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Debutants top the table
Steve Giddins reports on the final weekend of the 4NCL Division 4 season
The Jutes of Kent, in their first season in the 4NCL, topped the Division 4 table, after the final weekend of the 2006-7 season. Their 18 match points saw them finish three points clear of Pandora’s Box and Cambridge University 2, with Anglian Avengers taking the fourth promotion spot, a further point behind.
Round 9, Saturday 26 May
The Jutes started the weekend one point clear of the field, but were expecting a tough final three rounds. They got off to a fine start against Hilsmark Coventry, after an extraordinary board 1 encounter saw the Jutes win, as Black, after just 20 minutes’ play!
Tavoularis,N (2265) - Naylor,J (2232) [C56]
Hilsmark Coventry - The Jutes of Kent, Round 9, board 1
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Bc4 Nf6 5 e5 d5 6 Bb5 Ne4 7 Nxd4 Bd7 8 Bxc6 bxc6
Having arrived ten minutes’ late, a rather flustered Nick Tavoularis began blitzing his opening moves. At this point, he blitzed one too many, forgetting to castle before prodding the enemy knight on e4.
9 f3?? Qh4+
10 Ke2 Qf2+ 11 Kd3 c5 12 fxe4
Played only because his opponent had left the board, thus making it a little tricky for White to resign immediately.
12…Qxd4+ 13 Ke2 Bg4+ 0–1
At this point, there were at least three games in the match, where the Hilsmark player had not yet arrived at the board! Despite this catastrophe, Hilsmark fought well, and eventually succumbed by only the odd point.
The other promotion contenders were also fighting out events amongst themselves. Second-placed Nottinghamshire drew 3-3 with Conquistadores, but Pandora’s Box showed their serious intent by fielding a team headed by John Emms and Steve Mannion, who had been drafted in as wild cards for the final weekend. Both won in the 5-1 thrashing of Anglian Avengers, although Mannion had a very lucky escape against Avengers’ Dutch board 2, Paul Talsma.
|Photo - Steve Giddins|
Grandmaster John Emms, who scored 3/3 as a wild card for Pandora’s Box.
Round 10, Sunday 27 May
The match of the day was the clash between The Jutes of Kent and Pandora’s Box. With the latter only two match points behind the leaders, and ahead on board points, a win for Pandora’s Box would leave them poised to snatch the division title from the season-long leaders. However, the Kent-based team had other ideas, and despite losing the two top boards against Pandora’s hired guns, the Jutes’ strength lower down secured a 3-3 draw, retaining pole position in the championship race. Conquistadors strengthened their promotion challenge with a 4-2 win over Hilsmark Coventry, whilst Nottinghamshire’s hopes were destroyed by a 5-1 mauling at the hands of Cambridge University 2. Another team who moved into promotion contention were Athenaeum, who recorded their second win of the weekend, against Halesowen.
|Photo - Steve Giddins|
The indefatigable Bob Wade, who celebrated his 86th birthday last month, scored 2.5 / 3 for Athenaeum this weekend.
Round 11, Sunday 28 May
The final round dawned with The Jutes knowing that they only had to avoid defeat in their match with Conquistadors, in order to clinch the division title. This they duly achieved, thanks to a 4-2 win without loss of a game. Pandora’s Box were held to a draw by Cambridge University 2, leaving both teams on 15 match points, in equal 2-3 place. This left a whole group of teams battling it out for the fourth promotion spot. Anglian Avengers drew 3-3 with Nottinghamshire, to reach 14 match points, the same as Conquistadors. Wins for Athenaeum and Celtic Tigers lifted both of these sides to the same total, but when the smoke cleared and the board points were calculated, it was Anglian Avengers who nosed ahead to steal the coveted promotion place.
The final table reads thus.
With only one defeat all season, the Jutes of Kent thoroughly deserved their success, and they must be contenders to achieve promotion against next season. Pandora’s Box owed their promotion chiefly to the 6/6 scored by their two wild cards in the final weekend, whilst Cambridge University 2 and Anglian Avengers also profited from a strong final weekend performance. Congratulations to all concerned!
Paul Halsma - Steve Mannion
Anglian Avengers v Pandora’s Box, round 9, board 2
1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Bxc4 c5 6 0–0 a6 7 Qe2 b5 8 Bd3 Bb7?!
8…cxd4 is considered best.
9 a4 b4 10 Nbd2 Be7 11 dxc5 Bxc5 12 e4 0–0?!
12…Nbd7 is preferable.
13 Nc4 Nc6?
And now 13…Nfd7 was probably compulsory, if unappealing.
14 e5 Ne8
15 Bxh7+! Kh8
Or 15…Kxh7 16 Ng5+ Kg8 17 Qe4
16 Rd1 Qc7 17 Ng5
Simply 17 Bd3 would leave White a pawn up with an obvious advantage, but there is nothing objectively wrong with the text.
17…g6 18 Qg4
18 Be3 is simpler.
18…Kg7 19 Ne4? Nxe5 20 Qh4 Nh5
Suddenly the position has turned 180 degrees.
21 Bh6 Bxe4 22 Qxe4 Nxc4 23 Bxg6 fxg6 24 Bxf8 Rxf8 25 Rac1 Bxf2+ 26 Kh1 Qh7 27 Rd3 Ng3+ 0–1
A case of the proverbial “luck of the strong”.
Dominic Foord – Nigel Donovan
Hilsmark Coventry – The Jutes of Kent, round 9, board 5
1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nd4 4 Nf3 Nxb5 5 Nxb5 d5 6 exd5 a6 7 Nc3 Nf6 8 Ne5 Nxd5
A very tempting idea, although its objective strength is less clear.
Capturing with 9...Kxf7 gives White at least a draw with 10 Qh5+ Ke6 11 Qe2+, whilst 11 0-0 also offers good attacking chances.
10 Qh5 g6 11 Qe5 Qd5
11...Kxf7 12 Qxh8 Nd5 13 Qxh7+ Bg7 is an alternative.
12 dxc3 Qxg2 13 Nd6+ Kd7 14 Rf1 exd6 15 Qxh8 Kc6! 16 Be3 Bg4 17 Qf6 Bg7?!
Fritz points out that 17...Bh6! is even stronger.
18 Qf4 Be5 19 Qc4 b5 20 Qd3 c4 21 Qd2 Bxh2 22 a4 Re8 23 axb5+
Letting White back into the game. Instead, 23…Kd7 is very powerful.
24 Qd4! Was better, eg. 24…Qf3 25 Qb6+ Kd7 26 Qxb5+ Kd8 27 Qa5+ Ke7 28 Qc7+ Kf8 29 Qxc4
24 ..Kb7 25 Ra7+ Kc8 26 Qd4
Or 26 Rf7 g5 27 Qd4 Bf4 winning.
26 ..Qf3 27 Qd2 Bf4 28 Rf7 Bxe3 29 Rxf3 Bxd2+ 30 Kxd2 Bxf3 0–1
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