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Final Weekend Report

by GM Nick Pert

The final 4NCL weekend saw Nigel Povah’s Guildford-ADC 1st team claim the 1st division title in impressive fashion with a 100% record, completed by a 5:3 victory over 3rd place finishers Hillsmark Kingfisher 1. Even more remarkable was the fact that they were followed in 2nd place by Guildford-ADC 2! With main rivals, Wood Green, pulling out their sponsorship this season, Guildford-ADC were always going to be favourites, but dealing with several potentially tricky teams in the convincing manner in which they did, was outstanding.

The relegation battle is normally a tense affair, but this year 3 teams seemed doomed from a relatively early stage, and will be hoping to bounce back next season. Congratulations to Barbican 4NCL 2 (as champions), Richmond and Cambridge University 1 who all edged out Oxford 1 for promotion to the top division. Also congratulations go to Kings Head (as champions), Cheddleton-Pointon and Pride and Prejudice for gaining promotion to Division 2.

This year was a very good one for norms too. Gawain Jones completed his final GM norm, to claim the title! It was sealed with an impressive victory in the Scotch over Mark Hebden, who himself had been in very good form recently, winning in Southend over Easter.

Jones,G (2524) - Hebden,M (2519) [C45]
4NCL/Div1/GUI1–SSS1 Wokefield Park ENG (9.112), 05.05.2007
[Pert, N]

Jones vs. Hebden

30.Be2! White aims to win the h pawn, and rounds up the exchange when black tries to hang on to it. 30...Be8 Black cannot afford to give the h pawn for nothing. 31.Nd5 Bd4 [31...Bb2 32.Rd2 Ba1 33.Nxf6+/-] 32.f4! Trapping the rook. 32...Re4 [32...Re6 33.Bd3 Bd7 34.Bf5 Re8 35.Bxd7+ Kxd7 36.Rxd4 cxd4 37.Nxf6++-] 33.Bd3 Bg6 34.Bxe4 Bxe4 35.f5

Jones vs. Hebden

35..Be5? allowed white to coordinate his extra material. Instead, the after game analysis on a small magnetic set implied that 35...c6 may have been a better attempt to hold. [35...c6! 36.Nf4 Bf3 37.Re1 Be5 38.Ng6 Kd7 39.Nxe5+ fxe5 40.Re3 Bg4 41.f6 Ke6 42.Rd3 Bf5 43.Rd2 Bg6 with decent drawing chances.] 36.Re1 Bd3+ 37.Kg2 Kd8 38.Ne3 Bc3 39.Rd1 Be4+ 40.Kf2 Bd4 41.Ke2 Ke7 42.Rf1 c6 43.g4! The passed h pawn will decide matters. 43...hxg4 44.Nxg4 Bg2 45.Rf4 d5 46.h5 Be4 47.Nf2 Bxf2 48.Kxf2 Kf7 49.Ke3 Kg7 50.Rg4+ Kh7 51.Kf4 Bb1 52.Rg6 A very good endgame, and a worthy way to secure the Grandmaster title against one of the toughest players on the British circuit. Gawain has been renowned for his tactical abilities, but recently he has been strengthening the positional side of his game, and will surely progress to be one of England's leading players. 1–0

Two other young English players who both performed exceptionally, Stewart Haslinger and Stephen Gordon also made GM norms. Stephen has been benefiting from working closely with Pete Wells recently, but when they met in round 10 he came off 2nd best!

Wells,P (2499) - Gordon,S (2490) [E07]
4NCL/Div1/HKF1–3CS1 Wokefield Park ENG (10.113), 06.05.2007
[Pert, N]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.d4 c6 7.Nc3 Nbd7 8.b3 b6 9.Nd2 Bb7 10.e4 dxe4 11.Ndxe4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Nf6 13.Bb2 Rb8 14.Qe2 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Bf6 16.Rfd1 Qe7

Wells vs. Gordon

17.c5! [17.Rac1 c5 18.Bxb7 Qxb7 19.d5 Bxb2 20.Qxb2 exd5 21.Rxd5=] 17...Rfd8 [17...bxc5? 18.Ba3! Rfd8 19.Bxc5 And black loses a clear pawn on a7.] 18.Rac1 Rbc8 19.h4 Rd7 20.b4 Qd8

Wells vs. Gordon

21.b5! Very creative play from Pete. He must play in such a way, in order to give himself a chance to convert such a minimal advantage. 21...bxc5 22.Qf3 Rd5!? 23.bxc6 Bxc6 24.Rxc5 [24.Bxd5? Bxd5 25.Qe3 Qd7 26.Bc3 c4 and white will have problems on the light squares.] 24...Be7 [24...Rxc5 25.dxc5 Qa5 26.Bxf6 Bxe4 27.Qxe4 gxf6] 25.Bxd5 Bxd5 26.Rxc8 Qxc8 27.Qc3 Qa6 28.a4 g5? With a tricky defensive task, black opens himself up for a potential attack. 29.Rc1! Hoping to trade queens. 29...Qxa4 30.hxg5 Bxg5 31.Ra1 Qd7 32.Bc1 Be7 33.Bh6 Bb7? f6 was necessary to provide some breathing space for the black king. 34.d5 [34.Rxa7 Qd5 35.f3 Bf6 36.Kg2 looks most precise, when... 36...Bxd4 37.Ra8+ Bxa8 38.Qc8+ leads to mate.] 34...f6 35.Ra5?! [35.Qf3 Qxd5 36.Qxd5 Bxd5 37.Rxa7 looks winning.] 35...exd5?? [35...a6 would keep black in the game.] 36.Rxa7 And black can't avoid dropping a piece. 36...d4 [36...Qb5 37.Qc7 Qb1+ 38.Kh2 Qg6 39.Bf4 Qh5+ 40.Kg2+-] 37.Qb3+ Kh8 38.Qxb7 1–0

IM norms were scored by Mark Tywble, Stefan Macak and Jack Rudd. Congratulations to all of them. One very entertaining game of the final weekend was played between Australian IM John-Paul Wallace and strong FM Max Devereaux.

Wallace,J (2404) - Devereaux,M (2366) [E43]
4NCL/Div1/GUI2-BAR1 Wokefield Park ENG (10.127), 06.05.2007
[Pert, N]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.Nge2 Bxg2 John-Paul is a very direct, tactical player, and it is not surprising he chooses to concede material early on for a lead in development. 7.Rg1 Bf3 Also possible was 7...Be4!? 8.Qc2 White can take back his pawn immediately, for example: [8.Rxg7 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Ne4 10.Qc2 Qh4=] 8...g6 [8...Nc6!? 9.Rxg7 Bf8 10.Rg3 Nb4 when black takes the bishop pair, but is still slightly behind in development.] 9.Bd2 e4 is more popular, but JP decides to complete his development as quickly as possible. 9...Nc6

Wallace vs. Devereaux

10.0–0–0? [10.Rg3! Bh5 11.a3 Bd6 12.f4, with compensation, should have been preferred.] 10...Bd6! With the idea of Nb4. 11.a3 Ng4?! [11...Bxh2 This greedy move may well be the most accurate as black doesn't allow white the option of sacrificing on g4. 12.Rge1 h5 13.e4 Ng4 -/+] 12.e4 Bxh2 13.Rxg4! More or less forced, white throws in some more material, and with the black rooks well out of the game, there will always be practical chances. 13...Bxg4 14.f4! Qh4! The queen comes in to support the black bishops which are cut off from the rest of his forces. 15.Kb1? [15.d5!?]

Wallace vs. Devereaux

15...a6? A key moment in the game. Black has to work his way through a complicated tactical line to realise his material surplus. [15...Nxd4! 16.Nxd4 Bxd1 17.Qxd1 Bxf4 If black can coordinate, the 3 minor pieces will be no match for 2 rooks and 4 pawns! 18.Ncb5 a6 19.Nf3 Qg4 20.Bc3 f6! 21.Be2 ( 21.Bxf6 0–0–+) 21...Qg2 22.Nbd4 e5 23.Nc2 h5-/+] 16.Rh1 Bf3 17.Be1 Qh6 [17...Qh3? 18.Ng1 is good for white.] 18.Rf1 Qh3 19.Rf2 Bxe2?! It is clear that black is looking for exchanges, but trading in the bishop pair at this stage seems a bit hasty. Ne7 was an alternative, anticipating d5. 20.Nxe2 Bg3 21.Nxg3 Qxg3 22.d5! Opening the long dark squared diagonal. 22...Nd4 23.Qc3 e5 24.Rf1 Qh2 [24...Qg2 25.Bh4!? (25.fxe5 Ne2 26.Bxe2 Qxe2 27.e6 0–0 is a total mess!) ] 25.fxe5 Qxe5 26.Bh4! White's moves flow easily and the bishops seem just too powerful. 26...f5 27.exf5 0–0 28.Re1

Wallace vs. Devereaux

Qf4? The decisive mistake. [28...Qh8! 29.fxg6 (29.f6? Nf3 30.Rf1 Nxh4 31.f7+ Rxf7 32.Qxh8+ Kxh8 33.Rxf7 Rd8-/+) 29...hxg6 30.Be7 Rf4 31.Qd2 with compensation] 29.Re4! Ne2 30.Qe1 [30.Rxf4 Nxc3+ 31.bxc3+/-] 30...Qc1+ 31.Qxc1 Nxc1 32.Kxc1 Rxf5 33.d6!? He can't stop sacrificing! 33...cxd6 34.Rd4 Rh5 35.Be2 Re5 36.Kd2 Rae8 37.Bd3 R8e6 38.Bg3 The bishop pair are just too powerful in this endgame. 38...Rg5 39.Bxd6 h5 40.Bc7 Rg2+ 41.Kc3 g5 42.Rxd7 h4 43.c5 b5 44.Bd6 Re1 45.c6 Rc1+ 46.Kb4 1–0

And finally, a report wouldn't be complete without a typical Williams kingside attack!

Williams,S (2487) - Morrison,G (2328) [E11]
4NCL/Div1/NWE1–HKF1 Wokefield Park ENG (9.142), 05.05.2007
[Pert, N]

Williams vs. Morrison

19.Nh4 [19.Re1!? Bxd5 20.Bb5 Bd6 21.Nc4 Bc7 22.Bxd7 Nxd7 23.Ng5 with an attack] 19...g6 20.Nf5!? Did you expect anything else! 20...gxf5 21.Qxf5 Bxd5 22.Bd3 [22.Re1 first looks most accurate and the bishop can move with tempo and the rook lift is still on.] 22...c4 [22...Rfd8! 23.Re1 Kf8 may be a better defence.] 23.Qg5+ Kh8

Williams vs. Morrison

24.Bxh7! c3! [24...Kxh7? 25.Rc3 with Rh3 to come. 25...Bxg2 26.Rg3 Rg8 27.Qh4+ Nh5 28.Qxh5#] 25.Bf5 cxb2 26.Qh6+ Kg8 27.Re1 Rc1 28.Nf1 White refuses the option of a perpetual.

Williams vs. Morrison

28...Ba2?? I don't understand this move at all, it must have been a complete slip in concentration. [28...Rfc8 29.Rxe7 (29.Re3 R8c3 30.Rxe7 Rxb1 31.Bxb1 Qf8-+) 29...Rxb1 30.Bxb1 Be4 31.Ba2 Rf8 and it is still anyone’s game!] 29.Re3 1–0

That wraps it up for this season. It remains to see who will challenge Guildford-ADC next season!

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