4NCL 2023-24 Rounds 1-2: Division 1 results

The first team ventured out into Division One for the first time in the new season. Looking over oppo teams we ranked tenth on average ratings (2249), but only seven rating points behind Alba (2256) and one behind Barnet Knights A (2250). The bad news was that we ran into the No. 1 team Sharks 1 who boasted 2480, and even “rested” IM Peter Roberson in their second team!

It was a thumping loss to Sharks 1 on Saturday. But was it? Our four White games against Sharks 1 resulted in three losses and one win. The three losses can be categorised as “swindles” of various complexity triggered by the oppo. The most evil was Makkar’s 37. … c3 against David, that was a tough one to meet in time-trouble. Those three games, if re-scored in our favour, would have been enough for a narrow match win. Ho hum.

On the upside debutant Donald controlled his White game well against IM Rendle, scoring what proved to our only win of the weekend – an easy choice for “top game” in our playthrough..

Only Will got on the board with Black, holding off White-specialist IM Grieve in what was a topical Sicilian Taimanov (or is it Kan?) line of the 1990s where White happily develops his king to f3.

[so what have Sharks 1 just done on Sunday? Right, turned over Manx Liberty!]

Tashika was last to finish on Saturday after a six-hour marathon against FM Moreby. She was involved in another long game on Sunday at board 5 against experienced FM Webb, spending most of it defending doggedly as Black’s dark-squared bishop ruled the roost. Eventually she managed to get shot of it and Webb conceded a well-earned half after 4¾ hours – it was a long weekend of nearly eleven hours for Tashika.

No-one else was close to racking up a win over Blackthorne’s IMs though Jon had a small chance late on: would Black fall for 45. … Kg5 46. h4+ Kh5 47. Kh3 Rxg2 48. Qf3+ Kh6 49. Qxg2, and a super-long queen endgame? No, Nelson carefully chose 45. … Kh5 and a perpetual was all that was there.