eNewsletter No. 48 – September 2020

Dear ECF Member

Welcome to the September eNewsletter. Our lead story this month is from Brian Valentine and his team for their outstanding work on the new replacement to the ECF grading website. We are also indebted to one of the all-time greats of English Chess, Mr Howard Staunton, for accepting our invitation to discuss historical and contemporary chess matters with our correspondent, the titled Timothy Wall Esq.
Dr Stephen Greep provides an excellent summary of the 2020 ECF Awards. There is also full coverage of the vibrant online scene around the country and beyond including Malcolm Pein’s report on England’s performance at the FIDE Online Olympiad, Nigel Towers’ monthly round-up and reports from Mark Murrell (County Championship Finals and National100) and Andrew Caswell (chess.com 2020 World League title). 
We are reminding members once again that renewal of membership fees is vital for ensuring the continuation of the ECF’s work both online and over the board. Like many sports and leisure organisations we have taken an enormous hit over the past six months and we need members’ help to continue providing online and over the board services. Renewal is a very simple process at this link –

Also, please remember that the generous offer to ECF members from Chess & Bridge runs out on Sunday 13 September. More here –

Finally we would like to hear from members who have written, or are intending to research and write, about the history of chess in their club, league or county. I will be pleased to offer space in the newsletter for such projects. If you have a link to such a history that already exists, please share it with webmaster@englishchess.org.uk to be part of a planned new section on the ECF Resource website.

— Mark Rivlin

The new ECF Rating website
Brian Valentine Reports — A new replacement for the grading website has been a long time coming! We are introducing a much quicker results service supporting more frequent rating updates. We’ve decided to call the new numbers ‘ratings’ rather than ‘grades’. I hope members will appreciate our big step forward. The new Monthly Rating System has gone live here – https://www.ecfrating.org.uk/v2/new/list_players.php

The August grading revision of results to the end of June was converted from old grades to new four-digit ratings applicable on 1 July. There has been a smattering of results since then and so a few ratings have jogged forward to 1 September under the Elo methodology. This is a beta version and I would appreciate any comments members may have and we will strive to improve things. There is a help section that will be refined and extended based on feedback.

Any results submitted by results officers should be loaded overnight and new monthly lists should be published overnight on the first of each month starting on 1 October.

All information on historical grades has been transferred to the new site. Although the old site will remain up for sometime, we will be encouraging players to make this the go-to site.

We still have more developments in mind, the first noticeable one is likely to be getting the online ratings into a similar place.

A little hint: if you don’t like the black and red layout (designed to be phone friendly) hit the ECF logo in the top left corner and see if you prefer the change. Please use this email address to contact us – manager.grading@englishchess.org.uk

Pieces of Staunton – Tim wall interviews one of the legends of English Chess here

ECF 2020 Awards
Stephen Greep reports — Awards go to Oxford University Chess Club (Club of the Year), Bude Chess Club (Small Club of the Year), Scorch Chess and 4NCL Online (Online Contributions of the Year), Hull 4NCL International Congress (Congress of the Year), Graham Bromley, Ian George, Alex Holowczak, Peter Hornsby, Harry Lamb and Nigel Towers (President’s Award for Contribution to Chess). No award was made in the Magazine of the Year category. Copies of all the citations for the awards can be found here
We would like to thank all the people who sent nominations to the committee reflecting the tremendous work taking place throughout the chess world. Every nomination was carefully considered and evaluated. As Committee Chairman, I will continue reviewing the awards process over the next few months, and I welcome views as a part of an on-going consultation with members of the ECF.

Online Olympiad
ECF Director of International Chess Malcolm Pein reports here

Online chess
Nigel Towers’ monthly report is here

Online Counties Championship Finals Night
Mark Murrell reports — On August 22, Northumberland, undefeated in three months of competition, became the first Online County Champions after a ruthless display.  It was a good night for the East all round with Essex taking the U1825 crown. Both teams had encounters with double championship finalists Lincolnshire, who had proved to be the county to beat in all competitions over the summer. Northumberland batted deep and well, whilst Essex, the surprise package, had the run of the green in the championships stage, gaining momentum in the final by turning the tables in a couple of crucial games.
In the divisional championships Devon’s victory was just as emphatic in the Major Open. Middlesex B’s domination of the ‘Minor counties’ encounters continued in the Challengers final played over 24 boards. Worcestershire’s staying power prevailed in the Minor and the greater strength in depth of Greater Manchester secured the U1825 Challenger’s title. Middlesex (top seed in the Open) was the only county to have a presence in all three sections of the competition, Divisions 1, 2 and U1825.

Open – Northumberland 8½ – 3½ Lincolnshire
Major Open – Devon 8½ – 3½ Yorkshire
Open Challengers – Middlesex B 17 – 7 Oxfordshire
Minor Open – Worcestershire 6½ – 5½ Somerset
U1825 – Lincolnshire 3½ – 7½ Essex
U1825 Challengers – Norfolk 4 – 9 Greater Manchester

GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan provided live commentary of the Division 1 Finals (Open and Major Open).
Results are here – Championships | Group Stages | Full (ECF LMS)
The event ran from June to August on chess.com played at G60/15. It was organised by Counties Championship Controller, Mark Murrell, and Matt Perry (UK and Ireland online correspondence County Championships), supported by ECF Online Manager, Nigel Towers and a team of arbiters, Alan Atkinson, Shohreh Bayat, David Clayton, Adrian Elwin, Fiona Green, Chunrong Lu, Alex McFarlane, David Sedgwick and Bob Tinton. The team was  headed by Chief Arbiter Lara Barnes who gave up many weekends (and more) throughout the summer to support the event as did the 20 county team captains/organisers who were crucial to getting the competition off the ground and its success. A huge thank-you from the Controller to each of you.

The National 100 – grand slam for South
Mark Murrell reports — Played over three successive Saturday evenings in August coinciding  with the knockout Championships stage of the Counties Championship at the same G60/15 rate of play, this competition made slow play chess available online to those graded U100.  There was insufficient support back in May for a lower tier counties competition, so a regional event was devised  at short notice by the Counties Championship controller to ensure that the Championships August festival gave opportunities for all abilities.   99 players registered for the competition.
For the Midland Outlaws and the Northern Raiders there was just enough support to maintain 4 regional teams, whilst the East Saxons and in particular The South saw an avalanche of junior player making the transition to online slow play.  The South had by far the largest squad which enabled a Civil War match between Middlesex v The Rest of the South to take place as an U100 National Challenge  pool match at the same time as their first fixture against a depleted Midlands Outlaws team.
Finals scores – The South (3), East Saxons (2), Midland Outlaws (1) and Northern Raiders (0)
The ECF LMS has the details – National 100 results | League Table | National Challenge (7-9) | Overview
The South did not have it all their own way. Their first and third encounters against the  Outaws and the Raiders were won by narrow margins.  The Outlaws and the Saxons saved their energies for the Raiders who surprisingly took the wooden spoon, though their reservists took their revenge against The South in their National Challenge encounter. The South reserves joined in the action winning their Finals Night battle doing the double over the Saxons.
Phill Beckett and Bob Tinton assisted Controller, Mark Murrell, with the arbiting, which was remarkably plain sailing.

Team England close in on Chess.Com 2020 World League title
ECF Manager of Daily Chess, Andrew Caswell writes — The English Chess Federation – https://www.chess.com/club/english-chess-federation-members – endorses Team England as the national team competing in the various international daily chess competitions including the World Daily League. The World Daily League on Chess.com is now in its 13th year, and Team England are currently on course to be crowned 2020 World League Champions.
In what has been an incredibly hard fought 665 Board contest, England are currently leading Russia in the pivotal match of the season by a small margin with around 70 games still playing. Many ECF members are part of this effort, playing for Team England in the Daily format (3 days per move) on the Chess.Com platform, but if any members want to take part in future matches, they can join Team England via this link – https://www.chess.com/club/team-england

European Online Youth Championships 2020
This hybrid tournament starts on September 18; more here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/european-online-youth-championships-2020/ – and here – https://www.europechess.org/european-online-youth-individual-team-chess-championships-2020-regulations/

Chair of Council Michael Farthing writes — We have taken the formal decision to hold the AGM by Zoom, but it remains set for Saturday 17 October 2020 commencing at 1.30 pm. As with the Finance Meeting the “room” will open at about 12:45 to give everyone time to check hardware and software and provide an opportunity for pre-meeting chat.  There will also be an opportunity for unchaired chat at the end of the meeting for those who would like this.

Book Reviews
IM Gary Lane has been busy this month with another set of excellent  critiques; Arkell’s Endings by Keith Arkell A Modern Guide to Checkmating Patterns by Vladimir Barsky; Adolf Anderssen Combinative Chess Genius by Robert Johnson; Hein Donner – The Biography by Alexander Münninghoff. More here –

Tiger Tiger
Tiger Sharks UK managed to win Stage 5 of the Worldwide 2020 Chess Championships; more here – https://results.scorchapp.co.uk/t/2020stage5/standings/7 . The Tiger Sharks squad was made up of Peter Robertson, Tom Rendle, Ameet Ghasi and Bao Nghia. Says Tiger Sharks captain Ben Purton, ‘The Tiger Sharks are made up of two 4NCL teams which have links to Grantham and Hammersmith chess teams. We really enjoyed this event. as lots of my team specialise in blitz. We have played all six stages of the event, winning two of them.’

One Hundred for John Poolehttps://www.englishchess.org.uk/john-poole-at-100/

Tweet of the Month
John Saunders on GM Murray Chandler’s game vault …

ECF Direct Members’ Representatives
Following the elections for these posts the successful candidates are: Gold – Lorin d’Costa and Rob Willmoth; Silver – John Reyes and Tim Wall; Bronze – Aga Milewska and Chris Skulte. Congratulations to the elected representatives, who are taking up their positions immediately.

Message from Director of Membership, Dave Thomas
I announced on 21 August that I was planning to stand again as Membership Director for no longer than a year, in order to ensure delivery of the new monthly grading system in particular. Since that announcement, I am very pleased to be able to say that, because another candidate has now come forward who plans to stand as Membership Director, a candidate with whom I have had detailed discussions and who I believe will do a great job as my successor if elected, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy.
I have confirmed both to the candidate and to the Chief Executive that I am more than willing to carry on for a period in a technical expert capacity and to ensure a smooth hand-over. This will hopefully allow the new Membership Director to focus on the more outward-facing aspects of the job such as membership retention and acquisition, which are so critical to the ECF’s present survival and future prosperity.

Problem Corner
Christopher Jones with another problem to ease the lockdown blues here

Christine Adams’ retirement
The ECF Membership Secretary for 12 years, Christine Adams, is retiring from the post. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/membership-secretary-retirement/

Witney Rapidplay
This online congress takes place on Sunday 20.9.20; more here – http://www.witneychess.co.uk/witneyrapid20_information.htm

Coffee-break read
A lengthy and fascinating look at the online chess explosion (thanks to Gary Lane for sharing on social media) here – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/07/technology/chess-new-streaming-obsession-twitch.html

A game of two halves (not sixty four squares)
Neil Graham writes — The Fantasy Premier League commences this Saturday 12 September, so there’s still time to enter a team here – https://fantasy.premierleague.com/. Can you do better than Magnus Carlsen who was 10th overall last year? ‘Premier Chess’ welcomes prospective managers – join code this year is 9as9zf. One rule for managers – real names not pseudonyms.

CHESS Magazine taster here

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Winston Williams – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/an-appreciation-of-winston-williams-1958-2020/
Tony Buzan – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10189
David Greensmith – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10954
Geoffrey Wolfarth – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10956
Alan Hare – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10963
Bill Falconer – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10966
Paul MacDonald – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10967
Derek Miller – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10969
Brian Foster – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10965
David Woodruff – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10978
John Brooke – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10980
Bill Pinder – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10947
John Naylor – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10984
John Calvert – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11011
Wolfgang Uhlmann – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=11001