.  See sandwich board at entrance for information.

Newcomers can just turn up and ask for the secretary or a committee member but to ensure a proper welcome in a room which is often thronged with new faces from visiting teams, please ring secretary David Short, 01543 304212,  or fixture secretary Brian Homewood, 01543 255909 to let us know you are coming.

The club runs three internal tournaments which are open to both social and full members. Social, student  and junior membership is available to anyone who does not wish to play league chess, for a yearly subscription of £25. Full membership, which includes compulsory membership of the English Chess Federation for league players, is £60.