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Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph

Malcolm Pein's daily chess column is available at the Telegraph's web site. You need to register, which is free. The daily chess column can be found by clicking the "Chess Club" link in the Arts section.

This article is used on the 4NCL web site with permission.

It was a record-breaking tenth season for the 4 Nations Chess League which for many years has been established as Britain's premier team competition. For the first time there were four divisions, with over three hundred and fifty players in forty four teams.

The idea that Britain could sustain a league modelled on the successful German Bundesliga and French Nationale was first mooted by 4NCL founder Chris Dunworth. Despite some scepticism from established quarters including some elements of the British Chess Federation the competition has flourished and is organised entirely independently of the governing body by a Management Board chaired by former British Champion IM Paul Littlewood.

The popularity of the 4NCL with Britain's leading players is amply demonstrated by the fact that six players made their hundredth appearance this season; Simon Ansell (Bristol), Chris Beaumont (Bristol), Paul Littlewood (Wood Green), Gary Quillan (North West Eagles), Gavin Wall (Richmond) and Richard Webb (Wessex).

Due to the increasing number of titled players competing there were a record number of title norms achieved. Charles Cobb (Bristol) and Adam Hunt (Betsson.com) scored GM norms and Stewart Haslinger (Perceptron Youth), Steve Dishman (Barbican I), Desmond Tan (Wood Green II), Lawrence Trent (Barbican II) and Lawrence Webb (Richmond) all made IM norms.

Cobb's norm was particularly impressive as he played four GMs and defeated two of them; Tony Kosten and Neil McDonald while drawing with Bogdan Lalic and holding Peter Wells to a draw with black from a bad position. Here is another fine game from the Bristol board one whose heroics could not save his team from relegation.

White gets his minor pieces in a muddle as he tries to form a plan in a cramped position.

McDonald,N - Cobb,C [A07]
4NCL Bristol 1 v WG II, 05.2003

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 c6 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.0-0 e6 5.d3 h6 6.Nbd2 Nf6 7.b3 Be7 8.Bb2 0-0 9.Qe1 Bh7 10.e4 a5 11.a4 Na6 12.Qe2 Nc5 13.Nd4 e5 14.Nf5 Bxf5 Cobb shows that allowing Bxf5 was a mistake and maintains his pawn on e5 by tactical means before advancing it as the prelude to the decisive attack. 15.exf5 Nfd7 16.Rae1 Bf6 17.Qd1 Re8 18.Qa1 Qb6 19.Re2 Na6 20.Rfe1 Nb4 21.Nf3 Re7 22.h4 [ 22.Nxe5 Nxe5 23.Bxe5 Bxe5 24.Rxe5 Nxc2!] 22...Rae8 23.Nh2 h5 24.Bf3 e4 25.dxe4 dxe4 26.Bxh5 Qc5 27.Qc1 e3 28.Rxe3 Rxe3 29.Rxe3 Rxe3 30.fxe3 Bxb2 31.Qxb2 Qxe3+ 32.Kg2 Qe4+ 33.Nf3 Nf6 34.g4 Qe2+ 35.Kg3 Ne4+ 36.Kf4 Nd5+ 37.Ke5 Nec3+


[ 37...Nec3+ 38.Kd4 Qe4+ 39.Kc5 Qb4#]0-1

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