Making narratives from Tornelo chaos

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 9 December, 2020

This evening, Hendon A tied their match, and Hendon B won theirs.

Our first team’s match against Imperial College was a nervy affair, with the advantage changing hands many times on most of the boards, putting this poor captain through the wringer!

Imperial College A Hendon A
Sourav Bhattacharjee
2170 ½ - ½
Rob Willmoth
Stelios Theocharous
2125 0 - 1
Alex Leslie
Andres Perez Fadon
1773 1 - 0
Jason Covey
Liam Reed
1750 ½ - ½
David Amior
2 - 2

On Board 4, David Amior had a promising position, but missed a tactic, and was fortunate that his opponent took a threefold repetition in a position where he was much better. On Board 3, Jason Covey was worse out of the opening, lost material, and had to resign.

Boards 1 and 2 were heart-in-the-mouth affairs! Alex Leslie’s opponent played an incorrect but dangerous sacrifice; Alex didn’t find the right defence, but his opponent went wrong in prosecuting the attack, and Alex even won in the end! Meanwhile, on Board 1, Rob Willmoth looked worse in a rook ending, but his opponent was too low on time to find the win, and the game ended in a draw.

Here are the critical parts of those two interesting and instructive games.

[Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2020.12.09"] [Round "7.4.2"] [White "Leslie, Alex"] [Black "Theocharous, Stelios"] [Result "1-0"] [FEN "2r2rk1/p2nq3/bppbp3/3p1pp1/2PP2Pp/1P3P2/PB1NP1BP/1QR1R1K1 b - - 0 19"] [SetUp "1"] { Here Alex's opponent uncorked a strong attacking move. } 19...h3 $1 $17 { A pawn offer that cannot be accepted. } 20.Bh1 { Now, however, Black went a bit overboard. } ( 20.Bxh3 $2 Qh7 21.Kg2 Rf6 $19 { White is just too awkwardly placed to survive the coming h-file pressure here. } ) ( 20.Bf1 Nf6 21.e4 fxe4 22.Re2 exf3 23.Qg6+ Qg7 24.Qxg7+ Kxg7 25.Nxf3 Ne4 $19 { The queen exchange should mean White doesn't get mated, but his position is still rotten, with passive pieces and weak kingside squares. } ) 20...Bxh2+ $2 { An objectively incorrect but nonetheless dangerous move. The saving grace for Alex may have been that this cost Black a lot of time, leaving him with just a few minutes (plus increment) for the rest of the game. I think we can all relate to being lured onto the rocks by the irresistible siren song of such moves... } ( 20...Qh7 { with the simple intention of ...Qh4 was very strong. A possible continuation is } 21.gxf5 Qh4 22.fxe6 Nf6 23.Qg6+ Kh8 24.e4 { and now everything is prepared: } 24...Bxh2+ $1 $19 25.Kxh2 Ng4+ $1 26.fxg4 Qf2+ 27.Kxh3 Qh4+ 28.Kg2 Rf2+ 29.Kg1 Qh2# ) 21.Kxh2 Qd6+ 22.Kxh3 fxg4+ { So far so good by Alex, but now it was necessary to find a slightly counter-intuitive move. } 23.fxg4 $2 ( 23.Kg2 $1 { was the only move, keeping the crucial f-file closed. } 23...gxf3+ ( 23...g3 24.Qg6+ Kh8 25.cxd5 cxd5 26.Ne4 $1 { Neatly exploiting the long diagonal! } 26...Qe7 27.Nxg5 Nf6 28.Qh6+ Nh7 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Bc1 Qg7 31.Qh5 Kg8 32.Nxe6 $18 ) ( 23...Kg7 24.Qd3 Rh8 25.Nf1 Rh4 26.Kg1 Rch8 27.Bg2 $18 { and Black has no way through - he is just a piece down. } ) 24.Nxf3 { and Black's attack is gone } 24...Rf5 25.Rf1 Rcf8 26.Ne5 $1 Nxe5 27.dxe5 Qe7 28.Rxf5 Rxf5 29.Rf1 Rxf1 30.Qg6+ Qg7 31.Qxg7+ Kxg7 32.Kxf1 $18 ) 23...Kg7 $1 { The problem now is that Black's pieces are a bit too quick to flood in. } ( 23...Rf2 $2 { immediately does not work } 24.Qg6+ Kf8 25.Nf3 $18 { Black has no way to get that deadly h-file check, so can resign } ) 24.Nf3 ( 24.Kg2 { was the best defence according to Stockfish } 24...Qf4 25.Nf3 Nf6 26.e3 Qxg4+ 27.Kf2 Ne4+ 28.Ke2 Rh8 29.Kd3 Rxh1 30.Rxh1 Qxf3 $17 { The threat of ...Nf2+ wins further material for Black, but White is still in the game. } ) ( 24.Qd3 Rf2 $1 { and mate follows shortly } 25.Nf3 Rh8+ 26.Nh4 Rxh4# ) 24...Rxf3+ $1 { Brutal! Black played this sequence of moves very powerfully. } 25.exf3 Rh8+ 26.Kg2 Qh2+ ( 26...Rh2+ { was clearer according to Stockfish } 27.Kf1 ( 27.Kg1 Qg3+ 28.Kf1 Qf2# ) 27...dxc4 $1 28.Bg2 Qg3 29.Rc2 cxb3+ $19 ) 27.Kf1 Qxh1+ 28.Kf2 Rh2+ 29.Ke3 Qg2 $19 30.Bc3 { Now according to Stockfish it's mate in seven, but thankfully Black could not capitalise! } ( 30.Rc2 { is Stockfish's first choice, which shows just how desperate White's plight is here } 30...Qxc2 31.Qxc2 Rxc2 32.Re2 Rxe2+ 33.Kxe2 dxc4 $19 ) 30...Qf2+ ( 30...Nf6 { threatens ...Nxg4+ followed by ...Rh3# and White has no sensible reply. } 31.Kd3 Nh5 $1 32.gxh5 Qxf3+ 33.Re3 Qf5+ 34.Re4 Qxe4# ) 31.Kd3 Qxf3+ 32.Re3 dxc4+ 33.bxc4 Bxc4+ { A natural human move, and the one I expected watching live. Black is still winning, but is no longer mating immediately. } 34.Kxc4 Qxe3 35.d5+ Ne5+ ( 35...Kf7 36.dxc6 Qc5+ 37.Kb3 Qb5+ 38.Ka3 Qa6+ { and the White king is hunted down like a rat } 39.Kb4 Qa5+ 40.Kb3 Nc5+ 41.Kc4 Qa6+ 42.Kd4 Rh3 43.Rd1 Qe2 44.Rf1+ Ke7 45.Bd2 Rd3+ 46.Kc4 Qe4+ 47.Kb5 Qa4# ) 36.Kb3 Rh3 37.Qa1 Kf8 38.Re1 Qd3 39.Rxe5 { Black is still winning up to this point, and it was only here that he threw it away. } 39...a5 $4 ( 39...cxd5 { Simply taking care of White's d-pawn would have reeled in the full point. } 40.Qe1 Rh2 { and the simple threat of ...Qc4+ and ...Rxa2# decides the game } 41.Qa1 Qc4+ 42.Ka3 Rh3 $19 { and c3 falls. } ) 40.Qe1 $2 { Now the game should end in perpetual check. } ( 40.dxc6 $1 { This pawn is just too dangerous, and decides the game. } 40...a4+ ( 40...Ke7 41.Qe1 Kd8 42.Rxe6 Qd5+ 43.Kb2 Rh2+ 44.Kc1 Rh1 45.Rd6+ Qxd6 46.Qxh1 $18 ) 41.Kb4 Rf3 42.Qc1 Rf4+ 43.Ka3 Qd6+ 44.Kb2 Qxc6 45.Rxg5 $18 { The c-pawn has fallen, but White remains a piece up, and Black has no attack left. } ) 40...a4+ ( 40...Rh2 41.Qe4 a4+ 42.Kxa4 Qxc3 43.Rf5+ $1 exf5 44.Qxf5+ Ke7 45.Qe6+ Kd8 46.Qd6+ Kc8 47.Qe6+ Kb8 48.Qe8+ Kb7 49.Qd7+ Ka6 50.Qc8+ Ka7 51.Qc7+ $10 ) 41.Kb2 a3+ 42.Kb3 cxd5 43.Rxe6 Qc4+ 44.Kc2 { And now, in desperate time trouble by this point, tragedy struck for Black: } 44...Qxa2+ $2 ( 44...Rh2+ 45.Kc1 Rh1 $1 { Not the easiest bail-out to see with your flag hanging! } 46.Re8+ ( 46.Qxh1 $4 Qxc3+ 47.Kd1 ( 47.Kb1 Qb2# ) 47...Qa1+ 48.Ke2 Qxh1 $19 ) 46...Kf7 47.Re7+ Kg8 ( 47...Kg6 $4 48.Rg7+ Kh6 49.Qxh1# ) 48.Re8+ Kf7 49.Re7+ $10 ) 45.Kc1 $1 $18 { Now Black can only prolong the game through a colossal loss of material. } 45...Rh2 46.Re8+ Kf7 47.Qe6# { A fortuitous win for Alex at the end of a hard-fought and topsy-turvy game! } 1-0 [Event "London Online Chess League - Open"] [Date "2020.12.09"] [Round "7.4.1"] [White "Bhattacharjee, Sourav"] [Black "Willmoth, Robert"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [FEN "3k4/p2r1p2/PpR1p1p1/4P2p/1P1PKP1P/8/8/8 w - - 1 36"] [SetUp "1"] { A very interesting ending has arisen, though both players were short of time by now, with White below three minutes and Black below ten. This must be taken into account when analysing the play that follows! } 36.d5 $5 { A fascinating try. } 36...exd5+ $2 { Remarkably, this seems to be a mistake! } ( 36...Rc7 $1 $7 { was very tricky to spot, but the only move to hold here! } 37.Rxc7 Kxc7 38.d6+ { looks overwhelming for White, but in fact this is a fortress, as the White king cannot get at the Black pawns. } 38...Kd7 39.Kd4 { Now Black just needs to take a little care with the corresponding squares... } 39...Kd8 ( 39...Ke8 { or } ) ( 39...Kc8 { are also fine, but Black must by all means avoid } ) ( 39...Kc6 $4 40.Kc4 $1 Kd7 ( 40...b5+ { does not help } 41.Kd4 Kb6 42.d7 Kc7 43.Kc5 Kxd7 44.Kxb5 Kc7 45.Kc5 Kb8 46.Kc6 Kc8 47.b5 $18 ) 41.Kb5 $1 { when he finds himself in Zugzwang } 41...Kd8 42.Kc6 Kc8 43.d7+ Kd8 44.b5 $18 ) 40.Kc4 Kc8 41.Kb5 Kd7 { It's vital that Black reach this position with White to move! But having done so, all White can do is retreat. } 42.Kc4 Kc6 43.Kd4 Kd7 $10 ) 37.Kd4 Ke7 38.b5 $2 ( 38.Rf6 $1 { and White will break through on the kingside } 38...Ke8 39.f5 gxf5 40.Rxf5 Kf8 41.Rxh5 $18 ) 38...Kd8 $2 ( 38...Rd8 $1 39.Rc7+ Rd7 40.Rxd7+ Kxd7 41.Kxd5 { Very hard to calculate that Black is OK here, but he is! } 41...Ke7 { draws thanks to a classic fortress: } ( 41...Kc7 42.e6 f6 $1 { is also a draw, as Zugzwang prevents White from holding the e-pawn } 43.Ke4 Kd6 44.f5 g5 45.hxg5 fxg5 46.Kf3 h4 47.Kg4 Ke7 $10 { Neither king can leave the advanced enemy pawn, so it's a trivial draw. } ) 42.Kc6 Ke6 43.Kb7 Kd7 44.Kxa7 Kc7 45.Ka8 Kc8 46.Ka7 Kc7 $10 ) 39.e6 $1 fxe6 40.Rxe6 Rf7 41.Kxd5 Rxf4 42.Rxg6 Rxh4 43.Rg7 { Despite Black's extra pawn, this position is winning for White, thanks to the advanced queenside pawns. } 43...Rg4 44.Rxa7 Kc8 45.Rh7 $2 ( 45.Ra8+ $1 { White wins as long as the Black king can be kept out of b8 and a7 } 45...Kc7 46.Rh8 Rg5+ 47.Ke6 Rxb5 48.a7 $18 { and queens. } ) 45...Rg5+ 46.Ke6 Rxb5 $2 ( 46...Kb8 $1 { is the end of White's winning hopes } 47.a7+ Ka8 48.Kd6 Rxb5 49.Kc6 Rb2 $10 ) 47.a7 Ra5 48.Kd6 Ra1 49.Kc6 $2 { Missing the last chance. } ( 49.a8=Q+ $1 Rxa8 50.Kc6 $1 { and Black's rook falls shortly } 50...Kb8 51.Kxb6 Kc8 52.Rh8+ Kd7 53.Rxa8 $18 ) 49...Rc1+ { Now it's a fairly straightforward draw. White can't both escape the checks and queen his pawn. } 50.Kxb6 Rb1+ 51.Kc5 Rc1+ 52.Kd4 Ra1 53.Ke3 h4 54.Kf2 Ra3 55.Kg2 Rg3+ 56.Kh2 Ra3 57.Rg7 h3 58.Rh7 Ra1 59.Kxh3 Rh1+ 60.Kg2 Ra1 61.Kf3 Ra4 62.Ke3 Ra1 63.Kd3 Ra3+ 64.Kc4 Ra1 65.Kb3 Ra6 66.Rg7 Ra1 1/2-1/2

More or less anything could have happened in this match, so in the end, I guess we can’t be too unhappy with a tie! The whole thing had a distinctly random feel to it, recalling one of my favourite cartoons:

All too true of my attempts to make sense of this match! (courtesy [xkcd](
All too true of my attempts to make sense of this match! (courtesy xkcd)

Meanwhile, in the U1825 division, our B team match brought some chaos of its own: both teams had to make substitutions, and ended up being short one player, leaving the board order on both sides of the scorecard looking somewhat random!

Hendon B Athenaeum B
Chris Rogal
1803 ½ - ½
Samuel Burrows
Stanley Jacobs
1390 1 - 0
Rohan Theo Barbier-Ramaiah
Morris Jones
1758 1 - 0
Djuna Tree
0 - 0
2½ - ½

Chris Rogal found himself a knight ahead for a couple of pawns in an ending, but was too low on time to convert, so that game ended in a draw. Meanwhile, Morris Jones was substituted in at the last minute (thanks Morris!) against a much lower-graded opponent, who he managed to beat without too much trouble. In the third game, Stanley won a back-and-forth affair to ensure we won the match comfortably.

Thanks to everyone who played! This was the last match night of 2020 where both teams will be playing; there is one more B-team match next week (16th December) before the LOCL takes a two-week break over Christmas and the New Year. Full schedule available here.

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