4NCL with the Celtic Tigers (Part 4 - The Grand Finale)

4NCL with the Celtic Tigers (Part 4 - The Grand Finale)

FM HustleTime

Hi All,

Here comes the final part of the blog-series "Ritvars adventures in 4NCL strongest league with the Celtic Tigers".

The final weekend of the league was really important for the Tigers - we needed to score some wins to stay in the highest league in the upcoming 2019-2020 season. This weekend was also to be longer than any of the previous - we needed to fight 3 matches.

Round 9 we were the favorites in match against West is Best 1 - their average rating was 2213 whilst ours 2286. I am to play board 3.., the tension is on, so let's go...

Round 9

An intense game, where I managed to get out of opening quite well, and then tried to put some pressure on my opponent with little success. In the end, match ended 4:4 - putting the Tigers in a tough spot as we need to score at least 1,5 team points in the remaining 2 matches.
Round 10

We are paired against the only Scottish team in the league - Alba (average rating 2312). Our opponents decided to mix up their lineup and put their No. 1 player on board 3 - facing me. So part of their match strategy is clear - weaken their board one to strengthen the rest of the boards. This is both good and bad news for me - tougher opponent  = tougher game, but also, if I win the game I have chances to score an IM norm.

I am quite happy with my game - even though my technique was nowhere near perfect, I was never in trouble in the game and eventually it was good enough for a win! And what is even more exciting - after this round I have a real chance to fight for my 2nd IM norm.

The rest of the match was a true roller-coaster - the evaluation of positions on boards 5 and 8 changed from lost - to draw - to winning multiple times over the course of the match. Eventually both of the boards drew and we clinched the match 4,5-3,5.

Round 11

So finally came the last round of the season - to secure a spot in the highest league next season we needed to draw the match (if we lost, we still had chanced, but then we depended on other teams). Either way, we were determined to grab a win. 

On the way to the match, we lost a tire, which meant that unfortunately Chris didn't make it to the match, as he had to wait until the car would be picked up from the highway :/  This also created additional challenges to win the match as we now were a man down.

Round 11

I played a decent game, but nothing outstanding. It was indeed my opponent who messed it up in the end. The point though was for me to create as many challenges as possible and at some point hope that he would break under the pressure, which also happened! 

So this is so I ended up scoring my second IM norm and reaching ATH rating of 2351. 

It was fantastic to compete together with Celtic Tigers - can strongly recommend this team!!

That's it for now, let me know if you have any questions

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Picture from a recent blitz tournament in Lanzarote, Spain.