Counties Chess

2012 Annual Meeting

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Page published 18 June 2012


Julie D Johnson


There were concerns voiced when the Championship section of the Open was reduced to 2 teams. There was some incredulity that Manchester regarded themselves as a Minor County team, but having lost all their games it would be difficult to argue with their decision. I note that despite the comments at the time, no county has actually proposed a rule change in this respect. As I pointed out in response, the possibility of a 2 team Championship section was flagged up at the AGM when the current rule was passed.


Whilst the number of defaulted boards in matches that were played was significantly down on last season, the number of matches that didn’t get played at all was up. Team withdrawals after playing some matches were regrettable, late concession of matches caused a good deal of grief, both in terms of booking fees forfeited & hurried phone calls for the counties directly involved, and in terms of impact on ties for qualifying places in the national stages. The latter issue has led to the proposed change in tie-break rules already notified on the agenda.


Apart from the above, the other main problem related to ungraded players. I have no problem with the concept of ungraded players in the teams, however, it is impossible for the controller to clear such players without proper information. I appreciate that late withdrawals from a team can leave captains struggling and seeking to play anyone who might be eligible, but asking for clearance based on just a name just won’t do. This issue could become even more important should the Union wish to go down the line of dictating board order on grading. It will not be a case of clearing someone as eligible, but of the controller allocating a grade. The latter is actually going to be a real problem in the case of new players, or those returning after a significant break, where there is little on which to base any sort of estimate.


This leads on to the rules for the national stages, at the time of writing I have yet to receive confirmation of exactly what came out of the ECF Council meeting regarding the proposed changes. Hopefully I will have done so before our meeting. In the past the Union has sought to replicate the national rules quite closely. Having discussed the matter with the meetings chairman, any changes felt necessary could be dealt with as motions arising from this report. I would remind everyone that the rules can only be changed by a GM, so we may have to live with rules that are not as close to those for the ECF stages as delegates might like. The only other option would be to arrange an EGM. My personal view is that the proposed changes, even if all adopted are not so fundamental as to put our own rules significantly out of step with ECF rules, and that there are areas where I feel we should not directly mirror the proposed changes.


I would suggest that it is not feasible to allocate a grade to a number of ungraded players in the Union stages due to the limited information available in many cases. Convincing the controller that a player is below the threshold for a section is less of a problem than determining an exact grade. This is likely to be less of a problem in the national stages because matches are played in the later stages of the season, and those teams entered in the Union stages to give players the chance to experience county chess are less likely to qualify for the national stages. I therefore have doubts that using strict gradings criteria for board order is appropriate in the Union stages, even if it has been agreed as appropriate in the national stages.


Another proposed change that I would be unhappy to see replicated in the MCCU rules is to make reporting of results via email/internet compulsory. I do not feel we should discriminate against someone simply because they have not adopted this form of correspondence, for whatever reason. It has been suggested that a captain not using email should be able to find a team member who is and who could email results instead. In my view to put the captain at the mercy of whether someone else actually does this is in not an acceptable alternative.


Last year there were indications that some proposals for the ECF stages might be made from another Union, these did not materialize. There have been murmurings about the grading spans for sections, but no one has formally suggested any changes.


As I have had no formal requests for this, or any other national stages issue,  to be raised I do not feel it appropriate to put any proposals forward, but I would point out that if there is a genuine feeling that changes are needed, this won’t happen through a comment here or there.


It has been suggested that the paper regarding advice for team captains had been withdrawn because it was felt they were not needed. As you will see from the draft minutes produced shortly after the meeting, these were remitted to the next meeting as some delegates indicated they had not seen them. Unless the view is that the minutes are incorrect, the remission to this meeting stands. However, the meeting is free to decide whether it wishes to debate the matter further or not. My personal view, which was expressed at the time, was that there were so few issues arising that such a document was not needed, this remains my view.


Thankfully my fears that the number of teams in our events might fall significantly were not borne out by entries which at 29 was 1 less than 2010/11.

As all delegates have access to the internet, I have not included the county team tables in this report – in summary. 

Staffordshire are the Open Champions.

Leicestershire the Open Minor Champions, with Lincolnshire runners up.

Warwickshire are the U180 Champions.

Nottinghamshire narrowly pipped Manchester to the U160 title.

Worcestershire just edged Leicestershire out of the U140 top spot.

Staffordshire Terriers were U120 champions ahead of Worcestershire.

Nottinghamshire gained the U100 title.


Other teams qualifying for the national stages due to a 3rd place being available were

Warwickshire – Open, U140, U120 & U100


Sadly only Leicestershire (Minor) and Manchester (U160) have made it to the National Final, but my best wishes go with both teams for a win on the day.