4NCL 2021-22 Rounds 7-9: results

All, we had a mixed bag of results highlighted by the terrific performance of our firsts:

  • Oxford 1 won all three matches, 5-3 v Sharks 2 + 4½-3½ v Manchester Manticores in the Triangle, then squeezed past Sussex Martlets 4½-3½;
  • Oxford 2 lost(!) 1-3 to Oxford 3, then defeated Wood Green Monarchs 4-2 and Oxford 4 4½-½;
  • Oxford 3 beat Oxford 2 3-1 (ruffling feathers!) & Ashfield 2 4½-1½, then lost 2½-3½ to promotion-chasing Warks Select 2;
  • Oxford 4 had a difficult weekend, beating Deaf England 4½-1½ then imploding: -1½-6 to the Welsh and ½-4½ to Oxford 2.

It was a difficult weekend personnel-wise and we were short on Saturday and Monday. We did at least put out four teams [four other teams in Div 3C didn’t turn up], for which your skip appreciates all of you who turned out (especially 13 with us all three days: Will, Hans, Edgar, Tashika, Szymon*, Sean, Chris F, Stefanus, Phil N, Alex T, Alex H, Steve R, Shambavi)..

* doubly-especially thanks to Szymon, travelling all the way from Belgium! Skip hopes he’s had a smooth journey home.

We must salute our first team who CHARGED up the Division 1 table. We are seeded 25/28 and right now occupy a Division 1 spot (top 12 to qualify). The obligatory nail-biting was inflicted on us v Sussex Martlets. Ox1 debutant Chris F showed how to defend opposite-bishop endgames a pawn down (or was it two?), and James closed out the match by doing the exact same.  Earlier Emil & Filip navigated tactics on boards 2 & 3 to bring in the winning points.

Individual Performances

No-one managed perfection over the weekend (do Tom, Filip, Ian, Seb count with 1/1?) but four of you scored 2½: Tashika, Stefanus, Alex T and Phil N, who is notable for appearing in each of our three Div 3C teams Ox2, 3, 4 over the weekend.

Skip was pleased that Tashika bounced back from a traumatic Rounds 5-6, turning over a 2200 number on Sunday and drawing with the experienced DB Graham on Monday. [Skip remembers meeting him in ~1997, parking bishops on c4 and f4 in the early middlegame and him replying Re4 to collect one of them. Oops.]

Round 10-11

Ox1 already have enough points on the board to qualify for Division 2 in 4NCL Season 2022-23. Skip judges that 2 more points = one match win in Rounds 10-11 is “hello, Division One next season”. One more point is unlikely to be enough, as our goal-difference is not that strong compared to others who – if they win twice – will overtake us on that score. Mind you, skip is quite happy to be proved wrong!

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!