Season 6 Introduction
The 4NCL Online league re-started with Season #6 on 13th September 2022 with eight Wessex teams going into battle across the five divisions. With OTB chess fully back there has been a drop in numbers overall with 98 teams (from 45 squads) now playing, as opposed to 200+ teams in the COVID days.
I’m delighted to report our Wessex squad remains enthusiastic and I’m optimistic we can sustain our 8 teams for the foreseeable future. To cover the 32 boards we have a squad of 56 players, many of whom are happy to play as required so it works out “about right” and everyone “keen to play” usually gets 6 or even 7 games during the 7 rounds season.
Our players ages range from 14 to 80+, illustrating that you are never too young or too old to enjoy the lure of the chessboard.
The 4NCL Online league has been re-shaped as 4 divisions of 16 teams, split into 2 sections of 8 teams which will be all-play-all followed by a play-off for the two section winners.
The remaining 34 teams are playing in Division 5 which is being run on a Swiss basis. With players in round 1 ranging from 900 to 1900 the Swiss system will hopefully ensure everyone gets some competitive matches after a couple of rounds of “sorting out”.
Round 1 Results
So to the round 1 matches….
We lost two games by default – one was an unfortunate mix-up over dates whilst the other was our first ever “double default” – the game was played with the wrong colours and this was not spotted in time and the arbiters intervened. The challenge was wrongly issued by our opponent yet sadly that didn’t make any difference as both players are deemed equally at fault.
For the 30 games played, we scored 11 x wins, 10 x draws and 9 x losses which suggests the divisions have panned out reasonably well grade-wise. This translated in matches into 5 wins, 1 draw and just 2 losses so a good evening at the office.
Our three new players all had winning debuts – long may their wins continue!
Our A team faced a lower graded but tough looking Farnham A and succumbed 2.5 – 1.5 in a tight match which could easily have swung the other way, with Jaimie unluckily missing an endgame tactic which transformed his position (and not in a good way).
Our B team were out-graded yet prevailed with 3 solid draws and a great debut win from Mircea-Marius.
Wins from Mike & John clinched the match – John’s game was one of his typical tactical rollercoasters which I struggled to assess until near the end.
Our D team started one down due to a default and never really recovered, although Tim Jones notched up a win to avoid a whitewash.
Our E team, although heavily out-graded, had a great evening with Joe, Gillian and Chris all getting results against stronger opposition. Credit to Gillian on board 3, in particular, who beat a 1936 player, a 227 point gap – this was our best “upset” of the evening. The second biggest upset was courtesy of Chris Leeson who defeated a player 119 points higher – go Chris !
Our F team out-graded their opponents and cruised to a 3-1 win.
Our G team had a close match on paper and so it proved – apart from the unfortunate 0-0 the spoils were shared with Tom Philidor winning on his Wessex debut – a dodgy looking opening quickly turned into a crushing position for Tom which he finished off elegantly.
Our H team were out-graded on every board and succumbed – our highlight was a winning debut from Manuel, a regular in our weekly Wessex Swiss tournaments.
As usual David Pye’s game was rather complex, very interesting and, for me at least, hard to evaluate at some stages. There was a creative opening, a middlegame where both sides played well but throughout which David’s opponent had the upper hand, and an endgame where David tenaciously wriggled out of a lost position to claim a well-earned draw. I enjoyed watching it live and hope you enjoy playing through it below.