2018/ 19 Team Reports

The reports below are based on summaries from the captains. Thanks to all of them for leading us through the season.

A) John Carleton’s Teams

Chester A Division 1 Wirral Chess League

With 4 Chester teams in the first division of The Wirral League we did not anticipate any realistic challenge for the title but were determined to push forward and enjoy the beautiful game.[ not to be confused with the greedy game aka “football”. ] Our season started well with 3 wins against each of Chester B, C and D with the biggest slice of luck required to overcome The D team. Interspersed was a defeat to Penyffordd who played well and kept a slight edge throughout against our strongest line-up. That finished our wins in the Wirral League although we did get two more draws to finish with 50%. One of our other losses saw me blunder in a frantic search for a player to make up the team following a late cry-off through illness. There were 6 Chester teams scheduled to play across the Leagues on that evening and there appeared to be no players left beyond beginners to play 5th board. Then one of the other Chester teams had a cry-off and I grabbed what turned out to be an ineligible player[ yes eligible players from the same cancelled match were available!] to make up our team, turning a draw over the boards into a 1-4 defeat. Throughout the season, as Chester suffered an unprecedented number of players lost to work requirements and longer term illness, I  was grateful on many occasions for the willingness of players to step in at short notice and the freely given help from other captains. I realise that we got off relatively lightly compared with several other teams particularly the heroes of Chester C/3. The ubiquitous ageless Graham Bromley must not be overlooked in this context, not only for finding players to fill the ever increasing gaps  but for plugging many of those gaps himself and racking up some 30 appearances over the two local leagues.

Chester 1 Division 1 C&DCL

As defending champions we had hopes of retaining our title but after beating our fellow Chester teams we, with one of our regulars missing, stumbled to a 3-2 defeat against Wrexham who were rejuvenated by the return to action of Charles Morris. Interestingly enough, Charles missed the first 2 games of the season [before going on to be joint top scorer with Dave Robertson in the 1st division over the season] and maybe was saved to help “sand-bag” us in this big fixture. Anyway, following our loss, we were left facing a chase that we anticipated would last for the remainder of the season and one for which there were no guarantees of success. The final two matches of the first half of the season saw us earn two victories each by 3-2 and clearly our confidence had been shaken by the defeat at Wrexham. However, whilst we were winning the first of these two fixtures Chester 2 held Wrexham to a draw {more accurately Wrexham did very well to slither out with a draw from a pretty dicey situation]. Thus the possibility  of retaining our title was now definitely in our own hands. In the second half of the season we won comfortably against Chester 2 and Chester 3, or so it would seem from the scorecards. Let us confirm for the record that we had the better of the luck on offer in these two matches. And so on to the return fixture with Wrexham; this time they were slightly off full strength and we had our first choice 5. After a match of some tension our two leading scorers at this stage of the season, Daniel and Steve had both lost but we squeezed the match with two good wins by the two Daves and when my optimism in what had been a poor position was rewarded with good luck. The championship was retained in bizarre fashion: Chester 2 beat Wrexham whilst we won by default following a fit of pique from the opposing captain in the next fixture. We did win our final match, narrowly, to maintain what appears a healthy gap between ourselves and our erstwhile opponents, This year was Daniel Savidge’s  4th in the team since first becoming a regular at the age of 14. It is no coincidence that Chester 1 won the C&DCL on all 4 occasions. We wish him well in his university career and will miss his chess and amiable personality tremendously. We used reserves on 3 occasions only throughout the season and we were unbeaten in those 3 games. [ 2 draws against the grading by 35 and 28 points respectively by John Sutcliffe and a win for Ray Williams in an equally graded game].Our regular players dominated, without winning, the Player of the year title : Dave R 7/9, Daniel 6/8  Steve Connor 5/7 and Dave Stuttard 5/8. Here that defaulted match  against us may have cost one of our players dear. Only the skipper with 50%  finished outside the top 10 but I felt a justified pride in our collective efforts. 

Wirral League K.O. : Chester A K.O. and C&DCL  K.O. : Chester 1 K.O.

These two competitions are set up in markedly different ways. The Wirral League K.O. is set up in a traditional manner with handicap advantages for sides from lower divisions meeting higher league opposition and is played over 7 boards. The C&DCL K.O. is set up with a handicap system based on the ratings of the two teams involved on the night: the side which does better relative to its overall grading progresses through the tie. This is played over 6 boards. The C&DCL system makes every match a random event [ If your best player is not available, fear not, you will just get an easier target score!]. There were 8 entrants for the C&DCL K.O. but there was a default in round 1. We played all three 1st division teams in our progress through this competition. In round 1 we played Colwyn Bay who were without their highest rated player and we needed to win 5-1 or better. We won 5-1 conceding two draws. Our team stayed calm under pressure in those games and delivered the wins in the others. In the semi-final we played Malpas & Oswestry  and needed to win 4.5-1.5. This score seemed to be well beyond our capabilities until the dying embers of the fixture. We lost an early game, won a couple quite easily but seemed hopelessly placed in Mike McDonagh’s  match and levelish in the other two. In one of those two, Chris Doran ground out an efficient win from a theoretically drawn ending and Mike fought back, even to the extent of turning down a draw before eventually agreeing the half-point. In the meantime, the final game, involving Dave Robertson for Chester, had seen our man slip to the edge of the abyss. A wild time scramble saw Dave win material and delver mate with aplomb. We were into the final where we played Wrexham  and needed to win 4-2 or better. It was no surprise that this was an extremely close run matter. Mike McDonagh again decisively influenced the result , this time with a fine win against Bob Clark. Ian Mclean  courted danger for a while but gradually exerted his control over what had been a very loose position to gain another win. It will come as no surprise that Dave Robertson’s chess program of choice is Houdini. If the semi-final saw Escape to Victory then this one was definitely The Great Escape  and with a scrappy draw from me and a great rearguard draw from Phil Crocker we were assured of the trophy.

The Wirral League saw 13 entrants and we were required to win 4 matches to go all the way. In the first two rounds we played strong 2nd division opposition in the form of Wrexham and Atticus, newly promoted to division 1.For each game we had a strong line-up and played well. In the semi-final we played Wallasey and after a somewhat nervy performance we prevailed by 4-3. This meant that we were through to the final which was a repeat of last year’s match. This year we reversed the result and the score so were victorious by 5-2. We were never seriously under threat with plenty of solid performances and two eye-catching wins; Phil won elegantly and speedily against Hoylake’s young star Tom Carroll while Dave beat the experienced and strong Mike Smith with a sustained attack complete with a positional exchange sacrifice. 

The K.O. double has, remarkably, been completed by us just twice in the last 8 seasons but the treble [ 3 of the 4 trophies available at the top of the two local leagues] has been completed 4 times. In many ways this year’s success was the most resilient of them all. In the K.O. competitions we started with a squad of 10 with 2 possible emergency reserves but this shrank to 7 in total  half-way through the season. We were able to use reserves below the B team for times when we were really stretched and three times we called upon on one or other of the Yang family. Jixin won in the final of the Wirral K.O. when he came in as a late substitute. Well done Dad! Over the 7 K.O. fixtures and 46 individual games we lost just 7 [2 of those defeats were by the skipper which just goes to show the loneliness of command or some such excuse].

Nothing seems to be easy for the up-coming season but I am sure we will respond positively to the challenges ahead just as we have this season. John Carleton

B) Ray Williams’ Teams

C&D Div3 – Chester 6

Chester 6 finished 2nd with 5.5 points, only losing top spot to Holywell Knights by a goal difference of one!

Wirral Div 2 – Chester E

Chester E secured 5th place in Division 2 again, with 5.5 points. A mid-table performance against strong opposition for this league, featuring Wallasey 2 (eventual winners) Crewe and Wrexham. We used 10 players throughout the season, due to some regular players being unavailable. Particular thanks to Graham Bromley, Nick Pendlebury and Paul Watson for stepping in at short notice to support this team.

Chester Knock-Out Team 2

Chester K/O 2 again fielded teams in both C&D and Wirral leagues. In the C&D K/O we faced Rhyl in the first round but they declined to play on the day due to potentially bad weather. Due to the late start to this competition (1st round matches were scheduled for January) it was impracticable to reschedule this match and Rhyl agreed to concede. We then faced Wrexham in the next round with a target of 2 points from the 6 games played. We almost made it with 1.5 points, but Wrexham progressed to the final.

In the Wirral K/O, Chester K/O 2 played Hoylake in the first round and were beaten 4:3. With no points handicap available and Hoylake defaulting their bottom board the match was a lot closer than anticipated.

Thanks to all the players who took part in the team and K/O matches. Ray Wiiliams

C) Steve Lloyd’s Teams

Chester 3/C – A difficult Season

Before the start of the season there were a few personnel changes to the squad. In the Wirral League, out went Jairo , Ben and reserve player Manuel. In the Chester League, then captained by Colm, the Yesudian brothers sat out due to increased school commitments. For both leagues, in came Ian McLean and Robert Killeen.

Things started off well. A 3-2 win against Malpas in the Chester League was followed by a 3.5 – 1.5 win against the Juniors in the Wirral League. However problems soon began.

First, Rob’s work contract in Chester ended sooner than expected and so returned home. Then Colm had to withdraw due to increased commitments.

To compensate, new player Phil McKeown was added to both squads and David Hulme was traded from Chester 1 as back up for the Chester League. Phil got off to a great start, defeating future club champion Colin White when the team met Chester 1 at Hoole.

Several other players helped out the team by playing the odd game. These include Keith, Joe, James, Steve W, new player Kev, Mario and Jixin. However, finding a victory proved difficult, and one didn’t come until a 3-2 win against Colwyn Bay in March.

Colm returned for the final 3 games to aid the team’s survival against relegation. In the final Wirral games, the team took half a point from champions elect Penyffordd to ensure they would finish second from bottom ahead of Chester D.

D) Dave Bryan’s Chester B

Chester B had their worst season since I’ve been captain. We only managed to win two games out of eight and finished third from bottom. Some players are clearly only playing for the pay cheque and are not prepared to die for the club. I see a mass clear out happening during the summer months in conjunction with some frenzied transfer activity.

There were, however, a couple of mitigating circumstances. Rokas was unable to play for almost the entire season owing to work commitments (He has told me the situation will be similar next season). Also, Joe Nemczek, our first reserve, was unavailable because of family illness.

E) Daniel Savidge’s Chester D

The 2018/19 season was a difficult season as the Junior Team finished the season 9th with 1/8. With an unchanged tight-knit team, we performed consistently and managed to challenge all the teams in the league, only losing by a 3 point margin on one occasion. Highlights of the season include losing marginally 3-2 to Penyffordd the league winners and also drawing on the last day of the season with Chester B to cap off the season. 

F) Jixin Yang’s Chester F

We were not one of the strong teams in this division and it has been quite lucky to avoid relegation by finishing at the 7th place out of 9 teams.  The most difficulty was from the availability of regular players — for this reason in total 14 players were used for the entire season, a hard record to break for the future.  I have to thank everyone who has contributed their time and effort to this team.  Two players, Ian Clayton and Nethuli Saram scored 50%.  Well done!

G) Ian Clayton’s Chester 5

We all enjoyed our matches and although we were relegated we did draw 4 of them as well as losing some close ones too. Thanks to everyone who played and especially to Nethuli Saram for her enthusiasm and commitment. Ian Clayton.

H) Phil Skippon’s Chester G

Somewhat funny season for Chester G, as we experienced no fewer than three defaults against us due to confusion amongst our opponents about fixtures. A hard-fought draw with Chester H was sandwiched between narrow defeats to Wallasey 5 and to Frodsham (the latter seeing us a player down), before losing a tough fixture against a strong Pensby team. We ended the season on a winning note, beating eventual division champions Wallasey 6 at home. This, plus our three defaulted matches, gave us an eventual finish of third.

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