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4th 4NCL weekend 23 & 24 March 2013 - Lawrence Cooper





Despite the snow that fell the day before the weekend a total of 55 teams descended on the Hinckley Island Hotel to do battle in rounds seven and eight.


Division Three North and South merged for the final five rounds with four promotion places at stake whilst after round seven Divisions One and Two would be divided into Championship, Relegation and Promotion Pools of eight with the 4NCL title, three European Club Cup places and four relegation and promotion places to be decided at the final weekend.


Division 1A



David Sands (Barbican 2) v Malcolm Pein (WGHK 2)

The final Championship qualifying place came down to the round seven match between Cambridge University and with needing to win by virtue of being half a game point behind Cambridge. The teams were evenly matched with Cambridge averaging 2235 and e2e4 2238. Ultimately, Cambridge ran out 5½-2½ winners with wins for Eddie Dearing against fellow IM Daniel Fernandez on top board, Daniel Bisby against Peter Sowray on board three, Andrew McClement against Michael Barnes on board seven and Sabrina Chevannes against fellow WFM Rasa Norinkeviciute on board eight whilst there were draws for Karl Mah, Roham Churm and Alexander Makarov, against Raja Panjwani, James Jackson and Rob Willmoth with the solitary victory for Sean Hewitt’s side coming on board five with Andrew Bird defeating Carl Spencer.


In the other three matches Wood Green defeated Sambuca Sharks 7-1 with Sam Williams victory against Jonathan Rowson with black avoiding the whitewash, Cheddleton scored 7½ against BCM Dragons with Maria Yurenok scoring the solitary half for BCM against Fiona Steil-Antoni whilst Barbican 1 suffered a 4½-3½ defeat to Guildford 2 with Yang-Fan Zhou defeating Sam Collins on top board. However, none of the results in these three matches carry forward so they were of little consequence to the remainder of the season.



Keti Arakhamia-Grant (WGHK 1)


What was relevant though was that by virtue of e2e4 missing out on a Championship place meant that Wood Green 1 do not carry forward their 4-4 draw with them meaning that they take forward five points, Barbican four, Cheddleton three and Cambridge zero. Meanwhile, e2e4 and Sambuca Sharks carry forward four points, Guildford 2 three and BCM Dragons one to the relegation pool.


Division 1B



The final qualifying place in Division 1B was decided by the outcome of the match between Barbican 2 and Wood Green 2. Wood Green trailed by two match points and so a match victory was required, with an average rating of 2375 compared to Barbican’s 2269 they appeared to be clear favourites. However, the Barbican club first team has been well known for its performances against higher rated teams and this time it was their second team that pulled off a very impressive 5½-2½ victory against a team of three grandmasters and three international masters. Wins with white on boards one, three and five for Graham Morrison, Ryan Rhys Griffiths and Sam Franklin against GM Neil McDonald, IMs Andrew Greet and Andrew Martin alongside a win for Natasha Regan against Sarah Hegarty and draws with black for Terry Chapman, Neil Berry and David Sands against GMs Chris Ward and John Emms and IM Malcolm Pein saw them home and into the Championship Pool. The result also meant that Wood Green 2’s most impressive result, a 4-4 draw with Guildford 1 wouldn’t carry forward.


The other three match results won’t carry forward but for the record Guildford whitewashed South Wales Dragons, White Rose beat Warwickshire Select 5-3 despite fine wins for Nicholas Thomas and Richard Weaving against GM Colin McNab and WIM Teresa Olsarova whilst Blackthorne Russia beat Jutes of Kent 4½-3½ to register their first match win of the season.


By virtue of Guildford 1’s 4-4 draw not carrying forward they took maximum points from their three matches through whilst White Rose, Barbican 2 and Jutes of Kent all carry forward two points. In the relegation pool South Wales Dragons will take forward five points, Wood Green 2 four, Warwickshire Select three and amazingly Blackthorne Russia no points.


Division 2A



Division 2 matches in progress


Whilst only Oxford were certain qualifiers for the promotion pool the remaining places five other teams were in with a chance of claiming a spot. Pandora’s Box confirmed theirs by a commanding 6½-1½ victory against Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1 thereby ending their hopes, Anglian Avengers triumphed 5½-2½ against 2 whilst Poisoned Pawns being held 4-4 by Spirit of Atticus ensured that Wessex took the final place despite their defeat to Oxford who carry forward five points.


Pandora’s carry forward four, Wessex two and Anglian Avengers just one. For the relegation pool; Poisoned Pawns carry forward five, Spirit of Atticus four, Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg three and 2 no points.


Division 2B


Bristol, The ADs and Barbican Youth all had an opportunity to claim the fourth promotion pool place but Bristol were in pole position as they knew a win would take them through. They duly won 6-2 against KJCA Kings so The ADs victory against North East England wasn’t enough albeit they had the consolation of gaining two points to take into the relegation pool. 3Cs secured an important 5-3 win against White Rose 2 to carry forward thanks to wins for Sophie Milliet, John Bentley and Alan Walton. In the final match, Kings Head maintained their one hundred per cent record by defeating Barbican Youth.


Kings Head carry forward six, 3Cs four, White Rose 2 and Bristol 1 a point each to the promotion pool whilst the Ads will start the relegation pool with six points, Barbican Youth four, KJCA Kings two and the North East England zero.


Division 1C


Guildford finished the weekend on maximum points courtesy of a 5½-2½ victory against Cambridge University. They scored 4/4 with white but found things tougher in their black games with only Gawain Jones managing a victory. Nigel Short was held to a draw by Karl Mah whilst Roham Churm and Sabrina Chevannes beat opponents rated 340+ points higher; namely Mark Hebden and Marcos Camacho Collados. This was an important win for Sabrina’s WIM norm chances. She now has 5½/8 against an average of 2151 and so, by my calculations, needs only to play a titled 2319 to complete her norm.


Div 1 Championship Pool

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Guildford 1         7-1 6½-1½ 6-2 5½-2½ 25 8
2 Wood Green Hilsmark 1     5-3 4-4     5½-2½ 5-3 19½ 7
3 Barbican 4NCL 1   3-5   5-3   6-2   4½-3½ 18½ 6
4 Cheddleton 1   4-4 3-5   4-4     5½-2½ 16½ 4
5 White Rose 1 1-7     4-4   2½-5½ 7-1   14½ 3
6 Barbican 4NCL 2 1½-6½   2-6   5½-2½   3-5   12 2
7 Jutes of Kent 2-6 2½-5½     1-7 5-3     10½ 2
8 Cambridge University 1 2½-5½ 3-5 3½-4½ 2½-5½         11½ 0


Wood Green are a point behind Guildford (having conceded a 4-4 draw against Cheddleton in round six) after their 5½-2½ win against Jutes of Kent. Bragi Thorfinnsson completed a fine weekend by beating Stephen Gordon to add to his victory against Danny Gormally on Saturday whilst draws for Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson, Ezra Kirk and Anthony Stebbings, all against grandmaster opposition kept the score respectable.


Barbican are a point behind Wood Green and seem the only team with any chance of challenging the top two. They had a comfortable 6-2 victory against their second team with wins for Sam Collins, Matthew Turner, Mark Ferguson and Lorin D’Costa.



Div 1: Karl Mah (Cambridge Un. 1) v Nigel Short (WGHK 1)


Any chance Cheddleton had of the title seems to have been ended by a 4-4 draw against White Rose. Five of the six decisive results were wins for the lower rated player including black wins on the bottom two boards for Fiona Steil-Antoni’s against Teresa Olsarova and Nicolas Croad’s victory against Cheddleton captain Robert Bellin.


Division 1D


Despite the disappointment of missing out on the Championship Pool Wood Green 2 seem to have little to fear in the relegation pool following a 6-2 victory against BCM Dragons which takes them to six points leaving BCM on one and the team most in danger of relegation. Sambuca Sharks joined them on six after seven draws and a win with black for Liam Varnom was sufficient to edge them home against South Wales Dragons who are now a point behind them.


Warwickshire Select had an outstanding result defeating Guildford 2 4½-3½ with wins on boards three, four and five for John Pitcher, Nicholas Thomas and Richard Weaving against IM Gediminas Sarakauskas, GM Alexander Cherniaev and IM Jesus Garrido Dominguez. Ann-Marie James also had a good result, having the better of a draw against Zivile Sarakauskiene. This leaves Warwickshire level with South Wales on five points and Guildford 2 two points behind but with them likely to strengthen further at the final weekend I would expect them to survive.


Blackthorne Russia managed their first of four must win matches with a 6-2 victory over with wins for Danny Gormally, Adam Hunt, Andrew and Dave Ledger and Chris Duncan. E2e4’s only win was for Andrew Bird with black against Harriet Hunt.


Whilst the final weekend will be decisive, BCM Dragons will need three wins to have any hope whilst Blackthorne and Guildford 2 will also need to score heavily but have the players to do it.


Division 2C


Kings Head continued their one hundred per cent record with a 6½-1½ demolition of Wessex and need only two more match points to be certain of promotion. Oxford are two points behind after a 4-4 draw with Bristol who saved the match thanks to Chris Beaumont winning the final game.


Div 2 Championship Pool

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Kings Head     4½-3½     4½-3½ 5-3 6½-1½ 20½ 8
2 Oxford 1       5½-2½ 4-4   4-4 5-3 18½ 6
3 3Cs 1 3½-4½       3-5 5-3 6-2   17½ 4
4 Pandora's Box Grantham   2½-5½     4½-3½ 3-5   4½-3½ 14½ 4
5 Anglian Avengers 1   4-4 5-3 3½-4½       3½-4½ 16 3
6 White Rose 2 3½-4½   3-5 5-3     4-4   15½ 3
7 Bristol 1 3-5 4-4 2-6     4-4     13 2
8 Wessex 1½-6½ 3-5   3½-4½ 4½-3½       12½ 2


Only two points separate third to eighth place so every team goes into the final weekend with a realistic chance of promotion. At risk of jinxing them further I would expect 3Cs to claim one of the places despite a surprise 5-3 defeat to Anglian Avengers in round eight. Pandora’s Box slipped to defeat against White Rose 2 despite victories for their two IMs, Jerzy Slaby and Colin Crouch, on the top two boards.


Division 2D


Despite missing out on the promotion pool The ADs might virtually certain that they will be in Division Two with a 4½-3½ victory against 2, which leaves the latter on no points and in grave danger of relegation. A similar fate appears to await North East England who lost 5½-2½ to Poisoned Pawns and are also without a match point this season. KJCA Kings defeat to Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1 allowed the latter to open up a three point gap and leave the Kent team on two points and needing to score heavily at the final weekend despite several of their top players likely to be doubts due to end of term exams. Spirit of Atticus eased their relegation fears with a 4½-3½ victory over Barbican Youth who now occupy the fourth relegation place although they are only a point adrift and with their other teams both being safe in the Division One Championship Pool will have the luxury of being able to strengthen with some creative use of the eighty-point rule.


Division Three


With the northern and southern divisions now merged the promotion picture becomes slightly clearer but many teams remain in contention. Cambridge University 2, Hackney and Bradford DCA Knights lead the way on fourteen points with The Rookies, Anglian Avengers 2 and Cheddleton 2 two points behind. FCA Solutions 1, Brown Jack and 3 on eleven still have realistic chances but the five teams on ten points probably need maximum points from the final weekend and results to go their way to have any chance of claiming one of the promotion places.


Division 1, 2 & 3 matches in progress in the large playing hall at Hinckley Island Hotel


Bradford had carried forward maximum points from the northern section and maintained this with a win in round seven against Anglian Avengers 2 to maintain a two point lead at the top of the league before being defeated by Hackney in round eight. This meant that Hackney, who defeated Cheddleton 2 (also from the Northern League) on Saturday were able to overtake them on game points (nine more!) whilst Cambridge University 2, courtesy of 3½-2½ victories against Sussex Smart Controls 1 and Anglian Avengers now top the league, albeit by only one game point.



Despite the two defeats for Anglian Avengers they remain only two points off the lead and have vastly superior game points to Bradford. The Rookies had a successful weekend, scoring 5½ against Bristol 2 who only had three players and then a 4-2 win against Sussex Smart Controls. Cheddleton 2’s 4-2 win against FCA Solutions which included the current ECF President facing Stewart Reuben (in what I suspect may have been the board with one of the highest age aggregate’s of the weekend) on bottom board.


My thanks to the Hinckley Island Hotel for hosting all three divisions and for providing comfortable playing conditions for all fifty-five teams. I would also like to thank the organisers and arbiters but most of all the players for ensuring that the snow didn’t seriously disrupt the weekend and very few teams defaulted despite, I suspect, several teams losing players on the Friday and Saturday. I would also like to thank Alex Holowczak and the other game inputters for ensuring that the games were on the website very promptly and in some cases, in time to help the players prepare for round eight.


Stepping down


As I am stepping down from the 4NCL reporting at the end of the season. Can anyone who is interested in taking over please contact Mike Truran (contact details here).


The final weekend for all divisions takes place at Hinckley from 4th-6th May. Pairings will appear for the final three rounds on the website and the results, league tables and downloads from this weekend and the previous three are all available by using the tabs on the left and at the top. As always, early booking of rooms is recommended and I would ask that captains release surplus rooms as soon as possible to allow those currently without to be able to re-book.


Photos: Steve Connor 4NCL




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