2018-19 Rounds 3+4 report

Oxford scored these results in the 4NCL just completed (12-13 January):

  • Oxford 1 were hammered by Guildford 1 ½-7½ and drew 4-4 with Alba;
  • Oxford 2 lost 2½-3½ to CSC 1 and beat Iceni 2 3½-2½;
  • Oxford 3 won both matches, 4-2 v Rook’n’Roll and 3½-2½ v Ashfield 2;
  • Oxford 4 lost 2½-3½ to Wessex C, beat Barnet Knights 2 4½-1½ and lost -2-6 to Celtic Knights 2.

Start at the bottom: yes, that’s three results for Oxford 4, it’s not a typo! Oxford 4 had a half-Triangle in Round Two and, given Div 4s had an odd number of teams on the Saturday, the arbiters decided to simply complete that half-Triangle. We carried forward 1-2 v Wessex C and drew 1½-1½ on the day, losing the match overall; while we carried forward 1½-1½ v Barnet Knights 2 and Phil N, Alan and Hugo all won (3-0!) to make the overall score 4½-1½. On the Sunday we had a disaster when skip, quietly watching a Div 1 game at Daventry, was surprised to see Richard and Tony. “Oh ****” he thought. Wrong venue, chaps! Thus we started four down (-2 v 2) and lost the other four games. Ho hum.

Oxford 3 had a terrific weekend, scoring +3 =9 -0 in total – well done, everybody! Especially Cyril on board 2 Sunday, who was roped into emergency action at around 9pm on Saturday evening and (from what skip hears) was on the “right” side of a draw to wrap up our Sunday match. Phil N completed a 2/2 weekend being the half-point difference on Sunday, while Tomasz and OxUni debutant Jacob were Saturday’s winners. Skip admits to a double-take on Saturday when he saw Jacob, thinking he was Andrew Rogozinski in disguise! Note to self: try to park them on adjacent boards ASAP for maximum opp confusion :).

Moving up, Oxford 2 had a tricky weekend and finished it in second place (on goal-difference) in the division – well-placed for now, but the next weekend will be the big one as we play the teams in first and third. Fourth-to-sixth are only one match point behind. Skip hasn’t seen any of the games and the PGN is not yet online, but he can say that Szymon did well with 1½/2 being held in Q+3 v Q+1 on the Sunday (must have been a perpetual of some sort). James was also well to the fore with 1½/2 while Jason held the wrong side of R+a+h v R+a to gain overall victory on the Sunday.

Finally, Oxford 1 had their annual drubbing by Guildford 1 on Saturday. For the second Saturday match running, Jon was the man to save us from the whitewash – other team members liked his position and thought he might have made the score 1-7 instead of ½-7½. Always difficult to do that when Mark Hebden is sitting opposite you, as skip well knows! Matt on 3 might well have scored something against Gawain Jones: the Guildford skip is currently panning his board 3 on Facebook for his Sunday game against Daniel Fernandez (“-128.35 at one point”), and I expect to see more of the same soon for his Saturday game! Similarly JP LeRoux is likely to get flak, for skip wrote off Oliver at many stages of his game against the GM but he kept a small flame flickering for a long long time and was last to finish at c. 20:15, more than six hours in. Skip felt for him when he blundered right at the end with the draw in sight while playing on increments.

Tom grumbled at dinner that he’d “taken Black in his last four meetings with Guildford 1”. He enumerated them all to skip: Jones, Edouard, some other GM skip can’t remember and now Sadler. Pure coincidence, probably because skip didn’t want to waste Tom’s White magic on a top GM!

Jon extended his current excellent Ox1 run with a draw against IM McKay on Sunday – 2/3 for the season, (unofficial) TPR 2513. He’s played the requisite number of IM+ players so is well on track for an IM norm if he wants to pursue one. He just needs to play nine games in total, score well and play a couple more FM+ in the process.

Almost everyone else drew, though that was not for the want of trying: Misha scored an early comfortable 3-fold draw against FM Gourlay on 3; Tom put pieces en-prise almost at will but ended up salvaging a draw in the ending; Oliver looked worse in the early middlegame but swung the game his way before everything was abruptly hoovered; debutant Aga was a pawn up before going into a promising-looking opposite-B endgame that turned out to be drawn. It was not until after the Sunday time control that we scored our only win of the weekend, Filip eventually converting a great position (doubled rooks on the 8th at move 25!). There was a minor scare, skip thinks, when White played 47. Bxa4 nabbing a pawn back but Filip calmly worked out the pawn endgame resulting before playing 47. … bxa4. It appears to skip that pretty much anything was a winner from there: he liked 48. … g5 giving White his other pawn back, but what Filip played was more than adequate.

[note: skip was watching Ox1 games without benefit of computer evaluations, he hates being told what the machine thinks. If he’s way off the mark with his assessments for Ox1, that’s because he’s hopeless at chess rather than anything sinister. It gives him more enjoyment when watching games such as Maroroa 0-1 Lauterbach from White Rose 1 v Barbican 1, an entertaining game that looked great for White at the outset but swung violently Black’s way later on.]

[All Div 1 games are online at the 4NCL website, www.4ncl.co.uk, head to “PGNs & Replays”. Other divisions will be online in due course.].