Looking back on our team chess in 2019-20

By Andrew Medworth
Saturday 15 August, 2020

Now that the 2019-20 Middlesex League season has officially concluded, it’s time to look back at the season of team chess at Hendon.

Of course, our overriding memory of the year will sadly be the League’s premature halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last Hendon match took place on 12th March, rather than May or June as normal; across all our teams, we had played 49 out of a planned 68 matches, which is 72%.

At the AGM last month, we didn’t yet know how the League would choose to finish the season, so we skipped the usual captains' reports. Now that we know the final outcome, I wanted to take the opportunity to look back over the year’s chess, and celebrate some of the fine achievements of Hendon players. The season deserves to be remembered for more than just this virus!

My focus here (as third team captain) will be on our League matches. There were many other noteworthy events at Hendon Chess Club this year, such as our blitz tournaments and our simultaneous exhibition with GM Damian Lemos, but someone else will have to write the reports on those!

Here is a summary of each team’s season:

  • Hendon 1: won Division 1, winning 9 matches (9 of 14 matches played)
  • Hendon 2: finished top of Division 2, winning 7 and losing 1 (8 of 12 matches played)
  • Hendon 3: finished fourth in Division 2, winning 4 and losing 6 (10 of 12 matches played)
  • Hendon 4: finished third in Division 3, winning 5, drawing 2 and losing 3 (10 of 12 matches played)
  • Hendon Barnet Knights: finished second in Division 3, winning 6, drawing 2 and losing 1 (9 of 12 matches played)
  • Hendon U-125: finished top of the Formula 4 U-125 division, winning 3 (3 of 6 matches played)

Detailed results for each team can be found here.

Apart from Hendon 1’s victory, which is obviously the highlight of our season, the League otherwise concluded without any final results (including relegation or promotion). Therefore, in the remainder of this report, my focus here will be on individual contributions, and I’ll mostly group the results together across all teams.

Firstly, I’d like to thank the 66 different players who represented Hendon across our six teams. Of those, 20 did not play at all last season. To the new members: welcome! To those returning after a break: welcome back!

I’d also like to thank my fellow captains for making all the matches happen:

  • Michael Bennett (Hendon 1)
  • Alex Funk (Hendon 2)
  • Chris Rogal (Hendon 4)
  • Rob Willmoth (Hendon Barnet Knights) and
  • David Lewis (Hendon Formula 4 U-125).

There were thirteen players who represented us in at least 10 matches, with George and Faye leading the pack with 14 matches each. Congratulations and special thanks to all these stalwarts!

  • George Meligonis
  • Faye Ainscow
  • Jonathan Rubeck
  • Chris Rogal
  • Gideon Vecht
  • Domenico Napolitano
  • Andrew Medworth
  • Stanley Jacobs
  • Rob Willmoth
  • Savas Marin Stoica
  • Gary Senior
  • David Lewis
  • Alex Funk

In terms of points scored, Gary Senior leads the pack with an extraordinary 9½/10! The following players scored at least 7 points this season:

  • Gary Senior (9½/10)
  • George Meligonis (8/14)
  • Alex Funk (8/10)
  • Faye Ainscow (8/14)
  • Rob Willmoth (7½/10)
  • Gideon Vecht (7/12)
  • Savas Marin Stoica (7/10)
  • Eric Eedle (7/8)

In terms of percentage score, the following players scored at least 75% over at least five games:

  • Gary Senior (9½/10)
  • Jonathan Hawkins (5½/6)
  • Eric Eedle (7/8)
  • Alex Funk (8/10)
  • Rian Sarkar (5½/7)
  • Rob Willmoth (7½/10)
  • Tomer Eden (4½/6)

Well done to all these players, and apologies to those who also had fine seasons but didn’t quite make it onto the above lists; I had to draw the lines somewhere!

I will end with some personal reflections on what went well this season (apart from Hendon 1’s victory of course, for which congratulations once again to Michael Bennett and the squad).

Firstly, we had another excellent season of junior chess. Thanks to the efforts of Rob Willmoth and Barnet Knights, we have a number of rapidly developing junior players, making contributions not only to our junior team but also to higher teams. The “Barnet Knights graduates” playing for our adult teams this season include Eric Eedle, Savas Marin Stoica, and Eugenia Karas. This is wonderful to see, as these young people are the future of English chess, and hopefully the future of our club too!

While we’re on the subject of juniors, we should also thank the parents and guardians who support the young players in so many ways. I’m always touched to see the adults sitting outside the match room waiting for the juniors to finish their games!

Secondly, we had great success this season switching the fourth team captaincy to Chris Rogal, introducing a squad rotation policy for that team (rather than always picking the strongest available players), and introducing a Formula 4 U-125 team captained by David Lewis. This created a great deal more playing opportunities for lower-graded players.

Thank you once again to all our members: I’m sorry not to have been able to list all your contributions in full. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible again next season, ideally at the board, but if not, at one of our online events!