Division 3, Fourth Weekend, Daventry Court Hotel, 22nd-23rd Mar 2014 by John Carleton



Daventry Court Hotel with 155 bedrooms, spacious chess playing

facilities, minutes from junction 18 (M1), free WiFi and parking.

There were early signs that the usually well oiled wheels of our transport provision were not turning totally smoothly as different parts of the squad arrived at various 4NCL venues [past and present] at Staverton, Hinckley Island and indeed the scheduled venue of Daventry Court. Nonetheless all were present and correct at the scheduled start of play and we settled for what promised to be two exceedingly tough encounters.


After the draw for the Champions League quarter finals was made Manchester United manager David Moyes announced that he had found weaknesses in United's upcoming opponents, Bayern Munich. I have to say that our in-depth analyses had revealed no such frailties in the likely line-up of the A team's opponents Guildford 3 and the B team were due to face the ever dangerous Celtic Tigers 1. The B team's task was made even more difficult by the Tigers having their strongest team of the season to date. 



Captain: John Carleton

With everyone primed for action round 7 commenced in the worst possible manner for the A team; I managed to blunder and have a totally lost position by move 10 against Nigel Povah . There are two approaches to this dilemma for the player concerned: you can play on as though nothing has happened or you can bravely accept your fate. I took the coward's way out and played on; by the time my resignation came we were about to go two down. Peter Ackley, having gambled on a radical change of pawn formation, was outplayed by Daniel Hunt and we were indeed two down with four games in play. That became two down with three in play when Brett Lund drew with Andrew Martin on top board. Brett broke out from a cramped position with the aid of a neat exchange sacrifice and a dynamic balance arose. We thus had our three games with the white pieces still in play. In all three we had realistic hopes of a return and all three games went into a sixth hour of play.





Michael Johnson on board 6 threaded his way through the middle game complications and was able to tease out an endgame victory. Nick having played brightly in the middle game emerged into a double rook and pawn ending three pawns up but with tactical chances for opponent Graham Buckley. Eventually, Nick gave back a pawn to reduce it to rook and two split pawns against a rook and his technique delivered the point. This left Andy Smith in play against Marcus Osborne.


Andy's adventurous pawn sacrifice in the opening left him with an initiative enough to get the pawn back and to keep some pressure. Marcus fought back and emerged into a semi-ending with queen against rook and bishop but with his king hemmed in. Patient and painstaking play eventually broke Andy's spirited resistance and we were left to reflect on a great fight and a narrow defeat against our erstwhile opponents.


The B team game saw interesting struggles throughout. If you play through Dave Robertson's game on board 1 it appears to be a game where his opponent Hendrik Hoffman gets an opening initiative, goes on the attack, is met by resourceful defence but eventually crashes through.



Our silicon friends show this summary has flaws; Dave is well in contention  until near the end and in fact misses a snap win at move 34! Juan on board 2 kept his opening edge for a good while but one rash move saw him fall to Ryszard Marciol's sustained counter attack.




Sheila on her seasonal debut could reasonably claim to have had the better of her lively game which ended in a draw and John Cooper on board 4 was likewise never in trouble drawing against his seasoned opponent. Board 5 went against us; Richard Bryant's variation of this thematic exchange sacrifice gave plenty of activity but ultimately it seems just left his king too exposed. Our sole win in this match was on board 6 and was vintage Steve Connor. Steve headed for the black king, threw in an exchange sacrifice to deflect defenders and broke through with panache. So a match largely of " if onlys" from our point of view, but that is the nature of chess, and we can only congratulate Celtic Tigers on their togetherness and fighting spirit whilst believing we showed the same characteristics in defeat.


The evening meal proved an ideal opportunity to lick our wounds and unwind at a local village restaurant. The venue, although top secret, is highly recommended in all respects. If there is something of a conundrum in this statement then it mixes well with the closing phase of the meal which featured the inaugural annual Spirit of Atticus, "Grand Chess Quiz" prepared, delivered and marked by quizmaster Andy Smith. This proved a great success with Dave Latham [accompanied by leading wag Jeannie spectating and supporting the teams between working commitments] lifting the splendid trophy. Appreciation was showered upon Andy and I understand he has already started preparing next year's version. The obligatory pause at the Hotel bar saw the company ready to face the new day.




Round 8 saw echoes of round 7 for the A team with the first two results in the match against Anglian Avengers 2 going against us. Most worrying for us was that two of our big hitters were downed: Nick Ivell and Michael Johnson each had a run of  three consecutive victories ended by their defeats. Brett started our fight back with a fine win: energetic play saw him trap David Lemoir's king in the middle and an incisive finish clinched matters. Peter Ackley and opponent Gordon Scott constructed a truly messy position but the complexities ate into Peter's time and he allowed his alert opponent a knock-out blow. I had generated some pressure against Philip Tozer but his defences held firm and an impasse arose which left only a draw.


The spacious Danetree Suite with 483m sq is ideal for 6-board Division 3 matches.


So, despite exhortations heaped upon me to conjure up a win, the comeback was over. Andy Smith ensured that defeat was again by just one point  by converting the advantage of an extra pawn into a victory following a middlegame of manoeuvring and mutual targetting of weaknesses. The B team did give us something to celebrate in their victory over MK Phoenix 2. Sheila on board 3 led the way with a pawn grab in the opening and exemplary technique to snuff out any resistance.





An opening of aggressive intent saw Dave Robertson on board 1 obtaining a won position and displaying the required accuracy in the endgame to complete the win. Meanwhile solid draws for John Cooper and Richard Bryant on boards 4 and 5 respectively brought us to the verge of victory. Around the 5 hour mark Steve Connor ensured victory in the match with a draw in an always interesting but balanced game on board 6.  


The all Spanish clash on board 2 between Juan Lasheras and David Martinez Villena saw the MK Phoenix player sacrifice a piece in the opening for two pawns and initiative. Juan gradually found work for the much maligned French defence light squared bishop, quelled his opponent's activity and forced the win to confirm a 4-1 score line.         


And what of the final weekend for the A team? We [and this goes for the B team also] await the May weekend with our customary relish. Further, our mindset will not be Doris Day [Que sera sera] but Arnold Schwarzenegger [We will be back]. It will not be through lack of effort that the team honouring the memory of Titus Pomponius [Editor's note: better known by his nickname of Atticus] will remain in the third tier of the 4NCL.



Rd7 results Rd8 results

Spirit of Atticus team A | Spirit of Atticus team B

Div3 Crosstable Games in PGN

Previous Spirit of Atticus reports

Chess Photos Steve Connor


Four Nations Chess League

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