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MxB vs Derbyshire match report

MxB vs Derbyshire match report

Amynstor
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The match report for the final round is in part a delayed one as it should have been published on 14th June. However as it well known the first round of group matches was aborted due to problems on the chess.com platform. In order to maintain integrity your author makes no changes to the preamble the only additions are comment on respective teams line-ups, how the match developed and post match commentary.

Mx are the only county to submit 2 teams in the Open Division of the ECF's new competition and the two have been kept apart. MxA play in the D1 who if qualifying for KO Stage will challenge for the Open/Major Open title. MxB's division will see KO qualifiers compete for Challengers/Minor title. Putting MxA to one side, MxB have been grouped with Berkshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. MxB therefore are the only 2nd team competing against 1st teams. Is it a case of a tiger taking on heffalumps?

Mx having 2 teams of differing strengths in same competition is not new nor is Mx's 2nd team playing against other counties 1st teams. Even though the Controller has seen fit to keep the two Mx teams apart there has been one occasion when the two did play against each other!

The SCCU has the longest running county championship competition the first title being contested in 1893-94. Over time due to the disparity in strength between the various counties - at its height a maximum of 21 counties competed - the Union came up with various competitions to ensure strong and weak counties could genuinely obtain honours. The 1970's saw a drastic overhaul of competitions and until grading bands introduced in 1992 it was not unusual for weak counties 1st teams to play against strong counties 2nd teams. Matches of this sort would usually take place in the Union's 2nd division (Montague Jones Trophy). The sole occasion the 2 Mx teams faced off was 1990-91 when MxII gained promotion after winning won the Montague Jones title in 1989-90 (SCCU D2). In short if observers think that MxB would be outclassed they really should think again as Mx's seconds have pedigree against 1st's! 

Any fear that Mx would be totally outclassed was put to bed when their opening (last) match pitted them against Derbyshire. When looking at the respective line ups it is clear that Derbyshire really should have entered the u1825 but since they wished to be inclusive their hand was forced so have been brave enough to enter the Open. Consequently they may be (have been) the whipping boys of the group. Although Mx would be seen as overwhelming favourites it must always remembered that Mx B are in a division with first teams thus just because they outgraded Derbyshire they would be conscious that at some stage in the competition they could find themselves in the same position and if not they will certainly have their own challenges, Oxfordshire for one is to be watched. After all what is they say, never judge anyone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. See poem here

As the event has shown this early observation was well off the mark as to the last match of the Group Stage MxB have been a force of nature as they have won, won again and as the statistics hinted would win once more! (Mx Team Ave.:164 Derbyshire Team Ave.: 118  Predicted score: 11.5-0.5).

Your author does not have the luxury of advising how the match unfolded as rather than being a non-playing captain he played! Now those of you who captain teams know that it affects your game no end. If being a playing OTB captain is difficult it is even worse being a playing online captain! The problem is that you are constantly bombarded with messages from players who have problems through to updates. All these prove distracting so it came as no surprise that amidst all these incoming messages that the draw offer made by opponent was missed and with it the game! It is not the norm to play but I was press-ganged into playing due to a number of players becoming unavailable at short notice. This seemed to be the order of the day as the Controller reported, "...it has been a day of substitutions and revised board orders. Please ensure your players consult the matchcards before going to chess.com to ensure they know who their opponent is as this is fundamental to the work around!" The final part of his message relates to a bad ad that kept popping up from chess.com earlier in the day. There was concern that if it happened during play there would be significant numbers of disconnections. Unlike the first major problem chess.com were on top of the problem and it was resolved well in advance of the commencement of the round. If individuals were critical of chess.com due to what happened at the beginning of the stage it is hoped that they will not be churlish and give credit when due as any potential crisis averted. I doubt though that the 'lichess remoaners' will be courteous enough to do so though.

Anyway the personal problems of your author aside the team were professional enough to record the victory that saw them achieve the grand slam. The opening default win for Nigel in conjunction with wins for Manmay, Ajoy, Leon and Bill coupled with solid draws for Colin, Jason and Jack saw MxB reach the winning line. It is quite possible that fatigue had set in as the team did fall short of the par score but the key thing is that victory was attained so that MxB are one of the few teams with a 100% record, the others being Northumberland (Open Division 1B), Northumberland (u1825 Group A) and MxB (u1825 Group B).

Well done guys!

See full results here

The games links are give here for your perusal:

Bd1. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236680658
Bd2. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236682321
Bd3. Default win to MX
Bd4. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236700459
Bd5. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236681484
Bd6. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236678089
Bd7. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236724668
Bd8. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236682191
bd9. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236665119
Bd10. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236713437
Bd11. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236704777
Bd12. https://www.chess.com/live/game/5236682724

Other results:
Berkshire vs Gloucestershire Berkshire win 7-6

Oxfordshire vs Warwickshire Oxfordshire win 7-4

Final League Standing:

Position County MP GP
1 Middlesex 5 41.5
2 Oxfordshire 3 34.5
3 Gloucestershire 2.5 28.5
4 Berkshire 2 29
5 Warwickshire 1.5 25.5
6 Derbyshire 1 22

MxB had won their group with a match to spare so just a question of whether they could go through the group undefeated thereby secure the grand slam which they do. Four counties go through the stage undefeated; Mx have 50% and Northumberland the other 50%! MxB are therefore in good shape for the challenges before them in the KO phase beginning with Shropshire. Shropshire have been averaging 143 during the group phase so will have to go some to overturn a MxB side who expect to maintain their 160+ average. MxB could be confident Mx would have a presence at finals day where they would meet the winner of Cumbria vs. Oxfordshire. This match harder to call as there is a grading difference of just under 10pts between the respective counties: Oxfordshire 156, Cumbria 147. If MxB were removed from Division 2 the results show just how tight the two groups have been hence the difficulty to call. Oxfordshire possibly edge it not only on average grade but have revenge as a motive they would surely wish to meet and overturn MxB but it would not be surprising if tie-break came into play to separate the two. Notwithstanding speculation MxB must do the business first against Shropshire and if so will be confident whomsoever they play in the final should they get there.

Next fixture 8th August KO SF

MxB vs. Shropshire

Cumbria vs. Oxfordshire

Player performance (min 3games)

Finally MxB player performance. With Raghu and Yogit absent Leon took the opportunity to cement his lead. It is looking as though he will be crowned top performer especially if he secures at least a draw in next fixture.

1st Leon 4.5/5

2nd= Jason / Manmay 3.5/5

4th= Raghu / Jack 3/5

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