4NCL 2013/14 Weekend 3 – Division 3 North

4NCL 2013/14 Weekend 3 – Division 3 North

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Round 5

Rounds 5&6 of Division 3 North saw the teams converge on another new venue for 4NCL, The Palace Hotel in Buxton.

Sometimes it’s hard for a venue to live up to its name – think of your local Taj Mahal restaurant for example – but in this case there is no denying that it’s a hotel and it’s definitely palatial. Those Victorians knew how to build to impress. The playing room has ceilings that would accommodate a giraffe, and the beautifully crafted decorative mouldings would still have been well out of grazing range. Once again we enjoyed excellent playing conditions, and this all helps to make a 4NCL weekend in Division 3 North something out of the ordinary.

This was the final weekend before we join up with Division 3 South for the final 5 rounds, so all the competition was sure to be fierce with everyone looking to secure their position in the combined rankings.

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Spirit of Atticus A and North East England 1 have been leading the way and Bradford DCA B would have the daunting task of facing both of them, with Spirit first up on Saturday. The match was hard fought despite a large disparity in the ratings on paper. Although Bradford never quite looked like pulling off an upset, there was a lot of hard graft on show with the last 2 boards finishing deep into the second time control.

On board one exchanges in the opening left Brett Lund with a central pawn majority. Once this started advancing, Denis Molofej’s defensive task seemed to get trickier and after the dark squared bishops were exchanged gaps appeared around his king which proved impossible to plug.

4NCL

Roger Jennings

On three, Roger Jennings faced a four pawns attack from John Carleton, who continued to display positive intent by choosing to open files in front of his own king when Roger tried to reduce the pressure through exchanges. Through yet more exchanges John was able to target an isolated pawn and though this did eventually fall, the material advantage couldn’t be maintained into a rook and pawn ending and a draw was agreed.

On board four Richard Allis’ approach to a similar Pirc set up was of was of the three pawn variety, though the game took on a radically different course following an opening Nxe4 & d5 fork tactic which resulted in a much more open position. Martin Mitchell had to castle manually and Richard established a menacing out-posted knight. However diagonals were opened up for Martin’s bishops and started it to look highly dangerous for both sides. Martin finally erred with 30. …Re2 allowing a far from obvious 2 mover, well spotted by Richard, to conclude the game and put Bradford back in the hunt.

On five Jim Nicholson’s king got stuck in the centre following John Hall’s temporary pawn sacrifice in a c3 Sicilian. It never found any real safety and John kept applying the pressure and forced the win.

This left Eric Gardiner on board 2 and Dave Patrick on 6 struggling to save the match for Bradford and both kept at it to the bitter end. Eric had been pressing forward with a central pawn majority but when this stalled attention turned to Nick Ivell’s queenside pawns. Once these became connected passers the end was nigh, despite valiant attempts to create counterplay on the opposite wing.

On six Dave Patrick had opted for an early exchange of queens in a c3 Sicilian and never managed to generate much forward momentum. When a pawn went astray in the middle game he was left with a desperate defence which eventually became a lost cause as Andrew Smith carefully shepherded his extra pawns up the board. So a well deserved win for Spirit of Atticus A.

Martina Flint

Martina Flint

Rd5 Jor vs Fer 2

Jorvik’s first game of the weekend was against Ferry ‘Cross the Maroczy 2 and they completed a rare 6-0 clean sweep. Although this looked on the cards based on ratings it’s not so easy to do over the board. Aggressive opening choices seemed to play a big part in the result with Mark White’s Benko and Richard Mounce’s Falkbeer both putting their opponents on the back foot. Martin Carpenter got powerful kingside action going quickly and Richard Cowan calmly fended off a kingside attack before breaking through in the centre. Martina Flint’s opponent Thomas Lawton tried the Staunton gambit against her Dutch and for a while appeared to be getting somewhere. Her defences held together however and she eventually won with the extra material after extricating her pieces. Neville Pearce completed the job with a bank rank trick to finish off a kingside attack in a French advance.

Rd5 BfdC vs Fer 1

In the other match Bradford DCA “C” faced a daunting task against “Ferry” 1, not only out-graded, but once again 1 man down. Quite rightly the 4NCL has draconian penalties for this, both financial and in game points and we can only apologise for letting our opponents down in this way, despite our best efforts. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

The situation called for do-or-die tactics and at first things seemed to be promising. On top board Miles Edwards-Wright had a comfortable position out of the opening and the featured bishop on b3 got right into the game after lines were opened up in the centre. However Roger Williamson’s light squared bishop was also unopposed on the long diagonal and both players decided against pursuing an advantage.

On five Nick Mahoney unleashed the Ponziani. Despite being a lifelong e4-e5 player myself, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this played before over the board in a serious game and I was hopeful that shock value would be high. Unfortunately opponent James Hawkins had experience, and even told us in the post mortem that he’d recently discussed the opening with an IM. Even so it appears that Nick could have safely grabbed a pawn in the opening despite scary looking counterplay, after James varied from the book line early.

Playing as he did, Nick still seemed to have the upper hand for a while, until James managed to get castled. Then, with several pieces left attacking air on the queenside, Nick was unable to fend off an accurately executed counter-attack on the kingside.

On 3 Dave Grobler also set out to play aggressively with an early g4-g5 push against a Pirc set up, followed by queenside castling. However opponent Tom Bimpson declined to castle and got his queenside play in first, before winning a pawn and exchanging queens. It soon became clear that the ending would be impossible to defend.

With the match gone, draws were back on the agenda for Robert Dean on 2 and me on 4. We had both achieved reasonable games with black out of the opening, without ever threatening to get on top and it seems that both positions were very level when draws were agreed.

Buxton offers a wide choice of restaurants all within very easy walking distance of the Palace Hotel and we had been looking forward to taking our pick at leisure, perhaps after a gentle evening stroll.

Unfortunately this plan was literally washed out by a torrential downpour that started mid afternoon and continued more or less unabated until Sunday morning.

This left the magnificent stone staircase leading up to the Palace resembling the famous Cascade water feature at nearby Chatsworth House, so we chose the nearest and easiest option in form of the local Pizza Express franchise. This was more than satisfactory but if we’re back here next year we’ll be hoping that the weather will not be making the decision for us.

Buxton Fountain

Round 6

Rd6 BfdB vs NE1

On Sunday Bradford DCA B faced North East England 1, who had won on Saturday against Holmes Chapel to keep up the pressure on Spirit of Atticus A.

Again out-graded across the board it was a tough task but there was soon cause for optimism. On the odd numbered boards Denis, Roger and Jim all appeared to be making the most of the white pieces.

In the meantime Richard Allis had chosen to play another opening line which I don’t think I’ve ever seen played live in a serious game : 1 d4 ..Nc6!? Does this even have a name? Anyhow, it played out somewhat like an Alekhine’s in mirror image with an early queen exchange. I can’t say that I’m an immediate convert but there’s no denying that Richard obtained a decent position and went on to win a pawn in the middle game. However this eventually resolved to an opposite coloured bishop ending where neither side could make progress and a draw was agreed.

On five Jim’s opponent Paul Dargan had managed to get a knight into an advanced position and it collected an extra pawn on its travels. However Jim obtained an active bishop and regained the pawn when this was exchanged leaving just queens on the board and neither king safe from checks. Draw agreed.

One board one Denis was a pawn up and making further progress in middle game complications. When a second pawn fell he had connected passed pawns to work with and he finished the job by sacrificing an exchange to force them though.

On three Roger Jennings ruined Clive Waters’ pawn structure by exchanging his fianchetto bishops at opportune moments. This soon converted to extra pawns in a rook and pawn ending. With passers on both sides of the board the defensive task was unmanageable and Roger brought home the full point to guarantee a drawn match.

Unfortunately neither Eric nor Dave was able to add an extra half point. Eric had been facing a big problem in dealing with David Oates’ outside passed pawn in an otherwise blocked position. It seemed he might have been holding on but once queens were exchanged, all of Eric’s remaining pieces were tied down to the defence and there was nothing to stop the king coming up to help the passed pawn.

On six Dave Patrick’s had managed to open lines against David Henderson’s king, with his own looking relatively safe on the queenside, and his prospects had looked good. However once queens were exchanged a tricky rook and minor piece ending resulted. As the time control approached Dave opted to try to win pawns on the queenside judging that a passed e pawn would not be a problem. In hindsight this was probably a mistake as his king was cut off and couldn’t help prevent the e-pawn’s advance. The hoped for queenside counterplay never materialised and eventually the e pawn proved to be unstoppable. So it was a 3-3 draw and all things considered a hard earned extra point to take on to Daventry.

Rd6 Jor vs SOA B

Jorvik’s opponents on Sunday were the strong Spirit of Atticus B team. This match was another really hard fought affair with the score at 3-2 to Spirit with final game still in play as we were already on the road making for home. The crucial game was Mark White’s on top board – he had been forced to give up the exchange to prevent Michael Johnson mating his king, which had been cut off on the h-file. However, he had 2 pawns for it and as we left I still thought all 3 results were possible. It turned out that the rook was too powerful and Michael was able to win back the extra pawns and complete the win for Spirit of Atticus B.

Earlier an exciting game between Richard Bryant and Richard Cowan saw Spirit’s Richard emerge from multiple complications with 2 pieces for a rook and a safe king, which proved sufficient for the win.

Martina Flint and Andrew Mort agreed a draw by impending repetition after both kings had been in all kinds of trouble for some time. I’m not sure if anything terminal was missed by either player along the way – at the time the position had me totally baffled and I don’t think I was the only one in a large crowd of spectators. The other three boards were drawn in slightly less spectacular ways, leaving Spirit of Atticus B 4-2 winners.

Rd6 MM2 vs BfdC

Bradford DCA C faced Manchester Manticores 2. We juggled the board order a little so that Nick Mahoney could get a second white, having taken 2 blacks at Shrigley Hall in the previous weekend.
This worked out well for me on board three where Tim Hilton was taken by surprise by the Steinitz 4… Qh4 in the Scotch – in the post mortem he told me he had been preparing to play Dave Grobler and wasn’t too familiar with the theory. I didn’t get much out of the opening but Tim erred by deciding to push his h pawn, and then missed a small tactic which netted a crucial central pawn. It also forced an exchange down to a very easy to play ending which Tim was soon forced to concede.

Your Reporter - Mike Bramson

Your Reporter – Mike Bramson

Nick used his second white to uncork another new opening idea, a 2. a3 Sicilian. He managed to obtain a nice looking pawn centre with c3-d4-e5 but the base of the chain wasn’t secure and I think he chose wisely to accept Jon Lonsdale’s draw offer after the queens came off.

Miles Edwards-Wright was also going well on board one. After correctly judging that he had enough time to collect an extra pawn, he exchanged bishops to create light square weaknesses around Peter Mulleady’s king. A queen and knight partnership then worked together to exploit this and clinch the win.

On five it looked for a while as if a queenside pawn majority would give Dave Grobler some winning chances in an ending, but Mick Norris’s king was more actively placed and a draw was looking like the only result well before it was agreed.

Although we had 3 points in the bag, with a half point deduction to come we still needed more from board 2 to take anything from the match. Unfortunately while Robert Dean had obtained a decent position, following Tarrasch theory for at least dozen moves, the middle game got tricky and Julian Clissold had obtained a very dangerous passed d pawn. Robert was playing on barely more than his increment by move 30 and almost inevitably went wrong.
The end was delayed when Julian failed to spot that Robert had left his queen en prise and took a knight instead but the extra piece was more than sufficient and he was eventually able to simplify down to a trivial king and pawn ending to seal the match for the Manticores.

At the end of the Northern section the leaders are Spirit of Atticus A, who completed a fine weekend’s work by seeing off Cheddleton 2. As ever, more on that match will be found in John Carleton’s report.

Div3N Table

It will be interesting to see how all the teams stack up against the Southern opposition when we next meet in Daventry. There has been a lot of quality on display. Consider Holmes Chapel, for example, who have gathered “only” 5 points. They have had a really tough draw, not having played any of the three bottom teams and I suspect that any Southern teams still on 5 points after their third weekend will be looking in trepidation when the draw comes out for weekend 4.

Report by Mike Bramson


Yorkshire Chess would like to personally thank all our guest writers for their wonderful contributions. If you would like to publish your article on Yorkshire Chess please see our guest post page: link

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

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Feb 17. 2014

    From what I’ve heard since Martina was objectively doing quite well until quite late on against Spirit 2 but the position was certainly hugely random :)

    I think the Jorvik player who impressed me most has actually been Neville – 2 quite confident draws against notionally much stronger opposition and a win against Ferry 2. Richard Mounce clearly likes the extra time too.

    The draw has certainly been very tough on the top teams. Spirit/NE1 haven’t had a single even remotely soft match between them. Very hard to see Spirit faltering but NE1 have some hard work to do and will need to turn teams out.

    Reply to this comment
    • Andy Bak

      Feb 17. 2014

      Div 3 North used to come under criticism for the Northern teams having easier fixtures which was apparently the only reason why Bradford DCA, Spirit of Atticus and NE England got promoted.

      Now as you have pointed out, both SOA and NE1 had a really tough set of fixtures and it will be interesting to see if either/both can get promoted.

      Fingers crossed that there will be three Div 3 North teams in Div 2 next season :)

      Reply to this comment
      • Martin Carpenter

        Feb 17. 2014

        Yes, good luck with that :) Suppose can count WR2 as spiritually linked. Or even actually linked if it all goes wrong!

        SOA will do their bit. They’re very much on a mission. Lots of very impressive controlled grinds. Very nice to watch – and well worth playing through online – actually. Suspect it might well be a while before their first team next plays in Div3N.

        I just hope DCA don’t get done in by those slightly obscure carry over rules. That’d be cruel. Suspect it’d take a rather impressive effort to get back out again too.

        Reply to this comment
        • Andy Bak

          Feb 17. 2014

          Assuming we don’t win by 5.5-2.5 or better, I think it is impossible for us to carry more than two points through. Fortunately we are probably stronger than most of the teams from the other pool so we might still get out alive.

          FWIW I like the carry-over system. You qualify for the promotion/relegation pool, when you then play all the other teams in the pool. For practical reasons, they just take the results from the teams you have already played and count them instead of replaying the fixtures, I don’t know why so many people are against this system, it seems simple and logical to me.

          Reply to this comment
          • Martin Carpenter

            Feb 18. 2014

            Well, I think its quite hard to describe taking away points just because you earned them against the stronger teams in the division as entirely logical! Cruel might be more accurate :)

            Normally not a huge issue and the system does work more logically for the promotion candidates. No ideal solution for 16 team divisions anyway of course.

  2. James Carpenter

    Feb 18. 2014

    I think the worst of it is simply that you don’t know what the carry over’s going to be until you see your group, and can all too easily feel you’ve lost points slightly arbtrarily. I can see the logic of it though.

    Reply to this comment
    • Andy Bak

      Feb 19. 2014

      It’s not taking points away Martin – that’s the wrong way to think about it.

      Your performance in the first seven rounds qualifies you into either the promotion/relegation pool.

      All teams start with zero points and APA once. Instead of replaying already-played fixtures, you just count the result of the previous fixture.

      No-one’s taking away any points, just saving the need to play three games that teams have already played in that season.

      Reply to this comment
      • Martin Carpenter

        Feb 19. 2014

        No, everyone has played 11 matches over the season and are ultimately judged on 7 of them. Definitely throwing away results :) Perfectly valid ones for deciding how well you’ve played over that season too.

        Of course if you didn’t throw those results away you’d be risking comparing promotion/relegation candidates over (mostly moderately) unbalanced fields.

        I think I’d prefer to do that myself but the current system definitely isn’t at all insane. There simply isn’t an ideal system for deciding how to relegate 4 teams from 16 given 11 rounds. A naive Swiss would be an awful lot worse than the current set up.
        (It’d fix the top and bottom ~2 teams OK, but not the others.).

        None of this means that a hypothetical situation where DCA got 3/7 and carried 0 forwards to the relegation pool wouldn’t be terribly unlucky/somewhat unfair in some sense :) Hopefully it won’t get that extreme!

        Reply to this comment
        • Andy Bak

          Feb 19. 2014

          You are judged on all 11 games – the four “missing” games are critical for deciding whether you end up in the promotion or relegation pool, not a trivial point!

          In this case there’s not a scenario I can think of that Bradford can take zero points through to the relegation pool. The large majority of permutations have us carrying 2 points through while a big win from us will either put us in the promotion pool or have us carrying 2 or 4 points through to the relegation pool.

          Reply to this comment
          • Martin Carpenter

            Feb 19. 2014

            Sure they’re not totally ignored – or it’d be an awful system :) – they do obviously count for less that they might though. Just counting all 11 results is the sane alternative, which has its own problems.

            Quite easy to get a carry over of 0 if you don’t win vs BCM of course – something like WR2 6 – Hackney 2 would put both your current carry over points in a relatively ‘safe’ position.

            Looks like 0 carry over can’t be done if you win vs BCM Dragons as you’d relegate them with you. Fairly sure that it can be done if you draw, although it takes a lot of effort elsewhere :)

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