Harborough becoming a hotbed for chess after club's success

Harborough Cuatro had some impressive displays during the Four Nations Chess League

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 7:08 am
Alistair Geear (left) and Jon Redding at the chess board in front of fellow Harborough Cuatro members (from left) John Thomson, Rene Butler, Mark Waterfield, Mike Garland, Robert Gibbison and Dave Walker. Picture by Andrew Carpenter

Market Harborough’s online chess team – Harborough Cuatro – have completed their second season in the Four Nations Chess League, returning some inspiring performances.

Thanks to last season’s success, Cuatro entered two league teams this time out.

While there was not the drama of a promotion gained in the final minutes, as with the previous campaign, the feats of some of the players were just as impressive.

Over seven matches, the first team pitted their wits against sides containing International Masters, seasoned club players and advanced level juniors, finishing a respectable fourth out of eight teams in Division Five A.

Among the noteworthy contests, Jon Redding pushed Anthony Stebbings all the way to an end game. In context, this is a relatively inexperienced player verses England’s 77th best player in a closely fought game.

Top board Dave Walker won four of six games and last season’s top scorer Mike Garland continued his excellent progress going the season unbeaten, with a mixture of wins and draws.

Yet, the standout story was that of Harborough local Alistair Geear.

The 22-year old only became serious about chess a few months before lockdown, playing against his flatmate while living in Newcastle.

Alistair returned to Harborough in the summer, started working at fashion retailer Joules and joined Harborough Cuatro.

The club’s players were surprised by Alistair’s standard of play and quickly agreed for him to be top board for the newly launched second team, ready for the start of the 4NCL season which began in January.

Alistair lost his first game after a rash move in the opening, but managed to win in all of the next five matches he was selected for – including when called up to the first team.

Harborough Cuatro captain René Butler said:“ The second team finished mid-table in a mixed ability division of 72 teams, we mustn’t grumble.

“We would have finished towards the bottom had it not been for Alistair, I don’t think he’ll be playing for the second team again.

“All in all it was another fantastic season and we hope if there are any other hidden chess talents in Harborough, they come forward.”

The mid-table finishes for both Harborough Cuatro sides represent a good platform for when over the board league chess resumes, as is hoped in the autumn.

Cuatro, who are part of Market Harborough Chess Club, say they will consider retaining the online team for season four of the online format, which also starts in the autumn.

While most Harborough players prefer over the board chess, it usually involves matches against clubs from Leicestershire and occasionally Northamptonshire.

The Four Nations Chess League features more than 200 teams from around England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Meanwhile, Market Harborough Chess Club has announced social meetings will be held at the Conservative Club on Fairfield Road from late May, subject to government guidelines. For further details visit. www.Harboroughchess.org.uk