Two Harborough chess teams are sitting top of their division - and benefiting from interest during lockdowns

Market Harborough Chess Club is reaping the rewards for keeping active during lockdown - and then when restrictions eased, many new players decided to join

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 3:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 3:34 pm
Market Harborough Chess Club's second team

Two Market Harborough Chess Club teams are sitting top of their division halfway into the season.

Winning all five matches in Division Three of the Leicestershire & Rutland League, the second team have let just three from 27 boards slip with five boards typically played in a match.

The third team, playing in Division Four, won five matches on the bounce before forcing a late draw in last week’s top of the table clash against Wigston 4th.

The results have come as a surprise, given the third team were stranded at the foot of the league, pre-Covid and the inexperienced players both sides have fielded.

Very few at the club have spoken about promotion but both sides will hope to be in with a chance come May when the season ends.

Meanwhile, the first team have found life in Division One hard going.

Playing against Leicestershire & Rutland’s strongest players, they have lost three matches, gaining their solitary point with a draw against Shepshed 2nd.

Third team captain René Butler said of the season so far: “Nobody imagined the second and third teams would do so well, although we expected the first team to struggle, especially as their top board player has been unavailable.

“More generally, the club is reaping the rewards for keeping active during lockdown.

“We played in online leagues, then when restrictions eased many new players decided to join.

“We are up to around 30 members now.

“The Conservative Club on Fairfield Road has provided a space for our weekly social events and an excellent room for league chess. They stepped in at just the right moment after the Catholic Club closed. We could have been in serious bother without their hospitality.”