A tale of two ties on Tornelo

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Both Hendon teams drew their matches in the London Online Chess League this evening. However, one result feels like a win, the other more like a defeat… equilibrium on the match cards, perhaps, but not in this captain’s heart!

Hendon A continue unbeaten in the Open division, and can be very proud of their performance against a team almost 130 grading points stronger on average, featuring three titled players!

Cavendish A Hendon A
IM John Cox
2343 0 - 1
CM Rob Willmoth
FM Andy Lewis
2260 ½ - ½
Alex Leslie
FM David Friedgood
2088 1 - 0
Jason Covey
Michael Brown
2005 ½ - ½
David Amior
2 - 2

The evening didn’t start well, as Jason Covey got into difficulties in the opening and found himself in a lost rook ending. However, things started looking up when David Amior’s opponent missed an opportunity to hold onto an extra pawn and agreed to a draw on move 20, and Alex Leslie’s opponent also missed the best continuation in a queenless middlegame: Alex ended up being the one pressing, and he comfortably drew the ending.

All eyes were thus on Rob’s game once again - and once again, he did not let us down! His IM opponent played an incorrect piece sacrifice in the opening, and even though Rob did not find the strongest response, he ended up better, with an extra piece for a few pawns. His opponent unwisely declined the draw offer that would have won the match for his team, making an error in reply, and Rob duly reeled him in to tie the match!

I can only assume his opponent was not aware of the match situation, which once again highlights the importance of having another browser window open while playing, to keep an eye on the score. Nonetheless, they all count - great job team for a significantly above-par performance!

[Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2020.11.25"] [Round "5.5.1"] [White "Cox, John"] [Black "Willmoth, Robert"] [Result "0-1"] [FEN "r1b2rk1/p1q2p2/4pbpp/3p4/2nN4/2NQP1P1/PPP2PBP/R4RK1 w - - 3 16"] [SetUp "1"] 16.Nxd5 $2 { A piece sacrifice which simply does not work. } 16...exd5 17.Bxd5 Nb6 $6 { Even after this, Black is better, but it's much more complex. } ( 17...Ne5 $1 { completely busts White's concept, hitting the queen and defending g6. } 18.Qe4 Rb8 $19 { White is just lost. Rob was concerned his opponent could create a mess: } 19.f4 { But Stockfish points out } Ng4 $1 20.Qxg6+ Kh8 21.Qe4 Qc5 { when it's Black who emerges with the initiative. The White king is the one in danger. } ) 18.Qxg6+ Bg7 19.Bb3 Nc4 20.Qc6 Qxc6 21.Nxc6 Be6 ( 21...Nd2 { looks strong here - maybe Rob was worried about } 22.Bd5 { with Ne7+ ideas but } ( 22.Ne7+ Kh8 23.Rfd1 Bxb2 $19 { An important tactical motif! } ) 22...Be6 { seems to keep it all under control } 23.Ne7+ ( 23.Bxe6 fxe6 24.Rfd1 Bxb2 $19 ) 23...Kh7 24.Bxa8 Rxa8 $1 25.Rfd1 Bxb2 $1 { I suspect this tactical trick may have been what Rob missed. } 26.Rxd2 Bxa1 27.Nd5 Rd8 $19 { White doesn't have enough for the piece here: the two bishops are very powerful. } ) 22.Nd4 Bxd4 23.exd4 Rfd8 $2 { Accompanied by a draw offer, resulting in high drama! Rob's stronger opponent not only declined it, despite the fact that it would have won his team the match, but also made an error in reply here! } ( 23...Rac8 24.Rfe1 Nd2 25.Bxe6 Nf3+ 26.Kf1 fxe6 27.Rxe6 Rxc2 28.Re2 Nxh2+ 29.Ke1 Nf3+ 30.Kf1 Rxe2 31.Kxe2 Nxd4+ $15 { My engine isn't sure about this position. White has just two pawns for the knight, but Black is running low on pawns. I'm guessing this is probably a draw objectively, though obviously Black is the one pressing. } ) 24.Rfe1 $2 { This seems to give back a pawn unnecessarily } ( 24.Bxc4 $1 Bxc4 25.Rfd1 $14 { With four pawns for the piece, and Black not having the two bishops, White is for choice in this ending. } ) 24...Nd2 $1 25.Re3 $6 ( 25.Red1 Rxd4 26.Bxe6 fxe6 27.Rac1 Kf7 $17 { At least, from White's perspective, Black has a knight instead of a bishop here. } ) 25...Nxb3 $1 26.axb3 Rxd4 { Now Black is doing very well, as his bishop is good value for three pawns here, and White has some king safety issues. } 27.Rc3 Bh3 28.Rc4 Rad8 29.Rxd4 Rxd4 30.f3 ( 30.Rxa7 $4 Rd1# ) 30...Rd2 31.Rc1 Bg2 32.f4 Be4 33.c4 Rg2+ 34.Kf1 Rxh2 { And White resigned, bringing Rob yet another IM scalp - beautifully done! } 0-1

Unfortunately, Hendon B’s draw in the U1825 division was not nearly as welcome, as I felt we were the stronger team on paper, despite a couple of the opposing team being technically ungraded (meaning they could be easily-underestimated juniors).

Hendon B Hammersmith Hedger
Chris Rogal
1803 1 - 0
David Lambert
Gul Kapur
1533 0 - 1
Robin Sarfas
David Lewis
1465 1 - 0
Paul van Kan
Dev Ranka
~1270 0 - 1
Nadim Osseiran
2 - 2

Gul dropped a piece in the opening, and Dev dropped a pawn; sadly, both games were lost, although Dev had a couple of golden opportunities to turn the tables.

Thankfully, both Chris and last-minute sub David Lewis were able to win their games, with Chris’s opponent stranding his king in the middle in the opening, allowing a winning attack, and David’s opponent blowing a very promising middlegame, leaving David two pawns up, which he duly converted.

Thanks everyone for playing! Congratulations to Rob, Chris and David for their fine wins, and to Alex and David for their draws against strong (and in Alex’s case, titled) opposition!

The next match is next Wednesday, 2nd December. Full schedule may be found in our calendar.

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