Four Nations Chess League :: 2008/2009

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Basic data

Four Nations Chess League 2008/2009
(see all-time tournament summary)
Dates: October 2008 - May 2009
Cities: Rounds 1-2, 5-6: Sunningdale, De Vere Venues
Rounds 3-4, 7-8: Hinckley Island, Barcelo Hotel
Rounds 9-11: Staverton Park, De Vere Venues
Chairman/Team Representative: Ms. Claire Summerscale (ENG)
Claire replaced long-time director P.Littlewood
Finance Director: Mr. Mike Truran (ENG)
Team Representative: Mr. Mark Adams (WLS)
Chief Arbiter: IA Dave Welch (ENG)
Teams participating: Division 1: 16 (4 down)
Division 2: 16 (4 up; 4 down)
Division 3: 32 (4 up)
Total of 64 teams from 44 clubs.
Note! The format has changed and so fourth level was abandoned.
Players participating: Division 1: 234 (incl. 32 GMs, 50 IMs, 4 WGMs, 29 FMs, 5 WIMs, 4 CMs and 6 WFMs)
Games played: Divisions 1 and 2: 704
Division 3: 1056
Competition format: Divisions 1 and 2: two eight board round robin preliminary pools of broadly equal strength. The top four and bottom four teams in each preliminary pool will form two final championship/promotion and relegation pools respectively. Results from preliminaries are carried forward to the final pools.
Division 3: Six board eleven rounds Swiss.
Final order decided by: 1. Match points; 2. Game points in the final pool; 3. Game points overall; 4. Direct match result
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:

Tournament review

The 2008-09 season of the 4NCL starts today at Sunningdale with the title holders Guildford ADC I facing a new challenge to their recent hegemony with the merger of Hilsmark Kingfisher and Wood Green. Barbican 4NCL 1 will also continue to be a force. After seven rounds two groups of eight will be created. In one the teams will play for the title and the other will be a battle to avoid relegation. Games previously played between teams in the same group from the first seven rounds will be carried forward. Teams will not play each other twice.

My thanks to the British Champion Stuart Conquest for dropping by and showing me his fine win from round 2 of the 4NCL on Sunday. Black concedes time and space in the opening and is allowed no respite.

* * *

The Guildford A&DC I juggernaut rolled on at weekend one of the 4 NCL held at Sunningdale. The defending champions defeated Bristol 6.5-1.5 despite an upset on top board when former British Champion Jonathan Rowson lost to Jack Rudd. Your correspondent, playing for Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher, a team desperately in need of a new name, then had to face Rowson the following day as Guildford recorded the season's first 8-0 drubbing. We have already seen Stuart Conquest's win from that match.

There was a surprise result as Guildford A&DC's second team lost to White Rose for whom Peter Wells and Gawain Jones defeated Mark Hebden and Danny King respectively. On board 8 Amisha Palmer defeated WIM Mihaela Sandu rated 300 points higher.

Ms Sandu had better fortune in round two.

* * *

Guildford A&DC 1 lost only one game from sixteen played at the 4NCL weekend but it was a real surprise as Jack Rudd, recently qualified as an International Master defeated Jonathan Rowson the former British champion.

Around move 15-16 Black should have played Nb7-c5 and a6-a5 with the idea of opening lines on the queenside for counterplay with b5-b4. After 33... Bb7 the black king is badly hemmed in so White opens up the game decisively. The above game resembled the brilliancy Topalov - Shirov Linares 1994 to a certain extent. The queenside pawns were arranged differently and here neither Black knight could get near the important e5 square. 15.a5 putting a black knight on a bad circuit is important. Black is still overwhelmed as he is so passive.

* * *

Guildford A&DC 1 continued their winning streak in Weekend 2 of the 4NCL Division 1 although with the split division format in use this year they will face a renewed challenge after the seventh round. Guildford A&DC 1 won both their matches comfortably, defeating Barbican 4 NCL 2, whom they out-rated by 250 points aboard, 7-1 and The Gambit Ads 6-2. In the latter match Jonathan Rowson drew with Jon Speelman while David Howell defeated New Zealand GM Murray Chandler who had remained in Europe after the Chess Olympiad.

After round seven the two groups below will be split, with the top four from each going into Pool A and the bottom four into Pool B. Results will be carried forward and each time will face only the teams coming from the other group. Guildford A&DC's principal challenge will come from the newly combined Wood Green and Hilsmark Kingfisher team who like Guildford have won all four matches. WGHK narrowly defeated Guildford A&DC's second team in round four.

The Modern Defence suffers again. White plays to limit Black's counterplay with 7.d5 but 7...e5 leads to weaknesses on the white squares. Black is delayed in playing his bishop to b7 because e6 is vulnerable but 12...Bb7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Ng5 Nc5 15.Ng5 h6 15.b4 was preferable to allowing the doubled e pawns. White has annoying pressure when Black misses a tactic and resigns a pawn down with Rd7 hard to prevent.

* * *

The 4NCL has published the list of 'Big Hitters' after six rounds and it is the British champion Sturat Conquest who is top of the pile of 635 players who have played at least once this year. Conquest, who plays for the defending champions Guildford A&DC I is the only player with a perfect score.

* * *

The 4NCL rounds 7 and 8 took place at the weekend in the comfortable surroundings of the Barcelo Hotel at Hinckley Island. Division one leaders Guildford A&DC 1 continued their imperious progress in round 7 but came up against some unexpectedly strong resistance from Pride and Prejudice who have made their way up the divisions in recent years while fielding mainly female players.

To cope with the demands of Division 1 some more men and strong junior players have been drafted in to the Pride and Prejudice team but it was Elena Winkelmann rated just 2101 who was the team's hero as she outplayed GM Daniel King rated 2512.

Another game from the match. Susan Lalic's direct attack is underestimated by her opponent.

* * *

The unthinkable happened in the eighth round of the 4Nations Chess League Division 1 as the Championship Pool and Relegation Pool matches began and the leaders and defending champions Guildford A&DC 1 were well beaten by their own second team. Although the second team were outrated by over 100 points a board they scored two wins and suffered no defeats to win the 8 board match 5-3.

Mohammed Tissir of Morocco upset David Howell and John Shaw of Scotland beat Mark Hebden. Team sponsor IM Nigel Povah held GM Danny King to a draw.

Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher also has two teams in the top division and there were no upsets in that match as the first team defeated the second team 7-1. The other results in the Championship Pool were: White Rose 1 4-4 Pride and Prejudice; Barbican 4NCL 1 5-3 The Gambit ADs.

In the Relegation Pool Northwest Eagles clearly do not fancy the drop as they destroyed South Wales Dragons 7.5-0.5 even thought the teams were almost identically matched in rating terms. Other results: Bristol 1 2-6 Cambridge University 1; Barbican 4NCL 2 5.5-2.5 Richmond; 5.5-2.5 Sambuca Sharks.

* * *

It was virtually the 'full English' as the 4NCL 2008-9 season climaxed with the final weekend held at Daventry. Guildford A&DC, Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher and Pride and Prejudice added the best home grown players to their squads. The destination of the Division 1 title was still at stake after Guildford A&DC's first team lost to their second team earlier in the season while WGHK remained unbeaten going into the final three rounds.

Guildford A&DC also added Igor Kurnosov, the Russian GM who won the Hastings Masters and was so impressive at two Open tournaments held in Moscow earlier this year. Luke McShane, arguably the world's strongest amateur player turned out as well for Guildford A&DC on board three with David Howell playing on board two below Kurnosov.

Pride and Prejudice produced a surprise and recruited England number one Michael Adams who outplayed GM Stephen Gordon in the ninth round match against WGHK I but the latter won the contest overall 5-3. Guilford A&DC I demolished Barbican 4NCL I 7-1.

Black chooses the Sicilian Modern Paulsen. Black sets up a solid Hedgehog structure and hopes to break out later. Because the bishop is on g7 and not e7, the d6 pawn needs a lot of looking after.

* * *

The 4NCL 2008-9 season went to the wire as the favourites Guildford A&DC I and Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher I met in the eleventh and final round staged near Daventry. A tense contest ended in a 4-4 draw which meant that WGHK I won the title with 13/14 match points and ended a two year winning run of their opponent's.

Guildford A&DC I's slip up earlier in the season, when they lost to their own second team proved decisive as it effectively gave WGHK I draw odds going into the last round as they had a 100% record.

Despire being significantly out-rated WGHK managed to draw the match with wins on the bottom three boards.

Guildford A&DC I's Jim Plaskett played the game of the match.

* * *

Congratulations to Stephen Gordon of Oldham whose fine performance in the 2008-9 4NCL was good enough for his third Grandmaster result and the award of the Grandmaster title. His first two results were achieved at the 2006 EU Championships in Liverpool and the 2006-7 4NCL.

In the following game Gordon manages to exploit some slight congestion in enemy lines as the knight on d1 never finds its way to the kingside and gets in the way of the rooks.