Category Archives: 4NCL Northern League

First Weekend at 4NCL

So we’re off to the wild badlands of the northeast, at Redworth Hall near Darlington, and we are involved in a triangular match. What is a triangular match, I hear you say? It happens when there is an odd number of teams, and you don’t want any team to have a bye. It’s a match against two other teams, and on the Saturday you play three boards against one team and three boards against the other. On the Sunday, you play three boards against the other team and three boards against the one team, so at the end of the weekend, you have a result against both of the opposition.

So I look up triangular matches on the 4NCL website, where it gives a table showing the pairings for the weekend, and informs captains that they should not move players who have played on an even board on Saturday to an odd board on Sunday and vice versa. No problem, I think, and enter our board order with a swap between boards 1 and 3 for the two matches ( we like to keep the opposition guessing as to which of us they will be playing) and send out the email to inform our team.

Thursday evening, I get a plaintive email from Chris, telling me that he has looked at the triangular match fixture table, and he seems to have Black for both matches. Now, I have a good look at the fixture table, and see that Chris is right. Being of a sunny disposition, believing that the world is a basically simple and pleasant place where problems are generally caused by man’s perversity, I fire off an email, complaining about the mistake in the fixtures table. After second, third and fourth thoughts about the table, I realise that you can swap boards 2 and 3, or 4 and 5, and everybody has one Black and one White for the weekend, and I send a second email to 4NCL acknowledging the complexity of triangular matches. Little did I know that I had understood less than half of this complexity!

On Friday evening, I have a look at the ECF Forum, and find that there is a long thread discussing this complexity, most of which I didn’t understand, and didn’t have the time to get my head around.

Anyway, off we go to Darlington, and settle down for Round 1 in a rather nicer room than we usually have at Redworth Hall:


We had two losses, one win (by John, a long tussle with David Robertson of Atticus B), and three draws, so we were reasonably cheerful at the pub Saturday evening. As captain, I felt that I should be saying motivational things and giving useful advice, so I simply pointed out that all we had to do on the morrow was to win all our games. We always enjoy our meal of a Saturday evening, with much hilarity in evidence.

On Sunday morning, while relaxing in my room after breakfast, I get an anxious phone call from Chris – “You’d better come down – I’m playing the same bloke as yesterday, and Atticus are complaining!” Triangular matches – arghh! I go down, change our board order to the same as yesterday, and all is well.

And the chess went well as well – Charles, Malcolm and Chris all took note of my exhortation last night and won, giving us victory by 4 -2. However, it was just too much to work out what this meant for both matches, and it wasn’t until later that evening at home that I looked up the results on the 4NCL website to find that the distribution of results was ideal for us, and we had beaten Spirit of Atticus B and drawn with Jorvik. This means a tough second weekend in January, as we will be up against the big boys in the top half af the table.

We welcomed a new member of our team, BenScattergood, this weekend:


Ben had no luck in his two games, but he put up a good fight despite playing opponents who outgraded him considerably. In fact, he was badly served by the dreaded triangular match fixture table, as, despite playing on Board 4, he was drawn against Jorvik’s Board 3 – something I should have spotted.


Last weekend at 4NCL

So there we were at Barcelo’s Hinckley Island Hotel, a vast establishment that could accomodate all three 4NCL divisions, plus us northerners, plus a wedding. Our opponents in Round 9 were The Rookies, who had exactly the same average grading as ourselves.

Round 9A close tussle ensued, resulting in the match being drawn.

Malcolm Roberts in play against David Maddams

Piper, Stephen J 2106 0 – 1 Bennett, Patrick J 2060
Jones, Christopher M 2024 ½ – ½ Turner, John M 2071
Compton, Alistair 2046 1 – 0 Clark, Robert G 2035
Jaszkiwskyj, Peter 2002 0 – 1 Doran, Chris 2020
Gibson, Christopher A 2002 ½ – ½ Soames, Anthony R 2050
Maddams, David R 1810 1 – 0 Roberts, Malcolm A 1754

Round 10 pitched us against KJCA Kings, and promised to be another tight match with us being outgraded for the top three boards and vice versa for the others. We were in illustrious company, with the next match in our row of tables being the Division 1 clash between Pride & Prejudice (the eventual champions) and, so I was playing just eight boards away from Mickey Adams, with six other GMs and a woman IM on the boards in between.

Mickey Adams in play during Round 10.

Another tight match, but this team a defeat for us:

Bennett, Patrick J 2060 ½ – ½ Jones, Victor GL 2119
Turner, John M 2071 0 – 1 Jones, William EG 2115
Clark, Robert G 2035 ½ – ½ Foord, Dominic 2045
Doran, Chris 2020 ½ – ½ Maguire, Robert 1925
Soames, Anthony R 2050 1 – 0 Bayliss, Lyall CP 1963
Roberts, Malcolm A 1754 0 – 1 Jones, Laurence AG 1752

Round 10 in progress

And so to the last day, when our opponents were Bristol 2. This time, playing conditions were not the usual excellent, as the hotel had double-booked us with a wedding, and 4NCL were spread around a number of conference rooms, and our room was a little cramped.

John Turner watching Chris Doran's game.

After playing an extremely bad opening, I fought back to a position where I had some play, and achieved the time control without blundering. Looking around, I found, to my surprise, that everyone else had finished, and we had won the match, whatever happened in my game. So there was some consolation, as my opponent brought matters to a successful conclusion.

Dilleigh, Stephen P 2098         1 – 0       Bennett, Patrick J 2060
Humphreys, Jerry G 2066     1 – 0       Turner, John M 2071
Thompson, Robert 1916          0 – 1      Clark, Robert G 2035
Dunlop, Neil J 1875                  0 – 1      Doran, Chris 2020
Bromilow, Edward T 1930      0 – 1      Bates, Ian W 2010
White, Martin 1798                  0 – 1      Roberts, Malcolm A 1754

We have enjoyed our chess in the 4NCL Northern League, and particularly this final weekend. The combination of new opponents, time limits that allow a full game of chess (endgame and all), and excellent playing conditions give a very different experience to a weekday evening’s league chess.

Bob Clark will captain the team next season, and I wish him, and the rest of us, the very best of luck.

A few more photographs:

Bob Clark and Chris Doran, Round 9.
Tony Soames and Bob Clark, Round 10.
Malcolm Roberts and Ian Bates, Round 11.

4NCL North Rounds 7/8


This was our second visit to Wychwood Park, near Crewe, and we were hoping for good results on our home patch. There was even some discussion of whether we should take promotion to Division 2 if we achieved a promotion slot after the final weekend at Hinckley Island.

H8400We took on Atticus, the only team that we had not yet met. They were lying in second place, and we were hoping to supplant them, but it was not to be. I succumbed to a blunder as time trouble loomed, and while Mike escaped with a draw which had seemed impossible to achieve earlier, Bob’s endgame proved insufficient for a win.

1 John Carleton 2307 1-0 Patrick Bennett 2060

2 Peter Ackley 2024 ½-½ John Turner 2071

3 Dave Robertson 1885 ½-½ Robert Clark 2035

4 Dave Stuttard 1920 ½-½ Mike Hancock 2098

5 Mike Driscoll 1914 0-1 Chris Doran 2020

6 Andy Mort 1914 1-0 Dave Bennion 2015



Sunday was the jamboree, with us all playing opponents from different teams. The result was again no match points for us, with Bob Clark our only winner – no games, I’ll just stick to photographs.

1. Aigburth – M Gruca                        1-0     J Blackburn
2. P Bennett                                         0-1     Cheddleton 2 – G Acey
3. BDCA Knights B – A Wainwright  1/2-1/2    J Turner
4. B Clark                                             1-0  BDCA Knights A – L Brijmohun
5. Jorvik – A Nezis                              1-0  M Hancock
6.  C Doran                                           1/2 – 1/2  Manchester Manticores – A Beresford

Us 2 Them 4

Well, no need to agonise over whether we would take promotion for next season! However, we look forward to a festival of chess in the final weekend at Hinckley Island for rounds 9 to 11, where we shall be rubbing shoulders with the Great & the Good – in Divisions 1 and 2 – and competing with the softy southerners in the other Division 3.





In the foreground, Mick Norris of Manchester Manticores – highly delighted that his team picked up its first match points in Round 7.








Bob Clark on his way to our only win in Round 8.






My opponent in the jamboree, an old adversary – Gerald Acey.






Top boards in the jamboree, Round 8.








Jonathan Blackburn.










John Turner.








Chris Doran.

4NCL Round 6

After a hearty breakfast, a quick peek into the playing room revealed our two controllers awaiting the day’s action:

Playing room, Majestic Hotel, Harrogate
The controllers await

I had to photograph one of the chandeliers, in the hope that this would prevent my being distracted by them in play :

Chandelier, Majestic Hotel, Harrogate
The magnificence above us.

Our opponents today, the Manchester Manticores, had yet to gain any match points, but, as we all know, that did not mean that there was any room for complacency. After all, Mick Norris, their board one, told me that they chose the name because it was a mythical beast – and I must admit my ignorance here, as I had never heard of a manticore before. Obviously a learned lot.

Bob Clark and John Turner
Bob Clark and John Turner discussing something important just before the start of play

In the event, everything went our way, and we ran out 5.5 – 0.5 winners, John Gorman conceding the only draw, nice man that he is.

With 9 points, we now lie third in the 4NCL Northern League, behind leaders Bradford A and Atticus. We meet the latter next round, which will give us the opportunity to improve our standing once again. An extremely important result of this weekend is that we have overtaken Cheddleton, who are now a full point behind us!

A very pleasant weekend, for which we should thank the Majestic Hotel, our controllers, Alex and Lara, and Caissa’s good fortune for providing us with the desired results.

4NCL controllers, Alex McFarlane and Lara Barnes
Our friendly controllers, Alex McFarlane and Lara Barnes

4NCL Round 5

We arrived at the large and aptly named Barcelo Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, on a cold and miserable day, through rain, sleet and snow flurries.

View from Majestic Hotel Harrogate
View of slush-bound carpark from cosy Majestic Hotel
Staircase of Majestic Hotel Harrogate
Majestic Hotel staircase

Exploration of the venue revealed impressive internal decor in all directions, and an equally impressive playing area and adjacent analysis room, suitable bedecked with an abundance of impressive (3rd occurence) chandeliers.

Playing area Majestic Hotel Harrogate
Impressive playing area, with Holmes Chapel v Jorvik in the foreground

Our opposition, Jorvik, were just below us in the points table, so it was essential to get a result here. After defeats for myself and Chris and wins by Dave and John Gorman, the result came down to Bob’s game. He was a pawn up in a R & P endgame which fluctuated from a win for Bob to a draw and then back again, while a hungry team looked in at intervals.

Last to finish, Round 5
Crucial last game to finish, Bob Clark v Anastasios Nezis

Here’s the game:

And so to a quick exit to a local Indian restaurant, and a relieved celebration of the day’s events.

4NCL in February

The next weekend is that of February 19th/20th, at the Barcelo Majestic Hotel, Harrogate. Round 5 on the Saturday is against Jorvik, immediately below us in the league table with two wins and two losses so far. We have black on odd boards, and play begins at 14.00 hrs.

Round 6 on Sunday is against Manchester Manticores, who have yet to avoid defeat. We have white on odds, and play begins at 11.00 hrs.

We shall be travelling to Harrogate on Saturday morning (apart from Bob who is going up on Friday), aiming to arrive in good time to check in at the hotel and get settled for start of play at 14.00 hrs. Sunday morning we check out, deposit luggage in vehicles, and get ready to start play at 11.00 hrs.

Good luck to us all!

4NCL Round 4

An excellent result! Congratulations to John Turner on holding his opponent to a draw, and to Jonathan for defeating Bradford’s FM. How did the opening go, Jonathan? Something like this:

Full results were as follows:

Holmes Chapel 2056   Bradford DCA Knights A 2098

321 w Blackburn, Jonathan LB 2170 1 – 0 Hague, Ben f 2301

322 b Turner, John M 2071 ½ – ½ Williams, Winston 2220

323 w Clark, Robert G 2035 0 – 1 Molofej, Denis 2043

324 b Hancock, Michael L 2098 1 – 0 Lang, Adam R 2050

325 w Doran, Chris 2020 ½ – ½ Brijmohun, Louis 2018

326 b Gorman, John A 1942 0 – 1 Patrick, David A 1961

3 – 3

Many thanks to Chris for stepping in and obtaining a solid result when Tony Soames had a “senior moment”, turning up for a two o’clock start, to find everyone had started without him! Never mind, Tony – it happens to all of us, and with increasing frequency in my experience ..

I sign off in sunny Dunedin – it’s time to go to the beach.

PS Jon points out to me that if his opponent had played 49 .. exf3, the ending was drawn. I agree.

4NCL Round 3

This match should not have been difficult, based on the difference in grading strength, and that is how it has turned out, despite the opposition’s captain describing his team as his “Young Guns”. The grades of the youth in chess should always be regarded with the deepest suspicion.

Bradford DCA Knights B 1874   Holmes Chapel 2030

331 w Bak, Andrew 1946 ½ – ½ Turner, John M 2071

332 b Edwards-Wright, Miles D 1946 1 – 0 Hancock, Michael L 2098

333 w Corcoran, Gary 1868 ½ – ½ Clark, Robert G 2035

334 b Jones, Steven A 1829 0 – 1 Doran, Chris 2020

335 w Dean, Robert A 1882 0 – 1 Bennion, David A 2015

336 b Hackner, Oskar A 1778 0 – 1 Gorman, John A 1942

2 – 4

Dave Bennion had a topsy-turvy game with a neat finish:

Congratulations everyone, and now for the big boys tomorrow – Good Luck!

4NCL in January

Rounds 3 and 4 are to be played at the De Vere Wychwood Park (near Crewe). Round 3 is on Saturday January 15th, and play starts at 14.00 hrs. The opposition is Bradford DCA Knights B and our team is as follows:

1. Jonathan Blackburn
2. John Turner
3. Bob Clark
4. Mike Hancock
5. Chris Doran
6. John Gorman

On Sunday January 16th, we face the Bradford DCA Knights A team – probably favourites to win the league. But we are going to put a dent in their ambitions with the following team:

1. Jonathan Blackburn
2. John Turner
3. Bob Clark
4. Mike Hancock
5. Tony Soames
6. John Gorman

Play starts at 11.00 hrs.

I trust that we are all keeping ourselves fit for 4NCL chess. You are all aware that the time limits are 40 moves in two hours, 20 moves in the next hour and quickplay finish in 30 minutes. That is a maximum game length of seven hours, so at a minimum, we should do a 3 mile jog before breakfast, work out with weights in the afternoon, and do 20 crosswords in succession in the evening.

And some of us need to do some work on our openings. You hear me, young Jonathan?

Down to earth ..

Well, the Quadruple is out of the question after we were beaten by Stafford in the Stoke League Cup, and the Triple looks a bit less likely after we lost to Stockport Blues. So to cheer us up a little, here’s our only win from 4NCL Round 2:

Summer starts for me next week – we’re escaping to New Zealand for six
weeks, so I want to get the teams sorted for the next 4NCL weekend as soon as possible, as I won’t be there.

Rounds 3 & 4 are on the 15th/16th of January at the DeVere hotel, Wychwood
Park, which is near Crewe. I have not booked any hotel rooms, as I assume nobody will be wanting to stay at the hotel. We shall be playing the two Bradford teams – the B team on the Saturday and the A team on the Sunday.

I would like to hear from the squad:
(a) whether you are available for either the 15th or the 16th.
(b) whether you are available for both.
(c) whether you would LIKE to play both rounds.

I shall finalise the teams on Sunday, December 19th, so please let me know
your availability at least by then, but as soon as possible would be good.

Rounds 5/6 will be upon us soon after that – February 19th/20th at the
Barcelo Majestic Hotel. I shall be booking six rooms at the hotel, and will need to know your availability by Sunday, January 30th. Of course, if you could let me know earlier, that would be great.

My best wishes to you and yours for the festive season and the new year. If
you want a white Christmas, then I hope the east wind continues to blow for you. I
don’t mind one way or the other – I’m looking forward to a barbie on the beach on Christmas Day!