Harborough teams celebrate successful season

Market Harborough Chess Club are celebrating success. PHOTO BY ANDREW CARPENTER
Market Harborough Chess Club are celebrating success. PHOTO BY ANDREW CARPENTER

It has been another successful season for a club based in Market Harborough as they return to the top flight after more than 20 years.

Market Harborough Chess Club are celebrating a remarkable season which started by landing the coveted Birstall Cup and ended with both first and second teams winning promotion for a second year running.

The dramatic season saw Harborough 2 win 13 of 14 matches to be crowned champions of Leicestershire and Rutland Division 4.

Captained by Cyril Hill, they are the only side in any of the five divisions to go undefeated for the entire season.

Harborough 1 came within a whisper of the Division Two champions trophy, but have to settle for runners-up spot after finishing level on points with Braunstone 2. Harborough have a superior games points difference, but head-to-head results mean Braunstone top the division.

Harborough would have won the division by two points had the league punished Braunstone for fielding an ineligible player in their narrow victory over Harborough at the start of the season.

Silverware did not completely elude Harborough 1 as they lifted the Birstall Cup in September beating Braunstone in the final.

Division One will bring sterner tests next season as the top flight boasts Leicestershire and Rutland’s finest players, including the league’s only grandmaster, Mark Hebden.

Harborough 1 captain and club secretary Romilly Ilersic said: “Last September we had no expectation of promotion.

“It is over 20 years since we were last in Division One and the return to the top division is a considerable achievement by the team. We have no illusion as to the strength of our competition next season but it will be an interesting experience.”

League debutants Harborough 3 also enjoyed a successful season, finishing fourth out of nine teams in Division 5.

The side maintained a bid for promotion up until the final two matches of the season but ended level on points with third-placed Syston 5.

Captain John Oliver said his team did far better than anticipated in their first ever league season and will hope for further progress next term.

The summer timetable now starts for the club’s social evenings which will be held every first and third Thursday of the month. Guests of all standards are welcome. The events take place at The Catholic Club, Coventry Road, in Market Harborough, and start at 7.30pm.