However, the match of the weekend - and I think I can write this without prejudice - was my new club Wood Green's encounter against the champions, Midland Monarchs, in their new guise as Bigwood. In the first three seasons, Wood Green lost every time. But now, in the absence of myself at the Bundesliga and Chris Ward at Wrexham, we were strengthened by the excellent Irish grandmaster, Alexander Baburin.
Although we outgraded Bigwood at the top but were outgraded at the bottom, the final results stood this on its head as we scored just 1/4 on the top four boards but 3.5/4 on the bottom four. This left Wood Green clear second on 7 match points ahead of Barbican I (6), Invicta Knights (5), Bigwood, Barbican II, Bristol and Richmond (4), Wessex (3), North West Eagles (2), Home House (1) and BCM (yet to score).
Today's game features the Daily Telegraph columnist, Malcolm Pein. As you can see, Malcolm, who had the temerity to beat me two years ago in the British Championship, is still a fine player when he finds time away from his thriving business (Chess and Bridge, 0171- 388-2404), daily column, other wheelings and dealings, wife and apparently myriad - in fact just three - children.
In the opening, f3 was necessary to prevent the positional threat of 8...Be4!. Closing the centre with 13.d5 was very committal but after 13...Ne7 - 13...Nb8 was the alternative - White got good play with 15.Bxf6! 17...Ng6? prepared a faulty plan: 17...Qg8 was better, though 18.Be2! is a good reply.
If 19...Nxd3, 20.Nh5 wins. After 21.Rxf4! White had the advantage though the critical line 22...Qg8 23.Nh5 dxe5 24.d6 f3 25.g3 e4! 26.Bxe4 Rf8 isn't absolutely clear since, if 27.d7? Qxc4!, White could have won by force with 31.d6 Bf5 32.d7+ Kd8 33.e7+ Kxd7 34.e8Q+! Kxc8 35.Nd6+, but his slower line was still perfectly efficient.
White: Malcolm Pein (Wood Green)
Black: Keith Arkell (Bigwood)
4NCL Birmingham 1998
0 10.e4 fxe4