The 4NCL was formed with the intention of upgrading club chess in Britain. Good local sponsorship would enable matches to be staged in luxurious surroundings and entice our best players back from the French and German leagues.
To judge by last weekend's round at the Heronston Hotel in Bridgend, East Glamorgan, the plan has succeeded. Three grandmasters, ten International masters and two Women Masters pushed their pawns alongside those of less exalted club players, and a relaxing, competitive time was had by all.
After six rounds, the lead is shared by British Chess Magazine, Midland Monarchs and Witney, each with five wins and one loss. Jonathan Mestel's win against Andrew Harley helped the British Chess Magazine team to a heavy victory against Covent Garden.
White's relatively unambitious opening tempted Black into some aggression of his own, but 15.Bxd5 should have set alarms ringing around his king. Unable to castle, he had to find a way to challenge the bishop on d5. 17...Be6 or Bc6 look natural; instead 17...b4? gave Mestel the chance of a neat combination ending in a 19th century style king hunt.
17.f5! left no time for 17...bxc3, when 18.Qh5+ g6 19.fxg6 wins on the spot. As the game went 19...Bxf5 forced White into a sacrifice that must have been a pleasure to make. At the end, Black's king is helplessly caught in the firing line of White's entire army.
White: A.J. Mestel Black: A. Harley 1 c4 Nf6 14 Ned5 Nxd5
2 Nc3 c5 15 Bxd5 Nd4
3 Nf3 d5 16 e4 b4
4 cxd5 Nxd5 17 f5 g6
5 g3 Nc6 18 Ne2 Nxe2+ 6 Bg2 Nc7 19 Qxe2 Bxf5
7 d3 e5 20 Rxf5 gxf5
8 0-0 Be7 21 Bc6+ Kf7
9 Nd2 Bd7 22 Qh5+ Ke6
10 Nc4 f6 23 Bf4 fxe4
11 f4 b5 24 Re1 Rg8+ 12 Ne3 exf4 25 Kh1 resigns 13 gxf4 Rb8