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3rd 4NCL weekend 23 & 24 February 2013 - Lawrence Cooper





De Vere Staverton Park

The third weekend of the 2012-13 season was split between the De Vere venue at Staverton Park which hosted Divisions One and Two, the Puma Daventry Court Hotel hosted Division Three North and the Junior 4NCL whilst Division Three North was held at the Wychwood Park De Vere venue.


In Division 1A Wood Green 1 were remarkably involved in another match that finished with eight draws. Although the grading difference between them and Cheddleton was far less than in their previous 4-4 against 1 I was surprised that they were unable to win a single game although with the exception of Jonathan Rowson, on board two against Denis Rombaldoni, there was little sign of any real winning attempts by any player as seven of the games had ended by move twenty-five. Despite having some advantage Jonathan was unable to find a way to win and eventually the game ended in king against king. Wood Green had fielded eight grandmasters and had an average rating of 2522 whilst Cheddleton despite having a very healthy average of 2449 actually only had one grandmaster (Keith Arkell) who was black on board six!


Division 1a

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Barbican 4NCL 1   3-5 5-3 4½-3½ 4½-3½ 6-2   7½-½ 30½ 10
2 Wood Green Hilsmark 1 5-3   4-4 5-3 4-4   5½-2½ 7-1 30½ 10
3 Cheddleton 1 3-5 4-4   5½-2½ 6½-1½ 5-3 7-1   31 9
4 Cambridge University 1 3½-4½ 3-5 2½-5½     5-3 4-4 5-3 23 5
5 1 3½-4½ 4-4 1½-6½     2½-5½ 5-3 6-2 22½ 5
6 Sambuca Sharks 2-6   3-5 3-5 5½-2½   2-6 5-3 20½ 4
7 Guildford 2   2½-5½ 1-7 4-4 3-5 6-2   4-4 20½ 4
8 BCM Dragons ½-7½ 1-7   3-5 2-6 3-5 4-4   13½ 1


This setback for Wood Green allowed Barbican 1 to catch them on ten match points after a hard fought victory against with wins for Peter Sowray and Mark Josse against Maxim Devereaux and Lorin D'Costa making the match closer than expected.



In other matches that could impact on the qualifying places e2e4 beat BCM Dragons 6-2 in round five, Guildford 2 were held by Cambridge and Sambuca Sharks beat BCM to keep their hopes alive. Their captain Ben Purton clocked up one hundred games in the league and celebrated by beating Jim Wadsworth in their live match. Fittingly, Ben had given himself white for the occasion, which seems to be a recurring theme in their matches although the ever-reliable source of Facebook informs me that it is only the sixty-ninth time this has happened out of the hundred games.




Jonathan Rowson

The final qualifying place will be decided between Cambridge University and who occupy fourth and fifth place. As e2e4 trail by half a game point they will need to win to progress. Should the match end in a draw then Sambuca Sharks and Guildford 2 could overtake them on game points with a big win but as their opponents are Wood Green and Barbican this seems unlikely although Guildford do have the finance to field a very strong side if they choose to, but I suspect this probably won't happen, especially as a decisive result in the other match means they would be out of contention.


Due to having drawn with Wood Green 1 it is also in Guildford 2's interests for to qualify for the Championship Pool but as trail Cambridge on game points there is thankfully no scenario in round seven where Guildford 2 could find one of their players in the position of needing a loss to boost their first team's title challenge!


In Division 1B Guildford overpowered both Blackthorne Russia and White Rose scoring 6½ and 7 to end the weekend on eleven match points and 37 game points which is already six ahead of their rivals in the other division. They fielded just two English players, ironically both Leicester born, grandmasters Mark Hebden and Glenn Flear. In Gawain Jones's absence, due to a clash with the Reykjavik Open, they fielded French grandmaster, Romain Edouard rated 2680 on top board who won both games, along with board two Robin Van Kampen and bottom boards Alexander Cherniaev and Gediminas Sarakauskas.


Division 1b

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Guildford 1   7-1 6-2 6½-1½ 4-4   7-1 6½-1½ 37 11
2 White Rose 1 1-7   7-1 2½-5½ 4½-3½ 5½-2½   5-3 25½ 8
3 Jutes of Kent 2-6 1-7   5-3 5½-2½ 5½-2½ 5-3   24 8
4 Barbican 4NCL 2 1½-6½ 5½-2½ 3-5     5½-2½ 4½-3½ 4-4 24 7
5 Wood Green Hilsmark 2 4-4 3½-4½ 2½-5½     3½-4½ 7-1 5-3 25½ 5
6 South Wales Dragons   2½-5½ 2½-5½ 2½-5½ 4½-3½   4-4 5-3 21 5
7 Warwickshire Select 1 1-7   3-5 3½-4½ 1-7 4-4   4½-3½ 17 3
8 Blackthorne Russia 1½-6½ 3-5   4-4 3-5 3-5 3½-4½   18 1


The battle for qualifying places saw some close matches with White Rose defeating Wood Green 2 4½-3½ with Richard Palliser and Simon Buckley scoring wins with black against Lawrence Trent and Jovanka Houska whilst WGHK's solitary win came from England international Sarah Hegarty who beat Niki Varholakova on board eight.




Jovanka Houska


Joining White Rose in the Championship Pool will be Jutes of Kent who despite missing a number of players due to the Reykjavik Open including top board Simon Williams won both matches. They recorded a 5½-2½ victory against South Wales Dragons and 5-3 against Barbican 2 to ensure qualification and quite possibly another chance to play in the European Club Cup.


The final place will be decided in the match between Barbican 2 who need to avoid defeat against Wood Green 2 (who trail them by two points) to progress. Although South Wales Dragons are on the same points as WGHK2 their lower game points tally means even an unlikely 8-0 win in their final group game won't be enough to claim fourth place. As WGHK2 drew their match against Guildford 1 and need to qualify for the result to carry forward to help their first team's title chances it is a reasonable assumption that they will be fielding a very strong side in the round seven clash! Barbican always field very competitive and resilient teams though so it should make for a very interesting clash.


Of the remaining matches that are likely to impact on the latter stages of the season South Wales Dragons and Warwickshire Select drew 4-4 with Ameet Ghasi winning the battle of the IMs on top board against James Cobb whilst Barbican 2 defeated Warwickshire Select 4½-3½ which will be of use if they are unable to hold on to fourth place.


Division 2A remains one of the closest leagues with no match this weekend being won by a wider margin than 5-3 and two drawn matches. Oxford now lead the table by a point with nine match points after a 5-3 win against Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1 and a 4-4 draw against Anglian Avengers. Pandora's Box and Wessex are now a point behind them although Pandora's 4½-3½ against Wessex had temporarily opened up a two point gap before Pandora's slipped to a 5-3 defeat against Poisoned Pawns on Sunday which allowed Wessex to catch them by beating 2 4½-3½. Although neither is mathematically certain of qualification it will take a bizarre set of results for either of them not to qualify.


Division 2a

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Oxford 1   5½-2½   4-4 4½-3½ 5-3 6½-1½ 2½-5½ 28 9
2 Pandora's Box Grantham 2½-5½   4½-3½ 4½-3½ 3-5   5-3 7-1 26½ 8
3 Wessex   3½-4½   4½-3½ 5½-2½ 2½-5½ 5-3 4½-3½ 25½ 8
4 Anglian Avengers 1 4-4 3½-4½ 3½-4½   7-1 5-3 5-3   28 7
5 Poisoned Pawns 3½-4½ 5-3 2½-5½ 1-7   4½-3½   5-3 21½ 6
6 Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1 3-5   5½-2½ 3-5 3½-4½   4-4 5½-2½ 24½ 5
7 Spirit of Atticus 1½-6½ 3-5 3-5 3-5   4-4   5-3 19½ 3
8 2 5½-2½ 1-7 3½-4½   3-5 2½-5½ 3-5   18½ 2


Anglian Avengers appear the team most likely to join them in the promotion pool as they are a point clear of Poisoned Pawns and two ahead of Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1. In round seven they face 2 whilst Poisoned Pawns face Spirit of Atticus and the Welsh team face Pandora's Box.


In Division 2B Kings Head still have maximum match points after narrow wins against KJCA Kings and White Rose 2. Of their six victories, three have been by 4½-3½, two by 5-3 and one by 5½-2½. They seem to have a good mix of youth and experience with two of England's most promising juniors, Ravi Haria and Ananth Balaji playing on boards three and four this weekend. Carrying forward at least two and probably three match victories to the promotion pool will mean they are very well placed to clinch promotion although they will probably need to win a couple more matches to be certain.


Division 2b

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Kings Head   4½-3½ 4½-3½ 5-3 5½-2½   5-3 5-3 29½ 12
2 3Cs 1 3½-4½     6-2 5-3 6-2 5½-2½ 4½-3½ 30½ 10
3 White Rose 2 3½-4½     4-4 5-3 4½-3½ 6½-1½ 4½-3½ 28 9
4 Bristol 1 3-5 2-6 4-4   4-4 5½-2½   6-1½ 24½ 6
5 The AD's 2½-5½ 3-5 3-5 4-4   4½-3½ 5½-2½   22½ 5
6 Barbican Youth   2-6 3½-4½ 2½-5½ 3½-4½   7-1 5-2½ 23½ 4
7 KJCA Kings 3-5 2½-5½ 1½-6½   2½-5½ 1-7   6-2 16½ 2
8 North East England 3-5 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 1½-6   2½-5 2-6   16 0


Joining them in the promotion pool will be 3Cs who defeated The ADs 5-3 in round five and Barbican Youth 6-2 in round six. I was very sad when 3Cs dropped out of the league a few years ago so it very pleasing to see them back and seemingly on course to return to Division One.



For years they have had very good juniors and their current team is a good mix of past and present juniors who have grown up at the club. White Rose 2 also confirmed their place in the promotion pool with a 4½-3½ victory against North East England despite losing boards two, three and four!


The final place will be contested between Bristol who lead The ADs by a point and Barbican Youth by two. Bristol face Spirit of Atticus in round seven whilst The Ads face bottom of the table North East England and Barbican appear to have the toughest task, facing Kings Head.


Anglian Avengers 2 now top Division Three South after victories over the second teams of Oxford and BCM. They have a two-point lead over three teams; Cambridge University 2, Sussex Smart Controls 1 and Hackney. All three won both their matches at the weekend and have a point advantage over FCA Solutions 1 and Guildford 3 on nine whilst The Rookies and Bristol 2 are a point further back on eight. The eight teams and seven and five teams on six are already probably going to need maximum points from the last five rounds to have a realistic chance of promotion.


The weekend saw thirty-seven teams competing in Division Three varying from a top rating of 2326 (Hackney's board one) down to ungraded juniors making their debuts. Part of the appeal of the league is that players of vastly differing strength can play and compete against each other. This is also true of the top two divisions where grandmasters rated close to 2700 were competing in the same room as players with relatively modest ECF grades on the lower boards of division two.


This weekend also featured the 4NCL debuts of three different Arkells as Keith's older brother Nick continued his comeback to competitive chess after an absence of around twenty-nine years (if you discount playing in my birthday blitz in my back garden in 1994!). He won both his games on board two as managed two wins to open their match point account for the season. Nick's two children, Charlie Ann and Daniel made their debuts for 6. Rumours that Keith’s and Nick's mum Mary may also be making her debut soon are as yet unfounded.



Division 3n venue: De Vere Wychwood Park

Bradford DCA Knights A maintained their one hundred per cent record in Division Three North after wins against Atticus and Holmes Chapel. With Oskar Hackner on top board they will be well placed when the north and south divisions merge for the last five rounds with four promotion places up for grabs.


Cheddleton 2 won both their matches 5-1 to move to ten match points. Two of their players, Gerald Acey and Malcolm Armstrong, had actually played against Cheddleton for Stafford on the Wednesday night as my hometown club managed a rare win against an admittedly weakened Cheddleton team which has dominated the North Staffs League for as long as I've been playing chess.


Bradford B won both their matches to join Holmes Chapel on seven match points whilst Jorvik won both to move to six. Aigburth & Atticus lost both matches to remain on three whilst Manchester Manticores were unable to add to their two match points.


My thanks to all three hotels for providing comfortable accommodation and excellent playing conditions and also to the arbiters, game inputters and everyone else who works so hard to make sure these weekends are a success. The final two weekends of Divisions One, Two and Three will be hosted by Hinckley Island Hotel on the 23rd and 24th of March and the 4th-6th May.





The junior 4NCL weekend that had been postponed because of the weather in January took place alongside Division Three South. Whilst the event had a relatively modest entry of eight teams it was a well-organised event played in a good spirit with top seeds Gloucester Giants winning all five matches to take first place. The format was two groups of four playing each other on Saturday with the top two in each then forming a group of four with the result between the two qualifying teams being carried forward.


Congratulations to the winning team of Charlie, Thomas and Harry McLaren and Daniel Varney who had a surprisingly comfortable victory against Midland Monarchs in round five when both teams had maximum points but Midland Monarchs were leading on game points and so only needed a 2-2 draw to take first place. As the manager of Midland Monarchs I would like to congratulate Gloucester Giants who, by virtue of having played in the first weekend, appear to have an almost decisive lead in the overall standings. I would also like to thank Angelica Dean, Rajen Parekh, Jennifer Neil and Asha Jina who all performed well for my team and ensured that first place remained wide open going into the last round.


The final weekend of the junior league takes place on 6th and 7th April, again at the Puma Daventry Court Hotel and I hope that more teams will enter, although the fact that it is running alongside Peter Purland’s National Junior Squad event (a regrettable necessity given the need to ensure an adequate number of booked bedrooms to make it worth the venue’s while to provide a free playing venue) may deny some of the stronger teams of their top boards.


Some games that may be of interest to play through are printed below but all the games from this weekend can be viewed online on the official website alongside all the board-by-board results and league tables.


Player photos © Ray Morris-Hill

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Download the games from this report in PGN | All games from weekend 3




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