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That Bulldog Spirit!

Another great weekend at the Four Nations Chess League!

The venue was the Devere's Rooms located at Latimer, close to Amersham located in the Chilterns.

Some of us who were playing on both days booked accommodation and this weekend was a "team bonding" event as well of course, as some hard fought chess.

My roomie for the weekend was Nick Martin, captain of the mighty Bulldogs. We stayed at the Saracens Head Inn located in Amersham. Our stone walled chalet was very nice and the staff and management gave us a very warm welcome.

The weather didn't give us a warm welcome and it was absolutely freezing! Nick's idea of making us walk a mile or so uphill to the next village for our meal in the evening was NOT one of the highlights of the weekend as temperatures were around -8 celsius and we had to walk up a country lane (no driving as we were drinking!) with no pathways. Had we not already had some "Old Rosie" at a pub in Amersham, we would probably not have made it!

The first game on Saturday was actually round 5 of this ongoing event (10 rounds in total) and we were paired against Bristol 2, a side who fielded a very strong team and we were up against it from the kickoff. Unfortunately, I take the blame for not helping us secure at least a point in the match as we lost 3.5-2.5. I had a fantastic position in my game but a rash sacrifice meant I lost out against an opponent rated 183 (ecf). In international terms, it's a near 200 point gap between our individual ratings but I have to start converting these good positions into at least draws and NOT keep losing them!

Final results for round 5:

  Banbury Bulldogs 1885   Bristol 2 2022
481 w Chapman, Graham W   1994 c ½ - ½ Humphreys, Jerry G   2080
482 b Bruce, David J   2069 0 - 1 Andolo, Humphrey   2157
483 w Lawson, Timothy D   1890 c 0 - 1 Dilleigh, Stephen P   2074
484 b Evans, Christopher J   1762 c 1 - 0 Thompson, Robert   1965
485 w Walker, Adrian N   1786 c ½ - ½ Hardy, Roger   1988
486 b Martin, Nick   1810 c ½ - ½ Bromilow, Edward T   1872
             
  2½ - 3½  
 

My game from this round is below. I used Fritz to analyse some alternatives and haven't quite had time to look at it myself yet;

 

There was a lot of interest in this game and perhaps rightly so - my thanks to those from both teams who congratulated me on playing an exciting game!

After this game it was off to the pub and then onto an excellent Indian Restaurant where more alcohol and lots of curry were consumed!

 

The Bulldogs in action, we are on the right hand side, from front to back (in board order 1-6), Graham, Dave, Me, Chris, Adrian and Nick
An interesting event took place in the pub afterwards as the "Old Rosie" (that's a strong cider) was at the end of the barrel (yes, we drank them dry BEFORE going to our meal!) and we were told that the usual 7.5% beverage "might be a little bit stronger and a little bit cloudier" than normal! Judge for yourselves!
And here's the rest of the guys with Chris' better half too (I'm behind the camera!) enjoying ourselves at the restaurant....
After a great night out, culminating in a trip back to our hotel bar (actually a pub with some chalets at the back) where there was some live music entertainment, we were ready for round 6 in the morning. A slightly different line up as players are picked from a squad and not all players can compete on both days. We were up against KJCA Knights (Kent Junior Chess Association). These guys are some of the top junior players in the country and although we outrated them in the main, this was one tough fight as draw after draw filtered through to the results box. In the end our board 4 Neil Staples (you might remember seeing a game I played against him in a previous blog) managed to emerge victorious from a very tricky rook and pawn ending. I thought Neil could have made life a lot easier for himself but his experience shone through in the end. I've a lot of time for Neil, a very strong player and a very nice chap too!
Here is the result card;
  KJCA Knights 1818   Banbury Bulldogs 1914
481 w Kalid, Raphael   1901 ½ - ½ Bruce, David J   2069
482 b Bansal, Rohan   1842 c ½ - ½ Portman, Carl S   2002 c
483 w Balendran, Baven   1831 ½ - ½ Lawson, Timothy D   1890 c
484 b Davis, Alexei YM   1858 c 0 - 1 Staples, Neil   1954 c
485 w Paul, Barnaby J   1730 j ½ - ½ Evans, Christopher J   1762 c
486 b Huser, Hector AP   1746 c ½ - ½ Martin, Nick   1810 c
             
  2½ - 3½  
 
So, a WIN for the mighty Bulldogs!
Here is my game - yet again I had a great position but just kept finding the wrong moves and in the end, looking at the rest of the games in progress and seeing that we might actually need me NOT to lose, I actually offered a draw (almost unheard of these days!). I certainly wasn't worse at the end of the game but felt that after the Queens came off, my opponent should be able to hold. I may of course be wrong about this but I'm not sure I could have proved it against my opponent!
And to cap off the weekend, a fine win from Mr Staples (the 4NCL guys get these games published very quickly onto the internet, so I was able to get hold of his win!).
All in all, this was another fantastic weekend made all the better by some great company on the Saturday night - a really good team bonding session, some great chess and we finished the weekend with a win!

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