Lancashire retains the County Championship

ECF County Championship Controller Mark Murrell reports …

For the second year in succession Lancashire have won the County Championship on tie break. Once again, they were inseparable over the boards from their regional foe, Yorkshire. They left it to the final game of a long hot afternoon to take the match on board count, their 22nd Championship, closing the gap on leaders Middlesex.

Yorkshire, with an impressive four teams in action on Finals Day, had the consolation of lifting the U180 trophy in another match where Yorkshire held a single point lead (but with an inferior tie break) with one game to finish. A draw there brought welcome relief from their disappointment elsewhere.

Reigning Champions Lincolnshire made the early running in the Minor Counties Final against Surrey, making a rare appearance in this section with a limit of 180 as the team average grade. A sustained run of victories in the closing stages saw Surrey catch and then surpass the champions as another match went to the final game. 

Leicestershire in the U100s were the only other county among the 4 defending champions to regain their title. Lancashire, who made all the early running in this section ensured a much narrower winning margin this time round.

The U120s looked as though it might be decided on the earlier toss of the coin with a long sequence of drawn games. Norfolk came out on top of the 5 decisive games of the afternoon against a Warwickshire side that had been destructive of opposition from thee preliminary round. Two former captains were able to share in the delight of the team captain at the presentations.

Lancashire taking the U160 title from a fancied Yorkshire team and Nottinghamshire winning the U140 title also against Yorkshire, took control of their matches and did not relent.

ECF CEO Mike Truran, who presented the prizes, paid tribute to retiring Home Chess Director, Alex Holowczak, whose untiring contributions to English Chess were acknowledged by a round of applause. My thanks to Alex and to Matthew Carr for preparing the match room, to my team of arbiters, some of whom had travelled longer distances than the participating teams and to Chris Lamming for his photography (above, below, and via this link.

Congratulations to all the 2018 national County Champions.

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