Division 3n, Weekend 4, Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield, 18-19 March 2017 by Andy Mort




Rounds 7 & 8, Weekend 4, 2016-17


Weekend 4 threatened to be an anxious time for the B Team captain in that the additional presence of our A Team Captain and Grubmeister conjured up disturbing memories of OFSTED inspections. Although the latter did maintain a critical eye on my neighbouring game, however, the former absconded to make a lightning dash down the M1 and back before settling down to watch the rugby, abandoning any pretence of responsibility.


In the top half of the Swiss draw, our opponents in Round 7 were always going to be tough, and so the Irish team, Gonzaga proved. Relatively youthful compared with us – and that’s not difficult – they played the early stages of the games with unnerving speed and with apparent knowledge of current opening theory.


After two hours’ play, our prospects did not look good, and even a ‘whitewash’ seemed a possibility. Mike McDonagh’s position on Board 3 looked our most promising, only in that it seemed equal. However, he was, in fact, the first to go down after entering a king and pawn ending in which he was always a crucial move behind. The remaining games were all protracted battles, though my bad bishop v knight late middle-game was only ever going to have one outcome – defeat following torture.





On Board 1, John had lost a pawn out of the opening and faced connected passed pawns in the endgame, but achieved an unlikely draw after generating some energetic counter-play against his opponent’s denuded king.


Steve was ‘under the cosh’ against his promising young opponent right from the opening, his queenside attack being less dangerous than his opponent’s kingside attack because of his passive minor pieces. Having somehow avoided being mated, however, he reached a lost ending which his opponent played with great accuracy. Opponent Henry Li’s even more crushing victory in the next round confirmed that he is an opponent to be feared.


On Board 6, John had achieved a probably even but passive position but was under severe time-pressure. However, his opponent over-pressed, refused to accept that he was no longer winning, and allowed John to create two unstoppable connected passed pawns on the kingside.


By this time, in the remaining game, Robbo, having embarked on a queen odyssey that looked fraught with danger, manoeuvred his queen back to a protected square, and then won a pawn to leave him with two passed and connected queenside pawns. Sadly, he over-pressed and, exhausted, went wrong and lost after a long struggle.


Avoiding the parking difficulties in Wakefield Town Centre, our dining choice was Malagor Fine Thai Cuisine, not far from the next junction up the M1 – our first Thai for a long time, but not for our Skipper following his sequence of meals with the A Team. After some initial grumbling, he tucked in like the rest – and for those choosing the Banquet, there was much to tuck into and some spare for our resident gluttons. The locality has not offered much in the way of good eateries in the past, and the Malagor was adjudged a good ‘find’.






Cedar Court Hotel's spacious Cedar suite was perfect for the nine, 6-board matches.

Photos by Steve Connor


And so to Sunday, with another challenging match against Manchester Manticores 2, who are not significantly weaker than their first team. In contrast with Saturday’s sustained battles, the match started with three very early draws on boards 2, 3, and 4. This was less predictable in the cases of John Cooper and Steve Connor than in that of Mike Johnson, who, uncharacteristically, agreed a draw in 12 moves – this a man who usually asks for a refund if he has not been at the board for at least 5 hours. There was an explanation, however. Owing to Mike’s having forgotten a dog-sitting commitment, we were nearly forced to default a board. Luckily, in heroic fashion, Mike’s 86-year old father stepped into the breach, but an early return to Chesterfield was still necessitated.



Thereafter, we fell apart, losing the last three games to record another heavy defeat. On Board 1, John Hall had been under pressure from the opening, facing the bishop pair with passive pieces and an inflexible pawn structure, my Tarrasch Defence was dismantled by my opponent’s clever combination, and Steve Lloyd eventually succumbed after his aggressive kingside play was parried.


Not our most successful weekend, but no-one can say that we did not deserve our slide down the table, outplayed by two of the league’s strongest teams. Less challenging matches ought to lie ahead in the final weekend, when we hope to arise like the Phoenix, if, probably, more arthritically.


© 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.


User commands for the engine analysis board:

  • explore variations by clicking the from and to squares for the intended move

  • click the arrow buttons to move back/forth through the variation being analyzed

  • click the plus button at the right of the arrow buttons to force the engine analysis board to auto update following the position of the main chessboard; this is useful for instance when following a live broadcast; limitations: some pages might not offer this functionality and some browsers do not support this functionality

  • click on the side to move indicator to switch the side to move; this is useful to check for threats in the given position

  • click on the principal variation to execute its first move on the engine analysis board

  • click on the evaluation mark to activate/deactivate the engine


© 4NCL

Four Nations Chess League

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