End of season musings, part two

Venues, fixtures, teams and related matters.
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Jonathan Rogers
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Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:26 pm

End of season musings, part two

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sat May 11, 2019 7:43 pm

...in which JR tries to interest you in the first division teams which are too good to go down but were not not good enough to challenge the very top teams. Stay awake at the back, now.

Guildford 2

The most impresssive team against all the other non-title contenders: 3/4 against White Rose, Wood Green, Barbican and Blackthorne, albeit that they had the advantage of playing the first three of these all on the final weekend when they are traditionally at their very best; and still they proved highly reliant on winning board eight in every case. Board eight is, after all, no problem for Guildford 2. Their women players in the final weekend included Antoaneta Stefanova (2464), Elizabeth Paehtz (2456) and Sophie Milliet (2394). Yes, just like all the other second teams, then. Roger was delighted with Matthew Wadsworth clinching the IM title in March, winning with the Reti no less, and got to relive it all in May when he - Matthew, that is - went on to clinch his first GM norm, winning with the Reti again. Roger sees his second team as a vehicle for promoting young English players, and so this success is not just a happy accident.

Wood Green 1

Perhaps the only team in the top eight to have real reason to disappoointed with their final standing. Loz recruited Daniel Fernandez and Justin Tan over the summer, to add to a squad already containing Ravi Haria, Marcus Harvey and Adam C Taylor, who made his final IM norm, and the title, this season, and so it is a squad brimming with youthful talent. In addition to Jon Speelman at the top, and the ability to play a 2400 player on board eight (because Jovanka is their woman player) they certainly had enough to put up the toughest fight against Guildford 1, and sixth would not have been the pre-season target. Mainly, it came about because for the third year in a row, they messed up against White Rose against whom they have now lost the majority of their White games over the last three encounters, an oddity which is starting to look more than merely unfortunate. But fourth was still possible had they just drawn with Cheddleton in the last round, instead of losing 3.5-4.5, and one cannot help noting that Jon Speelman settled for a draw with David Howell after apparently quite outplaying him from one of his home-made systems with Black. Something like that might happen again when there is more at stake, Loz is bound also to wonder.

Barbican 4NCL 1

Much the expected position from Barbican (sixth in the last two years), who finished behind exactly the same teams as last year (plus Manx) and again ahead of everyone else. Arguably some improvement could be observed in their 6-2 demolition of White Rose, definitely their best result of the last three seasons and in the closeness of the match against the full strength Guildford 2, but there was some disappointment at the one-sided nature of their battles against the top three teams. In 2012-3, 2014-5 and even in 2016-7, they would give the closest or second closest fights to Guildford, but in these days of continual difficulty in fielding anything approaching their best first team, their real fights are seemingly now with the teams bigger than, but closer to, their own size.

Blackthorne Russia

Finishing in the championship pool is by definition a sucess for Blackthorne, this being (I believe) only their fourth such placing in the eleven years since the pool system was introduced. Nowadays they seem less susceptible to upsets than between 2011-4, and although they suffered another at the start of this season (against the promoted Celtic Tigers) they had scope to bounce back, and took full advantage of it. With seven "likely" championship pool teams, it follows that one pool was only going to have three such teams, and Blackthorne found themselves in that pool - and with the huge help that the five other teams were all capable of beating each other, and did so. The Celtic challenge faded after the second weekend, and Blackthorne were able to qualify as the fourth team with a record low score of 5/14 matchpoints, ahead of two other teams purely on gamepoints. Their critical result, a draw with Guildford 2 in round seven, was, astonishingly, the only points - or point, rather - dropped by any of the top seven teams against any of the bottom nine throughout the whole season.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: End of season musings, part two

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun May 12, 2019 9:33 am

Thanks again Jonathan.

I have to admit that playing in a lower division it is easy to just look at the results briefly and think; Guildford still top.

I'm hoping for a preview of next season, even if round reports too much

Jim Wadsworth
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Re: End of season musings, part two

Post by Jim Wadsworth » Sun May 12, 2019 10:16 am

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 7:43 pm
Roger was delighted with Matthew Wadsworth clinching the IM title in March, winning with the Reti no less, and got to relive it all in May when he - Matthew, that is - went on to clinch his first GM norm, winning with the Reti again. Roger sees his second team as a vehicle for promoting young English players, and so this success is not just a happy accident.
Not just Roger who was delighted :D

But on Matthew's behalf, the support provided by Roger, Nigel Povah, and the rest of the Guildford squad is hugely appreciated.

(And as others have said, thanks Jonathan for these write-ups).

LawrenceCooper
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Re: End of season musings, part two

Post by LawrenceCooper » Sun May 12, 2019 11:52 am

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 7:43 pm
...in which JR tries to interest you in the first division teams which are too good to go down but were not not good enough to challenge the very top teams. Stay awake at the back, now.

Wood Green 1

Perhaps the only team in the top eight to have real reason to disappoointed with their final standing. Loz recruited Daniel Fernandez and Justin Tan over the summer, to add to a squad already containing Ravi Haria, Marcus Harvey and Adam C Taylor, who made his final IM norm, and the title, this season, and so it is a squad brimming with youthful talent. In addition to Jon Speelman at the top, and the ability to play a 2400 player on board eight (because Jovanka is their woman player) they certainly had enough to put up the toughest fight against Guildford 1, and sixth would not have been the pre-season target. Mainly, it came about because for the third year in a row, they messed up against White Rose against whom they have now lost the majority of their White games over the last three encounters, an oddity which is starting to look more than merely unfortunate. But fourth was still possible had they just drawn with Cheddleton in the last round, instead of losing 3.5-4.5, and one cannot help noting that Jon Speelman settled for a draw with David Howell after apparently quite outplaying him from one of his home-made systems with Black. Something like that might happen again when there is more at stake, Loz is bound also to wonder.
The result against White Rose this year (but admittedly not the two previous seasons) can partly be explained by the absence of Fernandez, Houska, McDonald, Harvey & Taylor due to multiple event clashes. That said it was a very competitive match and they were also missing Peter Wells and Colin McNab among others. The miserable score by white in the last three seasons in these matches is hard to explain, two seasons ago there were seven black wins and this year five. White Rose are a tough nut to crack as Manx found to their cost though so I think it's a bit disrespectful to them to claim that we messed up.

After that defeat we had a very good season, we had some good fortune to save the match against Guildford 2 but this was more than balanced out by the tragic loss on time in the final game against Cheddleton. The team added another norm and title to their collection at the final weekend and I suspect that we were the only squad with six players in norm contention going into the final weekend so it's certainly not all doom and gloom. Hopefully Jonathan's next report will focus on the massive overachievement of our second team which won five of its last eight matches including wins against the much higher rated Grantham Sharks, Celtic Tigers and Alba.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: End of season musings, part two

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sun May 12, 2019 5:16 pm

Yes, your second team overachieved. But there is not space to list every thing that every team did right! Looks like I missed what happened at the end of your Cheddleton match, though.

(Which, incidentally, is why I wish that someone with much more time on their hands would do this sort of thing. Mike T is even happy to pay!!).

Alex Holowczak
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Re: End of season musings, part two

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon May 13, 2019 9:53 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 5:16 pm
Mike T is even happy to pay.
Not sure that's true about anything. "Will begrudgingly accept that this is something money needs to be spent on" perhaps. :lol:

Mike Truran
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Re: End of season musings, part two

Post by Mike Truran » Mon May 13, 2019 10:54 pm

That's harsh. My middle name is Largesse. Or was it Large? My memory's not what it was.

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