The North East Online League is a new initiative, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to allow players in the region to continue playing club matches in an easy-to-access league that combines the Northumberland, Durham and Cleveland County Association areas.
Matches are played online on Lichess.org, between teams of 4 players. The time control is 45 minutes plus 15 seconds per move. All matches are played on Tuesday evenings at 7:30pm, with an interval of 2 weeks between rounds. Requiring players to be ECF Members or Supporters before playing their first game in the NEOL enables the games to be ECF Online Rated, and has also helped to boost 2020-21 ECF membership figures from the region. Season 1 – October to December 2020 The first season attracted a total of 20 teams of four players each from 12 different ECF-afffiliated chess clubs throughout the North East: From Northumberland: Morpeth & Tynemouth (playing in combined teams); Forest Hall, Gosforth, Jesmond, Tynedale, Newcastle University and Jesmond. From Durham: Durham City and Bishop Auckland. From Cleveland: Thornaby and Billingham Synthonia. These teams were organised into 3 divisions, with 6 teams each in Divisions 1 & 2, and 8 teams in Division 3. A total of 5 matches were played by all of the teams, and only 3 boards were defaulted out of a total of 200 games.