Spitfires win in round six

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 7 April, 2021

As we passed the half-way point in season 2 of the London Online Chess League, the Hendon Spitfires returned to winning ways against Wimbledon B. The Hurricanes and Harriers, meanwhile, were defeated by strong opposition.

East Ham Regals Hendon Hurricanes
Tom Villiers
2253 1 - 0
Sacha Brozel
Frankie Badacsonyi
2100 1 - 0
Rob Willmoth
Jude Samarasinghe
2065 ½ - ½
Kennan Kesterson
Julian Morrison
2013 1 - 0
Andrew Medworth
3½ - ½

In this round, I was forced to abandon my comfortable vantage point “above the fray” and make my first captain’s appearance of the LOCL season! Of course, this significantly weakened the side, but on paper we had par grades on the other boards, so I had some hopes we might still do OK.

However, I lost my game, having allowed my opponent to open the centre in a way which left my pieces in an awful tangle, and looked around to find Sacha and Rob losing too.

Sacha had been under attack with a damaged king position earlier in the game, but appeared to have survived, even gaining an extra pawn. However, his exposed king still required him to play accurately, which he didn’t manage to do, and his opponent mustered an attack on f7 which won material. Once queens were exchanged in the blitz finish, any remaining hope was gone.

Rob hadn’t come out of the opening well, but seemed to have kept his disadvantage within manageable bounds. The game hinged on a dangerous exchange sacrifice by Rob’s opponent – former Hendon junior Frankie Badacsonyi – which blew open the centre and gave the East Ham player a dangerous advanced e-pawn. There was an exchange of inaccuracies, but at the end of it, Rob dropped a piece to a queen fork and never recovered.

Kennan ground out a creditable draw on Board 3 to prevent the whitewash, but overall this was a match to forget for the Hurricanes.

The Queens Division games from round 6 are currently available here.

Hendon Spitfires Wimbledon B
David Amior
1900 ½ - ½
Georgi Velikov
Alex Funk
1878 1 - 0
Mike Williams
Eugenia Karas
1803 ½ - ½
Andrew Blackburn
Anton Drel
1510 ½ - ½
Martin Lake
2½ - 1½

The Spitfires were looking to recover from last week’s slightly disappointing draw, and avenge the Harriers' 4-0 defeat earlier in the season, against Wimbledon B.

I didn’t see in what order the games finished. David had a great position for most of his game, having one or two extra pawns for the majority of it, but didn’t quite manage to convert the ending.

Alex played a distinctly dubious but very tricky variation of the Benoni, but escaped without punishment, and he managed to get a very good minor piece ending which he converted nicely, in what turned out to be the only decisive game of the match!

Eugenia had some difficult chances in the opening phase, but in the end her opponent managed to get a rather good IQP position, and Eugenia was rather fortunate the Wimbledon player decided to take a repetition rather than try to press.

Anton was very lucky to survive the opening, when his opponent missed an opportunity to win a piece on move 5! Anton had a good position later, but the game ended in a repetition, where both players missed a tactic that would have allowed Anton’s opponent to win the pawn on e4 – my engine’s evaluation flips comically between +2 and -1 as the pieces move back and forth, but the important thing was the end result – a draw!

Congratulations to the Spitfires, who remain unbeaten in season 2!

Here are a couple of instructive game segments from the match.

[Event "London Online Chess League Season 2 - Bishops"] [Date "2021.04.07"] [Round "6.18.1"] [White "Amior, David"] [Black "Velikov, Georgi"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [BlackElo "1747.0"] [FEN "8/3nk1p1/1npq2B1/3p1PP1/pp1Pp3/4P3/PPP5/2KN3Q b - - 0 26"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "1612"] { We pick up the game with David having picked up a pawn. David has advanced quite far on the kingside, and Black is trying to drum up counterplay on the other wing. } 26...b3 27.cxb3 axb3 28.axb3 Qb4 29.Kc2 c5 30.Qh8 c4 31.f6+ ( 31.Qxg7+ { just seems to pick up another pawn, and I'm not sure what David didn't like about this. Black does have some counterplay, but the same is true of the game continuation. } 31...Kd6 32.Kc1 { This steps out of a lot of Black's threats. } ( 32.Be8 { also seems good for White, but considerable accuracy is required } 32...cxb3+ 33.Kc1 $1 ( 33.Kb1 $4 Qd2 { would actually lead to a rapid mate for Black! } ) 33...Qc4+ 34.Kd2 $1 ( 34.Nc3 $4 Qf1+ 35.Nd1 ( 35.Kd2 Nc4# ) 35...Qe2 { and again White cannot prevent mate } ) 34...Qf1 ( 34...Qc2+ 35.Ke1 Qg2 36.Qh6+ Kc7 37.Bxd7 Nxd7 38.Qh4 $18 ) 35.Qh6+ Kc7 36.Bxd7 Nc4+ 37.Kc1 Kxd7 38.Qe6+ Kc7 39.Qe7+ Kb8 40.Qb4+ Kc7 41.Qxb3 Qxf5 42.Qc2 Kb7 43.Qg2 $18 ) 32...cxb3 33.Qh6 Qc4+ 34.Kd2 Qc2+ 35.Ke1 Kc7 36.Bh5 Qg2 37.Be2 $18 { The White king has sufficient cover. } ) 31...gxf6 32.gxf6+ Kd6 33.f7 cxb3+ { This is an important moment. } 34.Kb1 $2 ( 34.Kc1 $1 { is necessary, keeping an eye on d2. The ideas are similar to the lines above. } 34...Qc4+ 35.Kd2 Qf1 36.Bh5 Kc6 37.Be2 $1 Qxf7 38.Kc3 $18 { b3 is dropping. } ) 34...Kc6 $2 { Missing the opportunity. } ( 34...Qd2 $1 { weaves a mating net that forces White to give away his old queen, moments after his new one arrives! } 35.f8=Q+ Kc7 $1 ( 35...Nxf8 $2 36.Qxf8+ Kc7 37.Qc5+ $1 $18 ) 36.Qh2+ $1 { The only way to avoid mate. } 36...Qxh2 37.Qf4+ Qxf4 38.exf4 Nc4 { and Black is absolutely fine here - in fact I think most players would take Black, as his structure is better and the knights are no worse than the bishop with the pawns relatively clumped. } ) 35.Qh2 ( 35.Nc3 { would have given good cover for White. } ) 35...Qc4 36.Qd2 { The White queen was needed on the kingside to support the f-pawn's advance. } 36...Nf8 $2 ( 36...Qa6 37.Nc3 Qf1+ 38.Qd1 Qf2 { and Black is well in the game, as the f-pawn is going nowhere and Black has threats of counterplay with ...Nc4 hitting e3. } 39.f8=Q ( 39.Qxb3 $6 Qg1+ 40.Ka2 Qxg6 41.Nxd5 Nxd5 42.Qa4+ Kd6 43.Qxd7+ Kxd7 44.f8=N+ $1 Ke7 45.Nxg6+ { is a nice variation, but it's going to peter out to a draw, as e3 is falling. } 45...Kf6 46.Ne5 Nxe3 47.Kb3 Ke6 48.Kc3 Kd5 49.b4 Nd1+ $10 { and now d4 is falling too. } ) 39...Qxf8 40.Qxb3 Qf1+ 41.Qd1 { and White is better but Black should probably survive. } ) 37.Bh5 Kd6 38.Be2 Qa4 39.Nc3 Nc4 40.Nxa4 Nxd2+ 41.Kc1 Nc4 ( 41...Nf3 42.Bd1 Ng5 43.Nc3 Nxf7 44.Bxb3 Nd7 45.Bxd5 $18 { and White has too many pawns here. } ) 42.Bxc4 $1 dxc4 43.Nc5 Ke7 44.Nxe4 Nd7 45.Nd2 ( 45.Kd2 { should have won with minimum fuss here, as White can always respond to ...Kxf7 with Nd6+. } 45...Nb6 ( 45...Nf8 { is about the only move that avoids Nd6, but after } 46.Kc3 { White collects everything and wins easily. } ) 46.Nd6 $1 { Anyway! } 46...Na4 47.Nxc4 Kxf7 48.e4 $18 ) 45...Nb6 46.Nb1 Kxf7 { David has gone a bit passive with his knight, but should still be winning. } 47.Kd2 $2 { Knight endings are tricky with little time left - you have to constantly watch out for the jumping beasts! } ( 47.Nc3 { would have won, keeping all the key squares under control. Black has no way to attack b2, so White will just be pushing his d- and e-pawns, and Black will have to give up his knight sooner or later. } 47...Ke6 48.e4 $18 ) 47...Na4 $1 { The problem now is that White doesn't have a good way to defend b2. His king is tied to c1, which allows Black to centralise his. Now the game is drawn. } 48.Kc1 Ke6 $1 49.Na3 ( 49.Nd2 Kd5 $10 { is similar. } ) 49...Kd5 50.Nb5 Ke4 { White is losing his extra pawn, so the players agreed a draw here. A fortunate escape for Black! } 1/2-1/2 [Event "London Online Chess League Season 2 - Bishops"] [Date "2021.04.07"] [Round "6.18.4"] [White "Lake, Martin"] [Black "Drel, Anton"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E30"] [WhiteElo "1650"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5 d6 $2 { This should have lost Anton a piece. It's essential to watch out for Qa4+ ideas in this kind of opening, especially when you move the d-pawn before castling! } ( 4...c5 { is normally the key when White goes Bg5 in the Nimzo, either here or after } ) ( 4...h6 5.Bh4 c5 ) 5.Nf3 $2 { White misses it! } ( 5.Qa4+ Nc6 { looks like it's saving Black, but } 6.d5 $1 { is the killer blow } 6...Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Bd7 8.dxc6 Bxc6 9.Qc2 $18 { Yes, White's pawn structure is damaged, and Black has one pawn, but it's not enough for a bishop! } ) 5...Nbd7 6.e3 b6 7.Be2 Bb7 8.O-O O-O $2 { This is another important tactical lesson for Nimzo players - watch out for the Bb4 when you've played both ...b6 and ...d6! } ( 8...Bxc3 { was the way to go, both avoiding the tactic and doubling White's pawns in the spirit of this opening. } 9.bxc3 h6 { and my engine prefers to take on f6, giving the bishop pair straight back, rather than } 10.Bh4 g5 11.Bg3 Ne4 { In either case Black is absolutely fine. } ) 9.Qc2 $2 { The second opportunity is also missed, although this one was more difficult and less decisive. } ( 9.Na4 $1 { was strong, threatening simply a3 and b4 to win the bishop. Black can avoid this, but only at the cost of significant positional concessions. } 9...Ba5 ( 9...d5 10.c5 $1 bxc5 11.a3 Ba5 12.Qb3 Rb8 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Nxc5 $16 { is a great positional clamp for White. Black has serious kingside weaknesses and his light-squared bishop looks like a terrible piece. } ) 10.a3 c5 11.Rb1 $1 Be4 12.Bd3 Qe8 13.b4 cxb4 14.axb4 b5 15.bxa5 bxa4 16.Bc2 Rb8 17.Nd2 Rxb1 18.Qxb1 Bxc2 19.Qxc2 h6 20.Bxf6 Nxf6 21.Ra1 $16 ) 9...h6 10.Bh4 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Re8 12.Rfe1 c5 13.h3 Rc8 14.Qd1 e5 15.dxe5 ( 15.d5 { was probably better, though Black should be fine here. } ) 15...dxe5 16.Qa4 Ra8 17.Nd2 Qc8 18.Bf3 { White should probably not offer this exchange. } 18...e4 { This pawn turns out to be weak here with the bishops on. } ( 18...Bxf3 19.Nxf3 e4 { looks better, breaking up White's bishop pair. } 20.Nd2 g5 21.Bg3 Nf8 $17 ) 19.Be2 Bc6 20.Qd1 Nh7 21.Bg4 Rf8 $2 { I guess the idea was to push ...f5 here, but this leaves e4 tactically weak. } ( 21...Qb7 { is the choice of my engine, when Black is doing well after something like } 22.a4 Ne5 23.a5 Ng5 24.axb6 Nd3 25.Rf1 Qxb6 $17 { Black's structure is superior and he has good homes for his pieces. } ) 22.Be7 $2 ( 22.Nxe4 $1 { was possible here } 22...Bxe4 23.Qxd7 f5 24.Qxc8 Raxc8 25.Bd1 $16 { That's a huge pawn for White to win. Now he has excellent winning chances with the bishop pair. } ) 22...Re8 23.Bh4 Rf8 $2 { Repeating the generous offer! } ( 23...Qb7 $17 ) 24.Be7 $2 { I guess once you've missed it once, it's hard to see it the second time! The game now finished with this repetition. } ( 24.Nxe4 $1 ) 24...Re8 25.Bh4 Rf8 $2 ( 25...Qb7 $17 ) 26.Be7 $2 ( 26.Nxe4 $1 ) 26...Re8 27.Bh4 Rf8 $2 ( 27...Qb7 $17 ) 28.Be7 $2 ( 28.Nxe4 $16 ) 28...Re8 29.Bh4 { A draw was probably a fair result here in the end! } 1/2-1/2
Hendon Harriers East Ham Beagles
Nick Murphy
1750 1 - 0
David Edney
Gul Kapur
1533 0 - 1
Laith Hayali
Stanley Jacobs
1390 0 - 1
Stephen Berkley
Tony Artman
1400 0 - 1
Maksim Khromov
1 - 3

Further down the Bishops Division, the Harriers faced the East Ham Beagles, who aren’t as strong as the Eagles, but still a very decent side. Again, I didn’t see the order the games finished, so I’ll do a board-by-board rundown.

Nick won in 23 moves, when his opponent allowed him a huge centre out of the opening, and then castled into a strong kingside attack: Nick duly blew him away in fine sacrificial style!

That was the end of the good news for the Harriers, though, as Gul and Stanley both left their kings in the middle and succumbed to brutal attacks in their turn.

In the least violent game of the match, Tony had a golden chance to win a piece in the early middlegame, but didn’t see it, and ended up in a rook ending a pawn down, which he wasn’t able to hold.

Many thanks to all who played!

You can currently find all round 6 games in the Bishops Division here.

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