First week of new 4NCL season

Last Tuesday saw the start of season 3 of the 4NCL online league (time control 45 minutes plus 15 seconds increments) with all three Horsham teams involved.

Horsham 3 (division 7) were heavily out graded by Dundee C (c270 points per board) and duly lost 3.5-0.5 but not before a well fought draw by Alex Thorndyke on board 1. Harry and Simon each lost out to opening preparations and Andrew missed a tactic when reasonably placed.

Horsham 2 (division 6) started the season against an almost level rated Farnham B. Richard was the first to finish, winning a knight early on and smoothly converting to a win though not before a series of tactics were sidestepped on both sides. Marian finished soon after, manoeuvring his queen into his opponents exposed kingside to pick up an unguarded knight and quickly conclude.

On board 1, John reached a seemingly drawn end game but his opponent cleverly exploited John's weakened pawn structure to find a win. This left Chris who played a solid French defence, winning the exchange and putting his opponent into time trouble though without being able to find the breakthrough. Somehow the tables were turned with his opponent unleashing a winning combination to leave a drawn match.

In similar fashion, Horsham 1 (now in division 2 after last season's promotion) again shared the spoils against Croesoswallt (Shropshire, apparently) and again all 4 games ended in decisive results.

I will get my own embarrassment out of the way first! Employing the Leningrad Dutch I made reasonable progress into the middle game, so much so that my opponent sacrificed his rook to strip my king of its cover but nothing terminal on horizon. As indeed confirmed by subsequent computer analysis this simply left me a rook ahead with a time advantage as well. Somehow I dissipated the latter whilst trying to ensure against perpetual, thereafter blundering back the rook and indeed walking into a mating trap.

I was periodically watching the other Horsham 1 games but subsequently had a look on the website to refresh my memory and was amused to read Stockfish's reference to the opening in Dix's game on board 3 as being 'Reti opening: Anglo Slav variation, Bogoljubov variation, Stonewall Line' there! Anyway, in a complex set of manoeuvrings Dix came off second best.

This left the top two boards to restore parity. Both looked highly interesting affairs, Mark's English seeming to involve a lot of shuffling by both sides probing for weaknesses which Mark eventually succeeded in finding.

From my occasional glances, it was difficult to see how Anthony's Benoni might break out but possibly his opponent over pressed and Anthony was quick to take advantage.

Next matches on 9 February.