Keighley's Daniel Dufton plays physic to predict this years league tables:

It’s that time of the year, prediction time. To mix it up this year rather than predicting all divisions in order I’m going to write in reverse order and also this year I will post a summary of the reasoning’s behind my thoughts for each division.

Division 3

Overall Division 3 is stronger than last year with Bradford Spitfires getting promoted but with two division 2 teams being relegated last year (South Bradford B and Bingley Bees).

Propping up the league again this year I have Central Darkhorses. Everyone loves an underdog, but with mainly players in their squad with grades <100 I think they will be hoping that success will lie with the Clough again this year!

Above Darkhorses in 6th I have College Undergrads, again with players in their squad mainly graded < 100 I think they will struggle. Though I am sure that Nigel Redmond will tell you they are going to win the division easily!

In 5th I have Shipley B, a solid team for division 3 is expected (though not having seen their team this year as they have a Bye in the first round of matches), but with no “stars” on top boards I do not think they will be challenging for promotion this year.

In 4th a team that will take points of any team in the division and will challenge for promotion due to their consistent team including the solid Ian Jewsbury, Derek Ludlam and Paul Kadzionis. Though with Andrew Wainwright not playing I think a spot is the promotion places is unlikely, though it is very difficult to call whether they will finish in 3rd or 4th above Keighley B.

In 3rd I have Keighley B. Keighley B have been making progress each year since formation three years ago and I expect this to be a year of consolidation. Their league position will very much depend on how much Richard Zaidman and Mark Cunningham are called up into the A team, but with some a solid backup now behind these two players I expect Keighley B to be tough to beat, especially at Fortress Albert.

This leaves Bingley Bees and South Bradford B contesting the title.........

Finishing in second I have Bingley Bees. With the fast improving Jamie Kubisa leading front the front, supported by Robert Pells and Matthew Smith they have a potentially strong top order that should see them beating most teams in the division. This leads me to think that they will gain promotion back to the second division this year.

So that leaves South Bradford B as champions of division 3 for 2016/17. With a very strong top order including Karim Khan and Sam “El-Presidente” Scurfield, backed up by new recruit Mike Barrett and John Brooke their team is strong and should see them bounce back to Division 2 at the first time of asking.

So here’s the league table for Division 3 for 2016/17 in full:
1. South Bradford B
2. Bingley Bees
3. Keighley B
4. Undercliffe C
5. Shipley B
6. College Undergrads
7. Central Darkhorses

Division 2

I think the division is slightly easier than last year mainly due to a strong Bradford 162 team being promoted.

Propping up Division 2 this year I have Bradford Spitfires. Recently promoted from the 3rd division it will always be a tough ask, however, with a dangerous Tim Rossell on top board, the Spitfires could spring a surprise and already have started extremely well taking a point off Shipley A. With possibly Ludi Simpson and Geoff Smith to add to the mix, they may pull off an escape but I think it is unlikely.

Above the Spitfires in 6th I have the other Bradford club, the Destroyers. They flirted with relegation last year before a good second half of the season saw them finish in the top half of Division 2. The first game of the season was a big surprise seeing Andrew Bak playing on Board 1, but missing Chris Trepka, Ian Thackray and Jamie Hall for the first game left them significantly weaker. Much will depend if Andrew Bak continues to play for the Destroyers or if he goes back to his 163 roots as to if the Destroyers can avoid relegation.

In 5th I have Ilkley C this was a close call between them and Central Laners, both finished on 11 points in Division 2 last time around. Ilkley C are a solid team and with John Seppings on top board I expect them to have just enough in their squad to avoid relegation.

In 4th the ever solid Central Laners with a low grade differential between Board 1 and Board 6 I think they will struggle on the higher boards but will pick up points on the lower boards. I expect Captain Les Johnson to steer the team to mid-table security yet again.

In 3rd I have Shipley A. Shipley A were relegated from Division 1 last year with a solitary point. Having lost Paul Clarke to South Bradford but having acquired the services of Peter and Graham Redmond from the College Graduates, Shipley A should be stronger this year. With star player James Dannenberg on Board 1 I expect Shipley A to be in the running for promotion come the end of the season. Ultimately I think they will just miss out due to a weaker lower order when compared to their promotion rivals.

This leaves Ilkley B and Keighley A to contest the title ............

Finishing in second I have Ilkley B. Ilkley B did very well in Division 1 last year putting up a real fight and achieving a very credible 8 points. With a team full of 150’s and 140’s Nick Burton, Rupert Jones, Lee Crawford, David Adam and Bill Bootham (though I have not seen their team yet this year, due to a Bye in the first round of matches) I expect them cast aside the majority of teams in the division.

So that leaves me predicting that Keighley A will be champions of division 2 for 2016/17. To put a bit of pressure on my team! With a very strong top board in Winston Williams and with 3 grade 150’s in Paul Day, Richard Bowman and Younis Quereshi we should have the “fire power” to beat most of the teams in the division. This leaves me to struggle and hopefully take the odd point down on board 6.

So here’s the league table for Division 2 for 2016/17 in full:
1. Keighley A
2. Ilkley B
3. Shipley A
4. Central Laners
5. Ilkley C
6. Bradford Destroyers
7. Bradford Spitfires

Division 1

Here we go, the final climax of the trilogy!

Division 1 will be as tough as ever.

Finishing in 8th this year I have Legion of The Damned. It is extremely tough to get promoted from the 2nd Division and stay in Division 1. Unfortunately I do not think that Legion will have a squad with high enough grades in order to compete at the top level. After predicting that they would finish bottom of Division 2 last year, who knows! A defaulted match at the start of the season is not promising for LOTD. A lot will depend on Stefan Camarascu to deliver on the top board if the team is to pick up any points.

Above the Legion of the Damned in 7th I have Undercliffe A. With some very strong players in Mike Walker, Mark Priest, Bill Somerset, Tony Slinger and Mike Bramson on paper they should avoid relegation easily. However, it is not that often that all 5 players turn out each week, and with a certain Mr D. E. Fault that seems to appear on the team sheet just a little too often this could well be their downfall that I think will see them relegated to Division 2.

In 6th I have College Graduates. Losing Pete Redmond is a blow for the team that has challenged for the title in the last few seasons. With Mark Crowther and Peter Rooney at the top of the order, backed up by John Milnes, Keith Marshall and Gary Corcoran they should be safe from relegation.

Next up I have South Bradford A. I think it will be a mid-table 5th finish. With Phil Watson, Dave Barlow and Ian Hunter providing the “fire-power” at the top of the order to guide them to another respectable position.

In 4th it is Ilkley A, as ever they have the squad to be able to challenge for the title. With top players such as Colm Barry, Mark Birkin, Gerard Kiloran, Chris Wright, Mark Rogerson, Gabor Batonyi and Robin Browne. They will have to get these players out on a regular basis if they want to mount a title challenge. A lack of consistency in the team in recent years has stopped them from sustaining a challenge through the long season.

In 3rd I have the most consistent team in the whole league, Undercliffe B. With a solid team with a very low grade differential between Board 1 and Board 6 that turns out week in week out. I see them just missing out on the title this year due to lacking a top graded player.

This leaves the two Bradford clubs fighting it out for the Division 1 title..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

This was the trickiest call in the Division, not sure if Bradford 163 would finish in 2nd or down in about 5th. However, after some deliberation I have gone for 2nd! Although newly promoted I think Bradford 163 have a formidable squad that will challenge for the title this year. With Matthew Parsons, Ihor Lewyk, Greg Eagleton, Andrew Bak (assuming he rejoins from the Destroyers) and Chris Bak. Supported ably by Dave Shapland, Nick Sykes and Kevin Winter it is a squad that the other teams will fear, and I think they will push Bradford Knights and Undercliffe B all the way.

So that leaves me predicting that Bradford Knights will be champions of division 1 for 2016/17 for the third year running! With Peter Shaw, Mark Whitehead, Bob Newton, Bill Clark, Tim Hilton, Simon Watson they have the players to achieve it. The key to the title may be held by Adam Lang, if he plays then I think that the title is definitely going back to the Latvian Club, but I have heard rumours that Adam is not likely to play for the Knights this year. If Adam does not play I think the main threat is that the Knights do not appear to have the depth of squad and it is difficult to win a title whilst defaulting the bottom board. Having said this, the Knights have already beaten Undercliffe B a title challenger after defaulting Board 6 in the opening match.

So here’s the league table for Division 1 for 2016/17 in full:
1. Bradford Knights
2. Bradford 163
3. Undercliffe B
4. Ilkley A
5. South Bradford A
6. College Graduates
7. Undercliffe A
8. Legion of The Damned