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