Mid-Sussex Chess League

Older news ... continued

Grading list revisions

21 Oct 2003

There have been some revisions to the published grading list – in fact, about 2,000 of them. Since these were calculated before the playing season got under way, there seems to be a general intention to use them in BCF competitions, and no doubt elsewhere.

The full list of revisions appears on the BCF website. I've extracted from this the names of Sussex players with changed longplay grades, and put them in a new grading page.

Most of these players have moved by just one grading point. And I think the biggest change was only 4 points. So as far as the league is concerned, there is unlikely to be any significant impact. Certainly they don't affect any nomination issues. The league officers need to consider what figures to use for handicapping the Knock-Out Competition, though it is highly improbable that it would make much difference one way or another.

Chess players are proud folk, and those whose grades have risen by a point will no doubt hug themselves gleefully and celebrate with an extra mug of cocoa; whereas those whose grades have fallen a point will probably scourge themselves and mutter about giving up this stupid game forever. We shouldn't care a fig, but of course we all do. Who was it who first enunciated the principle that if a group of chess players go into a revolving door together, they emerge in grade order? It seems to enshrine a deep truth.


17 Oct 2003

All teams have now submitted their nominations. Some a little late, it's true. Interestingly, only one club, Eastbourne, have availed themselves of the new rule that allows more than the minimum number of players to be nominated for a team.

And they're off!

6 Oct 2003

The season is now under way. I was delighted to find on my doormat this Monday morning the match card for the first fixture (Eastbourne 3 v Eastbourne 2), played last Friday. I hope this presages a season in which all the cards are sent off promptly, and I don't have to nag anyone; we'll all be happier that way.

Some clubs have sent me their lists of nominated players. However, a lot of gaps still remain. The rules require that nominations should be submitted before the first match involving the clubs concerned. Richard Johnson is still away, and I'm hoping that all the names have gone to him, but it would be helpful if any club that hasn't already sent me their lists of nominations would do so now.

Another small reminder. The rules now require that any club that fields a new player has to let me have full details of any new players that appear in their teams. (See section 4.3 of the rules.) This is to enable the grading side of things to work smoothly. I had to do a surprising amount of chasing-up on this account last season, so I hope the new rule will make a difference.

All change for Haywards Heath 2 fixtures

1 Oct 2003

There has been some kind of misunderstanding about the arrangements for Haywards Heath 2. Last season Haywards Heath ran three teams in the league (in divisions 1, 3 and 4), but this season opted to have only two. It now emerges that the club's intention was to keep a sides in divisions 1 and 4, and drop out of division 3. (This way of doing things is unusual, but not without precedent.)

How clearly this intention was communicated to the league secretary, who draws up the fixtures, I can't say. And since he's away at the moment, I shan't be able to say for a little while. In any event, when the fixture lists were drawn up, Haywards Heath 2 appeared in division 3. Had this been spotted straight away, I imagine that fixing the list might not have been too difficult. Sadly, no one at the club seems to have examined the fixture list until the end of last week. And they are very firm in their view that they don't want to play in division 3.

Attempting to make alternative arrangements for division 4 (assuming such arrangements can be made) is going to be difficult until Richard Johnson returns from leave, since he's the one who has the list of possible and impossible dates. In the meanwhile, please assume that all the Haywards Heath 2 fixtures in division 3 are cancelled. Division 4 teams should anticipate the likelihood of having an extra match.

12 Oct 2003

Richard Johnson has now returned, and is sorting out the problem. Unfortunately Haywards Heath did not made clear on their entry form that they wanted to drop a team from division 2. However, fixtures will be made in division 4 to accommodate their second team there.

October FIDE ratings

22 Sep 2003

The following are Sussex players in the October FIDE rating list. (Yes, I know it's not October yet; but that's what they call it.) When I drew up an equivalent list for July, I included only people who had played in the MSCL during the last year. This time I've also included a couple of players who haven't been seen in the league recently, but are active in Sussex chess. Do let me know if I've omitted anyone.

There hasn't been a lot a lot of movement in the last quarter, except that David Howell has added 58 rating points.

410608Howell, David W L (Crowborough)f2381
401676Baker, Chris W (Crawley)m2369
404683Sachs, Gulnara (Haywards Heath)wm2325
401331Moss, Robin W B (Hastings)2289
408760Rendle, Thomas (Hastings)2272
401803Kwiatkowski, Feliks J (Haywards Heath)c2251
1800132Rayner, Francis (Hastings)2247
408131Graham, David B (The Args)2237
401005Cafferty, Bernard (Hastings)f2235
402346James, Geoffrey H (Brighton)c2220
407275Costley, Martin O (Lewes)2212
11000023Donnelly, Brian P (Horsham)m2205
406724Rich, Mark C (Hastings)c2202
402222Kemp, Peter D (Crowborough)2192
403059Noyce, Robert C (Crawley)2181
411990Linford, Charlie M (The Holt)2179
411272Broom, Mark (Lewes)2170
404179Almond, Richard J (Hastings)2169
1801031Oates, David R (Worthing)2159
404233Barton, R Alan (Hastings)2158
403687Howell, Chris I (Hastings)2147
405140Dodgson, John A (Hastings)2133
407100Mansson, James C (Horsham)2090
2500612O'Brien, Richard W (Knoll Knights)2080
406384Fryer, David W (East Grinstead)2078
408190Hawes, Stephen O N (Horsham)2055
406538Kelly, Ian G (The Holt)2048

Champions v The Rest match

21 Sep 2003

The annual Champions v The Rest was held last Friday. The the barbarian hordes of The Rest overcame the champions, Crowborough. See the match card.

Fixture lists

17 Sep 2003

The provisional fixture lists have now been posted. Richard Johnson asks that he should be informed of any errors in the list by 24 September, and all rearrangement of fixtures should be completed and reported to him by 1 October.

There was a request at the AGM for guidelines as to the exceptional circumstances that might be considered an appropriate reason for postponing a match after this initial 14-day period, as stated in rule 2.6:

2.6  Fixture changes  Upon receipt of the fixture lists, club secretaries should check their viability and seek to make any necessary changes with the relevant opposing team captains within 14 days. All such changes must be communicated to the League Secretary with an explanation of why the change was made. After this time, fixtures should be changed only in exceptional circumstances. All fixture changes, and any resulting disputes, must be forwarded to the League Secretary.

Richard in consultation with the other officers has drawn up the following. These points are merely a guide; they are not necessarily exhaustive and they are most emphatically not part of rule 2.6 or any other rule.

1. The premises become unavailable on a scheduled home night due to the owner having scheduled a conflicting event. I know that this has happened, sometimes with very short notice. However, I would expect that all teams should have arrangements with the owner of their premises to prevent this situation from occurring: e.g. Are the owners aware of scheduled match dates? Do you have exclusive rights to the premises on match nights? With proper agreements drawn up between club and the owner of the premises this should never be an issue.

2. The premises suddenly becomes unusable: e.g. flood, fire, building work etc. (But consider if you can play the match at the opponent's venue.)

3. Weather conditions or widespread flooding make travel inadvisable.

4. A team can't be raised because of e.g. a virus sweeping the club.

5. No appropriate means of transport is available.

Regardless of the reason, postponing a match still requires the approval of the League Secretary, even if it has to be gained retrospectively. Please note that the unavailability of one or more of a team's star players should not be considered an acceptable reason for seeking postponement. Because of the possibility of a last-minute problem it is recommended that home team captains provide a mobile phone number that the away team can make contact on. Failure to reach agreement on the rescheduling of matches shall be referred to the League Secretary for resolution.

Arrivals and departures

16 Sep 2003

The entries for the 2003/4 season are now in, and the structure of the divisions has been announced by Richard Johnson. Brighton & Hove have dropped their 4th team and Haywards Heath their 3rd team: both these played in division 4 last season. But there are three new entrants: Crawley 3, Worthing 2 and East Grinstead Youth, all of which will start in division 4.

East Grinstead Youth is actually the club's 5th team, but is intended to be run as nearly autonomously as possible from the other teams, so that, for instance, if it wins a promotion place, it will be those players, and not East Grinstead 4 (also in division 4) that rise to division 3. I intend to identify the team in the tables as East Grinstead 5Y, and treat it for nomination purposes as the 5th team. Members of the team are thus eligible to play for higher teams, though it seems unlikely that the club will want to do this.

One talking point is that the divisions will split 9 – 11 – 11 – 9. None of the division 2 clubs wanted to take promotion to the first division, so that makes division 1 a team light, and division 2 a team heavy. The entry of the East Grinstead Youth team to the league raised the prospect of three East Grinstead teams in division 4; the league officers took the pragmatic view that this might be too much of a good thing, and have moved an East Grinstead team into division 3.

Sussex correspondence chess

20 Aug 2003

I hear from John Dodgson, captain of the Sussex correspondence team, that they finally finished on 18/26 in the Ward-Higgs Cup inter-county competition, which is half a point more than last year's winning score. However, it was only good enough to bring Sussex second place, since Essex scored a mighty 20 points. Yorkshire, last year's champions, finished on 16½.

MSCL at the British

1 Aug 2003

Quite a number of players from the league managed to get to Edinburgh for the British Championships. Here are the people I spotted in the results lists; If I've missed anyone, or got any details wrong, please let me know.

In the British Championship itself, David Howell (Crowborough) confirmed his class by making a splendid 7/11; Thomas Rendle (Hastings, though he didn't play in the league this year) also did well, finishing on 6.

Junior championships

U-13 Joe Fraser (East Grinstead) 2nd place with 5½/7; Grant Bucher (Crowborough) 4½

U-12 Lyall Bayliss (Crowborough) 4/7; Abi Fryer (East Grinstead) 3

U-11 Christopher Linnett (Crowborough) 3½/7; Nick Crowborough (Crowborough) 2

U-10 Farris Ziyada (East Grinstead) 4½/7; David Grant (East Grinstead) 4½

U-9 Rhys Cumming (Crowborough) 3/7; Andrew Turner (Crowborough) 2

U-8 Andrew Turner (Crowborough) 3/6

Grade-limited championships

U-175 David Barraclough (Haywards Heath) 2/5

U-125 Andrew Tucker (Crowborough) 3/5; David Everitt (Haywards Heath) 2½; David Langridge (St Francis Hospital) 1½

U-100 David Everitt (Haywards Heath) 2/5; Abi Fryer (East Grinstead) 2; Neil Carter (East Grinstead) 2/5; Mark Carter (East Grinstead) 1; Sue Carter (East Grinstead) 0

Other competitions

Major Open David Fryer (East Grinstead) 6½/11; Charlie Linford (The Holt) 6; Ian Kelly (The Holt) 5½; Danny Eichner (East Grinstead) 5½; Stephanie Barraclough (Haywards Heath) 4

5-day week 1 Richard Almond (Hastings) 3/5; David Langridge (St Francis Hospital) ½

5-day week 2 Chris Howell (Hastings) 4/5 joint 1st place

Harry Baines week 1 Paul Smith (Knoll Knights) 6½/9; Kieran Fryer (East Grinstead) 1½

Harry Baines week 2 Paul Smith (Knoll Knights) 5/9


Atkins David Barraclough (Haywards Heath) 1/5

Soanes Paul Smith (Knoll Knights) 2/5

Yates David Everitt (Haywards Heath) 3/5; Andrew Shoulders (Brighton) 0/5


20 July Richard Almond (Hastings) 4/6; Paul Smith (Knoll Knights) 4; David Fryer (East Grinstead) 3½; Neil Carter (East Grinstead) 2½; David Everitt (Haywards Heath) 2; Abi Fryer (East Grinstead) 1; Kieran Fryer (East Grinstead) 1; Mark Carter (East Grinstead) 1; Sue Carter (East Grinstead) ½

27 July Richard Almond (Hastings) 3½/6; Andrew Tucker (Crowborough) 3/6

BCF Business Plan

14 Jul 2003

The BCF Business Plan for 2003/4 appeared today on the federation's website. This does include a certain amount of management-speak, but if you're at all interested in the health of chess in this country, it's worth taking a look. There are those who are making dire predictions about the BCF's future, pointing to such symptoms as its shaky finances and the dubious status of the British Championships, which English grandmasters are staying away from in droves. Well, the thing has muddled along for a century, so maybe it will last a bit longer, but various aspects of the federation's organization and activities might well benefit from scrutiny and a rethink.

PS 25 Jul 2003

The BCF is beginning to get its act together about the British Championships. There has been a meeting this week of the British Isles Coordinating Committee (i.e. the chess associations of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Ulster and Jersey), which has formulated a new series of qualifying conditions for the 2004 competition, which might just possibly result in its becoming a genuine British Championship. You can see the details at the BCF website.

SCCA AGM and Jamboree

14 Jul 2003

The SCCA AGM and Jamboree passed off well on Saturday. At the AGM the county luminaries spoke succinctly and to the point; business was wrapped up in half an hour. Really, these are about the least painful meetings of any organization I've ever belonged to. Afterwards trophies for the county's own competitions were handed out, and the booty it had gathered in from its external activities exhibited. The Jamboree seemed to be a more vigorously fought contest than usual, with The Holt winning by a short head.

Victory for Sussex teams

6 Jul 2003

Yesterday the Sussex U-175 team travelled up to Uppingham School, where they beat Warwickshire 9–7 in the final of the national stages of the inter-county competition. Daniel Hirsch received a shield for his 100th appearance as match captain. The trophies will be on display at the SCCA AGM and Jamboree next Saturday.

In the National Club competition The Holt beat Bourne End on 29 June to win the Major Plate; this is a U-160 competition.

July FIDE ratings

1 Jul 2003

The following are the players in the July FIDE rating list who have played in the MSCL during the last year. David Howell is zooming up the rankings, and Mark Broom gets in (surprisingly) for the first time. If I've missed anyone, please let me know.

401676Baker, Chris W (Crawley)m2369
404683Sachs, Gulnara (Haywards Heath)wm2325
410608Howell, David W L (Crowborough)f2323
401331Moss, Robin W B (Hastings)2289
401803Kwiatkowski, Feliks J (Haywards Heath)c2251
1800132Rayner, Francis (Hastings)2247
408131Graham, David B (The Args)2237
401005Cafferty, Bernard (Hastings)f2235
402346James, Geoffrey H (Brighton)c2220
407275Costley, Martin O (Lewes)2212
411990Linford, Charlie M (The Holt)2207
11000023Donnelly, Brian P (Horsham)m2205
406724Rich, Mark C (Hastings)c2202
402222Kemp, Peter D (Crowborough)2192
403059Noyce, Robert C (Crawley)2181
411272Broom, Mark (Lewes)2170
404179Almond, Richard J (Hastings)2169
1801031Oates, David R (Worthing)2159
403687Howell, Chris I (Hastings)2147
404233Barton, R Alan (Hastings)2132
407100Mansson, James C (Horsham)2090
2500612O'Brien, Richard W (Knoll Knights)2080
406384Fryer, David W (East Grinstead)2064
408190Hawes, Stephen O N (Horsham)2055
406538Kelly, Ian G (The Holt)2035

PS 3 Jul 2003

Bernard Cafferty reminds me that, under current FIDE regulations, you are required to be a member of your national chess federation to be included in the list. See the relevant page on the BCF site.

PS 5 Jul 2003

Brian Donnelly (2205) has been added to the list. My thanks to Chris Howell for spotting him, and to John Cannon for confirming that it really was "our" player. This one wasn't easy to spot, since Brian has Zimbabwean affiliation, and his name was misspelt in the FIDE rankings.

PS 9 Jul 2003

I've now heard from Brian himself, who tells me that FIDE's misspelling of his name goes back at least as far as 1981, when he was awarded the IM title, and received a certificate made out to "Donnely". He seems very forgiving about it, but perhaps we can get this put right.

Hastings retain the McArthur Cup

30 Jun 2003

In the final of the SCCA McArthur Cup competition, played at Hastings yesterday, Hastings & St Leonards beat Lewes 3½–2½. This is, I think, the fourth year in a row that Hastings have won the cup. It's worthy of note that Lewes are beginning to do well in the competition; a few years ago they didn't bother to enter because the cause was felt to be hopeless.

Revised rules

14 Jun 2003

The latest revision of the rules that were accepted at the May AGM are now available. These have been reordered, renumbered and generally tidied up.

The games section

12 Jun 2003

For the whole of the past season, the welcoming preamble at the top of this page included the optimistic sentence: "And in due course I hope to include some of the more interesting games played in our competitions." I expected to have to fend off chessplayers bearing game scores, insisting I publicize their magnificent victories.

Did they rush forward at the opportunity? They did not. All one's cajoling and encouragement came to naught. So I have resolved that this situation shall not persist. In order to force decent games out of the ignoble obscurity in which they have been languishing, I have inaugurated the games section with one of my more horrible losses of the past season.

I will accept no more excuses. Send me good games!

13 Jun 2003

The strategy worked. The low ruse I employed has drawn forth two exceedingly interesting games played in division 1 this season. My thanks to Charlie Linford and Bernard Cafferty, who came up with the goods. But I know there is more good material out there. Send it in!

20 Jun 2003

I cajoled Martin Costley into supplying an item for the games section. He has chosen one of his losses, and comments, "This is the least awful of the games I played this season – it only contains two gross blunders." Such modesty is both unusual and admirable in a chess player.

24 Jun 2003

The latest offering for the games section comes from Chris Howell. "No modesty here!" he writes in his covering note. Nor is modesty required for such a neat bit of work.

25 Jun 2003

The games section has acquired two more items. The first features an encounter between Joe Fraser, one of the league's promising juniors, and David Graham, one of its formidable old hands; the other is a clash between two of the titans of division 1, Mark Broom and David Howell.

Summertime blues

7 Jun 2003

It's that time of year again. After six months of hustle and bustle, the league goes into a spell of what biologists call aestivation – a period of suspended activity brought on by the summer heat. Was there ever a time when chess players quit the country in droves to spend long, lazy vacations in Menton or Nice? It doesn't ring true, somehow.

Anyway, this has brought me to thinking. Would there be much interest in beginning a summer competition? The format should be different from the league proper; more lightweight and summery. So I have in mind teams of four players, which would make it possible for the whole team to travel in one car. And each board would play two quickplay games, with 40 minutes on the clock, swapping colours after the first one. The eligibility rules should be as simple as possible, i.e. players can appear for one team only.

Would anybody be interested in such a thing? It's too late to organize a proper competition for this year, of course, but if a few clubs are attracted to the idea, we could arrange one or two friendly matches to try to get the format sorted out. I'm sure we could arrange hospitality at Lewes for any team who might be willing to make the experiment.

League history

31 May 2003

A new page has been added to the history section, listing all the clubs who have competed in the league, with the years they played and the divisions they played in. It makes interesting reading. It is perhaps not surprising that a place as small as Anstye can no longer find a team, but will we ever again see a chess club in Burgess Hill? When will another commercial team such as American Express or Sun Alliance enter the lists? Where have all the school sides gone? For those who have ears to hear, our recent social history speaks from this page. Ponder it well.

Sussex chess history: a gory tale

21 May 2003

Over at the Chess Cafe website there is an interesting article by Edward Winter, one of the most painstaking chess historians on the planet, about the murder in 1911 of the Hastings chess player Frederick William Womersley. Well worth reading, it was posted today, and should be in its front-page "Skittles Room" slot for the next week; after that it presumably goes into the archive, in which case you'll have to root about for it.

PS 16 Jun 2003

The article now appears in the Chess Cafe archive.

League AGM

21 May 2003

The AGM of the league was held yesterday at the Royal Oak, Lewes. There was the usual combination of goodwill, common sense, slightly loopy discussions and totally surreal interventions that render these occasions so unmissable. It is the measure of a strong democracy that everyone can cheerfully get along together despite the firm conviction of one half of the room that the other half is utterly bonkers, and vice versa.

The minutes of the meeting will appear here in due course. I can report, though, the outcome of the two proposed changes to the rules. The proposal from Lewes to adopt quickplay finishes was defeated. But the meeting did accept the Hastings proposal that the penalty for a team defaulting an entire match should be increased from half a match point to a whole match point (still with the requirement to play the match at a later date).

While the league silverware was assembled for the annual presentations, I was able to get hold of the division 2 tankard, and transcribe the list of past holders. So now the tankards page is complete.

Which reminds me that I haven't yet publicized the names of the winners of the match tankards for this season. The winner of the Best Match Average Tankard was Edward Hamlyn (Eastbourne), with 7/7 (100%); Edward also won the division 4 tankard. Peter Harbott (Horsham) won the division 1 tankard, with 7/8 (87.5%); Peter Farr (The Args) won the division 2 tankard, with 6½/8 (81.25%); and David Oates (Worthing) won the division 3 tankard, with 8/9 (88.89%).

PS 10 Jun 2003

Read the minutes.

MSCL at Hastings

8, 12 Jan 2003

Over the New Year there were some good performances from Mid-Sussex League players at the Hastings congress. In the élite 9-round Challengers Tournament Robin Moss (Hastings) ended on 5; Bernard Cafferty (Hastings), David Howell (Crowborough) and Charlie Linford (The Holt) on 4½; James Manson (Horsham) and Francis Rayner (Hastings) on 4; David Barraclough (Haywards Heath) and David Fryer (East Grinstead) on 3½.

At the Golden Jubilee Weekend, in the Top Tournament Richard Almond (Hastings) was joint winner (4/5). Gino Scamardella (Lewes) was joint 3rd (3/5) in the Major Tournament. Francisco Caro (Eastbourne) was the winner of the Minor Tournament (4½/5), with Grant Bucher (Crowborough) and Bob Davidson (Brighton) coming joint 2nd (4/5). In the Beginners Tournament Neil Carter (East Grinstead) was joint 2nd (7½/10); and Kieran Fryer (East Grinstead) took the under-60 grading prize (5/10).

At the other (non-Golden Jubilee) Weekend, Duncan Badham (Brighton) was joint 3rd in the Minor Tournament (4½/5). In the Novice Tournament Paul Buswell (Hastings), David Lee (Brighton) and Neil Tasker (Brighton) shared 2nd place (4½/5). The Junior Tournament was won by Adam Prescott (Crowborough) (5½/6); Joe Fraser (East Grinstead) was 2nd (5/6); and Abi Fryer (East Grinstead) and Ellie Hayden (Crowborough) shared 3rd place (3½/6).

Arrivals and departures

16 Sep 2002

There have been a number of arrivals and departures from the league since the end of the 2001/2 season.

We say goodbye to two clubs. Legal & General, who always had a small membership, dwindled below critical mass, and disbanded. Bognor & Arun, who participated in the league under the condition that they played all their matches away from home, finally wearied of the travelling; they continue to play in the South-West Sussex Chess League.

Two clubs have each dropped one team from the league. Hassocks have given up their second team, which was relegated to division 4 at the end of last season. Crawley have lost all their strongest players, and have dropped their division 1 team; they still have two teams in division 3.

Three clubs have entered extra teams. Crowborough 5, East Grinstead 4 and Hastings 2 will all be added to division 4.

Revised rules for grading

24 Jul 2002

A circular letter to graders from Chris Majer, BCF Director of Grading, reminds us, among other things, that there are changes in the eligibility conditions for games submitted for grading from 6 June 2002 onwards. These changes, set out below, simplify the choice of time limits for regular-rate games. They don't affect the league directly, but they may be of interest to clubs for their internal games. For example, whereas formerly you had to set conditions such as "30 moves in 60 minutes, set clocks back 30 minutes, and play to a finish", now it is legitimate to specify "All moves in 90 minutes". But do notice that there is no need to change any of the timings you have been using for your competitions if you don't want to: if it was legal before, it's legal now.

a. The FIDE Laws of Chess are used.
b. One of the following rates of play is complied with:
1. Rapidplay
i. each player must have a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes for all of his moves. This includes both the initial time control and any subsequent time controls or quickplay finish.
ii. when Fischer (cumulative) mode is used then, using the assumption that the duration of the game is 60 moves, each player must have a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes.
2. regular Play
Each player has more time than the maximum defined above for Rapidplay.
The time limits in condition (b) may be reduced for tournaments that consist solely of younger players. In addition, by prior agreement with the Director of Grading, if the rate of play is the maximum for Rapidplay then it may be Graded as regular Play.

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