Division 3n, Weekend 1, Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield, 14-15 Nov 2015 by Andy Mort

 

 

Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield

Promotion to Division 1 for the A Team having gone to our organising supremo’s head in the aftermath of celebrations, he decreed that we enter an additional C team in a league that is immeasurably tougher than when we made our debut here some years ago.

 

 
   

A late withdrawal due to illness left us scratching around to fill final places for this first weekend, but thanks to the sterling efforts of dedicated players, we avoided defaults.

 

In Round 1, the B Team was paired with the newly joined Scottish team, Alba, arguably the most powerful outfit in the room. Though comfortably defeated in the end, we performed very creditably, only going under at the very end of a long session. Roy and Dave Latham never looked particularly troubled on the top two boards, and secured two draws. John, typically, became embroiled in a complex struggle in which both sides exchanged blows before his opponent’s passed c pawn proved decisive. It looked as if Steve’s opponent had only the tiniest of edges throughout the game, but he managed to extract the full point following a long rook endgame. Dave Phillips also fought well with two bishops v rook and pawns, but his opponent’s control of a key file led to his undoing.

 

The Ocean Suite at the Cedar Court Hotel is ideal for eight, 6-board matches

 

Showing typical stamina and determination (and possibly to try and outlast our C Team Marathon Man), Robbo skilfully defended a difficult rook endgame to garner another half point. When he showed us the game afterwards (demonstrating his sophisticated bishop manoeuvre which the spectators dismissed as “aimless shuffling”), it looked as if he might have missed a couple of chances in the middle-game.

 

 

Spirit of Atticus B&C (Round 1)

 
 

   

Out-rating a (nevertheless very solid) Bradford B team in Round 2, we were expected to emerge as winners, and so the 3-3 draw was disappointing. Comfortable white wins came from Colm and Dave Latham – the latter currently in tremendous form – and draws from John and Dave Phillips after long complex games, but we went down on the other two boards, Mike Johnson carelessly dropping a pawn in a defensible ending, and Robbo, possibly exhausted from his marathon of the day before, missing a fairly standard trick in a Maroczy Bind and narrowly failing to defend the ultimate rook ending.

 

In Round 1, like the B Team, the C Team was drawn against tough opponents in Broadland, and with a weakened team the odds were in our opponents’ favour. We did duly lose 1-5, but not without a fight. On Board 6, Keith’s position was always cramped, and his weak c pawn fell in the endgame, enabling his opponent to force his own c pawn home. On Board 5, Dave Stuttard, the wildest of wild-cards, sacrificed a pawn in the opening without having much compensatory development, found a tactic which looked as if he might suddenly be winning, but then went down in flames.

 

 

 

Cedar Court Pool

Facing a slow Queen’s Pawn opening, I sacrificed a pawn temporarily to become active, created a number of tactical threats which my opponent successfully parried, and peace was declared once the minor pieces had been eliminated. The middle game that Mike Mc Donagh reached from a Botvinnik System was complex and difficult to assess, but a sequence of exchanges left his opponent with a passed central pawn which settled the issue.

 

On Board 2, Colm’s activity in a Queen’s Pawn Tarrasch kept him in the game for a long time, but his opponent’s two bishops on an open board led to his ultimate downfall. Not unusually, this left Mike Johnson still playing on Board 1, massively out-rated by possibly the strongest player in the room, a Belgian I.M. A pawn down in an endgame facing the bishop pair, Mike boldly advanced his king and centralised his knights to good effect, and then eliminated enough pawns to draw the endgame. A tremendous result, and if he can repeat such a feat we’ll happily eat at supper-time again.

 

 

Spirit of Atticus B&C (Round 2)

 

Our experience on Sunday was parallel to the B Team’s – a disappointing draw against a weakened Jorvik team. On Board 6, Keith scored his first win for the club in a minor piece ending in which he developed a decisive pin. Steve Lloyd on Board 5 lost a piece in the middle-game and swiftly went downhill. Not for the first time, I failed to capitalise on a promising position with White and could only draw following my opponent’s resilient defence.

 

On Board 1, Tony stoutly defended a Sicilian against an experienced 4NCL practitioner, only to lose on time whilst being ‘squeezed’ in a queen and pawn ending. Steve Connor, meanwhile, was creating a novelty in The Exchange Caro-Kann, advancing his king to e2 in line with established chess principles - but seeming to have forgotten that the ending is not normally reached in ten moves.

 

 
   

It looked as if his opponent could have caused a lot of problems with an early central pawn advance, but Steve found a resource in an unusual knight move to win the exchange and convert his advantage after his opponent lost the tactical thread.

 

At this point, I have to confess that I was unable to understand Mike McDonagh’s messy game on the limited amount I saw. To give you a flavour, when the draw was agreed, he had queen and 4 pawns v rook and pawn about to queen, but had to take perpetual check.

 

Another good weekend socially – I hope the newcomers agree - with the food and wine being served in the hotel restaurant by young, enthusiastic and pleasant staff which made for an enjoyable evening for all.

 

Team B | Rd1 results | Rd2 results | Division 3nb Crosstable | All Division 3n games in PGN |

Team C

| Rd1 results | Rd2 results | Division 3na Crosstable |

 

 

© 4NCL | Steve Connor

 

© 4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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