Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Interesting times

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.


Ross Harris said...

Just a quick response to some of your queries regarding the league format...I'll think I'll refrain from commenting on the Fisherwick situation at present!

As soon as Calum had devised the league fixtures he distributed them to all the league captains the same day in an effort to give teams as much time as possible to prepare for the league. Calum, however, is not responsible for putting the fixtures up on the UCU website. It just so happens that Balynafeigh were very quick off the mark and published the fixture list a few hours after they received them.

With regards to the 7 - 9 split, the original plan had been to divide the league into 2 divisions, with 8 teams in each, and play it over 14 weeks as you had suggested. However, when looking at the squad lists of the teams there were only 7 obvious candidates to go into division 1. We felt overall the 7-9 split was fairest for all the teams and would produce the most evenly balanced matches. We also felt that 12 games wasn't enough for the Silver King so unfortunately we had to put on hold the plans for a team rapidplay tournament...though this idea will be looked at again for next year.

David McAlister said...

Ross, thanks for your response.

I think the posting of the fixtures first elsewhere points more to the need to have someone responsible for the UCU website reacting quickly to official announcements from officers. It may take time to put the fixtures into the database format (where the results will ultimately be placed). However it's a simple job to put up a brief announcement linking to a pdf of the fixtures.

Obviously Calum and yourself have thought carefully about the format and it's a judgment call what will work out best. My own view remains that our league season is too long.

Having a shorter league and some sort of rapidplay team event would provide greater variety and maybe encourage parents to let their children out for rapidplay league matches (when less of their time would be taken up). It will be interesting to see if Fisherwick get any takers for their rapidplay team competition.

Colin said...

rattle out of the pram also springs to mind.