Reports | February 14, 2012 9:07

How are things in the 4NCL after three weekends of play?

How are things in the 4NCL after three weekends of play?

This season's 4NCL has reached its 6th round, after three weekends of play. Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher is leading Division 1a while Cheddleton tops the standings in 1b. After seven rounds, the top four and bottom four teams in each preliminary pool will form two final championship/promotion and relegation pools respectively.

The Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) is a team tournament (league) over three divisions in the UK. Over 850 players are taking part and there's over £10,000 in cash prizes on offer. It is held at ten different venues over various weekends. Like the German Bundesliga, the 4NCL is a company and not connected to an official body. 

We'll focus on the top division which comprises of 16 teams. There are two preliminary pools of eight for the first seven rounds, with the pools 1a and 1b of broadly equal strength. After seven rounds, the top four and bottom four teams in each preliminary pool will form two final championship/promotion and relegation pools respectively. Each match is played over eight boards and each team must include at least one male and one female player.

So far there have been three weekends of play, with one round on Saturday and one on Sunday: 12 & 13 November 2011, 14 & 15 January 2012 and 11 & 12 February 2012. 

Playing venue last weekend was the De Vere Sunningdale Park Hotel in Berkshire | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill, more here

After six rounds, Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher is leading Division 1a. The team is led by Mickey Adams, who played the first two games for his team last weekend. After crushing Graham Morrison (2348) on Saturday, the English number one outplayed Adam Hunt (2462) in an ending with Black on Sunday.

PGN string

Wood Green (with, besides Adams, also e.g. David Howell, Jonathan Rowson, Stephen Gordon, Nicholas Pert, Jonathan Speelman and Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant) will surely try to win back their 2009/2010 title, which they lost against Pride & Prejudice last year - a team that hasn't been entered to the competition this year. Another favorite for the title is Guildford, which boasts names such as Nigel Short, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Romain Edouard, David Smerdon, Stuart Conquest, Tony Kosten and Antoaneta Stefanova.

On January 14th, Wood Green beat Guildford 5.5-2.5. On top board, David Howell won against Nigel Short in a grueling fight that started as a French Defence.

PGN string

Checking the PGN files, we also noticed the following, funny game, played on November 12th at the top board of the match between Jutes of Kent and White Rose. We've rarely seen things go so horribly wrong for White - do note that a grandmaster was moving the pieces! He was in a very creative mood, or having a hangover, or both...

PGN string

The following game was played last Sunday and we only noticed it after reading Shaun Press's latest blog post. A white bishop is staying on c1 for no less than 51 moves (and when it moves, it's captured).

PGN string

In the weekend of 31 March and 1 April the 7th round and the first round of the Championship and Relegation pools will be played, and everything will be decided in the final three rounds, traditionally on the bank holiday weekend of May 5-7, 2012.

4NCL 2011/2012 | Division 1a | Round 6 standings

# Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Wood Green Hilsmark 1   5½-2½ 7-1 5½-2½ 8-0 5-3   6-2 37 12
2 Guildford 1 2½-5½     8-0 6½-1½ 7½-½ 6-2 5½-2½ 36 10
3 Barbican 4NCL 2 1-7     3-5 5-3 5½-2½ 5-3 4½-3½ 24 8
4 e2e4.org.uk 1 2½-5½ 0-8 5-3     2½-5½ 4½-3½ 4½-3½ 19 6
5 The AD's 0-8 1½-6½ 3-5     5-3 4-4 4½-3½ 18 5
6 Anglian Avengers 1 3-5 ½-7½ 2½-5½ 5½-2½ 3-5   4-4   18½ 3
7 Bristol 1   2-6 3-5 3½-4½ 4-4 4-4   3½-4½ 20 2
8 Blackthorne Russia 2-6 2½-5½ 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 3½-4½   4½-3½   19½ 2

4NCL 2011/2012 | Division 1b | Round 6 standings

# Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GP Pts
1 Cheddleton 1   4½-3½ 4½-3½ 5-3   5½-1½ 3½-4½ 6-2 29 10
2 Barbican 4NCL 1 3½-4½   4½-3½ 2-6 5-3 5½-2½   6½-1½ 27 8
3 White Rose 1 3½-4½ 3½-4½   5-3 4½-3½ 4½-3½ 4½-3½   25½ 8
4 Wood Green Hilsmark 2 3-5 6-2 3-5   4½-3½   3½-4 5-3 25 6
5 Jutes of Kent   3-5 3½-4½ 3½-4½   4½-3½ 5-3 4½-3½ 24 6
6 Cambridge University 1 1½-5½ 2½-5½ 3½-4½   3½-4½   5-3 4½-3½ 20½ 4
7 Oxford 1 4½-3½   3½-4½ 4-3½ 3-5 3-5   2½-5½ 20½ 4
8 Guildford 2 2-6 1½-6½   3-5 3½-4½ 3½-4½ 5½-2½   19 2

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for covering 4NCL.

Mark McCready's picture

Some unusual stuff being played there, hardly a great ad for Britain's premier league.

Thomas's picture

Strange things can happen in rather strong leagues - what to say about the end of Hector-Grachev at the last German Bundesliga weekend:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1656684
Black blundered a piece to a simple knight fork, and he is a pretty strong GM (on the live rating list after fine results in two consecutive Swiss Swisses - Zurich and Basel - and before that game).

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