Harrow 1 v Hendon 2

Thursday 17 November, 2011
Harrow 1 Hendon 2
Crouch, Colin S
210 1 - 0
Willmoth, Robert F
Frostick, Clive A
199 ½ - ½
Warman, Simon M
Qaderi, Habib
187 0 - 1
Rogers, Tim L
Chan, Nevil
184 1 - 0
Raoof, Adam N
Ackley, Peter JE
178 1 - 0
Hjort, Helge
Blackie, Neville J
178 0 - 1
Du Buf, Paul
Nettleton, Charlie B
165 0 - 1
Ellis, Daniel
Balaji, Ananthanarayanan
164 ½ - ½
Bennett, Michael K
4 - 4

Match report by Dan Ellis

Close Encounter With The Third Outcome

Hendon 2 faced one of the front runners in their division last night and began the match well, winning two quick games on the lower boards. Michael (DHT) Bennett then took a draw on board 8 against enterprising junior Ananth Balaji.

The young man looks a great prospect for the future and is a real credit to his team. Playing black, he unfortunately got himself into trouble by forgetting some opening preparation (5….Qf6) and then castling into a storm on the kingside. The killing touch was seemingly within reach but black found an active defense with ….f5!, forcing a queen exchange, whereupon a draw was amicably agreed. Analysis after the game showed that white had good chances with either Bf6! Or Bxh6! giving a piece for a mighty attack.

Two and a half out of 3 and things were looking good. At the other end of hall, on boards 2 and 3 Hendon were looking favourable. Warman was a pawn to the good but in his opponent’s time trouble, allowed black to become very active after ….h4! opening up lines in front of the white king. Despite having a good grip on the position, the game seemed destined for a draw with the opposite colour bishops being the characteristic feature of the game, and so it was.

Meanwhile on board 3, Tim was pressing home an overwhelming material advantage. White’s game hung on, harassing the black king in the centre, but this proved impossible as the king stayed in front of a shield of solid pawns. Black grabbed as many enemy pawns as he could carry (I think he was five up by the end) and cruised on to victory.

The draw was now in the bag and despite only needing half a point from the remaining 3 games in play, Hendon 2 were just unable to get there as we witnessed a great fightback from Harrow.

Game of the Match was board 1 where IM Colin Crouch gave a master-class in attacking play. Black seemed to be holding his own with a ‘spearhead’ pawn on e4 giving him a spatial plus in the middlegame. But White then undermined the pawn with levers on c4 and f3 and begun to get active pieces making particularly good use of the open f file. In the decisive action of the game, White made a spectacular double exchange sacrifice on f6. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes but it was all made possible by a loose rook on c8 – after gxf6, white had qg4+ picking up the important castle on c8. Black coped well despite being severely pressed for time, but white kept throwing more wood on the fire – b4! Was a nice touch – allowing white to gain a key tempo with Nd5 – the knight hotstepped all over blacks kingside and working in conjuction with a monster bishop on b2 provided the decisive and pretty combination. A brilliant game to watch as I kept wondering how white was going to keep the momentum going.

Having been pressed for space throughout the game, Helge somehow emerged OK on board 5 but in time pressure was unable to hold the game and lost.

The spectators gathered round board 4 which – as we were 4-3 up – would determine the outcome of the match. Having had a very slight plus with the white pieces, Raoof was unable to make anything much out of his knight outpost on c5 and found himself in a difficult position when black took complete control of the only open file in a position with no minor pieces. White tried to get his queenside pawns moving, but in the end, it was black that found a way to crash through on the white weakness on f2. ….e3! proved too much and the game was over.

So the match ended 4-4 and must have felt more like a victory for our opponents after such a bright Hendon start. Still a very solid result against a tough team who are favourites to win the division!

My game is below:

[Event "Harrow 1 vs Hendon 2"] [Date "2011.11.17"] [White "Charlie Nettleton"] [Black "Daniel Ellis"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A40"] 1.c4 b6 $1 { My weapon of choice against the English. I have found that this response throws a lot of white’s off balance as it discourages g3. In most openings, I find b6 lines (Queens Indian) difficult to play but here it is not so bad because the English is kind of slow compared to ‘normal’ king’s or queen pawn openings. } 2.Nc3 Bb7 3.d4 e6 ( { If White plays } 3...f5 { immediately, White can play } 4.Bg5 { which looks decidedly irritating for black. } ) 4.e3 $2 { Punishing white for somewhat passive play. } ( 4.e4 { would I think have given a much better game. Now black has a good grip. } ) 4...f5 $1 5.Nf3 Bb4 { Again targeting e4 via the pin } 6.Bd2 Nf6 7.Bd3 O-O { Black now has a pleasant dutch type position } 8.Qe2 { Somewhat unusual. Qc2 is the usual square setting up a battery against the king. Perhaps white was worried about bxNf3 after castling? } 8...a5 9.O-O Ne4 { Making a nuisance of himself! Black should probably be talking more to his knight on b8. } 10.Nb1 { Evidence that the opening has been a success for black. } 10...d6 11.a3 ( { I was looking with interest at what happens if white continues to ‘undevelop’ with } 11.Bc1 $5 { when the white bishop may cause his opposite number some embarrassment. Black then has to choose between d5 or a4 I suppose. } ) 11...Bxd2 12.Nfxd2 { Again unexpected. White wants to take no chances and evict the knight with f3. bN takes looks somewhat more natural. } 12...Qh4 { Taking the opportunity to get the queen over to ‘dutch’ territory. } 13.f3 Nf6 { Keeping some pieces on the board and trying to organise a middlegame. } ( 13...Ng5 { was an option allowing the rook to defend the f5 pawn if black gets in e5. } ) 14.Nc3 Nbd7 { An interesting sort of symmetrical jousting is going on with these knights! } 15.Nb5 Ne8 { Actually not a bad square for the knight and this move forms a key part of blacks plan in any case. Black wants to play e5 and for this he will need to defend his f5 pawn. } 16.b4 e5 { So black has achieved this move and for the moment white must do something about d4 which is under fire. } 17.Qe1 Qh6 { Again – keeping pieces. Black must keep the queen if he is to create play on the kingside. } 18.Nc3 $2 { A decisive mistake. } 18...axb4 19.axb4 $2 Rxa1 20.Qxa1 Qxe3+ { White resigned. } 0-1