Originally posted Aug 16, 2015, 1:39 AM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Sep 4, 2015, 7:00 AM ]
20 Years On

The news that Mark Cooke has joined Gambit is prompting some reflection. I think that Mark last appeared for Sherwood House twice in the season 1994-5. Apologies to Mark if I am wrong on this. Before then he was a first team regular.
When he visits Ashfield Chess Club, Mark will see many of the same old faces at our club from twenty years ago, albeit fewer of us. Mike, Andrew and Abigail are gone from the first team, but the second team has changed little. The regular 6 board second team line-up then was J Herrington, N Graham, W Selby, P Morgan, R Taylor, A Robinson. Of these only Bill no longer plays for the club. Across the league, Mark is likely to meet up again with many faces who were playing twenty years ago. Other than now playing on 5 boards, and several changes of club venues it may seem to him as though time in Notts has stood still. In truth little has changed in Sutton and Kirkby , other  than each town now has a Wetherspoon's.
Mark was a school and chess contemporary of Steve Burke and Russell Dicks. Russell, if you’re reading this and retirement is on the horizon, it’s never too late to pick up the pieces again. Jerry came back to us after many years out when his knees could no longer drag him on to the rugby pitch. His playing grade is slightly higher than 20 years ago. The rest of ours have barely changed. We can be better prepared with computer support and be much more practiced through internet play, but this also applies to our opponents.
Ashfield had 7 teams in the Notts League in 94-5, as did Gambit and Oxclose. We also ran a team in the North Midlands League. 43 players turned out for us that season. Paul Wilkinson, 23 games, pipped Richard Dyce, 21, and Tim Severn, 20, as our most active League player. Our club player membership and number of teams has halved in the last 20 years. This is probably in line with other clubs e.g. Gambit and Oxclose who subsequently merged. Concern about the  ageing Notts chess population was powerfully expressed by Austen Carlton at one Notts AGM. "Who am I going to play against when I'm older?" 
This was probably before the West Notts Juniors Revolution. The encouragement of juniors by West Notts and West Bridgford is breathing fresh life into Nottinghamshire chess. 

Ashfield 1 v Ashfield 2 last met in Division1 in 2011-12
      A1        P Padilla 1 v 0 Herrington J                               A2  G Gibson  0  v 1 Molyneux J
                   G Halfpenny 1 v 0 Morgan P                                   P Morgan 0  v 1 Halfpenny G
                  A Toothill  0.5 v 0.5 Robinson A                               J Herrington 0 v 1 Toothill A
                  S Burke   1 v 0 Sayer R                                             A Robinson 0.5 v 0.5 Burke S
                  D Jarvis  1 v 0 Cranmer S                                         A Morrey  0 v 1 Jarvis D           
 Result  4.5-0.5  (14 Sept 2011)                                                Result 0.5- 4.5 ( 11 Jan, 2012)
Same decisive score-line. A stroll in the park for the first team, especially Glenn and Derek. Batterings for myself and Jerry, with Alan in each game saving the whitewash. Beware the sleeping tiger. 

Before that the teams were both in Division 1 in 2000-2001. This was an interesting season. It's the only season I've captained Ashfield 1, probably for good reason as we achieved the distinction of being relegated on three points. In the opening fixture the first team lost to the second team 1.5-3.5 with Glenn beating Andrew Dyce on top board and Alan Morrey defeating me.  Andrew was unavailable for the rest of the season. With both teams struggling, the club targeted its resources at keeping Ashfield 2 up. They managed 9 points and stayed up on board difference at the expense of Radcliffe and Bingham. An apocryphal season? Ashfield 2's promotion was followed by the loss of 2 top players.

Ashfield 2 stayed up ,resumed the Ashfield 1 mantle and became a mid-table team. In 2001-2 the side finished fourth on 18 points. In 2002-3 the team finished seventh of nine - Stapleford, and Radcliffe+Bingham were relegated. Sixth, fifth and a surprising third place finish followed in the next three years. In 2006-7 the team were genuine title contenders, finishing runners-up to University 2. Our team in a 4-1 win against Gambit 1 was 1 A Khandelwal 2 M Alcock 3 G Halfpenny 4 S Burke 5 R Webster. This was Mike's farewell season for the club. Memories are short. In the same year, Grantham 1 led by Nick Payne finished just below Ashfield 2 in sixth place of Division 2. In 2006-7 Ashfield 1 finished third, the best of  4 teams  on 14 points. Pablo made his debut for the club in February  with a win against Long Eaton's Geoff Gibson