Hendon teams undefeated in round 4!

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 24 March, 2021

The Hendon teams achieved superb results in round 4 of the London Online Chess League, with the Hurricanes drawing against the season 1 winners, and the Spitfires and Harriers defeating decent opposition!

Hendon Hurricanes Streatham & Brixton A
Rob Willmoth
2200 ½ - ½
Venkat Tiruchirapalli
Alex Leslie
2088 1 - 0
John Carlin
Kennan Kesterson
1983 ½ - ½
Andrew Stone
David Amior
1900 0 - 1
John Hodgson
2 - 2

In the Queens Division, the Hurricanes faced a very strong Streatham and Brixton A side, who were looking to avenge their heavy defeat against us in season 1. We weren’t quite able to replicate that extraordinary result, but we did ourselves proud, achieving a match draw!

We didn’t get off to the best start, with David Amior going into the early middlegame with a broken pawn structure, that was sufficient for his opponent to achieve a winning rook ending.

However, Kennan made a draw on Board 3 against a strong opponent. It was a complicated back-and-forth game, with both kings in some danger, and the Streatham player somewhat surprised me by offering a draw in a position where there seemed to be plenty of play left. Both players were low on time though, and presumably Kennan’s opponent felt that playing on would be an unnecessary risk.

On Board 2, Alex proved his victory over the same opponent in season 1 was no accident! The game could have gone either way going into a rook and minor-piece ending, but the Streatham player went wrong, allowing Alex to win the exchange. The finish was exciting, with Alex’s opponent missing an opportunity to achieve a fortress, but Alex brought home the full point to tie up the match!

[Event "London Online Chess League Season 2 - Queens"] [Date "2021.03.24"] [Round "4.2.2"] [White "Carlin, John"] [Black "Leslie, Alex"] [Result "0-1"] [BlackElo "1936"] [FEN "8/4r2k/p2p1Rp1/1p6/3P2Pn/1Br4P/P7/5R1K w - - 0 40"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "2117"] { Black is somewhat better here, with active rooks, though White should probably be fine if he just exchanges a pair. However, White couldn't resist taking a pawn. (Both players were short of time by this stage.) } 40.Rxd6 $2 ( 40.Rf7+ Rxf7 41.Rxf7+ Kh6 42.Kg1 Rxh3 43.Rd7 Rg3+ 44.Kf2 Rxg4 45.Rxd6 { and White seems to have enough activity to survive. } ) 40...Rxh3+ 41.Kg1 Re2 $1 42.Rf2 Re1+ 43.Rf1 Nf3+ $1 { Well-calculated by Alex! } 44.Kg2 Rh2+ 45.Kxf3 Rxf1+ 46.Kg3 Rd2 47.g5 Rg1+ ( 47...a5 { might have been slightly more accurate, keeping the White king in a box for now. } ) 48.Kf4 Rf2+ 49.Ke3 Rf8 50.Rd7+ Kh8 51.Rd5 ( 51.Rd6 { does not help } 51...Re8+ 52.Kf4 Kg7 53.Rxa6 Rf1+ 54.Kg3 Re3+ 55.Kg2 Rf5 $19 ) 51...Re1+ 52.Kd2 Re7 ( 52...Rg1 { and ...Rf5 would have been pretty decisive, picking up g5. } 53.Kc3 Rf5 54.Rd8+ Kg7 55.Rg8+ Kh7 56.Ra8 Rgxg5 57.Rxa6 Rf4 $19 ) 53.Rd6 Kg7 54.Bc2 ( 54.Rxa6 Rf5 55.d5 Rxg5 56.d6 Rd7 57.Kc3 Kf6 58.a4 Ke5 59.axb5 Rxd6 $17 { looks winning for Black as well, but is trickier. } ) 54...Rf2+ 55.Kd1 Ree2 56.Rxg6+ Kf7 ( 56...Kf8 57.Rc6 Rg2 ) 57.Rc6 Rd2+ ( 57...Rg2 $2 58.Bb3+ Kg7 59.Bd5 $1 { is now a problem, as Black can't take on g6. } 59...Rh2 60.Rxa6 Rd2+ 61.Kc1 Rxd4 62.Rh6 $1 Rxh6 63.gxh6+ Kxh6 64.Bb3 $10 ) ( 57...Kf8 { may still be winning - it's hard to tell, even with the help of an engine! } ) 58.Kc1 Rxd4 59.Rxa6 ( 59.g6+ $1 Kg8 60.Rxa6 Rc4 61.Ra8+ Kg7 62.Ra7+ { is a clear draw, though this is hard to spot with little time! } 62...Kh6 ( 62...Kf6 $4 63.Rf7+ $18 ) 63.Rh7+ Kg5 64.g7 Rcxc2+ 65.Kb1 Rb2+ 66.Ka1 Rxa2+ 67.Kb1 Rab2+ $10 ) 59...Rc4 60.Rf6+ Rxf6 61.gxf6 Kxf6 62.Kb2 { This position is a tablebase draw... but further drama was to come! } 62...Ke5 63.Bb3 Rf4 64.Kc3 Kd6 65.Kd3 Kc5 66.Kc3 Rf3+ { And now the critical moment: } 67.Kd2 $2 { A surprising mistake. Surely keeping the king close to the bishop and pawn is the natural thing to do? Perhaps White was afraid of a snap checkmate? Nonetheless, this is a losing mistake. } ( 67.Kb2 $1 $10 { would leave Black with no way to make progress. } ) 67...Kd4 68.Bd1 ( 68.Be6 { does not help } 68...Rf2+ 69.Kc1 b4 70.Bb3 Kd3 71.Be6 Rd2 72.Bb3 Kc3 { and White is in zugzwang, e.g. } 73.Be6 Re2 $19 ) 68...Rf2+ 69.Be2 b4 70.Ke1 Rxe2+ { Very nice! } 71.Kxe2 Kc3 72.Kd1 Kb2 { A fine game by Alex, who took his opportunity very well. } 0-1

On Board 1, Rob had much the better of the game, but got very low on time, and decided to take a draw in a position with his king exposed in a major piece ending. Our opponents can count themselves very fortunate to have drawn this game to finish the match with level scores.

It would have been great to beat this strong team again, but to go two seasons unbeaten against them is still an excellent result. Well done Hurricanes!

You can currently find all round 4 Queen’s Division games here.

King's Head Bishops Hendon Spitfires
Colin Mackenzie
2013 0 - 1
Alex Funk
Neil Tomkin
1735 0 - 1
Eugenia Karas
Evan Beachley
1660 1 - 0
Nick Murphy
Richard Balatoni
1698 0 - 1
Anton Drel
1 - 3

In the Bishops Division, the Spitfires were aiming to retain their position at the top of the table, by defeating the King’s Head Bishops. This they managed to do, replicating the 3-1 scoreline from our season 1 victory!

Anton got us off to a flying start by taking apart his opponent after the King’s Head player went wrong in a sharp Giuoco Piano – a dangerous opening to play if you don’t know the theory, as Anton demonstrated!

Eugenia also won fairly quickly, after her opponent blundered the exchange in a Catalan position, putting us on the brink of winning the match.

Nick’s position looked ropey, and Alex seemed to have forgotten to castle again, which made me worry for a short while that we might not cross the victory line, but Alex’s strong opponent inexplicably hung a piece, gifting us the point we needed!

Nick did end up being on the wrong end of a fairly “caveman-style” kingside hack in the London System, but it didn’t matter by that point.

Well done Spitfires – let’s try to keep this excellent run going!

Hendon Harriers Battersea Cats
Gul Kapur
1533 ½ - ½
Steve Barry
David Lewis
1465 0 - 1
Joel Morales
Stanley Jacobs
1390 1 - 0
Chris Watt
Dev Ranka
1270 1 - 0
Chris Rebbeck
2½ - 1½

The real drama, however, was saved for the Harriers match against the Battersea Cats! We were outgraded on all boards, so I had little hope of repeating our victory from season 1, where we had a much stronger team (though so did our opponents). However, the valiant Harriers had other ideas!

We didn’t get off to a good start, as David Lewis had something of an off-day, hanging a piece and then gifting his opponent an unusual mate. However, it was all uphill from there!

Dev Ranka proved how much he has improved over the two seasons by defeating an opponent of decent strength on bottom board! He was generally well in control throughout, and while he was helped by his opponent blundering a rook, it would have been possible to walk into a perpetual check in the resulting queen ending – but Dev showed good technique to close the game out, levelling the match! Well done!

Stanley then put us in a great position by winning a somewhat chaotic game where his opponent made the last mistake, dropping material.

On the scoreboard, we were on the brink of something special, but Gul appeared to be completely lost on top board, down two pawns in an ending, even when his opponent made his own life difficult by trading off all the rooks, leaving opposite-coloured bishops. It looked for all the world as if the Battersea player was going to tie the match.

However, extraordinarily, Gul’s opponent put all his pawns on dark squares, blocking the position and making it impossible for either his bishop or king to penetrate! Gul had an easy draw by moving his king between f3 and g4, which he duly took, winning us the match!

[Event "London Online Chess League Season 2 - Bishops"] [Date "2021.03.24"] [Round "4.15.1"] [White "Kapur, Gul"] [Black "Barry, Steve"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [BlackElo "1595"] [ECO "A80"] [FEN "8/7p/1pp2kp1/p7/P1Pp2K1/1P1Bb2P/8/8 b - - 3 45"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "1406"] 45...c5 { This felt wrong to me on principle - why take away the possibility of moving the king in via c5 and b4? My engine is happy for Black to play this way though. } 46.h4 h6 47.Kf3 { Now something truly extraordinary happened. } 47...g5 $4 ( 47...h5 { would have won easily, as Black will trade off White's h-pawn and push his own h-pawn through. } 48.Bc2 g5 49.hxg5+ Kxg5 50.Kg3 h4+ 51.Kh3 Bd2 52.Bd1 Be1 53.Be2 Kf4 $19 ) 48.h5 $1 { And that's it! Black no longer has enough room to penetrate with his king, and is powerless against White simply moving his king between f3 and g4! } 48...Ke5 49.Kg4 Bf4 50.Kf3 Bc1 51.Kg4 Be3 52.Kf3 Bf4 53.Kg4 Be3 54.Kf3 Bf4 55.Kg4 Be3 { An amazing hold by Gul! If I were Black, I would not be getting much sleep tonight! } 1/2-1/2

It’s great to see the Harriers get off the mark for the season! Congratulations to the team!

You can currently find all round 4 games in the Bishops Division here.

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