The club’s recent good form continues into week 5 of the online 4NCL, with four wins and a narrow top-of-the-table defeat.
The Es were again giving 400 points per board, this time against Hackney Go Lucky. But luck certainly wasn’t on their side – to start with, Max’s opponent self-pinned a bishop, which Max quickly won and the rest was straightforward. Wenle and Joe both won at around the same time – Wenle had built up a huge advantage early on (+7, the computer says) only to give it all away, but fortunately he was able to win the game a second time to make it 2-0, while Joe had another topsy-turvy game which ended when his opponent hung a rook. Dimitri rounded off a great evening when his opponent also hung a piece early on, and though there was some middle-game complications against Dimitri’s open and uncastled king, he saw through them and sealed a 4-0 whitewash. It lifts the side up to the heady heights of 27th in the 70-team league, and another win next week – the draw isn’t yet known – could see us with an outside chance of promotion going into the final week. It’s probably unlikely things will pan out that way, but it’s nice it’s a possibility given the ratings gaps we’re playing against! Top scorer is Wenle on 3½.
The Ds had picked up their first win of the season against the bottom side in round 4, but were up against league leaders Ashton 1 in round 5. Slightly surprisingly, we fared even better against them! Thomas’ game was a quick-fire effort – he ended with 90 seconds more than he had started with – and after hanging a piece on move 15, his opponent returned the favour with interest four moves later, allowing a rook sac which fatally opened his kingside. Danny won two minutes later, his opponent allowing Bxh7+ in the French, and then pushing his pawn to g6, allowing Danny to sac the bishop for all three kingside pawns while his opponent’s pieces were mostly on the queenside. Karel’s opponent missed a chance to swap off into a winning K+P ending, and then did swap off into a losing one, which made it 3-0. Fearghal was last to finish, though had to settle for a draw having had the better of the play in the middlegame. Still, 3½-½ against a side 200 points higher than us per board was no mean feat, and it moves the team up into mid-table, with two lower-half teams yet to come, starting with Deaf England 1 next week. Top scorers are Fearghal and Danny, both on 3½/5.
The Cs had the toughest match of anyone in pure rating terms, up against Chessable White Rose, stronger opponents than our As were facing. Ronan on board 2 was up against a titled player, a 2100-rated CM, and he was quickly facing into a big kingside attack and lost. Dave took a 1950 to a holdable rook and pawn ending, but he was two pawns down and one mis-step was always likely to be costly. In the end, the rooks came off, both sides queened, and though Dave promoted with check, he didn’t have a follow-up, and he lost as well. Slavko got us back in it when his opponent hung a piece when miscounting captures in the early middlegame, leaving Brendan with the simple task of beating a 2250 to seal a match draw. That was beyond him, but he did put up a great fight and had a couple of chances to enter a probably drawn ending before, pushing for the win the team needed, he overextended, captured a pawn, and found he had walked into a trap which cost an exchange. There’s no shame in a 3-1 defeat against such strong opposition though – but the pity is we have to do it all over again next week, when our opponents are 1950 on average! Slavko is the team’s top scorer on 5/5.
The Bs‘ opponents, Preston South End, brought in a new 2000-rated player on board 1 for their match against us. It was an hour before the first result came in, when Ben’s opponent hunt a queen to back-rank mate and resigned immediately. John lost a wild enough game that he at least admitted to enjoying to make it 1-1, before Lara’s opponent, having been a bit better most of the game, hung a piece and, shortly after, a queen. That left Leon, who had had a horrible position a pawn down and with two knights against two bishops on an open board, but who fought back to a drawn ending – and when it reached R, N+P v R, B+P, his opponent in fact managed to fall for the only losing trap on the board, allowing Leon to block a check and threaten mate at the same time. 3-1 the final score so, and we keep in touch at the top, a point behind Bolton and Worsley 1, who we play next week. Ben is top scorer on 5/5.
Finally to the As, who had 150 points per board to spare against their opponents, The Full Ponty. There was only one decisive game in this, with Kavin’s opponent making rather a bags of things and allowing a queen sac which he declined, which only made things worse. Joe R, Stephen and Kevin – the latter to finally break his duck for the season – all held draws of various stubbornness, and we had a 2½-1½ win which lifts us up to the top half of the table. We go from Wales to Scotland next week, when we play Dundee City A. Joe R and Kavin are top scorers on 3½-1½