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Division 2, Fourth Weekend, Hinckley Island, 23rd-24th Mar 2013 by John Carleton

 

 
   
 
   

The message from the heavens was clear, as part of the celebrations following the recent ceremonies to confirm the bishop of Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury [AKA Bishops of opposite colour], "The snow must go on".

 

The defiant 4NCL Arbiters led by Dave Welch responded trenchantly, "The show must go on". Of course nothing is simple and on Friday the emails, as did the snow, came in regular flurries. One of the more unusual aspects of life on Planet Chess is that the problems tend to grow [and grow] before any resolution is reached. Thus many issues were addressed which may not have appeared to the uninitiated to further the matter in hand. An excellent example was a brief treatise addressing the fundamental flaws of lawyers which met a robust defence [but there again they are used to defending the indefensible aren't they?]. Saturday morning arrived with the arbiters adopting a watching brief and indeed by the start of play at 2:00pm most had managed to reach the venue although for a few the journeys required proved untenable.

 

 

John Carleton

Alas, the hotel did not prove as adaptable as the travelling hordes and most rooms were not available before the start of play [I did meet someone who knew someone who got a room before 2:00]. For many teams the Saturday match was vital for determining whether they were bound for the promotion or demotion section of their division for the final four rounds. For us life in the demotion pool was assured but Saturday's match was still crucial as any score was likely to carry forward and a win or draw would definitely count towards our demotion pool placing. Our opponents were Poisoned Pawns and we were confident only that a tough battle lay ahead. It was a match of two halves; the first half started with 3 quick draws on boards 2, 4 and 5, Sheila, Dave Latham and myself managing just 51 moves between us. Perhaps, sitting in a lounge for 2 hours guarding a suitcase is not the ideal preparation for competitive chess. [Editor's note: I've seen some pathetic excuses in my time and this is right up there with them].

 

 

(left) Peter Ackley, winning in fine style.

 

The be-suited Peter Ackley, whose entrance sent gasps of admiration echoing amongst the sprinkling of ladies present, showed that he could not only talk the talk but could also walk the walk as he delivered checkmate in fine style to bring us to the halfway stage with a narrow lead. The second half of the game showed that there was plenty of energy for competition in the games still in play. On board 8 Dave Robertson had been outplayed in the opening in impressive style by Svetlana Sucikova and though he fought the inevitable defeat could not be delayed indefinitely. On each of the remaining three boards Nick [board 1] Martin [3] and Andy Mort [6] had edges of varying degrees but with none able to force victory a 4-4 draw resulted.

 

And so for our evening meal we moved on to Rossini's Restaurant in Hinckley. One of the main questions over the pre-match beers in this fine establishment was how we should regard the match result. As we would have settled for a draw before the game should we therefore celebrate? Or should we curse our luck in not being able to finish off our redoubtable opponents? All speculation was ended quite speedily when Entertainment Secretary Dave Robertson bought in a couple of bottles of Prosecco to toast the achievements of the day. Just to be safe he bought us some bottles of wine too so we could celebrate in advance in case a win was forthcoming in round 8 on the next day [Thanks again David]. The food was excellent and with several of our team showing a command of Italian that deeply impressed the management a complimentary round of Limoncello was laid on for us. Fortified for the journey back to the hotel and quite tired and emotional to boot, it was a smaller proportion of the group than usual that retired to the bar to round off the day.

 

 
 

Sheila Jackson v Nikita Ayvazyan

 

Position after 26.Nc5. Black to play

   

Sunday morning saw us paired against Barbican Youth who had impressed us in finishing top of the demotion pool last year and we knew that a tight match was inevitable. Superstitious souls amongst our group may have taken heart from Nigel Short dropping in on our breakfast table to discuss briefly the sporting issues of the day such as England's gloomy Test Match and Guildford 8 San Marino 0 [I think that's what he said]. The previous occasion on which Nigel dropped in on us, last season, Dave Robertson was lifted to bring in a vital win to save a draw in a big match. This time Dave got us off to a flying start fittingly playing a la Nigel with 4.Ng5 against the two knights defence and soon establishing overwhelming material superiority.

 

 

Rd8: Spirit of Atticus against Barbican Youth

 

The rest of the match was exceedingly tense but there was soon another result on the scorecard. Dave Latham on board 5 seemed well on his way to showing that his provocative opening, leaving his king in the middle but grabbing a pawn, was leading to significant advantage when a blunder gave his opponent the game and levelled the match. Peter Ackley, not quite as smooth looking as on Saturday, nonetheless landed his second smooth win of the weekend and when Andy on board 6 and opponent Julian Farrand decided enough was enough and retired to discuss their previous game from 35 years ago we were again one point up at the halfway stage. With the approach of the time control two draws were agreed: Nick comfortably with black on board 1 and I after some discomfort with white on board 2.

 

This left Sheila on board 4 and Martin on board 3 still in play. Sheila's young opponent had played a fine positional game and was a piece up but under time pressure had allowed his army to drift to the queenside. Sheila needed no second invitation and broke in to deliver a perpetual which was, tantalisingly, from our point of view, close to a mate. This left Martin in play against opponent Ashley Stewart who walked a time scramble tightrope but managed to keep his play at a good level in the complex position. The time control was reached with Ashley having just 2 seconds to spare and quite a few amongst the watchers surprised that the clock had survived the experience. White had a notional advantage in terms of structure and with us leading 4-3 it was no surprise to see this game last an hour longer than the others. We were content that it was our big hitter of the season so far conducting the defence and most of all we were content that it was not us with the responsibility. Nor did Martin give us any alarms; he found a clear drawing route through the complications to establish the draw and complete this pleasing victory.

 

Division 2 Demotion Pool

     
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 The AD's         4-3 5-2 4-3 6-1 21 8
2 Poisoned Pawns     4-4 4-3     5-3 5-2 19 7
3 Spirit of Atticus   4-4   4-4 4-3   5-3   17 6
4 Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1   3-4 4-4     4-3 5-2   17 5
5 Barbican Youth 3-4   3-4     7-1   5-2 19 4
6 KJCA Kings 2-5     3-4 1-7     6-2 13 2
7 e2e4.org.uk 2 3-4 3-5 3-5 2-5         12 0
8 North East England 1-6 2-5     2-5 2-6     8 0
 

     

Over the weekend we were happy with our progress but realise we are at the stage of the season where you are only as good as your last result and with three of the four demotion pool matches settled by 4-3 we know that the final weekend has the potential to be a real nail-biter. Selfish considerations apart we found the weekend a real showcase for the camaraderie of the 4NCL under difficult circumstances and we were most impressed with the skill and determination of the many young players on show. As ever we look forward to the challenges ahead.

 

Chess Photos Steve Connor

 

Rd7 results Rd8 results

Spirit of Atticus team page

Division 2d Table Games in PGN

This report is also available here

Previous Spirit of Atticus reports

 

 

4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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