May 24, 2024

Luton chess is back! Division 2 Trophy at the University of Bedfordshire.

Yesterday, at the Bedfordshire County Chess Association (BCCA), representatives of the league clubs, Bedford, Leighton Buzzard, Milton Keynes and our own club Luton reflected and reviewed the 2023 - 2024 season that has just ended.

Captain of the Bedfordshire County Chess team, Kevin Williamson, reported the contrast between last year's season, where Bedfordshire finished last, with the current season, where Bedfordshire qualified to progress to the Minor Counties Championship. He attributed this dramatic rise in performance, as due the return of Luton chess club players, namely, Julian Hudson, Tommy O'Brien and Daman Singh.

Last weekend, the final two rounds of the 2024 Bedfordshire Individual County Chess Championship were played at the Open University. This year, top guns Julian Hudson and Tommy O'Brien were in it to win it and both finished a highly impressive joint third on 4/6 alongside such illustrious players as thirteen times winner Steve Ledger. This is all the more remarkable, since neither Julian nor Tommy had played in this championship before. Just behind on 3.5/6 came Luton's Aleksandar Juhasz, winning 1st prize for best performance relative to rating. And when other players withdrew rather than play against much higher rated opponents, Luton's Des Welton was to strive, to seek and to find, and not to yeild. This was the best result for Luton players since Andrew Perkins won the title, forty two years ago during the 1981/82 season.

Finally, a personal review of the league just past. Since the Luton A team skipper Dixon Jones has given his thoughts in the previous post, my vantage will be from captaining Luton B team. From the outset, club secretary, Peter Montgomery and I agreed the objectives for the second team would be to give anyone who wanted to opportunity to try playing serious over-the-board chess, at a classical longer time control for rating points. Whilst the ambitious A team's trajectory was to win the league, the B team was directed for players new to the club and league. As captain, you sometimes struggle to find players willing to play home and especially away matches. That was never a problem at Luton B. Where the other clubs in the division made up teams by playing the same players on multiple sides, only one player from Luton B, was poached for Luton A. This means that I had to ocassionally turn down players down who wanted top play in league matches. Everyone of the 10 players on the team scored something, or gave the opposition tough game when they lost. From the rising hot house flowers Arthur and Nilesh, to our newcomers to over-the-board from online, Daven and Sergiu, to the long time dependable Des, to players that play above me, (thereby allowing me an easier opponent), Aleks and Peter, and to the top boards Will-o'-the-wisp Octavian and especially the team talisman on board one Marek, thank you. And well played.

I'll end with a comment on the picture that leads the post, that of Julian Hudson being handed the 2023/2024 Division 2 cup by Bedfordshire League Controller Adrian Elwin. This ends a seven year drought of Luton chess team winning anything. Luton Chess is back.

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