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Threeway tie at the top

Steve Giddins reports on round 3 of the 4NCL

The second weekend of the 2006-7 4NCL season saw the teams in action at the Britannia Hotel in Coventry. In Saturday’s 3rd round, league favourites Guildford ADC 1 predictably overcame Oldham 3Cs, but only after a tougher fight than many might have expected. Oldham’s Stephen Gordon beat Conquest with Black, as the Northern side held their own on the top five boards, but they had no answer to the strength of the favourites at the bottom. Amongst Guildford’s winners was Swiss-resident GM Joe Gallagher, making a welcome appearance in the land of his birth. He showed his GM endgame technique in grinding down Alan Walton in a 2Bs v B+N ending.

Meanwhile, another expatriate English GM was helping Guildford ADC’s second team to a 5-3 win over Betsson. Glenn Flear, who has lived in France for many years, won a decisive game against Harriet Hunt, using his favourite 4 e3 line against the Queen’s Indian. Your correspondent can testify from bitter personal experience to Glenn’s expertise with this line, having lost to him myself in the same line in the 4NCL several years ago! This was altogether a bloodthirsty match, with six decisive games on boards 2-8. In the end it came down to something of a family feud, with Betsson fielding three Ledger brothers, against the husband and wife team of Graeme Buckley and Susan Lalic. Wins by both of the latter decided the match in Guildford’s favour.

Followers of the live games relay (which was retransmitted on the Playchess.com server, alongside games from the Category 20 Tal Memorial, currently being played in Moscow!) saw Barbican 1 overcome Wood Green by the smallest of margins, leaving the defending champions propping up the table on 0/3. Slough Sharks trounced the ADs, although for the latter, Murray Chandler’s Grand Prix Attack produced a win which could have been lifted out of the 1970s, back in the days when nobody knew how to defend these positions with Black – surely that wasn’t Dave Rumens, disguised as a Kiwi, was it?

Hilsmark Kingfisher and NW Eagles both won, to join Guildford in the lead on 3/3. The former had a relatively narrow 5-3 win, rather closer than the average ratings of the two sides would have predicted. For the sons of Owen Glendower, Tim Kett capitalised on a blunder by Andrew Greet, whilst Charles Morris outplayed Crouch, but wins by Wells, Williams, Hanley and Burrows saw the favourites home.

Finally, NW Eagles squeaked past Bristol by 4.5 – 3.5, to maintain their 100% record. The most notable game was on board one, where ex-British Champion Michael Hennigan capitalised on some very eccentric opening play by Roland Berzinsh.

Arakhamia-Grant vs. Hebden

Arakhamia-Grant – Hebden

No, in case you are wondering – Hebden has not played the Sveshnikov Sicilian for the first time in his life! This rather Svesh-like position arose from his customary Anti-Marshall. Play continued 31...Rxd5 32 Nxd5 Be6 33 Nb6 Bd8 34 Rc6? This should have lost to 34...Bg4. White should prefer 34 Rc8 or 34 Na4, with unclear play. 34...Bxb6? 35 Rxb6 Bd5+ 36 Kf1?? Instead, 36 Kg1 appears to hold, and the computer even claims a large advantage for White, eg. 36...Qh6 (36 ..Bf3 37 Qc4 Qf5 38 Qh4 Bd5 39 Qh2) 37 Qxe5+! 36...Qxg3 37 Qe3 Bc4+ 0–1

Flear vs. Hunt


Flear’s unpretentious opening has produced a large advantage, and he now went over to the decisive action on the Kingside. 24 g4! Red8 25 f5 Nf8 26 f6 Qd7 26...gxf6 is a little tougher, but is hardly likely to change the result of the game. 27 fxg7 Ng6 28 Rh3 c5 29 Qe3 Kxg7 30 Qh6+ Kg8 31 Qxh7+ Kf8 32 Rf1 Be4 33 d5 exd5 34 Bc1 Ke8 35 Qg8+ Nf8 36 Rh8 Qe7 37 Bg5 1–0

Murray Chandler – Andreas Schenk
4NCL/Div1/ADS1–SSS1 Coventry ENG, 11.11.2006

1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 d6 3 f4 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Bc4

This line of the so-called Grand Prix Attack was a great favourite of Dave Rumens, back in the 1970s, and became a mass destruction weapon on the weekend tournament circuit. White has a simple plan – castle, Qe1-h4, f5, and then mate! As practice soon showed, it is particularly effective when Black is already committed to d6, since a subsequent d5 thrust will lose a tempo. Of course, all this is well-known in the UK, but I am not so sure it is quite as familiar to the average 24-year old German!

5...Nc6 6 0–0 e6 7 d3 Nge7 8 Qe1 0–0 9 a3!?

Not usually part of the Rumens agenda, but Chandler wants to preserve the bishop. Black should probably play 9...d5 now, since the tempo loss is hardly significant after 9 a3.

9...Nd4 10 Qf2 Nxf3+ 11 Qxf3 Bd7 12 Be3 a6 13 Ba2 b5 14 Rae1 a5

Black’s play over the past few moves has been very slow, and White is now fully mobilised and ready for action on the Kingside.

Chandler vs. Schenk

15 f5! Nc6?

He surely has to capture 15...exf5, although after 16 Qh3 or 16 Bg5, White has excellent compensation.

16 f6 Bh8 17 Qf4

The queen is on her way to h4, preparing Bh6, whilst there is also the incidental threat of 18 Nxb5 (17 Nxb5? Ne5).

17...b4 18 Nd1 Ne5 19 Qh4

Black has no defence to Bh6 and mate on the dark squares.

19...Bb5 20 Bh6 Re8 21 Re3 c4 22 dxc4 Bxc4 23 Bxc4 Nxc4 24 Rh3 Qc7 25 Nf2!

The final piece of preparation. The immediate 25 Bg7 allows Black to struggle on after 25...h5 26 Bxh8 Qc5+!, followed by 27...Kxh8, when White does not have Qg5. Now there is no stopping 26 Bg7, since 25...Qc5 is met by 26 Be3.

25...Rab8 26 Bg7 h5 27 Bxh8 Rb5 28 Bg7 Nxb2 29 Qf4 1–0

Division 1

Pride and Prejudice
Barbican 4NCL 1
White Rose 1
Guildford-A&DC 1
Cambridge Univ. 1
The ADs
Barbican 4NCL 2
Oxford 1
Pandora's Box Grantham
S. Wales Dragons
Guildford-A&DC 2
Poisoned Pawns 1
Jutes of Kent

Division 2

Sambuca Sharks
Warwickshire Select 1
e2e4.org.uk 1
Barbican 4NCL Youth
AMCA Dragons
Kings Head
Poisoned Pawns 2
Anglian Avengers
Wessex 1
Celtic Tigers 1
Bristol 1
White Rose 2
Brown Jack
Guildford-A&DC 3
FCA Solutions 1

Division 3

Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg
Sambuca Black Sheep
Cambridge Univ. 2
Wessex 2
Warwickshire Select 2
KJCA Kings
FCA Solutions 2
The Full Ponty
Sussex Smart Ctls.
e2e4.org.uk 2
Nottinghamshire 1
Nottinghamshire 2
Oxford 2
AMCA Rhinos
Braille Chess Assoc.
AMCA Hippos
Glos. Gambits
Bristol 2
KJCA Knights
Guernsey Mates
Bristol 3
e2e4.org.uk 3
Beauty and the Beasts
Celtic Tigers 2
Oxford 3
Guildford-A&DC 4
AMCA Cheetahs