After the success of the first season of the 4NCL – 4 teams, 4 promotions – the second season with a distinctly more mundane record of 5 teams, 1 relegation as we ended with our worst evening of the season.
In the Div 4, the Ds were out of it after three straight defeats scuppered what had been a great start to the season. Ronan was let off the hook in the position below and ultimately escaped with a draw – what did his opponent, as white, miss here?
Answer at the end as always! Danny and Dimitri both lost, though, which meant a fourth successive match defeat, and Fearghal’s win against 1660 at the end was academic. It meant the team dropped down to 40th, having been on board 3 for round 4, but the early rush of wins did at least mean we were playing up for the whole season and getting good experience, which was the aim for the Ds. Three players ended up as joint top scorers – Fearghal, Ronan and Danny all on 2½.
The Cs were occupying the last promotion spot as the evening started, and just needed to beat a Barnet side who had already lost to our Ds to go up. Ben started off with a win when his opponent mis-handled a Poisoned Pawn Winawer, and Slavko had won an exchange for pawn, so things were looking good – although Slavko had missed a nice move in this position, where black has just recaptured on d8, to win far more material than he did –
The position quickly evaporated though, and his opponent got a passed a-pawn which Slavko had to give up his rook on, and that was the end of that. Dave got a pawn to a3, but it turned out to be a weakness rather than a strength, and when he lost it, he was always struggling to hold the resulting R+4 v R+3 ending. That made the final game academic, and anyway Brendan had lost an exchange in a tactical exchange, and the side went down 3-1, a result which dropped us right down to 18th. Ben was top scorer with 4½. The team did play five of the top ten finishers though!
The Bs had to win and hope Hatch End A lost – and we were given hope when they had to field a weakened team, and indeed quickly went 2-0 down. Keeping our end of the bargain, however, was beyond us as we ended up being whitewashed by a team we out-rated. John was tangled up in all sorts of knots after a dozen moves and soon lost a piece. Ciarán declined a draw to go chasing the win we needed but which he never had on the board and ultimately lost. Lara went wrong in a tricky-to-hold R+2 v R+3 ending and also lost, while Leon completed the rout (the wrong way around!) when hitting out on the wrong side of the board, again while under pressure.
It completed a weird season for the Bs, who had four 4-0 results (two wins and two defeats), two 3-1s (a win and a defeat), a 3½-½ win, and no remotely close matches at all! We’d have come second with a win, but instead ended up fifth and in the bottom half. John was top scorer on 4.
Finally to the As, who needed a win against White Rose to have hopes of staying up. Like the Bs, our fortunes depended on other tams doing us a favour, and like the Bs, it soon became apparent that favours would be done – so now we needed to look after ourselves and win the match. Like the Bs, though, that part was unfortunately beyond us. Stephen got into a horrible position from the middlegame and lost, and when Kevin also lost to an FM on board 4, our relegation was confirmed. We did fight back with a draw from Kavin and a win from Joe, the latest in a series of slightly fortunate endgame wins where it might have been politer to agree a draw a dozen moves prior, but Joe had nothing to lose and an outside passed pawn to scare his opponent, and that duly did the trick. Joe and Kavin ended the season as joint top scorers on 3½.
So the As drop back to Division 2 for next season, while the other three teams stay where they are. Our round 7 tally of 4/16 was our worst round by a distance (eclipsing the 6/16 in the opening round). The play-offs are over the next couple of weeks, after which entries for a third season, due to begin in January, will be taken. So if you’re interested in getting involved – and as yet we can’t say when the Leinster leagues or the club in general will resume – keep an eye out on the site for more details as we get them.
The posers above – both concern weak queens. Ronan’s queen is in fact trapped after 1. d5 and the follow-up 2. Nd4. Black could try 1. d5 NxP (attacking white’s queen) 2. RxN (better than BxN, which undefends b2, although the queen still can’t escape after 2. BxN PxB 3. Nd4 Qxb2 4. a3! and Rc2) PxR 3. Nd4 and again the queen is trapped. Other moves are worse – for example 1. d5 a5 (to give the queen an escape square on a6) 2. de de 3. Nd4 and e6 is fatally weak, or 1. d5 Nf6 2. Be5 Ng8 3. de and black’s position is horrible – for example 3… fe 4. Ng5 Re8 5. Rc7+ Re7 6. BxN+ KxB (NxB?? 7 .RxR+) and when the king has to go to f6, it’s a bad position for black.
In Slavko’s game, he played 1. RxR+ QxR, quite happy to have won material. But when you see a better move, sit on your hands! 1. Qe3! overloads black, who can’t defend both queen and rook. 1… QxQ 2. RxR+ Kh7 3. PxQ or 1… Bd4 2. QxB QxQ 3. RxR+ Kh7 4. NxQ and either way Slavko is a rook up.