4NCL 2013/14 Weekend 2 – Division 3

4NCL 2013/14 Weekend 2 – Division 3

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Round 3

Div3 North Rd3

Rounds 3 & 4 of Division 3 North were played at Shrigley Hall, a new venue for 4NCL.

It’s an imposing country house hotel in the Cheshire countryside and it was a very welcome sight after a long drive there through the seemingly endless suburbs of Greater Manchester. Set on a hillside it looks over a championship quality golf course which was busy despite the cold damp conditions. Like Redworth Hall it features a maze of corridors linking well appointed bedrooms in newer buildings with the original 19th century house.
The playing hall is an ideal size for the number of matches with a large analysis area just outside and the bar just beyond that.

The scenic Shrigley Hall

The scenic Shrigley Hall

The main action this time at the top of the table was always going to be fought out by the powerful Spirit of Atticus and North East England squads, both averaging around 2200. More detail on how the key matches between these teams unfolded can be found in John Carleton’s excellent report.
Meanwhile Bradford DCA Knights B and Jorvik were looking to improve on their mid-table positions and Bradford DCA Knights C were looking to get off the mark.

Bradford B’s opponents on Saturday were Cheddleton 3. On top board for Bradford David Barlow started with 1 d4 but the position transposed into a French defence. When a typical f6 freeing manoeuvre was attempted by opponent Ian Jamieson, it appeared to create as many problems as it solved and a winning kingside attack later developed.

On board 2 Roger Jennings appeared at first to have problems on an open h file but his Pirc bishop probably had everything under control and a draw was agreed after a series of exchanges.

Bradford B's Dave Barlow

Bradford B’s Dave Barlow

On 4, Jim Nicholson played down what I suspect was a long line of Najdorf theory, before opponent William Armstrong went wrong, at the cost of a pawn. William then found a nice tactic to win it back and a draw was agreed.

On board 6 Robert Dean’s young opponent Jacob Boswell chose the exchange variation against Robert’s French defence and an exciting battle followed with opposite side castling and plenty of tactics. In the end it came down to an ending with action on both sides of the board where Robert’s bishop was much better than Jacob’s knight, and Robert duly converted for the win.

On board 5 Dave Patrick had been trying hard to convert the nominal advantage of an extra doubled, isolated pawn but it all went horribly wrong when the final piece was exchanged. Alex Cartlidge’s king was better placed and he had no trouble using the opposition to win key pawns and force resignation.
This meant that with board 3 still playing Bradford were 3-2 up. Richard Allis went on to make the final score 4-2 after another French Defence. He was able to cash in a central passed pawn to win opponent Stephane Pedder’s kingside pawns and eventually forced a resignation when it became clear that they were going to promote.

Meanwhile Bradford C were taking on Ferry ‘Cross the Maroczy 2 with a full team, with many thanks to Darwin Ursal who very kindly made a day trip to help out after a last minute withdrawal left us in difficulties. At first it looked as if we were still one man short as Damian McCarthy was still in the Yorkshire league time zone and turned up in good time for a 2.30 start, half an hour late!

Top Boards of Bradford DCA C vs Ferry 'Cross the Maroczy 2

Top Boards of Bradford DCA C vs Ferry ‘Cross the Maroczy 2

This didn’t seem to do him any harm however as he soon seemed to have a built up a promising kingside attack following a Scotch gambit, at the cost of a central passed pawn. However the attack never quite got there and when the queens came off James Hawkins’ pawns were unstoppable.

Tony Slinger was yet another to opt for a French defence on board 2, and the game developed into a double-edged isolated queen pawn position. Luke Boumphrey appeared to be making progress after getting in on the e-file and the establishing a rook on the seventh to win queenside pawns. However Tony had the safer king and his centralised pieces and an advancing f-pawn were able to generate winning tactics.

On 3 Darwin played energetically against Joe Siddall’s Kings Indian. Having exchanged the g7 bishop his king side play looked to be getting in first. However accurate defence saw Joe get back into the game and things were looking slightly tricky until the queens were exchanged. allowing Darwin to take control of the d file with his remaining rook. This rook was eventually then able to clean up the black pawns on the queenside, with a winning endgame advantage.

Nick Mahoney had appeared to have obtained obtain a decent position with black from a Najdorf on board 6 but it all went downhill after opponent Jim Wiseman switched from an unusual queenside expansion to launch a kingside attack which proved to be decisive.

On board 4 David Grobler played a Grunfeld and got a line which I believe is mainstream theory where the light squared bishops are exchanged on f1 after Ba6, leaving the white king stuck in the centre. This may well be fine for white in the book but it looks much easier to play as black and king safety proved to be a terminal problem later after the h pawn advanced and forced some open files.

This left my game on 5 with the match standing at 3-2 to Bradford. I had the comfort of being material up against in a virtually un-losable opposite colour bishops ending with Ian Stephens. I’m not sure if it was definitely winning but once a second passed pawn was created it looks like there was no defence and I was able to take the full point.

Pete Mulleady vs Mark White

Pete Mulleady vs Mark White

Jorvik were in action against Manchester Manticores 2 and cleaned up on the bottom boards with wins for Martina Flint, Richard Cowan and Paul Anderson, to win the match 4-2, Peter Mulleady scoring the only win for Manchester.

The Bradford squad celebrated over a meal in the hotel restaurant, which was top notch. For the reference of other teams considering this as an option in future it should be noted that it was on the pricey side and that the emphasis is very much on quality not quantity. So if your team’s idea of haute cuisine is a very tall stack of chips, you might want to make other plans. With news coming through that the Leeds University Old Boys had also won in Division 3 South, this was a 100% “super Saturday” for the Yorkshire teams in division 3.

Div3 South Rd3

LUOB arrived with a strong team for two difficult matches, and were quickly out of the blocks against a fresh-faced Sussex team. While the top four boards look to be University students, the other two are a little younger. I’d estimate their average age at about nineteen. N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-nineteen.

Gary McGann picked up the pieces for the first time since October 2013, but still dispatched a highly ranked opponent with the minimum of fuss, and when Mark Taylor followed suit shortly afterwards we were well placed. John Hall conducted an accurate and imaginative defence to neutralise local rival David Grant’s nagging initiative from the white side of the Dragon.

Mark Birkin’s game was unusual in two regards, firstly that f5 was the right move, and second (even more noteworthy) that he failed to play it. Things deteriorated from there to put the match back in the balance, with two difficult endings still in progress. Some observers felt Simon Deighton might struggle to convert R+4 vs R+2 with inactive pieces, but he finished calmly in 80 moves to secure the match. Hubert Mossong celebrated by equalising a minor piece ending in which he was two pawns down (B+6 v N+4) for several hours, although given his ownership of the beloved knight perhaps a greater surprise is that he failed to engineer the full point.

So the buffet was running a bit cold by the time we finally got to dinner, but you can’t have everything I guess.

Round 4

Div3 North Rd4

Not all the Yorkshire teams could win on Sunday as Bradford B were facing Jorvik in a Yorkshire derby, while Bradford C would be taking on Cheddleton 3.
Mark White opened up for Jorvik on board one with 2 Bb5 after 1 e4.e5, but things looked more or less conventional after a few more moves. In the final position where a draw was agreed, both players appeared still to have trumps to play with Mark controlling the d file and threatening to invade on the seventh, while David Barlow was a pawn up with an active rook.

Roger Jennings and Richard Mounce exchanged lots of material relatively quickly in a Reti. Though it looked for a while like Richard was obtaining a dangerous passed pawn , it couldn’t be maintained and a draw was agreed in a very even looking rook and pawn ending.

On board 4 Richard Cowan played the Kings Indian against Jim Nicholson and delayed castling until well into the middle game, after launching a king side advance. This set up an unbalanced position with many possibilities for both sides and it seemed to me that the argument revolved over who would get control over open files on the queenside, once the kingside had become blocked. Richard found the better way through this and had a winning advantage when Jim’s flag fell on move 39.

Richard Cowan and Martina Flint for Jorvik

Richard Cowan and Martina Flint for Jorvik

Things were looking good for Jorvik, with Paul Anderson apparently doing well on board 6 against Robert Dean after playing an enterprising piece sacrifice to obtain two connected passed pawns. However Robert managed to generate powerful counterplay against Paul’s king and although one of the pawns eventually made it to c2 it wasn’t enough and it was Robert who delivered mate, for his second win of the weekend.

On 5 Dave Patrick played a solid set up against Martina Flint’s Bird’s opening, with a kingside fianchetto followed up by queenside castling. With white’s queenside play held up by a bishop firmly established on d4 Dave had time to build up a kingside attack which proved decisive.

This left it 3-2 to Bradford with Richard Allis defending a Modern against Anstasios Nezis on board 3. Visually it had looked very depressing to me, with a white knight entrenched on e6 dominating the board, and an apparently useless dark squared bishop sat on h8. However Richard was able to advance his queenside pawns to generate some counterplay and a misstep allowed a passed pawn to reach b2. A quick finish then followed when acceptance of a rook sac would have added a second unstoppable passed pawn. So, the final score was 4-2 to Bradford.

Bradford C, meanwhile, were taking on Cheddleton 3, this time a man down and so with a mountain to climb. Knowing that draws were not really an option didn’t seem to help us, though a good start seemed to be on the cards after David Grobler obtained a good position out of a Ruy Lopez exchange variation against Jacob Connor. This eventually came down to an opposite coloured bishop ending which was the subject of much debate in my car on the way home. It looks like a draw was the correct result.

Unfortunately Nick Mahoney had to take the black pieces again on board 5, but he was soon able to equalise. However, there seemed little prospect for progress after queens came off and a draw was agreed with Alex Cartlidge. On top board Damian appeared to be on top after winning an exchange for a pawn against Ian Jamieson but the odd knight became very active and he decided to sac the exchange back to force a draw.

Tony Slinger faced a Chigorin defence from Geoff Laurence and obtained a space advantage but after a number of exchanges the position became blocked and another daw was agreed.

In any case it was clear that the match was already a lost cause because I was in severe trouble against William Armstrong, who successfully navigated past my desperate attempts to complicate things and secured the win.

A packed playing hall!

A packed playing hall!

So at the end of the weekend Bradford DCA Knights have 6pts, with Jorvik on 4pts and Bradford DCA Knights C on 2pts. Division 3 North is headed by Spirit of Atticus 1 on 7pts with North East England 1 also on 6pts. As Bradford B is yet to play either team, we are certain to be in for a tough weekend in the next round at Buxton on 8th/9th February.

Leeds University Old Boys won again on Sunday and are one of only 2 teams left with a perfect record in Division 3 South, the other being Guildford 3, another team who fielded a squad with an average rating over 2200 this weekend.

Div3 South Rd4

If yesterday’s opponents were University students, Sunday’s adversaries are not yet beyond their school days. In fact, judging by the fact that most of their feet can’t reach the floor, one could confidently assert Primary School. Their average can’t be much than about nine. N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-nine.

We try not to be distracted by their size, modest grades, or that they all seem to have trains to catch before lunchtime. They have enough track record to indicate that they will provide durable and difficult competition. And so it proves as neither John or Gary are quite able to convert promising positions, and Mark Taylor’s fluctuating struggle also ends up square. Hubert finds himself in another dodgy minor piece ending, and amongst the early finishers only Simon is able to maintain his good form from the previous day.

Fortunately the skipper has a lucky rabbit’s foot in reserve for the occasion and does enough to survive an habitually scrappy encounter. For the second day running, Hubert is last to finish with a well-practiced impression of Lazarus which adds a little extra gloss to the scoreline.

And so the team advances to new territory, with four good wins from four tough matches. Weekend 3 promises to be the sternest examination yet.

Reports by Mike Bramson (Div 3 North) and Mark Birkin (Div 3 South)


Features editor for the Yorkshire Chess website. I collate and write atricles about all the latest chess activities in Yorkshire and beyond. I've also been known to shove some pieces myself from time to time!

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3 Responses to “4NCL 2013/14 Weekend 2 – Division 3”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Jan 15. 2014

    Nice reports. (Also, of course, the Atticus one.). Nice venue it seems to.

    I’d reccomend trying not to worry much about what Richard Allis’ games look like. Better for your sanity :) Effective though.

    Suppose that Spirit will have to play Cheddleton 2 as well as Bradford. That will neatly complete their assigned quest of only playing the top half of the field……

    Quite noticeably harder fields for the top teams in Div3N than Div3 so far this year. I guess that the mixing for five rounds should mostly sort that out.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Matt Webb

    Jan 16. 2014

    Love the report Andy!!

    Reply to this comment

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