The best way to sum up 2020 was that we had a ‘Covid’ year. Little more can be said to describe the disruption to our activities.
2020 actually started off quite well. Our Club Blitz Championship was won by International Master Brandon Clarke with a picket fence. Our Club Championships were again well supported, cracking more than 100 participants for the third year in a row.
Then the pandemic struck.
When it was clear that we would have to close the club, the committee took the sensible decision to abandon the Club Championships. We were later able to reopen for a few weeks for social chess before the Covid second wave arrived. At that point community gatherings we were limited to ten players (later increased to 30) but Norths Leagues Club decided not to allow their various clubs to resume. It was quite frustrating as some other venues took a different tack and allowed their clubs to restart, but we had to go with the wishes of our hosts.
I thank Nick Cooper, David Stern and Gary Armstrong for taking the initiative to start our on-line club to give members some contact and chess during the closure and for Gary and David for keeping the flame alive. The on-line tournaments have a loyal following and players enjoy games as well as their social connection in the chat room. This has kept the club open despite the physical shutdown. I hope that our on-line club becomes a permanent fixture, and encourage those who haven’t participated, to join the fun.
We were all saddened to learn of the loss of our 2013 Club Champion, Donato Mallari. Donato was an ever popular and enthusiastic member of the club and is missed by all of us who had the pleasure of on and off-board connection with him.
Nick Cooper retired as Director of Play at the 2020 AGM. Nick has been an enormously effective and popular DOP for five years and we thank him for his huge contribution. Although Nick will be much missed we are fortunate that Rob Watson has joined the Club Committee as DOP. Rob, as many know, is a highly experienced and qualified arbiter.
Turn to the way forward, Norths agreed that restrictions have eased sufficiently for us to resume club meetings. The pandemic continues however and we proceed with much caution. Our incoming committee has been hard at work planning our resumption.
We have decided to change the format of the club championship for 2021 so as to be able to determine prizewinners should the tournament need to be truncated as happened in 2020. We will run a series of small Swisses each with more than one ten-person section in them. In this way we can retain the small-group character while ensuring that a leaderboard is available after each round due to the absence of postponements.
Our Treasurer Steve Garner reported that the club had an excellent financial year in 2020 – because there was nothing to spend money on! As a result, all 2020 members are offered 2021 membership at a discounted rate.
I would like to thank our hard working committee for all that they did during the year. Although the actual chess side of it was relatively small, there was a lot achieved during difficult times.
We look forward to a successful 2021.
Regards, Peter Abbott