Four Nations Chess League :: 2002/2003

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Basic data

Four Nations Chess League 2002/2003
(see all-time tournament summary)
Dates: November 2002 - May 2003
Cities: Rounds 1-2, 9-11: West Bromwich, West Bromwich Moat House
Rounds 3-8: Telford, Telford Moat House
Managing Director: Mr. Chris Dunworth (ENG)
Chris resigned as managing director after 10 successfull years at the end of the season.
Chairman/Team Representative: IM Paul Littlewood (ENG)
Finance Director: Mr. Mike Truran (ENG)
Team Representative: Mr. Mark Adams (WLS)
Chief Arbiter: IA Richard Furness (ENG)
Teams participating: Division 1: 12 (3 down)
Division 2: 12 (3 up; 3 down)
Division 3: 12 (3 up; 2 down)
Division 4: 8 (2 up)
Total of 44 teams from 26 clubs.
Players participating: Division 1: 172 (incl. 24 GMs, 34 IMs, 5 WGMs, 22 FMs, 2 WIMs, 4 CMs and 4 WFMs)
Games played: Divisions 1 thru 3: 528
Division 4: 240
Competition format: Divisions 1 thru 3: Eight board round robin.
Division 4: One preliminary group (six board round robin). Top four play each other in rounds 8-10 and so do bottom four. Results from preliminary group add up to the final score.
Final order decided by: 1. Match points; 2. Game points
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours followed by 20 moves in 1 hour followed by 30 minutes to finish the game.
Website: 4NCL
Other websites: Then official Website (cached)
BCM Website
Downloadable game file: Division 1:
Division 2:
Division 3:
Division 4:

Big Hitters

Individual results (most points scored wins)
Division name flag code pts gms
= Div 1 GM Emms, John England WGLO 11
= Div 1 GM Ward, Christopher England WGLO 11
Div 2 IM Crouch, Colin England NWE 9 11
= Div 3 Allinson, Julian England GUI3 11
= Div 3 Hulmes, David England NWE2 11
Div 4 Dickson, George England METR 8 10

Manager of the year
Division name team
Div 2 Hunt, Malcolm Warwickshire Select

Tournament review

Wood Green, the perennial bridesmaid of the 4NCL (Four Nations Chess League) - the United Kingdom's premier club competition - finally had its moment of triumph in West Bromwich last weekend. Indeed, so free were we from the bad luck and occasional negligence that usually accompanies the Wood Green season that the champagne corks were flying even before the final-round clash with second-placed Guildford.

Guildford, whose own dreams of victory got a battering in the opening match of their campaign as they unexpectedly succumbed to Barbican, nevertheless gamely strove for the consolation prize by attempting, with great ferocity, to defeat us on the last day. In an oscillating struggle, Wood Green surged in front when Alexander Baburin was unexpectedly gifted a piece by Stuart Conquest. I then patiently succeeded in breaching the defenses of Bulgarian grandmaster Antoaneta Stefanova. However, Guildford pulled back when the ever-dangerous "drunk machine-gunner" James Plaskett beat Bogdan Lalic and Alexander Chernaiev overcame Matthew Turner in a gritty endgame.

This left us with a couple of ragged positions in the two remaining games. Harriet Hunt, however, calmly drew with Glenn Flear through accurate play. Finally, a prolonged and almost despairing defence from substitute Chris Ward against Tony Kosten clinched the draw to tie the match four apiece. Perhaps it is not surprising that a formidable team that included four members of the current England squad, plus the country's top female player, was able to triumph on the domestic front. Even on the continent such a line-up could aspire to top honours.

Regrettably though, our board one Michael Adams is under contract to play for the well-financed French megastars NAO in Europe this year. Thus dreams of repeating this success on a broader field will have to wait. The naturally gifted Stefanova, ranked second in the world behind Judit Polgar, had a torrid introduction to the 4NCL (I know the feeling). Here the usually placid Scots international Colin McNab attacks with great violence.

/ Written by GM Nigel Short, The Telegraph, May 11th, 2003 /

* * *

It was a record-breaking tenth season for the 4 Nations Chess League which for many years has been established as Britain's premier team competition. For the first time there were four divisions, with over three hundred and fifty players in forty four teams.

The idea that Britain could sustain a league modelled on the successful German Bundesliga and French Nationale was first mooted by 4NCL founder Chris Dunworth. Despite some scepticism from established quarters including some elements of the British Chess Federation the competition has flourished and is organised entirely independently of the governing body by a Management Board chaired by former British Champion IM Paul Littlewood.

The popularity of the 4NCL with Britain's leading players is amply demonstrated by the fact that six players made their hundredth appearance this season; Simon Ansell (Bristol), Chris Beaumont (Bristol), Paul Littlewood (Wood Green), Gary Quillan (North West Eagles), Gavin Wall (Richmond) and Richard Webb (Wessex).

Due to the increasing number of titled players competing there were a record number of title norms achieved. Charles Cobb (Bristol) and Adam Hunt ( scored GM norms and Stewart Haslinger (Perceptron Youth), Steve Dishman (Barbican I), Desmond Tan (Wood Green II), Lawrence Trent (Barbican II) and Lawrence Webb (Richmond) all made IM norms.

Cobb's norm was particularly impressive as he played four GMs and defeated two of them; Tony Kosten and Neil McDonald while drawing with Bogdan Lalic and holding Peter Wells to a draw with black from a bad position. Here is another fine game from the Bristol board one whose heroics could not save his team from relegation.

White gets his minor pieces in a muddle as he tries to form a plan in a cramped position.

* * *

The final three rounds in Divisions one and two of the 4NCL took place over the Bank Holiday weekend of May 3rd to 5th at the West Bromwich Moat House. As expected the Division one title went to Wood Green 1 whose team sponsor and captain Brian Smith augmented his squad with England's finest; Michael Adams and Nigel Short.

Wood Green secured theirfirst title in the league's eight-year history with a round to spare after an emphatic 8-0 defeat of Perceptron Youth, a result that had some bearing on Perceptron's slide to relegation the following day.

Wood Green were denied a 100% score in the league when second placed Guildford-ADC 1 put up a magnificent fight in the eleventh and final round to draw 4-4 in a match with sixteen GMs. Indeed Guildford might easily have won but Tony Kosten was unable to convert an endgame advantage against Chris Ward.

On top board Mark Hebden headed for safe equality and a twenty four move draw against Adams while on board two Guildford ADC invited Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria one of the world's best female players to try and unsettle Nigel Short who has a poor record against women. However, Nigel recently broke his run of defeats against Judit Polgar and he played very convincingly from a quiet opening.

Alexander Baburin scored Wood Green's second win after Stuart Conquest blundered and in contrast Guildford ADCs' wins were very hard fought. Alexander Cherniaev finally got the better of Matthew Turner after ninety seven moves, winning an endgame of queen against knight and two pawns. Jim Plaskett played in his typical sacrificial style but still had to overcome some grim resistance from Bogdan Lalic.

Plaskett starts by sacrificing a pawn based on the weakness of the black king and his superior development and ends by sacrificing his queen.

* * *

Three teams were relegated from Division one of the 4NCL after the final three rounds were played over the Bank Holiday weekend at the West Bromwich Moat House. South Wales Dragons I, Bristol I and Perceptron Youth will all play in Division two next season.

Perceptron were very unlucky as Barbican 4NCL II pulled off a last minute escape for the second season running and survived by a single game point. Perceptron defeated South Wales Dragons 1 in the final round but Barbican just made it despite losing to Slough thanks to wins from Lawrence Trent, David Coleman and John Cox the latter triumphing in a chaotic game against GM Colin McNab. Trent's win secured him an IM norm, one of his fine wins from the weekend's play is below.

There was more good news for Barbican as their first team pipped for third place and hopefully they will continue their exploits in the European Club Cup in September. Last year Barbican's top board GM Jonathan Parker drew with 1999 Fide champion Alexander Khalifman.

Black is a little too casual with his development witness the first diagram but the way White takes advantage is direct and aesthetic. Lawrence Trent made an IM norm as did the loser in the following game Desmond Tan.

/ Weekly columns by IM Malcolm Pein from The Telegraph /