4NCL Division 2, 1997/8 P W D L GPts MPts
1 Barbican 2 11 7 2 2 53.0 16
2 Simpsons 11 7 2 2 50.5 16
3 Wessex 11 8 0 3 45.5 16
4 White Rose 11 7 1 3 50.0 15
5 Witney 11 7 0 4 50.0 14
6 Gwent Dragons 11 4 2 5 41.0 10
7 Invicta Kts 2 11 4 1 6 41.5 9
8 Kings Head 11 4 1 6 41.0 9
9 Bristol 2 11 2 4 5 43.0 8
10 Coulsdon & P 11 4 0 7 41.5 8
11 Nidum Knights 11 3 1 7 35.5 7
12 Guildford 2 11 1 2 8 33.5 4
The Four Nations' Chess League, commonly known as the 4NCL, has recently completed its first season as a league divided into two divisions, and the Second Division was won by Barbican II. Three other Clubs entered second teams, and whereas they all finished in the bottom half of the division, Barbican II performed particularly well, winning the division. This eventuality, predicted by Jonathan Rogers but largely derided by others, came about after the final matches during May. Barbican II, after a slow start, won seven matches in a row and, although the closing stage of the season was disappointing, enjoyed a lead sufficient to ensure that they were not caught. Simpsons (named after Simpsons in the Strand, the restaurant with a very long history associated with Chess), consisted of David Norwood, Michael Hennigan, Ali Mortazavi, Richard Tozer and Bob Wade were clear favourites and although they gained promotion along wtih Barbican II, they never held the lead. Indeed, Barbican II, Simpsons and Wessex were all on the same matchpoints total, but Barbican won the event on game points.

Andrew Martin pointed out that Barbican II, consisting of Karl Bowden, Jonathan Rogers, David Coleman, Michael Twyble, Gary Kenworthy and David Sands, were practially the Essex County side. Their best win was by a score of 5.5 - 2.5. This was against White Rose, second favourites and early leaders in the competition, consisting as they did of Angus Dunnington on top board, WIM Cathy Forbes on bottom board, as well as strong juniors Eddie Dearing (although as a Scotsman living in Chelmsford one wonders where Eddie's Yorkshire connections come from) and Desmond Tan as well as several other 200 grade adults. Andrew Lewis also turned up to play against Kings Head on top board the following morning, and Jon Manley, Paul Williamson and Marc Bautista also played from time to time throughout the season. Consistency is invariably a key element in any successful chess campaign, and the quartet of Michael Twyble, David Sands, Gary Kenworthy and Jonathan Rogers played a total of 41 games but registered just three defeats.

Rogers,J - Dearing,E [D31]

4NCL

(Notes by Jonathan Rogers)

1.d4 d5

2.c4 e6

3.Nc3 c6

4.e4 dxe4

5.Nxe4 Bb4+

6.Bd2 Qxd4

7.Bxb4 Qxe4+

8.Be2 Na6

9.Bc3 Ne7

10.Nf3 f6

11.0-0 0-0

12.Re1 e5

13.Bd3 Qg4

14.h3 Qh5

15.Nxe5

This is dangerous. It is simple enough for Black to escape with his extra piece, but he must stop a white rook arriving at g7. In most positions where White has three connected passed pawns for his piece, plus possession of the dark-squared bishop (handy for promoting the h-pawn) Black is lost.

15...Qxd1

16.Raxd1 fxe5

17.Rxe5 Nf5

17...Nf5 was bad. True, 17...Ng6?? 18 Bxg6 hxg6 19 Re7 Rf7 20 Rd8+ would have lost, but 17 ...Rf7 should secure the draw. White plays the calm 18 g4 to stop Black from developing his queenside.

18.g4 Nd6

There is no good alternative to 18...Nc6, e.g. 18...Nh6 19 Re7 Nf7 20 c5 Nxc5 21 Bc4 Be6 22 Bxe6 Nxe6 23 Rxe6

19.Bxh7+ Kxh7

20.Rxd6 Nc7

21.Re7 Ne6

22.g5 Rg8

23.f4 Kg6

If 23...Nxf4 24 Rh6 mate

24.Kf2 Kh5

25.Kg3 Rd8

26.Rxd8 Nxd8

27.Rxg7 Be6

If 27...Bf5 28 Rg8, threateneing both 29 Bf6 and 29 Rh8+ Kg6 30 Rh6+ Kf7 31 Rf6+

28.Bf6 Nf7

Or 28...Bxc4 29 f5 with 30 Rh7 mate

29.f5 1-0

(Acknowledgments: Jonathan Rogers)

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