4NCL, Londoners and a fantasy.
To those of you not familiar, the 4NCL is a British chess league filled with the nation's best chess players that compete for their clubs and teams for acclaim and glory. To give you some idea of the standard, the 2009 British champion was playing on board 2 for his team this weekend. Oh, and I was there too. Playing on board 1 for Bristol 3. So as you can imagine, I had high expectations...
The first round was against the Metropolitan team, whose board 1 apparently saw no delicious irony in the fact that he played the London against me. Despite his 2104 grade I managed to equalise relatively easily and by move twenty-something I had settled for a draw by repetition in a game which, like many London games, was uninspired, unwanted and boring.
The second round was against the British Universities Chess Association team. Now, I don't want to sound hurt or anything, because like, I totally didn't want to join their stupid smelly team anyway, but like, I'm a student. At a university. A British university. I guess my invite was lost in the post.
... So yeah. Not hurt. At all.
Actually, it became clear that practically every student in the country had had their invite lost in the post. My opponent wasn't a student and so in my eyes already less worthy of a place on the team than me, regardless of grade difference of 55 ECF points between us. So I was sat there, venting my outrage by wearing my Bristol University hoodie (complete with beans juice stains for the full student effect) and fuming silently at the board, willing to play anything to avoid a dull game. After all, it's not like my opponent plays 1... c6 against pretty much anything...
So I was feeling quite pleased. At the time I knew my dark-squared bishop was on the wrong square, but I couldn't figure out where it was meant to be. Other than that though, I was building a solid centre, grabbing some space and I had succeeded in turning a potentially dreary Caro-Kann into a more lively French-like position.
A few moves ago, I had decided that when if pushed e5 I'd bolster it with an f4. Then when the position had changed and I committed to e5, I thought I'd follow it up with Nf4 to keep the pressure on e6 and slow any potential f6 break.
However, as any rider knows, you should always change horses midstream. With that I decided to remain flexible, consolidate and wait to see what I should do next. Besides it's sort of a French and how much normally happens in this sort of a position? Sadly, I was forgetting the good admiral's words of warning.
It's a trap!
Bugger. My absurd fact from the weekend is that I had been so outgraded grade will be rising despite my results. That's certainly a win from a draw and a loss.