Reports | May 08, 2013 14:31

Top GMs at the 4NCL; Guildford are the new champions

Guildford 1 won the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) on Monday finishing on 13 points out of 7 matches. The team, which had e.g. Laurent Fressinet, Nigel Short, Romain Edouard, Gawain Jones, Matthew Sadler, Robin van Kampen and Antoaneta Stefanova playing this year, scored one match point more than Wood Green Hilsmark 1 (with e.g. Vassily Ivanchuk, Michael Adams, Alexei Shirov and Luke McShane).

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 different venues over various weekends. The first eight rounds were played over four weekends, and the final three rounds took place last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Like the German Bundesliga, the 4NCL is a company and not connected to an official body. Different from the Bundesliga and other leagues is that each team must have at least one female player.

For the final, decisive weekend some teams flew in a few really strong players. Especially reigning champion Wood Green's line-up was impressive: in the last three rounds Vassily Ivanchuk, Michael Adams, Alexei Shirov, Luke McShane, David Howell, Jonathan Rowson, Pia Cramling, Alexander Baburin, John Emms, Andrew Greet and Nicholas Pert all played at least one game.

But it was not enough. Instead, Guildford 1 took the title, playing with Laurent Fressinet, Gawain Jones, Romain Edouard, Nigel Short, Matthew Sadler, Robin van Kampen, Antoaneta Stefanova, Mark Hebden and Stuart Conquest.

Guildford had won all of their matches and they went into the final weekend a point ahead of Wood Green, who dropped a match point on February 23rd in their match with Cheddleton 1. All games ended in draws there.

  Cheddleton 1   2449   Wood Green Hilsmark 1   2522
w Hawkins, Jonathan im 2511 ½ - ½ Howell, David WL gm 2633
b Rombaldoni, Denis im 2510 ½ - ½ Rowson, Jonathan W gm 2586
w Colovic, Aleksandar im 2481 ½ - ½ Pert, Nicholas gm 2539
b Hamitevici, Vladimir im 2444 ½ - ½ Fontaine, Robert gm 2559
w Paehtz, Elisabeth im 2482 ½ - ½ Petrov, Marijan gm 2518
b Arkell, Keith CC gm 2472 ½ - ½ Speelman, Jon S gm 2508
w Bellin, Robert im 2355 ½ - ½ Ward, Chris G gm 2432
b Eggleston, David J fm 2343 ½ - ½ Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan E gm 2405

Last Saturday, both Guildford and Wood Green won their matches. Wood Green's Michael Adams, who played his last game in the Alekhine Memorial in St Petersburg only three days before, slowly outplayed Peter Wells in a double rook endgame.

PGN string

Wood Green's only loss was suffered by Alexander Baburin, the editor-in-chief of Chess Today and a life-long Alekhine player. FM James Adair can be proud of this game!

PGN string

  White Rose 1   2347   Wood Green Hilsmark 1   2586
w Wells, Peter K gm 2491 0 - 1 Adams, Michael gm 2727
b Palliser, Richard JD im 2454 ½ - ½ Shirov, Alexei gm 2700
w McNab, Colin A gm 2455 0 - 1 Howell, David WL gm 2638
b Van de Griendt, Jan W fm 2318 0 - 1 Rowson, Jonathan W gm 2586
w Adair, James R fm 2297 1 - 0 Baburin, Alexander gm 2534
b Olsarova, Tereza wi 2260 0 - 1 Pert, Nicholas gm 2547
w Croad, Nicolas fm 2272 0 - 1 Cramling, Pia gm 2525
b Townsend, M Paul   2234 0 - 1 Greet, Andrew N im 2438

Guildford beat Barbican 1 5-3 and in this match Matthew Sadler won with what currently seems to be his favorite defence to 1.d4: the Dutch. Guess that happens when you've lived almost half of your life in The Netherlands.

PGN string

  Guildford 1   2602   Barbican 4NCL 1   2375
w Jones, Gawain CB gm 2654 1 - 0 Collins, Sam E im 2483
b Edouard, Romain gm 2670 ½ - ½ Turner, Matthew J gm 2511
w Short, Nigel D gm 2697 1 - 0 D'Costa, Lorin AR im 2416
b Sadler, Matthew D gm 2647 1 - 0 Griffiths, Ryan Rhys fm 2353
w Van Kampen, Robin gm 2588 ½ - ½ Ferguson, Mark im 2406
b Stefanova, Antoaneta gm 2525 ½ - ½ Franklin, Samuel GA fm 2322
w Hebden, Mark L gm 2546 0 - 1 Cox, John J im 2396
b Conquest, Stuart C gm 2491 ½ - ½ Lauterbach, Ingrid wi 2114

On Sunday both teams won again, and with huge scores: Wood Green beat Barbican 4NCL 2 7.5-0.5 and Guildford wiped the floor with Cheddleton 8-0. Let's have a look at Alexei Shirov's game. The Latvian played on board 2, in between Michael Adams and David Howell. Why is it that strong players always manage to hold on to that c4 pawn without getting smashed in the centre? :-)

PGN string

Guildford put up another Alekhine Memorial participant on Saturday: Laurent Fressinet. The French GM won a slightly better ending resulting from a Symmetrical English/Caro-Kann line that's quite popular these days.

PGN string

  Cheddleton 1   2459   Guildford 1   2627
w Haslinger, Stewart G gm 2551 0 - 1 Short, Nigel D gm 2697
b Colovic, Aleksandar im 2484 0 - 1 Fressinet, Laurent gm 2693
w Hamitevici, Vladimir im 2479 0 - 1 Jones, Gawain CB gm 2654
b Paehtz, Elisabeth im 2479 0 - 1 Edouard, Romain gm 2670
w Arkell, Keith CC gm 2465 0 - 1 Van Kampen, Robin gm 2588
b Hawkins, Jonathan im 2503 0 - 1 Sadler, Matthew D gm 2647
w Bellin, Robert im 2355 0 - 1 Hebden, Mark L gm 2546
b Eggleston, David J fm 2356 0 - 1 Stefanova, Antoaneta gm 2525

And so it all came down to the final round, in which the big clash would decide everything. 4-4 was enough for Guildford, and that's what happened! At some point the score was 3.5-3.5 and David Howell needed to win against Nigel Short for the title. In the end the former World Championship Candidate held the draw, and thus secured the championship for his team.

PGN string

Interestingly, Sadler's slightly off-beat Dutch was also enough to draw comfortably with this year's World Championship Candidate, Vassily Ivanchuk:

PGN string

On board one Adams and Fressinet met each other again. In Paris the Frenchman missed a clear win and drew; this time he lost. Look at Adams' endgame technique!

PGN string

  Guildford 1   2627   Wood Green Hilsmark 1   2647
w Jones, Gawain CB gm 2654 ½ - ½ Shirov, Alexei gm 2700
b Fressinet, Laurent gm 2693 0 - 1 Adams, Michael gm 2727
w Edouard, Romain gm 2670 ½ - ½ McShane, Luke J gm 2698
b Sadler, Matthew D gm 2647 ½ - ½ Ivanchuk, Vassily gm 2757
w Short, Nigel D gm 2697 ½ - ½ Howell, David WL gm 2638
b Hebden, Mark L gm 2546 ½ - ½ Rowson, Jonathan W gm 2586
w Van Kampen, Robin gm 2588 1 - 0 Cramling, Pia gm 2525
b Stefanova, Antoaneta gm 2525 ½ - ½ Pert, Nicholas gm 2547

Because Guildford 1 has two editors of our magazine ChessVibes Training (Gawain Jones and Robin van Kampen) and one of our bloggers (David Smerdon), it seems that congratulations are justified here!

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, 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.


anti  johnny foreigner's picture

All. These hired non club goons have ruined league chess worldwide for the homegrown player and made the events uninteresting bar for the players themselves...a farce it is

AAR's picture

Wonder what you would say about Football leagues across Europe.

Peter Doggers's picture

Thanks for clearing that out.

brabo's picture

The slightly off-beat Dutch is also how I play today it with the black pieces unfortunately not with the same skills as Matthew. On my blog you can find several articles on this system of which the most relevant is probably

Woman in French League's picture

Thanks for this résumé. I must add there is one COMPULSORY woman board in French League, namely Top 12 (May30-June 9th, Haguenau, Alsace). She must be French.

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