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Bristol 4NCL Report
by Jack Rudd

Round 1

Bristol 1 v Wood Green 1

1 Jack Rudd 2281 0-1 Jon Speelman 2555 GM
2 Chris Beaumont 2329 IM - Alexander Baburin 2527 GM
3 Simon Buckley 2314 0-1 Bogdan Lalic 2527 GM
4 James Sherwin 2303 IM 0-1 John Emms 2508 GM
5 David Buckley 2223 0-1 Chris Ward 2490 GM
6 Paul Helbig 2184 0-1 Daniel Gormally 2479 IM
7 Ann-Marie Ashby 2105 0-1 Jonathan Levitt 2432 GM
8 David Collier 2168 0-1 Harriet Hunt 2385 IM/WGM

Bristol 1 - 7 Wood Green 1

The Bristol first team had come into this match on a run of five consecutive victories. It had always been highly probable that this wasn't going to be our sixth, especially with the unavailability of Charles Cobb. Of course, our opponents were also under strength - they fielded only six grandmasters, none of whom were over 2600.

This, however, proved an entirely adequate team to despatch us (and, the next day, their own second team). The first game to finish was Hunt-Collier, which was just getting interesting when Dave made a horrible miscalculation, losing a piece. My game was the next to finish; having worked out a load of calculations relating to what happened when a knight on c5 captured a pawn on b3, I failed to notice it could also go to d3, forking my queen and rook. 2-0 to Wood Green. Next David Buckley succumbed to Chris Ward's Blumenfeld Gambit, getting his king caught in the centre.

At about this point, I was called away to help the arbiters with the time-scrambles. When I came back, 3-0 had become 5-0; Jim Sherwin's handling of the French had left him with a bad bishop and no counterplay, something Emms exploited without much fuss, and Jon Levitt had ground down Ann-Marie Ashby in an ending where white's isolated h-pawn was the critical factor.

The next three endings were all ones in which we had drawing chances, with rooks and minor pieces on the board. In the end, Paul fell for a trap in a tricky ending against Gormally, and Bogdan Lalic converted to R+2RPs v R with his rook behind the pawns, a technical win he duly exploited. So it was up to Chris Beaumont to spare our blushes, which he did by drawing a tricky ending against Baburin.

Bristol 2 v Wood Green 3

1 John Curtis 2126 1-0 Timothy Woodward 2334 FM
2 David Bareham 2115 0-1 Desmond Tan 2335 FM
3 Peter Chaplin 2066 - Nikoletta Lakos 2350 WGM
4 G Michael Boyce 2057 0-1 Jonathan Grant 2266
5 Jerry Humphreys 2094 - Cengiz Hasman 2128
6 Paul Spiller (2040) 0-1 Chiedu Maduekwe 2142
7 James Macarthur (1890) 0-1 David Cutmore 2092
8 Monica Vann (1815) 0-1 Martin Cutmore 2031

Bristol 2 2-6 Wood Green 3

Every so often, we have the sad situation of a squad feeling unable to maintain its team in the 4NCL in the forthcoming season, and deciding to withdraw. There are good and bad ways this can be done. The good method was chosen by Barbican 3; on being relegated from Division Two, they decided not to maintain the team, and informed the 4NCL of this shortly after the conclusion of the season. This gave the 4NCL plenty of time to adjust the divisions accordingly. No earth-shattering consequences resulted, and Barbican 3 will no doubt be welcomed back into the league should they wish to re-enter at some point.

The method chosen by Slough was not so well-received. They informed the 4NCL of their decision to withdraw approximately one week before the first matches of the new season were due to be played. There therefore had to be a promotion from Division Three, and a team who had been planning to play their first matches in November would suddenly find themselves with a week in which to find players for a fixture they thought Slough were playing. The lucky(?) recipients of this promotion were Bristol 2, who finished one place and one point off promotion last season.

The short notice meant that second-team stalwarts Dilleigh, Easton, Stock and Sisask were all unavailable, leading to the team being somewhat weaker than normal. It soon became clear that our opponents were rather stronger than us. Monica lost a pawn in the opening and never recovered - an unfortunate way to make her debut for Bristol. Then Mike's opponent, a man probably destined to be known forever as Ketevan's husband, combined mating threats and a passed pawn to force victory.

Jerry got Bristol's first points of the weekend by agreeing a draw in what may have been a better position, but this was quickly followed by two more losses to end the match; David Bareham, having lost material, made some inspired attacking moves that might have worked against a weaker opponent, but eventually proved in vain. Then James Macarthur ran out of time in what was probably a lost position anyway.

The end of the match made the scoreline respectable. Peter Chaplin's game, not thrilling at any point, petered out to a drawn endgame. Paul Spiller then lost a pawn ending by one tempo; his opponent queened and stopped him doing so. Finally John Curtis got Bristol's only win of the day, skilfully exploiting an extra pawn against England junior international Timothy Woodward.

Round 2

Richmond 1 v Bristol 1

1 Laurence Webb 2339 - Simon Buckley 2314
2 Richard Bates 2381 IM - Chris Beaumont 2329 IM
3 Thomas Hinks-Edwards 2366 FM 0-1 Jack Rudd 2281
4 Gavin Wall 2405 IM 1-0 James Sherwin 2303 IM
5 Thomas Nixon 2198 0-1 David Buckley 2223
6 Michael Franklin 2219 FM 1-0 Paul Helbig 2184
7 Nicholas Mitchem 2060 0-1 Ann-Marie Ashby 2105
8 Default 0-1 Jerry Humphreys 2094

Richmond 1 3-5 Bristol 1

This was always giong to be the more critical match of the weekend; Richmond had avoided relegation on tie-break (with a little help from Slough's default penalty points), while Bristol had just been promoted. It had therefore been billed as a relegation derby from the start.

The match started off well for Bristol; Richmond could only muster seven players for the tie, so Jerry Humphreys graciously agreed to be the player to go without a game. I then made the score 2-0 to Bristol after some opening preparation paid off against Hinks-Edwards.

The match looked very good for us at that point, but the next couple of games swung it back. Gavin Wall's impressive handling of the Dutch Defence resulted in his winning a piece, and Jim Sherwin resigned on reaching the time control. Then Paul Helbig horribly mishandled a winning endgame, walking into a mating net. That made the score 2-2, with the games all in the balance.

At around that point, Richard Bates offered a draw. Chris Beaumont wisely decided to sit on the offer, waiting to see what happened elsewhere. Gradually the endings on boards five and seven turned in favour of the Bristol players; David found a neat trick in what looked a totally drawn rook ending, and Ann-Marie managed to invade her opponent's position with her king. On seeing this, Chris accepted his opponent's draw offer. Simon also took a draw a few moves later. Their decisions were vindicated when David and Ann-Marie both managed to convert their advantages to the full point.

Hilsmark Kingfisher 1 v Bristol 2

1 Keith Arkell 2489 GM 1-0 John Curtis 2126
2 Eric Prie 2441 GM 1-0 David Collier 2168
3 Roland Berzinsh 2455 IM - Peter Chaplin 2066
4 Jovanka Houska 2375 WGM 1-0 David Bareham 2115
5 Andrew Greet 2310 FM 1-0 G Michael Boyce 2057
6 Colin Crouch 2378 IM 1-0 Paul Spiller (2040)
7 Matthew Broomfield 2277 FM 1-0 James Macarthur (1890)
8 Daniel Lindner 2236 1-0 Oliver McAfee (1630)

Hilsmark Kingfisher 1 7- Bristol 2

In Division Two, there are a few very wealthy clubs that can put out absurdly strong teams. Hilsmark Kingfisher, who came up with Bristol 2, are one such. Their team was, in fact, stronger than nine of the Division One teams on the same day. Against a severely depleted Bristol 2 squad, there was only ever likely to be one winner.

This was quickly borne out. Oliver McAfee, making his 4NCL debut (and also being the first player to make use of the new rules allowing teams in Divisions 2 & 3 to occasionally play a male junior instead of a female player - would this rule also allow a team to field eight women, as long as one of them was a junior?), lost the exchange early on to an ...e5 tactic in the Stonewall, and his long fight on material down proved fruitless. Then Mike Boyce's uncharacteristically fierce attacking play was carefully defended by Andrew Greet, who emerged material up and went on to win.

Next Keith Arkell methodically ground down John Curtis's Old Indian Defence, and Jovanka Houska managed to win a piece for two pawns against David Bareham. Matthew Broomfield then caught James Macarthur's king in the centre to wrap up the match for Hilsmark.

Having seen that result, I went off to help with the time-scrambles. When I came back, Paul Spiller, who I had thought had chances against Crouch, had also lost, but Peter Chaplin had got an excellent draw agianst Berzinsh, taking perpetual check as he couldn't see a win. It proved to be our only half-point, as Dave Collier's exciting-looking position went his opponent's way.

Games

[Event "4NCL/Div2/BRI2-WG3"]
[Site "West Bromwich"]
[Date "2004.09.18"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Curtis, John"]
[Black "Woodward, Timothy"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D12"]
[WhiteElo "2126"]
[BlackElo "2334"]
[PlyCount "95"]
[EventDate "2004.09.18"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 {Meeting the Colle System by discouraging the thematic Bd3 move. White therefore transposes into a Slav.} 4. c4 c6 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Qb3 Qc7 7. Nc3 e6 8. Bd2 Nc6 9. Rc1 Be7 {Black could also play 9...a6, preventing white's next, but it is not particularly scary anyway.} 10. Bb5 Nd7 11. Na4 O-O 12. O-O Rfc8 13. Ne1 {It isn't clear what the plan of exchanging bishops is in aid of, but there isn't much for either side to do in this position.} Rab8 14. Bd3 Bg6 15. Bxg6 hxg6 16. Nd3 Bd6 17. g3 Qd8 18. Nac5 Nb6 19. Qd1 Bxc5?! {This seems an unnecessary positional concession. 19...Nc4 is fine for black.} 20. Nxc5 Nc4 21. b3 Nd6 22. Qg4 Qe7 23. Nd3 Ne4 24. Bc3 g5 (Ne5!? 25. Nxe5 Rxc3 {may be good for black.} 25. Qe2 f5 26. f3 Nf6 27. Ne5 g4?! {Black seems to be trying too hard for the win here. The text activates white's bishop and misplaces his knight.} 28. fxg4 Nxe5 29. dxe5 Nxg4 30. Bd4 Qa3 31. Qd2 Rc6? {Allowing white control of the c-file.} 32. Rxc6 bxc6 33. Rc1 Rc8 34. h3 Nh6 35. Rc5 {One of black's weak queenside pawns must now fall.} Nf7 36. Qa5 Qxa5 37. Rxa5 c5 {It's better to give white the c-pawn than the a-pawn, as the latter would hand white an immediate outside passed pawn.} 38. Rxc5 Rxc5 39. Bxc5 a6 40. Bd4 Kf8 41. a4 Ke8 42. b4 Ng5 43. h4 Ne4 44. Kg2 g6 45. Kf3 g5 {Looks desperate, but black has no real choice. If he does nothing, white will play b5, which ties the black king to the queenside. He then plays g4. Black can only stop white getting another passed pawn by exchanging this; white then plays h5, exchanges those pawns too, and marches his king round to pick off the e6 pawn.} 46. b5 axb5 47. axb5 g4+ 48. Kg2 1-0

[Event "4NCL/D1/RIC-BRI1"]
[Site "West Bromwich ENG"]
[Date "2004.09.19"]
[Round "2.3"]
[White "Hinks-Edwards, Thomas"]
[Black "Rudd, Jack"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B07"]
[WhiteElo "2366"]
[BlackElo "2281"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2004.09.19"]
[SourceDate "2004.09.21"]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 c6!? {The Czech Pirc, a good opening to play against unprepared opponents.} 4. f4 Qa5 5. e5 (5. Bd3 e5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. fxe5 Nfd7 9.e6 fxe6 {is the critical line.} Ne4 6. Qf3 d5 7. Bd3 Na6 8. Nge2 (8. Bxe4?! dxe4 9. Qxe4 g6 {intending ...Bf5 and ...Nb4.}) Nb4 9. O-O (9. Bxe4?? dxe4 10. Qxe4 f5 11. exf6 Bf5 {wins the rook in the corner.}) Nxd3 10. cxd3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 g6 12. g4? {This is premature before black has castled. White would do better to develop and see what black does, although even then, black has a comfortable position.} h5 13. h3 Bd7 14. Bd2 O-O-O {Leaving white's kingside advances firing at nothing.} 15. a4 hxg4 16. hxg4 Rh4 {Forcing a complete opening of the kingside.} 17. f5 gxf5 18. gxf5 Bh6 19. Qg3 Rh8! 20. Bxh6 (20. Qxh4 Be3+) R4xh6 21. Rae1 Qd8 {Pushing white's pieces into a horrible pin on the g-file.} 22. Qg2 (22. Kf2 Rh2+ 23. Kg1 Rxe2!) Rg8 23. Ng3 Rh4 24. Re3 Rhg4 25. Rff3 {transferring defensive duties to the rooks, with the aim of possibly freeing the queen.} c5! {Bringing the bishop around to d1 with decisive effect.} 26. e6 fxe6 27. fxe6 Bxa4 28. Re5 {28. Qa2 Bd1 29. Qxa7 Bxf3 {and white soon runs out of checks.}) cxd4 29. cxd4 Bd1 30. Rfe3 Qf8 31. Rxd5 (31. Qf2 Rf4 32. Qe1 Bf3 {wins - the threat of Rxg3+ is a killer.}) Qf4 0-1

[Event "4NCL/D1/RIC-BRI1"]
[Site "West Bromwich ENG"]
[Date "2004.09.19"]
[Round "2.5"]
[White "Nixon, Thomas CM"]
[Black "Buckley, David E"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D11"]
[WhiteElo "2198"]
[BlackElo "2223"]
[PlyCount "110"]
[EventDate "2004.09.19"]
[SourceDate "2004.09.21"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 Bf5 4. Bg2 c6 {As befits a member of a team starting 1-0 up, black chooses a solid system against white's Catalan, aimed at strong-pointing the d5 square.} 5. O-O h6 6. c4 e6 7. Nc3 Nbd7 {It was also possible to take the pawn. Black prefers to carry on with his development.} 8. Qb3 Qb6 9. Qa4 Be7 10. c5 Qd8 11. b4 Ne4 12. Bb2 O-O (12...b5 {may be better, cutting across white's plan.}) 13. b5 cxb5 14. Qxb5 a6 {The white queen is ideally placed to attack b7 and support a c5-c6 advance, so black dislodges it with a trick.} 15. Qb3 (15. Qxb7?? Rb8) b6 16. c6 Nxc3 17. Qxc3 Rc8 18. Rfc1 Bd6 19. Ba3 Bxa3 20. Qxa3 Nb8 21. Rc3 White can't hold on to the passed pawn, so uses the threat of holding onto it to get control of the c-file. Rxc6 (Nxc6 22. Rac1 {is rather uncomfortable for black.}) 22. Rxc6 Nxc6 23. Qxa6 Na5 24. Rc1 Nc4 25. Nh4?! {At this point white offered a draw. However, this move forces him to make concessions in the position.} 25... Qg5 26. f4 {Otherwise the black queen gets into d2.} Qf6 27. Nxf5 exf5 28. Rd1 Qe6 29. Bf3 Rd8 30. Qb5 g5! {This move nets a pawn, as none of white's pieces can get back to defend e2.} 31. fxg5 hxg5 32. Qb3 g4 33. Bg2 Qxe2 34. Bf1 Qe3+?! {It was probably better to play 34...Qe6, keeping the queens on, and retaining the extra pawn.} 35. Qxe3 Nxe3 36. Rb1 Ra8 37. Rb2 Nxf1 38. Kxf1 Ra4 39.Rxb6 Rxa2 40. Rd6 Kg7! {It's important to bring the king in to defend the f-pawn and guard against a d-pawn advance.} 41. Rxd5 Kf6 42. Kg1 {Here white again offered a draw. This position should indeed be drawn, but he has to be careful.} 42... Rd2 43. Rd8? (43. Rd6+! {ensures the draw. Black cannot avoid a repetition of position without giving up the f5 pawn.} Ke7 44. Rd5 Ke6 45. Rd8 f6 46. Kh1? (46. h4! {probably still draws after} gxh3 47. Rh8) f4!! {All of a sudden, white is in trouble. The plan is just for black to play ...Kf5-e4-f3 with mate to follow.} 47. gxf4 Kf5 48. h3? {Allowing black two connected passed pawns, making his task easier.} Kxf4 49. Ra8 (49. hxg4 Kg3) g3 50. Ra1 f5 {Black can take the d-pawn, but he doesn't need to. It's simpler just to push the pawns.} 51.Kg1 Ke4 52. Ra8 f4 53. Ra7 f3 54. Ra1 Rh2 55. Kf1 {Faced with inevitable defeat, white allows black to mate him.} Rh1# 0-1

[Event "4NCL/D1/RIC-BRI1"]
[Site "West Bromwich ENG"]
[Date "2004.09.19"]
[Round "2.7"]
[White "Mitchem, Nicholas D"]
[Black "Ashby, Ann Marie"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B01"]
[WhiteElo "2060"]
[BlackElo "2105"]
[PlyCount "114"]
[EventDate "2004.09.19"]
[SourceDate "2004.09.21"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4!? 4. Be2 {White sidesteps the possibility of the Portuguese Gambit, and instead opts for a quiet developing line.} Bxe2 5. Nxe2 Qxd5 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nbc3 Qf5 8. Ng3 Qg6 9. Nce2 (9. d5 0-0-0 {does little for white - the d-pawn will be very weak.}) O-O-O 10. Nf4 Qg4 11. Qxg4+ Nxg4 12. c3 e6 13. h3 Nf6 14. Re1 h5 {Possibly a little too ambitious. Black has achieved a fairly easy equality here, but white's position is solid enough that this is likely only to produce weaknesses in black's position.} 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Rxe4 g5 17. Nd3 Be7 18. b4 Rdg8 19. g3 Nd8 20. Bd2 f5?! {Consistent with black's earlier moves, but it does produce a weakness on e6.} 21. Re2 f4? 22. Kh2? (22. gxf4! gxf4+ 23. Kf1 f3 24. Re3 Rf8 25. Ne5 {wins a pawn.}) fxg3+ 23. fxg3 Bd6 24. Kg2 g4 25. h4 {Black has set up a weakness on g3, but exploiting it will be difficult, as white can contest the f-file easily.} Re8 26. Rf1 Rh7 27. Rf6 Rf7 28. Rh6?! (28. Rxf7 Nxf7 29. Rf2 {keeps control of the f-file and doesn't allow black counterplay.}) Rf3 29. Re3 Ref8 30. Rxf3 (30. Rxh5? Rxe3 31. Bxe3 Rf3 32. Bg5 Nf7 33. Rf6 Rxd3 34 Rxf7 Rxg3+) Rxf3 31. Ne5 Bxe5 32. dxe5 Rf5 33. Bf4 Kd7 {Black has emerged with an advantage - the bishop on f4 is now tied to the defence of a pawn, and the rook is severely misplaced on h6.} 34. b5 Nf7 35. Rh7 c6 36. a4 cxb5 37. axb5 a5! 38. bxa6 bxa6 {Now white also has the outside passed pawn to worry about, and dealing with it will force the loss of the e-pawn.} 39. Rg7 Kc6 40. Rg6 Kd7 41. Rg8 Nd8 {Black declines the immediate capture of the e-pawn, as the exchange of knight for bishop would help white here.} 42. Bg5 Nb7 43. Ra8 Rxe5 44. Rxa6 Re2+ 45. Kf1 Rc2 46. Bf6 Nc5 47. Ra7+ Kc6 48. Rh7 {There is no way to stop the invasion of black's king and knight, so white goes for counterplay against the black kingside pawns.} Nd3 49. Bd4 (49. Rxh5?? Rf2+) Kd5 50. Rxh5+ Ke4 {with the unsubtle but difficult-to-meet threat of ...Kf3 and ...Rc1 mate.} 51. Rh8 Kf3 52. Rf8+ Kxg3 53. h5 Nf4 54. Be3 e5 55. h6 Rh2! (Kf3? 57 h7. Kxe3 (Ra2 58. Bc1 Ra1 59. Ke1! Rxc1+ 60. Kd2) 58. Rxf4!) 56. Rf6 Rh1+ 57. Bg1 Kf3 {With the unstoppable threat of ...g3 and ...g2+} 0-1

Division 1

WGHK 1
Pride and Prejudice
Barbican 4NCL 1
White Rose 1
WGHK 2
Guildford-A&DC 1
Cambridge Univ. 1
The ADs
Betsson.com
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
Cheddleton
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
3Cs
Cambridge Univ. 2
Wessex 2
Warwickshire Select 2
KJCA Kings
FCA Solutions 2
The Full Ponty
Sussex Smart Ctls.
e2e4.org.uk 2
Iceni
Nottinghamshire 1
Nottinghamshire 2
Oxford 2
AMCA Rhinos
Braille Chess Assoc.
AMCA Hippos
Glos. Gambits
Bristol 2
KJCA Knights
Guernsey Mates
Bristol 3
SCS
Hackney
e2e4.org.uk 3
Beauty and the Beasts
Celtic Tigers 2
Oxford 3
Halesowen
Guildford-A&DC 4
AMCA Cheetahs