How are things in the 4NCL after three weekends of play?

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage

This season's 4NCL has reached its 6th round, after three weekends of play. Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher is leading Division 1a while Cheddleton tops the standings in 1b. After seven rounds, the top four and bottom four teams in each preliminary pool will form two final championship/promotion and relegation pools respectively.

The Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) is a team tournament (league) over three divisions in the UK. Over 850 players are taking part and there's over £10,000 in cash prizes on offer. It is held at ten different venues over various weekends. Like the German Bundesliga, the 4NCL is a company and not connected to an official body. 

We'll focus on the top division which comprises of 16 teams. There are two preliminary pools of eight for the first seven rounds, with the pools 1a and 1b of broadly equal strength. After seven rounds, the top four and bottom four teams in each preliminary pool will form two final championship/promotion and relegation pools respectively. Each match is played over eight boards and each team must include at least one male and one female player.

So far there have been three weekends of play, with one round on Saturday and one on Sunday: 12 & 13 November 2011, 14 & 15 January 2012 and 11 & 12 February 2012. 

Playing venue last weekend was the De Vere Sunningdale Park Hotel in Berkshire | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill, more here

After six rounds, Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher is leading Division 1a. The team is led by Mickey Adams, who played the first two games for his team last weekend. After crushing Graham Morrison (2348) on Saturday, the English number one outplayed Adam Hunt (2462) in an ending with Black on Sunday.

[Event "4NCL"]
[Site "De Vere, Sunningdale, ENG"]
[Date "2012.02.12"]
[Round "6.11"]
[White "Hunt, Adam C"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2462"]
[BlackElo "2724"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "6k1/5pp1/p2p3p/Prp5/3PPn2/1r5P/RP1R1BP1/6K1 b - - 0 37"]
[PlyCount "25"]
[EventDate "2012.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Blackthorne Russia"]
[BlackTeam "Wood Green Hilsmark 1"]

37... Nd3 38. dxc5 dxc5 39. Ra1 Kh7 40. Rad1 Nxb2 41. Rb1 Nd3 42. Rxb3 Rxb3 43.
Rc2 Rb1+ 44. Kh2 c4 45. Kg3 Rb3 46. Bd4 Nb4+ 47. Rc3 Nc6 48. Rxb3 cxb3 49. Bc3
Nxa5 0-1

Wood Green (with, besides Adams, also e.g. David Howell, Jonathan Rowson, Stephen Gordon, Nicholas Pert, Jonathan Speelman and Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant) will surely try to win back their 2009/2010 title, which they lost against Pride & Prejudice last year - a team that hasn't been entered to the competition this year. Another favorite for the title is Guildford, which boasts names such as Nigel Short, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Romain Edouard, David Smerdon, Stuart Conquest, Tony Kosten and Antoaneta Stefanova.

On January 14th, Wood Green beat Guildford 5.5-2.5. On top board, David Howell won against Nigel Short in a grueling fight that started as a French Defence.

[Event "4NCL"]
[Site "Barcelo Hotel, Hinckley Island"]
[Date "2012.01.15"]
[Round "4.11"]
[White "Howell, David WL"]
[Black "Short, Nigel D"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2603"]
[BlackElo "2677"]
[PlyCount "105"]
[EventDate "2012.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Wood Green Hilsmark 1"]
[BlackTeam "Guildford 1"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 h6 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. a3 a5
9. Nf1 c4 10. Bc2 b5 11. Ng3 Nb6 12. Nh5 Bd7 13. h4 Qe7 14. Rh3 O-O-O 15. Rg3
g6 16. Nf6 Bg7 17. Nh5 Bf8 18. Nf6 Bg7 19. h5 g5 20. Nh7 Rdg8 21. Qe2 b4 22.
axb4 axb4 23. Nfxg5 b3 24. Bb1 hxg5 25. Bxg5 Qe8 26. Nf6 Bxf6 27. Bxf6 Qf8 28.
Rxg8 Rxg8 29. g4 Be8 30. Bh7 Rh8 31. Bb1 Rg8 32. f4 Nd7 33. g5 Nxf6 34. exf6
Rh8 35. Kf2 Kb7 36. Kg3 Bd7 37. h6 Rxh6 38. gxh6 Qxh6 39. Qh2 Qxf6 40. Qh7 Ne7
41. Qh5 Nc6 42. Bh7 Qg7+ 43. Kf3 Be8 44. Rh1 Qf8 45. Qg5 Kc7 46. Qf6 Qe7 47.
Qxe7+ Nxe7 48. f5 Nxf5 49. Bxf5 exf5 50. Kf4 Bd7 51. Ke5 Be6 52. Rf1 Kd7 53.
Rxf5 1-0

Checking the PGN files, we also noticed the following, funny game, played on November 12th at the top board of the match between Jutes of Kent and White Rose. We've rarely seen things go so horribly wrong for White - do note that a grandmaster was moving the pieces! He was in a very creative mood, or having a hangover, or both...

[Event "4NCL"]
[Site "De Vere, Staverton Park, ENG"]
[Date "2011.11.12"]
[Round "115.1"]
[White "Williams, Simon K"]
[Black "Jones, Gawain CB"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2513"]
[BlackElo "2635"]
[PlyCount "32"]
[EventDate "2011.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Jutes of Kent"]
[BlackTeam "White Rose 1"]

1. e4 c6 2. Bc4 d5 3. Bb3 dxe4 4. Qh5 g6 5. Qh4 Bg7 6. Nc3 a5 7. Nxe4 a4 8. Bc4
b5 9. Be2 Nh6 10. g4 a3 11. Rb1 Qd5 12. Nc3 Qxh1 13. Kf1 Be5 14. Bf3 Qxh2 15.
Nh3 Nxg4 16. Bxg4 Bf6 0-1

The following game was played last Sunday and we only noticed it after reading Shaun Press's latest blog post. A white bishop is staying on c1 for no less than 51 moves (and when it moves, it's captured).

[Event "4NCL"]
[Site "De Vere, Sunningdale, ENG"]
[Date "2012.02.12"]
[Round "6.54"]
[White "Eggleston, David J"]
[Black "Buckley, Simon T"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2367"]
[BlackElo "2347"]
[PlyCount "120"]
[EventDate "2012.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Cheddleton 1"]
[BlackTeam "White Rose 1"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 Qc7 8.
Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 12. Qd3 Nf5 13. Qxc3 Bd7 14. Qd3
Rc8 15. Rb1 Na5 16. c3 Nc4 17. Nd4 Qa5 18. Nxf5 exf5 19. Ra1 f6 20. exf6 Kf7
21. Be2 Qc5 22. Qd4 Qxd4 23. cxd4 Rxg2 24. Bf3 Rc2 25. Bxd5+ Kxf6 26. O-O Bc6
27. Bf3 Rg8+ 28. Kh1 Bxf3+ 29. Rxf3 Re8 30. Kg1 Re1+ 31. Rf1 Ree2 32. Rf3 Re1+
33. Rf1 Ree2 34. Rf3 Rg2+ 35. Kf1 Rxh2 36. Rg3 Rh1+ 37. Rg1 Rxg1+ 38. Kxg1 Ke6
39. a4 Rc3 40. Rb1 b6 41. Kf2 Kd5 42. Ke2 Ke4 43. d5 Kxd5 44. Rb5+ Ke4 45. Kd1
a6 46. Rb4 Kd5 47. Rb1 Kc5 48. Ra1 Kb4 49. Ra2 Kb3 50. Rg2 Rd3+ 51. Ke2 Rd5 52.
Be3 Nxe3 53. Kxe3 Kxa4 54. Rg6 Kb5 55. Re6 a5 56. Re5 Rxe5+ 57. fxe5 Kc6 58.
Kf4 Kd7 59. Kxf5 a4 60. Kf6 Ke8 0-1

In the weekend of 31 March and 1 April the 7th round and the first round of the Championship and Relegation pools will be played, and everything will be decided in the final three rounds, traditionally on the bank holiday weekend of May 5-7, 2012.

4NCL 2011/2012 | Division 1a | Round 6 standings

#Team12345678GPPts
1Wood Green Hilsmark 1 5½-2½7-15½-2½8-05-3 6-23712
2Guildford 12½-5½  8-06½-1½7½-½6-25½-2½3610
3Barbican 4NCL 21-7  3-55-35½-2½5-34½-3½248
4e2e4.org.uk 12½-5½0-85-3  2½-5½4½-3½4½-3½196
5The AD's0-81½-6½3-5  5-34-44½-3½185
6Anglian Avengers 13-5½-7½2½-5½5½-2½3-5 4-4 18½3
7Bristol 1 2-63-53½-4½4-44-4 3½-4½202
8Blackthorne Russia2-62½-5½3½-4½3½-4½3½-4½ 4½-3½ 19½2

4NCL 2011/2012 | Division 1b | Round 6 standings

#Team12345678GPPts
1Cheddleton 1 4½-3½4½-3½5-3 5½-1½3½-4½6-22910
2Barbican 4NCL 13½-4½ 4½-3½2-65-35½-2½ 6½-1½278
3White Rose 13½-4½3½-4½ 5-34½-3½4½-3½4½-3½ 25½8
4Wood Green Hilsmark 23-56-23-5 4½-3½ 3½-45-3256
5Jutes of Kent 3-53½-4½3½-4½ 4½-3½5-34½-3½246
6Cambridge University 11½-5½2½-5½3½-4½ 3½-4½ 5-34½-3½20½4
7Oxford 14½-3½ 3½-4½4-3½3-53-5 2½-5½20½4
8Guildford 22-61½-6½ 3-53½-4½3½-4½5½-2½ 192

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