The final weekend of the Four Nations Chess League (otherwise known as the 4ncl) always falls on the first May bank holiday. This time the venue was Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire. The last two weekends have moved to the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport where all Division 1 &2 will be played next season. I was there in February and the venue seemed good (albeit a bit strange playing so close to the airport but it’s good for the foreign players). In a way it’s also better for us as we can get a direct train to Birmingham Airport then a shuttle to the venue (as oppose a train to Rugby then a taxi for 30mins).
We arrived on Friday night as per usual and I attempted to get more than 8 hours of sleep! I was successful and after having a good breakfast I managed a nap. It’s my secret to my (former) winning ways). Round 9 on Saturday both our teams had made it to the Championship Pool (where we are safe from demotion), White Rose was paired against the Grantham Sharks. When sitting down, I was looking towards the front of the team and didn’t recognize the head on Board 2. When I looked at the pairings I then noticed GM John Emms had been enlisted as a ringer. I was placed on Board 7 and I played Samuel Williams. The Sambuca Sharks were a former team of Gawain’s (as was White Rose). Ga did some quick prep for me and showed me a line, he and Sambuca Player IM Tom Rendle had previously analyzed. I somehow managed to remember the mainline and quickly won the game. This reminded me of how easy chess can be but that’s a deceiving state of mind. Ga had a bit of a disaster against GM Danny Gormally, fortunately he managed to draw a position when he wasn’t able to calculate at all. This is due to the hard work Ga has been doing for the last 8months. Hopefully we will be able to tell you what he’s been doing soon.
Round 8, we faced the might of Guildford. I was paired against Mark Hebden again. Last year I won. This year, Mark got his kind of position and ground me down – he didn’t give me a chance. It was looking like quite a tight match but rating and experience prevailed. Gawain managed to win an exceptionally long game against GM John Emms. With this win, Guildford managed to win the league with a round to spare. Last year, they had competition from Wood Green but unfortunately the funding has been cut.
Round 9, wasn’t as tense as last year with Guildford knowing that they had won. We faced Cheddleton and though the rest of the team fought hard (I halved out on Board 8) we drew the match.
Well done to my team mates IM James Adair on his GM norm and FM Iain Gourlay on his IM norm. White Rose does well on the norm front! Our second team I believe has also been promoted so if anyone knows another female player wanting to play let me know
Congratulations to Roger Emerson and his Guildford team. Under his captaincy, Guildford has become the dominant force in the 4ncl. Thanks also to John Saunders for use of his photos!
Gawain’s next tournament will be in Germany. He will be playing in the Wunsiedel Chess Festival which takes place from the 14th-17th of May.