Scottish National Chess League, Rounds 5 and 6, Dunfermline, February 24th 2019: Report by Ray Noble
After the festive break, battles resumed once again for our 4 teams in the penultimate day at the Carnegie Conference Centre, Dunfermline. At present the A team is challenging for the national title, the B team is battling for promotion from Division 2 into Division 1, the C team presently in Division 4 is a contender for promotion to Division 3 while the D team, composed mostly of Juniors, is having its first year of competition.
In the morning in Division One, Dundee City A started with a hard-fought draw against Edinburgh West (2½-2½) with remarkably all matches being drawm. It could have gone either way but the A team, consisting of Andrew Greet, David Findlay, Andrew Wright, Declan Shafi and Stephen Hogg, all performed excellently. In Division Two Dundee City B suffered against Forth Valley A losing 4½-½, with Ben Volland stopping the whitewash! In Division Four, by contrast, Dundee City C faced the league leaders, Dunfermline B and won convincingly. Paul Shafi on board 1 lost, but Keith Rose, Raymond Flood, Ray Noble and Ed Walton all won to give Dundee City C an excellent 4-1 win to go top of the league! In the same Division, Dundee Juniors + newbie Marten Kats won 3½-1½ against Hamilton B, but it was a disappointing match with Hamilton B defaulting on two boards causing Marten Kats and Krish Akula not to have a game. All teams that default boards in this way are fined by the organisers – it is always extremely disappointing when players make the effort to travel to the venue, sometimes from considerable distances away across the country, only to find out that some members of the opposing team have failed to arrive.
The afternoon matches in the afternoon Round 6 were also tightly contested. In Division 1, Dundee City A achieved a remarkable success after beating the highly-rated Bon Accord A by 4-1 to end the day in top spot (10 points) and 2 points ahead of their nearest rivals. With only one match left the ball is in their court to make it back to back national titles! They will face 3rd placed Edinburgh 1 in the last match. Edinburgh 1 are an exceptionally strong team and Dundee A will have to achieve at least a draw in this last match if they are to gain the national title. In Division Two, Dundee City B just did not have the best of days as they again lost, this time to Wandering Dragons B, 3½-1½. The “B” team were missing Alastair and Euan Dawson due to Euan turning 18 (Happy birthday Euan from all your chess friends and also well done in passing your driving test!) and having a family bash in St. Andrews! Even so it was a disappointing day and probably means that the B team next season is consigned to another year in the Second Division. They face league leaders Wandering Dragons A in their last match. Mathematically there are possibilities but…..
By contrast, the Dundee City C team excelled themselves in Division Four winning their 2nd match of the day against CS Bos 2 to guarantee top spot. The C team was helped by CS Boss 2 only having 4 players which meant Ed Walton missed out on a match. Ray Noble won his 2nd matchof the day to make it 2-0. All we needed was 1 point out of the remaining three matches. How hard could that be? Well Ray Flood lost to give CS Boss 2 some hope. At one point Paul Shafi on Board One seemed to be struggling and Keith Rose on Board 3 had a balanced position that could swing either way. Would he checkmate, or would his opponent promote his pawn? In a titanic struggle Keith Rose prevailed for Dundee City C in a nail-biting finish to not only secure the win for the team, but make sure we finished top of the Division by one point with one match left to play. Great play Keith – a Captain’s performance! In the end Paul lost his second match but this result did not matter. Division 4 champions and promotion are up for grabs on the last day of action on the 24th March! I do not know for sure but it looks like Dundee City C will face Corstorphine who sometimes turn up with the strongest side in the Division ( Board 1 1810; Board 2 1595 etc.) and other times not (e.g. Board 1 1596; Board 2 1222 etc.)! Let’s hope it’s the latter or we could have our work cut out! In the same Division, Dundee City Juniors fared less well in the 6th round losing 4½-½ to Dumfries & District B. Outgraded and outgunned they put up a fierce battle and the talented Rishabh Akula managed a great draw against a 1252! The experience gained by playing at this level will help all the Juniors develop their skills and will benefit them in the long run.
In summary, it was a day of mixed fortunes with Dundee City B having a nightmare experience and Dundee Juniors having an up and down day. Both have nothing to play for but pride in the last match left, or maybe not in the “B” team’s case? But the day belongs to the wonderful achievement of Dundee City A team and, in particular, the barn-storming performance of Dundee City C. Once again thank you to all the organisers of the SNCL for a great day’s chess! Without your dedication and support these matches would not take place. For all the results, tables and individual player performances visit the SNCL website at: http://snclchess.co.uk/