Malcolm Pein on…the Kingston 4NCL Champions

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Malcolm Pein turns his attention back to the Four Nations Chess League in today’s Daily Telegraph chess column – and the match which made Kingston 4NCL champions.

The big final brought plenty of action and a surprising result.

Malcolm Pein on…the Kingston 4NCL Champions

ChessPlus Kingston stunned Wood Green to win the First Division of the 4NCL Online League. Having pulled off one giant-killing act to defeat Guildford Young Guns 2.5-1.5 in the semifinal, they produced another, despite FM Marcus Harvey taking his score for the season to a whopping 8.5/9 by defeating Goran Pavlik.

ChessPlus Kingston’s wins came from Oleksandr Vakulenko, who overcame a 200-point rating disadvantage to crush IM Joseph McPhillips on bottom board, and WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola, the former Latvian Minister of Finance, launched a daring attack in the style of her great countryman Mikhail Tal and was rewarded.

Winning Chess Openings

D. Reizniece-Ozola – R. Haria
Queen’s Gambit Ragozin

1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Bb4 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Qb3 Qb6 9.e3 (Development first; 9.Qxd5?! Be6 10.Qe4 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qb2 regains the pawn) 9…0-0 10.Bd3 c6 11.0-0 Bd6 12.Qc2 Re8 13.h3 Nd7 14.e4! (Upping the ante to exploit White’s lead in development) 14…dxe4 15.Nxe4 Bf8?

How to Proceed?

Kingston 4NCL Champions

(15…Qc7 or 15…Be7 were required. White should aim without delay at that traditional weak spot, f7, with 16.Bc4! when 16…Qd8 17.Rae1! leaves Black under pressure after 17…Be7 18.Ne5 Nxe5 19.dxe5 and not 17…Nb6 18.Neg5!! hxg5 19.Rxe8 Qxe8 20.Nxg5 with a decisive attack) 16.Rfe1? Qd8 17.Bc4 Nb6 (Now Black is OK and would meet 18.Nf6+ with 18…Qxf6! 19.Rxe8 Bf5, but to Reizniece-Ozola’s credit she still plumps for the sacrificial route) 18.Neg5!? Rxe1+ 19.Rxe1 hxg5 20.Bxf7+! Kxf7 21.Qh7 Nd7 (Anything might have happened after 21…Qf6!? 22.Ne5+ Ke7 23.Ng4+ Qe6 24.Rxe6+ Bxe6 25.Qg6 when Black is doing fairly well materially, but White has the famed attacking combination of queen and knight) 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Nxg5 Nf6 24.Qf7+ Kh8 25.Re4!

D. Reizniece-Ozola – R. Haria

White threatens Rh4+ and mate. How should Black defend?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

25…Bf5! (25…Bg4!? would be a risky winning try with the idea of 26.Rxg4 Nxg4 27.Qh5+ Nh6 28.Qg6 Qxg5 29.Qxg5) 26.Rh4+ Bh7 27.Qg6 Qd5?? (27…Qe8 was the easiest way to force a draw: 28.Nf7+ Kg8 29.Nh6+ Kh8 30.Nf7+, etc) 28.Nxh7 1-0 28…Kg8 29.Nxf6# is mate.

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