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Little change at the top

Steve Giddins reports on round 6 of the 2006-7 4NCL first division

The sixth round saw the clash between league leaders Guildford ADC 1 and the defending champions Wood Green. Unlike last season’s final round meeting between these two teams, when each fielded an average rating well over 2600, this season’s meeting was a much more modest affair, with Wood Green averaging 2397 to their opponents’ 2518. Despite the gap, the defending champions put up stiff resistance, with six draws out of the eight games, the two decisive games coming on boards 2 and 4. In the former, the “king of the home-brew” Mark Hebden, struck again, establishing a substantial advantage after just 10 moves against Matthew Turner, using his new, improved Barry System:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 (the new ingredient, replacing the former 5 e3) Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Ne5 Nc6? 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.e3 c5 10.Qa5 and Black was already losing a pawn. Hebden’s subsequent play was not terribly convincing, and Black was well in the game again by move 25 or so, but then he weakened and the passed white d-pawn did the rest.

A similar scenario unfolded on board 4, where Conquest was also a pawn up for nothing after ten moves against Sowray, and unlike his GM colleague, Stuart made no mistake in converting the advantage.

Guildford’s second team despatched 3C’s Oldham 5.5 – 2.5, without loss of a game. The star game was Jim Plaskett’s classic Sicilian counterattack against Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant.

Arakhamia-Grant,Ketevan (2437) - Plaskett,James (2492) [B85] 4NCL/Div1/GUI2-3CS1 Coventry ENG (6.124), 14.01.2007 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 Be7 7.0–0 0–0 8.f4 a6 9.a4 Qc7 10.Kh1 Nc6 11.Be3 Re8 12.Bf3 Bd7 13.Nb3 b6 14.g4 Bc8 15.g5 Nd7 16.Bg2 Bf8 17.Rf3 g6 18.Rh3 Bg7 19.Bg1 (19 Qd2 Barcenilla-Ftacnik, 1991) Nc5?! 20.Nd2?! (20 a5!) Bb7 21.Qg4 f5 22.exf5? (22 gxf6 unclear) exf5 23.Qh4

Arakhamia-Grant vs. Plaskett

23…Bxc3! 24.Rxc3 Nb4 25.Re1 Bxg2+26.Kxg2 Qb7+ 27.Kf1 Qd5 28.Qf2? (28 Rh3!) Nxc2! 29.Rb1 Nxa4 30.Rh3 Qb5+ 0–1

Guildford’s other two wins showed opposite sides of the Tromp. On the black side, Graeme Buckley stole no less than three gambit pawns in the opening against Alan Walton, for which his opponent never obtained adequate compensation. Meanwhile, one board lower down, his team captain Nigel Povah showed the other side of the Trompowsky coin, hammering John Bentley in powerful style.

Hilsmark Kingfisher squeaked past Barbican 4NCL 1 by the narrowest of margins. On top board, Simon Williams launched his customary violent assault against Parker’s king, but missed a couple of excellent chances at the crucial stage:

Williams vs. Parker

Play continued 19.f3? 19 Rxd5! is very strong, eg 19…Rxd5 20 Nxd5 Nxg5 21 hxg5 Bxg5 22 f4, with a clear advantage. 19…Bxg5 20.hxg5 Qxg5 21.Bf4? And here, 21 Bd4 offers better winning chances. 21…Nxc3 22.Bxg5 Nxa2+ 23.Kb1 Rxc2 24.Kxc2 Nb4+ 25.Kd2 Re8 26.Bf4 Kg8 and Black held the ending.

Meanwhile, Sam Collins was unwise enough to play the Queen’s Indian against Peter Wells, who has recently brought out a superb book on the opening, and proceeded to crush his opponent in fine style:

Wells,Peter K (2501) - Collins,Sam (2398) [E15]
4NCL/Div1/HKF1–BAR1 Coventry ENG (6.113), 14.01.2007

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+?! 7.Qxd2 Bb7 8.Bg2 0–0 9.0–0 d6 10.Rd1 Nbd7 11.Qc2 Be4 12.Qb2 Qe7 13.Nc3 Bb7 14.d5! e5 15.b4 Ng4 16.e4 g6 17.Qe2 a6 18.Bh3 h5?! 19.Nh4 Qg5 20.f3 Ngf6 21.Ng2 Kg7 22.Rf1 Qh6 23.f4 Rae8 24.Nh4 Bc8 25.Kh1 Re7 26.Rae1 Rfe8 27.Bxd7! Bxd7 28.fxe5 dxe5 29.Kg2 Qg5 30.c5 b5 31.h3 Rf8 32.c6 Bc8 33.Qf2 Ne8 34.Nf3 Qh6

Wells vs. Collins

35.d6! cxd6 36.Nd5 Re6 37.h4 Nf6 38.Ng5 Ng4 39.Qa7 Kg8 40.Rxf7 1–0

Elsewhere, Betsson beat NW Eagles 5-3, whilst Bristol went down 5.5 – 2.5 to Slough Sharks. Bristol’s Latvian IM top board, Roland Berzinsh, continued his wretched season, being trounced by Gawain Jones. Finally, The ADs opened their account by beating fellow relegation strugglers, SW Dragons 4.5 – 3.5.

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