4NCL Online Season 5 Round 1 – Wessex Results and Games
Season 5 of the 4NCL Online leagues commenced on Tuesday evening with eight Wessex Some Stars teams in action, all captained by Keith Gregory.
The format of the leagues is unchanged. Divisions 1 to 4 each consist of 32 teams in 4 groups of 8. There are 7 rounds so it is all-play-all within the groups. The top and bottom two of each group get promoted and relegated. The top team in each group enters into two knock out rounds for the honour of finishing top of the division. Division 5 is one Swiss paired pool.
There are fewer teams this season, with only 26 teams in Division 5 as opposed to over 50 last season. Also there does not seem to be the same strength in Division 1, with only one GM (Mark Hebden) and no IMs playing, though there are still plenty of FMs.
With that in mind, some of the planned relegations and promotions from last season were adjusted. These changes favoured Wessex and the 8 teams are allocated to the divisions thus:
• Division 1: A, B and C teams (in different groups)
• Division 2: D team
• Division 3: No
• Division 4: E, F and G teams (in different groups)
• Division 5: H team.
Overall it was a reasonable start for Wessex Some Stars, with 4 match wins, a draw and 3 match losses, with results largely going to form.
The A team can look forward to this season with confidence and got off to a flying start, winning their match comfortably. Gavin Lock drew a well played game on board 1, whilst his three teammates all won. Last to finish for this team was Jamie Wilson who sacced his queen for a rook to gain two unstoppable passed pawns. You can see the finish of this game at the end of this report.
The B team drew. In an advantageous late middlegame / early endgame Allan Pleasants found a nice forcing sequence that either netted two pawns or, as happened in the game, led to a bishop vs knight ending where his opponent’s knight was trapped at the edge of the board. Allan duly notched up the full point and you can see how at the end of the report.
Matt Chapman was left to defend the dreaded rook and bishop vs rook ending. His opponent managed to reach Philidor’s famous winning position but did not know the method from there and after a little shuffling offered a draw. (I was interested to read a few months ago that when Matthew Saddler was playing full time he used to revisit around 100 endgames every week to check that he could still remember the theory of them and R+B vs R was one of those.)
The C team lost, despite a solidly played draw by Mike Krawczuk and a win in a complicated game by Rajasekhar Pentakotar, both against higher rated opposition. On a personal note, my opponent played well but I very felt rusty at slow chess – too much online blitz doesn’t do much for your calculation skills 🙁
Moving on to Division 2, the D team also lost, with all boards going to form, and the opposition’s strength gradually telling on the top board. Adam Ursell on board 4 played a wild and seemingly dubious opening and was a pawn up but with very poor king safety, when his opponent kindly swapped queens and left Adam in the driving seat in the resulting ending which he duly converted.
In Division 4, the E team suffered the only surprising loss of the night, going down 1-3 to a much more lowly rated team. Richard Ursell completed a family double for the evening, winning what looked like a drawn knight ending. The other three boards lost, with Joe Coburn’s opponent in particular playing pretty solid chess to take the point.
The F team had a smaller but still substantial rating advantage and won comfortably. Gillian Moore was three pawns up and must have been on autopilot when she left a piece en prise but she still outplayed her opponent to win comfortably in the end. The other victories for the team were more straightforward, with Jamie Doyle steadily outplaying his opponent and Edward Blanden benefiting from a piece donation in the opening.
The G team had a much more even match on paper but still came away victors aided by a default and two wins from Rob Davenport and Douglas Blythe, neither of whom were ever in any real trouble in their games.
Last but not least, in Division 5 the H team had a big rating advantage on all boards and scored an emphatic win, and again their victories were gained without any serious problems along the way.
As promised, here are the ends of Jamie Wilson’s and Allan Pleasants’ games.
Peter Anderson 27/1/22