Counties Championship Back to Chess road map

Following the publication of the agenda for Council the Director of Home Chess will shortly be publishing an updated supporting paper, which will appear in the Council papers section of the website here. In the meantime I set out below an overview of the rationale behind the motions brought to Council by the Board, based on our recommendation following the short (but continuing) consultation with organising stakeholders.

In essence we are seeking to bring the Championships into line with established events that have been using 4-digit ratings for some time (also different thinking here, especially as there will be players rated 100-700 which we have not had before) and also widen the catchment for each band in a more even way, partially addressing the concerns of reducing player numbers and consequential  player overlap.  

Flexibility on band width is a more easily adjustable mechanism (either way) than reducing board numbers (ever reducing), which to my mind takes away the distinctiveness of the counties as a competition. It is not intended as a solve-all solution but hopefully a not too controversial attempt at restructuring to partially alleviate the building pressures and adapt to 4-digit ratings.

We are mindful too that Covid-19 hesitancy will also be playing its part in the months ahead, as will the ever present variability of associated operating restrictions. A degree of pragmatism and adaptability is called for whilst retaining the ethos of the competition.

Look out for the interim OTB event which will be tailored to Covid-19 operating conditions with a format to suit. The thinking here will be outside the conventional box, to make it both separate and distinct as a back-to-chess curtain raiser, in a similar vein to the proposed arrangements for the slimmed down 2021 British Championships intended for October. 

The intent is to give the 2021/22 Union qualifying competitions a clean start so they are best able to cope with the tribulations that may well lie ahead, and for those who wish to return to OTB as soon as, something to offer whilst conditions allow.  

Ahead of these events there will be a second season of the online competition over the summer either side of the online British. The Home and Events Directors and I are working on the finer scheduling and format detail of these pre-season county based events so that county competition can reach out to as many players as possible.

— Mark Murrell, ECF Controller, Counties Championship