4NCL 2013/14 Weekend 4 – Divisions 1 and 2
White Rose had one of their strongest line ups in recent times in a vitally crucial 4NCL weekend. A good win over Guildford 2 on Saturday was crucial to earn a place in the Championship division. Anything less and White Rose would certainly be in the relegation pool.
White Rose managed to win an entertaining match which was broadcast live on the internet.
Sue Mararoa-Jones got us off to a flying start finding a neat tactic which ladies England international, Dagne Ciuksyte, missed and resigned on the spot.
Pete Wells was looking confident about his game and was even up on the clock. He duly converted the position with what looked like exemplary technique.
Captain Paul Townsend heaped lots of pressure on his young opponent, but Matthew proved to be very resourceful in defence and held the draw. Colin and Jan both added to the score with solid looking draws.
Our Bulgarian GM, Dejan Bojkov, always looked to be in charge in his game but was made to work hard for the point to settle the match in our favour.
James Adair continued his great form defending a difficult rook and pawn ending a pawn down. This gave the team a 5-3 scoreline which matched Barbican 1’s result and sent them instead of us into the demotion pool.
White Rose 2 benefited with the addition of two first team regulars, Nic Croad and Jean-Luc Weller, in a must win match against Hackney. Any win would give us a good chance of progressing to the promotion pool but despite matching Hackney on grades we didn’t quite match them over the board.
Nic had an interesting Albin Counter Gambit. He ended up getting his Knight precariously placed on d8 but managed to roll his queen side pawns forward to create some dangerous play. Dominic Mackle found a way to nullify the pawns but it left little winning chances for either player.
Kieran O’Driscoll was pressing against his opponent but found stern resistance and had to agree to a draw while Matthias won a pawn early and kept the black King in the middle of the board for what looked a promising position. Sadly it proved that the King was hard to get at, while black generated lots of tricks on the open file where the pawn used to be.
Only Pete Shaw managed to score a full point for the team and by then the match was already lost. So we face an uncomfortable final weekend in the demotion pool.
White Rose faced Cheddleton in the Sunday match. Great timing to play one of our main rivals, considering how strong our team looked. We were very evenly matched and thought a result may be on the cards.
Peter Wells was the first to finish, earning a draw against the ‘Hawk’ Jonathan Hawkins. Sue had another tremendous result forcing her opponent to give up an exchange and soon after won the game.
Jan worked his way through complications to snuff out any winning chances for GM Simon Williams, while Colin McNab had to defend a difficult ending a pawn down.
Nic Croad found a way to raid with his Queen to win a couple of pawns against the new European veteran champion, Keith Arkell. He had to fend off some resourceful defensive tries but found the winning plan.
Richard Palliser faced problems of a fast running pawn in an endgame. He managed to generate some counter play but had to accept a loss of a piece to the passed pawn. Richard found a way of whittling down his opponent’s pawns to tenaciously save the game.
Dejan looked under pressure trying to hold off a queenside pawn advance but he found a good way of countering and reaching a promising ending which he expertly converted.
James Adair continued his excellent form for White Rose with another crushing win over a GM. He won a piece in a complicated middle game and then had to regroup while stopping some dangerous counter play. But once again James proved equal to the task and his win gave White Rose a huge and well deserved win on the day.
White Rose 2 faced the unpronounceable Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg and had the stronger line up on grading. The team were led by an inspirational sacrificial effort by Peter Shaw. Jean-Luc won an early exchange and continued to press while Kieran was a pawn up and still had the initiative for much of his game. They both won well to add to the excellent start.
Pierre had sacrificed a pawn to give his opponent a passive position but was trying to manoeuvre to win more than a pawn back. Once the tactics started he won the exchange as well as a couple of pawns and the score moved to 4-1. One more draw would settle things but Matthias did better than that to win a sharp encounter. Jim Burnett added a draw to give us a much needed win.
Report by Ihor Lewyk
Bradford DCA Knights A
Bradford DCA went into their final match of the pool stages knowing that they would have to beat the strong BCM Dragons by at least 5.5-2.5 to stand any chance of getting into the promotion pool.
As difficult as this task was, Bradford got off to a great start. Daniel Sullivan secured a comfortable draw courtesy of a draw by repetition to get the first half point. Steven Jones then took advantage of his opponent’s mistake in a long tactical sequence to quickly give Bradford a 1.5-0.5 advantage.
Next to finish was the returning Michael Fernandez as he faced off against the very talented James Holland. This unsurprisingly proved to be a very complicated and interesting encounter in the trendy Dragodorf Sicilian. Both players used a lot of time in the middlegame, Michael only having a couple of minutes to make his remaining 11 moves, so accepting James’ draw offer was the wise thing to do.
The scoreboard continued to tick over for Bradford. I held the worse end of a draw against Kumar Dixit and Oskar managed to battle back from being two pieces for a rook down to somehow turn the tables and give Bradford DCA a commanding 3.5-1.5 lead.
However we knew that it was going to be difficult for us to get the 5.5 points we required. FIDE Masters Richard Webb and Ian Thompson both held serious advantages that they both duly converted to tie the scores at 3.5-3.5.
However our final match of the relegation pool was to end in a confidence-boosting manner as Bill Somerset eventually evaded all of his opponent’s checks to convert his piece advantage and give Bradford an excellent, although ultimately meaningless 4.5-3.5 win.
So despite our fine performance in the pool stages, unfortunately our failure to score points against the fellow strugglers meant that we only took through two points to the relegation pool. However we were confident about our chances against the other teams in the relegation pool who we had not yet faced. Sunday saw us take on Wessex, who we slightly outrated but we knew would be a close match.
Andrew Drabble has been a very solid performer in the 4NCL and he quickly got Bradford off the mark with a comfortable draw with the Black pieces. Oskar Hackner then put us in the lead as his pieces swarmed around Roger de Coverly’s king to decisive effect. I then drew with Yang-Jian Zhou, brother of IM Yang-Fan in an interesting tussle in the King’s Indian.
Then the match really started to get going and nerve-wracking for all watching! Daniel Sullivan and Oliver Gill’s seemingly boring double-rook endgame became very wild as both players were trying for the win. However unfortunately for Bradford, Daniel’s plan was flawed and this allowed Wessex to level the scores. However this bit of bad fortune was returned to us as Steven Jones incredibly managed to hold a draw despite having looked doomed for some time. His opponent allowed his king to fall into a mating net that he could only escape from by conceding a half-point with a perpetual check.
2.5-2.5 each with the top three boards to finish and all three results were still possible. Adam Lang was trying to get some activity going against Keith Gregory, but Keith sensibly kept things blocked up and there was no play available for either side, so a draw was agreed to make the scores 3-3.
Michael Fernandez had been trying to grind out the tiniest of advantages throughout the entire game against his opponent’s tenacious defence. It looked like he was making progress in a rook and pawn endgame but his opponent kept hanging on and eventaully after almost 6 hours of play, Michael had to give up the draw despite his best efforts; this was a big save for Wessex.
Board 2 saw Bill Somerset once again involved in a long hard struggle. However this time he was trying to defend a much inferior position. Sadly for Bradford DCA, Gavin Lock eventually managed to convert his pawn advantage into something more tangible and his passed pawn ended up proving deadly as Wessex pulled out a vital 4.5-3.5 win.
The result leaves Bradford DCA with a large uphill climb to try and avoid relegation. Three wins in the final weekend will be necessary and we have to then hope for the best that this will be enough!