Malcolm Pein on…The Return of the 4NCL


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Malcolm Pein focuses on the return of the 4NCL in today’s Daily Telegraph chess column.

The game of the day will bring back memories to those who were around during the era of the Man vs. Machine contests of the 1990s.

Malcolm Pein on…The Return of the 4NCL

A third season of the popular 4NCL Online League is under way, featuring some 258 teams of four players drawn from across the UK and Ireland.

Last season’s surprise champions, ChessPlus Kingston, have elected not to retain their title, leaving regular powerhouses Chessable White Rose, the winners of the inaugural season, and Guildford Young Guns likely to dominate.

Today’s game sees one of Black’s better lines against the c3 Sicilian, deploying the bishop outside the pawn chain, which was twice Kasparov’s choice during his 1996 match with Deep Blue.

T. Venkataramanan – K. Bui
Watford vs Anglia Avenger

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Nc6 8.h3 Bh5 9.Be3 cxd4 10.cxd4 Be7 (Kasparov preferred 10…Bb4 11.a3 Ba5 12.Nc3 Qd6 13.Nb5 Qe7 and had equalised. He was, though, to be famously outplayed in dynamic fashion by Deep Blue before bouncing back to take their first match 4-2) 11.Nc3 Qd7 12.Ne5 (Deep Blue-like, but 12.g4! Bg6 13.Ne5 followed by Qb3 or h4 is quite strong) 12…Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Qc8 14.Rac1 0-0 15.Qf3! (Pressuring c6 and bringing the queen closer to the black king) 15…Nd7?! 16.Nxc6 Qxc6 17.d5!

4NCL T. Venkataramanan – K. Bui

(This thematic breakthrough was also an advance, which stunned Kasparov. White now enjoys a strong initiative) 17…Qa6 18.Rfd1 exd5? (18…Nf6 19.dxe6 fxe6 was unpleasant, but a better defence) 19.Nxd5 Bd6 20.Bd4! (Taking aim at the vulnerable kingside) 20…Ne5 21.Qf5 (The immediate 21.Nf6+! was on) 21…Ng6 22.Nf6+! Kh8 (22…gxf6 23.Qxf6 forces 23…Be5 24.Bxe5 with an extra pawn and ongoing initiative) 23.Nd7 Qxa2 (If 23…Rfe8 24.Bxg7+! Kxg7 25.Qf6+ Kg8 26.Rxd6, but Black might have grovelled with 23…Rg8) 24.Bxg7+! (Even stronger than pocketing the exchange) 24…Kxg7 25.Qf6+ Kg8 26.Rxd6 Rfd8 27.Qc3 Rdc8 28.Nf6+! Kh8

Test Your Strength

T. Venkataramanan – K. Bui White to Play and Win

Now 29.Qd2 would be mundane and 29.Qxc8+ Rxc8 30.Rxc8+ Kg7 31.Rg8+ Kh6 32.Rd5! wins, but how did White instead force mate?

Highlight the space below to reveal the answer.

29.Rd8+! Rxd8 (29…Nf8 30.Rxc8 or 29…Kg7 30.Ne8+) 30.Ne8+! 1-0 If 30…Kg8 31.Qg7#.

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