Lions close in on King's Head

Wednesday 24 March, 2010

Accompanied by the soothing sounds of the Tango from the next room, our 1st team consolidated their 2nd place in Division 1, with a 5½-2½ away win at West London. We are now only half a point behind league leaders Kings Head, with a match in hand.

West London 1 West London 1 Hendon 1 Hendon 1
Hayler, Andrew
180 0 - 1
Mures, Cristian
Burke, John S
172 0 - 1
Senior, Gary
Bass, John W
178 0 - 1
Eden, Tomer
Jezierski, Colum
171 0 - 1
Raoof, Adam N
Campbell, Russell
166 0 - 1
Ellis, Daniel
Kane, Robert
157 1 - 0
du Buf, Paul
Bunn, Matthew
156 1 - 0
Pepe, Salvatore
Bote, Elena
- ½ - ½
Limonov, Petr
2½ - 5½

Match report by Dan

The Lions are facing a tough test to prove their status as kings of the Middlesex League Division 1 jungle. Having dropped only half a match point so far in 9 matches, the good run needs to be continued until the end of the season if they are to be crowned champions. Last Wednesday, we faced a tough West London side at Chiswick town hall. The final scoreline 5½– 2½ as ever flatters the winning side in what was a tightly fought contest.

On board 1, after a quiet opening by his standards, Cristian pushed for an advantage with white with the move e5, which was unexpected by the W London captain. Although the pawn seemed to be a weakness, it served to displace the black minor pieces and enable Cristian to manoeuvre around, eventually catching the unfortunate black king on h6 with his queen.

After 31…Nd3 Cristian finished off with 32. Bxh6+ Kxh6 33. Qh4+, and black resigned as 34. Ng5! is decisive. (View on Lichess)

On board 2, Gary quickly achieved a large dominant mobile pawn centre with the black pieces. Despite pushing all the white pieces back to the first and second ranks, Gary was not able to achieve the final breakthrough that he searched for during the middlegame. White gave up his g-pawn for some activity against a castled black king and this proved sufficient for him to hold on until a time scramble ensued where Gary seemed to hold all the trumps. White’s flag fell just as one of the mighty black pawns was finally edging towards promotion.

On board 3 Tomer played true to his style, winning the game with a series of quiet but deadly dominating positional moves. Using a couple of advanced outposts for his minor pieces and an open c-file he eventually reached a position so quiet and so deadly that his opponent was forced to resign. The tide seemed to turn when his opponent was forced to retreat his queen back to a very passive position after a tasty zwischenzug by a white bishop (though Tomer has pointed out that …Qe6 would be good for Black after Bd4 – ed).

Tomer played the deadly 30.Bc5! and his opponent threw in the towel. (View on Lichess)

On board 4, Adam gradually squeezed his opponent onto the defensive despite having the black pieces. This was achieved with a series of impeccably timed counterpunches to white’s various attempts to assume the initiative. Eventually, having placed all his pieces on to their best available squares, Adam took the plunge with the brave Nxg2 (pawn), opening the way to the white king. Exploiting a pin from the bishop’s outpost on e4 to the king in the corner until the last possible moment, Adam was able to reach a king and pawn ending with an extra pawn and a decent king position. He handled the time pressure well and won the game, retaining his unbeaten record for the season.

Adam took the plunge with 37…Nxg2!! and after 38. Rxg2 Rxf3! 39. Nxf3 Rxf3! 40. Rff2 Rxf2 41. Qxf2 Kg8!, it was all over bar the clock-banging and swindling attempts, as Black exchanged off into a won pawn ending. (View on Lichess)

On board 5, I had the white pieces yet again. I had prepared to play another game of the ‘spanish torture’ variety but such hopes had to be thrown on the scrapheap when my opponent answered my opening move with the unexpected move 1…e6 ! I went into the advance variation of the French and seemed to catch my opponent napping when I kept the black king in the centre with f7+ after taking on f6. Continuing by opening the f-file and making a few unassuming developing moves, my opponent then blundered into a family fork when the hapless black king was trying to run for cover on the queenside.

Dan’s nifty 10. exf6 Nxg3 11. f7+! Kxf7 12. fxg3 left his opponent’s king to roam the board looking for safety. (View on Lichess)

On board 6, Paul (who did not complain about playing black for the 7th game in succession!) faced the wrath of a white attack after he captured on f6 with the g-pawn in a Trompowsky-type opening. His opponent played the attack in great style – at one stage with two pieces already en prise, he smashed through Paul’s defences with Qxd5! Paul had to resign just a few moves later.

On board 7, Salvatore was not able to contain his young and wily opponent or tame the Kings Indian setup which he faced. Black eventually won the pawn on a2 and had a mighty pawn on b2 that spelled the end for ‘mustang’ Salvatore, despite desperately searching for counterchances until the end.

On board 8, Petr found himself the exchange down after going in for some unclear tactical complications. However, his female Russian opponent could not rescue her rook which was under siege on the seventh rank and so was forced to repeat the position, and the game was drawn.

The Lions must now go on and face King’s Head away on Monday. Can they hold on and capture the championship for Hendon? Time will tell chess fans…

Division 1 Standings

  1. Kings Head 1 – 9/10 (57.5)
  2. Hendon 1 – 8.5/9 (52)
  3. Muswell Hill 1 – 6.5/14 (50.5)
  4. Ealing 1 – 6.5/9 (49.5)
  5. Hackney 1 – 3.5/8 (29.5)
  6. Hackney 2 – 3/12 (39)
  7. Hammersmith 1 – 1.5/10 (21.5)
  8. West London 1 – 1.5/8 (20.5)