Tuesday night saw the start of the sophomore season of 4NCL online.  Season one, for those who missed it, was a baptism of fire for Atticus A, who were drawn in a group where all the favourites seemed to congregate.  The draw, at least on paper, appears kinder this time around.

Wood Green Youth 1½-2½ Atticus A

When 4NCL stalwarts Wood Green sound the clarion, any number of titled players may answer the call.  No surprise then to find Wood Green Youth team was represented by the #1 and #2 under 16 players in the ECF list.

Ranesh Ratnesan v John Redmond

John and his opponent entered a sharply theoretical line in the Classical Nimzo, which had reached an equal rook and minor piece endgame when black found a nice tactic to win a pawn at the base of the queenside pawn chain to earn a protected passer on c4, albeit - with few good squares available - a4 was an awkward lodging for the dominated knight.  Living on increment, and with customary sang froid, John appeared close to the win, but a halved point was all the team needed to seal a fine win.

 

Charlie Kennaugh v Shreyas Royal

For a generation that grew up with Short, Speelman, Nunn, Adams, Sadler and latterly Jones and Howell, it is disconcerting to note that no English player is currently in the world top 100 juniors.  Yet peer a little further into the future and eleven year old Shreyas Royal - currently #10 in the world in his age category - may be a name to remember.  Already it appears the babe has been dangled in a deep theoretical font, and I wonder if Charlie’s enterprise and guile were best served by a Vienna Game structure which seemed an uncertain punt.  Still the position held until a hapless rook found supply lines cruelly severed.

 

Chirag Guha v Steven Kee

If chess is a battle of ideas, the game between Steve and the ironically handled “computermoves” pivoted when in a Benoni-like structure (emerging from a Leningrad Dutch) white vacated the choice e4 outpost and offered a trade of rooks for queen, at which point it was place-your-bets time.  Yet chess is a concrete game, and a kaleidoscopic sequence delivered a white knight to e6.  The so-called octopus was swiftly made risotto, causing heartburn in black’s position, yet while queen and bishop were debating how to capitalise, Steve’s rooks took advantage of the space left behind to settle the game.

 

David James v Stephen V Woodhouse

To say that Dave made light work of his opponent is a compliment, since in a Classical Dutch there were inaccuracies and mis-steps, but no single moment where you could say “There!  That’s where the game was lost!”, yet black was simply overpowered in 25 moves.  Fans of the internet server in question might care to note that Dave recorded no inaccuracies, no mistakes and no blunders.  Is a perfect game one where there are no mistakes?  In the words of Alexander Grischuk, “No, mistakes only by your opponent!”

Games can be followed live each Tuesday night starting at 7.30pm at https://lichess.org.  Simply search for the player’s online handle and navigate to the games tab.  Fixtures, results and details of player account names can be found on the 4NCL website an hour before games begin.

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