This is the second time we have ran with this mini all-play-all friendly, social summer chess league to offer something a bit different and to fill the gap between the end of our competitive league chess season and the school summer holidays. The first event, held last summer, proved so much fun that we thought it was worth doing it again this year.
Highcliffe, Ringwood and Southbourne were joined this summer by Wimborne which replaced last year’s winners, Poole, to make up the league of 4 teams.
As individual games were not rated, it gave each club an ideal opportunity to field players who perhaps would not normally play and it also provided members from the same club to play alongside some of their other members in the same team.
There was no restriction on the number of players per team providing both teams had the same number! In addition, the time control was slighter shorter at one hour each (or 45 minutes plus 15 second increments) to ensure the matches were completed in daylight although we sometimes had to rely on some extra lighting.
The Unpredictable British Weather!
The weather was a bit mixed but we managed to hold all the matches outside in beer gardens which was one of the main aims of this league. Across the 6 matches, we had one glorious evening bathed in sunshine (pictured above), four matches played in comfortable, cloudy but dry conditions (pictured below) and one match where rain almost stopped play!
So What Happened?
All matches were close, particularly those which involved Wimborne, the eventual winners, as all of its matches went down to the final board. Highcliffe were also involved in two drawn matches. Pictured above are two experienced veteran Wimborne players facing the camera, David Lane (left) and David Lewis (right) with a combined age of over 180 years (!), enjoying themselves just prior to their match versus Southbourne.
However, the biggest winner was being able to promote the game and spread the word to the local community away from the confines of our indoor chess clubs. Indeed, it has been reported that some extra players have been recruited as a result (see later comments).
Everyone who played appeared to enjoy the experience of outdoor chess, even with the occasional floodlit finish!
Individual Match Results
Final League Table
Congratulations to Wimborne!
James Forster (Southbourne), pictured left above, headed the individual performances as he was the only player who scored 3 points out of 3.
Tim Jones (Highcliffe) and Graham Hillman (Wimborne) also performed exceptionally well with 2½ points out of 3 plus there were 4 other players who achieved 100% across 2 games.
Some More Statistics
This year, 55 players took part in the Summer League including one 11 board match and 100 individual games.
For comparison, in 2022, there were 56 players, one 12 board match and 110 individual games.
Other Captains’ Reflections
Graham Hillman, the Wimborne captain … ‘When you play chess in a public place you attract attention. People are curious and will come over and ask questions about the game. You get an opportunity to make your pitch about chess, your local club and so on. Wimborne will get 2 to 3 new players as a result of the recent activity.’
Richard Ursell, the Highcliffe non-playing captain for its last match … ‘The summer league has proved to be an overwhelming success. As the non-playing captain I had the opportunity to talk to the locals who were showing a lot of interest as they did at the Spyglass & Kettle and the Walkford. Chess is a fantastic game and we have the chance to build on all the achievements of the last 7 decades.’
Martin Clancy, the Ringwood captain … ‘I enjoyed the summer league matches as did the rest of the Ringwood players who took part. I think a lot of them liked the lack of pressure over the result and meeting socially for an enjoyable evening playing chess over a beer. It was good co-operating with the other captains to maximise the number of players involved even when it involved borrowing players from the opponents and at times having little idea who was going to turn out!’
Given the success of this year’s competition, we hope to run the summer league again next summer, perhaps with more teams.
Martin Simons – August 2023