As a new chess season looms large in Calderdale can I find fresh grounds for unjustified optimism? Of course I can! Show me an “over-the-board” (OTB) player who doesn’t feel a surge of excitement about the untold stories that lie in wait over the coming months and I’ll show you a dead man. The very fact that OTB is seasonal in nature means that it provides a very welcome adrenaline injection for club players. No matter how much online or correspondence chess you play you never get the same buzz that you get at the start of the season. I’m sure every amateur sports person would testify to getting the same feeling, no matter what their sport.
So, what should I expect from the new season? Well, last year in the Calderdale league my team, Hebden Bridge A, finished second in the first division and I made third place in the Calderdale Individual Championships. Frankly, I’d be delighted with a similar performance this season. In the league, the champions, Huddersfield A, are almost certainly going to be the strongest team and will probably win again this year. The season will probably boil down to our two matches with them and I give us maybe a 1 in 5 chance of winning either of those ties. I can’t see anyone else taking points off them so we’d need to win all the rest of our matches (certainly not a given) and probably match their board count as well. Hebden Bridge A are capable of winning the league but it will be very difficult indeed.