Just when we thought that 2020 had been a disaster for chess , up pops a TV series which has created a massive world wide boom in chess sets and on-line players.
Hardly a day seems to pass without further news about the upsurge in chess interest caused by “The Queen’s Gambit” , a Netflix series about a fictional girl prodigy.
USA grandmaster Maurice Ashley has even suggested that it has created greater interest in chess than the famous Spassky-Fisher match in the 70’s. “The frenzy around the programme has been crazy” he said. This week the Guardian reported a massive increase in sales of sets, clocks and scorecards, a claim confirmed by leading chess supplier, Chess and Bridge. The most influential magazine , New in Chess, said chess sets are selling like hot cakes and vast numbers of people are discovering or reddiscovering our great game
The Netflix programme has been watched by upwards of 62 million viewers worldwide and has sparked a huge increase in interest, particularly amongst women.
Chess.com has seen a stratespheric rise in players which is probably due in part to the Covid lockdowns as well as the impact of the TV series. It will be very interesting to see if chess clubs can cash in by encouraging new members once lockdown finally ends.
The much delayed annual general meeting of Lichfield Chess Club has been delayed again following the rapid rise in Covid infection rates in Lichfield district.
The key reports of the treasurer, secretary and fixture secretary have already been approved by an email circulation to all members. The resumed agm will elect officials, incuding a new chairman to succeed Peter Collins, and the key item for discussion will be the immediate future of the club. (posted 22nd Oct 2020)
Monthly news bulletin
A twice monthly club bulletin has been produced to improve communications with members during the Covid 19 restrictions.
It is edited by fixture secretary Brian Homewood who has produced similar bulletins for Lichfield Rotary Club and in a previous existence for the Bermuda Chess Club.
It will complement the Lichfield Chess Club website which tries to fulfill two roles, one to inform potential news members all about the club and the other to keep members up to date with match news and comment on Midlands chess matters.
‘Bubble’ chess rejected
Posted 4th Oct 2020
Lichfield Council officials have decided that the chess club’s plan for over the board friendly matches for two bubbles of six players which will avoid all contact with each other, contravenes the Covid regulations.
However, an alternative venue has been located by Stephen Smithson and initially, four club members are trialling over the board compeition and friendlies.
Secretary David Short said it was hard to see the difference between four players meeting in a pub or a restaurant with a table dividing chess players having a drink while they play.
First match since March
For the first time since the Covid 19 lockdown started on 23rd March, Lichfield has played a match, the first time in its 50 year history that the club has been involved in an on-line rather than face to face match.
The opponents were close neighbours Sutton Coldfield and the result was a 2-2 draw. Captain Sam Skinner was the organiser and although he was badly outgraded on board four he enjoyed the experience. Peter Willett conceded a 21 point grading deficit but scored a fine win against Marek Soszynski on board one and John Keaveney (165)was also a winner on Board 2 against Peter Oliver (126). Fred Biles lost on Board 3 againstJ Wojcich (135).
That match went smoothly but a few days later against Worcester the communications gremlins struck and the match was abandoned, no doubt to be replayed at a later date.
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.
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.
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.