We got home from St Petersburg after 9pm on Thursday evening just in time to vote in the council elections.By Saturday morning we were on the road to Hinckley for the final 4NCL weekend, in fact it was also my first of the season and it was good to meet up with my Wood Green teammates and new recruits. I started with an interesting game with Peter Wells -after my exertions in Russia another long endgame was not especially welcome but my opponent erred late on and I managed to win. At dinner that evening Lawrence Trent was kind enough to explain the 2Nf3e6 3g3 Sicilian to me (amongst other things) but the next day I went my own way in a game in that line with Graham Morrison. My opening scheme proved underwhelming but I triumphed in the end.
As expected the big match came against Guildford on the Bank Holiday Monday in which a draw would enable them to take the title. There were a number of surprise guests on both sides but it seemed fated that no matter how the board orders were shuffled I would end up playing Laurent Fressinet who took the same plane back from Russia as me;another lengthy game was the result, I thought I had a massive position from the opening but the tricky 15…Ne4 limited the damage. We eventually ended up in a rook and pawn endgame where I had an extra pawn, I initially imagined this would be a fairly easy draw, but as this game and the subsequent Carlsen-Wang Hao game showed it is not that simple. Unfortunately the 4-4 draw was of little use to Wood Green but the hard fought match involving many homegrown players was a fitting finale to the season.