County Challenge Major

The first tentative steps towards returning to over-the-board County competition are taken with regional challenge matches in two sections, Major (average 2000) and Minor (average 1600, with uppler limit 2000).

The entrants in the Major are just two teams Essex, and Kent Haddrell who will play two matches, home and away. Teams are eight boards.

The Union stages of the County Champions will take place – October 2021 to March 2022, with the ECF National knockout stages April to July 2022.

Navigation: Challenge Major | Challenge Minor

Date Home Team v Away Team
4 Sep 2021 Kent Haddrell 3½-4½ Essex
25 Sep 2021 Essex 5-3 Kent Haddrell

Played 4 September 2021

  Kent Haddrell v Essex Major
1 Cliff Chandler 2298 (W) 1-0 Ivan Myall 2028 (B)
2 Robert Starkey 2161 1-0 John Moore 2013
3 David Tucker 2095 0-1 Ian Hunnable 1966
4 Jim Johnson 2043 1-0 Chris Hampton 1923
5 Jerry Anstead 2005 0-1 Martin McCall 1915
6 Brendan O’Gorman 1844 ½-½ Colin Ramage 1908
7 Chris Bernard 1818 0-1 Paul Kenning 1890
8 Geoff Bishop 1735 0-1 Michael Spurr 1863
  Average 1999.88 3½-4½ Average 1938.25

“A steal” was the verdict of Match Captain, Mark Murrell. Playing away to Kent in this average 2000 section, Essex found themselves out-rated over the top five boards and overall by an average 62 points a board. Kent had managed the average rating limit of 2000 to a nice degree, with a team averaging 1999.875; one more rating point would hit the 2000 limit exactly.

Team skipper Paul Kenning reports:

We had an excellent win against a very strong Kent team at Dartford on Saturday. I felt there was a little trepidation when we arrived and saw the team sheet. We were seriously out-rated on the top five boards and several of us had not played OTB in perhaps 18 months.

We needn’t have been concerned, it was a really spirited performance with wins from Michael Spurr, Martin McCall and myself contributing to a 3-1 lead before a critical win on board 3 from Ian Hunnable against an opponent rated 129 points higher than himself (game follows with light notes). Colin Ramage then unselfishly agreed a draw in what was perhaps a winning position to take the match over the winning line. Kent won the last two games to give respectability to the score: 4½-3½.

Essex and Kent are the only  entrants in this section, so winning the away leg gives Essex the edge going into the return match at Wanstead on 25 September.

Played 25 September 2021

  Essex Major v Kent Haddrell
1 Hodgson, John H 2103 (2215) (W) ½-½ Chandler, Cliff R (B) 2298 ()
2 Cawdery, John 2081 (2086) 1-0 Starley, Robert 2161 (2103)
3 Myall, Ivan J 2028 (2013)  1-0 Johnson, Jim A 2043 ()
4 Moore, John C 2013 (1893)  ½-½ Anstead, Jerry 2005 ()
5 Hughes, Gavin James 2013 (2050)  ½-½ Gluckman, Tim 1885 (2005)
6 Hampton, Christopher 1923 (1833)  ½-½ Heard, Andrew H 1855 ()
7 McCall, Martin 1915 (1975)  0-1 Bernard, Chris PJ 1818 (1818)
8 Ramage, Colin R 1908 (1855)  1-0 Bishop, Geoffrey L 1735 (1563)
  Average 1998 5-3 Average 1975

In the double header Challenge Major, Essex held the advantage of having pulled off the smash and grab raid at Dartford three weeks earlier (4½-3½ Away win) and needed only to draw the match. In the words of the late Bob Wade, the best way to play for a draw is to play your hardest to win.

Kent were slightly down on their strength of three week ago, though fielding the same top two boards and four others from the first match, while Essex were stronger, only two points short of the maximum average (2000).

The Wanstead stars, John Hodgson and recent recruit John Cawdery, drew the teeth of the Kent top order. Then wins from Ivan Myall and Colin Ramage (who had selflessly given up winning prospects in the first match to secure the draw that won the match) were bolstered by draws on Boards 4-6, with only one casualty, on Board 7, for a Home win by 5-3.

Essex win The County Challenge Major 4-0.