2015-16 Yorkshire League Preview

So suddenly it’s Autumn and the new Yorkshire League season is upon us. Before we look at the season ahead I’d like to make a few observations on how the Yorkshire Chess Association and the Yorkshire Chess scene stand. Please note that any views expressed are my own.

Firstly a glance at the calendar reveals that there is a lot going on with Castle Chess bringing one of their prestige events to Harrogate on 8-10th October and a 4NCL Congress in Wetherby in the New Year. These will complement the congresses already established in the calender – if you didn’t know that two of the six biggest congresses in the country are Yorkshire based (Doncaster and Scarborough) then you do now. For anybody who wants to play chess every weekend the opportunity is pretty much there.

For those Yorkshire players who take an interest in ECF politics (which outside of the YCA committee can possibly be counted on the fingers on one hand) the ECF AGM will be taking place in October and we will shortly be consulting as to how our votes in several disputed elections should be cast.

The biggest opportunity at the moment is County chess. We are now down to a solitary county captain across six graded sections and requests for volunteers invariably fall upon deaf ears. This is frustrating as we have the player base to compete in all sections, if only we can mobilise it. Obviously there will be comment about the controversial default in the U160 section last year but I stand by my view that a raid on the silverware would be a better response than a boycott. While obviously some way away yet, for the first time there was no Yorkshire league clash with the National Club Championship in April and I hope that several Yorkshire teams will be there to show the rest of the country which county is boss!

Which takes me on to the 2015-16 preview;

Woodhouse Cup

Sheffield A begin the season as defending champions and face key rivals York RI A on 5th March and Bradford A on 9th April. York RI A and Bradford A are scheduled to play on October 17th which will give an early indication of which team is on form. The expectation at present is for another three horse race but keep an eye on Bradford A travelling to Calderdale A in the first round and Sheffield A hosting Rose Forgrove A in the second to see if these teams can spring a surprise.

Alwoodley A and Bradford Central return to the top flight after a season’s absence and will be marking Harrogate A who have escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth for two years running. Alwoodley and Harrogate play in the first round with Bradford Central playing Harrogate A on 20th February and Alwoodley A on 9th April.

IM Brown

The second division is always the hardest to call and with two Sheffield teams going down and two Harrogate teams coming up the 2015-16 season should be no exception. Sheffield have taken the opportunity to reconstitute their teams and stop the anomaly of there being a Sheffield F but not a Sheffield C. As such it hard to be sure of the likely strength of their teams at this stage but Sheffield B will certainly be contenders. Meanwhile Wakefield A (third last year) and recent Woodhouse teams Bradford B and York RI C will be looking for that break in the clouds that will allow them promotion. Key early matches will be Wakefield hosting Sheffield B on 7th November and Bradford B against York RI C on 21st November.

At the relegation end three teams went up last year due to the withdrawal of a Sheffield team. A key match will be the York RI D vs Harrogate B clash on 7th November while Pontefract need to be sure of victory against York RI D and Harrogate C in their November matches.

Silver Rook

The third division has reshaped slightly this year and, as such, will also be hard to call. Dewsbury, as the only team dropping directly from the IM Brown, are the nominal favourites while Bradford C were the highest placed team from last year remaining in the division. The strength of Sheffield D is unclear and Leeds CCCC B are dark horses. A four horse race?

Report by Andrew Zigmond


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3 Responses to “2015-16 Yorkshire League Preview”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Sep 28. 2015

    Suppose the other major thing happening chesswise is Div3N in the 4NCL moving North(ish) full time. Which has seemingly prompted incursions from Scotland, the Isle of Man and Norfolk (?!!?). Interesting to see what that does long term.

    Back to the Woodhouse, you have to imagine Sheffield as modest a priori favourites – they’ve got Bradford and York at home and perhaps rather useful reinforcements from the B/D teams.
    (Fascinating to see what happens with Sheffield A/B/C.).

    Calderdale I think fairly strong favourites for fourth.

    Leeds could but they’d need to be much less erratic team wise vs last season. A decent chance of one of York B/ Forgrove/ Hull / Huddersfield having a run but they’re probably all a little short in principle.

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  2. Andy Bak

    Sep 28. 2015

    Andrew alluded to why there is little interest in organising county chess in Yorkshire – we’re already saturated with events! There are barely any free weekends on the calendar and those who might be inclined to play County chess are likely already playing on many of these other weekends.

    I think it’s too early to predict favourites until we see what each side brings out. The early Bradford vs York fixture will tell us quite a bit.

    I’d agree that Calderdale have to be favourites for 4th, they’re solid year-in, year-out.

    It will be interesting to see how Sheffield manage their teams this year across the divisions.

    Reply to this comment
    • Martin Carpenter

      Sep 29. 2015

      Wish York – Bradford was an indicator of who people were going to have through the year last season ;) There’s a lot of very solid teams in the division so the trick is more about how ‘weak’ your weakest 2/3 teams through the year are :)

      The head to head result is very significant of course.

      Agree with the saturation being an ‘issue’.

      It isn’t even like the (internal) county matches get free weekends any more, like I seem to remember they used to. They end up doubling up with a Yorkshire league match on the Saturday, and you need to be really keen to want to do that.

      The ECF stage K/O matches – for which any Yorkshire team I believe qualifies automatically nowadays? – do tend to have a bit more space.

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