Division 3n, Weekend 4, Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel, 17-18 March 2018 by Andy Mort




That Alex McFarlane is a tease: every weekend he promises a Swiss System draw, and then this weekend he announces before the Saturday round that he’s operating a “sort of Swiss System”. Maybe it’s a Scots Swiss System. The rules of engagement were to become yet murkier, however.


Because the ferry transporting the young Enniscorthy team was unable to dock at Holyhead, which resulted in a full team default, we were threatened on the Sunday with the possibility of “half a triangular match” – or was it my hearing? Easy to see why there’s an arbiter vacancy advertised on the 4NCL website; don’t think I’ll be applying if the job’s that complex.


Warwickshire Select 2, who ‘shaded’ us on ratings, were our opponents on the Saturday. We ‘got off to a flier’ when John Cooper won the exchange with a skewer and then induced his opponent to resign under the threat of a Philidor mate. I then evened the score after playing an inferior opening line and being slaughtered on the white squares. On Board six, David, having lost the exchange, succumbed to a kingside attack generated by his opponent’s greater central control. Then Mike agreed a draw following one of his ‘minimal edge’ White Queens Pawn openings – well before the first time-control, and so our salivary glands could relax.


On Board 2, John Hall’s game was by now pretty complicated. Following, effectively, a King’s Gambit opening (having transposed from 1.f4), John, as Black, had been attacking the black squares whilst his opponent challenged the white squares. After infiltrating his opponent’s kingside, John won (?) two rooks for a queen, but they did not co-ordinate well with his minor pieces, and White’s active queen and central pawn mass won the day. On Board 1, Tom, still trying to convince the sceptics that The London System can be a potent attacking weapon, emerged from a middle game in which he was at one point probably losing, to win another fine attacking game after queening his rampant outside passed a pawn.


Rounds 7 & 8, Weekend 4, 2018



And so to the serious business of the day. Unusually, we had the luxury of an hour in the splendid Blackedge Brewery Tap before sampling the delights of Spice Valley, an Indian restaurant which we thought would make a refreshing change from our usual gastropub adventure. The Jorvik team had eaten here the previous 4NCL weekend and been served extremely late. Having been served our meals very punctually, we concluded that their mistake must have been to betray their Yorkshire origins. Or it could have been that the snow made the restaurant less busy? Any smugness on our part was soon dissipated, however, when, after the meal, we were unable to hire a taxi for over ninety minutes. For the eventual taxi arrival we are indebted to the indefatigable member of staff who eventually pleaded with the taxi company that she had “three elderly gentlemen” stranded far from home. Tom and I were quite flattered, but I’m not sure what Mike, the ‘baby’ of our team, thought of the description, though he is certainly a gentleman. I believe that Jorvik, made of sterner Yorkshire stuff, yomped back from their eating venue in a blizzard.




Oh, yes – the chess. On Sunday, the snow, unsurprisingly, created mayhem, with one whole team and several individuals having to default. Our controllers have cool heads, however, and not just because they choose to site their desk in a permanent draught. The composition of some teams was ‘tweaked’, and we were offered the option of playing under a reduced time limit of all moves in ninety minutes, plus increments, if both captains agreed - a change we agreed to with Shropshire 1, our next formidable opponents. If anything, they were slightly more highly rated than our Saturday opponents, but a close match was in prospect, and so it turned out.


John Cooper’s game looked fairly even out of the opening, until his opponent, leaving his king in the centre, unleashed a violent kingside attack whose potency was not at first apparent, but whose power gradually became ominously clear. Mike equalised comfortably with his reliable Grunfeld Defence, and soon agreed a draw. Meanwhile, the juggernaut that is Colm was calmly demolishing his opponent’s initially solid-looking defence. After winning a pawn in the opening, he was forced to return it, but in regaining the pawn, his opponent fell behind in development to such an extent that Colm’s rooks controlled the d and e files, and then the seventh rank, to murderous effect. Eventually I soaked up my opponent’s pressure and then generated sufficient king-side counter-play for a draw to be reasonably agreed just before the time-control.



Again, our top two boards were the last to finish. John Hall‘s vigorous opening left him with over-extended pawns, and after occupying the vacant central squares, his opponent won a pawn to enter an ending where he had knight and bishop against John’s bishop pair, and ending that was never going to be easy to win. The extra pawn did not count when pieces were liquidated to leave opposite coloured bishops, and John’s resilience had maintained the level match score. Unfortunately, Tom, having withstood a lot of early pressure on the queenside, mounted a trademark kingside counter-attack, which, however was not quite good enough, and he lost after, apparently, rejecting a winning sacrifice in time-trouble.


Our two narrow losses against strong opposition were fair – and creditable - results, but have lowered us towards the middle of the table. However, having played several of the top seeds already, we live in expectation of victories in the final weekend at Doncaster.


Team B

| Rd7 results | Rd8 results | Division 3n Score Table | All Division 3n Games in PGN |


© 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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