4NCL – A Success

NB: I wrote this on the 8th of May but Gawain hasn’t yet proofread it.. so now I am attempting to 🙂

So last week, my team captain Paul Townsend sent me an email saying he did some calculations and thought that I was on for a WGM norm. Ga & I were walking back from the supermarket at the time and I actually tripped over while reading the message (Note to self, do not walk and read messages on your phone at the same time!). I was pleasantly surprised though as I knew I was doing well with 4.5/6 but I didn’t realize that I could make a norm.

White Rose played Guidlford on the Saturday afternoon and Roger Emerson (Gawain’s captain) sneakily didn’t send out his team list but we managed to figure out with a bit of guesswork who I would be likely to play. My team captain suggested I play on board 7 instead of 8 as playing a GM of 2550+ (instead of GM Ety Stefanova) would give me a higher average rating. My last week had been quite busy, we spent a lovely Easter break in Bergen, Norway (Ga staying 1 night at home coming from Dubai before we flew out to Bergen) and though I had been reading Rook vs Two Minor Pieces by Espen Lund (a pdf) the week before I hadn’t had any time to work on my chess. Our very good friends Bill & Maria from New Zealand are now living in London for the next few months. Bill is the current Editor of the New Zealand Chess Magazine.

white rose guildford I had a great season as I got my first IM norm and a WGM norm (subject to confirmation). It’s probably my first ever norm as I won my WIM title in a Zonal & before that I got a WFM & WCM for performances at the Olympiads.

I played Mark Hebden on the Saturday and though Gawain helped me with some opening preparation he forgot to tell me what to do against 5…Ne5 & Ng5.

[pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=0 autoplayMode=none]
[Event “4NCL White Rose vs Guildford”] [Site “London ENG”] [Date “2014.05”] [Round “9”] [White “Maroroa,S.”] [Black “Hebden,M.”] [Result “1-0”] [WhiteElo “2131”] [BlackElo “2550”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 Ne4 {Here, I had a long think. Gawain showed me what to do against d5 but while we were preparing he said “We can do Ne4 and Ng4 in a minute at the end”… but we forgot. Ng4 is def the trickier line, so I’m glad Mark didn’t play that against me. [5…d5 6.Bb5 Ne4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6]} 6.Qe2 {felt right another option was [6.Bd5 Nc5 7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.Qxd4 Qxd4 9.Nxd4 and I regain my pawn.]} 6…Nc5 7.Ng5 {initially I played this with the idea of being able to go f4 and have a huge attack. Unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be} 7…Ne6 8.Nxe6 {[8.f4 Nxg5 9.fxg5 Qe7 and I’m left with an awful pawn structure! 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.f4 is also too slow]} 8…dxe6 {leaving him stuck with his lightsquared bishop} 9.0–0 {Around here, I decided to count the pawns and realized I was a pawn down, I thought “crap, I’ll be a pawn down against a GM and will have to fight to get a draw – but luckily for me, I think I have enough compensation for the pawn. I’m guessing Mark also thought he was simply a pawn up and would easily convert but I don’t go down so easily} 9…Qh4? {A strange move. A very coffeehouse player. I guess Mark thought that he was a pawn up and he would just attack on the kingside. I never let him have that chance.} 10.Nd2 {developing my knight and I’ll hit his queen with tempo} 10…Bd7 11.Nf3 Qh5 {Now the queen is out of place.} 12.c3 {Slightly ambitious. I thought, hey if he wants to castle queenside I’ll throw all I’ve got. I needed to open some files and get my own attack going.} 12…dxc3 13.bxc3 Bc5 14.Rd1 {to stop a short castle where Black’s king is safe and he has an easy position to play.} 14…0–0–0 {This might be the losing move. It def lead to me having an easy attack. It doesn’t look so bad at first but after Bg5 things start to go very wrong.} 15.Bg5 Ne7 {[15…Be7 16.Ba6! bxa6 (16…Bxg5 17.Bxb7+ Kxb7 18.Qb5+ Ka8 19.Rxd7) 17.Qxa6+ Kb8 18.Rab1+ Ka8 19.Qb7# would’ve been nice :-); 15…Rde8 16.Qd2]} 16.Bb5 {[16.Ba6 Bc6 and black is fine]} 16…c6 17.Qc4 {bringing in the Queen. Black’s position is starting to collapse }17…b6 18.Bxe7 {[18.Ba6+ and I don’t seem to get anywhere.]} 18…cxb5 19.Qe4! {finding a weakness on the Queenside}19…Kb8 {[19…Bxe7 20.Qa8+ Kc7 21.Qxa7+ Kc8 22.Rd6 Bxd6 23.exd6 Qc5 24.Qa8#
I expected here 19…Kc7 but I don’t know if it makes much of a difference} 20.Bxd8+ Rxd8 21.a4 {This might’ve been wrong, I was hoping to quickly open up the a file and somehow win with a combination of Rxa7, Ra1 and Checkmate.} 21…bxa4 22.Rxa4 Qf5 {offering the necessary swap of Queens. I thought if I swapped queens now winning would be a lot tougher as it isn’t so clear if I’m completely winning.} 23.Qh4 Rc8 24.Raa1{ Back to defend my back rank. I was very worried now that I would allow a mate in one or something like that so I wanted to keep calm and have everything under control }24…Bc6 25.Nd4 {swapping off some pieces so I don’t have to worry about his bishop pair }25…Qxe5 26.Nxc6+ Rxc6 27.Qxh7 {grabbed a pawn here as I thought worse come to worse, I’ll eat up his kingside pawns and throw mine up the board.} 27…Qf6 28.Rd7! {infiltrating the Black king! }28…Qxc3 29.Rad1 Qf6 30.Qe4 Bxf2+ 31.Kh1 Rc7 32.Rd8+ Rc8 33.R8d7 Rc7 34.Rd8+ Rc8 {Ga said to me that if I offered Mark a repetition he would always try and play the worse move to keep the game going. He didn’t this time as the worst move allows mate in one :-)} 35.Rxc8+ Kxc8 {Now starts my checks! I was certain that I would have mate somewhere} 36.Qa8+ Kc7 37.Qxa7+ Kc6 38.Qd7+ Kc5 39.Qd6+ Kb5 40.Qd3+ {reached move 40 and now was able to have a think }40…Kc6 {[40…Ka5 41.Rb1 and I have a double mate like in the game]} 41.Qd7+{ Another repetition!} 41…Kc5 42.Rc1+ Kb4 43.Qd2+ Ka4 {Overall a smooth game by me (except for going wrong in the opening). I felt like I played well and was on form this weekend. IM norm achieved now need to get to 2300 :-)} 44.Rb1 {[44.Rf1 This was also a possibility but why try and win a piece when you can threaten mate in 1!} 1–0

During the game, I was very nervous and was aware that I wanted to put Mark away and not let him out of my grip. At some point Anish Giri looked at my position and smiled at Gawain so I thought I can’t be doing so badly! Beating Mark put me in a good position going into the final two rounds. I needed to get 1/2 for a WGM norm and 1.5/2 would get me an IM norm. That evening my team White Rose headed out to Monks Kirby. This year the 4ncl has always been at the same venue. As I’m so picky with food, we’ve ruled out quite a lot of places but I was impressed with the Denbigh Arms.

The Church across the road from the pub.
The Church across the road from the pub.
Me facing WIM Natasha Regan "Copyright © 2014 John Upham Photography"
Me facing WIM Natasha Regan “Copyright © 2014 John Upham Photography”

Sunday morning, I faced WIM Natasha Regan for the 2nd time in this tournament. I don’t think playing her twice should affect my norm as I wasn’t counting her as one of my titled players and it was because she played in Barbican 1 the first weekend and I now faced her again as we now played Barbican 2. We had the position after move 14 on Gawain’s computer and his final analysis was winning for White. Unfortunately I started to err when my pawns got on the 6th rank but luckily for me it wasn’t a losing move. On Monday, I needed to draw/win with a 2232 for an IM norm or play a 2284 for a WGM norm. I managed to draw in an Exchange French with Veronica Foisor. Gawain had a great weekend with 3/3! Here’s his game against Viktor Laznika.

Gawain analyzing with Viktor after their game.
Gawain analyzing with Viktor after their game.

[pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=0 autoplayMode=none][Event “4NCL WGHK vs Guildford”] [Site “London ENG”] [Date “2014.05”] [Round “11”] [White “Jones,G.”] [Black “Laznika,V.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “E73”] [WhiteElo “2650”] [BlackElo “2673”] [Annotator “Jones,Gawain”]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.h4 h6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 11.Bd2 Ngf6 12.0–0–0 Be7 13.Kb1 0–0 14.Ne4 c5 15.g4 Nxg4 16.Qe2 Qb6 17.Ne5 Ndxe5 18.dxe5 f5 19.Nc3 Qa6 20.Nb5 Nxf2 21.Qxf2 Qxb5 22.Qg3 Kh8 23.Rhg1 Rf7 24.Qg6 Qe8 25.Bf4 Bf8 26.Bxh6 Rd7 27.Rxd7 Qxd7 28.Bg5 Qe8 29.c4 a6 30.Rd1 b5 31.Qxe8 Rxe8 32.Rd7 bxc4 33.Kc2 Ra8 34.a4 Kg8 35.Rb7 f4 36.Bxf4 Rd8 37.a5 Rd4 38.Bd2 Rh4 39.Rb6 Rxh5 40.Rxa6 g5 41.Rxe6 g4 42.a6 Rh1 43.Re8 c3 44.Kxc3 Rh7 45.e6 g3 1–0 [/pgn]

Guildford had a great weekend (though I think I had Roger worried when he was behind WGHK after I beat Mark) and they ended up having draw odds for the Monday grudge match against Wood Green.

The 2013 Final
The 2013 Final
The 2014 Final

It was a  fantastic end to the season for Guildford, beating Wood Green,  who averaged 2647. 6-2 was incredible. We would like to thank Roger Emerson & Nigel Povah for their brilliant captaincy and for bringing together a team that has a balance of a very strong team and also good social side. Gawain continued his typical run with 7.5/9 including 5 white wins!

My norm certificate.
My norm certificate.