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The Northern 4NCL 3rd Weekend, 19th-20th Feb 2011 by John Carleton



Barcelo Majestic Hotel, Harrogate


The third weekend took us to the luxurious Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate to play in the aptly named Majestic Hotel. This hotel is famous for its Victorian facade impressively visible from much of the town centre but also because it was the only building in Harrogate hit by a bomb [unexploded fortunately] during the second world war.




John Carleton

Apparently the pilot had been refused entry during the pre-war years because his jacket was not up to standard and so was out for revenge. Strangely enough the [as ever] staggeringly deep Atticus preparations for the weekend [which leaves many of our rivals gasping in amazement] had established that in order to enjoy our Saturday evening meal at our restaurant of choice we too would have to meet the demands of a dress code. This was an extra pressure felt by some of our more sensitive players which fortunately did not detract from the heated discussion on several key lines of the Sicilian Defence, inter alia, which debate is such a prominent feature of our pre-weekend regime.

The extra hazard of copious snow had to be negotiated before we could settle to our first match of what promised to be our toughest weekend so far. Overall there was one default only, although one or two players did cut it fine as the default hour approached.



Spirit of Atticus v Bradford DCA Kts 1


Much of the attention focused on our match with Bradford DCA Knights A in the top of the table clash between the two unbeaten teams. The tension was palpable and relatively quick draws followed on boards 2 and 6 but in differing circumstances. On board 2 Peter found himself faced by a master of defence; perhaps the manner of Peter's play with the black pieces in previous games had gone before him, but for whatever reason conflict was not easy to come by in this game and Peter downed tools to nurture a pint of the local brew.


On board 6 Andy equalised after some awkward moments and was content to 'draw with black'. Two players seemed very relaxed: Dave on board 4 for us and Ben Hague on board 1 for Bradford. Each delivered characteristic impressive wins. Ben sacrificed for initiative, and soundness is not the absolute consideration. He backed himself to outplay me in the resulting melee. His judgement was absolutely vindicated with a most publishable [I know they are all published thanks to the brilliant 4NCL backroom workers, but you know what I mean] win.


Robbo's game was also a vintage of its sort: a deadly black Sicilian leading first to the gain of a pawn, then pseudo-sacrifices to rip open the white king's defences and finally conversion to a simple technically won ending. There was a pleasing logical thread linking the whole game; oh how rarely are we able to say that about our games!




Chez La Vie

The two remaining games had Atticus playing the white pieces but under pressure. Steve on board 3 had played an uncharacteristically hesitant opening saddling himself with some weaknesses. Gradually he fought back to equalise and secured the draw.


Mike too had the worst of the opening and found himself suffering what appeared a lethal bind. He broke out boldly but with the draw in sight faltered and was condemned to further suffering.



The team supported him nobly until the lure of the bar just across the corridor proved irresistible. Thus Mike was left to struggle with only the five remaining games[!] of the titanic Yorvik v Holmes Chapel match still in play and one or two others from the remaining matches for company. In the end resignation was forced and Mike was able to join the team for our  celebrations of the match; we were determined to do this  with as much gusto as for the previous games;  the result had not turned as we had hoped but we felt we had contributed fully to the struggle.


Thus, after due liquid refreshment, we headed into Harrogate for our meal. Soon we were captivated by the ambience and indeed the wines of 'Chez La Vie' and an excellent meal was enjoyed by all. There was a moment of sudden sobriety when the bill arrived but nothing that couldn't be sorted out with the aid of a nightcap back at the Majestic.

Although Sunday's game featured us, now lying second in the league, against second from bottom team and fellow Merseysiders Aigburth, we had no illusions that this would be anything other than a very tough encounter. They had come close to victory on Saturday and there was a relaxed air about their squad. However, cometh the hour cometh the man, and Peter on board 2 led us on our journey with an impressive victory against Roger Williamson. As with Dave's game the day before there was an impressive sustained aggressive logic to this performance. The clean kill made this perhaps the Atticus game of the tournament so far.


The large and spacious playing room at the hotel was an ideal setting for the matches in rounds 5 & 6.


Meanwhile all was not going totally smoothly for us. Andy on board 6 was meeting stout resistance and could claim little more than equal chances. Mike on board 5 had walked into a nasty opening line and was fighting to try and create any play in a technically lost ending. Dave on 4 had, for complex reasons, deserted 1.e4 and this did not look like a great decision as his pawn structure began to appear increasingly fragile. Steve on 3 grabbed the initiative early on but gradually this dissipated and he seemed to look somewhat worse. Peace was agreed in this match with both sides appearing wary.


  Round 5   Round 6

In my game Miroslav Gruca had a rush of blood in deciding to try and knock me off the board from the very opening. Fortunately for me the threats were rather hollow and he found himself condemned to a long and arduous defence with his queen shut out of play. Meanwhile Dave generated active play and a draw was agreed and Mike had to bow to the inevitable defeat. Thus we stood at 2-2. Andy was playing on in case I didn't win and whilst doing so generated a little pressure which yielded a piece winning combination [or cheapo to give it its technical name]. When my anticipated result finally arrived Andy's win quickly followed to see us win 4-2 but under no illusions that we had just had yet another close encounter.

Rd5 results Rd6 results

Spirit of Atticus team page

Northern league Table Games in PGN


This report can also be seen here.


Additional reports by John Carleton

The Northern 4NCL Second Weekend
The Northern 4NCL First Weekend







- 4NCL