Guildford Wins 4NCL (and Padova the Italian League)
Guildford 1 retained their 4NCL title on Monday most convincingly after winning all their matches and thus finishing on 14 points out of 7 matches. The team, which played with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, Matthew Sadler, Gawain Jones, Romain Edouard, Nigel Short, Robin van Kampen, Mark Hebden and Antoaneta Stefanova, finished two points ahead of Wood Green Hilsmark 1 who played with Michael Adams, Alexei Shirov, Luke McShane, Viktor Laznicka, Jon Ludvig Hammer, David Howell, Jonathan Rowson, Nicholas Pert, Jon Speelman and Pia Cramling.
The Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) is a team tournament (league) over three divisions in the UK. It is held at different venues over various weekends. The first eight rounds were played over four weekends, and the final three rounds took place last Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Like the German Bundesliga, the 4NCL is a company and not connected to an official body. Different from the Bundesliga and other leagues is that each team must have at least one female player.
The final weekend took place in the Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire. For the decisive rounds, the strongest teams again lined up a number of top class players and so there were quite a few interesting games played.
On Friday Guildford crushed White Rose 1 with a score of 1.5-6.5. On board one Peter Wells was very close to a draw against Anish Giri, but eventually the Englishman cracked under the pressure.
WIM Sue Maroroa, the wife of GM Gawain Jones, was the only player who won for White Rose. In fact she had an excellent weekend, clinching her first IM norm! On Friday she beat an experienced grandmaster by playing very actively.
@GMGawain) May 4, 2014
On Saturday Guildford was way too strong for e2e4.org.uk 1 who had no players above 2500 in their team. The score: 8-0. Stuart Conquest, who hardly plays chess these days (he is very active as a coach and organizer in Gibraltar), played a decent game with world number 11 but couldn't hold it.
Both Guildford and Wood Green had won all their matches and so Monday saw the big showdown between the two teams. The reigning champions retained the title with a convincing 6-2 victory, winning four games and drawing four.
On top board, Vachier-Lagrave defeated Mickey Adams as Black from a 6.Be3 Ng4 Najdorf:
Anish Giri and Luke McShane had a quiet maneuvering game and it really seemed to be heading to a draw, but the young Dutchman eventually emerged victorious:
Gawain Jones played an excellent game against the solid Czech GM Viktor Laznicka:
Romain Edouard's play in the Queen's Gambit Accepted was remarkable. First he protected the c-pawn with ...b5 (not recommended for beginners, but still theory) and then he just gave up an Exchange just to keep that queenside majority 2 vs 1. It had only been played before, earlier this year, by Alexander Donchenko. Jon Ludvig Hammer eventually couldn't cope with it in this game.
4NCL 2013-2014 | Top Pool | Final Standings
|2||Wood Green HK 1||2-6||6-2||6½-1½||5½-2½||6-2||8-0||6½-1½||40½||12|
|3||White Rose 1||1½-6½||2-6||6-2||5-3||4-4||5½-2½||4½-3½||28½||9|
|6||Grantham Sharks 1||2½-5½||2-6||4-4||3-5||2-6||6-2||4½-3½||24||5|
|8||Barbican 4NCL 2||2-6||1½-6½||3½-4½||2-6||2-6||3½-4½||1½-6½||16||0|
@jimwadsworth) May 5, 2014
With an overlap during the weekend, the Italian league also finished this week. The team from Padova, with Shamkir participants Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura playing a few games (!), became the champions ahead of Chieti. Caruana, who travelled to Italy one day earlier than Nakamura, played three games: a win against Viktor Erdos (2651) of Hungary, a draw with Grzegorz Gajewski (2641) of Poland and another win against Vladimir Georgiev (2507).
In his third game, Caruana transformed a hippopotamus into an octopus:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played for Padova too, in fact, before travelling to England. In Italy the Frenchman scored 2.0/3 with a win and two draws. The first game was quite nice:
Padova won the Italian League and Guildford the 4NCL within a few days! Glad to have been a part of these successes!— MVL ( @Vachier_Lagrave) May 5, 2014