Scottish National Chess League

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Rounds 7 and 8, Sunday 17th March, 2024: Report for Dundee City.

And so the day finally arrived. Our three Dundee City teams faced some difficult matches for Rounds 7 and 8. With the final Round not taking place until Sunday 21st April, this particular Sunday was a time to put down markers to define season outcomes for the respective teams. There was an extremely slim chance that our A team could regain top spot but it would depend on the leaders of the competition experiencing complete meltdowns and losing most of their games. With this realisation, the A team faced a very strong Edinburgh West team in the morning – and they excelled themselves. Classy wins by Ed Spencer over IM Craig Pritchett and by Andrew Wright over Neil Farrell set the scene. These wins were then followed by draws by David Findlay and Helge Magnussen to secure a famous 3.5-1.5 victory. The win by Ed over IM Craig Pritchett was particularly special.

In Division 2, Dundee City B were up against CSBOS2. As has been the case several times this season, our team managed a 3-2 victory. This time, there were wins for Alastair Dawson and Ian Sneddon ably supported by draws from Gary Weir and Joshua Crofts. Gary has recently returned to chess after an absence of several years and his experience proved to be invaluable in helping the team to a well-deserved win.

In Division 3, our C team had a less fortunate morning. Up against Edinburgh West B the only win came from Ana Seijas Otero. Subhayu Banerjee drew his game on Board 3 but there were no additional points forthcoming. Edinburgh West B are one of the strongest teams in Division 3 and it was a great experience for our talented Junior, Matthew Hunter, as he played his first SNCL game on Board 4. So, after the morning’s play, our C team faced a loss of 1.5-3.5.

In the afternoon, our A-team were up against Championship leaders Dunfermline Knights. Again, the A team put up a huge fight with the outcome being a 2.5-2.5 draw. On this occasion, wins for Ed Spencer and Helge Magnussen set the scene and they were supported with a draw from Andrew Wright. In Division 2, Dundee City B faced local rivals Perth. On paper, this should have been a straightforward win for Dundee City. But the games did not go entirely to plan. Wins for Alastair Dawson and Joshua Croft gave our B team a good start. A draw followed from Andre Babin on Board 1. Then we were left with 2 games – one between Gary Weir and David Hall; the other between Ian Sneddon and James Graham. With tensions high, Gary’s game ran into a rules dispute as his opponent’s clock ran down to one minute. With the Arbiter called, the ruling did not fall in Gary’s favour and a game loss was recorded. Then with a loss in the remaining game the result was a 2.5-2.5 draw – a great result for Perth. But celebration for Dundee City was to follow (see below).

In Division 3, our C team had another frustrating afternoon. Yet again, Ana was the star player and she was the only player to win. It should be said that Ana has, so far, had an outstanding season at the SNCL winning 6 points from 8 games. Apart from Ana, the only other player to add to our score was Adam Clark who secured a hard-fought draw. In the end it was another loss for the C team by 1.5-3.5.

So where does this leave our Dundee City teams with one round to go? In the Championship Division, Dunfermline Knights remain in pole position with 14 match points closely followed by Wandering Dragons (13 points) and Stepps (12 points). Dundee City A are in fourth place on 11 points and will have to relinquish the national title, most probably to Dunfermline or possibly Wandering Dragons. In Division 2, the match points gained by our B team place them in second place (13 points) behind runaway leaders Lenzie (16 points). But the third place team in this league, Forth Valley B presently only has 10 points – meaning that our B team are guaranteed promotion into Division 1 with one Round remaining. So exciting times ahead for Dundee B next season – many tough games lie ahead for them. In Division 3, the two losses for Dundee City C resulted them dropping down the Division into 10th place out of the 16 teams. Our C-team has had some gruelling encounters so far this season. That said, we have given opportunities to play in this team to several of our young up-and-coming players including, Adam Clark, Eve Kenicer and Matthew Hunter. The experience that they have gained with be invaluable for them in the future. We now look forward to Round 9 of the SNCL that will take place on Sunday April 21st, this being followed by a national blitz tournament in the afternoon – so exciting times ahead!

Alastair Dawson