Once again Crowthorne has two teams competing in the 4NCL (Four Nations Chess League), the UK’s national team championship. We have one team in Division 4, and one team in Division 3, having gained promotion last year.
The first 2 rounds have just taken place this weekend (9-10 November).
The B team narrowly lost 2½ – 3½ on Saturday but a 5-1 win on the Sunday puts the B team comfortably mid table.
The A team won 4-2 on the Saturday and 5-1 on the Sunday so a strong start in division 3.
Before the next season I will be talking to everyone and gauging the viability of a second team. Unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities for people, and particularly juniors, to play FIDE rated games and to be noticed for England squad inclusion. Consequently many juniors have artificially low Fide ratings.
Major points about the results showed: – we used 22 different players for the two teams
– Colin Purdon played in all 11 matches
– the following players actually didn’t lose a single game: Paul Cooksey (9/10), Richard Webb(6½/9), Colin Purdon (7½/11), Harvey Duckers (4½/5), Matthew Ward (2/3), Ganeshbabu Gnanagurusamy (1/1)
– scoring the most wins was Peter Tart and Paul Cooksey with 8 wins each
Regarding the next 4NCL season we don’t need to take any decisions yet because even the round dates and venues are not decided but there is a rumour that that some rounds could be in the Sunningdale area but this is not confirmed.
When I know more details I’ll be asking who wants to play next season particularly those who think they are likely to play in a majority of rounds because that information is likely to determine how many teams we have.
Individual perfomances are shown in the following table:
Crowthorne went into Weekend four of the 4NCL season, played over 13-14 April, with a weakened team because of holidays and clashes with other events. The first team was missing Ken and Richard, and unfortunately it was not possible to raise a second for the weekend – the 4NCL was notified well in advance of this so that Crowthorne 2 was not included in the pairings. We expect to reinstate the second team for the final weekend (4-6 May).
Fears that Crowthorne 1 would lose top place in Div 4 were unfounded, as the Saturday game saw them beat their closest rivals, Watford 1. It seems that Watford also had problems getting their strongest team out, and in the event Crowthorne outgraded them. Paul Cooksey, Peter Tart and John Upham won their games, with Harvey Duckers, Mark Cross and Colin Purdon (somehow) drawing theirs:
In the Sunday Game, round 8, Crowthorne was paired against Wessex B … and were again successful! Paul and Peter both made it 2/2 for the weekend, with Harvey also winning. Colin drew, and Mark and John lost to substantially higher-rated opponents:
This leaves Crowthorne with a healthy lead at the top of Division 4, but with a number of teams still able to overtake us in the three rounds of the final weekend:
Andrew Kirby had a nice win for Crowthorne 2 on Saturday game, in the match against All Anands on Deck. He played the active Scandinavian Defence, and produced a fine temporary pawn sacrifice in order to activate his pieces:
Many thanks to Ken Coates, the Crowthorne 4NCL squad captain, for providing the following report on this season’s weekend 3.
With 6 rounds completed and 5 remaining Crowthorne 1 head the table following 2 wins at the weekend. On Saturday Crowthorne eased to a 4½-1½ win against Warwickshire Select 2 setting up a top of the table clash with Ashfield 1. Round 5 had seen Ashfield 1 beat Watford 1 leaving Ashfield as the only team on maximum points. Paul had to jet off on the Sunday to work in the USA this week and despite losing him and being out graded we eventually won a closely contested match.
Crowthorne 1 (average rating 1999)
Ashfield 1 (2027)
1 – 0
1 – 0
Esteve Mateu Guiu
1 – 0
1 – 0
0.5 – 0.5
0 – 1
Richard won and nicely controlled game by gaining a positional edge early on but needed care and patience to convert for the win. My game proved a complex struggle in which both players thought they held the advantage but my opponent played a few “sub optimal” moves under time pressure and his position collapsed. Colin’s opponent sacrificed a piece unsoundly leaving Colin to convert two knights and several pawns against a bishop and less pawns. Harvey’s game was a close struggle and difficult for me to assess what was going on (like most of Harvey’s games it feels) but he emerged with advantage and was able to convert the ending. Peter, first to finish, had a solid game for once and was never worse as any point perhaps having a slight advantage until a draw was agreed after almost 4 hours. Despite being heavily out graded Mark might even have been better at points in his game and was unfortunate to eventually lose a long game.
The top of the division 4 South table now looks like:
The second team drew their Saturday match when their opponents defaulted bottom board but could so easily have won as James had a very good position but ended up losing. Andrew had a good win efficiently catching his opponent’s king in the centre of the board. John drew a competitive game which promised the full point for much of the match. Christine won by default and because the other team did not declare the default in advance they were penalised a further point. Effectively Christine won 2 points for the team!! Mark and Scott went down to much stronger opponents.
Crowthorne 2 (average rating 1633)
All Anands on Deck (1805)
0 – 1
0 – 1
John E Upham
0.5 – 0.5
1 – 0
0 – 1
1 – def
default (-1 score)
2.5 – 2.5
The Sunday saw Crowthorne 2 lose to a significantly stronger team – “Throw in the Tal”. However I must mention Kim Shek’s result:
0.5 – 0.5
To concede almost 500 points and draw is a phenomenal achievement and with the black pieces!!
The next weekend is 13-14 April in Daventry again and sees Crowthorne 1 heading the division with Crowthorne 2 comfortably mid table.
In addition to Richard’s game seen in the previous post, there were a number of interesting games and positions from the recent 4NCL weekend. Here are two examples, starting with Panos’ nice combinational win with the Black pieces in Round 4:
Also in Round 4, Harvey (with Black) found a nice finish:
Rounds 3 and 4 of the 4NCL took place over the weekend of 12-13 January in Bedford, with the two Crowthorne teams in action in Division 4s.
Crowthorne 1 got off to a shaky start, drawing 3-3 against Throw in the Tal despite outgrading them by an average of 180 Elo (around 25 ECF) per board. In some games the results could have gone either way, and the final result by no means flattered Throw in the Tal. It was better news for Crowthorne 1 in the second game of the weekend, beating All Anands on Deck by 4.5-1.5, hence gaining clear third place on 7 points (out of 8) behind Ashfield 1 and Watford 1.
Crowthorne 2 fared even better, winning both matches against Barnet Knights 3 4-2 on Saturday and Rook & Roll 4.5-1.5 on Sunday despite being outgraded in the latter match. These results mean that they jump 9 places to 23rd (out of 38).
Richard Webb’s Saturday game had an amusing finish – Richard was Black against David Ireland:
The complete division 4 South cross-table can be found on the 4NCL web site here – just click the items in the cross-table to see the individual match results.
Ken Coates has provided a summary of the season’s 4NCL performance:
Firstly I want to thank everyone who played in the matches for Crowthorne in this seasons 4NCL. It was a privilege and honour to captain the team.
I have just seen the final positions and can confirm we will not be promoted having come up just short in the final match of the final weekend. (Webmaster’s note: promotion is actually still a theoretical possibility, depending on the decisions of other teams regarding promotion and relegation, but it is unlikely.)
Over the season we conceded a draw in a vital match and narrowly lost 3 matches two of which we could just of easily won.
Even when we out graded our opponents they seemed to raise their game against us, so great credit to them.
We ended up 5th but beat Surbiton who finished 1st and drew with CSC 2 who finished 2nd. Losing narrowly to both Iceni teams cost us in the end.
A few special mentions are necessary.
James and Andrew found it tough going and were heavily out graded in some matches but they are improving players. It’s these tough, long play matches they vitally need to play in if they are to gain experience, learn and improve.
I award Peter Tart the title “Player of the Season” – he had a stunning 4NCL performance. He lost one game he should have won, drew two others and won the rest, resulting in a score of 9 out of 11.
Moving on, I’m now looking to the 4NCL season 2018/19 and see that the venues are less convenient for us being 4 weekends in Daventry and one in Bedford. I can see car sharing and team planning being important.
Thanks once again to everyone who played and commiseration on just missing out on promotion.