Mixed fortunes on match night thirteen

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 27 January, 2021

Match night 13 in the London Online Chess League brought a famous victory for Hendon A against a very strong Streatham & Brixton A side!

Hendon B lost to Cavendish B.

Streatham & Brixton A Hendon A
Venkat Tiruchirapalli
2328 ½ - ½
Rob Willmoth
John Carlin
2275 0 - 1
Alex Leslie
Graham Keane
2193 0 - 1
Savas Marin Stoica
John Hodgson
2103 0 - 1
David Amior
½ - 3½

In our Open Division match, Board 1 kicked off in a bizarre fashion when Rob Willmoth’s opponent decided to play 1. a3 followed by 2. h4! Rob had an excellent position for most of the game, but got behind on the clock, and decided to offer his opponent a draw in a position where he still had the upper hand.

On Boards 2 and 3, our juniors Alex and Savas both achieved superb positional wins against strong opponents! Alex got a great position out of the opening when he managed to force through e2-e4 against his opponent’s Classical Dutch, and he showed great technique to simply crush the life out of an opponent of near-FM strength.

Savas also came out of the opening very well in a sharp London system, and traded advantages very effectively, landing an unassailable “octopus knight” on d3 against a shockingly bad dark-squared bishop. Savas penetrated on the b-file and forced his queenside pawns through to complete another very one-sided victory.

We’d already won the match, but David Amior ensured we romped home by winning a topsy-turvy encounter in the Jobava London System. The advantage changed hands a few times in a double-edged position, with both sides launching pawn storms on opposite sides of the board, but David’s opponent missed the best way to continue his attack, and David brought home the full point by closing out yet another rook ending!

With our opponents outgrading us on all boards by an average of 167 points, this is one of our results of the season! Alex and Savas are clearly now much stronger than their paper grades suggest, but nonetheless, this was a great win against a very strong team - congratulations to the players!

[Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.27"] [Round "11.2.2"] [White "Leslie, Alex"] [Black "Carlin, John"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A96"] 1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.O-O O-O 6.c4 d6 7.Nc3 a5 8.b3 Qe8 9.Bb2 Kh8 10.Re1 Qg6 { Black spent an extraordinary 12 minutes on this move, and was already below 25 minutes. Alex still had his full 45 minutes remaining! The Dutch is a very risky choice when you're not familiar with the details. } 11.e4 $1 { When White gets e4 in against the Dutch, he is usually doing well, and this position is no exception. } 11...Nxe4 12.Nxe4 fxe4 13.Rxe4 $1 { Perhaps Black missed that this was possible. } 13...Nc6 ( 13...Qxe4 $2 14.Nh4 $1 $18 { The queen is amusingly trapped! } ) 14.Qe2 e5 { Shedding a pawn for activity, but this is desperate stuff already. } 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.Rxe5 Bd6 18.Be4 $1 Bf5 19.Bxf5 Rxf5 20.Re6 ( 20.Rxf5 Qxf5 21.Rd1 $18 { is also very strong } ) 20...Qf7 21.f4 Kg8 22.Re1 Rf8 23.Qg4 Qd7 { Allows a nice idea, but it was already very hard to offer constructive advice for Black, who was already in severe time pressure to boot. } 24.Re7 $1 Bc5+ ( 24...Bxe7 25.Qxg7# ) 25.Kg2 Qc6+ 26.R1e4 R8f7 27.Re8+ Bf8 28.h4 ( 28.Rxf8+ $1 { would have clinically rounded things off } 28...Kxf8 29.Bxg7+ Rxg7 ( 29...Kg8 30.Bf6+ Kf8 31.Qxf5 Qxf6 32.Qxf6 Rxf6 33.c5 $18 ) 30.Qxf5+ $18 { White is two pawns up now, and Black's king is completely open to White's heavy pieces. } ) 28...h5 29.Qe2 Kh7 30.Kh2 Bd6 31.Rd8 b5 32.Ree8 $1 Bf8 33.cxb5 Qxb5 34.Qxb5 Rxb5 35.Rxf8 Re7 36.Rfe8 Rxe8 37.Rxe8 a4 38.Re7 axb3 39.axb3 Rxb3 40.Bxg7 ( 40.Rxg7+ Kh6 41.Be5 { keeps Black's king bottled up } 41...c5 42.f5 Re3 { Black had to do something about the brutal threat of f6 and Bf4+, but it's too late } 43.Re7 Re2+ 44.Kh3 $18 { The threat of Bf4 cannot be stopped without further material loss. } ) 40...c6 41.Rc7 Kg6 42.Bd4 Rd3 43.Rxc6+ Kf5 44.Bf2 Ke4 45.Kg2 { Here Black decided to call it a day. A fantastic game by Alex! I'm sure his opponent will have better days than this one, but even so, to crush an opponent of virtually FM strength so decisively is really quite something. } 1-0 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.27"] [Round "11.2.3"] [White "Keane, Graham"] [Black "Stoica, Savas"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D02"] 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.c3 Bg4 6.Nbd2 e6 7.Qb3 Qc8 8.Bb5 Nd7 9.O-O Be7 10.Rac1 c4 $1 11.Qd1 a6 12.Ba4 b5 13.Bc2 f5 14.h3 Bh5 15.g4 fxg4 16.Ne5 $6 { This was a little bit too fancy from White. } ( 16.Nh2 e5 17.hxg4 Bg6 18.Bxg6+ hxg6 19.Bg3 O-O { and the position is roughly level, with neither king especially safe. } ) 16...Ncxe5 $1 17.dxe5 Nc5 $1 { An excellent reaction from Savas, targeting White's weakened light squares. } 18.hxg4 Bg6 19.Nf3 Bd3 ( 19...Nd3 { directly might have been even stronger (great though the knight turns out to be in the game!) } 20.Bxd3 Bxd3 21.Re1 O-O { White can hardly hope to survive this - Black's two bishops are fantastic and he will just push through on the kingside. } ) 20.Bxd3 Nxd3 21.Rc2 O-O 22.Bg3 b4 23.Nd4 Rb8 { Putting the rook on this square, opposite White's Bg3, turns out to have a tactical flaw, though it's one that's hard to see without an engine! } ( 23...a5 24.f4 Bc5 25.f5 $2 bxc3 26.bxc3 Bxd4 27.exd4 exf5 28.gxf5 Rxf5 $19 { Black is just winning here as e6 does not hit the Rb8. Compare this to the line below. } ) 24.g5 $2 ( 24.f4 $1 Bc5 25.f5 $1 bxc3 $6 26.bxc3 Bxd4 27.exd4 exf5 28.gxf5 Rxf5 29.e6 $1 { And the point is seen - White keeps the strong e6 pawn, which should be enough to hold the balance, e.g. } 29...Rxf1+ 30.Qxf1 Rb7 31.Re2 Qd8 32.Qf3 g6 33.a4 $10 ) 24...bxc3 25.bxc3 Bc5 26.Qg4 Bxd4 $1 { A very impressive move, trading one advantage for another. Black's bishop looks like a strong piece, and this exchange straightens out White's structure, which would put many players off this continuation - but the important thing is the pieces that are left on the board: Black's knight is now unassailable. } 27.exd4 Rf5 28.Rd2 g6 29.f4 { The White bishop must have been severely regretting his career choices at this point! What a contrast in minor pieces! } 29...Qf8 30.Qd1 Qa3 { White is simply too awkwardly placed to put up any meaningful resistance to this queenside invasion. } 31.Rc2 a5 32.Qd2 a4 33.Kh2 Qe7 34.Rd1 a3 35.Qe3 Rb2 36.Rdd2 Rf8 37.Kg2 Rfb8 38.Kf3 Rxc2 39.Rxc2 Rb2 40.Qd2 Qa7 41.Qe2 Qa4 42.Rd2 Qb5 43.Rc2 Nc1 44.Qd1 Nxa2 ( 44...Rxc2 45.Qxc2 Qb2 { was also totally decisive. We're already at the "everything wins" stage. } ) 45.Be1 Qb3 46.Rd2 Nxc3 47.Qxb3 cxb3 { A really excellent game from Savas - a very one-sided victory against a player rated almost 2200! } 0-1 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.01.27"] [Round "11.2.4"] [White "Amior, David"] [Black "Hodgson, John"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "1612"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 cxd4 5.exd4 a6 6.Qd2 Nc6 7.O-O-O e6 8.f3 Bd7 9.g4 Rc8 10.Qe3 Be7 11.h4 Na5 12.Bd3 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.Nge2 b5 15.Ng3 b4 16.Nce2 Bb5 17.g5 Nd7 18.h5 { An interesting position has arisen, with mutual attacks. It's always hard to know in such situations - should I press ahead with my own play or counter my opponent's? } 18...Nf8 ( 18...O-O { is the choice of Stockfish, though this looks courageous in the extreme to human eyes! } 19.g6 Rc6 20.gxh7+ Kh8 { and the Black king just sits pretty behind White's pawn, and Black goes on the attack! } ) 19.Kb1 Kd7 $2 { This is definitely too much from Black. Despite White's attack, the king belongs on the kingside. } 20.Nc1 Rc6 21.Nd3 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 Kc8 23.c3 b3 $2 { Black doesn't get much for this pawn. } 24.axb3 Nd7 25.b4 ( 25.c4 $1 $16 ) 25...Kb7 26.Rdd1 Qb6 27.Ne2 ( 27.Qd3 { is better, to meet ...a5 with b5. } ) 27...a5 $1 28.bxa5 Qxa5 { White is still better, but Black's attack is becoming dangerous. } 29.g6 $2 ( 29.Kc2 $1 Qa4+ 30.b3 Qa2+ 31.Kd3 $16 { White can't take on b3 as he would lose his queen - this illustrates why the Black king is not well placed on the queenside. } ) 29...fxg6 $2 ( 29...Nb6 $1 { and the threats are mounting } 30.h6 ( 30.gxf7 Nc4 31.Qc1 Rb6 $19 { Black is crashing through } ) 30...fxg6 31.hxg7 Rg8 32.Rxh7 Nc4 33.Qc1 Rb6 34.Rh8 Rxg7 35.Rb8+ Kc6 36.Rxb6+ Qxb6 $17 { The engine has defended cleverly for White, but Black is still bringing heavy pressure. } ) 30.hxg6 ( 30.Kc2 { Again the engine wants to run. } 30...Qa4+ 31.b3 Qa2+ 32.Kd3 $10 ) 30...h6 ( 30...Nb6 $1 31.Rxh7 Nc4 32.Rxh8 ( 32.Qc1 $2 Rg8 $1 $19 ) 32...Nxe3 33.Bxe3 Qa4 $15 ) 31.Kc2 $1 { Black has missed his (difficult) chances, and White is doing well. } 31...Qb5 $2 { Now White takes over the a-file. } ( 31...Qa4+ { had to be tried } 32.b3 Qa2+ 33.Kd3 Rb6 34.Ra1 Qxb3 35.Rhb1 Qc4+ 36.Kd2 Qc6 37.Rxb6+ Nxb6 38.Ke1 $14 ) 32.Ra1 Ra8 33.Rxa8 Kxa8 34.Ra1+ Kb7 35.Nc1 Rb6 36.Nd3 Bf6 37.b4 { This turns out to deprive White of an important trick. } ( 37.Kd2 $1 Ra6 38.Rxa6 Qxa6 39.Bxh6 $1 gxh6 40.Qxh6 Qd6 41.Qh7 $1 Qe7 42.Nc5+ Nxc5 43.Qxe7+ Bxe7 44.g7 $18 { This is the sort of thing only engines can see of course! } ) 37...Qc6 ( 37...Ra6 38.Rxa6 Qxa6 39.Bxh6 { no longer works because of } 39...gxh6 40.Qxh6 Qa4+ $10 ) 38.Be5 Nxe5 39.Nxe5 Qc7 40.Qe2 Bxe5 41.Qxe5 Qxe5 42.dxe5 { White is just one pawn up in this rook ending, but is much better, due to the better positioning of his rook, and the weaknesses of e6 and g7. } 42...Rc6 43.Rd1 ( 43.b5 Rc4 44.Ra6 Rf4 45.Rxe6 $18 ) 43...Rc8 ( 43...Rc4 44.Rd4 $18 ) 44.f4 Rf8 45.Rf1 Rf5 46.Kd3 Kc6 ( 46...h5 { Pushing the h-pawn doesn't help } 47.Ke3 h4 48.Kf3 Rh5 49.Kg2 Rh6 50.Rg1 Rxg6+ 51.Kh2 Rh6 52.Rxg7+ $18 ) 47.Kd4 Rh5 ( 47...h5 { would at least require some accuracy from White } 48.Ke3 h4 49.Kf3 Rh5 50.Kg2 Rh6 51.Kh2 Rxg6 52.Rg1 $18 ) 48.Ra1 Rh4 49.Ra6+ Kb5 50.Rxe6 Rxf4+ 51.Kxd5 { Now it's easy, with two connected passers. } 51...Rg4 52.Re8 Rxg6 53.c4+ Kxb4 54.c5 Rg1 55.Rb8+ Ka5 56.e6 { A great win from David - if not quite as one-sided as some of the other games - rounding off a fine match win! } 1-0

Unfortunately Hendon B were not able to overcome similar odds in the U1825 Division, going down 3-1 to Cavendish B.

Hendon B Cavendish B
Anthony Kent
1750 ½ - ½
Philip Gregory
Gul Kapur
1533 ½ - ½
Ricardo Velasco
Tony Artman
1400 0 - 1
Ben Finn
Dev Ranka
1270 0 - 1
Tim Cowen
1 - 3

On Board 1, Anthony Kent drew with the strong Cavendish Board 1, having had a very good position; he could have won the game on another day.

Gul also achieved a very respectable draw on Board 2, having had a decent position for the vast majority of the game, though his opponent missed a very good chance in the final position, with both players low on time.

On Boards 3 and 4, Tony and Dev hung a piece each, and their opponents duly took advantage.

Thanks to both teams for playing! There are just two more match nights left of this season. Full schedule is here.

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