4NCL, Londoners and a fantasy.

To those of you not familiar, the 4NCL is a British chess league filled with the nation's best chess players that compete for their clubs and teams for acclaim and glory.  To give you some idea of the standard, the 2009 British champion was playing on board 2 for his team this weekend.  Oh, and I was there too.  Playing on board 1 for Bristol 3.  So as you can imagine, I had high expectations...

The first round was against the Metropolitan team, whose board 1 apparently saw no delicious irony in the fact that he played the London against me.  Despite his 2104 grade I managed to equalise relatively easily and by move twenty-something I had settled for a draw by repetition in a game which, like many London games, was uninspired, unwanted and boring.

Hint hint.

The second round was against the British Universities Chess Association team.  Now, I don't want to sound hurt or anything, because like, I totally didn't want to join their stupid smelly team anyway, but like, I'm a student.  At a university.  A British university.  I guess my invite was lost in the post.

... So yeah.  Not hurt.  At all.

Actually, it became clear that practically every student in the country had had their invite lost in the post.  My opponent wasn't a student and so in my eyes already less worthy of a place on the team than me, regardless of grade difference of 55 ECF points between us.  So I was sat there, venting my outrage by wearing my Bristol University hoodie (complete with beans juice stains for the full student effect) and fuming silently at the board, willing to play anything to avoid a dull game.  After all, it's not like my opponent plays 1... c6 against pretty much anything...

So I was feeling quite pleased.  At the time I knew my dark-squared bishop was on the wrong square, but I couldn't figure out where it was meant to be.  Other than that though, I was building a solid centre, grabbing some space and I had succeeded in turning a potentially dreary Caro-Kann into a more lively French-like position.

A few moves ago, I had decided that when if pushed e5 I'd bolster it with an f4.  Then when the position had changed and I committed to e5, I thought I'd follow it up with Nf4 to keep the pressure on e6 and slow any potential f6 break.  

However, as any rider knows, you should always change horses midstream.  With that I decided to remain flexible, consolidate and wait to see what I should do next.  Besides it's sort of a French and how much normally happens in this sort of a position?  Sadly, I was forgetting the good admiral's words of warning.

It's a trap!

Bugger.  My absurd fact from the weekend is that I had been so outgraded grade will be rising despite my results.  That's certainly a win from a draw and a loss.


  • 6 years ago


    Yeah; the Uni event isn't attracting many of the top players from the various Unis. Holding it a week before the 4NCL perhaps isn't a good idea. The other thing is that students are inherantly lazy; it's either too far or too expensive. If the Union won't fund it, they're not interested. Aston has no funding from its Guild, has a society of 6, and is sending a team. By contrast, Nottingham has a society of 40+, and cannot raise a team... Ah well, I can only put the event on!

  • 6 years ago


    Haha, I must confess.  Most of what I wrote there is utter... "tosh"...  I've been registered on the 4NCL Bristol team for almost 2 years I think, so I couldn't really change team.

    Yeah, sadly our top players for the Bristol Uni team can't make it, so I'll be somewhere around board 2.  It's madness!

  • 6 years ago


    I've just seen your name on the team sheet for Bristol in the BUCA event in February though, so you can't hate us that much. Wink

    Indeed, I invite you to the AGM on the Sunday morning to make the point you made here - it'll give me a chance to plug it!

  • 6 years ago


    As the person who runs that team, you might be interested in my reply!

    There was an advert on the BUCA website for 6 months asking players to join us. I also contacted every single member of BUCA, asking them to ask their players if they wanted to play for us. Short of hiring aeroplanes to fly around the country with banners promoting it, what more could I do?

    Given we were a few players short, Adam offered to send a few Hendoners if the student numbers were short. As it happens, 4 of the team of 6 you played were actually students, save for Adam and Tomer!

    Most students already play for other teams, and I wasn't naive enough to pull them away from them. E.g. John-Paul Taylor, in your team, plays for Warwick. The team was simply to provide an opportunity for those who don't play already. Which (I hope) it is achieving!

    So don't hate; I'm doing my best. ;)

  • 6 years ago


    That game looks like it was hell. Kudos on the defending though.

  • 6 years ago


    shame about the second game, and that dark squared bishop.

    Also shame you didn't show the London game, I mean, it's not as boring as... say the colle :P (just kidding Pete!)

    But you played 2 very good players and a draw and a loss isn't a bad result.

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