The eleventh and final round of season 3 of the London Online Chess League took place on Tornelo tonight. The Hurricanes and Harriers both lost against strong opposition, though Kennan defeated a FIDE Master in the former match, and the Spitfires defeated Ilford to finish the season on a high!
|Hendon Hurricanes||Hendon Hurricanes||Cavendish A||Cavendish A|
|1||CM Rob Willmoth||2200||0 - 1||IM John Cox||2343|
|2||Alex Leslie||2088||½ - ½||FM Gary Kenworthy||2283|
|3||Kennan Kesterson||1983||1 - 0||FM Andy Lewis||2260|
|4||David Amior||1900||0 - 1||Jeff Goldberg||2110|
|1½ - 2½|
In the Queens Division, the Hurricanes faced Cavendish A, who are a somewhat enigmatic outfit. They have an incredibly strong squad, as evidenced by the IM and two FMs in their side tonight, but somehow they were languishing in the bottom half of the table before this match, with just 4/10 match points!
They’ve defaulted a couple of matches, which obviously hasn’t helped, and they haven’t always had a line-up as strong as this available. Even then, a side featuring the same three titled players was held to a draw by Petts Wood & Orpington last week, with none of the three winning, so it was hard to know quite what to expect.
Whatever the explanation for past results, unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the “laws of Elo physics” were back in force tonight, though Cavendish did once again rely on a point from their only non-titled player to get a result here.
On Board 1, Rob faced John Cox, whom he had faced in both the last two seasons, scoring a win and a draw. Tonight, sadly, he completed the set, in fairly spectacular fashion too, after errors on moves 12 and 13 of a sharp Dutch Defence left him losing decisive material.
On Board 2, Alex creditably held his FM opponent to a draw, after having been considerably better for most of the game, but things petered out after Alex spurned the opportunity to win a pawn. Alex should be very proud that he is now able to routinely hold his own against opposition of this level!
On Board 4, David Amior got into trouble in the early middlegame when his opponent opened the queenside and David’s pawn structure collapsed, with his kingside attack not strong enough to compensate. David allowed a sacrifice which swiftly forced mate, but was already much worse by that point.
However, Kennan gave Hurricanes fans something to cheer about on Board 3, by defeating his FM opponent! It was quite a strange game overall, with Kennan choosing an opening variation that wasn’t the best, but his opponent blundering straight away, allowing him to win a pawn. There were plenty of mutual errors in the middlegame, but the eventual result was a rook ending where Kennan had retained his extra pawn.
I’m pretty sure this should have been holdable for Black, but the Cavendish player made a fateful decision to infiltrate his king to the queenside to try to run his a-pawn, which triggered a race he could not win. Kennan queened first and cleaned up. Very well done indeed to him on this superb result!
A pity to end with a loss, after six matches unbeaten, particularly after we’d just got several players back from their holidays; still, one can hardly be too disappointed with a narrow defeat against such a strong side.
The final-round games in the Queens Division are currently available here.
|Hendon Spitfires||Hendon Spitfires||Ilford A||Ilford A|
|1||Chris Rogal||1803||0 - 1||George Horan||1855|
|2||Morris Jones||1758||1 - 0||Neville Twitchell||1923|
|3||Amirabbas Mehrafarin||1734||1 - 0||Tom Barton||1908|
|4||James Baxter||1700||1 - 0||Jef Page||1630|
|3 - 1|
In the Rooks Division, I was optimistic of getting a result against Ilford, despite the grades being against us, as several of our players have improved significantly since the grades were last updated over a year ago. The games all went the distance, but the Spitfires ran out decisive victors.
James’s opponent on Board 4 played a dubious gambit resulting in a worse position, and then blundered material on move 12, leaving James with an easy conversion. His opponent played on until being mated on move 69, long after there was no longer anything meaningful to play for.
I’ve never understood why people do that; I respect the concept of dogged resistance in a lost position, but when your opponent has a bishop and two pawns against your bare king, and has an increment of 15 seconds per move protecting them from being flagged or making a gross blunder, surely there are better things to do with the rest of the evening than playing on for another 17 moves? Nonetheless, James kept cool and closed the game out.
Morris’s game was very complex. He had the better of it early on, being Black in a “Sveshnikov gone right” (I’m not sure if this was a tribute to the great man who sadly passed away today, but if so, it was a fitting one).
Morris didn’t make the absolute most of his position, though, and the game arrived in a double-rook ending with Morris having a pawn more. There was an interesting moment where Morris’s opponent missed the opportunity to trade off into a drawn king-and-pawn ending, leaving Morris with an easily winning rook ending, which he played well to convert.
On Board 3, Amirabbas faced the Ilford captain, who committed a mouse slip on move 9, dropping a crucial central pawn. He then sacrificed his queen for a rook and bishop, leaving a strange material balance, albeit one that was very favourable for Amirabbas, who duly converted.
The only point for Ilford came on top board. Chris had very much the better of things for the first 35 moves, missing a number of complicated chances, but then his opponent started to get serious counterplay, and Chris got short of time. The key moment was when Chris offered the exchange of queens; this sealed his fate, as the Ilford player pushed his pawns through.
Congratulations to the Spitfires, who have had a very good season, and deserved to cap it with a win!
The final-round games from the Rooks Division are currently available here.
|Charlton Chess Mates||Charlton Chess Mates||Hendon Harriers||Hendon Harriers|
|1||Humphrey Jones||1623||1 - 0||Jean-Claude Sartenaer||1810|
|2||Mateusz Bazan||1660||1 - 0||Matty Berenblut||1450|
|3||Ciaran Brightley-Davies||1593||0 - 1||Marcel Berenblut||1450|
|4||Stephen Thompson||1300||1 - 0||Julie Oh||1485|
|3 - 1|
Finally, we turn to the Harriers, who were facing the second-placed side in the Bishops Division (coincidentally meaning that a Hendon team faced a Charlton team for the third week in a row!).
The games were all closely contested. To begin with, Berenbluts father and son exchanged points with their Charlton counterparts.
Matty had a great position out of the opening when the Charlton player missed the opportunity to recapture a pawn on e5; the result was a winning king-and-pawn ending, though the win wasn’t straightforward, and slipped away. The resulting ending should still have been a draw, but then Matty allowed an outside passed pawn to be created, which won the game for his opponent: a tough but useful endgame lesson.
Meanwhile, his Dad Marcel was getting on rather better on the next board down. He came out of the opening very strongly, after having destroyed his opponent’s central pawn structure and taken full control of the only open file with his rooks. His opponent’s position collapsed when he failed to defend the e3 pawn; there was an elegant little pirouette of knights on move 27, which evidently confused the Ilford player, as immediately he hung the a1 rook and was mated.
Honours even so far, but JC seemed to be in bad shape on top board, where I’d had high hopes of a win. His opponent had started with a comedy opening (1. a3), but the game ended up looking like a fairly normal Pirc. The middlegame was very complex, and understandably had many errors by both sides. The pivotal moment was probably when JC took the e4 pawn on move 26, allowing a tactic that won material.
There should have been a ludicrous reversal, after the Ilford player hung a rook on move 37 (he was relying on a knight fork to win it back, but if JC had taken the rook, the fork would have been illegal, as the knight would have been pinned to the king). Unfortunately JC missed this also, and his opponent gave him no more chances.
On Board 4, Julie embarked on a sacrificial attack, opening up her opponent’s king. Full marks for aggression and enterprise, but the idea was not sound, and Julie ended up two pieces down, and her opponent finished off in style.
Despite the defeat today, the Harriers should be proud of their season, which exceeded all my expectations!
The final-round games in the Bishops Division are currently available here.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has played for Hendon in LOCL season 3. It’s been another great 11 weeks of online chess! A full report on the season will follow in due course, as there have been some remarkable accomplishments to talk about.
You can find a list of all stories about this season of the London Online Chess League here.