Bulletin No.55 – Last Trophy Standing!
When did the B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Cup Competion begin?
The B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Tournament began in 1993. We are not exactly sure how many teams entered in its inaugural year but we think it was eight.
Why haven’t we reported on this team cup competition in earlier bulletins?
Last Spring during the first National Lockdown, as part of our early bulletins, we reported on the history of our 10 local chess clubs and all our competitions. We say all, however, there was one tournament that could not be reported on as, unfortunately, its trophy (with a list of all the past winners) had allegedly gone into self-isolation at a local community centre. At the time no-one had access to the keys to get in, and there was no brave soul who fancied a ‘breaking and entering‘ job!
And so a year has now passed and the local chess fraternity was starting to wonder, has this trophy been completely forgotten about and is it gathering dust in some locked cupboard or worse still, has it potentially gone missing in action, perhaps inaction?
The Impossible Mission!
Finally, as our tale reveals, under the cover of darkness, whilst many other locals were having their vaccinations, disguising himself by wearing black gloves and a black mask (this is probably normal attire these day!), also a black & white hooped t-shirt, and a sack over his shoulder with SWAG written on it, one adventurous player from Highcliffe Chess Club with rope and a grappling hook to scale the walls, undertook the seemingly impossible yet daring mission to recover the aforementioned trophy.
Mission Impossible soon became Mission Success much to the delight of the tournament’s originator & organiser! And finally, the reporting on all local events can now be completed before some kind of national normality is resumed.
So many thanks to Ron Salinger for not only taking the trouble to recover the trophy but also for sending us the above excellent photo of it!
The Competition’s Interesting Facts
Due to a lack of personal computers, full results for this competition were not always stored on hard disk drives in the beginning. However, as the saying goes, the worst ink can survive the best memory, so by dusting off a few old copies of Newsknight, reviewing the Dorset Chess website, my personal files, and finally the engravings on the trophy, we can establish the following set of interesting facts for the B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Cup competition.
- At its height this local cup competition had 16 teams with some clubs entering more than one team.
- The cup competition is now restricted to only one team from each club to ensure there are eight teams and is now run in the second half of the season from January to May (sometimes extending to June).
- There has always been six players per team to make it very different to local league chess.
- The handicap system based on the team’s average grade has proved a great leveller with so many tense exciting games and matches often going down to the final board. In its early years, once this average grade was nominated, teams could not go above this average grade (without incurring penalties) but now the teams can vary its average nominated grade in each round.
- Tactics are often employed by clubs as they search for in-house club players who they believe are seriously underrated and the B&DCL’s 10 point board order rule is often employed!
And The Winners Are…
- As a result of the handicaps, there is no clear favourite and 10 clubs have won the trophy including three clubs (Bridport, Kinson & Oakdale) which have since folded.
- Southbourne were the first winners in 1993 as reported in Newsknight in its first publication, also retaining the trophy (cup) the following year but it has only won it once since.
- There are three current active clubs (Bournemouth, Purbeck & Ringwood) which have not won the trophy. Let’s hope this trend soon changes.
- Wimborne are the B&DCL Team Knockout kings having won the trophy a staggering nine times and seven times in the 10 year period between 2004 and 2014! Weymouth have won it four times and Poole & Southbourne have each won it three times.
- Wimborne is also the only club to have won it in three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012.
- Often where a team from the west and east of the county have made it through to the final, a neutral venue has been used, and the Wimborne and Poole Chess clubs have often been the generous hosts.
- Only Poole and Highcliffe have won the cup since 2014, and Highcliffe were still in the 2020 competition when the global pandemic hit our shores.
- Highcliffe are also the latest holders beating Purbeck in a close final and, due to the current pandemic, Highcliffe have ‘held on’ to the trophy for two years but will it soon be a third?
- Perhaps the most dramatic year of the competition was in 2016 when, due to the difference in average grades, Weymouth had to beat Highcliffe 6-0 and almost achieved this but for captain, Richard Ursell, candidly placed on board 2, who managed to secure the draw needed to win the trophy for Highcliffe!
Notable Years – Information and Images
Match Result for the first tense 1993 Final – Southbourne B won on board count
Newsknight on the 1995 final – Weymouth vs Weymouth!
The following was reported in the Newsknight magazine under the header of A & B in K.O. by the Sea. We believe this might have been the only year when two teams from the same club have ever reached the final.
From the exciting 2016 Final
… and probably the most crucial draw ever seen in the competition.
Last Winners and Runners Up – 2019
Here is the Highcliffe team, last winners of the B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Trophy in 2019 at its exciting final versus Purbeck.
And not to be outdone as worthy runners-up, here is the Purbeck team which almost won its first ever major trophy in 2019.
In the Poole v Highcliffe semi-final match of the same year, David Fuller (Poole captain) sportingly described on LMS Highcliffe’s victory over Poole as a ‘smash and grab exercise very well executed and reflected the fact that all of the Highcliffe players were very good value for their respective gradings.’ Richard Ursell (Highcliffe captain) reported that he was more worried about the lost Sky TV revenue!
List of Past Winners
1993 Southbourne B
1994 Southbourne A
1995 Weymouth A
1996 New Milton
1997 Oakdale A
1998 Weymouth A
1999 New Milton A
2000 Wimborne B
2005 Wimborne A
2007 Wimborne B
2011 Wimborne B
What Happens Next?
The Team Handicap Knockout Cup for the 2019/20 season is delicately poised. The Weymouth team has already made it through to the final, whereas the Highcliffe v Wimborne semi-final was about to be played when Lockdown struck. We have yet to determine what happens next but due to the handicap system this may just be one tournament from the 2019/20 season that can be completed!
Martin Simons – 3rd April 2021