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Imminent Oxfordshire League Cup Final by Patrick Moss


Unconfirmed reports are coming in from the sleepy hamlet of Ducklington, home to the leviathans of Oxfordshire Chess, Witney Chess Club. They suggest some strange goings-on are afoot. The reason: the imminent clash in the Frank Wood Shield Oxfordshire Cup Final of the club’s top teams, known intriguingly as Witney 1 and Witney 2.



The village pond with The Old School

House and St Bartholomew's Church


It is a true David and Goliath clash. Witney 1 boast the oak-panelled playing boards and Grandmaster power of true professionals - and, some say, a retinue of trainers and helpers. The latter are thought to be employed to bring the notoriously fickle and temperamental 1st Team players nectar, quail eggs and locally-caught trout to the board during matches, seated atop velvet cushions stuffed with pure unicorn hair. This is strenuously denied by 1st Team Captain, Mike Truran – ‘I’ve never seen a quail egg,’ he declared, though he admitted plans were quite advanced for the team to arrive at the fixture in an ornate carriage pulled by swans. Witney 1’s prowess at the board is, however, undisputable, and this week they secured the Oxfordshire 1st Division title for the second year in succession. Some of their players are known to be so strong that they occasionally forsake physical form during the most intense encounters, existing only as orbs of omniscient light - a fact not lost on the canny club Treasurer, who uses it as an excuse to save money on fluorescent lighting in the village hall.


Witney 2, meanwhile, make no secret of their humble origins, with many of their players having learned the rules of the game-of-64-squares down local mines or while hod-carrying at the nearby furnaces of Minster Lovell. The likeable chaps – known for their cheeky smiles, sporting nature and bohemian dress sense – are the citizens’ favourites and poster boys of the quiet Oxfordshire hamlet, but they are clever enough to know that this alone will not be save them from a brutal fate when the two teams clash.


Rumours of Witney 2’s secretive programme of self-advancement and use of codenames before the final make for fascinating reading. Their Captain, known only as ‘AG’, is thought to be the brains behind the intensive hot-housing of the team’s players. He has rented a Ducklington nightclub during the day to house an array of chess experts and coaches to finesse his players’ oft-clumsy play into something more refined. Board 3, the mysterious ‘HS’, has been assigned espionage duties to infiltrate the Witney 1 camp, though his initial forays are understood to have yielded little of intelligence value – though he was able to confirm the rumour about quail eggs. Board 4, ‘Canary D’, has written to Delia Smith, patron of his much-loved Norwich City FC, cheekily asking for approval to hold victory celebrations at Carrow Road. Board 5, ‘The PM’, is using modern technology to research vast chess databases to find a weakness in Grandmaster Wells’ armour – though he reports progress as ‘quite hard to quantify, but in a word, nothing’. Board 6 and team talisman, ‘Wild Western’, is expected to symbolise the team’s assault by adjusting his normal meek and unassuming tactics to something more aggressive.


With the date for the grand final yet to be confirmed, Witney 1’s confidence remains supreme… and only time will tell if the battling brave-hearts of Witney 2 can yet surprise the top team and bring a fairytale ending to South West Oxfordshire.


Either way, it is sure to mark the end of another successful season for the 2012 ECF Club of the Year.


10 March 2013.


The final is due to be played before 10 May 2013.



Secret Film of Witney 1 and 2's Training Methods by Mark Hannon


After Patrick's great preview of the Frank Wood Shield Final above, a mole can reveal film of the secret training methods of the 2 captains.


The film shows the light haired 1st Team Captain using training methods developed by the Soviet School of Chess. I minute 30 seconds in to the video you can see the machine which improves Elo rating with every blow.



While the 2nd team captain is shown running through the freezing Windrush and dragging a horse out of the snow in an attempt to improve his teams ability at handling knights.


Both captains clearly appreciate the importance of physical condition to good chess.


Read even more here ...




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