Last Tuesday (20th) saw Round 7 of the current 4NCL online matches, to complete the all-play-all sections. The B team went into their match against Deaf England 1 in the knowledge that avoding defeat would guarantee a top two position in their sub-division (6A) and secure promotion. The opposition were almost identically graded in terms of total FIDE grades, with their top two being higher graded by roughly the same as our boards 3-4 outgraded them, so the scene was set for a well-balanced match. Young Harry Gardiner has been notching up the points on top board, but got a piece trapped without compensation and soon resigned to put the promotion party on hold. Colossul Kobus (Nienaber) and Cool-hand Luke (Michalek) put the train back on the tracks with two resounding wins to ensure we had a least a share of the match points. Captain Calm – Dave Price aka Baldrickprice had a game that was seriously double-edged and just when he was trying to avoid all the pitfalls was offered a draw which was gladly accepted to get the team over the winning line to take the match 2.5-1.5 and guarantee top slot in division 6A.
There is a pair of end of season play-offs to determine the division champions with the semi-finals played on Tuesday 4th May. As yet we do not know who the opponents will be (out of MK Phoenix 3, Battersea Juniors and St Andrews White Cross 1.
Meanwhile the AOL team (A Online) played their final game already consigned to relegation and facing Manchester Juniors A team. As has been the case all season, the opposition bottom board was higher graded than our own top board, and it was not long before the writing was on the wall. A whitewash was narrowly avoided as David Hulme held on for a backs-to-the-wall draw on bd 2, against Cheddleton’s young rising star Sam Parry. With the conclusion of the season for the A team, we have ended in relegation position for 3rd time in a row, and would be decent if 4NCL actually put us out of our misery and dropped us to division 4. We have struggled every season and this time has been the toughest as the team only gained 6 board pts from 28 games, with Neville Layhe being the star performer collecting 2.5 of the 6 pts on his own !