The eighth round of the London Online Chess League took place on Tornelo this evening, with our three teams coming out of their matches with three different results – though there were some excellent individual performances, and an important win for the Spitfires!
Our lineups looked quite different from normal this week, as several junior players were missing, with this being the first week of the new school term.
|King's Head Bangers||Hendon Hurricanes|
|1||CM Rick McMichael||2268||½ - ½||Andrew Medworth||1788|
|2||Andrew Gilfillan||2118||0 - 1||Alex Leslie||2088|
|3||Conor O'Shaughnessy||2058||½ - ½||David Amior||1900|
|4||Colin Mackenzie||2013||1 - 0||Gideon Vecht||1795|
|2 - 2|
In the Queens Division, our team sheet looked especially odd, as I had to step in on Board 1 at the last minute. I was officially a reserve for the Spitfires, but once all the Spitfires games were successfully underway, King’s Head captain Colin Mackenzie kindly agreed to let me substitute for the Hurricanes, despite the fact that I wasn’t technically eligible.
We’d defeated King’s Head 3–1 in season 1, but with so many players missing, it looked unlikely that we’d be able to repeat that tonight. But King’s Head weren’t to get everything their own way in this match!
I managed to reach what I thought was a fairly balanced middlegame position, having stalled White’s kingside attacking potential at the cost of the bishop pair. However, I misjudged the situation, and my strong opponent obtained severe pressure against e6. In time pressure, I decided to let the pawn go in exchange for activity, and my gamble paid off, as the King’s Head player walked into a cheapo.
There were several tempting continuations, but I decided to take a very safe ending, with a rook against my opponent’s bishop and pawn. I duly exchanged off all his remaining pawns to secure a draw, which is a very good result for me personally (particularly as I started around ten minutes down on the clock), but also somewhat fortunate, as I felt I was in big trouble at one point.
I emerged to find Alex Leslie had won his game on Board 2, having been gifted material by his opponent in what appeared to be a fairly level position, but this had been cancelled out on Board 4, where Gideon (playing his first match in season 2) came under a strong attack from the King’s Head captain in a position with castling on opposite sides.
The game thus rested on David’s Board 3 encounter. By the time I looked at the position, the ending was level, but replaying the game, David was very fortunate to survive, after his opponent came up with a strong exchange sacrifice to end with a knight and several pawns against a rook, but didn’t find the right way to convert.
Overall, a 2–2 draw is an excellent result, given we were outgraded on every board, by over 200 points in a couple of cases, so well done Hurricanes!
The round 8 games in the Queens Division are currently available here.
|Hendon Spitfires||Battersea Cats|
|1||Chris Rogal||1803||1 - 0||WFM Diana Mirza||1933|
|2||Morris Jones||1758||1 - 0||Steve Barry||1690|
|3||Nick Murphy||1750||1 - 0||Joel Morales||1600|
|4||Anton Drel||1510||1 - 0||Chris Watt||1465|
|4 - 0|
In the Bishops Division, the Spitfires faced the Battersea Cats, who had been struggling so far in season 2 (losing to the Harriers in round 4), but were strengthened today by the addition of WFM Diana Mirza on Board 1, so we couldn’t afford to be complacent.
In the end, though, the whole team played superbly to score a decisive victory! I didn’t see the order the games finished, so I’ll go board-by-board.
Top board was the only one where Battersea were stronger on paper, so it was wonderful to see our esteemed Chairman Chris Rogal defeat his strong opponent there!
It looked like Chris was coming under a strong kingside attack in the middlegame, but the Battersea player decided to go for a tempting but ultimately dubious exchange sacrifice. Taking Chris’s light-squared bishop gave Black some attacking chances, but they came to nothing when Chris put his queen on f1, leaving its counterpart no way into the light squares. Chris converted his material advantage very well, although it looks like his opponent may have missed an opportunity for a perpetual late on.
On Board 2, Morris Jones made a welcome return to the side, and did a great job of converting a rook-and-pawn ending after a slightly chaotic opening.
On Board 3, Nick emerged from the opening a piece up, after an opening blunder (possibly a mouse slip) by his opponent. The result never looked in doubt from then on, with Nick finishing in style after blowing his opponent’s kingside open.
Anton Drel completed the clean sweep on Board 4 by trapping the White queen after it unwisely ventured into his kingside without backup!
With three rounds to go, the Spitfires still top the Division, though there is a critical tie against Streatham & Brixton B next week, which will determine the final outcome of their season. We can only take one round at a time, though, so well done to the players for getting the job done today!
|Hackney Hopefuls||Hendon Harriers|
|1||Frederick Sugden||1668||1 - 0||Gul Kapur||1533|
|2||Zebedee Jones||1638||½ - ½||David Lewis||1465|
|3||Stephen Mackie||1375||1 - 0||Dev Ranka||1270|
|4||Gavin McCabe||1100||0 - 1||Matty Berenblut||1225|
|2½ - 1½|
Elsewhere in the Bishops Division, the Harriers faced the Hackney Hopefuls, who had drawn against the Spitfires in round 5, so had to be treated with respect. The match could easily have gone our way, but sadly, in the end the Harriers were just edged out.
On Board 1, Gul hung a knight in the early middlegame, which was too much to recover from.
David’s Board 2 encounter was the last game to finish. It was a real roller-coaster ride; David looked completely winning, three pawns up, but fell for a tactical trick that enabled his opponent to win a piece. It wasn’t easy for Black to win, however, with three pawns against six, one of which was a “wrong rook’s pawn”. In the end, David managed very creditably to hold the draw.
Board 3 was unfortunately settled by a mouse slip by Dev, who appeared to be on the verge of victory.
However, to finish the report on a high note, many congratulations to Matty Berenblut, who scored his first win in the LOCL, winning material out of the opening, ending up with the unusual material balance of two rooks against a knight and a bishop, with zero pawns exchanged!
Many thanks to all who played!
The round 8 games in the Bishops Division are currently available here.
You can find a list of all stories about season 2 of the London Online Chess League here.