End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

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Jonathan Rogers
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End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue May 14, 2019 4:12 pm

...in which JR explains how four teams, always likely to be relegated, were in fact relegated, and why most of them will likely come back up again

Oxford

Oxford had had a nice time of it since being repromoted to division one in 2013/14. They ought to have been relegated again during that season, but finished 13th and were reprieved after the withdrawal of Wood Green 2. That enabled them to keep their star junior, Justin Tan, and together with other reinforcements (eg soon-to -be IM David Martins from Portugal) even managed to be in the championship pool in 2014/15 and again in 2017/18. (They would have been regarded as number nine seeds this year, incidentally, which, had they lived up to it, would have made the starting pools look more evenly balanced).

But last year's success papered over the cracks; it had been achieved despite the recruitment of Marcus Harvey by Wood Green, and over the summer of 2018 Wood Green added Justin Tan to their Oxford check out basket while Martins returned to Portugal. As fate would have it, their first match of the season was against Wood Green, and even a weakened Wood Green side made 7-1 with worrying ease. But Oxford showed considerable determination in a difficult season. An eighth round win against relegation rivals in Celtic Tigers gave real prospects of survival after all, but that pairing meant that they had to cope with both a reinforced 3Cs and a reinforced Grantham Sharks in the last weekend and that proved too much. They won to order in the last round against Midland Monarchs, but by then they had to rely on Celtic Tigers slipping up again. That they did - see above - but unfortunately for Oxford, North East England were in no state to take advantage.

Prospects for immediate repromotion: more likely than not.

West is Best

The other team from the original Pool A which immediately made a surprise win in round eight against one of the Pool B teams, namely 3Cs themselves. This was a timely pairing (given the likelihood of 3Cs being stronger in the final weekend) but it would have made more difference if Oxford had benefited fom it: West is Best carried just one draw from its three matches in Pool A and still had too much to do, making just one draw in the final weekend. Name change notwithstanding, basically every player in the first team in the final weekend had come from the orignal South Wales Dragons team and relegation marked the extended stay of the Dragons in division one from the start of the 2014/5 season, during which they too were once reprieved (having finished 13th in 2014/5 but saved by the late withdrawal of the e2e4 team) and benefited from the recruitment of Katarzyna Toma. Had everyone made the same results on other boards as Dragons stalwart Sven Zeidler on board eight, all would have been fine after all.

Prospects for immediate repromotion: they have a number of able but slightly offbeat players who are well suited to division two. They could win virtually every game on board eight for starters, and the question is rather whether they will win the division.

North East England

To be honest, I have been impressed that NE England have twice earned promotion from the second division and I had rather expected them to finish lower in this year's first division (well, it's true; they even somehow managed to lose Tim Wall in the process of repromotion). They then had an excellent pool A, beating West is Best and bringing two other daws with them to the final relegation pool; where, alas they were roughly treated by the teams from Pool B. Their best chance was in round nine when they took advantage from a remarkable lapse from Peter Roberson to give a close match to Grantham, and Lynda Smith added an impressive win on board eight, but Grantham's Peter Batchelor's neat 43...e3 on board five dashed their last hopes. They seemed ready to go home by the last round: Celtic Tigers could hardly have dreamed of such compliant opposition in their own difficult circumstances.

Prospects for immediate repromotion: do they even want it? Their good results against the teams coming down with them and previous successful promotion attempts give cause for encouragement, but there seem to be a number of stronger division two teams, eg Anglian Avengers and ADs, waiting to compete with them as well.

Alba

There are generally few surprises by the very end of a 4NCL season. Perhaps Alba finishing last counts as the greatest surprise this season. They had just survived in twelth place last year, but it had been their first year in division one, and the addition of Manx Liberty could, from their perspective. be somehow compensated for in "relegation battle" terms by the weakening of Oxford. They too scored a win and two draws against the other teams in Pool a who followed them into the relegation pool, though they would presumably have hoped for more; and they too were roughly treated by the teams joining the pool from pool B. The crucial loss was, again, that against Celtic Tigers, in round 10, where they got off to the worst possible start by losing quickly with the Kings Gambit White on board two. The off beat opening on board seven (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Qb6) seemed to qualify as one which is "no good even when it works" but luckily a draw was still on offer. And this was their best match of the weekend. The match might have been saved on board five, where Alba had an extra pawn in the ending, but the Magnus Carlsen knack hasn't filtered down that far just yet, and Alba really needed to win anyway.

Prospects for immediate repromotion: very likely, indeed possible champions of division two if the same team continues.

(a couple of words edited in the Oxford section. Scroll down the thread and all will be revealed)
Last edited by Jonathan Rogers on Wed May 15, 2019 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue May 14, 2019 4:19 pm

Excellent reports. Can anyone dig out the games JR has referred to? [43...e3 is particularly tantalising]

Any chance of a report (or even a brief survey) of division 2 (I assume you are not going to report on divisions 3 and 4?) and the likely prospects of the teams that have been promoted staying in division one next season (assuming no major changes)?

Maybe even some thoughts on the teams yo-yo-ing between divisions 1 and 2?

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue May 14, 2019 4:30 pm

I think I will give someone else a chance with division two ... For what it's worth, I think all the promoted teams are likely to go down again. They are on the whole weaker than the teams coming down from the first division. If one of them does survive, it will likely be at the expense of Celtic Tigers. Gonzaga might have the best chance among the promoted teams of avoiding the drop if only because they are eager to experience division one for the first time and keen to recruit; but really considerable recruitment - not just, say, two players - would seem to be required. They were often the highest rated team in division two this last year but finished fourth, and lost to two of the experienced 4NCL teams being promoted with them; and div 1 may still come as a shock to some of them.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue May 14, 2019 4:33 pm

You fooled me with that other post. :D

Do you think the size and balance of the divisions is about right at present?

LawrenceCooper
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by LawrenceCooper » Tue May 14, 2019 4:36 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 4:12 pm
But last year's success papered over the cracks; it had been achieved despite the poaching of Marcus Harvey by Wood Green
I should have known that it was too much to expect that you would limit your digs at Wood Green to those reports that involved their team :?

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue May 14, 2019 4:50 pm

Far too much!

Objectively, what is wrong with the statement?

Andy Stoker
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Andy Stoker » Tue May 14, 2019 4:57 pm

I haven't a clue about the rights and wrongs - but "poach" rather stood out. Think Korky the Kat and the bailiff with a club to deter poachers.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by LawrenceCooper » Tue May 14, 2019 7:52 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 4:50 pm
Far too much!

Objectively, what is wrong with the statement?
"Poaching is when an agent or a club lures in a young player in a slightly, or very unethical manner."

You obviously have your reasons for singling out my team and this player but it does seem somewhat unnecessary.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue May 14, 2019 9:15 pm

LawrenceCooper wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 7:52 pm
Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 4:50 pm
Far too much!

Objectively, what is wrong with the statement?
"Poaching is when an agent or a club lures in a young player in a slightly, or very unethical manner."

You obviously have your reasons for singling out my team and this player but it does seem somewhat unnecessary.
Not sure about the definition (source?) but for the sake of clarity am happy to say that I do not suggest that you or anyone else from your team acted unethically. I actually hold you in high regard on such things.

But I think the word poaching is used a little more casually than you suggest, especially when stronger teams recruit very strong players from relatively weak teams. Sometimes other teams have accused us of poaching their players and I don't think they meant to suggest impropriety (well, not all of them at least...)

Tell you what; if anyone from Oxford 1, who have now seen two of their brightest prospects transfer to you over the last two seasons, also object to my use of the word, then I will amend it without further argument.

MatthewParry
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by MatthewParry » Wed May 15, 2019 7:28 am


Not sure about the definition (source?) but for the sake of clarity am happy to say that I do not suggest that you or anyone else from your team acted unethically. I actually hold you in high regard on such things.

But I think the word poaching is used a little more casually than you suggest, especially when stronger teams recruit very strong players from relatively weak teams. Sometimes other teams have accused us of poaching their players and I don't think they meant to suggest impropriety (well, not all of them at least...)
I suspect that it very much depends on perspective. When I was a fiercely competitive captain, it was certainly an irregular verb- I would always recruit players and others would always poach from me! It may in certain circumstances have negative connotations, but in the context of Loz, I can't imagine anyone (of sense) taking that view.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Wed May 15, 2019 9:40 am

Have received a "mild" objection from one player from Oxford and so the matter is settled now. But for what it is worth, I still think the word "poaching" is commonly used in transfers without necessarily denoting any impropriety, especially when it is the stronger, more ambitious team recruiting the best players from the weaker, and that was certainly what I meant in this instance.

Evidently Matthew is familiar with "Yes, Minister"!

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed May 15, 2019 12:14 pm

How common is it for people to move between teams for reasons other than a team ceasing to exist?

Is it more common for people to move on their own initiative, or be head-hunted? Do ambitious players look to join strong and successful teams, or do some players have a reputation for being fiercely loyal to the team they play for?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 15, 2019 12:22 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:14 pm
Do ambitious players look to join strong and successful teams, or do some players have a reputation for being fiercely loyal to the team they play for?
I would have thought a mixture. Ambitious junior and female players may look to play in a squad with a team or teams in the top 2 divisions and may even be offered incentives. Someone with plausible Norm ambitions would look to play in Division 1. Otherwise it can sometimes depend on geography. Those within easy reach of Maidenhead might prefer a division 3 team next season to making the trip to Daventry.

It can be dispiriting to play in a team where the rest seem to have given up playing properly. So that may affect some decisions to move.

Thomas Rendle
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Thomas Rendle » Wed May 15, 2019 12:30 pm

There can be lots of reasons to move I suppose (from a top 2 divisions' perspective), juniors are often rapidly improving and can be expected to be 'poached' by teams in a higher division who can offer more opportunities (or funding!?). Most players are loyal if they enjoy playing for a team and there is a good team-spirit. If these things don't exist then I expect loyalty levels to be pretty low!
I wouldn't really object to the term 'poaching' by the way. In my view it doesn't imply any wrong-doing, unlike say 'tapped-up'. But then again since players don't really have contracts (or agents!) the whole issue is rather different.

Ian Thompson
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Re: End of season, snapshots of gloom, part four

Post by Ian Thompson » Wed May 15, 2019 12:41 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:14 pm
How common is it for people to move between teams for reasons other than a team ceasing to exist?
Leaving a team because it's been relegated would be an obvious reason for a less loyal player moving.

A team captain bringing in more paid players and not selecting previously regularly playing amateur players would be another.

A third would be that a player improves and decides they ought to be playing in a higher division than their current team is in.

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