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Divisions 1 and 2
Divisions 1 and 2 came to an exciting conclusion at the West Bromwich Moat House on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd May.
Everyone expected that Division 1 would be decided by the last round match between Guildford-ADC 1 and Wood Green 1. So it proved, although Guildford faced a stern test in round 10 against a rejuvenated Slough 1 team. For much of the afternoon it seemed that an upset was on the cards, but eventually Guildford managed a 4-4 draw. Alas Slough had no reward for their plucky effort as this result only served to confirm their relegation to Division 2 next season.
The impact of Guildford’s result was that Wood Green now only needed to draw the final match in order to win the league. Both teams were strengthened by the arrival of more GM stars but Wood Green looked favourites on paper with an average rating of 2584 against Guildford’s 2507. But the match soon started to swing Guildford’s way. The top board game between Guildford debutant Emil Sutovsky and Alexander Morozevich was a wild slugfest, with Sutovsky able to beat off the attack and earn Guildford the lead. Another Guildford victory soon followed with Danny King smoothly downing Alexander Baburin. With the first time control reached, there were two games remaining and Wood Green needed victories in both to win the match and retain the title. Grandmaster opinion suggested that Wood Green may yet manage a dramatic comeback. Indeed when Jonathan Speelman defeated Stuart Conquest, the league depended on the final game between Harriet Hunt and Silvia Collas, where the Guildford player needed to save a rook and minor piece endgame a pawn down. Whilst plenty of observers were ready to offer advice on which way the game would go, I didn’t spot anybody who would have wanted to play in such a pressure situation! With a couple of minutes of the 7 hour session yet, Collas managed to secure the draw and Guildford had won a deserved victory. Congratulations to captain Nigel Povah and the Guildford-ADC team!
For the first time the 4NCL was able to broadcast live coverage of the match over the internet and a large crowd at the Moat House also followed proceedings on monitors. You can find a link to the top 6 games here.
The remaining issue in Division 1 was the third relegation place, with Barbican 4NCL 2 needing a win against The ADs to avoid the drop. A tight match concluded in a 4-4 draw, so Richmond escape to play Division 1 next season, and Barbican 2 join Slough and Warwickshire Select in Division 2.
Division 2 also saw a decisive last round encounter between the two top teams, in this case Bristol 1 and Wessex 1. The Bristolians dominated on the top three boards with wins from 4NCL stalwarts Chris Beaumont, Charles Cobb and Jack Rudd, so running out 5-3 winners. Wessex have the consolation of promotion to the top Division, along with the Guildford 2nd team. Congratulations to all concerned. At the other end of the table, Barbican 4NCL 3, Poisoned Pawns 1 and Numerica 3Cs 2 were relegated to Division 3.
For those of you now suffering 4NCL withdrawal symptoms, you need only wait until September 18th and 19th, when Divisions 1 and 2 return to West Bromwich.
Glenn Flear vs. Maxim Devereaux
Guildford-ADC 1 vs. Slough 1, board 6
Division 1, round 10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 c5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Ne4 7. Bd2 Nxd2 8. Qxd2 cxd4 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. Nc2 Be7 11. O-O d6 12. Rfd1 Qb6 13. Rac1 Rd8 14. b3 Bd7 15. Ne4 Be8 16. Qf4 Nb4 17. Nxb4 Qxb4 18. c5 dxc5 19. Qc7 c4 20. bxc4 Rac8
21. Rxd8 Rxc7 22. Rxe8+ Bf8 23. Rd1 g6 24. h4 Kg7 25. Rdd8 Be7 26. Rg8+ Kh6 27. g4 Rxc4 28. g5+ Kh5 29. Rd7 Qe1+ 30. Kh2 Rxe4 31. Bxe4 Qxf2+ 32. Bg2 Bc5 33. Rd3 Be3 White lost on time.
Jonathan Rogers vs. Luke McShane
Barbican 4NCL 2 vs. Wood Green 1, board 2
Division 1, round 10
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Nf5 d5 7. exd5 Bxf5 8. dxc6 bxc6 9. Qf3 Qd7 10. Bc4 e4 11. Qg3 Bg6
12. Nb5 cxb5 13. Qe5+ Kd8 14. Bxb5 Bd6 15. Qd4 Qc7 16. Bh6 Ne8 17. O-O-O Ke7 18. Bxe8 gxh6 19. Qxh8 e3 20. Kb1 Bxc2+ 21. Ka1 Bxd1 22. Rxd1 Rxe8 23. Qd4 exf2 24. Qxf2 Kf8 and White resigns.
Jack Rudd vs. Matthew Rose
Bristol 1 vs. Barbican 4NCL 3, board 4
Division 2, round 10
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 dxe5 5. Nxe5 a6 6. g3 Qc7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4 Nc6 9. Nxc6 Qxc6
10. Bg5 Qxh1 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. Bxf6 O-O-O 13. Be5 f6 14. Nd5 fxe5 15. Qxe5 Qxd5 16. Rxd5 e6 17. Rd3 Be7 18. Rc3+ Bc6 19. Rxc6+ bxc6 20. Qxe6+ Kc7 21. Qxe7+ Rd7 22. Qe5+ Kb6 23. b4 Ra8 24. a4 g6 25. Bg2 Rad8 26. Qc5+ Black resigns.
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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