Online Counties Championships 2020

Competition Rules Match Day Notices Match Day Fixtures Club Page


The Championship Finals were played on Saturday 22nd August – click here for the pairings, matchcards and live viewing

Controller’s Reports

First Online County Championships
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 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
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 (rated U1450).  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.

The Blackburne Challenge, North v South, the oldest Challenge
Played on Saturday 5th September, honour was restored to the North of England after a 126 wait in the oldest counties challenge of them all with an emphatic victory over the South of England in the North v South Challenge, particularly across the top 20 boards where the North held a significant and decisive grading advantage.  GM Matthew Sadler & WIM Natasha Regan provided the live commentary.  In 1894 style, Adrian Elwin, David Sedgwick, Phill Beckett and controller Mark Murrell were the match stewards.

All  bar two of the 39 affiliated English counties were represented extending the reach of county competition with the event fulfilling its “all abilities” team billing, from Grandmaster to beginner.  The match was played on over 108 boards matching the last encounter in 1894.  With thanks to South skipper, Anthony Fulton, you can read about the 1894 London & 1893 Birmingham encounters in history corner on the event webpage.

The North crossed the finishing line reaching 54½ game points at 8:49pm after 2h 19m play in the 2½h session.   Skipper, Mick Riding rounding off his triumphant online summer , ironically reported that it was Nick London for the North who scored the winning point.    By close of play a further 6 points had been added to give a comfortable margin of victory 60½ to 46½, in this finale to the summer’s online counties championship season and the first ECF members event of 2020/21.

Full results can be viewed here | The ECF LMS has the matchcards | ECF Online Report

County Championships
A competition for County Associations and regional Federations affiliated to the English Chess Federation and their associated online chess players.  Following 100 years of over-the-board inter county national competition this is the inaugural sister event online. Take a look back at the first 100 years of evolving competition here.

Semi-Finals Headlines

  • Open – Lincolnshire’s strength in depth too much for determined Norfolk resistance
  • Open – seeded to meet in the Final and almost evenly matched on all but 2 boards where Middlesex A had the paper edge, Northumberland dominate the top boards to reach the final
  • Major – Devon and Yorkshire sweep Essex and Greater Manchester aside
  • Challengers – Middlesex B, a traditional ‘minor counties’ team with no head or tail continue their march against one county team opposition as Shropshire fall, whilst Oxfordshire only just made their lower board advantage count against Cumbria
  • Minor – Gloucestershire match Somerset at the top against the odds but not enough to cause an upset, whilst disaster for Berkshire with a double default gifting the tie to Worcestershire despite a top 4 clean sweep
  • U1825 – Essex and Lincolnshire hold their nerve to survive two knife edge matches against Northumberland and Middlesex, to make it an all East Coast affair for both the Open and U1825 Championships, where Lincolnshire are looking to pull off a remarkable double
  • U1825 Challengers – Greater Manchester too strong for embattled Surrey in stark contrast to Norfolk’s reliance on the tie break to prevail over Oxfordshire

The National Challenge for county team members who have missed out on selection has been running alongside the qualifying rounds for the Championships under the competition rules, with the last event set for 1 August. With the knockout stages of the Open and U1825 Championships taking place on 8 and 22 August, a new event for players graded U100 (Jan 2020) will run along side the County Championships with an additional match day of 15th August. The National 100 is an all-play-all 3 match inter region league (drawn from the County Associations) to give U100 county players a national event too, drawing on the popularity of the National Challenge.  New players are encouraged to sign up for the last National Challenge on 1 August to experience match play on under similar conditions.  Find your County organiser’s contact details below or ask the Controller when you register for the National 100.  An overview of the National 100 including how to enter, the National 100 Rules and a player’s guide to the interactive matchcards have been added to the Competition Documents panel to your right.

Online North v South Challenge 2020

The oldest Challenge to see in the new season – Saturday 5th September 6:30pm

Renew/take out your 2020/21 ECF membership/supportership and then go to the event web page to register your participation and read the history of the North v South Challenge.

It has taken 126 years for the North of England to issue the long awaited challenge to the South of England for a rematch to determine whether the supremacy established by the South in 1893 in Birmingham, and re-affirmed in 1894 in London, has stood the test of time. After a summer of national club, county and regional ECF online standard-rated chess, what  better way to launch the 2020/21 season than to re-ignite those ancient rivalries and combine with the modern ECF Online Clubs to produce a truly epic national match

The Online Counties Championships are governed by the Competition Rules (reissue 11 June). All players must abide by the ECF Online Fair Play and Anti-Cheating Rules (OFP&AC Rules), which apply across all ECF Online competitions and ECF online rated events. Processing of data is in accordance with the ECF’s Privacy Notice and is set out in the Competition Rules. The new ECF Online Code of Conduct also applies.

The Online Championships taking place this summer (June to August) on the platform, supported and endorsed by the UK and Ireland County Championships for correspondence chess, are open to ECF Members and ECF Supporters eligible for an entered County. See below for more information how to join one of the teams if you are eligible for that county, which you can do at any time before your county’s last group match on 25th July.

23 counties from across the country are in action. A welcome return to national county chess for the likes of Berkshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Oxfordshire and Somerset. Representatives of Durham have joined The National , a challenge which is running in parallel with the inter-county matches for those who miss out on selection by their county sides. 23 teams play in the Open and 9 in the U1825.

Matches are played on Saturday evenings at 6:30pm at a rate of G60/15″
Fixtures, matchday notices and live results are available from the County Championships Online pages on the ECF’s League Management System. See the links above.

The Group league stage in June and July comprise twin group all play all matches. The first round on the 13th June was aborted due to ongoing platform issues and will be rescheduled. These are the qualifying matches for the various Championships with semi-finals on 8th August and Finals on 22nd August for each Championship within the Open and U1825 Sections.

Open Division 1 is the qualifier for the Open and Major Open Championships
Open Division 2 is the qualifier for the Challengers and Minor Championships
U1825 Section is the qualifier for the U1825 and U1825 Challengers Championships

A preliminary familiarisation round in the Open and U1825 sections took place on 6th June. Teams were allocated to Division according to seeding. The pairings for each Championship, determined by league standings, will appear in early August.

The County Championships have entered the knockout finals stage with 6 Championships being contested on 8th and 22nd August.
Championships Pairings and Results | Group Stage Results

Round For group stages of 5 or 6 teams Round For group stages of 4 teams
Preliminary 6th June    
1 Postponed 1 13th June
2 20th June    
3 4th July 2 4th July
4 18th July    
5 25th July 3 25th July
1 (replay) 1st August 1 (replay) 1st August
Semi-Finals 8th August    
Finals 22nd August    

If you would like to play in this competition see the information below and contact your county’s organiser or secretary if you are eligible applying the criteria below. If there is no email contact, please visit the county’s website. You can only play for one county.

A player is eligible to represent one of the following historical counties of England in the Championship if the player is an ECF member or supporter, is not barred from ECF online Clubs, has an active playing account (and has not held any others); and meets one of the following criteria:
(i) Birth in that county.
(ii) Five years’ domicile in that county at any time.
(iii) Two months’ immediate previous and present membership of a club either in or affiliated to that County.
(iv) One month’s immediately previous and present domicile in that County.
(v) Present attendance as a student at a school, college or university in that County.