LOCL season 2 is over!

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 12 May, 2021

Season 2 of the London Online Chess League came to a close tonight. The Hurricanes and Spitfires drew their matches, meaning that the Spitfires narrowly lost out on the Bishops Division title to Streatham & Brixton B. The Harriers finished with a decisive victory over the King’s Head Bishops.

Hendon Hurricanes Hendon Hurricanes SchachAttack SchachAttack
CM Rob Willmoth
2200 0 - 1
Muhammad Ismayilov
Alex Leslie
2088 1 - 0
CM Shreyas Royal
Kennan Kesterson
1983 1 - 0
Mike Healey
David Amior
1900 0 - 1
Eldar Alizada
2 - 2

Starting in the Queens Division, the Hurricanes faced SchachAttack, a side previously unknown to me, but with a strong lineup: they were destined to finish second in the division whatever happened tonight.

On Board 1, Rob faced a strong player from Azerbaijan. It looked like Rob had survived a dangerous attack and his passed kingside pawns would win the day, but unfortunately a mouse slip caused an unfortunate reversal; Rob lost his queen and had to resign on the spot.

On Board 2, Alex Leslie faced something of a celebrity opponent, in the form of Shreyas Royal. Shreyas was the Under-8 British Champion in 2016, and made headlines in 2018 when the Home Secretary at the time, Sajid Javid, intervened to allow his family to stay in the UK, specifically on the grounds that he is a chess prodigy.

Javid described him as “one of the most gifted chess players in his generation”, but our Alex decided to contest that honour, beating him in a fascinating endgame! A fine achievement to crown an excellent season for Alex!

On Board 3, Kennan won after his strong opponent self-destructed in a manner I find very hard to explain.

On Board 4, David Amior ended up in a same-coloured bishop ending a pawn down, which his opponent went on to convert.

A draw against such strong opposition is very creditable, so well done to the team! The Hurricanes finish in the bottom half of the table, in this very strong division, but drew a remarkable five of their eleven matches, several of which were very close to being wins. The side was by no means outclassed, and wouldn’t have needed many extra half-points to finish in a much higher position. Many thanks to all who played throughout the season!

The final round games from the Queens Division are currently available here.

Beckenham and Bromley Beckenham and Bromley Hendon Spitfires Hendon Spitfires
Richard Selway
2080 ½ - ½
Christopher Rogal
Rodolfo Padovan
1803 ½ - ½
Andrew Medworth
Alan Sands
1825 1 - 0
Morris Jones
Zac Belcher
1464 0 - 1
Anton Drel
2 - 2

In the Bishops Division, the Spitfires went into their final match level on match points with Streatham & Brixton B in the top two places. However, with our rivals having an insurmountable game points lead, we knew that our only hope of winning the Bishops Division title was if they failed to win their match, and we achieved a better result in ours.

We faced a Beckenham and Bromley side which has been significantly strengthened and improved since the Harriers beat them in round 7. It wasn’t an easy-looking match on paper, so we could only do our best and hope that Streatham & Brixton’s opponents, the East Ham Eagles, would do us a favour.

In the end, astonishingly, both sides failed to win their matches, in a finish reminiscent of the infamous 2013 Candidates tournament, where Kramnik needed a better result than Carlsen in the final round, but both players ended up losing!

That meant both sides finished on the same match points, but Streatham & Brixton take the title on game points. Congratulations to them! It has to be said, this last round was agonisingly close, and could so easily have gone our way.

On Board 1, Chris had an overwhelming position objectively, but was incredibly low on time, and ended up taking a repetition.

On Board 2, I got a mediocre middlegame with a bad bishop against a good knight, and ended up a pawn down in a rook ending. I was convinced I was lost at one stage, but ultimately I just about managed to hold. I was rather pleased with that result, since my opponent was on 7/7 in LOCL season 2 up to that point, against some very decent opposition!

On Board 3, Morris’s game finished tragically when he lost on time in a queen ending where he was a clear pawn up, and at very little risk of losing on the board. Afterwards, he explained that he’d had Tornelo’s “move confirmation” feature turned on, which helps avoid mouse slips, but it does mean that moves take a little extra time to complete! Ideally it would be possible to configure Tornelo not to ask for a confirmation if you have less than a certain amount of time on the clock, and that feature certainly seems worth requesting in light of what happened here!

Morris was very apologetic afterwards, but we would never have had a chance at the title this week without his extraordinary resilience and determination in the previous round.

On Board 4, bizarrely, Anton’s opponent resigned on move 5 in a perfectly playable position, so presumably had some kind of personal crisis that made it impossible to continue the game. Obviously we hope everything turned out OK.

This was not the triumphant finish we were hoping for, but nonetheless, the Spitfires have had a superb season, and I’d like to offer my huge thanks to everyone who played a part!

Hendon Harriers Hendon Harriers King's Head Bishops King's Head Bishops
Amirabbas Mehrafarin
1734 1 - 0
Alex Bourke
Gul Kapur
1533 1 - 0
Richard Balatoni
Stanley Jacobs
1390 ½ - ½
Evan Beachley
Dev Ranka
1270 1 - 0
John Tierney
3½ - ½

The Harriers extended their end-of-season winning run to three matches, beating the King’s Head Bishops by an even greater margin than the Spitfires managed in round 4!

On Board 1, the Bishops were without their strong captain Colin Mackenzie tonight, and Amirabbas decisively defeated Colin’s replacement when the King’s Head player made an incorrect decision to liquidate into a king-and-pawn ending.

On Board 2, Gul also finished the season with a win; his opponent seemed to have a great position for most of the game, but eventually got very low on the clock, went wrong, and lost on time.

On Board 3, Stanley had a promising minor piece ending a pawn up, but it petered out to a draw in the end.

Finally, on Board 4, Dev crowned his strong improvement in season 2 with a win! Dev was fortunate his opponent failed to take advantage of an opening blunder, but after that, the King’s Head player dubiously exchanged his bishop and knight for a rook and pawn, and later blundered further material. Appropriately, the final game in the final match report of season 2 finished with checkmate on the board!

The Harriers finish in the bottom half of the table, but have significantly improved their results in recent weeks, and they’ve exceeded all my expectations at the start of the season. Congratulations to them!

The final round games in the Bishops Division are currently available here.

My heartfelt thanks, once again, to everyone who has played in LOCL season 2. There are so many fine achievements to celebrate; look out for a full end-of-season report with all the details in due course. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the last eleven weeks, and I look forward to seeing you in season 3!

You can find a list of all stories about season 2 of the London Online Chess League here.