4NCL OTB 2021-22 Rounds 1+2: skip report

All, now that the “split” weekend for Rounds 1+2 has completed, a short report. OK, perhaps not that short – mostly on Division 1+2 which skip kibitzed at the weekend.

  • Oxford 1 won both matches 5½-2½ against Gonzaga & Guildford Castles;
  • Oxford 2 defeated Ashfield 2 5-1 and lost to Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 1½-4½;
  • Oxford 3 beat Shropshire & Friends 2 4½-1½ and lost to West Is Best 3 2½-3½;
  • Oxford 4 lost both matches 1½-4½ to The Full Ponty & Shropshire & Friends 1.

Division 1+2

The headline is our first team’s splendid weekend. Gonzaga are one of the stronger Division One teams or, as one of you put it, a “difficult but not invincible team”. Joris set the tone for the match with a 17-move Black win in the Advance French involving .. Rh5, … Rf5, … RxNf3. He tells me he felt provoked by his IM opponent punting an early g4, h4, g4xh5.

Saturday’s match win saw us get the luck of the draw in Round 2 as we downfloated to one of the lower-rated teams, who had pulled off the only other Round 1 shock by drawing 4-4 with Celtic Tigers 1. There were no such surprises for them this time, Joris & Oscar making it 2/2 for the weekend but being overshadowed by Hans‘s queen sac on board six.

After two rounds Oxford 1 are joint-top with six other (strong!) teams. Round 3 pairings are not yet up but skip is quite certain we will meet the IM collective of Guildford Young Guns. For the Twitterati amongst you, skip posted aimlessly at @Oxford4NCL all weekend so snapshots of our Div 1+2 Saturday games can be seen there – sadly PGN is not yet available to be viewed online. Our Sunday games are at Chess24.

Division 3C

At Leamington Spa w week ago, no-one managed a 2/2 weekend in Oxford 2, 3, 4, Tashika doing best with 1½. We did have a very unfamiliar line-up with fourteen(!) new players and one returnee (Hendrik). Six of the new faces were from the University; skip is most pleased with this and hopes to see more of them.

Meanwhile, the arbiters signalled by pairing Ashfield 1 v Ashfield 2 in Round 2 that they’re not going to avoid intra-squad matches, so we can expect to see Oxford v Oxford in later rounds. Ooo-er. Also: it is unlikely that Div 3C Round 3 pairings will appear before the New Year, for 4NCL have re-opened entries to new teams / sub-teams and they must wait to see if there are any takers.

Finally, my thanks in particular to Hans, Hendrik, Will, Steve (Rumsby), David Z, Kev for their help with recruitment / transport / availability over the split weekend – very much appreciated by skip. Also Szymon, who was pondering travel from Brussels to assist the first team. With Covid Omicron suddenly coming into play in the run-up to the weekend it was a good thing we had enough players [plus skip as reserve] without him!