Division 2 Winners Holmes Chapel Knights
The second division lived up to its reputation of being the tightest division. However with the strongest set of top boards for many years newly promoted Kidsgrove A knew they were in for a tough season when it became apparent that Steve Mutch would play only a few games.
With the season drawing to a close, Knights managed to break clear, leaving a race for second place. The music stopped with Broughton Arms and Rooks tied for second place. It could be that both are promoted as it would enable us to spread our 27 teams in a healthier 9 - 9 - 9 manner between the divisions rather than in this years 8 - 8 - 11. Of course until th AGM we will not know how many teams we will get in season 2005/06.
Division 3 Winners Creda B
Creda B and Stafford B set the early pace as the Leek teams were busy taking points off each other, but as the season progressed the Leek sides moved up the table like a pack of hounds in pursuit of the leaders. Stafford B were swallowed up, but Creda B hung on to win by a point from Leek D.
8 Board Cup Winners Cheddleton
No board count dramas this year, but it was good to see the entry increase to seven clubs as for too long this competition has been seen as the preserve of only those clubs with first division teams.
U135 Cup Winners Holmes Chapel
This competition definitely didn't go according to plan. Holders Newcastle went out to last years defeated finalists Creda, who in turn lost to Holmes Chapel in the final.
U110 Cup Winners Cheddleton & Leek
The U110 cup featured board count to resolve three matches, with Creda managing to experience both ends of the procdure, defeating Fenton before losing to Kidsgrove. These two matches featured wins for the lower graded top board.
Broughton Arms made an impressive re-entry to the league, finishing joint second in division two. They were particularly strong on the top boards, with Simon Hood being the divisions dominant board one and Gordon Parker finishing undefeated.
Cheddleton & Leek
In the Cheddleton half of the club the C team had the most noteworthy season. Spurred on by the performances of the Yu twins on the bottom boards they looked for a long time as if they might make it a Cheddleton 1 - 2 in the top division. Although they faded a little towards the end it was still a fine performance. Meanwhile the B and D teams had to play the vast majority of their matches without the services of their intended top boards, and this was enough to leave them always fighting for first division survival. Leading light in relative terms was Yangshan Yu who easily out-performed her 109 grade.
On the Leek side all the teams provided tough opposition. Perhaps the A team shaded the honours for best performance, running the more experienced D team close for a promotion spot. Anne-Marie Moruzzi starred in terms in outperforming her grade. Matthew Wyza definitely had a season of two halves, being hardly able to do anything right in the first half but doing nothing wrong in the second. A good example of the virtue of keeping trying rather than hiding after a bad run.
The promotion winning B team were Credas star performers, holding off sustained challenges from Stafford B and sundry Leek teams to lift the third division title. Main man was the C teams John Newton who easily out-performed his grade.
The A gave Fenton their first taste of second division chess, and although they finished seventh they certainly did not disgrace themselves and will hope for another crack at this division as soon as possible. the B teams Richard Tunstall was the clubs leading performer.
Andy Raeburns first full season for several years was a big factor in Knights successful promotion run in a good season for Holmes Chapel Tuesday - Rooks finished joint second in division two and the the U135 cup team won their event. Holmes Chapel Thursday, more commonly known as Holmes Chapel Kings or Holmes Chapel A, found the going in division one unexpectedly tough.
The B teams John Gater showed himself to be massively undergraded as he piled up the wins, whilst the re-emergence of Gareth Burndred banished fears of defaults. The highlight though was probably the cup-final appearance of the U110 team.
Dave Risley scoring over 50% on board one despite being graded under 150 was an important factor in Macclesfield enjoying mid-table safety.
The D team were the clubs team of the year, improving on their wooden spoon performance of last year to finish 8 points clear of the Blind and level with Fenton B. James Rothwell had an excellent season, but was still edged out in the out-performance stakes by the B teams Steve Bruce.
Tell me why .... Stafford don't like Fridays. The A team lost all four Friday games, though they beat three of the opponents at home. The B team fared better, managing three draws and a win on their visits to the Moorlands. The most striking performance was by Guy De Visme.
|Broughton Arms||Simon Hood||173||11||186||13|
|Holmes Chapel||Andy Raeburn||145||15||167||22|
|Stafford||Guy De Visme||93||8||111||18|
John Amison's official Association site is regarded as the most stylish of the sites that have appeared this season. At the third time of asking we appear to have a league site worthy of mention to outsiders. Cheddleton too have found a webmaster in Gus Brain willing and able to keep a site fully uptodate, though it is worth mentioning that Robert Milner keeps the results section of his site updated as an alternative source should Gus' site have problems. Macclesfield's site has expanded from its original on-line advert (not to be sneered at) and now contains information about the clubs Stoke and Stockport leagues activities. Kidsgrove have acquired a site courtesy of Oliver Brock, Fentons continues under the efforts of the aforementioned John Amison and Clive Bradbury maintains Creda's site. Links to all are avilable on both my Links page and in Chingland. Newcastle also have a site, though possible bias prevents me from telling you whether it is any good. An irony of the free sharing of information necessary for the sites to flourish is that the results secretary, being based at the site-less Blind, is often one of the last to know results.
It is interesting to note that when new or prospective members of clubs are asked how they discovered the club, increasingly the answer is through the club site or the internet in general. It is also good to see new players joining clubs whose background is 'have played on the internet, would like to try over the board', rather than simply being experienced players being recycled between clubs or returning to the game after a break.
Postponements & Defaults
Problems with their venue resulted in the Blind accumulating a backlog of fixtures, which also caused some problems for opponents as they tried to fit rearrangements into their 20 game division 3 schedules. In the first division Cheddleton B were struck by a rash of early season postponements and Kings by late season ones, but otherwise the league season progressed smoothly with odd postponements readily accommodated. The only problem in the cup arose when Kidsgrove found a unique fixture list omitting their first round U110 match, which eventually was played on round 2 dates. However all was sorted in time for all finals to take place together as hoped.
Apart from defaults by the Blind mentioned elsewhere, there were 8 defaulted boards over all competitions between the other clubs - 2 each by Kidsgrove and Stafford, one each by Creda, Holmes Chapel, Leek and Newcastle. All of these were in away fixtures.