4NCL 2011-12 3rd weekend 11-12 February Sunningdale & Latimer Place
I would like to thank the two De Vere venues at Sunningdale and Latimer Place for hosting the top two divisions and Division Three South respectively. Playing conditions and accommodation were of their usual high standard and there was lots of competitive chess.
In Division 1a Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher (WGHK) 1 and Guildford 1 confirmed their qualification for the Championship Pool. WGHK fielded Michael Adams for the first time this season and he scored 2/2 as they beat Barbican 2 7-1 and Blackthorne Russia 6-2 to maintain their one hundred per cent record to lead the group with twelve match points. On Sunday they fielded eight grandmasters having made do with just seven & IM Lawrence Trent on Saturday. Guildford 1 moved to ten match points by beating Bristol 6-2 and e2e4.org.uk 8-0. Yang-Fan Zhou played on top board for Guildford with four grandmasters playing below him. Whilst the top two remain dominant the underdogs did manage some notable scalps with Dave Ledger (Blackthorne) beating Chris Ward (WGHK) whilst Jack Rudd (Bristol) beat Tony Kosten (Guildford).
In the battle for the two remaining qualifying places Barbican 2 secured a crucial 5-3 victory against the ADs on Sunday to move to eight points and confirm their place in the Championship Pool. The remaining place will be decided in round 7 when The ADs who have five points face e2e4.org.uk on six. The ADs had beaten Blackthorne Russia on Saturday to end the latter's hopes of qualifying. Anglian Avengers got off the mark with a 5.5-2.5 victory against e2e4 and a 4-4 draw with Bristol, whilst both Blackthorne and Bristol are on two points so all three teams will finish the season in the relegation pool.
Division 1B saw Cheddleton take a two-point lead after wins against Cambridge University and a 4.5-3.5 victory against White Rose. Mark Hebden, Keith Arkell and Fiona Steil-Antoni won for Cheddleton whilst Simon Buckley and James Adair (who beat Jovica Radovanovic) won for White Rose. Jonathan Hawkins moved to five out of six by holding Gawain Jones on top board. Cheddleton moved to ten points and White Rose have eight. Barbican 1 suffered a surprise 6-2 defeat to WGHK 2 to remain on eight points. Wins for John Emms, Neil McDonald, Jovanka Houska and Sarah Hegarty saw WGHK 2 move to six points along with Jutes of Kent who had a narrow victory against Guildford 2. Cambridge beat Oxford to join them on four points meaning six teams are still in contention for the remaining three qualifying places. Jutes appear to have the toughest round seven pairing as they face Cheddleton whilst WGHK 2 face Cambridge and Oxford have a tough pairing against Barbican. Although Cheddleton suffered an early season loss to Oxford they may still carry forward a hundred per cent record if Oxford fail to claim a qualifying place.
In Division 2a Pandora's Box confirmed their place in the promotion pool with wins over Cambridge University and Poisoned Pawns. White Rose 2 and Kings Head joined them whilst Poisoned Pawns need a match point against Bradford to confirm their place with only Barbican Youth able to catch them. Scores after six rounds: Pandora's 11, W Rose 2 9, Kings Head 8, P Pawns 7, Barbican Youth 5, Cambridge 2 4, Bradford 3 and FCA Solutions 1.
In Division 2b AMCA Dragons maintained their one hundred per cent record with wins against Warwickshire Select and 3Cs. South Wales Dragons beat their Welsh rivals Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg 4.5-3.5 to move to eight match points and along with AMCA confirm their place in the promotion pool. The remaining places will be decided in round seven as Sambuca Sharks (7) play Brown Jack (4), Warwickshire Select (5) face Spirit of Atticus (4) and Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg (3) face 3Cs (5).
Division 3 South remains wide open although Wessex took a two point lead after round five by beating KJCA Kings 4-2 in the top of the table clash. Their lead was short lived as they were beaten 3.5-2.5 by BUCA in round six. They were caught by KJCA Kings and both AMCA Rhinos and Hackney who won both their matches to join them on ten match points. BUCA move to nine but there are many other teams that can challenge for promotion with five rounds still remaining.
Division 3 North and South will merge for rounds seven to eleven with North East England on eleven points, Hackney, KJCA Kings and Wessex on ten and BUCA on 9. The other Northern teams have the following scores: Bradford B, Cheddleton and Jorvik 8, Holmes Chapel 2 and Manchester Manticores 0 and they will join the thirty seven southern teams for the final two weekends at Hinckley.