Division 3n, Weekend 4, Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield, 19-20 Mar 2016 by Andy Mort



Weekend 4 is the critical weekend which finally determines which teams go into Promotion and Demotion Pools following the Saturday round. Relegation from this league is not possible, but it had been clear for some time that the C Team would not be competing for promotion. The B Team needed only one point to qualify for the Promotion Pool.



Our B Team faced Manx Ravens, who looked relatively stronger on the top boards than the bottom, and to some extent this was reflected in the outcome.


Steve quickly put us into the lead, winning a Sicilian as Black which featured opposite castled kings; Black’s attack arrived first, and after White missed a simple combination and lost a crucial pawn in his defensive shield, his position crumbled. The match score was quickly levelled when Robbo went in for a sharp theoretical variation in The Sicilian which gave him three minor pieces for a queen. Inability to co-ordinate the pieces quickly, however, led to his sudden demise. Employing a sort of Old Indian Defence, Tom won a piece and succeeded in converting the won ending before he ran out of pawns.


On Board 1, Roy’s quiet opening as White morphed into a rather messier position in which the main threat was Black’s rampaging queen. A queen and knight often combine better than a queen and bishop, and the Manx player advanced his king to support a successful mating attack on the White king. Mike appeared to be doing well against his opponent’s Tarrasch Defence and won the exchange – but in a position in which Black’s two bishops lent powerful support to two central passed pawns. His position gradually deteriorated, and he went under, leaving John on Board 3 to battle for the necessary win. And battle he did, converting his extra pawn advantage to queen versus rook and bishop, but having to work laboriously to find a way to dismantle his opponent’s apparently impregnable ‘ fortress’. However, a forced exchange of the remaining major pieces led to an easily won king and pawn ending. Mission accomplished – just!



Photos by Steve Connor


Cheddleton B defaulted a board against the C Team, and the half point penalty cost them the match, though the win did not benefit us as we were destined to move into different pools on the Sunday. Fortunately, Keith, our Board 6, was able to play a graded game and drew against a stronger opponent.


Richard achieved a very slight edge against his opponent’s Accelerated Fianchetto Defence, but nevertheless shook hands early. David Hulme attacked his opponent’s Sicilian Defence vigorously and sacrificed a piece – unsoundly – but his opponent missed the opportunity to exchange queens and fell for a mating attack. My opponent dismantled my Tarrasch Defence in short order.



B & C (Rounds 7 & 8, 19-20 March)


Rustico, Wakefield

The two most interesting games were John’s on Board 4 and the top board encounter. In the former, John’s usually solid Centre Counter Defence led to an odd position with both sides having loose pawns in the centre and both kings having castled queenside with vast areas of fresh air around them. The young Cheddleton player played the ending with impressive accuracy, his bishop proving more than a match for John’s errant knight.


This left David Phillips to secure the necessary draw, which he did as both players were running short of time, having gradually improved the activity of his pieces to counter Black’s dangerous two pawns’ sacrifice in a sharp line of the Schliemann Defence.


Ready for a change from gastropub food, we opted to dine at Rustico’s, a lively and popular Italian restaurant in the town centre which presents parking challenges - but John managed to locate us eventually to face a round of ironic applause. Volunteer drivers just aren’t appreciated.



The B Team’s opponents in Round 8 were Bradford Knights A, demolishers of the C Team in a previous round and riding high in the table, but the teams looked closely matched on paper. Fairly peaceful early draws were agreed on Steve’s and John’s boards, but there was, to quote Jon Speelman, “bloodshed” elsewhere. In the case of Rokas’ game on Board 1, it was Spirit of Atticus’ blood that was shed. Rokas’ Q.G.D. Defence was rather passive, and uncomfortable pressure escalated until White’s rooks became rampant, and his broadening control of the board let to an irresistible attack on Rokas’ king.


Establishing a Stonewall pawn formation against a King’s Indian set-up, Tom opted to sacrifice a pawn for open lines. The sac did not look entirely convincing, as it involved leaving an isolated pawn as a target on c3 – which was duly rounded up. However, complex minor piece play ensued, which seemed to set Black more problems than White. As the time-control approached with moves to be made under pressure by both sides, Tom suddenly pounced with a decisive assault on Black’s king; mate could only be averted by the loss of a piece, and the winning advantage was duly converted.


Division 3nc after Rd8

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Alba     4½-1½   4½-1½   3½-2 4½-1½ 17 8
2 Bradford DCA Knights A       4-2 3-3 3-3 4-2   14 6
3 Manchester Manticores 1 1½-4½       3½-2½ 4-2   4½-1½ 13½ 6
4 Broadland Bitterns   2-4       4-2 3-3 3½-2½ 12½ 5
5 Spirit of Atticus B 1½-4½ 3-3 2½-3½         4½-1½ 11½ 3
6 3Cs 2   3-3 2-4 2-4     3½-2½   10½ 3
7 Cheddleton 2 2-3½ 2-4   3-3   2½-3½     1
8 Manchester Manticores 2 1½-4½   1½-4½ 2½-3½ 1½-4½       7 0


Honours still even then, until Robbo, in a return to form, nurtured the advantage of his control of the one open file, advancing his king to round up an isolated pawn. Gradually he improved the positions of his rook and knight and created two unstoppable passed kingside pawns. This left David Phillips - again - to try and eke out the critical half point. Anyone hoping for an early tea at this point was to be disappointed, as the game was the last to finish in the room, though not too long after that of the C Team’s own “Marathon Man”. After surviving pressure in the middle-game, David ended up with a doubled isolated pawn hemming in his bishop. He subsequently liberated this miserable piece, and paradoxically, made his opponent’s erstwhile active knight passive in defending perpetual threat threats. After a tough rear-guard action, David found that two widely separated passed pawns supported by a centrally posted knight were too much for his liberated cleric. Thus the final score was 3-3, and a fair result of a tense and hard-fought encounter.


Division 3nd after Rd8

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Bradford DCA Knights B   6-0     3-3 4-2   4-2 17 7
2 Manx Ravens 0-6         4-2 3½-2½ 3½-2½ 11 6
3 Manchester Manticores 3       3½-1½ 3½-2½ 3-3 2-4   12 5
4 Spirit of Atticus C     1½-3½   3-3   3-3 6--1 13½ 4
5 Jorvik 3-3   2½-3½ 3-3     4-2   12½ 4
6 Bradford DCA Knights C 2-4 2-4 3-3         5-1 12 3
7 Holmes Chapel   2½-3½ 4-2 3-3 2-4       11½ 3
8 Cheddleton 3 2-4 2½-3½   -1-6   1-5     0


The C Team match against Cheddleton 3, who had to default two boards, was anything but tense, and we won all four games played, three of them comfortably. Keith won a pawn and converted a same-coloured bishop ending with ease. John achieved a massive space advantage in the opening and weakened his opponent’s defensive pawn shield decisively. As Black in a Sicilian Dragon, Tony shattered the queenside pawns which were sheltering his opponent’s king. The players had opposite-coloured bishops, but whilst White’s remained without influence on f1 for almost all the game, Black’s black-squared bishop operated with murderous effect on the long diagonal. On Board 1, Mike never had any significant advantage during the middle-game, and reached a drawn opposite coloured bishops ending; however, he showed his customary tenacity, stealing space, and eventually cutting off his opponent’s king before delivering mate with his bishop.


And what of the ‘surplus’ team members? In a break from spectating, they adjourned to The Navigation Inn - only to find that flooding had left it closed since December. Feeling better about the last weekend now, Peter?


Team B | Rd7 results | Rd8 results | All Division 3n games in PGN |

Team C

| Rd7 results | Rd8 results |

© 4NCL | Steve Connor


© 4NCL

Four Nations Chess League

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