Report from Nigel Birtwistle
The first 4NCL Rapidplay was held on 9th/10th October at Harben House, Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. The format was a nine round team event for teams of four players on Saturday followed by another nine rounds for the individual championship on Sunday. The time limit for both tournaments was 10 minutes per player plus an additional five seconds added for each move. For most of the competitors it was the first time that they had played at this speed so some frantic action was asssured!
Pandoras Box Grantham entered the team championship. Originally our line up was IM Jerzy Slaby, myself, Paul Cumbers and Kevin McCarthy. Unfortunately things did not go according to plan when Paul, who was our driver, withdrew on Saturday morning due to an injured neck and back.
My wife saved the day by agreeing to give up her use of the car for the weekend, but this meant a long trek from Sleaford back to her parents in Skegness and then on to Lincoln to pick Kev up. We headed down south but got stuck in traffic and only arrived 15 minutes before the start where we met Jerzy. We managed to pick up a spare player to make up our team but although Jerzy and Kevin played very well, our substitute player struggled with the speed of the play. I had an absolute shocker after the hectic car journey and scored a pathetic 3.5/9 leaving no less than five pieces en prise during the nine rounds. We finished in 23rd place out of the 27 teams that entered. But we knew the answer to our problems! A chinese meal followed by a few beers! This enjoyable night gave us renewed hope for the individual event on Sunday.
Kevin and myself played in the individual event, but Jerzy decided to take the first train home on Sunday morning. Despite being up at 7am for breakfast I made my weekend worse by defaulting a game for the first time in over 30 years of playing competitive chess! My watch had somehow lapsed by half an hour, so I missed the start, but arrived just in time to see Kev crush the promising junior Brandon Clarke in round 1. Kev played interesting chess, eventually finishing on 4/9, which was a bit harsh considering the way in which he took the fight to the opposition. After my no show in round 1 I finally found some form and stormed to six wins from my next eight games, including a win over IM Jack Rudd which meant I finished just outside the prizes. The tournament was quite a strong one with 3 GM's ,5 IM's and another 17 players graded over 200 in the field of 74 players. The pace of both tournaments was relentless with virtually no break in between rounds. We were both very tired by the end but we will both probably play next year if the 4NCL rapidplay becomes an annual event.
|3||Pride & Prejudice||9||6||2||1||25||14|
|5||Cambridge University 1||9||4||2||3||20½||10|
|6||Metropolitan Police 1||9||4||2||3||20||10|
|10||Leeds University Old Boys 1||9||5||1||3||19||11|
|12||Leeds University Old Boys 2||9||2||4||3||18½||8|
|18||Bradford DCA Knights||9||5||0||4||17||10|
|22||Cambridge University 2||9||3||2||4||15||8|
|27||Metropolitan Police 2||9||1||1||7||6½||3|