Round-up of the League Season
The season came to an exciting finale with the 1st division title decided in the last match of the season, a 2.5 - 2.5 draw between Hastings & St. Leonard’s 1 and Worthing 1, which gave the title to Hastings by 0.5 of a point over Horsham 1, with Worthing left in 3rd.
To show how close it was, a 3 - 2 win would have given Worthing the title by 0.5 of a game point. It was a 2nd title in a row for Hastings. Fielding their strongest line-up for the two key matches seemed to make the key difference this year.
At the other end of the table, Lewes 1 and Brighton 2 found the going tough and filled the relegation positions. Brighton 1 meanwhile had a fairly average season, but it was great to see a return to the scene for Luke Rutherford, after an absence of some years from the league.
By contrast to the Division 1 finale, the key match in the 2nd Division turned out to be Lewes 2’s 3 - 2 win against Worthing 3, back in October. These two teams seemed to be a class above the rest in an otherwise evenly matched division.
The 3rd division was won by Sussex University with a striking 9/10, their only defeat being to 2nd placed Hastings & St. Leonard’s 4. It was very pleasing to see the University bounce back after a difficult previous season, aided by a strong board 1 in the familiar shape of Hastings player Ollie Willson.
The Rapidplay was won for the 2nd year in a row by Lewes. With 6 teams competing, hopefully this league has now become established, giving competitive opportunities to less experienced players. New team Collyers 6th Form College managed a 50% record.
The change to 3 divisions led to some misgivings as to whether the resources of clubs would be over-stretched with the increased number of fixtures. While some undoubtedly found it harder to fill team places, it was encouraging that the number of boards defaulted reduced to 12, out of 825 scheduled games, compared to 13 over 640 games in the previous season.
Finally, the new time controls represented a significant change for the league and it seems that most teams adapted fairly well. The overwhelming majority of games were played with the new incremental time limit, with only a handful at the old time limits.
Without wishing to drown this report in statistics, a snippet of interest may be the average player grades in each of Divisions 1,2 & 3, which were respectively 173, 142 and 120. It’s a big leap from Div 2 to Div 1 in particular. Grades aren’t everything though, as the leading teams in the top 2 divisions were not by any means the highest graded.
Congratulations to all of this season’s trophy winners, and good luck to all for the next season.