A single bright star in a dark Tornelo sky

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 20 January, 2021

Both Hendon teams were comprehensively beaten in the LOCL this evening, with seven of eight games ending in defeat, our worst result of the season so far.

In the Open section, our A team fielded a strong lineup, but came up against one of the top teams in the division in the Charlton Chess Addicks, led by an FM on Board 1 and an average rating over 2200.

Hendon A Charlton Chess Addicks
Sacha Brozel
2260 0 - 1
FM Conor Murphy
Rob Willmoth
2200 0 - 1
Gary Clark
Alex Leslie
2088 1 - 0
Nick Briggs
Jason Covey
1990 0 - 1
John Wager
1 - 3

On Board 4, Jason Covey went wrong at the end of the opening, losing a central pawn, with his knight in a vicious pin on the d-file, giving his opponent a clear advantage which he rapidly converted.

On Board 2, Rob Willmoth went wrong at a similar stage of the game, losing material to a strong kingside attack, with his queenside pieces undeveloped. It looked like he escaped just one pawn down, but his king remained vulnerable with his opponent having the bishop pair, and he soon lost a further exchange and got mated.

On Board 3, Alex Leslie managed to stop the rot for us by coming out on the winning side of a topsy-turvy Queen’s Indian in which the advantage changed hands several times.

Board 1 went right down to the wire in a nailbiting time scramble. Sacha had been worse for much of the game, but his opponent went wrong with very little time on the clock; unfortunately, Sacha could not capitalise, and the position liquidated to a queen ending, which was objectively level, but both players were essentially playing on increment. The queens were swapped off, and the resulting pawn ending was drawn, but it required a little more accuracy from Sacha than from his opponent, who reeled in the full point.

Here are some interesting and instructive moments from the match.

[Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.20"] [Round "10.6.3"] [White "Leslie, Alex"] [Black "Briggs, Nick"] [Result "1-0"] [FEN "r3r1k1/1bp2pbp/1p4p1/p2PP3/2P4q/2NQR3/PP4BP/4R2K b - - 2 22"] [SetUp "1"] { This position is roughly balanced, with White's strong centre being counterbalanced by Black's two bishops and White's shaky king. } 22...Bh6 23.Re4 Bf4 { How best to parry the threat to h2? } 24.h3 $2 ( 24.Qh3 Qxh3 25.Bxh3 { and Stockfish thinks the position is still roughly level. } ) 24...Qg5 $2 { An error in reply. It's a tricky position! } ( 24...f5 $1 { requires White to give the exchange } 25.R4e3 ( 25.R4e2 Bg3 $19 ) ( 25.exf6 Qxe1+ $1 26.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 27.Bf1 Rf8 $19 ) 25...Bxe3 26.Rxe3 Rad8 $17 ) 25.e6 $2 ( 25.Qf3 $1 Bd2 26.R1e2 Qh6 27.Qg3 Bxc3 28.Qxc3 Rad8 29.Kh2 $16 { With the two bishops gone, White's dominant centre looks like the decisive factor. } ) 25...fxe6 26.Rxe6 Rxe6 27.Rxe6 Be5 28.Qe2 $1 Bxc3 ( 28...Bd4 29.Qd1 Bg7 30.Qe1 Rf8 31.Nb5 Bc8 32.Nxc7 $1 Bxe6 33.Nxe6 Qe7 34.d6 $1 Qxd6 35.Nxf8 Kxf8 36.Bd5 $10 ) 29.bxc3 { This is a level position. } 29...Rf8 30.Qe3 { It was probably better to avoid the queen trade here. } 30...Qxe3 31.Rxe3 Kg7 ( 31...Kf7 $15 { would have put White under a bit of pressure here. } ) 32.Kh2 ( 32.Re7+ Rf7 33.Re8 $10 ) 32...Rf7 33.Kg3 { Now things are OK for White again. } 33...Ba6 34.Re4 Kf6 35.Kf4 $6 { This allows Black to force a rook penetration. } ( 35.Re6+ $1 Kg7 36.c5 Bc4 37.a3 bxc5 38.Rc6 $10 ) 35...Bc8 { Missing the opportunity. } ( 35...Re7 $1 36.Rd4 ( 36.Rxe7 Kxe7 37.Bf1 h6 $1 38.Ke5 Bc8 $19 { This is just a lost ending ultimately. Black will give his g- and h-pawns for the White h-pawn and trade the bishops, leaving Black's king free to munch White's queenside. } ) 36...Re1 37.d6 cxd6 38.Rxd6+ Re6 $15 ) 36.Ke3 $2 { White definitely shouldn't allow the rooks to be traded. } ( 36.c5 $1 $10 ) 36...Re7 $1 37.Kd4 Rxe4+ 38.Kxe4 g5 39.Kd4 { Thankfully for Alex, his opponent went wrong here. } 39...h5 $2 { Tempting, but Black should first take steps to secure his queenside and the centre before pushing the kingside pawns. } ( 39...Bd7 $1 40.c5 bxc5+ 41.Kxc5 Ke5 $1 $19 { Black has both kept the White king out of his queenside (covering b5, c6 and a4 with the bishop) and playing ...Ke5 to prevent the White king returning to the kingside. } 42.Bf1 h5 { Now is the time for this push. White can't save the kingside or attack Black's queenside quickly enough to compensate. } 43.Bg2 Kf4 44.Bf1 Ke3 ( 44...Kg3 $2 45.Bb5 $1 Bxh3 46.Kc6 g4 47.Kxc7 Kf4 48.Bd7 $1 Bf1 49.d6 g3 50.Bc6 Bh3 51.c4 h4 52.Bg2 Bxg2 53.d7 h3 54.d8=Q h2 55.Qh4+ $10 ) 45.Bb5 ( 45.Bg2 h4 46.c4 Kf2 $19 ) 45...Bxh3 46.Kc6 g4 47.Kxc7 g3 48.d6 g2 49.d7 Bxd7 $19 ) 40.c5 $1 b5 ( 40...bxc5+ 41.Kxc5 Bd7 ( 41...Ke5 $2 42.Kc6 $18 ) 42.Kd4 g4 43.hxg4 hxg4 44.c4 $10 ) 41.c6 h4 $2 { The final mistake of the game. Black had to liquidate the queenside immediately to survive. } ( 41...b4 42.cxb4 axb4 43.Kc4 Ke5 44.Kxb4 Kd6 { This position is a draw. } 45.a4 Ba6 46.Bf3 ( 46.Ka5 $2 Bc4 $19 ) 46...Bf1 47.a5 g4 48.hxg4 hxg4 49.Bxg4 Kxd5 50.Bf3+ Kd6 ) 42.Kc5 $1 Ba6 ( 42...b4 43.cxb4 axb4 44.Kxb4 g4 45.hxg4 Bxg4 46.Kc5 h3 47.Bh1 Ke5 48.a4 { No fortress this time - White is queening! } 48...h2 49.a5 Be2 50.d6 cxd6+ 51.Kb6 d5 52.c7 Bg4 53.a6 $18 ) 43.d6 cxd6+ 44.Kxd6 Kf5 45.Bf3 $1 Kf4 46.Bg4 { Alex has played it beautifully. The c-pawn simply queens, and the extra piece will decide the game. } 46...Ke3 47.Kc5 Kd3 { Black decides to shed the piece directly, but it's over either way. } 48.Kb6 { A very interesting and complex ending, which could have gone either way, but Alex played well at key moments. A definite positive we can take from a rough day! } 1-0 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.20"] [Round "10.6.1"] [White "Brozel, Sacha"] [Black "Murphy, Conor"] [Result "0-1"] [FEN "2k3r1/pp1qb3/2p1pp2/7p/6r1/3P1QP1/PP1BPP2/2RR2K1 b - - 1 24"] [SetUp "1"] { Here Sacha had around 9 minutes on the clock against just two for his opponent. This time shortage must be taken into account when looking at the coming moves. Black has an excellent attacking position, and White must defend grimly. } 24...h4 25.Rc4 Rxc4 26.dxc4 hxg3 27.fxg3 Bc5+ ( 27...Qd4+ { was very strong here according to Stockfish. } ) 28.Kg2 Qd4 29.b3 ( 29.Qf4 $5 { is an interesting try. } 29...Rg4 $1 ( 29...Qxb2 $2 30.Qe4 $1 { is the idea, when Black needs to take some care } 30...Qe5 ( 30...e5 $2 31.Qf5+ Kb8 ( 31...Kc7 $2 32.Qh7+ $18 ) 32.Qh7 $1 Rd8 33.Rb1 { is the unpleasant point, when the threat of mate on b7 forces Black to give the queen } 33...Qxb1 34.Qxb1 Rxd2 35.Kf3 $14 { This ending should probably still be a draw, but White shouldn't be in much danger. } ) 31.Qxe5 fxe5 $15 { White seems to have good drawing chances here. } ) 30.Qxd4 Rxd4 31.Kf3 Bb4 32.Ke3 e5 33.a3 Bd6 $17 { The c-pawn can't be saved. } ) 29...Bd6 30.e3 Qb2 31.Qe4 Rxg3+ ( 31...Kb8 $1 { It would be safer for Black to secure his king first, for reasons we will see later } 32.Qd4 Qxd4 33.exd4 Rxg3+ $19 ) 32.Kf1 Be5 $2 { Allowing a shocking reversal! } ( 32...Qe5 $1 33.Qxe5 Bxe5 34.Kf2 Rh3 35.Rg1 Rh2+ 36.Rg2 $17 { Black has an extra pawn here, but White has definite drawing chances. } ) 33.Ba5 $1 { The threat of Rd8# suddenly causes Black big problems. } 33...b6 34.Qxc6+ Bc7 35.Qa8+ $1 ( 35.Qxe6+ $2 { leads to nothing more than perpetual check } 35...Kb7 36.Qe4+ Kb8 37.Qe8+ Kb7 38.Qe4+ $10 ) 35...Bb8 36.Rd8+ $1 Kxd8 37.Qxb8+ { And White elegantly picks up the rook on g3. } 37...Kd7 38.Qxg3 $2 { White should pick up some pawns first though! } ( 38.Qxa7+ { With such little time, it's not obvious White can get away with this of course. } 38...Ke8 ( 38...Kc6 39.Qxb6+ Kd7 40.Qd8+ Kc6 41.Qc7# ) 39.Qb8+ Kd7 40.Qb7+ Ke8 ( 40...Kd8 41.Qxb6+ Ke8 42.Qxe6+ Kf8 43.Qd6+ Ke8 44.Qxg3 $18 ) 41.Qc8+ Kf7 42.Qc7+ Ke8 43.Qxg3 bxa5 44.Qb8+ $1 Kd7 45.Qb7+ Kd8 46.Qa8+ Ke7 47.Qxa5 $18 { White has two extra pawns and Black has no perpetual check. White should win. } ) 38...bxa5 { Now the position is level. } 39.Qg7+ Ke8 40.Qg8+ Ke7 41.Qg7+ Kd6 42.Qg3+ e5 43.Qf2 Qb1+ 44.Kg2 Kc5 45.Qd2 Qe4+ 46.Kf2 Qh4+ 47.Ke2 Qg4+ 48.Kd3 Qf5+ 49.Kc3 Qe4 50.Kb2 Kc6 51.a3 a4 52.Qc3 Qg2+ 53.Qc2 Qxc2+ 54.Kxc2 { Objectively, this pawn ending is a draw, but White is at more risk than Black, since Black has the outside f-pawn. With both players surviving on the increment at this point, this proved to be the decisive factor. } 54...axb3+ 55.Kxb3 Kc5 56.Kc3 f5 57.Kd3 $2 { Tragedy strikes. } ( 57.a4 $1 { was the only drawing move. It holds the Black a-pawn back sufficiently that the White king can round up the f-pawn and get back in time. } 57...a5 ( 57...Kb6 58.Kb4 Kc6 ( 58...f4 59.exf4 exf4 60.Kc3 f3 61.Kd3 f2 62.Ke2 Kc5 63.Kxf2 Kxc4 64.Ke2 Kb4 65.Kd2 Kxa4 66.Kc2 $10 ) 59.Kb3 Kc5 60.Kc3 a5 61.Kb3 f4 62.exf4 exf4 63.Kc3 f3 64.Kd3 f2 65.Ke2 Kxc4 66.Kxf2 Kb3 67.Ke2 Kxa4 68.Kd2 Kb3 69.Kc1 $10 ) 58.Kb3 f4 59.exf4 exf4 60.Kc3 f3 61.Kd3 f2 62.Ke2 Kxc4 63.Kxf2 Kb4 64.Ke2 Kxa4 65.Kd2 Kb3 66.Kc1 $10 ) ( 57.Kb3 $2 f4 58.exf4 exf4 59.Kc3 f3 60.Kd3 f2 61.Ke2 Kxc4 62.a4 Kb4 63.Kxf2 Kxa4 64.Ke2 Kb3 65.Kd2 Kb2 $19 ) 57...a5 $1 58.Kc3 ( 58.a4 { is too late } 58...Kb4 59.c5 Kxc5 60.Kc3 f4 61.exf4 exf4 62.Kd3 Kb4 63.Ke4 Kxa4 64.Kxf4 Kb3 $19 ) 58...a4 $1 59.Kd3 f4 60.exf4 exf4 61.Ke4 Kxc4 62.Kxf4 Kb3 0-1

In the U1825 division, our match looked a bit more even on paper, though we were outgraded on three out of four boards.

Wimbledon B Hendon B
Tony Hughes
1945 1 - 0
David Amior
Mike Williams
1788 1 - 0
Chris Rogal
Andrew Blackburn
1645 1 - 0
David Lewis
Martin Lake
1465 1 - 0
Stanley Jacobs
4 - 0

The evening got off to the worst possible start, as Chris Rogal, on the only board where we had a grading advantage, gave away a knight on move 12 and a bishop on move 14, and resigned.

David Amior was much worse out of the opening on Board 1, and his opponent converted a major piece ending two pawns up. Stanley also had a worse ending on Board 4, a pawn down with his opponent’s rook more active. That game ended in defeat as well.

David Lewis’s game was last to finish. It looked like David had survived a very bad position, but he missed an opportunity to liquidate some kingside pawns, and ended up getting run over by a central pawn roller, meaning the match ended in a whitewash.

Many thanks to all who played! There are now just three rounds left of the LOCL season; full schedule here. A new season should start in early March; we’ll supply more details when we have them.

[Event "London Online Chess League - U1825"] [Date "2021.01.20"] [Round "12.15.3"] [White "Blackburn, Andrew"] [Black "Lewis, David"] [Result "1-0"] [BlackElo "1512"] [FEN "5n2/p3rkp1/1p2p2p/2p1P2P/P1P5/3R1P2/1B4P1/6K1 b - - 0 39"] [SetUp "1"] { This ending is level, but it still contains plenty of life. } 39...Rd7 40.Rxd7+ ( 40.Rd6 { would have required some accuracy from Black, but it should still be a draw } g6 41.g4 gxh5 42.gxh5 Rxd6 43.exd6 Nd7 $1 44.Kg2 e5 $1 45.Kh3 Ke6 46.Bc1 Nf6 47.Bxh6 Nxh5 48.d7 Kxd7 49.Kg4 $1 Nf6+ $1 50.Kf5 $1 e4 $1 51.Kxf6 exf3 52.Be3 Kc6 53.Ke5 Kb7 $1 54.Kf4 Ka6 55.Kxf3 Ka5 56.Ke4 Kxa4 57.Kd5 a5 $10 ) 40...Nxd7 41.Kf2 g6 42.hxg6+ Kxg6 43.Ke3 Kf5 44.g4+ Kg5 45.Ke4 { Now one more accurate move would probably have sealed the draw for David, but it wasn't to be. } 45...Nf8 $2 ( 45...h5 $1 { was essential } 46.Bc1+ Kg6 47.gxh5+ Kxh5 48.f4 Kg4 $10 { Black has firm control of f5. } ) 46.Bc1+ $1 Kg6 47.f4 $1 { f5 is a deadly idea that can't be prevented. } 47...h5 48.f5+ exf5+ 49.gxf5+ Kf7 50.Bg5 Nh7 51.e6+ Ke8 52.Bh4 a6 53.Ke5 Nf8 54.f6 { I wonder whether White simply missed ...Ng6+ and got lucky that he's still winning, or if he actually calculated he can afford to let the bishop go! Regardless, the outcome of the game is still sadly the same. } 54...Ng6+ 55.Kd6 Nxh4 56.f7+ Kf8 57.e7+ Kxf7 58.Kd7 1-0

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