Friday 1 March 2002

Archive: UNCUT! 14

The Sean Marsh Chess Column


Column 14


Time For A Change?

The Cleveland Individual Chess Championship is over for another year...or is it? We knowthat Bernie Price has won the Minor section, thanks to a critical last round victory over candidate Michael Mossom and Norman Stephenson added to his amazing record number of titles when he won the Open section. Congratulations to the two champions.

Unfortunately, the Open section has ended with more than a touch of farce and there was a major dispute which looks set to run for some time to come. I have, in writing, one side of the story and I will put it in a future column if I can also get the other side. Versions of the story are already been passed by word of mouth around the clubs but no doubt the full tale will be told at the next Cleveland meeting.

For me, the tournament had more than one unsatisfactory aspect. The dispute mentioned above, a number of very short draws and more than one extension to themonthly deadline for each round marred what should be a showcase of the very best local players, given their all in pursuit of the biggest individual honourof Cleveland chess.

The original format of the tournament, giving each pair ofplayers a month to play the game, seems to me to be not working as well as itused to. In my own experience there have been some very annoying cases. Of course, most opponents have been absolutely fine, a pleasure to play, but several times I have had to put up with opponents not entering into the spirit of the tournament, delaying contact, making it very difficult to arrange the game, turning up very late and then creating difficulties when games need to beresumed after adjournments. I have been involved in some very tense title battles but I have also suffered when defaults in third-party games have destroyed my chances of winning the event.

I think it is time for a change.

I had the idea, some years ago, of wanting to see the county championship run on either of these two formats:

1) With the one round-a-month format intact, but with all games played at the same venue, at the same time. (Just like the KO Cup is now).

2) A weekend tournament, five round Swiss, providing a high point in the local chess calendar.

I firmly believe that the above suggestions would lead to more players competing, making the tournament more interesting. If the tournament was held as a weekender, more people will be able to free up the time to play and coasting to a title with short, colourless draws will be less of an option. All disputes regarding venues, times, overstepping the monthly deadline, and not reporting the results would vanish immediately. Defaulters would be reduced to a minimum.

I’ve never had any truck with people who pull out once they’ve lost a game and feel they have no chance of winning the tournament. Such a mentality is very selfish and harms the balance of the event. One year, when the title was decidedby tie breaks involving sum of opponents’ scores, my first three opponents withdrew from the tournament having lost to me, thus destroying any chance I would have if it came down to a tie break.

Well, there’s my initial ideas. What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Don’t care? I want to know!!

Either e-mail me or reply to the forum, where a thread has been started off by Mike Welch.

Middlesbrough Rooks - Champions Again!

Congratulations to Middlesbrough Rooks on winning the A division title with a match to spare. The last chance to derail them came when Elmwood took them on in a tense encounter.

Following a failed attempt to bring back former Rook David Spence all the way from Ipswich to play in this crunch encounter (he’s now a rookie in the police force) and with no reserves to cover for the absent Peter Ridsdale (now working in Wales), captain Tony Kiddle brought in former county champion David Smith,who fitted very comfortably into the board three spot. This made The Rooks big favourites (sporting four county champions, past and present) and the pressure of being so never looked likely to affect their performance. The match looked close at one point, with the top board drawn and Elmwood looking good on boards two and six, but The Rooks stamped their authority on the match and ran out 5-1winners, thus taking an unassailable three point lead at the top, with just onematch to go.

There is no doubt about it - Middlesbrough Rooks are the strongest local chess team. Elmwood are perpetually runners-up. However, in the Tom Wise K.O.Cup, Elmwood have a much better record and they will be hoping to continue thatas they take on The Rooks in this year’s final.

Why not come along and watch?



Plate Final


Coming soon, in the next column....

More on the county championship dispute

News from the cup finals

And, at long last, some games from recent local events!