Saturday, January 11, 2014

The greater good

My last two posts had focussed on the divisional split in the Belfast and District League. Since then there has been a dizzying sequence of events apparently orchestrated by the League Controller. Like a music-hall conjurer producing rabbits out of a hat, he has foreshadowed and then announced the arrival of extra teams into the League. Well done to him for not merely adminstering the League, but going out of his way to expand the number of teams. Muldoons and Belfast South have each sprouted a second team and the Controller's own Ballynafeigh has gone as far as reaching a number 4.

Rumour has it (and seeing it emanates from the Controller himself, presumably it will come to pass) that there will be 8 teams in Division 1 after the split. So it seems, after all, that the Magnificent Seven will compete for the Silver King, along with plucky Bangor. This will then leave Division 2 populated by the bottom three from the preliminares plus the three "newbies".

The greater good may well be served by this increase in teams for the second part of the season. In recent years the League has diminished in size as clubs have shied away from entering more than one team. With his recent efforts the Controller has decisively reversed this trend and hopefully the future will see increased levels of competition in the League.

However, someone concerned with process (and your correspondent confesses to being such a person) cannot help point out that the League Controller (and/or the UCU Board) has driven a coach and horses through the League protocols. When a query was raised earlier ths season as to when the rules governing the League would be published the Controller trenchantly pointed out that they remained those propogated by the UCU Board on the 22nd October 2011. The assumptions underlying those rules no longer seem to apply and the bold step to jettison certain parts of them has been taken to what seems to be large-scale approval. Obviously a re-write will be needed next season.

However, it doesn't stop there. The revival of interest in team chess is bringing forward new ideas. The Champ (over at Off the Chest) has floated an interesting suggestion for an experimental half-hour League at the end of the regular season. At the same forum the League Controller has unveiled a few radical ideas for a Cup competition. I'm not sure about these: 3-player teams - sorry, no; genetically engineered line-ups - a bit too Brave New World for me. Still, the return of a Cup competition is definitely to be applauded, but my own view is that the emphasis here should not be so much on gimmicks (though I'm not against a sensible handicapping system) but in achieving a greater geographical spread with matches (or at least some of them) played at the weekend to facilitate this.

Anyway, seems like we live in interesting times!

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