Division 2b/2c, Weekend 4, Park inn Telford, 4-5 March 2017 by John Carleton




Weekend 4 was, as is the norm in 16 team divisions, the change-over weekend as the cycle in the seeded pools finished and the demotion and championship divisions got underway. Saturday saw us up against our oldest rivals in the 4NCL, Bradford DCA Knights.


In their and our first season 2010-11 they pipped us for the championship of division 3 but we have continued to cross swords periodically in our respective trips up and down the leagues over the years. This particular encounter was a dead rubber in that Bradford were headed for the demotion pool and we were promotion pool bound.



Captain: John Carleton

A reduction in tension might have been anticipated but if it was, it was not apparent as battle commenced. Peter Ackley on board 8 put our first point on the scorecard. For 15 moves his game against Shlok Verma looked perfectly normal with play on opposites of the board coming up. However the young [well, I think it is true to say that 7 years old is actually very young] Bradford player blundered a rook and the contest finished shortly afterwards. On board 6 Bradford's Tony Slinger threw the kitchen sink towards Sheila Jackson's king and indeed picked up her queen in the process. However the cost was too great and Tony threw in the towel with only his queen remaining facing Sheila's avalanche of pieces.



Round 7, Weekend 4, 2016-17


Next to finish was my game on board 1 against Steven Jones. I had dithered in the opening and a blunder left me a pawn down with a wrecked structure. This was a cast iron loss on the way but it is hard to resign too early; I drummed up a little counter-play and some how grovelled out with an extremely fortuitous draw. Martin Mitchell on board 3 added to our lead by calmly going shopping for material on the queenside whilst opponent Roger Jennings started aiming at his king. Martin's judgement was vindicated as he calmly returned units to the king's defences taking material on offer in this sector of the board also. The board 2 game between Brett Lund and Bradford skipper Andy Bak provided entertainment for the spectators after a slow start. With Brett apparently better, Andy seemed close to equalising.




However with the game still some distance short of the 20th move Andy was down to 1 minute plus the increment and Brett down to 3 minutes and a blunder by Andy finished the contest to give us victory in the match with 3 games in play. Tom Bimpson on board 7 against Dave Patrick also fell the way of Atticus by a blunder, Dave gifting a piece after a fluctuating struggle.


Nick Ivell on board 5 sacrificed a pawn for unclear complications against Christopher Bak in a game defined by castling on opposite sides. Even after the queens were exchanged matters seemed unclear, but gradually Nick probed the weaknesses in the black position and broke through decisively after the time control. Glenn House on board 4 had the final say showing unrelenting and unerring accuracy to exploit the good knight versus bad bishop ending he set up around move 40 against Jim Nicholson. Just five and a half hours play was clocked up this week; Glenn's win was nicely timed for the evening meal and the victory by 7- was a record for the team.









Round 8, Weekend 4, 2016-17


Commiserations to Bradford; there will be plenty of days better than this, and good luck in future games particularly to Shlok for whom we hope this season in the 4NCL proves a springboard to a happy and successful future playing our great game.


And so to dinner accompanied by supporters in chief Steve Connor and The Grubmeister himself Dave Robertson. On this occasion the maestro's choice of restaurant outdid even his selections from earlier in the season and a wide variety of food and drink was consumed and enjoyed by all before heading back for a quick nightcap at the hotel.


Round 8 and the commencement of the 4 rounds that would culminate in four teams heading for the first division was upon us on Sunday. We, as second place finishers in our pool, were paired against Grantham Sharks 2, a team noted for punching above weight [I mean chess-wise of course] who finished third in theirs. We have, to which I have alluded in a previous report, great admiration for the team ethic of the Sharks and in particular their ability to celebrate.



After barely an hour's play gone the first result of the match was posted, a draw on board 1 between Grantham captain Ben Purton and myself. I have no doubt that a fair number of observers will have seen the early result posted and put this down to "Captains' day off" syndrome but I had stumbled in a passive position and when offered a way out in the form of a draw offer I took it thus completing my shortest ever draw. Ben on the other hand, as he told me after the game, felt he stood better but that after a frantic week of captaincy activity, which had left him a little tired and emotional, decided to take a punt on the draw offer.


Whist awaiting the play to unfold I decided to stroll through Telford Town centre which did not seem to be at its best in the wet conditions. On my return to the playing arena another game had finished, a rather uneventful 16 moves between Peter and David Ivan on board 8. Looking at the six remaining games, matters were definitely in the balance and I was relieved to see a draw on board 2 where Brett was looking uncomfortable against Samuel Milson.


The Sharks player surely had an edge but perhaps unable to decide how to continue fell in with a repetition. Thus we were all square after 3 games and only 48 moves played in total; not our normal style. The final 5 games did not disappoint however and saw 10 players going flat out with no quarter given or requested. The first decisive result came on board 6 where Sheila was playing Claire Summerscale, Chair of the 4NCL management board no less. With Claire's king position perilous but her own not totally safe Sheila engineered a neat finishing combination which won the house and we were a point ahead with the half way stage reached. Next to finish was Tom on board 7 against Aditya Munshi.



I was impressed by the 13 year old Grantham player who, unbeaten so far in this year's 4NCL was aiming for a fifth successive win , and showed himself prepared to mix it from the off. Tom was a willing accomplice and the resulting match-up was interesting and hard fought throughout ending in a draw by perpetual check soon to arrive in a queen and pawn ending. We got up to 4 points with a vintage Martin game against Liam Varnam.


Division 2b after round 7

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Alba   5-3 6-2 5-3 6-2 5-2 5-2 6-1 39 14
2 Spirit of Atticus A 3-5   4-4 4-3 4-3 6-2 5-2 7- 35 11
3 Cambridge University 1 2-6 4-4   4-4 5-2 5-2 5-2 6-1 33 10
4 Warwickshire Select 1 3-5 3-4 4-4   4-3 5-3 4-3 6-0 31 9
5 KJCA Kings 2-6 3-4 2-5 3-4   4-3 3-4 4-3 24 4
6 Guildford 3 2-5 2-6 2-5 3-5 3-4   4-3 6-1 24 4
7 White Rose 2 2-5 2-5 2-5 3-4 4-3 3-4   4-4 22 3
8 Bradford DCA Knights A 1-6 -7 1-6 0-6 3-4 1-6 4-4   11 1


There was unusual inter-play with Liam apparently playing with fire but surviving with his king in the middle. Martin kept peppering away at the white position and exchanges at the cost of a mere pawn helped the black forces into decisive territory. Liam resigned when faced with the loss of a piece. Thus we were, in golf parlance, dormie 2. Glenn and Nick were the two from whom we needed a half point to win the match. Nick had been under severe and dangerous pressure earlier in the session in his game with Guy Batchelor but by now was the only one with winning chances, having the better minor piece in a rook and minor piece ending and a pawn up to boot.


Division 2c after round 8

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Alba   5-3 4-3 6-2 5-3       20 8
2 Spirit of Atticus A 3-5     4-4 4-3     5-2 17 5
3 The ADs 3-4         4-3 4-3 4-4 16 5
4 Cambridge University 1 2-6 4-4     4-4   6-1   16 4
5 Warwickshire Select 1 3-5 3-4   4-4   5-2     16 3
6 West is Best 1     3-4   2-5   4-3 4-4 14 3
7 Sussex Martlets 1     3-4 1-6   3-4   5-2 14 2
8 Grantham Sharks 2   2-5 4-4     4-4 2-5   13 2


Nick pressed his advantage home efficiently, immobilising Guy's pieces to force resignation. Glenn had sacrificed two pawns against Graeme Kafka to break into his opponent's defensive set-up but this proved over-optimistic and Graeme was able to swap rooks into a minor piece ending two pawns to the good. To the surprise of the audience Glenn was able to stay active and magically switch into a drawn bishop of opposite colour ending. Once again we had finished on a positive note with a good save, no defeats and a 5- 2 victory.


Now we adjourn for 7 weeks knowing that every game in each of our final 3 matches could be vital. This is the essence of the Britain's best team tournament, the 4NCL, and we can hardly wait.


4NCL | Steve Connor



Engine Analysis

In the above games you can activate the engine analysis board by clicking the E8 (assuming White on bottom, D1 otherwise) shortcut square on the main chessboard.


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