Arora, Tashika +4 =2 -0 5/6 Evans, Chris J +5 =0 -1 5/6 Cole, Graham L +4 =0 -2 4/6 Savage, Ben DM +3 =2 -1 4/6 Zakarian, David +4 =0 -3 4/7 Cole, James +2 =2 -1 3/5 Nataraj, Nakul +2 =2 -2 3/6 Hobson, Kenneth +2 =1 -1 2½/4 Finn, Chris +2 =1 -2 2½/5 Wilson, Edgar +2 =1 -3 2½/6 Rasanen, Otto +1 =2 -1 2/4 Bush, Ian +1 =2 -2 2/5
… and we will stop there.
Many thanks to all of you for participating and making skip’s life relatively easy. There will be a Season Three starting in late January 2021 according to this 4NCL page; we will enter three or four teams depending on interest. I hope to see you all back with us then!
In other news, there was some end-of-season excitement in Division Three Pool B. WES B & KES C finished dead level on points and SB. The system had to go to the next tie-break: board-count in the drawn Round 7 WES B v KES C match, and found WES B came out on top. Four draws in that match would have seen a Coin Toss for top. How does that work in Lockdown 2.0?
Ox1: Nakul went down a KID line that skip hates to run into as Black and is the single reason he gave up the KID 20+ years ago. The position at move 20 does not tempt him to take it up again. Why is it White ends up with this loose pawn on e6 and the thing survives to cause havoc in the Black position?!
Otto took a draw by perpetual check, David seemed to be doing OK until something went awry in the endgame. These GMs are tricky oppo. Ben did everything possible to win his game but his IM opp knows a thing or two about R+P v R and held it.
Defeat drops Ox1 down to fifth in Division 1 after threatening the championship briefly. It’s a good result in skip’s book and I’m pleased we were never in relegation trouble.
Ox2 were beneficiaries of an oppo default on top board, Chris F being the lucky recipient. You may remember Round 6’s oppo skip being confused at Finn78 not being Chris Finn. The Rookies fielded someone called Finn on board 4, causing Ianto exclaim that his board was “the only Finn-free zone”. Anyway, despite that generous start Ox2 contrived to lose 2 v 1.5 – it’s been that sort of season. Better luck in Division Three! Ox3 won super-quickly as Tashika won a piece in the opening, Chris E bagged a rook early doors and Jan’s opponent failed to show. Match well and truly over by 20:00. Kenneth was positively pedestrian by comparison, only finishing at 20:33. Ox3 finish at least third in the Pool and await the Dorking v Bolton result to see if we join Ox2 in Division Three next season.
Most interest centred on Ox1‘s match against White Rose, and particularly David’s game against GM Gawain Jones. There was quite a crowd watching to see if a kitchen sink would land. Annoyingly, those pesky 2600+ GMs always seem to have everything covered and David’s attack sadly petered out. Ben & Nakul achieved creditable draws against IM oppo and 1-3 represents a decent result given we were outgunned by 220 per board.
For the first time ever, an oppo skip queried the LiChess IDs of Edgar & Chris F in Ox2: with Edgar’s handle being Finn78 and Chris’s surname being Finn, he suspected subterfuge was going on! Chris achieved an easy draw. Graham kept the spectators entertained for a long time without ever really knowing who would win until move 60..
There was calamity in Ox3 as our quick-movers capitulated with White, Ian blundered a piece and it was down to Tashika to avert the whitewash, as an eminent spectator predicted as early as 20:15 she would need to do.
David’s unexpected piece sacrifice caused his IM opponent to go into a HUGE think. For the second round running, skip understood none of the action in his game other than that he won. He was our only winner as Ox1‘s ten-game streak comes to an end – but, hey, not even Magnus can keep streaks going indefinitely.
An early comment came in from a spectator: “we are having all the luck tonight, with Otto, Ian & Chris E all having generous opponents”. All three of our chaps were beneficiaries of piece donations – takebacks? They are allowed for particularly obvious mouseslips and I’d like to think we are fairly generous in this matter, but the official position is that “it’s part of the game” if a mouseslip occurs. It is always up to the player as to whether or not to accept or decline a takeback and I’ll always back your corner either way.
Anyway, Ox2 enjoyed a comfortable win to get off the mark for the season while Ox3 gave their goal difference a boost, winning by the maximum with Tashika & Ian finishing their games elegantly. Skip liked 38. Rc8+ or 38. Bc4+ chez Tashika, but 38. Bh7+ was just as effective.
Ben’s opponent showed as “streaming” early in his game. This is not allowed, I raised the matter with the arbiters and the opp was told to stop printo. Note for reference: do let me know if your opponent is streaming and I’ll escalate. I’ll probably already have noticed anyway.
Ox1 made it ten wins in a row: James won a piece early in his game (second time he’s done that this season!), Daviduntangled a slightly passive position to win his board 1 game against England’s next-big-thing, and Nakul enjoyed a positional win. Skip enjoyed it too! Ben had a “boring” Exchange Slav (by transposition) that turned into an interesting R+N endgame; he wrestled the initiative and made the final score 4-0, the first time Ox1 have ever managed that scoreline in 4NCL-O. Well done, troops! As your skip writes, one game remains in the White Rose match: if Jonathan Blackburn can win B+5 v B+4, Ox1 go to the top of the pool.
Ox2 are, conversely, still to get off the mark for the season. Edgar had a nice win but skip can’t work out what went wrong in Dimitrios’s game. He suspects – with no computer analysis – that swapping his black-squared bishop may have been fatal, even as early as move 12.
Ox3 won their White games easily enough but the Black games proved more problematic. Ian’s endgame provoked lots of spectator comment as he found a nice fortress, the White rook trapping itself on h5. Discussion centred around whether White could break it by playing Ke7 and Rg5+ at some stage, but your skip didn’t believe it.