First match night of LOCL season 3!

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 9 June, 2021

Season 3 of the London Online Chess League kicked off this evening! As in season 2, we have entered three teams; unfortunately, all three lost their opening matches.

There were no promotions or relegations after season 2; teams were assigned to divisions for the new season by the League Secretary purely based on an indication of the strongest likely lineup of each team, which captains had to include with their season 3 entry applications.

Our teams were placed in three different divisions this time, with the Hurricanes in the top Queens Division, the Spitfires in the Rooks Division, and the Harriers in the Bishops Division. (In season 2, the Spitfires were with the Harriers in the Bishops Division.)

In some ways this is good, as it will give us opponents of a variety of levels, and avoid our own members having to play each other. However, my initial impression is that none of our teams are especially highly rated relative to their divisions, and that impression was borne out in the results tonight.

Not to worry – we’re don’t appear to be the weakest in any of the divisions either, and I’m sure we will get our share of wins and other things to celebrate as the season rolls on!

Hammered And Out Hendon Hurricanes
1
IM Mark Kvetny
2425 1 - 0
Sacha Brozel
2260
2
Bajrush Kelmendi
2073 0 - 1
CM Rob Willmoth
2200
3
Christof Brixel
2088 ½ - ½
David Amior
1900
4
Jeremy Hodgson
1908 1 - 0
Chris Rogal
1803
2½ - 1½

In the top division, the Hurricanes faced a side from Hammersmith whom we defeated 4–0 last season. Unfortunately, we had a couple of our strong junior players missing this evening, while our opponents had added German IM Mark Kvetny on Board 1.

Rob got us off to a storming start, repeating his victory over the same opponent from season 2, who dropped his f7 pawn and was overrun on the kingside.

David’s game was pretty crazy, with lots of missed opportunities by both sides, but it petered out to a draw in a rook-and-bishop ending.

So far so good, but things didn’t go so well on the other boards. At the top, Sacha dropped an exchange against his strong opponent in the early middlegame, and then dropped further material to a knight fork at the end, whereupon he justifiably resigned.

At the bottom, Chris Rogal (making his Hurricanes debut) got into a very dangerous position where his opponent had an unopposed light-squared bishop, with Chris’s kingside riddled with holes of that colour. When Chris allowed his opponent’s bishop to get into f3 and the Black queen started to infiltrate, it was all over.

Thus, the Hammersmith team won the match by the smallest possible margin.

Athenaeum A Hendon Spitfires
1
Philip Tozer
2148 1 - 0
Morris Jones
1758
2
Tony Wells
2088 1 - 0
Nick Murphy
1750
3
David Morgan
1645 0 - 1
Amirabbas Mehrafarin
1734
4
Djuna Tree
1435 1 - 0
Dev Ranka
1270
3 - 1

In the Rooks Division, we faced an Athenaeum side, which none of our teams did in season 2, as they were in the Rooks and Knights divisions, while we were in the Queens and Bishops.

Our first team defeated this team comfortably in season 1, but this time they had two 2000+ players on the top boards, and they carried the day.

Morris Jones dropped one pawn, then another, ending up in a minor piece ending which his opponent converted very effectively. Nick came a cropper in a minor piece ending too, simplifying into a losing king-and-pawn ending.

Amirabbas scored a win on the one board where we outgraded our opponents, though he was somewhat fortunate, as his opponent won a piece and hung a rook in quite an astonishing fashion!

But that was the end of the good news, with Dev losing on Board 4 too after dropping pawns and his opponent queened in the ending.

Hendon Harriers Wimbledon B
1
Gul Kapur
1533 0 - 1
Georgi Velikov
1747
2
Julie Oh
1485 0 - 1
Shahvez Ali
1773
3
David Lewis
1465 1 - 0
Andrew Blackburn
1645
4
Stanley Jacobs
1390 ½ - ½
Mario Avendano
1608
1½ - 2½

In the Bishops Division, the Harriers faced a Wimbledon B side. We’d lost 4–0 to them early in season 2, and we were able to improve our score this time, but unfortunately not the result.

Gul dropped a crucial pawn in the opening, and never recovered, getting ground down in the ending.

We welcomed Julie Oh today, making her LOCL debut! She gave a good account of herself against a decent opponent, reaching a very interesting rook ending with four pawns against four. Unfortunately, she was very low on time by this point in the game, and lost a couple of pawns. My initial examination suggests there were still opportunities to hold, though they were probably not realistic to find with so little time left. A very interesting game, and Julie can be proud of the way she played – we shall follow her future career with great interest!

On Board 3, David Lewis was the beneficiary of a mouse slip by his opponent in a perfectly good position. We’ve lost quite a few games this way over the seasons, so it was nice to be on the receiving end for a change, though of course it’s hard not to feel sorry for someone who loses a game this way.

Last but not least, on Board 4 Stanley Jacobs pulled off a somewhat fortunate draw, when his opponent failed to exploit a superior pawn structure in a bishop ending. A fine half-point for him!

Many thanks to all who played – see you next week!

You can find a list of all stories about season 3 of the London Online Chess League here.