Four Nations Chess League :: 2005/2006

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Basic data

Four Nations Chess League 2005/2006
(see all-time tournament summary)
Dates: October 2005 - May 2006
Cities: Rounds 1-11: Birmingham, Paragon Hotel, Digbeth
Chairman/Team Representative: IM Paul Littlewood (ENG)
Finance Director: Mr. Mike Truran (ENG)
Team Representative: Mr. Mark Adams (WLS)
Chief Arbiter: IA Dave Welch (ENG)
Steve Boniface, Chief Arbiter of two previous seasons died in October 2005
Teams participating: Division 1: 12 (2 down - Wood Green 2 withdrew and so 11th placed 3Cs stayed in Div/1)
Division 2: 12 (2 up; 3 down - Wood Green 3 withdrew and so 3rd placed South Wales Dragons were promoted and 10th placed Richmond stayed in Div/2)
Division 3: 12 (3 up; 4 down)
Division 4: 32 (4 up)
Total of 68 teams from 44 clubs.
Players participating: Division 1: 183 (incl. 55 GMs, 49 IMs, 2 WGMs, 20 FMs, 3 WIMs, 4 CMs and 4 WFMs)
Games played: Divisions 1 thru 3: 528
Division 4: 1056
Competition format: Divisions 1 thru 3: Eight board round robin.
Division 4: Six board eleven rounds Swiss.
Final order decided by: Divisions 1 thru 3: 1. Match points; 2. Game points
Division 4: 1. Game points; 2. Match 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)
4NCL Combo Challenge (tactics)
Downloadable game file: Division 1:
Division 2:
Division 3:
Division 4:

Tournament review

Wood Green I retained the lead of the 4NCL after the third round was completed at the Paragon Hotel, Birmingham. The defending champions overcame The Ads in what was, in keeping with this year’s results so far, a much more competitive match than the ratings of the respective teams would have suggested.

Wood Green included 6 GMs to their opponent’s one but Bernard Cafferty outplayed Matthew Turner and Mark Broom upset John Emms after the latter had established a winning position but then missed a concealed path to checkmate.

Guildford ADC I kept up the pressure on Wood Green by defeating the Londoner’s second team 5.5-2.5.

Emms had sacrificed his queen to reach a winning position given below and now rejected the move he must have planned 30…Ne3 and instead played 30…gxf5 31.Qxc4 and White won. Emms must have feared 30…Ne3 31.Qh4 Nxf1 32.f6 intending Qh6 and mate on g7 but after 32.f6 Ng3 33.Qh6 Nh5 34.Bg4 Bd4+ 35.Kh2 (35.Kf1 Ng3#) 35...Re1 36.Bxh5 Be5+ 37.Kh3 Rh1+ 38.Kg4 gxh5+ 39.Kf5 Rf1 he mates first

* * *

Wood Green maintained their slender lead of the 4NCL Division one in the fourth round played at the Paragon Hotel in Birmingham. The title holders dismissed the challenge of Barbican 4NCL 1 who have caused them problems in the past. Wood Green 1 won 6-2 conceding just four draws although the match could have been a little closer had Kanwal Bhatia closed out her winning position against WGM Ketevan Arakhamia who is rated over 300 points higher.

Wood Green I lead Guildford ADC 1 on board points after the latter struggled to defeat newly promoted Slough Sharks who fielded three GMs to Guildford’s 8. European Individual Champion David Navara, a Czech GM, defeated French international Laurent Fressinet on top board but the British champion Jonathan Rowson defeated Nick Pert on board 2.

* * *

Wood Green and Guildford remained in control of the 4NCL Division one after the fifth and sixth rounds were completed at Birmingham on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of January. Two more victories took both teams to 11/12 match points.

The leaders have each conceded a drawn match to one of the newcomers from Division two; Hilsmark Kingfisher and Slough Sharks, which means that the contest should remain open until the last weekend of the season in May and as many as five teams may still be in the hunt.

England’s leading all-amateur side Barbican 4NCL are handily placed in third with 9/12.

Wood Green brought in Alexey Shirov for the weekend’s play and he scored 2/2. I dare say Jim Plaskett did not mind losing this game too much as his win bonus probably does not compare with the £250,000 he recently pocketed on the television game show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’.

* * *

Although Barbican no longer compete in the London League the team remains a force in the 4NCL. In the London League some Barbican players have joined Cavendish to form a very strong team that threatens the hegemony of Wood Green and King’s Head.

King’s Head have already won five matches out of five this season so Wood Green’s run of four consecutive London League titles will be under threat.

Cavendish and Wood Green met last week in a match that should also have a major bearing on the final standings. Wood Green lead 6-4 but stand worse in both adjourned games. The match was very close with many draws although GM Bogdan Lalic for Wood Green and GM William Watson for Cavendish heroically defended awful positions against GM Jonathan Parker and GM Chris Ward respectively.

The only publishable decisive game was played by your correspondent but if my opponents thought a defeat at my hands meant publication in this column they would all fight like maniacs so instead a swift finish from weekend three of the 4NCL.

* * *

The 4NCL season moved towards its inevitable climax as the two leading teams Wood Green I and Guildford ADC I both scored two victories in rounds seven and eight played at the Paragon Hotel Birmingham. The leaders have conceded just one drawn match and share the lead on 15/16 match points.

Wood Green have a slight advantage as they have scored a few more board points but that could change in rounds nine and ten after which the title will probably decided in the decisive match in the eleventh and final round on May 1st.

Slough Sharks are in third place with 12/16. Their board one David Navara of the Czech Republic the European Individual Champion has scored 6/6 for them on top board.

A very impressive game. White’s opening plan has claimed a lot of victims but Navara makes it look innocuous.

Classic Jon Speelman, one diabolical tactic after another.

* * *

And you thought the Russian Team Championship was strong? The climax of the 4Nations Chess League played at Birmingham’s Paragon Hotel on the weekend saw the strongest match ever in British chess as Wood Green I took the 4NCL title for the third time, by the smallest possible margin edging out Guildford ADC 1.

After six hours play a pulsating match ended 4-4 and both teams ended on 20/22 match points having conceded just one other 4-4 draw all season. Wood Green won the title by virtue of having scored a total of 64.5 board points to Guildford’s 63.5.

The average rating of the Wood Green players was a staggering 2670 to Guildford’s 2617. Wood Green captain Brian Smith’s trump card proved to be the hiring of the world’s leading female player Judit Polgar who accounted for much of the difference in strength in the two teams and played on board two whereas Guildford’s female player was on board six and was out-rated by England international Luke McShane.

The outcome of the match was very much in doubt going into the sixth hour as only three games had finished. McShane won first for Wood Green then Polgar drew with former world junior champion Pentyla Harekrishna of India. Emil Sutovsky maintained his incredible record in this match and scored a win for Guildford ADC for the third year running. Then Michael Adams won with superb positional play. Three draws followed before Joel Lautier levelled the match score.

Grandmaster John Emms played a nice game at the 4NCL final weekend. What is particularly impressive is the way Black plays very reasonable moves and gets into such trouble so quickly in a quiet opening line.

The Scottish team at the Olympiad will include four Grandmasters after John Shaw finally completed his quest to gain the title with a fine performance for Guildford ADC in the 4NCL 2005-6 season. After a number of near misses as he went for his third and final GM norm, most notably this year at Capelle la Grande, Shaw defeated Charlie Kennaugh in the ninth round of the 4NCL final weekend at Birmingham to take his season’s tally to 6.5/9

This was a gritty game since after playing innocuously in the opening Shaw was just a pawn down in the endgame and would have had to struggle for a draw after the line given on move 19.

Emil Sutovsky is one of the world’s most creative and combative players. His recent successes include winning the Aeroflot Open in 2005 which secured him an invite to the 2005 Dortmund tournament where he defeated Vladimir Kramnik in a wonderful sacrificial game. Sutovsky is a regular for Guildford ADC in their annual showdown with Wood Green in the final round of the 4NCL. The Israeli GM has a remarkable record of 3/3 in this fixture. His first two victims were Alexander Morozevich and Ivan Sokolov. Most recently he defeated a former winner of the Hastings tournament in some style. The long term positional sacrifice in the endgame is incredibly hard to judge but the key here is that Black finds it impossible to open files for his rook.

/ Weekly columns by IM Malcolm Pein from The Telegraph /