Division 1a, Weekend 2, St Johns Hotel, Solihull, 13-14 Jan 2018 by John Carleton




The St Johns Hotel, Solihull

Following the pleasantly surprising 50% score of the first weekend the team headed off to Solihull in optimistic if not confident mood. We had crossed swords with each of our opponents for this weekend in our previous short but busy visit to the heady heights of division 1 in 2015-16. On that occasion we scored a surprise win against our round 3 opponents Grantham Sharks 1 and lost a game we felt we were winning at one stage against Oxford 1 [Editor's note: I'm sure we've heard you say this about other matches too] the opposition in round 4.


And so play commenced in the spacious playing area of St. Johns hotel. The early stages seemed promising for us with the black players all achieving equality or close to it and the white players showing aggressive intent. As the match unfolded we were brought down to earth. After an early comfortable draw on board 8 for Peter Ackley against Hugh Murphy the team "black wall" took a real denting.



Captain: John Carleton

Firstly, I drifted into a passive position a pawn down but, and here I must reassure my friends, that I did not construct a help mate, I blundered into a mating net. Sheila Jackson on board 6 followed my lead allowing her opponent to force a won king and pawn ending after she had obtained a definite edge in the middle game. In the meantime Martin Mitchell on board 5 had accepted Thomas Rendle's draw offer in a safe but not particularly menacing position. On board 1 we had IM Craig Hanley our highest ever rated player making his debut, but he ran into Ameet Ghasi, who not only was higher rated still but also proved adept at taking material as Craig gradually threw the kitchen sink at the Grantham player's defences.


Rounds 3 & 4, Weekend 2, 2018

This defeat was matched by Brett Lund on board 3 who got big pressure for a pawn against Peter Batchelor: when he won a sacrificed pawn back Brett firstly unnecessarily swapped off rooks from a possibly won ending to one which left him in an ending needing precise play to draw which Brett did not appreciate until too late. On board 4 Nick Ivell against Dimitar Daskalov maintained the balance calmly throughout moving into a drawn king and pawn ending from a double rook ending in which his opponent pushed to try and generate activity but with no success. That left board 7, Dave Latham against Louise Head in play. This turned out to be many games within one game. As early as move 20 Louise turned down an implicit draw by repetition when two pawns ahead. By move 40 it was two bishops and 3 pawns for Dave against bishop, knight and 3 pawns for Louise. Move 70 saw the arrival of king and two bishops v king and knight. Dave was able to win this theoretically won but tricky ending by mate on move 98.




The finish was timely and we headed off to the local Italian restaurant bolstered, despite the defeat by 5-2, by Dave's tenacity and success against a resolute opponent. We ate, drank and were merry, the evening just flying by. We could not help but notice that it was a very high-class establishment as it was frequented not only by division two's hottest property Manx Liberty, but also a most erudite group that included controllers and other wonderful people like that and [Editor's note: I think we've heard enough of this].


The Spirit of Atticus is now in its 8th season and in the early years acquired the reputation for being much superior on Saturdays as compared to Sundays. There were also wild theories about how this situation could have arisen. Clearly the statistical basis for this reputation was not significant and we felt quite slighted by the tenor of some of the speculation, to the extent that it could easily have driven us to excessive drinking. Suffice it to say that this Saturday evening saw only the speediest of visits to the hotel bar before turning in for the evening as we sought to match last weekend's Sunday performance. We were playing Oxford 1 on the live boards together with the rest of Division One pool [a] matches. Our match developed speedily with seven games over before the arrival of the time control.


The bottom four boards finished all square with dominant victories for the white pieces on the bottom two boards each in just 33 moves: Peter for us on board 8 against Zoe Varney and Henrique Aguiar for Oxford against Dave. Boards 5 and 6 were drawn in under 40 moves: Sheila on board 6 threaded her way through complications to emerge at least equal against Pavel Asenov. On board 5 Tom Eckersley-Waites and Martin agreed peace when the position was about to reduce to two bishops against bishop and knight but with four pawns each all on the same side of the board. A win for each side then followed each in under 30 moves; firstly Craig on board one against David Martins blundered away a tense but level position [or so it seemed to me] which had arisen after original interplay by the contestants. Then Brett was able to dominate the long white diagonal leading to the white king and mate became inevitable.


Division 1a after round 4

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Guildford 1

  7-1 7-   7-1   8-0 29 8
2 Oxford 1     3-4 4-3   5-3 6-1 19 6
3 White Rose 1 1-7     5-2 6-2   5-2 18 6
4 Grantham Sharks 1 -7 4-3   4-4   5-2   14 5
5 3Cs 1   3-4 2-5 4-4   6-1   16 3
6 Barbican 4NCL 2 1-7   2-6     3-4 5-2 12 2
7 Spirit of Atticus A   3-5   2-5 1-6 4-3   11 2
8 The ADs 0-8 1-6 2-5     2-5   6 0


Nick, who had jettisoned the exchange at quite an early stage in search of activity against Christopher Wu on board 4, was finally forced to accept defeat and we were 4-3 down with my game against Justin Tan on board still going and in due course into the sixth hour. This was surely a technical win from a goodly distance away from the finishing line for Justin and he allowed me little chance, and certainly none that I found, of wriggling free. Oxford 1, 5, Spirit of Atticus A, 3. An echo of Saturday's match in that we were competitive for a good way but eventually the better team showed its superiority in each match.


Just 4 weeks between rounds; we await more opportunities in rounds 5 and 6 taking consolation from the fact that we are 2 match points better off than we were after 4 rounds on our only previous visit to division one and we were relegated only on "goal average" in that season.


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




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