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by Lawrence Cooper
The second 4NCL rapidplay was held over the weekend of June 28th/29th and retained the same venue as last year; Harben House in Newport Pagnell but suffered a drop in entries, from 15 teams to 10. After consultation with team captains, the schedule was revised from a 10 round swiss to a 9 round all play all. The time limit was 20 minutes per player, with an additional 10 seconds per move.
Last year the event was deservedly won by Barbican who defeated their nearest rivals Hilsmark Kingfisher in their individual match in round 4. Although there was no Hilsmark team this year, the NACCPO (National Alliance of Childhood Cancer Parents Organisation) team bore an uncanny resemblance to the 2006-2007 Hilsmark 4NCL squad and was also captained by a former Hilsmark captain (who just happens to be responsible for writing this article - Ed).
My association with the NACCPO charity is due to a friend of mine, Rachael Olley, (who I used to work with) whose son Connor developed leukaemia. Thankfully, Connor recovered after several yearsí treatment and although he still has to have certain tests, is basically okay. As Rachael became involved with the charity, I became a supporter and have raised money through simultaneous displays as best I can. NACCPO supports children and young adults with cancer and their families from all over the UK and receives no Government funding, so every penny raised is vital.
The idea to name my teams in the rapidplay after the charity was to give the charity some good publicity and I was therefore conscious that winning the event would be the best way to maximise the coverage. I therefore invited players who I considered would give us a good chance of winning the event, although in view of the difficulties and cost of getting the players to the venue I tried to ask people who either drive or at least had minimal travel expenses. I have to say I was more than happy with the players I ended up with; Grandmasters Gawain Jones and Keith Arkell, International Master & Woman Grandmaster Jovanka Houska and finally Ameet Ghasi the former British Rapidplay Champion. Ideally, I would be first reserve and only play when they wanted a rest, but as it turned out, I was pressed into action in the second team alongside Martin Burrows, Arne Hagesaether and Sean Hewitt.
Our main rivals were; Barbican the defending champions, who like last year had a strong squad of five players who could play in any order and 3Cs, who have appeared in both rapidplays. There were two teams making their debut; Metropolitan Police (who included retired Grandmaster William Watson on board 1) and The Welsh Old Boys.
Effectively the event was decided by the matches between the three favourites. The first clash came in round 2 when wins for Stephen Gordon and Alan Walton gave 3Cs a slightly surprising victory against Barbican. Then in round four 3CS faced NACCPO knowing a match victory would give them a great chance of winning the entire event. Ultimately, NACCPOís strength in depth told as Jovanka defeated John Bentley and Ameet defeated Alan Walton in a mind boggling game when a draw would have won the match but he eventually found his way through a maze of complications to force a winning ending.
The last of the three clashes came on Sunday morning, a slight concern to me as my teams generally struggle with the early morning rounds! At the start of the match I would have happily settled for 2-2 and the likelihood of a subsequent tournament triumph. My pre-match nerves werenít helped when I received a phone call just as the match was due to start to say my board four was still on the M1! Thankfully everyone arrived and a close looking match was underway. I still canít explain the final score, all boards were fiercely fought and I have to confess I was somewhat concerned by Jovankaís two pawn deficit, as I was by Keith appearing to have one less. Somehow we ended up winning 4-0, which I still canít quite believe.
Although that effectively decided the tournament, NACCPO had a scare in the following round against Guildford, where possibly complacency set in, or was just one of those matches? In any case, the loss of 6 minutes time on my clock to locate our board 2 proved a good investment as a surprise loss by Gawain against Ian Thompson and a draw by Jovanka meant Keith was required to grind out an endgame to win the match.
The last two rounds didnít change the final placings, with the exception of a surprise victory by NACCPO B over Bristol, which allowed them to leapfrog into 4th place.
NACCPO best individual scores: Gawain with 7.5, Keith with 8.0, Jovanka and Ameet with 8.5.
My thanks to David Welch and Neville Belinfante for organising and controlling the event and to all the players and captains who supported the event. I hope to see far more of you next year, it really is a fun event and I said that last year, even though my team didnít win!
If anyone is interested in finding out more about the charity then you can view their website at http://www.naccpo.org.uk The easiest way to help them is to make
http://www.everyclick.com/rachaelolley your homepage and then you make money for them every time you carry out a search. NACCPO is also registered with ebay (user ID naccpo) - so people can elect to donate a percentage of their auction fees to the charity (and benefit from having the ebay for charity symbol on their auction, thus attracting more buyers) and get a percentage of their listing/auction fees re-credited by ebay.
Pride and Prejudice
Barbican 4NCL 1
White Rose 1
Cambridge Univ. 1
Barbican 4NCL 2
Pandora's Box Grantham
S. Wales Dragons
Poisoned Pawns 1
Jutes of Kent
Warwickshire Select 1
Barbican 4NCL Youth
Poisoned Pawns 2
Celtic Tigers 1
White Rose 2
FCA Solutions 1
Sambuca Black Sheep
Cambridge Univ. 2
Warwickshire Select 2
FCA Solutions 2
The Full Ponty
Sussex Smart Ctls.
Braille Chess Assoc.
Beauty and the Beasts
Celtic Tigers 2