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Fourth Weekend Report

by GM Nick Pert

The top 3 Divisions of the 4NCL returned to the De Vere Hotel in Wokefield Park to complete rounds 7 and 8. Guildford ADC made big strides towards repeating the 1st and 2nd place double as their teams moved to the top of the table following victory by the first team over nearest rivals Barbican 1 (5-3). On the Sunday Barbican 1 defeated Betsson in a very tight (5-3), but crucial match which knocked Betsson down to 4th in the title race. There were 6 draws in the match, at least 1 of which should have gone in Betsson’s favour. So the current standings are: 1st Guildford ADC 1 15 Match Points, 2nd Guildford ADC 2 14 MP, 3rd Barbican 1 13 MP, 4th Betsson 13 MP. With Betsson meeting the 2 Guildford sides next weekend they will be hard pressed to stay near the top, while the final round clash between Barbican 1 and Guildford 2 will likely decide 2nd place.

Max Devereaux has taken over as Team Representative Director on the 4NCL board. He had an excellent weekend, picking up 2 key wins for Barbican 1, if slightly fortunate against GM Conquest, and we wish him all the luck, trying to keep everyone happy! The geographical location of the weekend’s is always a contentious issue, this season I’ve been very lucky as 4 of the 5 weekends are in my area, but with the South being inconvenient for some, hopefully the board will come up with a fair compromise despite the many restrictions placed on them.

In division 2 White Rose continue to top the table, but their lead was reduced to 2 Match Points from Bristol 1 after they drew with South Wales Dragons 1. Having already played Bristol their main challenge appears to be in the next round against 3rd placed Pride and Prejudice who consist of an unusual formula of 3GMs and 5 women!

Into Division 3 and Jutes of Kent look set to take the title after narrow victory (4.5-3.5) in the key match against main title rivals Warwickshire Select. The match should have been more one sided, but Warwickshire picked up some extra points when Simon Williams blundered horribly in a very strong position against Nicholas Thomas, and John Naylor overpressed and lost a Bishop v Knight ending against Chris Shephard. It’s a shame the games aren’t available online for this division yet, but it is well worth looking through this endgame, as it was played exceptionally well by Black in my opinion.

This weekend seemed to be one with an unusually high number of blunders. I certainly wasn’t blameless as I lost my first ever game for Guildford, but elsewhere many others seemed to be having similar troubles.

Here is the Guildford captain having an unexpected slip:

(47) Cooley,Oliver (2106) - Povah,Nigel E (2334) [B01]
4NCL/Div1/CU1–GUI2 Wokefield Park (7.7), 01.03.2008

Cooley vs. Povah

15...f5?? [15...Bd6 and it's all to play for.] 16.Bg5! Rxd4 [16...fxe4 17.Qe3 is the point when the black queen is trapped!] 17.Qb3 Rxd1 18.Rxd1 Nd4 19.Bxh4 fxe4 20.Rxd4 Bc5 21.Qxe6+ Kb8 22.Qxe4 1–0

Mohammed Tissir had a good weekend picking up a couple of much needed wins. Here his task was made easier by a blunder from his opponent.

(68) Coates,Kenneth G (2242) - Tissir,Mohamed (2444) [B06]
4NCL/Div1/GUI2-NWE1 Wokefield Park (8.4), 02.03.2008

Coates vs. Tissir

White is a pawn up, but this is at least compensated by the weak dark squares. Actually the black position is much easier to play, and white goes after the wrong plan. 33.Na7? Bd7 34.Bxb7? Be8 And white drops a piece! 0–1

Even the most experienced player at the weekend was unable to avoid a simple mistake! Jon Speelman had Gawain Jones under some pressure, but a tactical slip allowed Gawain to save the pain of having to defend a worse endgame.

(1) Jones,Gawain CB (2562) - Speelman,Jonathan S (2491) [B12]
4NCL/Div1/SS1–ADs1 Wokefield Park (7.1), 01.03.2008

Jones vs. Speelman

37...Bd5?? [37...Rd6 And white has a lot of suffering to do for the draw - especially at the hands of an endgame specialist like Speelman.] 38.Rxf6+ ½–½

Gawain had quite a fortunate weekend – saving a difficult position against another of England’s most talented players, Stephen Gordon.

On move 28 Stephen missed a spectacular Bishop sacrifice to finish off the game. Despite missing this he still had several opportunities to gain an edge before Gawain equalized the position.

(57) Gordon,Stephen J (2501) - Jones,Gawain CB (2562) [E97]
4NCL/Div1/HK1–SS1 Wokefield Park (8.1), 02.03.2008

Gordon vs. Jones

26...Ng4? I dont like this move at all. The e pawn becomes the most powerful pawn of the weekend, closing out half of black's army! 26...dxe5 with a slight disadvantage was preferable. 27.e6 Qh4 28.Bf5?! [28.Bh7+!! This cute move seems crushing. 28...Qxh7 (28...Kh8 29.Bf5 Nf2+ 30.Rxf2 Qxf2 31.Qh5+ with mate to follow.; 28...Kxh7 29.Rh3 Qxh3 30.gxh3 Nf2+ 31.Rxf2 Rxf2 32.Qh5+ Bh6 33.Qh4 and black's position is hopeless) 29.Rxf8+ Kxf8 30.Qxg4 Qxc2 31.Qf3+ Kg8 32.Qf7+ leads to mate.] 28...Nf2+ 29.Rxf2 Qxf2 30.Rf3 Qg1+ 31.Qxg1 hxg1Q+ 32.Kxg1 Bf6 33.Rg3+ Kh8 34.Rh3+ Kg8 35.Rg3+ Kh8 36.Rh3+ Kg8 37.Rh7?! The rook is just misplaced on h7 as the bishop struggles to hold the f5 square. [37.Ne3 Bd4 38.Rg3+ Kh8 39.e7 Re8 40.Bxc8 Rxc8 41.Nc7 Looks easily winning.] 37...Bg7 38.Bd3 [38.Rh5!?] 38...Rxa4

Gordon vs. Jones

39.Nxd6?! [39.e7 Re8 40.Nxd6 Rxe7 41.Nxc8 And the d pawn should win it for white.] 39...Ra6 40.Nb5 [40.Nxc8 Rxc8 41.g4 looks stronger] 40...Bxe6 Black has no hesitation in giving his imprisoned bishop for 2 huge pawns - a very good deal! 41.dxe6 Rxe6 42.Rh5 b6 43.Nc7 Re5 44.Rxe5 Bxe5 45.Nd5 Bg3 46.Ne7+ Kf7 47.Nf5 Rd8 48.Nxg3Black is well past the worst of it and the players agree a draw. ½–½

Alex Cherniaev is normally very consistent for Guildford, remaining undefeated for 7 seasons! However this season has not gone so well, and when he tried out the Chigorin against Eddie Dearing he didn’t seem to understand the position very well and quickly got into trouble, allowing a queen sacrifice finish.

(41) Dearing,Edward (2381) - Cherniaev,Alexander (2491) [D07]
4NCL/Div1/CU1–GUI2 Wokefield Park (7.1), 01.03.2008

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bf4 Bxf3 6.gxf3 dxc4 7.e3 Bb4?! The Bishop belongs on d6 in these positions, supporting a possible e5 break in the centre. 8.Bxc4 Nge7 9.Rg1 Ng6 10.Bg3 Qe7 11.Qc2 0–0 Probably the black king is safer on the other side of the board, but white has the advantage in any case. 12.0–0–0 Rfd8 13.h4 Na5 14.Be2! [14.Bd3 c5 15.h5 cxd4 16.hxg6 dxc3 is not so clear] 14...c5? [14...Nxh4 it was necessary to remove the h pawn. 15.Bxh4 Qxh4 16.Rh1 Qxf2 17.Qxh7+ Kf8 when blacks position looks playable.] 15.d5 c4 16.h5 Nf8 17.Rd4! bringing all the pieces into the attack, and black's defenses are insufficient. 17...f6 18.Bh4 Bxc3?! [18...Kh8±] 19.Qxc3 e5 20.Rdg4 b6

Dearing vs. Cherniaev

21.Qxe5! a nice finish.[21.Qxe5 Qxe5 (21...fxe5 22.Bxe7) 22.Rxg7+ Kh8 23.Rg8#] 1–0

In the next game Donny Muter seemed to be coasting to a win, when and unexpected blunder turned the tables.

(62) Muter,Donny (2232) - Lindner,Daniel (2237) [A46]
4NCL/Div1/HK1–SS1 Wokefield Park (8.6), 02.03.2008

Muter vs. Lindner

White is all over the weak black kingside, and the d pawn is a monster - but what happens next is amazing and must surely be as a result of time pressure. 39.Rf3?? [39.Nf6+ Kg7 40.Nh5+ Kg8 41.Qg6+ Bg7 42.Re1 Kf8 43.Rf3 Qxd7 44.Qxg7# Is one example.] 39...Qxd1+ 40.Kh2 Rdxd7 41.Nf6+ Kg7 42.Ne8+ Kh8 43.Qe5+ Kg8 44.Nf6+ Rxf6 45.Qxf6 Qd6 0–1

In the next game the Betsson captain seemed well on top in the key match against Barbican 1, but was unfortunately unable to convert the position in time trouble. I was watching the game, and what happened on move 58 was quite amusing.

(88) Lauterbach,Ingrid (2159) - Ledger,Stephen C (2149) [B31]
4NCL/Div1/BET-BAR1 Wokefield Park (8.8), 02.03.2008

Lauterbach vs. Ledger

51... Qd5+?? Allowing white to swap off both the dangerous pawns for her knight! [51...Qc3 Black was short on time here, but something slower would leave white hopelessly restricted by the strong black pawns. 52.Qe3 Qb2 53.Qg1 Bd4 54.Qf1 Be3 55.Rxd3 Re7 56.Rxe3 Rxe3 57.Qc4 Re7 with a huge advantage.] 52.Qxd5 Rxd5 53.Rxd3 Rxd3 54.Nxd3 Bb2 55.Kf3 c1Q 56.Nxc1 Bxc1 57.Ke4 Bd2 58.f5 gxf5+

Lauterbach vs. Ledger

Amusingly in this position Steve knocked over his king from h7, whilst playing gxf5+, picked it up, replaced it on g7 and both players carried on the game! It would have been worth a punt to put it on g6 instead! 59.Kxf5 Be1 60.Kg4 ½–½

In my Saturday game the critical position came late on after some mistakes from both players. I was a little short on time, but rushed the next move which proved my downfall and I was finished off by some very accurate play from my opponent.

(12) Pert,Nicholas (2528) - Collins,Sam (2394) [D15]
4NCL/Div1/BAR1–GUI1 Wokefield Park (7.4), 01.03.2008

Pert vs. Collins

33.hxg6? [33.Nxh7! Rxf2+!! (33...Kxh7?? 34.hxg6+ Kg8 35.Bc4+ wins for white) 34.Qxf2 e4 35.hxg6 exd3 36.Qf7 Qb5 37.Ng5! Qb2+ 38.Kh3 Qf6 When after both players walk a tightrope black emerges with a slight advantage.] 33...e4! 34.Nf7+ Rxf7 35.gxf7 exd3 36.Qxe7 Qh5+ 37.Kg1 Qh6 38.Qd8+ Bf8 39.Qxd3 Kg7 40.Qd5 Qf6 41.Qc4 Qb6 42.Qg4+ Qg6 43.Qc4 Qb1+ 44.Kh2 Qb6 45.Kh3 a5 46.Qg4+ Qg6 47.Qd4+ Qf6 48.Qg4+ Kh6 49.f4 a4 50.Qg8 Qg7 51.g4 a3 52.f5 Kg5 0–1

The final weekend is 3-5 May in Sunningdale. Some teams have been defaulting games, so hopefully if there are any players looking for a game, they can get in touch with the relevant captains, and will be able to play.

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