Many wins in round nine, but none for Spitfires

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 28 April, 2021

Hendon teams scored two decisive wins in the LOCL tonight, but unfortunately, in the critical match for the Bishops Division title, the Spitfires lost, meaning victory is no longer in our hands.

In total we won 9–3 this evening, but unfortunately the points came in the wrong matches, as far as our chances of virtual silverware are concerned!

Streatham & Brixton B Streatham & Brixton B Hendon Spitfires Hendon Spitfires
Angus French
1975 1 - 0
David Amior
Martin Smith
1960 ½ - ½
Andrew Medworth
Kostya Titorenko
1923 ½ - ½
Morris Jones
Phil Knott
1878 1 - 0
Nick Murphy
3 - 1

Breaking with tradition, I’ll start with the Spitfires match, since it was eventful to a fault – and not in a good way!

The problems started before the round even began, with Chris having to withdraw a few minutes beforehand for reasons completely beyond his control (we wish him well!). That meant I once again had to step into the team; having a playing captain in a critical match is rarely a good thing.

While trying to play my game, I had to deal with considerably more “captain problems” than in a normal week, such as the very late appearance of certain players, and several people having technical difficulties or missing opponents. It felt like I’d barely looked at my own position in the first 30 minutes.

In the end I basically just ran out of time. While I felt I’d had a good position for most of the game, I took a repetition in the end, as I just didn’t feel able to do anything meaningful with it.

On Board 3, Morris scored a very creditable draw, in a game that never deviated too far from equality.

The only really crazy game from a chess perspective was Board 4. Things took a bizarre turn at the end of the opening, when Nick’s opponent blundered on move 15, and then took over 30 minutes over his following move! It turned out he’d had some sort of personal emergency mid-game, and had to step away (of course we hope everything turned out OK).

Nick generously stopped the clocks, and eventually the game was resumed in a position where Nick had a queen for a rook, bishop and pawn, and a big time advantage. However, to my horror, the advantage swung back in Black’s favour, as he managed to get his rook behind the pawn and push it through!

On top board, David Amior was outplayed in a minor-piece ending to complete a 3–1 victory for Streatham & Brixton, who now lead the Bishops Division with just two rounds to go. We are level with them on match points, but they lead on game points, which is the first tie-break, and now also on head-to-head match result, which is the second.

The race for the Division title is therefore no longer in our hands: we can only try to win our remaining matches and hope Streatham & Brixton B slip up somewhere.

A rather heartbreaking night for the Spitfires. We weren’t rating favourites anyway, but so many things went wrong on this critical evening that it’s hard not to conclude that it just wasn’t meant to be.

The Bishops Division games from round 9 are currently available here.

Hendon Hurricanes Hendon Hurricanes Hammered And Out Hammered And Out
Sacha Brozel
2260 1 - 0
Ryszard Maciol
Rob Willmoth
2200 1 - 0
Bajrush Kelmendi
Alex Leslie
2088 1 - 0
Christof Brixel
Kennan Kesterson
1983 1 - 0
John White
4 - 0

Moving on to the happier news, the Hurricanes whitewashed a strong Hammersmith side in the Queens Division.

On Board 1, Sacha scored his first win of season 2 after taking advantage of several tactical errors by his opponent, mating him in the late middlegame. Congratulations to him!

On Board 2, Rob Willmoth was playing his eighth game in season 2, but astonishingly his first with the Black pieces! It was a really interesting game, with Rob coming under attack in the early middlegame, but his opponent pressed for glory rather than cashing in for a material advantage, which he came to regret. A complex liquidation occurred, leaving Rob a pawn up in an ending with rook and knight against rook and bishop. Rob won a couple more pawns from there by tactical means, and closed out the game nicely!

On Board 3, Alex did very well to trip up his opponent in a same-coloured-bishops ending that should have been drawn.

On Board 4, Kennan completed the clean sweep, when his opponent gifted him a pawn in bizarre fashion in the opening, and Kennan eventually converted the material advantage in the knight ending, after some adventures.

Congratulations to the Hurricanes on their first win since the opening day of the season!

The Queens Division games from round 9 are currently available here.

Hendon Harriers Hendon Harriers Wanstead Wolves Wanstead Wolves
Amirabbas Mehrafarin
1734 1 - 0
Mark Murrell
James Baxter
1600 1 - 0
Mike Buckingham
David Lewis
1465 1 - 0
Nigel White
Stanley Jacobs
1390 1 - 0
4 - 0

The Harriers match this week saw a Hendon LOCL debut for Amirabbas Mehrafarin (welcome!), who opened his account on Board 1 with a fine win against the Wanstead captain, who trapped his own knight and then hung a rook (something of a theme in this match!).

On Board 2, James Baxter was the beneficiary of a blunder by his opponent, who hung his rook in the corner and rapidly collapsed.

On Board 3, David Lewis had an oddly similar experience, with his opponent also undefending a rook on its starting square, leaving David decisive material ahead!

On Board 4, Stanley’s opponent never showed up, completing the second clean sweep for us.

Well done to the Harriers on their third win of the season!

Many thanks to everyone who played tonight. A shame about the Spitfires match, but there was a lot to celebrate elsewhere.

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