Division 1(a), Weekend 3, Holiday Inn, Birmingham, 13-14 Feb 2016 by John Carleton

 

 
   

 

Holiday Inn, Birmingham Airport

Just three short weeks after rounds 3 and 4 the teams in divisions 1 and 2 of the 4NCL descended on Birmingham for rounds 5 and 6. It would have been easy to become dispirited after two big reversals of the previous rounds but inspired by the grubmeister's selected Homeric poetry we resolved to be competitive over the whole weekend. In our round 5 game against Oxford 1 our resolution took a quick dent when we suffered two early losses. Nick Ivell on board 3 had prepared an improvement over one of opponent Marcus Harvey's previous games. However Marcus got his improvement in first and when Nick was unable to find some "only moves" defeat followed for our player.

 

On board 8, against Francesca Matta, Dave Robertson blundered his queen away as the game was just moving out of the opening phase and resignation was immediate. The other games did seem to justify optimism [to this admittedly biased observer at least] and on balance to be somewhat in our favour. Brett Lund on board 1 seemed to be gradually squeezing the life from Oxford's Justin Tan's position but, short of time, Brett allowed his opponent to slip out of trouble with the aid of a desperate exchange sacrifice: draw. Board 2 saw Gary Quillan garner a couple of pawns at the cost of development problems.

 

 

Spirit of Atticus A (Round 5, 13 February)

 
 

John Carleton

Our silicon friends like Gary's prospects early on but we were all sure that enormous pressure would follow from David Zakarian and it did! and the Oxford player finished with aplomb: loss.

 

My game on board 4 with William Claridge-Hansen was the least volatile of the match, peace agreed around the time control with a level queen ending on the board: draw. Sheila Jackson against Tim Dickinson on board 6 looked to be falling behind in a game of attacks on opposite sides of the board but gradually the initiative and central control swung her way and decisive inroads were made: win. On board 5 Glenn was gradually getting a large positional edge when he left the back door open and Hans-Peter Hansen headed for Glenn's king using some long range geometry to gain a decisive material advantage: loss.

 

Martin Mitchell playing Michael Handley on board 6 went for activity over structure and in due course his enterprise was rewarded by entering a rook and pawn ending a pawn up which advantage quickly stretched by a further pawn: win. Final score: 3-5.

 

With the match complete we headed to the restaurant enjoyed our food, drink and the company putting aside thoughts of what might have been and where chess appeared we concentrated on the morrow. On our arrival back in the hotel at the bar it was realised, under the patient guidance of our esteemed controllers, that our meal-time in-depth discussion of the team order required a hurried re-vamping because the skipper had not appreciated all the nuances of the January FIDE grade changes. Once the correction was accomplished we mingled with the chess throng some of whom seemed quite thirsty.

 

Among those who conversed with us was Paul Townsend, captain of White Rose 1, who astutely observed that in our pool six teams had reasonable aspirations of attaining one of the four slots in the championship pool. This was true and also a very nice way of identifying the other two teams who were each pointless going into round 6 and playing each other in that round. The two teams were, of course, ourselves and White Rose 2.

 

Round 6, Spirit of Atticus A v White Rose 2.

Photo John Saunders

 

And so, Sunday brought the battle of the basement with each team determined to make their mark on the competition. There was one early result; Sheila was content to simplify with the black pieces against strong junior player Harry Li and content to take the draw in the resulting flat ending. Thereafter bellicose intentions ruled and interesting positions arose throughout. On board 1 Martin Brown, buoyed from pressing GM Glenn Flear in a rook and pawn ending the day before, played an anti-Sicilian space grab and manoeuvred behind his pawn front challenging Nick to break out.

 

 

Spirit of Atticus A (Round 6, 14 February)

 

My game against Jim Burnett saw me building up pressure around his king and breaking things up with a pseudo-sacrifice which seemed sure to win in the long run. Brett on board 3 was swiftly building up one of his dream counter-attacking positions after repulsing Peter Gayson's early strike for the initiative.

 

Gary on board 4 switched around his isolated QP, improving his piece placement and putting Svetlana Sucikova's kingside defences under the microscope. Glenn played calmly on the black side of an interesting c3 Sicilian variation and when Jonathan Arnott ambitiously advanced on the king's wing, only Glenn seemed to have winning chances. Martin, with the white pieces, chipped away at Peter Shaw's Stonewall defence and picked up an important pawn on board 6.

 

 
   

On Board 8 Dave met Kieran O'driscoll's Scandinavian in an unorthodox manner but had trouble finding safety for his king. A flurry of activity around the 4 hour mark saw us reach our main target of four and a half points. Decisive results just flowed in: Brett on board 3 duly completed victory by strangling the remaining life out of his opponent's position. Glenn finished his game on board 5 in style forcing mate as did Gary on board 4. Martin on board 6 showed that his pawn gain had not been the most important feature of the position and he actually mated his opponent through the wide open kingside. Martin Brown picked up a point for White Rose when he finished his game nicely showing Nick's counterplay to have been illusory, the players treating us to a nice time scramble to boot.

 

Thereafter Dave on board 8 gave up his unequal struggle in the ending into which he had been forced to bale out. This left me in play, and having mishandled my time throughout I stumbled from easy win to level to lost and suffered for quite a while doing it. Only by luck did my situation brighten up when Jim began to become wary of having also slipped into what he regarded as an uncomfortable time situation and offered me a draw, almost parting company with his hand as I signalled my agreement after over six hours play. Final score: 5-3. Thus we finally got off the mark and have plenty of positives to take from the weekend. As ever we look, with our customary optimism, to a future with further close encounters, notably in the demotion pool.

 

Division 1a

     
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Cheddleton 1   5-2 5-3 5-2 5-2 6-1 5-2   33 12
2 Barbican 4NCL 1 2-5   4-3 4-3 5-3   7-1 5-2 29 10
3 Wood Green HK 3-5 3-4     4-3 4-3 6-2 7- 29 8
4 Oxford 1 2-5 3-4     3-4 4-3 5-3 6-2 25 6
5 Guildford 2 2-5 3-5 3-4 4-3   4-4   7- 25 5
6 3Cs 1 1-6   3-4 3-4 4-4   4-3 6-1 23 5
7 Spirit of Atticus A 2-5 1-7 2-6 3-5   3-4   5-3 17 2
8 White Rose 2   2-5 -7 2-6 -7 1-6 3-5   10 0
 

     

 

Team A

| Rd5 results | Rd6 results | Division 1a Crosstable | All Division 1 games in PGN |

 

4NCL | Steve Connor

 

 

4NCL

 

Four Nations Chess League

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