Penultimate round punishment in the LOCL

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 3 February, 2021

Both Hendon teams lost in the LOCL this evening. Hendon A were outclassed by a very strong Battersea A team, while Hendon B barely lost a very winnable-looking match against Metropolitan.

Hendon A Battersea A
1
Rob Willmoth
2200 0 - 1
Adam Bukojemski
2380
2
Alex Leslie
2088 0 - 1
Tim P. Wall
2260
3
Jason Covey
1990 0 - 1
Luca Buanne
2005
4
David Amior
1900 0 - 1
Dennis Dupuis
1870
0 - 4

In the Open Division, Board 4 was the first to finish. David Amior had repeated the line of the Scandinavian he played against me in the final round of the Club Championship. A position with castling on opposite sides arose, but David closed the queenside (where he was attacking) with …b4, while his opponent opened the g-file against David’s king. David’s opponent’s attack was consequently much stronger, and it duly won him the game.

Once again, we had two junior players, Alex and Jason, playing on the middle two boards. Previously this has been a recipe for great success, but this week they got into trouble.

Jason had a promising kingside attack, playing an excellent rook sacrifice to open the h-file. But he followed this with an incorrect knight sacrifice on g6, and his opponent defended. Jason managed to obtain some counterplay against Black’s exposed king, and might have saved the game with a difficult chance at the end, but ultimately his opponent was able to consolidate his extra material.

Meanwhile, Alex suffered a kingside attack after his opponent played a strong rook lift via d3. He wasn’t able to obtain enough queenside counterplay and was blown away in the early middlegame.

With the match already lost, our hope of taking any game points rested with Rob on Board 1. Unfortunately, however, he had gone badly wrong in the opening, was unable to complete his development, and was cut to shreds by his opponent’s bishop pair.

I have annotated three out of the four games in this match, as I think they were very interesting and instructive.

[Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.02.03"] [Round "12.7.2"] [White "Wall, Tim"] [Black "Leslie, Alex"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B52"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.O-O Nf6 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.Rd1 g6 8.c3 Bg7 9.d4 cxd4 10.cxd4 d5 11.e5 Ne4 12.Ne1 h6 13.Nc3 Nxc3 14.bxc3 O-O { An interesting middlegame position. The White c3 pawn is potentially weak, and Black has better development, but lifting the rook to the kingside with Rd3 is a dangerous idea, and Black must play carefully. } 15.Nd3 b6 16.Nf4 e6 17.Rd3 Rac8 18.Bd2 Na5 { This is where things start to go wrong for Alex. Sinking the knight into c4 is optically nice, but White's kingside attack is very dangerous, and the knight should have been kept nearer the king. } ( 18...Ne7 19.Rg3 Qa4 $1 { gives Black good counterplay - the idea in the game is completely covered by the Ne7. } 20.Nh5 $2 gxh5 21.Bxh6 Nf5 $1 $19 { The attack is brutally repelled by the beautifully placed knight. } ) ( 18...b5 { is a sharp counterplay attempt suggested by Stockfish } 19.Rg3 b4 $1 { is the idea when } 20.Nh5 { is met by } 20...bxc3 $1 21.Bxh6 $1 ( 21.Be3 $2 Qd8 $17 ) 21...Nxd4 $1 ( 21...Bxh6 $2 22.Nf6+ Kg7 23.Nxd7 Nxd4 24.Qg4 c2 25.h3 c1=Q+ 26.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 27.Kh2 Rd8 28.Qxd4 Rxd7 $16 ) 22.Qd3 $1 Bxe5 $1 23.f4 $1 Bh8 24.Rxg6+ $1 fxg6 25.Qxg6+ Bg7 26.Bxg7 $1 Ne2+ $1 27.Kh1 Nxf4 $1 28.Qh6 $1 c2 $1 29.Rc1 e5 $1 30.Bxf8 Nxh5 31.Qxh5 Rxf8 32.Qxe5 d4 33.Qg5+ Qg7 34.Qd5+ Kh8 35.Qh5+ Qh7 36.Qe5+ $10 { A completely outrageous computer line, but as regular readers will know by now, I have an unhealthy fascination with such things! } ) 19.Rg3 Nc4 20.Bc1 Rc7 { Now White gets to show his idea to good effect. } 21.Nh5 $1 Qe7 ( 21...gxh5 22.Bxh6 f6 23.exf6 Rxf6 24.Bxg7 Qxg7 25.Qxh5 $18 ) 22.Qf3 Qh4 { This doesn't work, but Black was already devoid of good options. } ( 22...Rfc8 23.Nf6+ Kf8 24.Rh3 h5 25.g4 hxg4 26.Nxg4 Na5 { is another possible continuation, when I simply had to show: } 27.Qf6 $3 { Cute! :) } 27...Bxf6 28.exf6 Qxf6 29.Nxf6 $18 ) 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Rh3 Qe4 ( 24...Qe7 25.Bxh6+ Kg8 26.Qf6 Qxf6 27.exf6 { was no better, with Bg7 and Rh8# to follow } ) 25.Bxh6+ Kg8 26.Qf6 { A nice attacking game by White. } 1-0 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.02.03"] [Round "12.7.3"] [White "Covey, Jason"] [Black "Buanne, Luca"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D01"] [WhiteElo "1680"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.e3 h6 6.Bh4 Be7 7.Bd3 O-O 8.Bxf5 exf5 9.Qd3 Qd7 10.Ne5 Qe6 11.Ne2 c6 12.Nf4 Qc8 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nf3 g6 15.O-O-O { A sharp position with opposite-wings castling has arisen. Black has a potentially strong bishop, but White has a lead in development. How should he continue? } 15...a5 { It is natural to want to get the pawn storm started first, but White will be faster on the kingside. Black should instead bring pieces to the kingside. } ( 15...Nd7 16.h3 Bg7 17.g4 Nf6 { and Black should be fine, e.g. } 18.gxf5 Ne4 19.fxg6 Nxf2 20.Qe2 Nxh1 21.Rxh1 Qf5 { and Stockfish thinks the position is dynamically balanced } ) 16.h3 b5 $2 { Consistent, but now Stockfish starts to really dislike Black's position. } ( 16...Qe8 17.g4 Qe4 { and Black is only slightly worse according to the machine } ) 17.g4 $1 fxg4 18.hxg4 Bg7 19.Ne5 $2 ( 19.g5 $1 h5 20.Nxh5 $1 { was already winning at once } 20...gxh5 21.Rxh5 Rd8 22.Rdh1 $18 { Black's king is getting cut to shreds. } ) 19...Qe8 $2 ( 19...Nd7 $1 20.Nexg6 $5 fxg6 21.g5 ( 21.Nxg6 Rf7 22.g5 hxg5 23.Rdg1 Qe8 24.Rxg5 Qe4 $10 ) 21...Rxf4 22.exf4 h5 23.Qxg6 Nf8 { is roughly level } ) 20.Rdg1 ( 20.g5 $1 { was again strong. } ) 20...Bxe5 { Giving away the important defensive bishop cannot be good. } 21.dxe5 Kg7 22.g5 $1 { Now Jason hits on this strong attacking idea, with a powerful sacrificial follow-up in mind: } 22...h5 23.Rxh5 $1 { Very nice! This is an offer Black must refuse. } 23...Qxe5 ( 23...gxh5 { leads to mate after } 24.Nxh5+ Kh8 25.Nf6 { with Qh7# unstoppable next move. } ) 24.Rgh1 Rg8 25.Rh7+ { There were a couple of ways to crack Black's position open here, but both of them strike me as very hard to find for a human. } ( 25.Rh6 { is Stockfish's first choice here, gearing up for a big haymaker on g6 } 25...Kf8 26.Rxg6 $1 fxg6 27.Nxg6+ Rxg6 28.Qxg6 Ra7 29.f4 $1 Qxe3+ 30.Kb1 Rf7 31.Qd6+ Kg8 32.g6 Rxf4 33.Qxb8+ Kg7 34.Qc7+ Kxg6 35.Qxc6+ Kg7 36.Qh6+ Kf7 37.Qh5+ Kf6 38.Qxd5 $18 ) ( 25.Nxg6 $5 { is also possible here } 25...fxg6 26.f4 Qf5 27.Qc3+ Kf7 28.Rh8 Rxh8 29.Rxh8 { and White will win the material back with interest, e.g. } 29...Ke6 30.Rxb8 Rxb8 31.Qxc6+ Ke7 32.Qc7+ $18 { A completely inhuman line of course! } ) 25...Kf8 26.Rg1 ( 26.Qd1 { is a classic computer move, exploiting the fact that Black can't take on g5 for obscure tactical reasons } 26...Qxg5 ( 26...Qf5 27.Qg1 Nd7 28.Ne2 $18 { with powerful ideas like R1h4-f4 } ) 27.Ne6+ fxe6 28.Qf3+ Qf5 29.Qg3 $1 e5 30.Qh4 $1 { and the dark-square penetration can no longer be prevented } 30...g5 ( 30...Qd7 31.Qf6+ $18 ) 31.Qh6+ Ke8 32.Qd6 $18 ) 26...Nd7 { Perhaps the critical moment of the game } 27.Nxg6+ $2 { This sacrifice is unfortunately not justified, and hands the advantage to Black. } ( 27.Qd2 { A slower buildup was called for, and this is Stockfish's preference, clearing d3 for the knight. } 27...b4 28.Nd3 Qf5 29.Kb1 Re8 30.f4 Ke7 31.Nf2 $16 { White's king is much safer. e3-e4 will follow in many lines, opening the centre to White's advantage. } ) 27...Rxg6 28.f4 Qe4 29.Qc3 b4 30.Qd2 Nf6 ( 30...Rxg5 { was already pretty much game-ending here. } 31.Rh8+ Ke7 32.Rxg5 Rxh8 $19 ) 31.Rh8+ Ng8 32.Qf2 Re8 33.f5 Rg7 34.Rg3 Re5 35.f6 { It makes sense to push these pawns to try to get counterplay, but it shouldn't be enough. } 35...Rg6 ( 35...Rgxg5 { was simply winning; I'm not sure why Black didn't go for this. } ) 36.Qh2 Qf5 37.b3 Re4 { This gives White a surprising (and totally inhuman) saving resource. } ( 37...d4 $1 { wins, as Black cannot be allowed to penetrate to the first rank } 38.exd4 Qf1+ 39.Kb2 Re1 { and mate shortly. } ) 38.Rf3 ( 38.Kb1 $1 { is a surprising saving move, preventing ...Qa1+ after ...Qe5 by Black. Remarkably Black cannot make progress here, as the threat to penetrate with Qd6 or Qb8+ etc is too strong. For example } 38...Qe5 ( 38...c5 39.Rf3 $1 Qe5 ( 39...Qxf3 $4 40.Qb8+ Re8 41.Qd6+ Re7 42.Qxe7# ) 40.Qh3 Qc3 41.Qc8+ Re8 42.Qd7 { and the threat of Qd6 requires Black to take a perpetual } 42...Qe1+ 43.Kb2 Qc3+ 44.Kb1 Qe1+ $10 ) 39.Qh3 $1 Qe6 40.Qh2 $1 Re5 41.Rg1 $1 c5 42.e4 d4 43.Rf1 Rgxg5 44.Rf5 Rgxf5 ( 44...Rexf5 $4 45.Qb8+ $18 ) 45.Qh6+ Ke8 46.Rxg8+ Kd7 47.Qf8 $1 Qe8 48.Qg7 Qxg8 49.Qxg8 Rxf6 $10 { Of course such variations have nothing to do with human chess at all, at least not at this level or time control, but they are fun! } ) 38...Qe5 $1 { This calm move, keeping the White queen at bay, brings matters to a conclusion } ( 38...Qxf3 $4 39.Qb8+ Re8 40.Qd6+ Re7 41.Qxe7# { is a trick Black must watch out for } ) 39.Qh7 ( 39.Qh3 Qa1+ { is the key difference to the previous line: the White king is driven into the open. } 40.Kd2 Re6 { and now Black gets his queen and rook the right way round too } 41.Qg3 Qe5 { and there is no longer any route into the Black position for the White queen. g5 will fall soon and all hope is gone. } ) 39...Rxe3 { An exciting and complicated game, and one Jason was unlucky to be on the losing side of. He played very well up to a point, and finishing it off was not easy at all. } 0-1 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2021.02.03"] [Round "12.7.4"] [White "Dupuis, Denis"] [Black "Amior, David"] [Result "1-0"] [BlackElo "1612"] [ECO "B01"] 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Bc4 c6 5.d3 Bf5 6.Bd2 e6 7.Qe2 Nf6 8.O-O-O ( 8.Nf3 { White should probably hold off on committing his king for the time being } ) 8...Be7 ( 8...b5 9.Bb3 a5 { already forces } 10.a4 { from White, when Black has a big headstart in his attack, with the ability to open the queenside at his leisure. } ) 9.f3 { Interestingly, Stockfish is not too keen on this kingside pawn storm. } ( 9.Nf3 Nbd7 $10 ) 9...b5 10.Bb3 a5 11.a4 { Black should be doing well here, but David's next move was a mistake: } 11...b4 $2 { Closing the queenside makes White's king much safer. } ( 11...h5 $1 { stops White's play and leaves Black with a big advantage. Taking on b5 would be suicidal: } 12.axb5 cxb5 13.Nxb5 a4 14.Bc4 a3 $17 ) 12.Ne4 O-O 13.g4 Bxe4 14.dxe4 ( 14.fxe4 { is more dangerous according to Stockfish, opening up lines } ) 14...Nfd7 15.f4 Qe8 16.Nf3 Nc5 17.Bc4 { There was no need to shed a pawn like this, though you can see why White would want to keep his bishop. } 17...Nxa4 18.f5 exf5 $2 { Opening the g-file makes White's attack just too strong. } ( 18...Nb6 19.g5 exf5 20.exf5 Bd6 21.Qxe8 Rxe8 22.Ba2 $14 ) 19.gxf5 $1 Nb6 20.Rhg1 Nxc4 21.Qxc4 ( 21.Bh6 $1 { is a powerful intermezzo, as White cannot be allowed to take on g7 } 21...g6 22.Qxc4 $18 ) 21...Bf6 22.Bf4 ( 22.e5 $1 Bxe5 23.Nxe5 Qxe5 24.Bh6 $18 ) 22...Nd7 23.Rxd7 ( 23.e5 $1 { was again stronger according to Stockfish } ) 23...Qxd7 24.e5 $1 { This move hasn't lost much in strength from being slightly delayed. } 24...Qd5 { This ending is hopeless for Black, as even with the queens off, the Black king comes under a strong attack. } ( 24...Bd8 25.Bh6 Qxf5 26.Bxg7 Bb6 27.Rg3 Bf2 28.Nh4 $1 Qe6 29.Rg2 Be3+ 30.Kb1 Rfd8 31.Bh6+ Kh8 32.Qxe6 fxe6 33.Bxe3 $16 { Black has somewhat better drawing chances here. } ) 25.Qxd5 cxd5 26.exf6 g6 27.fxg6 ( 27.Bd6 $1 { will eventually win further material to Ne5-g4-h6 when the f7 pawn will be in big trouble, e.g. } 27...Rfe8 28.Ne5 Ra7 29.Ng4 Rd7 30.Nh6+ Kh8 31.Kd2 $18 { Black is utterly helpless - White can play Be7 or Re1-e7 at any time and take f7. } ) 27...hxg6 28.Bh6 Rfe8 29.Rg3 Rac8 { After this, it's no longer possible to avoid the mating idea White played in the game. } ( 29...Re6 30.Bg7 Raa6 31.Rh3 Rxf6 32.Bxf6 Rxf6 33.b3 $18 { With two pawns for the piece, Black still has some hope, but White should still be winning. } ) 30.Bg7 Re2 31.Rh3 Rexc2+ 32.Kd1 Rc1+ 33.Ke2 R8c2+ { And David resigned, as White can just go Nd2 when mate on h8 is inevitable. } 1-0
MetroGnomes Hendon B
1
Henry Armburg-Jennings
1795 1 - 0
Chris Rogal
1803
2
Nicholas Nardecchia
1465 ½ - ½
Anthony Kent
1750
3
Mark Nevison
1443 1 - 0
David Lewis
1465
4
Joshua Beckmann
1390 0 - 1
Stanley Jacobs
1390
2½ - 1½

I had high hopes of a good result in the B team match, since we had equal or higher grades than our opponents on all boards. However, it began inauspiciously when David Lewis resigned after 14 moves, having lost his queen to an opening blunder. Sadly, he’d had a great position, spurning a couple of opportunities to trap his opponent’s bishop with g2-g4.

(We were assigned the wrong colours for this match, getting White on the odd boards when we should have had it on the even ones. Unfortunately I didn’t notice this in time to fix it before the round started. Whether it made any difference to the outcome, who can say!)

Stanley then levelled the scores, scoring our only full point of the round, having been better for most of the game. However, Chris lost on Board 1, after allowing his opponent to gain a space advantage on the queenside; he then offered a queen trade at a tactically inopportune moment, leaving him with a lost ending.

Therefore we needed Anthony to win in order to tie the match, on the board where we had the biggest grading advantage over our opponents. He had obtained a very promising minor piece ending, but with both players low on time, he rejected the opportunity to exchange his knight for his opponent’s bishop (which would have resulted in a very promising bishop-versus-knight situation), instead trading it for a knight, leaving a very drawish opposite-coloured bishop ending. This was duly drawn, resulting in a match defeat.

Many thanks to all who played! The final round of this LOCL season is next Tuesday, with the next season starting in early March. More to come on that soon.

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