The 15th April 2020 saw the first matches of the very first Blitz Chess League season. With only 10 teams manageable at a time by the Lichess servers, we quickly had to come up with another plan to accommodate teams that wanted to play. We didn’t like the idea of having separate divisions and honestly could not see how that would work anyway. So, we decided that teams would have to be split over two arenas and swap and change each week – with all playing all a fairly equal number of times.
A great beginning to the season saw 13 teams and a total of 100 players show up to compete. Despite agreeing to play, Redditch didn’t produce a team – leaving six teams competing in Arena 2.
Arena 1 looked to be the strongest and hardest fought. How that will change in the coming weeks, however, nobody can know. The likes of Hammersmith and Hackney have huge teams and could turn up with an army far stronger. So, perhaps it is a little too early to be judging anything.
The best performing team over both arenas was Wolv in Arena 2. A team captained by Phil Bull, or ModusQ, and what a team it is, containing some real powerhouses from the Midlands chess scene. Wolv was close to doubling the trailing team’s (my own team, Halesowen) score with 122 to 70! Their champion on the night was pirategav with an impressive 44 tournament points but with the strength of their team, it seems any one of their players could pull off the same feat if caught on the right night.
Lewisham and Isle of Wight were the two teams in hot contention for the top spot in Arena 1. When the dust had settled, Lewisham, placing first, had two champions in the form of JudeTheDeadMan who went 62% berserk, and the more sedate but assured, vjones1. They helped Lewisham take first place by adding 61 of the team’s 93 points. Isle of Wight was close behind, largely due to the outstanding performance of their champion, GM Bogdan Lalic, the top player over both arenas, scoring 45 individual points.
Sutton Coldfield’s champion, Henrik_95, earned 37 team points (almost half his team’s score) but had to settle for Sutton finishing fourth. A team of their calibre finishing fourth shows just how tough the lineup was in Arena 1.
Rugeley‘s champion on the night, RyanWood, a 1400-rated blitz player, had some amazing results. He took down several higher-rated players – even managing to defeat a player 700 rating points above him. I’ll leave names out of it in this case, but they are easily discovered by clicking through the Arena 2 stats on Lichess. Ryan finished 17th and you’ll find him on page 2.
Hackney played with just one player for quite a while before two more showed up to help out. With more teammates showing support, Hackney managed to climb the table to finish 3rd – due in large part to their champion on the night, CormoranKR who scored 30 of their 58 points. Halesowen will be sharing an arena again with them next week and I wonder if things will be different next time?
The teams in Arena 1 next week: Lewisham, Isle of Wight, Muswell Hill, Sutton Coldfield, Wolv, Halesowen (gulp), and Hackney.
The teams in Arena 2 will be: South Birmingham, Chester, Warley, Athenaeum, Hammersmith, and Rugeley.