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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.

And you thought the Russian Team Championship was strong? The climax of the 4Nations Chess League played at Birmingham’s Paragon Hotel on the weekend saw the strongest match ever in British chess as Wood Green I took the 4NCL title for the third time, by the smallest possible margin edging out Guildford ADC 1.

After six hours play a pulsating match ended 4-4 and both teams ended on 20/22 match points having conceded just one other 4-4 draw all season. Wood Green won the title by virtue of having scored a total of 64.5 board points to Guildford’s 63.5.

The average rating of the Wood Green players was a staggering 2670 to Guildford’s 2617. Wood Green captain Brian Smith’s trump card proved to be the hiring of the world’s leading female player Judit Polgar who accounted for much of the difference in strength in the two teams and played on board two whereas Guildford’s female player was on board six and was out-rated by England international Luke McShane.

The outcome of the match was very much in doubt going into the sixth hour as only three games had finished. McShane won first for Wood Green then Polgar drew with former world junior champion Pentyla Harekrishna of India. Emil Sutovsky maintained his incredible record in this match and scored a win for Guildford ADC for the third year running. Then Michael Adams won with superb positional play. Three draws followed before Joel Lautier levelled the match score.

Guildford ADC 1 4-4 Wood Green I
1 Fressinet (w) 0-1 Adams; 2 Harekrishna draw J Polgar; 3 M Gurevich draw Dreev; Krasenkow draw I Sokolov; Lautier 1-0 Smirin; Rowson draw Bologan; Sutovsky 1-0 Nielsen; Ciuksyte 0-1 McShane.

L McShane – D Ciuksyte
4NCL (11)
Sicilian Kan

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Qc7 7.a3 (7.Be2 Bb4) 7...b6 8.Be3 Bb7 9.f3 Be7 (9...d5 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Rc1!) 10.Be2 0–0 11.Rc1 d6 12.0–0 Nbd7 ( A typical Hedgehog position. Black tries to break out with b6-b5 or d6-d5 while White tries to attack b6 or d6) 13.b4 Rac8 14.Qd2 Qb8 (14...Ne5 15.Na4) 15.Rfd1 Rfe8 16.Kh1 Rcd8 17.Na4 Ba8 18.Bf1 h6 (18...d5 19.exd5 exd5 20.c5!; 18...Bf8) 19.Qf2 Ne5 (Black is angling for some tactic based on d6-d5 and Ne5-g4 but McShane anticipates it and b6 is left weak) 20.Qg1! d5 21.exd5 exd5 22.c5! b5 23.Nb6 Nc4 24.Bf2 (The c5 pawn is much better than the d5 pawn and the Ba8 is badly placed now) 24...Nh5 (24...Nxb6 25.cxb6 Qxb6 26.Nxb5 Qb8 27.Bg3 Qb7 28.Rc7) 25.a4 Bg5 (Black was running short of time and tries to create some play on the kingside if 25...bxa4 26.Bxc4 dxc4 27.Rxc4) 26.Rc3 (26.Ra1!) 26...Bf6 (26...Nxb6 27.cxb6 bxa4 28.b5 axb5 29.Bxb5 Qxb6 30.Bxe8 Rxe8 31.Ra1 and the a4 pawn will fall but Black can fight on) 27.axb5 axb5 28.Rc2 (b5 falls) 28...Bg5? (28...Nxb6 29.cxb6 Qxb6 30.Nxb5 d4 31.Nc7 Re7 32.Nxa8 Rxa8 33.Rc4 winning a pawn) 29.Ra1 (White controls the queenside now) 29...Nxb6 30.cxb6 Qxb6 (Black had just ten seconds left so McShane decided against 31.Nc6 when Qxc6 is obvious and he played instead) 31.Bxb5 (When Black had a choice of moves and lost on time trying to decide but after 31...Rf8 32.Bc6 Qxb4 33.Rca2 Bxc6 34.Nxc6 Qb5 35.Nxd8 Rxd8 White should win eventually) 1–0




Final position after 31.Bxb5

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