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The Northern 4NCL 1st Weekend, 6th-7th Nov 2010 by John Carleton



John Carleton



Barcelo Redworth Hall, nr. Darlington

The first weekend of the newly formed northern branch of Britain's most prestigious team tournament got under way at Barcelo Redworth Hotel, beautifully appointed albeit bewildering in its internal geography, on the outskirts of Darlington.


With only the lists of registered players to guide us we anticipated a possible rough ride from Manchester Manticores in our Saturday match and perhaps a more straightforward task on Sunday facing Bradford DCA Knights B team. As is frequently the case in such matters the actuality proved somewhat different.


Round 1


Manchester Manticores were without their two most highly rated registered players and because of a late cry-off were doomed to scoring the only defaults of the weekend [one in each round]. Thus Spirit of Atticus scored the first point in the history of this branch of the competition and approached the task of adding to this score with relish. At the outset Dave Robertson on board 4 seemed most likely to notch our first "genuine" win quickly setting up a mobile centre which soon converted to a bone in Black's throat in the form of a big passed pawn on d6. This likelihood soon vanished as Steve Connor had settled into a very smooth rhythm on board 3 with the black pieces, Steve boldly favoured two knights against two bishops, set up a bind that netted a pawn and left his opponent facing only further discomfort and material loss. The resignation appeared early at first glance but a little study showed it to be totally justified.




Peter Ackley on board 2

Peter Ackley on board 2 agreed a draw in a somewhat stodgy position each side facing a strongly placed opposition knight severely restricting their options. As [true for both sides] the "cure" of removing the knight was even worse than the original illness, and correctly judging that the match was progressing rather well, Peter agreed a draw.


My match reached the outcome that seemed inevitable fairly soon after my opponent unsoundly sacrificed a piece in the opening. Then, after a rather sketchy opening [as ever, understatement is one of my strengths], Mike on board 5 sprung into action. Firstly a pawn was shed to obtain some elbow room. An exchange sacrifice soon followed and White was defenceless; Mike clinically delivered the full point.


Meanwhile Andy Mort our scheduled board 6, did not have the afternoon off. Instead he played against Bradford's reserve and the extremely tough battle that resulted saw Andy victorious approaching 4 hours play. In completing this match Andy set a record for a gap between successive Atticus games of approximately 35 years [If any Atticus old-timers fancy a pop at this record we will be glad to accommodate their attempt]. This left Dave alone still in play against his opponent who many felt showed a commendable if somewhat surprisingly long-lasting interest in the ending of king, two knights and two pawns [Dave] versus king and bishop [Himself]. Dave was in due course victorious.


Preparations for Round 2



With scarcely a backward glance at Yorvik and Cheddleton 2 still locked in battle and the splattering of games in the other matches round the room, we hurried to the bar to gather our strength. After a couple of drinks we had a couple of drinks more and then boarded our taxi headed for what Dave's assiduous research had revealed is one of the finest curry houses in England outside of Bradford. In fact, the length of the journey was such that we thought we might actually arrive in Bradford.


Before we could get amongst the food we had of course to stock up on drinks, and at this point came the most tense phase of the entire weekend: the waiters gathered round the table, five of the Atticus team fidgeted nervously and the sixth, Dave submerged into a trance. He sniffed the wine before him, his face inscrutable. Then, furrowing his brow and looking skywards Dave seemed to be summoning divine help to fathom some mystery before suddenly awakening to announce to the assembly that this was a very fine wine. The relief was palpable; waiters returned to their duties, the team threw the wine down their throats with gusto and the excellent food was enjoyed by one and all.


Round 2


And so, the match against Bradford B got underway, and it quickly became apparent that our youthful opponents were ready for battle. They had lost the day before to their senior team, [containing the highest rated players on view for the weekend] but the margin of 4-2 was not undeserved and hinted at their potential.



The Surtees Conference Room, where conditions were of the usual 4NCL high standard


photo Pat Bennett (Holmes Chapel)


Nonetheless, Steve was once again the man in a hurry, opening the scoring for us by the simple expedient of grabbing a pawn and exchanging down to a won ending which he duly won avoiding his opponent's attempts to cause confusion.


Robbo meanwhile was involved in a tactical melee which saw him emerge with 4 pawns for a piece; alas by then all routes for the white pieces were heading for Dave's king and he was helpless as the Bradford player levelled the match scores with an all round impressive performance.


Board 2 was next to finish; despite playing the black side of an exchange French Peter soon found himself in a lively position. He quickly adapted to the changing face of the game and assumed almost total control. It is possible Peter's opponent missed some tactical chances to extend the fight but the result was a reward for Peter's controlled aggression. My game was next to conclude doubling our advantage; the position suddenly went from somewhat advantageous for me to overwhelming as my opponent tried to attack more quickly than was warranted by the position. We thus needed one draw from the bottom two boards to clinch the match and for a good while Andy on board 6 seemed to offer Atticus the better prospects for this happy outcome; we were soon disabused of the notion that matters would be easy when his opponent stoked up a sustained attack to break through decisively for another impressive Bradford victory.


By this time Mike had gradually worked his way back into the game [from a position arising from an extremely sketchy opening on this occasion] and had exchanged to an ending where he had even gained a not very valuable pawn. The draw was his for the asking and in making the request Mike ensured a happy start for the Spirit of Atticus who now lie 2nd in the newly formed league [on alphabetical order!].


On the evidence of this first weekend, the competition promises many close matches and interesting chess over the coming months.


Rd1 results Rd2 results

Spirit of Atticus team page

Northern league Table Games in PGN


This report can also be seen here and here.


Additional reports






- 4NCL