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Division 2 4NCL Fourth Weekend, Hinckley Island, 31st March & 1st April 2012 by John Carleton

 

 

Hinckley Island Hotel

 

With the prospect of relegation hanging over us, we headed, in a nonetheless relaxed frame of mind, to meet Warwickshire Select on the Saturday of the fourth weekend at Hinckley Island. This match for us was a visit to the last chance saloon, a long shot but an opportunity to avoid playing the last 4 rounds in the demotion pool of Division 2.

 

Once the teams were published it was clear that the Warwickshire team were not in the mood for taking any chances outranking us on average by over 100 points per board. This may have been in recognition of the fact that we were fielding no fewer than three products of the Warwickshire Academy in our own ranks, including two members of the all conquering County U18 Champions of 1964, but there again it may not.

 

 

Captain: John Carleton

Captain: John Carleton

The games started with Nick Ivell looking bright for us on board 2, Dave Robertson looking under pressure on board 8 and the others not far from "equal chances". As time moved on Peter Ackley on board 5 and myself on board 1 came under increasing pressure and Sheila on board 4 had a dicey position, having overpressed against her opponent John Pitcher's provocative set up. On board 3 Dave Latham uncorked a lovely combinative strike to gain a pawn and then kept the initiative in good style. Steve and Andy were playing solidly on boards 6 and 7 and theirs were amongst the early results each achieving comfortable draws, Andy's after a flurry of activity at the finish.

 

First to finish had been Peter who solved all his problems by sacrificing piece, exchange and a final piece to force a perpetual. Don Mason wriggled out against Nick to set up a repetition on board 2 and Dave on board 8 had to give in after enduring some suffering. I achieved my limited ambition of a draw and we were thus one down with 2 games in play. Sheila was completely lost, even going a piece down, but kept playing in the hope of a miracle. Dave Latham had achieved a technically won but difficult ending but was thwarted by the resourceful junior Richard Weaving who hemmed him in at all opportunities. Sheila gave up the ghost shortly after Dave agreed the draw, her first defeat in 10 games in the Spirit of Atticus colours. We took consolation from our 5-3 defeat; the team seemed to be rediscovering its collective will and we were pleased to have pushed our erstwhile opponents so hard.

 

 

Barbican Youth vs. Spirit of Atticus

 

Thus the two teams went their separate ways, Warwickshire Select moved into the promotion pool and we headed for the demotion pool via Rossini's Ristorante Italiano in Hinckley. Through the diligence of our Entertainment Secretary and the well organised establishment we found we had smooth service, good food and two wine tasters on duty. As Nick [wine taster/red] put it, "Our best evening out to date, marked by tasty meals, pleasant and efficient staff, good company, pleasing ambiance and very good wine, an excellent choice by Dave R [Entertainment Secretary and wine taster/white]". A quick nightcap at the Hotel was sufficient to prepare us for the prospect of a match against, as was by then known, Barbican Youth.

 

 

And so on to Sunday morning and our first match in the relegation pool. We had actually finished 8th [bottom! but it was close] of our half-league and so under the stipulated method for setting we were playing the team who finished 5th in the other league. For those with a mathematical bent there is a nifty little arrangement to ensure colour alternation over this weekend for teams entering the promotion and demotion pools [with the proviso that the teams have met their seeded predicted performance].

 

This system overall, which discards results against the promotion pool [for those fighting relegation like ourselves and vice versa for those in the promotion pool] seems as fair as it can get, but spare a thought for Brown Jack who finished 6th in our pool with 5 points but because they were all scored against the top 4 teams carried forward 0 points whatsoever. [Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg carried forward 5 points, 3C s 4 points and we took forward 3 points].

 

The match itself offered a sizeable challenge as we were 40 points adrift per board on ratings but we took that as a positive: we were 70 points per board better off than the day before. The match took an early turn in our favour with Steve on board 6 emerging from the opening phase the exchange and two pawns up, and although the position was rather blocked both teams could be 99% sure what the result would be. There was an early draw for Sheila on board 4, justifiably if uncharacteristically wary, after her defeat the day before. Peter Ackley followed suit against one of the most youthful [in every respect except for age] of the Barbican Youth team, Julian Farrand, as their position approached a massive liquidation. Dave Robertson on board 8 was having trouble getting his pieces near the halfway line let alone across it but there was no immediate disaster threatened. Andy on board 7, perhaps put off his stride by the prospect of Steve on the adjacent board not drawing, lashed out in a pretty flat position but merely left himself facing an arduous defensive task.

 

 

The spacious Paris Suite playing area at Hinckley Island Hotel

 

The top boards looked balanced if unclear but once again the approach of the time control decided matters: Steve converted his victory to end a drawing streak of 12 games in the 4NCL [13th time lucky as they say; another Atticus record and another one of which the skipper can only dream]. Andy duly gave up what turned out to be an unequal struggle but Dave Latham showed himself to be our man in form. Having endured some uncomfortable pressure Dave turned the tables by converting his b-pawn from a 7 stone weakling into a muscle bulging monster on the 7th rank which could only be stopped at a ruinous cost and thereby putting us one ahead.

 

Nick had played a dynamic Sicilian against an opponent trying to knock him off the board and would have been entitled to play on in a position not without danger but with promise as well; Nick's time shortage and an appreciation that the match was swinging our way fully justified the draw. The swing had happened on board 8 where Dave had struck back emerging from behind the barricades to break into his opponent's position and force resignation. As Dave put it after the game, "The result was never in doubt"; I think he must have been interrupted at this point because I didn't hear the " after the first three and three quarter hours" needed to give this some semblance of truth. I thought my game was heading our way too as the 4 hour mark drew near but my opponent defended well in his time trouble [a main contributing factor being his late arrival for play] and I surely missed better options than the ending which arose. With the match safe there was no question of taking risks in an attempt to win.

 

We look forward to resuming battle and friendships in the final weekend and are determined to enjoy the 4NCL experience to the full.

 

 

Rd7 results Rd8 results

Spirit of Atticus team page

Division 2b Demotion Table Games in PGN

This report is also available here 

 

 

 

4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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