About a week ago the new fixtures for the 2014-2015 local league season were posted at the Ballynafeigh CC website. Of course, we were used to official UCU announcements appearing there when its supremo was also the League Controller. Obviously old habits die hard.
A couple of days later the fixture list then appeared at the Lindores CC website, home of the dynamic duo who have taken over control of UCU team and individual tournaments. Obviously continuing the privatisation of their predecessor.
Finally the Division 1 and Division 2 fixtures did appear at the official website. A day or so later there was even an announcement there which, however, bizarrely referred the reader back to the Ballynafeigh CC website for the details.
Anyway the good news was that (despite the hibernation of Lagan CC) with the revival of the Queen's University Chess Club (or to be precise, now re-branded Society) and an extra couple of "second teams", total entries amounted to 16.
When planning this piece, I was going to inquire what was wrong with 8 teams in each Division rather than the announced 7+9 (with the top Division adding a third round of fixtures). Under the UCU plan there will be a total of 21 weeks for Division 1 and 18 for Division 2.
With an even split of teams we could have had a double-rounder for each Division over only 14 weeks. The advantage of this would have been to leave time for some further team competitions with a different format (eg all-NI, rapidplays, handicap, knock-out) which the chattering classes seemed keen on in the Spring.
Still, the announcement over at Fisherwick CC puts this all into perspective. Despite being the reigning Silver King champions and announced as an entrant on all those outlets mentioned above, Fisherwick CC "will not be participating in the Ulster Chess Union organized Belfast & District Chess League 2014-15". However, this is not some Lagan-style hiatus because a full programme events is planned, including "inter club competition."
"Cat among the pigeons" springs to mind.