Four Nations Chess League :: 2006/2007

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Basic data

Four Nations Chess League 2006/2007
(see all-time tournament summary)
Dates: September 2006 - May 2007
Cities: Rounds 1-2: Sunningdale, Initial Style Conferences
Rounds 3-6: Coventry, Britannia Hotel
Rounds 7-11: Wokefield Park, Initial Style Conferences
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)
Teams participating: Division 1: 12 (3 down)
Division 2: 12 (3 up; 3 down)
Division 3: 12 (3 up; 4 down)
Division 4: 32 (4 up)
Total of 72 teams from 48 clubs.
Players participating: Division 1: 183 (incl. 29 GMs, 42 IMs, 3 WGMs, 31 FMs, 4 WIMs, 3 CMs and 7 WFMs)
Games played: Divisions 1 thru 3: 528
Division 4: 1188
Competition format: Divisions 1 thru 3: Eight board round robin.
Division 4: Six board eleven rounds Swiss.
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)
Downloadable game file: Division 1:
Division 2:
Division 3:
Division 4:

Tournament review

The 4 NCL season began with the first weekend’s play at a new venue, the Initial Conference Centre in Sunningdale. The playing conditions were excellent but the teams were noticeably weaker than last year. Several are running on reduced budgets most notably the title holders Wood Green and so their closest rivals over the years, Guildford ADC, look set fair to dominate. Wood Green have withdrawn their second and third teams and the first team squad looks vaguely like the one I played in about twenty years ago.

Guildford ADC started with an easy victory over their second team although England’s leading junior David Howell upset Daniel King on top board. King was slightly worse from the opening but had almost equalised in the middlegame when he made a careless move and his position lost all coordination.

Guildford ADC will be challenged instead this year by Hilsmark Kingfisher and Slough Sharks who also won their first round matches.

Some deep opening preparation from Danny Gormally helped him win this game.

* * *

Rounds three and four of the 4 Nations Chess League took place the weekend before last at the Britannia Hotel in Coventry and Nigel Povah’s Guildford ADC first team remained at the head of the table with the second team in third place. After the decline of Wood Green, Guildford 's main challenge has come from a surprising source as North West Eagles are just a point behind.

Guildford ADC’s second team’s match against Betsson was something of a family affair as the three Ledger brothers appeared for Betsson while husband and wife Graeme Buckley and Susan Lalic played for Guildford ADC. Mr and Mrs both triumphed and turned the match in Guildford’s favour.

Barbican 4NCL 1 are the third unbeaten team but they were run close by Wood Green in the third round as Bjorn Tiller, the North London team’s Norwegian regular missed a win against Mark Ferguson and Barbican won 4.5-3.5. 3Cs Oldham were hugely out-rated by Guildford ADC 1 but won two games with one result standing out; the victory of Stephen Gordon over Stuart Conquest. On top board the British champion Jonathan Rowson was nearly punished for his risky attempts to complicate a dry position against Nigel Davies but with active play he managed to hold the endgame a pawn down.

* * *

Round four of the 4 Nations Chess League saw a match between Northwest eagles and Barbican 4NCL two of the main challengers to the hegemony of Guildford ADC. Despite being out-rated by an average of nearly 80 points per board Northwest Eagles drew 4-4 to stay second in the table with 7/8 match points.

Barbican won on top and bottom board thanks to GM Jonathan Parker and Ingrid Lauterbach while Northwest Eagles kept the match level with wins on boards five and six where Stefan Macak and John Carleton overcame higher-rated opposition.

John Carleton is one of the founder members of Atticus Chess Club in Liverpool and achieved great success in Correspondence Chess. In the following game he outplays an International Master and Irish International.

Stephen Gordon fine form continued in the 4NCL we have already seen his victory with Black over Stuart Conquest. In the fourth round he won convincingly with white over an old rival from junior chess days Thomas Rendle.

* * *

The fifth and sixth rounds of the 4 NCL took place at the weekend at the Britannia Hotel in Coventry and Guildford ADC continued their domination of proceedings. The Surrey club retained the top two placings in Division one with Guildford ADC 1 on a perfect score and their second team on 10/12 match points, narrowly ahead of Hilsmark Kingfisher on game points.

Guildford ADC 1 were very severe on Bristol who managed just one draw in round five but they had a few worrying moments against Wood Green the following day before running out winners 5-3.

Gawain Jones’s superb form continued as he scored wins over GM Peter Wells and IM Roland Berzinsh on top board for Slough Sharks. England youngest ever GM David Howell playing on top board for Guildford ADC2 sacrificed a rook and scored a notable victory over Jon Speelman who is playing for the ADs this season.

GM Tony Kosten has lived in France for many years but is a regular for Guildford ADC 1 in the 4NCL. He also plays for Marseille in the French League. Kosten is an expert on the English Opening which begins 1.c4 and is generally thought of as a quiet way to play. Kosten’s book ‘The Dynamic English’ shows this is not necessarily so.

* * *

Weekend four of the 4NCL divisions one and two was held at Wokefield Park near Reading and Guildford ADC maintained what looks like an unstoppable run with victories over Barbican 4NCL1 and Northwest Eagles. The league leaders conceded just four draws in sixteen games.

The ADs strengthened their team with GM Ian Rogers from Australia and he assisted in what may prove to be a crucial 4.5-3.5 victory over fellow relegation strugglers 3Cs Oldham. Wood Green ended any lingering fears of the drop with a 7.5-0.5 drubbing of South Wales Dragons.

The world number fifteen David Navara was held to a draw by Jonathan Parker in round seven and in round eight suffered a shock defeat.

Whenever I see Tony Kosten at the 4NCL he has won before I am out of the opening, save for round six when we drew with each other. Simon Williams was successful with the Avant Garde Defence at the weekend but his opponent played the inferior 6.a3. Kosten’s approach is more direct.

* * *

It was an unprecedented season of success for Guildford-ADC as the Surrey team dominated the 4Nations Chess League Division 1. Guildford-ADC 1 became the first team to win the 4NCL with 100% winning all eleven matches while Guildford-ADC 2 were second, scoring 10 match wins.

This record breaking season was immediately rewarded with news of continued support for the team from their sponsors A&DC a Surrey-based Human Resources consultancy founded by Guildford’s team captain International Master Nigel Povah.

Povah, who plays for the second team certainly managed his human resources well as Guildford-ADC fielded a consistently strong squad throughout the season that included thirteen Grandmasters on the last weekend. The first team included British Champion Jonathan Rowson on top board and the former World U18 Champion and England international Nick Pert while the second team was led by Britain’s youngest Grandmaster, 16-year old David Howell.

Here is one of Howell’s best wins of the season, over GM Jon Speelman.

* * *

The 4 NCL Division 1 2006-07 season ended in triumph for the Guildford ADC teams who occupied the top two places. Here is the final league table.

The bottom three teams were relegated and will be replaced by Barbican 4NCL 2, Richmond and Cambridge University 1.

The Surrey teams were supported by A&DC a firm of Human Resources Consultants whose continued sponsorship means that the League’s high level will be maintained. Guildford ADC 1 consist mainly of players from my generation the exception being the presence of Jonathan Rowson, the British champion who played on top board.

Guildford ADC 1’s top scorer was GM Mark Hebden who scored a tremendous 8.5/10. Hebden only drew one game and his loss was one of only three suffered by the 15 Grandmasters who turned out for Guldford ADC in the course of the season. Overall Guildford ADC 1 scored 68/88 in eleven matches.

The 4NCL Division 1 proved to be the best possible arena for England’s younger generation of leading players to hone their skills against strong opposition and there were three Grandmaster results. Gawain Jones of Slough Sharks secured the GM title while Stephen Gordon and Stewart Haslinger of 3Cs Oldham both registered their second GM result.

For Haslinger and Gordon their success was not enough to prevent their team being relegated to Division 2. Even with GM Nigel Davies on the team 3Cs did not have the strength in depth to stay up.

Jones had performed so well throughout the season that in the tenth round all he had to do was turn up to secure the GM title. However there had been reports of a party the night before and for a short time after the clocks had started it looked like it might be touch and go. However Gawain duly appeared and one could not fail to be impressed by the fact that despite looking a tad dishevelled he proceeded to outplay the Russian GM Alexander Baburin in the latter’s favourite Alekhine’s Defence before the game ended in a draw.

Here is one of Jones’s best wins of the season.

/ Weekly columns by IM Malcolm Pein from The Telegraph /