Division 1(a) & (d), Weekend 4, Holiday Inn, Birmingham, 19-20 Mar 2016 by John Carleton




The 4th Weekend of the 4NCL season is the traditional time for last gasp efforts [to avoid the demotion pool] and for teams to reassess their aspirations.


For the Spirit of Atticus A team [ahead of the game as ever I hear you say] our aspirations had been adjusted downwards quite early in the season, around about half way through round 3 was about the furthest anybody got before accepting that our season was about the fight against relegation. Thus we had long been bound for the demotion pool and round 7 was tension free and merely the opportunity to enjoy our games against last year's 4NCL runners-up, the mighty Guildford 2.



John Carleton

For this match, and regular readers of this column will be surprised to learn this, all eyes were on what the Guildford team could do. They were in a real dog-fight, for if Oxford were to win a tough match against Wood Green or if 3Cs could come close to matching Guildford's score against us in their match against Barbican 1 then Guildford would join us in the demotion pool. So Guildford 2 fielded their highest rated team of the season and set about the task of demolishing us. We were not affected by the league situation; we knew there would be no easy half points against any Guildford team. In the early stages I felt that all our black positions offered prospects of progress but our play with the white pieces seemed rather without scope.



(Round 7, 19 March)


Then the match began to move forward and gradually our slender hopes evaporated. From bottom board upwards up, Peter Ackley obtained a lively but loose position; once he missed an active idea in the early middlegame, his opponent, reigning British Ladies Champion, Akshaya Kalaiyalahan impressed with her control to reach an easily won ending. On board 7 David Latham ceded space to Dagne Ciuksyte and when she forced an entry David was suddenly helpless. Sheila Jackson appeared to have equalised or got very close to it from the opening on board 6.


However Matthew Wadsworth gradually increased his space advantage and with much of Sheila's army cramped he broke through to make decisive material gains. Martin Mitchell on board 5 followed a suspect opening recommendation which left a knight pinned by a bishop against his king and defended only by the king; this became an unbreakable pin which opponent Callum Kilpatrick gradually made the most dominant feature of the game by exchanging most of the other pieces. With the knight about to perish Martin gave up the unequal struggle. An interesting Sicilian saw Glenn with a solid position from the opening but also one from which activity was hard to generate. A mistake in the early middle game allowed Alberto Suarez Real to open lines and entertainment was provided for the spectators as a successful king hunt eventually followed.


Nick Ivell on board 3 sacrificed a pawn unsoundly against David Smerdon's French and then, struggle as he may, Nick could not hold out against the GM's space gaining operations all over the board. Board 2 saw our only bright news as far as the scoreboard went.


I had equalised against Daniel Fernandez and after each side jockeyed for position he missed an upcoming combination in what had earlier appeared the main line. This cost him a pawn and I was left with the initiative and an easily won ending. Brett on top board had bucked the trend with regards to unpromising positions for our white players and as he gradually developed his pieces, we had hopes of at least a draw. The silicon judges regarded the positions arising as pretty level but, short of time Brett was wiped out as opponent Yang-Fan Zhou headed for his king. So 1-7 it was equalling our biggest ever drubbing posted in round 3 against Barbican 1. Guildford 2 meanwhile, aided by this thumping victory, slipped into the championship group ahead of the unlucky 3Cs on game points scored.





Brett Lund, John Carleton, Nick Ivell and Glenn House, round 8, 20 March 2016

Photo John Saunders


The evening meal saw us relaxed and positive. We felt we had put in a good performance in every game but unfortunately for us it was only in one game that class did not tell in the long run. The journey back saw a series of unusual delays brought about by a road accident closing the A45 very close to the hotel but with no obvious diversion in place. The chessplayer's unusually canny sense of time and space saw at least forty minutes lost as we tried to find a route back.


Division 1a after Rd7

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Cheddleton 1   5-3 5-2 5-2 6-1 5-2 5-2 6-2 39 14
2 Wood Green HK 3-5   3-4 4-3 4-3 5-2 6-2 7- 34 10
3 Barbican 4NCL 1 2-5 4-3   5-3 3-4 4-3 7-1 5-2 32 10
4 Guildford 2 2-5 3-4 3-5   4-4 4-3 7-1 7- 32 7
5 3Cs 1 1-6 3-4 4-3 4-4   3-4 4-3 6-1 28 7
6 Oxford 1 2-5 2-5 3-4 3-4 4-3   5-3 6-2 27 6
7 Spirit of Atticus A 2-5 2-6 1-7 1-7 3-4 3-5   5-3 18 2
8 White Rose 2 2-6 -7 2-5 -7 1-6 2-6 3-5   12 0


At one point Brett was inadvertently abandoned as, unknown to the driver, he had got out of the car to try to get clarification. By a narrow majority it was agreed to go back and pick him up and with the party complete again we followed the now signposted long diversion back to the hotel. The late meal and the unusually long journey meant we had little time for the bar's revitalising produce. Thus we retired with the skipper slightly worried that this break with convention might affect the team's concentration on the morrow.



(Round 8, 20 March)


Spirit of Atticus is a young team, only in its sixth season and for the third time in this brief history we find ourselves in a relegation pool. Up to now we have a 50% survival rate so we began play against Grantham Sharks 1 with optimism if not actual confidence. [Editor's note: it should be stressed that the team is young but the vast majority of the individuals who comprise the team are not].


Sometimes players feel drained after an unsuccessful battle in the Saturday matches and one can only speculate that once Peter Ackley and his opponent Liam Varnam created an interesting position in 8 [slowly played] moves they each had enough doubts to agree the quick draw. The rest of the match continued in a more normal fashion. Martin on board 5 played a possibly unsound opening but it soon gave him the initiative which he carried into a semi-ending and a decisive victory.


Solid draws followed for Glenn on board 4 and Dave Latham on board 7 and the tension was rising. I had dropped a pawn after being outplayed in the opening on board 2 by Peter Roberson but managed to create some play which at least slowed down his progress to victory.



Mutual time shortage saw his win slip away and luckily for us a dead level position soon arose. Sheila completed a nice positional squeeze against Paul Cumbers on board 6 and we were, briefly, two up with two in play. This quickly became one up with one to play when Nick lost an all action game against WGM Klaudia Kulon on board 3. I mention the rank because this was a first for Nick this season having previously met 4 GMs and 1 IM in the first 7 rounds of competition.


We felt that just as my game was a half point gained that this could be a half point lost [or at least we had hopes of a draw or better during play] but we had to admire the fighting spirit of both players.


Thus there was just Brett on board 1 in play against Thomas Rendle. This game had seen the Sharks player with just a small edge because of Brett's isolated queen's pawn but well into the sixth hour of play and in the king and pawn ending the draw was agreed. Victory by 4-3. We find ourselves in the middle [joint 4th place] of the demotion pool with all to play for in the final weekend. As ever we can scarcely wait for the finale.




Division 1d after Rd8

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 3Cs 1   3-4   4-3     7-1 6-1 21 6
2 Oxford 1 4-3     5-3 3-5     6-2 18 6
3 South Wales Dragons         5-3 4-4 4-4 4-3 17 6
4 Spirit of Atticus A 3-4 3-5       4-3   5-3 16 4
5 Cambridge University 1   5-3 3-5     2-6 6-2   16 4
6 Grantham Sharks 1     4-4 3-4 6-2   3-4   17 3
7 Sussex Martlets 1 1-7   4-4   2-6 4-3     11 3
8 White Rose 2 1-6 2-6 3-4 3-5         10 0


Team A

| Rd7 results | Rd8 results | Division 1a Crosstable | Division 1d Crosstable | All Division 1 games in PGN |


4NCL | Steve Connor



Four Nations Chess League

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