5 September 2020
I kid you not. We won by 60½ to 46½ in a 107-board match. (If games won by default are excluded, we still won by 52½ to 43½.)
The event: The ECF online challenge match between North of England and The South, played on the Chess.com platform on Sat 5 September: time control 60 minutes + 15 sec increment. It was the return leg of a North v South challenge of which the first leg was played in 1894.
The North’s team included 2 International Masters, 4 Fide Masters and 1 player from Limewood & Scarcroft (who seemed to be the sole representative from the Leeds League).
The South team included 1 Grand Master and sundry lesser titles including Woman FIDE Master Petra Nunn who so recently tangled with our Paul May.
At the lower end of the scale Northern ECF grades went down to 17 and Southern grades to 28.
At Board 3 for the North was York man James Adair of York RI who checkmated Michael Harris of Bury St Edmunds in 26 moves. This was a high octane game full of aggression with high risk on both sides – no pussyfooting around – you can play through the game here.
At board 4 Northerner James Moreby was playing against PotatoetheCat, that being the ID of FM Andrew Lewis who clearly comes from the Spiro Agnew School of Spelling. Limewood members who played in the 2013 Leeds Congress may remember James Moreby as the mop-headed 9-year-old who drew with Zana Aziz in the Intermediate. Zana caused a diplomatic row by disputing long and loudly the Arbiter’s decision that the result was a draw by repetition. Seven years on, James is a Fide Master and it is unlikely that he and Zana will cross paths again anytime soon. His floormop hairdo has mushroomed into a style reminiscent of 17th century bigwigs such as the English composer Henry Purcell.
The online commentary
Online commentary on the event was provided by GM Matthew Sadler (ECF grade 281) and WIM Natasha Regan who clearly know their onions in talking about chess. But they were operating under severe difficulties.
To start with there was the labyrinthine structures of the Chess.com and ECF LMS platforms to be contended with. Then providing a sensible commentary on a match with 107 boards would be a daunting test for anyone even with an efficient support team but they seemed to be having to do it all by themselves. For example, to give up-to-date scores Natasha had to peridocally stop and tot the figures up from scratch. Surely a volunteer could have been found to monitor the overall position constantly and have accurate figures and individual results ready for her?
It also didn’t help that the commentators were not too comfortable with the technology and were hindered by its limitations. In trying to switch between different games, Matthew was forever lamenting, “I’m not getting it up!” He also kept hitting the limit on the number of tabs he could have open and had to take up time closing a few before he could show the game he wanted to show us.
Most players were using fanciful Chess.com IDs – such as SmoothAsAHedgehog (IM Andrew Horton), Slide-Away (IM James Adair), PeshkaTheGreat (FM Yichen Han), Dairyqueen10 (WIM Petra Nunn), HousingCrisis, Nutflush, Scafell_Pike, BehindBluEyes, HorseyChess, BreezyCamel and many others . This was an added level of difficulty for the commentators and maybe they could have done with a little more preparation (and support) here. It doesn’t look too professional to be asking “Who is PotatoeTheCat?” and finding it’s a Fide Master.
Overall the commentary was a noble effort but it looked like a craft that is still in its infancy. It will surely develop and improve as lessons are learned and relevant skills are sharpened.
You can find out more about the event at: ECF North
And the event itself? An excellent initiative. More such, please!
Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily those of the Club.