There were two qualifiers last month held on consecutive days and they didn't disappoint with York winning in Leeds and UCL triumphing in London!
On December 2nd York Society became the first team in 2020 history to score a perfect 20/20 in individual game points thus defeating all their opponents by a 4-0 scoreline in the process.
Although the challengers did fight hard they were clearly overwhelmed, as one of the early favourites and hosts Leeds A found out only in the first round where they were well beaten on each board. York continued in the same vain outclassing Sunderland and the rest of the Leeds’ teams over the next three rounds.
Durham had started in a similar vein of form with comfortable 4-0 wins over the same opponents before facing Leeds A in round four needing a victory to stay in contention for the title. They took an early lead before being pegged back to 2-1 with all to play for on the top board where Liza Kisteneva (Durham) and Robert Starley (Leeds A) faced off in an epic battle in an endgame with time constraints with the whole audience eventually looking on.
Liza finally found a small advantage and capitalised with just seconds left on the clock to seal victory in a dramatic finish ensuring that there would be a final showdown against York in the concluding round to much applause from everyone in the playing hall. Durham had faced Leeds back in June 2015 at the first ever Northern Universities Chess Championships (later developing into 2020 Chess) narrowly prevailing on higher boards so York were in the mood for sweet revenge.
As Durham had dropped a game point against Leeds they had to beat York to claim the title, but their opponents were in fine form and despite a valiant fight from Durham they eventually prevailed on all four boards to deservedly claim the title and make history.
Meanwhile all the remaining teams had a chance of qualifying for the Grand Final if results went their way in the final round. It was a tough ask for debutants Sunderland against Leeds A and although they claimed a win on board three it wasn’t enough as they were eliminated through a 3-1 defeat. Leeds B kept true to their name with a dominant victory over Leeds C to secure the final qualifying spot.
The next day it was London's turn, which was full of surprising ups and downs, on a day enjoyed by all sixteen teams who entered. Going into the last round, there were eight teams who could have qualified!
University College of London have set a joint record by entering four teams, all performing extremely well: UCL A recorded five wins out of five, only dropping a handful of individual game points in the process.
UCL C deservedly made it through to the Grand Final on 4th February 2018, convincingly beating LSE B in the final round; they also did their A team a massive favour in the first round by defeating LSE A (one of the favourites) with a shocking 2.5-1.5, leaving LSE A in second place.
As the tournament went on, it looked increasingly likely that Imperial College would win overall, having won their first three games and narrowing prevailing over a strong Sussex University outfit with 2.5-1.5 in the third round. However, they became unstuck in their next match against LSE A, who regained some form with a comfortable 3-1 victory. This meant that, to win the title, Imperial would need to defeat UCL A by at least two game points in the concluding round.
Determined not to slip up, UCL A were nonetheless forced to battle extremely hard across all four boards, eventually coming through against Imperial with 3.5-0.5, bringing home the prestigious NUCC Shield!
Only one qualifying spot remained by this stage, and Imperial were in real danger of missing out on the Grand Final: both Sussex and UCL B were vying for the final place as well. In a tense and epic exchange, Sussex quickly gained an advantage at 1-0 up, before UCL B hit back and pulled forward with a 2-1 lead. Just a draw on the remaining board would have sent UCL B through at Imperial’s expense, but Sussex took their revenge with a dramatic victory at the last minute, beating UCL B to the delight of the Imperial team!
We would like to thank our sponsors Chess and Bridge who provided the equipment, along with Chess Openings Wizard and ICC who handed out copies of their software/online programs as prizes for those who scored 4/5, 4.5/5 or 5/5 (see link below) in their individual games.
In particular we are most grateful to Alex Taylor, Francis Kirk and Nathalie Taylor for arbitrating and organising the pairings. Thanks also go to Paul Wilson and Robert Starley for kindly booking the venues.
Results of competitions with tables, or as much detail as is possible.
1 post • Page 1 of 1