Oxford’s four teams recorded these results in the last two rounds of the final 4NCL weekend of 2022-23:
- Oxford 1 beat The Rookies & SchachAttack 4½-3½;
- Oxford 2 beat Barnet Knights B & MK Phoenix 2 4-2;
- Oxford 3 lost 2½-3½ to Sussex Martlets 3 and 1-5 to Ashfield 2;
- Oxford 4‘s 5-man team repeated Saturday’s 2½-2½ draw, this time with Cambridge University Y1, before a default penalty kicked in. We did not appear in Round 11.
Sunday saw Oxford 1 pull clear in 3rd place, one point ahead of Barbican and two up on fifth-placed SchachAttack, our Monday opponents. It became apparent that promotion would hang on not losing that match. 4-4 would be absolutely hunky-dory. Meanwhile Oxford 2 made sure of staying in Division 3, our eight match points being safe from teams mired on 5.
Monday saw Oxford 1 give your skip some palpitations. Having told the team “don’t lose 1-7, that will let SchachAttack pinch promotion if Barbican also lose“, he was alarmed to see us go 1-3 down by 2pm. Fortunately the next update was wins for Kenneth & Jon to make it 3-3 with Barbican also at 3-3, needing to win. Gulp. It was not until 16:15 that news filtered through that Hans had won and Tashika drawn, rendering the Barbican result academic. Hello again, Division 1, we’ve missed you. In fact with Alba losing to title-winners Barnet Knights A, Oxford 1 even overhauled them and finished proudly in second – a good outcome, considering that we lost both matches in Weekend One! (v Barnet & Barbican).
Hans adds “I was very concerned after a couple of hours as Will, Dima and Jan were all in difficulties but Kenneth and Jon (and of course Anand – he was very impressive all season!) played some great chess to win their games. It was actually rather pleasant for Tashika and me to try and win our endgames as we knew 4-4 would be enough to go up. I would have been a lot more nervous if this had been a must-win game!“
Looking at the PGN it is clear that at 3-3 it was all over in reality, for both Hans and Tashika had no-lose positions and Tashika was confident enough in her position to decline a draw offer. In fact even at 1-3 we were not in any trouble at all, so skip need not have worried.
Oxford 2 and Oxford 3 both finished on ten points, mid-table respectability. Ashfield 2 took out some measure of revenge on Oxford 3 for their third team’s Saturday disaster against same oppo.
Top point-scorers over the weekend: Szymon 3/3, Anand 2½/3 (including being the “right side” of a 125-move draw!), Emil, Joris, Hans, skip (ahem), Jem, Justin all 2/2. Barry , Phil, Graham & Sean scored 2/3.
Now, top game? (part 2, because we’ve had part 1 on Saturday). Skip liked Hans‘s finish on Monday, Joris had a smooth French Winawer … err, win on Sunday in his last-ever (for now) outing for Oxford, and new Canadian recruit Justin again impressed, exploiting a sudden pin. Jem refuted his opponent’s enterprising … Ng3 sacrifice.
But top game goes to Oxford 4’s Richard who had an excellent attacking game in the style of the Danish / Goring Gambit. The bishops on c4 and b2 wreaked havoc in the vicinity of Black’s His Maj without moving from there, having arrived at move 10. Skip suspects it was regnal suicide to castle kingside at that point. Having won brilliantly, Richard then went home with the scoresheets!! (luxuriating in the game he’d just played, no doubt). Your skip had to grovel to the arbiters “but he won so spectacularly …” to reinstate his point.