Facing the prospect of local lockdowns in the winter months ahead, 20 club teams from the Northumberland, Durham and Cleveland chess assocations have joined together to set up the North East Online League. The first round took place successfully on Tuesday 13th October, and games in following rounds can be followed live via the League’s page on the ECF website. The league’s top-ranked player so far is IM Andrew Horton, who led Durham City to a 3-1 win over Gosforth A in Round 1.
Comprising three divisions, the league’s first season will run for five rounds, every second Tuesday, until December. Players are required to be ECF Members or Supporters – enabling players to have their games ECF online rated, and boosting ECF membership figures at this difficult time. Because the North East Online League (NEOL) is using the ECF’s League Management System (LMS) web page, it means that players can see their individual pairings 1 hour before the games start, and also follow their clubmates’ games online in real time by clicking on their Lichess user names via the NEOL’s LMS fixtures page.
The organiser of the North East Online League, Tim Wall, said, ‘Northumberland and Durham Chess Associations took the decision to support an online local league this winter, given the difficulties in playing any over-the-board chess safely. We’re really pleased because this gives players the chance to play their friends from the local chess scene, rather than someone pretty anonymous, online. It’s the best alternative to playing face-to-face that we can organise during this strict period of lockdown, so we’re happy to see so many people giving it a go, including players who have not played online much before.’