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This article is used on the 4NCL web site with permission.
The finish to the 4 Nations Chess League could hardly have been scripted better as Guildford ADC I triumphed at the final weekend's play held at the West Bromwich Moat House on the 22nd and 23rd May.
The destination of the division one title was only decided in the last minute of the time scramble in the last game to finish as Wood Green's Harriet Hunt just failed to defeat Guildford ADC's Silvia Collas. This meant that the match ended 4.5-3.5 in Guildford ADC's favour and they topped the league.
The previous day, round ten had seen a major surprise as Guildford ADC, leading at the start of the weekend's play, dropped a match point to Slough in a 4-4 draw. Slough came with a strong squad in a last ditch and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to stave off relegation for the first time in the league's eleven-year history.
The effect of Guildford ADC's lapse was to hand the lead back to Wood Green and the North London side then only needed to draw the final match to take the 4NCL title. Both teams had boosted their squads with Grandmasters from far afield but Wood Green looked like the clear favourites with an astonishing average rating over the eight boards of 2584 to Guildford's 2507.
However things quickly went Guildford ADC's way as the Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky made a stunning debut for them and defeated world number seven Alexander Morozevich in a wild game analysed by David Norwood in Saturday's Weekend Telegraph. The second Guildford victory came from Danny King who brilliantly outplayed the Muscovite GM from Dublin Alexander Baburin. King's performance deserves a mention, he scored 9.5/10 for Guildford ADC I this season and his only draw was conceded to Darren Wheeler who was forced to defend a prospect-less position for sixty moves.
Four games were drawn as Guildford ADC's middle order held off higher rated opposition. Scottish number one Jonathan Rowson drew with Michael Adams and Russian Alexander Cherniaev held Luke McShane and secured his long-awaited Grandmaster title.
At the first time control Guildford ADC led 4-2 but Wood Green held clear advantages in the two remaining games. Jonathan Speelman defeated Stuart Conquest and the whole season then turned on the final game between Harriet Hunt and Silvia Collas. Collas, a Bulgarian WIM now living in France, managed to save an endgame a pawn down to give her team victory.
Guildford ADC's victory was a personal triumph for team captain IM Nigel Povah and sponsors Assessment and Development Consultants Ltd who did not have the same resources as some of their rivals but marshalled their forces well. Formerly one of the strongest players in the country, Povah played himself in the second team this season.
For the first time there was live transmission of the top match over the internet and spectators at the Moat House were also able to follow proceedings on monitors.
Slough I 4-4 Guildford-ADC I
Barbican 4NCL I 2.5-5.5 Betsson.com
Wood Green I 6.5-1.5 Barbican 4NCL II
Wood Green II 7-1 Warwicks Select
Micro Mark NWE I 3.5-4.5 Numerica 3Cs I
The ADs I 5.5-2.5 Richmond
Numerica 3Cs I 4-4 Betsson.com
Barbican 4NCL I 3.5-4.5 Micro Mark NWE I
Richmond 2.5-5.5 Wood Green II
Guildford-ADC I 4.5-3.5 Wood Green I
Warwicks Select 1.5-6.5 Slough I
Barbican 4NCL II 4-4 The ADs I
Guildford-ADC I - 19/22
Wood Green I - 18
Betsson.com - 17
Wood Green II - 13
Barbican 4NCL I - 11
Numerica 3Cs I - 11
Micro Mark NWE I - 11
The ADs I - 11
Richmond - 7
Barbican 4NCL II - 7
Slough I - 6
Warwicks Select - 0
King combines tactics on both wings from a quiet position. If 20.Bxc4 Nxf3+ and if 25 exd4 Rxe1+ 26 Kg2 Ne3+ 27 Kf3 Bg4+ 28 Kf4 Rxf2+ 29 Kg5 Rf5+ 30 Kh4 g5 mate
A.Baburin - D.King
4NCL Div 1 West Bromwich (11.6)
Queen's Gambit Declined
1 d4 e6 2 c4 d5 3 Nc3 Be7 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Bf4 c6 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 Bg3 Ne7! 8 e3 Bf5 9 Qd2 0-0 10 Nf3 Ng6 11 Be2 Re8 12 0-0 Bxg3 13 hxg3 Nd7 14 b4 h5! 15 b5 Nb6 16 bxc6 bxc6 17 Rfe1 h4 18 gxh4 Nxh4 19 g3 Nc4! 20 Qc1 Nxf3+ 21 Bxf3 Rb8 22 Na4 Qf6 23 Nc5 Rb2 24 Bd1 Qxd4!! 25 Re2 Qf6 26 Rxb2 Nxb2 27 Bc2 Bg4 28 Nd3 Nxd3 29 Bxd3 Bf3 30 Bf1 c5! 31 Bg2 d4 32 exd4 cxd4 33 Rb1 d3 34 Bxf3 Qxf3 35 Qc4 d2 36 Qf1 g6 37 Rd1 Qxd1! 38 Qxd1 Re1+ 0-1
Position after 24.Bd1 and now 24...Qxd4 and if 25.exd5 Rxe1+ and mate in five see above.
Position after 37.Rd1 now 37...Qxd1+ 38.Rxd1 Re1+ ended the game
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