Manx Liberty wins 4NCL season 2022/2023

by ChessBase
5/15/2023 – For the second year in a row, Manx Liberty won the British Four Nations League (4NCL) title. The team won all 11 matches, scoring 12 team points and finishing five points clear of White Rose and Cheddleton. | Photo: Manx Liberty

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Press release Manx Liberty claims second 4NCL title in a row for season 2022/2023

Despite finishing the season with a clean team score sheet of 22-0 and a five team point lead over Chessable White Rose 1, the competition was tight almost to the very end. Luck supported the Manx team multiple times this season otherwise several team points could have been lost.

Surprisingly the mid-class team of Chessable White Rose 2 posed the first serious stumbling block by beating the Top board of the Manx team and then holding on to a balanced scorecard upon completion of the first seven games, but lost the last remaining game to give the Manx team a 4.5-3.5 victory. Manx-based exchange student Victor Magold from Romania booked a valuable draw with black on board 8 and contributed signficantly to the victory.

During the second last weekend, Cheddleton upgraded their team with a strong grandmaster as wildcard on board 1 and was hoping to stun the Manx team with this surprise. At the very end, the first seven boards were all drawn and the decision of the outcome of the match was delegated to the battle of Fiona Steil-Antonio for Cheddleton vs. Julianna Terbe for Manx. Julianna Terbe was the lucky winner of this encounter after mistakes on both sides securing a close 4.5-3.5 for Manx Liberty.

The last weekend featured first the match of Chessable White Rose 1 and Manx Liberty, both teams with clean sheets after 8 rounds. The individual pairings were mostly staffed with players of similar ratings, except on board 2 where Alexei Shirov with white playing for Manx Liberty outrated his opponent by around 250 ELO points.

The living chess legend known for his attacking style lived fully up to high expectations and presented an exciting victory with tactical fireworks. The fast 1-0 lead over Chessable White Rose1 allowed the remaining Manx team members to play a disciplined match without the pressure to come up with more victories.Chessable White Rose 1 could not find any win and therefore was beaten 4.5-3.5.

Round 10 presented another serious challenge for the Manx team with Wood Green as opponent. The match saw the game between Alexei Shirov and Jon Speelman, both vastly popular in the chess world. Jon Speelman proved to be a serious hurdle for Manx Liberty in the past, drawing against Rapport and Lupulescu in previous 4NCL seasons.

Shirov launched a quick attack against Speelman and converted this advantage to a winning endgame. A later analysis of the two players proved that Shirov could have played a magical move (instead of the strong move that also wins) which he saw but declined to play due to the uncertainty of too many side lines.

While his play is frequently superior to his 4NCL opponents, he is still one of us and not a machine.

Jon Speelman continued to show his infectious curiosity for creative chess moves during the game analysis, never being satisfied with the first idea and a relentless desire to dig deeper as frequently demonstrated by his chess media publications.

A critical game was won by Manx player Balazs Csonka with black against fierce opponent Matthew Wadsworth on board 2.

Balazs Csonka created a counter chance in the middle game by pushing a centre pawn which allowed his knight to become too powerful.

Manx player on board 3 Viktor Erdos converted a superior strategic position to victory, while Wood Green's Andrew Greet on board 8 utilized his 150 ELO advantage with white to victory leading to a clear 5-3 win for Manx Liberty over Wood Green with all other games drawn.

The last round against The Sharks did not really pose a challenge anymore as The Sharks were mostly busy securing two GM norms for 2 of their players and were successful with two draws on board 2 and board 4. Board 2 could have been Shirov but the Manx team leadership wanted him to continue to be on board 1.

The match ended with 5.5-2.5 and besides Shirov winning again, Mircea Parligras was able to launch a deadly kingside attack even without queens and won.  

The Manx team added another victory and five games ended with draws.

Overall, the Manx team demonstrated a great level of discipline in critical matches, but was more than lucky to keep a clean team score sheet.

Until round 10, it was a breath-holding competition and only the last round saw the Manx team relaxed as the title was now certain regardless of the score against the Sharks 1.

Manx Liberty is expected to play with a similar or better team next season 2023/2024.

Final standings


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