First wins of the New Year!

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 13 January, 2021

I’m delighted to report that both Hendon teams got off the mark for 2021 by registering heavy victories!

We are now in one of the worst periods of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the UK, and I continue to hear stories of club members and their friends and family being affected, in ways large and small. Again, I wish everyone in the chess community health, strength and peace as we fight through.

On a happier note, pretty much everything went our way on the chessboard tonight, in a mirror image of last week!

In the Open Division, our A team significantly outgraded Athenaeum A, and defeated them by a wide margin.

Athenaeum A Hendon A
1
Tony D Wells
2088 0 - 1
Sacha Brozel
2260
2
Steve Madden
1803 ½ - ½
Andrew Medworth
1788
3
David A Morgan
1645 0 - 1
Alex Leslie
2088
4
Martin Leanse
1668 0 - 1
David Amior
1900
½ - 3½

Just like last week, the Board 4 game was over in a flash, but this time with a happier result for us: David Amior won out of the opening to get us off to a flying start!

Next came a minor setback: I had to substitute myself in on Board 2 five minutes before the default time. Psychologically unprepared for a competitive game, I played a fairly conservative opening, and found myself in a long grind. I won a pawn, and then a second, and had a clearly winning position in the rook ending, but low on time, I could not muster the calm technique required to consolidate the win, and only drew.

Thankfully, on Boards 1 and 3, our Barnet Knights graduates Sacha and Alex did the business with the Black pieces! Sacha was better out of the opening when his opponent tried a very odd move (4. Nh3?!) against his Winawer French; the White player later reached a tenable position, but mishandled Sacha’s passed pawn in a heavy piece ending, and Sacha brought home the full point.

Alex had a fairly level and blocked position for most of the game, but then his opponent blundered, and Alex duly took advantage.

A fine match win without defeat, that should probably have been a clean sweep! Here are a few interesting moments from the match.

[Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.13"] [Round "9.3.4"] [White "Amior, David"] [Black "Leanse, Martin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.dxc5 e5 7.cxd6 $2 { Stockfish does not approve of this move, but in practice it had a confounding effect! } 7...Rb8 $2 ( 7...exf4 $1 { Cold-bloodedness was the order of the day here } 8.Nc7+ Kd7 9.Nxa8 Qa5+ 10.c3 fxe3 $19 { Black will take the d6 pawn next and the Na8 is unlikely to escape. } ) 8.Nc7+ Kd7 9.Bg5 { Now White is just winning. } 9...Bxd6 10.Nb5 Qa5+ ( 10...Ke7 11.Qxd6+ Qxd6 12.Nxd6 Kxd6 13.O-O-O+ $18 { White is only a pawn up here, but is developing rapidly and the Black pieces lack coordination. } ) 11.c3 a6 { Presumably just missing White's next, but Black was done for anyway. } 12.Qxd6+ { A great start to the match! } 1-0 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.13"] [Round "9.3.3"] [White "Morgan, David"] [Black "Leslie, Alex"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A20"] [FEN "1kb2r2/1p3rq1/p1p5/P1Pp1pp1/1P1Pp3/4P1P1/4BP1R/1K1Q3R w - - 0 34"] [SetUp "1"] { Despite White's control of the only open file, this is a basically level position. } 34.Rh6 f4 35.gxf4 gxf4 36.Qg1 fxe3 { Here White should simply recapture... } 37.Qh2+ $4 { A disastrous "finesse"! } ( 37.fxe3 Rg8 38.Qxg7 Rgxg7 $10 ) 37...Ka7 38.Rh7 ( 38.fxe3 Rf2 $19 { is the point - now the queen and bishop are forked, and the Qg7 is no longer hanging! } ) 38...Qxh7 39.Qxh7 Rxh7 40.Rxh7 Rxf2 0-1

In the U1825 division, our opponents from King’s Head had an unusual grading profile: their strong captain Colin Mackenzie on top board, but three lower-rated players further down.

Hendon B King's Head Bishops
1
Eric Eedle
1788 0 - 1
Colin Mackenzie
2013
2
Morris Jones
1758 1 - 0
Neil Tomkin
1735
3
Nick Murphy
1750 1 - 0
Evan Beachley
1660
4
Tony Artman
1400 1 - 0
Joseph Katsioloudes
~1500
3 - 1

Board 1 always looked like a challenging match-up for us, especially when we lost Chris Rogal and had to bump Eric and Morris up one, but we had in-form players with competitive grades on the middle two boards, so a lot depended on what happened on Board 4, where Tony Artman faced a player with no official grade.

It was a see-saw encounter: Tony made the first major blunder, but thankfully his opponent blundered back a few moves later, allowing a back rank mate when a rook and knight ahead!

The middle two boards went our way, as I’d hoped. Two openings with a dull reputation - the Petroff and the Exchange Slav - but the games weren’t boring at all! Nick was winning out of the opening and rounded things off in 22 moves, while Morris tried an interesting and ultimately sound piece sacrifice. On paper his opponent should have been able to defend, but this proved beyond the King’s Head player in practice: Morris ended up with a rook and a shed-load of pawns against two knights, and showed good technique to win.

Board 1 did eventually go our opponents' way, but Eric did himself great credit in a very sharp line of the Nimzo-Indian. He was doing very well at times, but unfortunately the game washed out into an ending where his opponent had too many pawns for the piece. Nonetheless, a 3-1 win is very pleasing.

Thanks to everyone for playing, and many congratulations to both teams!

[Event "London Online Chess League - U1825"] [Date "2021.01.13"] [Round "11.10.2"] [White "Tomkin, Neil"] [Black "Jones, Morris"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [FEN "r4rk1/1p3pp1/p1nqp3/3p4/3P2n1/P1NNP3/1PQ2PP1/R4RK1 w - - 0 18"] [SetUp "1"] 18.g3 Nxe3 $5 { An interesting piece sacrifice, and a great practical decision! White must defend accurately. } 19.fxe3 Qxg3+ 20.Kh1 Qxe3 21.Nf2 $2 ( 21.Nf4 $1 { was the only move here. } 21...Nxd4 22.Qh2 Nf5 23.Nfxd5 $1 { The key idea. By clearing the way for the queen to get to the h-file and threatening Ne7 mate if the Nf5 moves away, White holds the balance. } 23...Qh6 $1 { Black must also find this only move to avoid a serious disadvantage. } ( 23...exd5 $2 24.Rxf5 $16 ) ( 23...Ng3+ $2 24.Kg2 exd5 { Black had no choice here as both the queen and knight were hanging. } 25.Qxg3 $16 ) 24.Qxh6 Nxh6 25.Ne7+ Kh7 $10 { With three pawns for the piece, but the queens off the board, my engine considers this dead level. } ) 21...Nxd4 22.Qd1 ( 22.Qd3 Nf5 23.Qxe3 Nxe3 24.Rg1 Rac8 $19 { Black has four pawns for the piece this time, which is sufficient for my engine to consider Black winning! } ) 22...Nf5 $1 { Really nice idea from Morris! The threat of ...Ng3+ is winning material back. } 23.Ng4 Ng3+ 24.Kg2 Nxf1 25.Qxf1 Qd2+ 26.Qf2 Qxf2+ 27.Kxf2 f6 { Four pawns and a rook for the two knights - an unusual material balance, but very favourable for Black, and Morris did a good job of showing why! } 28.Rg1 Kf7 29.Rh1 Rh8 30.Rxh8 Rxh8 31.Kg3 d4 32.Ne4 Rd8 33.Nc5 d3 34.Nxb7 Rd5 35.Ne3 d2 36.b4 Rd3 37.Kf2 Rxe3 0-1

We play again next week! Full schedule here.

You can find a list of all stories about the London Online Chess League here.