4NCL – 2008–09

Nottinghamshire has two teams in Division 3 of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Games are played on weekends throughout the season.


Full details of the 4NCL can be found at the 4NCL web site.

First weekend

Round 1: 18 October 2008

Ian Kingston

With several players either permanently or temporarily unavailable this season, finding players for the first pair of matches – which happened also to be the only long-distance trip of the season – proved interesting, especially for the new captain. In the end, with some assistance from Neil Graham in particular, I was able to add three players to the squad: West Nottingham's latest French star (Mathieu Tournier), former Notts player Mark Jones (now living in Swindon), and – at the last minute – Robert Willoughby.

The new boys had a mixed day. Mathieu held a significant advantage as Notts 1 took on Poisoned Pawns 2 in a very evenly balanced match. Unfortunately he was unable to force the win – a fate that also befell Andy Walker and me. It was cruel, therefore, that with five of us drawing a miscalculation by Mark decided the result in the opposition's favour.

A 50:50 match going the wrong way is hardly a disaster, of course. Notts 2, however, didn't have the luxury of a roughly even contest. Conceding an average of 281 rating points per board to Guildford A&DC 4, anything other than a whitewash could be considered a success. For a while things looked quite promising, but one by one the zeros started to appear on the scoresheet. In the end it was the third of the debutants who scored the solitary half point, Robert narrowly failing to beat his much higher rated opponent.

Poisoned Pawns 2
2057 Nottinghamshire 1 2051
1 Harley, Andrew 2211 ½ – ½ Tournier, Mathieu 2268
2 Bailey, Kevin 2071 ½ – ½ Walker, Andrew N 2070
3 McCorry, Robert T 2059 ½ – ½ Levens, David 2005
4 McMahon, Paul 2018 ½ – ½ Kingston, Ian 2002
5 Davison, Chris 2020 1 – 0 Jones, Mark 2015
6 Stewart, Ashley 1960 ½ – ½ Taylor, Robert P 1944
      3½ – 2½    

Nottinghamshire 2 1878 Guildford A&DC 4
1 Thompson, Brian 1935 0 – 1 Anderton, Matthew N 2232
2 Graham, Neil 1925 0 – 1 Richardson, Keith B 2194
3 Cranmer, Stan 1890 0 – 1 Jackson, Adrian 2206
4 Hill, Maurice J 1870 0 – 1 Adair, James 2072
5 Myers, Richard 1840 0 – 1 Chipanga, Takaedza 2146
6 Willoughby, Robert 1810 ½ – ½ Punnett, Alan K 2102
      ½ – 5½    

Round 2: 19 October 2008

Possibly the last thing any of us needed after a day of six draws and six defeats was to be woken by a fire alarm at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. With a loudspeaker blaring out instructions to get out of the building as quickly as possible, we (and all the other players staying overnight) staggered out of the building in various states of dishevelment. One or two (but none of us, I'm glad to say) had taken the order to leave immediately at face value and were wearing only the bare minimum – not a pretty sight. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, so we all trudged back in and tried to get back to sleep.

It didn't affect us too badly. The first team's loss in Round 1 meant a relatively easy pairing against Oxford 3 in Round 2. Mark put his first round loss behind him to win a game that he described as 'one of the strangest I've played. Black blundered a piece on two separate occasions and in each case got away with it due to some chance tactics'. Everybody else except the captain also won – I, however, failed to beat 12-year-old Maria Wang and was somewhat relieved when she accepted my draw offer. (You can stop with the jokes now guys.)

Notts 2 received another tough pairing – SCS – but this time the rating difference was a more manageable 51 points per board. Brian Thompson registered an excellent draw with Black on top board, featuring an amazing rook sacrifice.

r4rk1/p6p/1p1qp1pb/3p4/3Pp3/4P1PB/PP3P1P/2RQK2R w K - 0 18

Haydon–Thompson; White to play

Both players had missed good chances for an advantage earlier, and the position now looks roughly level. White should probably have castled here, but instead he tried to invade on the queenside: 18. Qa4?, only to be rocked by the stunning 18... Rxf2!! 19. Kxf2 (probably best is 19. Bxe6+ Qxe6 20. Kxf2 Qf5+ 21. Kg2 Qf3+ 22. Kh3 Bxe3 23. Qc6 Qf5+ (or 23... Qh5+) should be drawn by perpetual check) 19... Qf8+ 20. Bf5 (to provide an escape square for the king; alternatively, 20. Ke1 Qf3 21. Bxe6+ Kh8 22. Rc3 Qxh1+ 23. Kd2 Qxh2+ 24. Kc1 Rf8 wins) 20... Qxf5+ 21. Kg2 Qf3+ 22. Kh3 Qh5+ (Now probably best is 23. Kg2 Rf8 (23... Qf3+ forces a draw, of course) 24. Qd1 Bxe3 25. Qxh5 gxh5 26. Rc2 Bxd4, when Black has the advantage, but probably not enough to win) ½–½. (Notes based on analysis provided by Brian.)

With a win for Stan Cranmer and a draw for Neil Graham things were looking good. Boards 4 and 5 didn't turn out so well though, leaving Robert to try to pull things round. He had a sizeable advantage as the time control approached, but was very short of time – about four minutes for his last 12 moves. His opponent, however, was struggling to defend, and gradually the clock times grew closer together. I left the playing hall when the players were down to about two minutes each – I hate watching that kind of time scramble. Five minutes later I went back in to find that Robert had reached a completely winning position and had won on time, salvaging a draw for the team.

Nottinghamshire 1 2051 Oxford 3
1 Tournier, Mathieu 2268 1 – 0 Zhang, Marco 1975
2 Walker, Andrew N 2070 1 – 0 Harvey, Marcus R 1905
3 Levens, David 2005 1 – 0 Lai, Yi Ming 1835
4 Kingston, Ian 2002 ½ – ½ Wang, Maria 1845
5 Jones, Mark 2015 1 – 0 Henbest, Kevin B 1795
6 Taylor, Robert P 1944 1 – 0 Wang, Anna 1680
      5½ – ½    

1929 Nottinghamshire 2 1878
1 Haydon, David 2148 ½ – ½ Thompson, Brian 1935
2 Heard, Andrew H 1975 ½ – ½ Graham, Neil 1925
3 Clarke, Sean A 1885 0 – 1 Cranmer, Stan 1890
4 Lutton, J Arnold 1874 1 – 0 Hill, Maurice J 1870
5 Bogoda, Sagara T 1870 1 – 0 Myers, Richard 1840
6 Scarry, Herbert 1823 0 – 1 Willoughby, Robert 1810
      3 – 3    

The next two rounds, on 6 and 7 December, should be fun. All three divisions will be playing that weekend, so there'll be grandmaster chess to watch.

Second weekend

A rarity: all three divisions playing in the same venue on the same weekend. We third division hackers therefore got to rub shoulders (almost literally) with a large number of Britain’s best players. I lost count of the number of GMs present, but here’s a selection of names to convey the flavour of the event: Speelman, Howell, Chandler, Conquest, Hebden, Rowson, Flear, Wells, Davies... the list goes on! So how did the Nottinghamshire contingent fare alongside such August company?

Round 3: 6 December

Nottinghamshire 1 received an unexpected gift from Round 3 opponents The Full Ponty in the form of a default on Board 6. We were notified in advance, so no one had to make a wasted trip. Very quickly the score moved to 2–0, when Alex Combie, making his debut, turned what looked like an exercise in pawn grabbing into an overwhelming kingside attack. All was well on the other boards and a big score looked possible, but it didn’t quite materialise. I overcame a slight disadvantage from the opening and forced a repetition in a knight endgame; David Levens’ position never quite delivered on its apparent promise; and Richard Truman’s extra pawn never came to anything. With the match won, Rob Richmond was left to try to find a win in what looked like a level position, but it too proved elusive.

The second team had the misfortune to be paired against Warwickshire Select 2, conceding around 170 rating points per board. Brian Thompson and Richard Myers did well to draw (in fact, Richard missed a win), but the opposition proved too strong overall. Maurice Hill came closest to adding a half-point, but he eventually succumbed in a long rook ending.

Nottinghamshire 1
2032 The Full Ponty 1997
1 Richmond, Robert J 2236 ½ – ½ Sully, David 2135
2 Truman, Richard G 2035 ½ – ½ Adams, Mark A 2034
3 Levens, David 2005 ½ – ½ Perrett, David 1996
4 Kingston, Ian 2002 ½ – ½ Robinson, David 1986
5 Combie, Alexander 1950 1 – 0 St Clair, Allan 1836
6 Place, William 1965 1 – 0 Default
      4 – 2    

Nottinghamshire 2
1901 Warwickshire Select 2 2078
1 Taylor, Robert P 1944 0 – 1 Galloway, Iain 2139
2 Thompson, Brian 1935 ½ – ½ Malik, Dani 2125
3 Graham, Neil 1925 0 – 1 Malik, Kaiser 2075
4 Cranmer, Stan 1890 0 – 1 Webster, Paul 2095
5 Hill, Maurice J 1870 0 – 1 Cooper, David M 2085
6 Myers, Richard 1840 ½ – ½ Weaving, Richard 1950
      1 – 5    

Round 4: 7 December

Board orders were shuffled to avoid players receiving the same colour on both days, but whether or not this influenced the results is hard to say. Against Bristol 2 the first team started well, with a quick draw for Alex and an easy win for me (finally ending an eight-game drawing streak in the competition). But then things started to go badly. Richard dropped a pawn for nothing and was well beaten; David was under a little pressure; and Rob had also lost a pawn. The best hope for a win seemed to be Andy Walker’s game, but that came to nothing, and when Rob failed to hold his position it was left to David to try to level the match. He reached an advantageous endgame, but the one fleeting winning chance slipped by.

Notts 2 looked like they were facing another beating against Mind Sports, but they rose to the occasion. Neil Graham took an early draw, after which two defeats made the situation look grim. The key game was Bob Taylor’s on Board 1. About halfway through he assessed his position as ‘desperate’, but a little while later he reached an endgame with a piece for two pawns and his technique proved secure enough to deliver the point against a much higher-rated opponent. Richard was grinding out his second draw of the weekend, so the match came down to Robert Willoughby’s apparently easy game on bottom board. Typically, of course, his opponent played well above her notional strength, and at one point appeared to have prospects of a perpetual check. But Robert eventually extricated his king and brought home the point to level the match.

Bristol 2
2030 Nottinghamshire 1 2050
1 Collier, David O 2089 1 – 0 Richmond, Robert J 2236
2 Humphreys, Jerry 2067 ½ – ½ Walker, Andrew N 2070
3 Bass, John W 2099 ½ – ½ Levens, David 2005
4 Littlejohns, David P 2066 1 – 0 Truman, Richard G 2035
5 Richardt, Mike 1951 ½ – ½ Combie, Alexander 1950
6 Varley, Ed 1910 0 – 1 Kingston, Ian 2002
      3½ – 2½    

Mind Sports
1991 Nottinghamshire 2 1880
1 Ackley, Peter 2112 0 – 1 Taylor, Robert P 1944
2 Taylor, Robert K 2107 1 – 0 Cranmer, Stan 1890
3 Hardman, Michael J 2088 ½ – ½ Graham, Neil 1925
4 Hawkins, Nick 2013 ½ – ½ Myers, Richard 1840
5 Twitchell, Neville H 1983 1 – 0 Hill, Maurice J 1870
6 Chadwick, Susan E 1640 0 – 1 Willoughby, Robert 1810
      3 – 3    


The Executive Committee is likely to confirm that the teams' entry fees for this season will be paid by charging a board fee of 2.50 per game played (applied retrospectively). Update: a board fee of 3.00 was set, with the first weekend not charged for.

Third weekend

Round 5: 7 February 2009

Ian Kingston

With snow forecast, the 4NCL management put in place a few emergency rules for the third set of matches. Players could arrive up to two hours late if affected by the weather, and would then play a five-hour session instead of seven hours. Team captains would be allowed to keep their mobile phones on until all their players had arrived. As it turned out, apart from two teams that opted not to travel just about everyone was present in good time.

Nottinghamshire 1 might have wished otherwise though. David Levens made a slip coming out of the opening and fell to a withering kingside attack; Alex Combie's complex position resolved itself into a loss; and Will Place got into a tangle after a successful opening and ended up losing. Trailing 3–0 after three hours' play was bad enough, but to make matters worse I had made a mess of a won position and was losing, while Brian Thompson's game was also bad. Only Rob Richmond seemed likely to score. But then the tide turned. My opponent seemed committed to creating severe time trouble for himself, and a succession of errors cost him first the advantage and ultimately the game – a 15 minute think after the time control was reached led him to resign. A couple of minutes later Rob forced resignation, so attention turned to Brian's game. It looked as though he might hold the draw, but his opponent played inaccurately until a position was reached in which Brian had R + N + P vs. R + 3P, with the enemy king confined to the back rank. There were winning chances, based on a mating attack, but if White could exchange off the last black pawn these would evaporate. Sure enough, a chance to do that arose, but White tried an alternative route and ended up losing all three pawns. Brian duly converted to save the match.

The second team were evenly matched against Halesowen. Prospects looked very good after Bob Taylor secured a draw against a strong opponent, and were made even better when Robert Willoughby won on Board 6. Although Neil Graham was clearly in trouble, Stan Cranmer had drawn and Richard Myers and Maurice Hill were both on top. Unfortunately, neither of these two could force the win, and  Neil's defeat resulted in another 3–3 draw.

Nottinghamshire 1
2018 Oxford 2 2044
1 Richmond, Robert J 2223 1 – 0 Chapman, Graham W 2080
2 Levens, David 2009 0 – 1 Bruce, Dave 2091
3 Kingston, Ian 2023 1 – 0 Stembridge, Ed 2062
4 Combie, Alexander 1950 0 – 1 Morris, Graham 2022
5 Place, William 1965 0 – 1 Rawlinson, Chris 2047
6 Thompson, Brian 1938 1 – 0 Neatherway, Philip 1960
      3 – 3    

Nottinghamshire 2
1882 Halesowen 1882
1 Taylor, Robert P 1956 ½ – ½ Pugh, Glyn D 2045
2 Graham, Neil 1925 0 – 1 Lee, Darren 1950
3 Cranmer, Stan 1890 ½ – ½ Doran, Michael J 1855
4 Hill, Maurice J 1870 ½ – ½ Llewelyn, John D 1815
5 Myers, Richard 1840 ½ – ½ Peck, Windsor W 1845
6 Willoughby, Robert 1810 1 – 0 Pitt, Christopher 1780
      3 – 3    

Round 6: 8 February 2009

Ian Kingston

Round 6 took the opposite course for the first team compared with the previous day. After a couple of hours it looked as though we might score a big win: I had a big advantage from the opening, Will's opponent was sacrificing unsoundly, David had a clear advantage, and nobody else seemed worse. But this time everything swung against us. Alex could only draw, while I missed a tactical point and turned a likely win into a loss (ending a 19 game unbeaten run in the 4NCL – not the best moment to do it). Meanwhile, Will was two pieces up but finding his opponent's pair of advanced passed pawns awkward to deal with. Andy Walker reached a level rook ending and drew, but Rob's position turned nasty. Our best hope seemed to be David's game, where he reached a B vs. N ending with an extra pawn. Sadly, the enemy pieces proved to be well coordinated and the win was not to be found. Will did eventually neutralise the enemy pawns, but Rob's defeat condemned us to a narrow loss.

Nottinghamshire 2 received an unkind draw, facing the mostly young players of AMCA Rhinos. The average rating difference of 61 points per board was probably somewhat greater in reality. Ratings aren't everything, though. Brian seemed to be inspired by his heroics of the previous evening and won convincingly, while Bob registered another solid draw. Neil was in trouble again, but Robert had reached a won ending when disaster struck, a simple blunder costing him the game. Richard and Stan had drawn, but Neil was left trying to hold an endgame the exchange down, which turned out not  to be possible. A draw was a good result in end though.

Gloucester Gambits
2035 Nottinghamshire 2 2040
1 Hosken, Nigel 2057 1 – 0 Richmond, Robert J 2223
2 Lambourne, Daniel M 2003 ½ – ½ Levens, David 2009
3 Gilmour, Andrew J 2070 ½ – ½ Walker, Andrew N 2070
4 Meade, Philip J 2055 1 – 0 Kingston, Ian 2023
5 Taylor, Geoffrey P 2019 0 – 1 Place, William 1965
6 Dodwell, Phil 2005 ½ – ½ Combie, Alexander 1950
      3½ – 2½    

AMCA Rhinos
1954 Nottinghamshire 2 1893
1 Mitchell, Stephen R 2032 ½ – ½ Taylor, Robert P 1956
2 Stayt, James N 2026 0 – 1 Thompson, Brian 1938
3 Tart, Peter K 2005 ½ – ½ Cranmer, Stan 1890
4 Tunstall, George 2014 1 – 0 Graham, Neil 1925
5 Marley, Andrew 1805 0 – 1 Myers, Richard 1840
6 Bunn, Matthew 1840 1 – 0 Willoughby, Robert 1810
      3 – 3    

Fourth weekend

Round 7: 21 March 2009

Ian Kingston

The penultimate weekend of the season was not, one would have to say, our finest hour. But let’s beginning with the good bit. Nottinghamshire 1 delivered the expected result against a weak Mind Sports team. I had the good fortune to be playing an opponent with an ECF grade of 78, which meant a very quick 1–0 lead. Robert Richmond followed with another win inside two hours. There were a couple of nervous moments before the win was confirmed, most notably when Richard Truman overlooked a knight fork in a good position. Fortunately he had a decent reply that led to a draw. Andy Walker reached an endgame with two rooks against a queen which the computer says was significantly  better for him, but with passed pawns for both players it was not that easy for mere humans to assess. Tim Walker's match-winning draw came in a sharp-looking position following a knight sacrifice that gave him an advanced c-pawn. The only sensible assessment of the position is 'unclear'. Last to finish was David Levens, whose opponent generously gave him a 50 minute start on the clock.

Over in the other room, though, things were going pear-shaped in spectacular fashion. Bob Taylor missed a tactic and lost material; Neil Graham's gambit pawn turned into an exchange plus a pawn deficit; Will Place miscalculated a combination and found himself a piece down; and Stan Cranmer lost a piece after falling behind in development. (My optimistic streak at first thought that he'd reached a level endgame, but it turns out that I'm not very good at counting bishops.)

So that left Maurice Hill with a reasonable position and Alex Combie with something that looked rather unclear. Maurice quite reasonably took a draw, but Alex's position drifted steadily downhill before a big mistake in a lost position cost huge quantities of material.

Nottinghamshire 1
2080 Mind Sports 1908
1 Richmond, Robert J 2223 1 – 0 Ackley, Peter 2101
2 Walker, Tim 2125 ½ – ½ Hardman, Michael J 2087
3 Walker, Andrew N 2070 ½ – ½ Hawkins, Nick 2031
4 Levens, David 2009 1 – 0 Twitchell, Neville H 1976
5 Truman, Richard G 2028 ½ – ½ Barr, Gabriel 1820
6 Kingston, Ian 2023 1 – 0 Chadwick, Susan E 1640
      4½ – 1½    

Guildford A&DC 5
1897 Nottinghamshire 2 1926
1 Shaw, Matthew 1925 1 – 0 Combie, Alexander 1950
2 Deswarte, Ian 1950 1 – 0 Place, William 1965
3 Waldock, Adrian 1925 1 – 0 Taylor, Robert P 1956
4 Quinn, Joseph 1835 1 – 0 Graham, Neil 1925
5 Lalic, Peter 1905 1 – 0 Cranmer, Stan 1890
6 Albrecht, Theo 1840 ½ – ½ Hill, Maurice J 1870
      5½ – ½    

Round 8: 22 March 2009

Ian Kingston

Sunday saw the first team given a relatively kind downfloat to a weaker team. Although we were less strong than on Saturday, a second win was a more than reasonable ambition. Things started quite brightly: Rob, having played both sides of the Czech Benoni in February’s matches, now found himself doing the same with the Dutch Defence, winning with a nice sacrificial attack:

Bingham-Richmomd: 6r1/2pbp2k/1p3q1p/p1PPP3/1P1b1P1r/R6p/P3Q2K/2B2R1B b - - 0 31

Bingham–Richmond; Black to play

White's exposed king gives Black a winning position, but with his queen attacked Rob found the winning combination: 31... Rg2+! 32. Bxg2 hxg2+ 33. Kxg2 Qg6+ 34. Rg3 Bh3+ 35. Kf3 Qh5+ 36. Ke4 Qxe2+ 37. Kxd4 Qxf1 0–1

Richard survived some pressure to chalk up a draw. I bluffed my opponent into a dubious rook ending instead of a drawn pawn ending and won again, at which point I went off to the analysis room confident that Will's beautiful bishop pair and extra pawn would win the match. Although Alex was in trouble, David's position looked no worse than drawn.

Half an hour later I returned to find that Alex had lost, as expected. What I didn't expect to see was Will two pawns down and about to lose a third, while David had also dropped a pawn. Sadly, there were no miracles to be had, and yet another 3½–2½ defeat – our fourth of the season – was registered.

So could Notts 2 bounce back? Unfortunately, there was bad news even before play started. Maurice, despite feeling unwell, had made the journey to the venue, but was too ill to play. It may not have been a wise decision to make the trip, but the effort was appreciated.

At the board, Bob did reverse his Saturday result (a typical result against a stronger opponent), but no one else could score a full point. Richard Myers and Robert Willoughby, fresh (if that's the word) from the MCCU U125 final on Saturday, both drew, as did Stan. Neil's dreadful season continued, resulting in a narrow defeat.

Littlethorpe 2
1955 Nottinghamshire 1 2033
1 Bingham, James T 1945 0 – 1 Richmond, Robert J 2223
2 Ireland, David J 1997 1 – 0 Levens, David 2009
3 Hewitt, Sean D 1995 ½ – ½ Truman, Richard G 2028
4 Deacon, Paul 1930 0 – 1 Kingston, Ian 2023
5 Watkinson, Phil K 1950 1 – 0 Combie, Alexander 1950
6 Turvey, Steven 1915 1 – 0 Place, William 1965
      3½ – 2½    

Nottinghamshire 2 1884 Celtic Tigers 2
1 Taylor, Robert P 1956 1 – 0 Evans, Craig 2030
2 Graham, Neil 1925 0 – 1 Fathallah, Joe 1962
3 Cranmer, Stan 1890 ½ – ½ O'Grady, Gary 1926
4 Default 0 – 1 Larter, Nick 1807
5 Myers, Richard 1840 ½ – ½ Wagner, Guy 1830
6 Willoughby, Robert 1810 ½ – ½ Buttell, David 1714
      2½ – 3½    

Fifth weekend

Round 9: 2 May 2009

There’s a certain inverted logic about perverse results: fielding our strongest team since the opening weekend, and with almost 100 points per board advantage, Nottinghamshire 1 quite naturally slumped to the worst defeat of the season, losing 4–2 to FCA Solutions 2. Of course, average ratings don’t tell the whole story. Most of our advantage was on Boards 1 and 6, but the other four were evenly balanced. I found stiff resistance at the bottom end, but an oversight by my opponent allowed a quick finish. In the diagram, White has just played 22.f4? to counter the threat of ...f5, although that’s not too dangerous.

Shaw-Kingston (FEN: 5rk1/1br1q1pp/1p1b4/p2p1p2/P2P1P2/1P1QB1P1/4B2P/R3R1K1 b - f3 0 22)

Shaw–Kingston: Black to play

I was sure there was something for me here, but efforts to make 22...Re8 or 22...Bb4 work were inconclusive. Finally, almost in desperation, I looked at 22...Ba6!, and all became clear: White must lose material. The game ended 23.Qxa6 (23.Qd2 Bb4 24.Bxa6 Bxd2 25.Bxd2 Qf6 is also fairly straightforward) 23...Qxe3+ 24.Kg2 Bb4 25.Rf1 Rc2 26.Rf2 Re8 0-1.

But that, unfortunately, was the high water mark. David Levens lost after trying too hard to win; Pete Mercs saw what appeared to be a nice position drift into unpleasantness and also lost; and yet another unfathomable Rob Richmond effort petered out into a draw. With a solid draw from Andy Walker, Richard Truman’s game became critical, but by this point winning was out of the question. An attractive attacking position yielded no more than an endgame in which Richard had three pawns for a sacrificed piece, but his opponent was able to chip away at the pawns while avoiding losing his own. Richard finally capitulated well into the final hour of play.

Much better news, however, for Nottinghamshire 2. Facing the AMCA Hippos, Robert Willoughby posted a straightforward win, although this was soon offset by Neil Graham’s defeat. Alex Combie scored a steady draw on top board, but things were a little unclear on the remaining boards. Bob Taylor’s opponent arrived 45 minutes late, but such disadvantages mean little to juniors. In the end, Bob weathered the storm successfully, finishing with an extra piece. Maurice Hill’s game went through a tactical interlude with errors on both sides, but he finally emerged with a piece for two pawns and had no difficulty securing the win.

With the match won, it remained only for Brian Thompson to turn his pressure into a win, which he duly achieved after his opponent cracked just before the first time control.

Nottinghamshire 1 2071 FCA Solutions 2
1 Richmond, Robert J 2223 ½ – ½ Kendall, Paul S N 2063
2 Walker, Andrew N 2070 ½ – ½ Valentine, Brian J 1997
3 Mercs, Peter J 2075 0 – 1 Williamson, Kevin J 2020
4 Levens, David 2009 0 – 1 Elwin, Adrian G 2009
5 Truman, Richard G 2028 0 – 1 Matthews, Adrian 1924
6 Kingston, Ian 2023 1 – 0 Shaw, John S 1895
      2 – 4    

Nottinghamshire 2 1908 AMCA Hippos
1 Combie, Alexander 1950 ½ – ½ Moore, Andrew 1845
2 Thompson, Brian 1938 1 – 0 Marley, Andrew 1805
3 Taylor, Robert P 1956 1 – 0 Periasamymanjula, Mani. 1718
4 Graham, Neil 1925 0 – 1 Ward, Matthew J 1760
5 Hill, Maurice J 1870 1 – 0 Malhotra, Tarun 1730
6 Willoughby, Robert 1810 1 – 0 Coates, Christine (F) 1490
      4½ – 1½    

Round 10: 3 May 2009

Notts 1 resumed normal service with yet another 3½–2½ defeat against Iceni – very beatable opposition. Richard’s marathon effort on Saturday may have contributed to his rapid loss, but the English language lacks an appropriate adjective to describe the disaster, so I’ll just say ‘horrible’ and leave it at that. In any case, it shouldn’t have mattered: I won a clean extra pawn, David had what looked like a straightforward technical win, and Andy was well on top. Brian dropped a pawn but held the ensuing rook ending easily enough, while Rob also drew. But then it all went pear-shaped. I missed a knight fork and was relieved to be offered a draw in a worse position and Andy let his advantage slip, which left David to save the match. Unfortunately a single oversight had turned his comfortable win into a desperate struggle to save the game. He managed it, but that was all.

Notts 2, however, were making hay against Littlethorpe 3. Stan Cranmer raced into a won rook ending while most of us were still in the opening. Robert won quickly and Neil drew, but although Alex held an advantage both Bob and Maurice were struggling. It didn’t seem to matter though: Maurice’s opponent mishandled the clock and simultaneously blundered and overstepped the time limit, Alex converted his queenside pressure into a win, and Bob held on to draw a pawn down, resulting in a 5–1 win that also saw Notts 2 jump above the first team in the table.

Iceni 2039 Nottinghamshire 1
1 Reynolds, D Ian 2108 ½ – ½ Richmond, Robert J 2223
2 Lunn, Timothy 2056 ½ – ½ Walker, Andrew N 2070
3 Feavyour, John 2073 1 – 0 Truman, Richard G 2028
4 Botham, Paul 2042 ½ – ½ Levens, David 2009
5 Donaghay, Richard 1969 ½ – ½ Kingston, Ian 2023
6 Szymanski, Mark 1985 ½ – ½ Thompson, Brian 1938
      3½ – 2½    

Nottinghamshire 2 1900 Littlethorpe 3
1 Combie, Alexander 1950 1 – 0 Turvey, Steven 1915
2 Taylor, Robert P 1956 ½ – ½ Farrall, David J 1812
3 Cranmer, Stan 1890 1 – 0 Jones, Michael 1835
4 Graham, Neil 1925 ½ – ½ Harrison, Peter K 1680
5 Hill, Maurice J 1870 1 – 0 Dean, Michael 1735
6 Willoughby, Robert 1810 1 – 0 Ricketts, David 1570
      5 – 1    

Round 11: 4 May 2009

The final ignominy – Nottinghamshire 1 not only finished up behind the second team, but actually slipped further behind. It was gruesome stuff: despite a 200 points per board average rating advantage, with a significant difference in our favour on every single board, we were lucky to escape with a 3–3 draw.

Alex had no trouble despatching his young opponent, but on top board Rob’s king was being frog-marched all over the board in an apparently forlorn attempt to avoid calamity. Rob resigned, but Fritz thinks that the position might actually have been slightly better for him! Richard made a finger slip that saw him staring down the barrel, and Brian dropped an exchange for nothing. My opponent played the very odd 1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3.Nc3 d6, so I was making things up from scratch very early on. Fortunately for me there was no cunning master plan behind Black’s setup. By now, David was facing a speculative exchange sacrifice. He defended carefully and at one point was actually winning, but the chance and the game slipped away.

At 2–2, with bad positions on the remaining boards, we were braced for the worst, but Richard’s opponent got his move order confused and dropped a piece. And then, just for a moment, it seemed that Brian might somehow wriggle out. His opponent didn’t seem to know how to use his material advantage, and reached both the first and second time controls with seconds to spare. It wasn’t quite enough though – a last ditch stalemate trap failed, and that was that.

Meanwhile, the (relatively) high-flying Notts 2 eased to a very comfortable 4–2 victory against Bristol 2. Robert had an easy win on bottom board and Maurice and Stan took steady draws. Bob did his customary job on Board 1, holding a much higher rated opponent to a draw. This effectively secured the match as both Will Place and Richard Myers were pressing for victory in rook and pawn endings. Will duly converted his, but Richard finally had to concede the half-point.

Nottinghamshire 1 2029 SCS
1 Richmond, Robert J 2223 0 – 1 Baptie, Justin P 2101
2 Levens, David 2009 0 – 1 Gedvilas, Arunas 1950
3 Kingston, Ian 2023 1 – 0 Fonseca, Antonio 1875
4 Truman, Richard G 2028 1 – 0 Lutton, J Arnold 1847
5 Thompson, Brian 1938 0 – 1 Hardy-Wallace, Daniel 1820
6 Combie, Alexander 1950 1 – 0 Ballard, Edward 1375
      3 – 3    

Bristol 2 1870 Nottinghamshire 2
1 Bass, John W 2101 ½ – ½ Taylor, Robert P 1956
2 Humphreys, Jerry 2076 0 – 1 Place, William 1965
3 White, Martin 1980 ½ – ½ Cranmer, Stan 1890
4 Varley, Ed 1910 ½ – ½ Hill, Maurice J 1870
5 Woolgar, Stephen 1760 ½ – ½ Myers, Richard 1840
6 Taylor, John Paul 1395 0 – 1 Willoughby, Robert 1810
      3½ – 2½    


The final table on the 4NCL web site shows that Nottinghamshire 2 finished 18th (of 32 teams) with 10 points, while Nottinghamshire 1 were 23rd with 8 points. These positions are a little misleading – Notts 1 scored 34½ game points (out of 66) whereas Notts 2 scored just 30; and Notts 1 also faced much stronger opposition. But losing five matches by a 3½–2½ margin was hugely frustrating.

I’d like to thank all the members of the squad for making my life as captain particularly easy. Particular thanks go to the drivers, who took care of practically all of the detailed travel arrangements and were as flexible as ever when asked to go out of their way.

For personal reasons I am reluctantly relinquishing the captaincy – I can’t commit to all five weekends for 2009–10. I trust that my successor will have a little more luck with results!