After regular daily updates, this column has suddenly gone quiet for the best part of a week. Sorry, but I've been laid low with what I would normally call 'flu, had I not received the annual jab a few weeks ago.
Last weekend saw the first two rounds of the flagship 4NCL team competition. This event started from modest beginnings in 1993 with the participation of only six teams. It has grown from strength to strength, and now boasts three divisions in which no fewer than 79 teams compete.
The league's format has changed on a number of occasions, but for the last few years seems to have settled down to a stable format. The top two divisions comprise 16 teams of eight players, divided into two pools of eight teams of roughly equal strength for the first seven rounds; after seven rounds the top four teams in each pool combine to fight it out for the top places, while the bottom four teams in each pool do likewise - but this time to battle against relegation! The third division, played with six players per team according to a Swiss tournament format and currently comprising 47 teams in total, is split regionally between north and south for the first six rounds; all the teams then join together for the final five rounds in the quest for promotion to the second division.
The first two rounds were played last weekend and featured many Suffolk players. The indivdual outstanding results were Alan Merry's win over IM Colin Crouch, for Anglian Avengers 1, and Martin Fogg's win for Anglian Avengers 3 over a 2165-rated opponent (223 points highjer than Martin). Other Suffolk players competing included (scores out of two in brackets) David Spence (1), Shaun Munson (½), Mark Gray (1), Steve Gregory (1½), Richard Lamont (½), Ian Wallis (1). Mike Cook (1½), Tim Lunn (1½), Martin Fogg (1), Luke Hill (½), Keith Woodcock (1), John Feavyour (1) and Laurie Pott (0). Alan Merry scored 1½ and Martin Fogg 1. Several other Suffolk players are registered for the four Suffolk-based teams, and will doubtless get their opportunity to play in subsequent rounds.
Anglian Avengers 1 lost both matches by the narrowest of margins, whilst Anglian Avengers 2 won both theirs by similar margins. Both Anglian Avengers 3 and Iceni lost both their matches.
See the teams' individual results:
Anglian Avengers 1 (Div 2)
Anglian Avengers 2 (Div 3s)
Anglian Avengers 3 (Div 3s)
Iceni (Div 3s)