Spitfires and Harriers get off the mark!

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 16 June, 2021

In round 2 of the LOCL, the Spitfires and Harriers both got their first wins of season 3 against decent opposition! Unfortunately the Hurricanes went down hard to season 1 winners Streatham & Brixton A.

Hendon Hurricanes Streatham & Brixton A
1
Rob Willmoth
2200 0 - 1
Venkat Tiruchirapalli
2328
2
Alex Leslie
2088 0 - 1
John Carlin
2275
3
David Amior
1900 0 - 1
John Hodgson
2103
4
Chris Rogal
1803 ½ - ½
Andrew Stone
2155
½ - 3½

So far we’d had a good record against this strong side, beating them in season 1 and holding them to a draw in season 2. Sadly we weren’t able to continue this tonight.

Three of the four pairings had already been seen in both those previous meetings! Rob had drawn twice with the same FM-strength opponent, Alex had beaten his opponent twice before, and David Amior was on 50% against his, so there were grounds for optimism.

Unfortunately all three of those games were lost today, with our only half-point coming from Hurricanes stand-in Chris Rogal!

The Queens Division games from round 2 are currently available here.

Hendon Spitfires East Ham Eagles
1
Anton Drel
1800 1 - 0
Harry Zheng
1915
2
Gideon Vecht
1795 0 - 1
Edison Figueroa
1908
3
Morris Jones
1758 1 - 0
Jack Sheard
1855
4
Amirabbas Mehrafarin
1734 1 - 0
David Edney
1833
3 - 1

The Spitfires match started really badly, with Gideon losing in 14 moves, but thankfully the rest of the games went really well!

Morris was gifted an exchange in bizarre fashion, in what I can only assume was a mouse slip by his opponent. Morris did a very nice job of converting from there.

Amirabbas had an excellent attacking position, also an exchange up, and while the conversion didn’t go quite as smoothly as in Morris’s game, Amirabbas still prevailed in the end!

This meant we just needed a draw from the top board clash between talented juniors Anton Drel and Harry Zheng. Anton had an absolutely barn-storming season 2, playing far in excess of his official grade of 1510, and the League Secretary agreed to my request to increase his grade to 1800 for LOCL purposes for season 3.

Anton’s opponent went wrong in the early middlegame, allowing Anton to give up his queen for a rook and two knights. This is a very unusual material balance, but it looked favourable for Anton, provided he could find a way to coordinate his pieces. This he was able to do, and he played the game out beautifully, finishing with a rather pretty and unusual checkmate!

Congratulations to the whole team on the victory!

[Event "London Online Chess League Season 3 - Rooks"] [Date "2021.06.16"] [Round "2.8.1"] [White "Drel, Anton"] [Black "Zheng, Harry"] [Result "1-0"] [BlackElo "1915"] [FEN "r1br2k1/pp2qpp1/2pp1n1p/8/3QP3/1PN1PN1P/1PP3P1/R2R2K1 w - - 1 16"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "1806.0"] 16.e5 { A sensible idea, liquidating one of the weak pawns. } 16...Ne8 17.Rxa7 { This looks risky, but the tactics work out for White. } 17...c5 $2 { It seems Black couldn't resist the temptation to try to win material here, but it doesn't work. } ( 17...Rxa7 { was necessary } 18.exd6 Rxd6 19.Qxa7 Rxd1+ 20.Nxd1 Bf5 $10 ) 18.exd6 Rxd6 19.Qxd6 $1 { This may be what Black missed. I found this move hard to understand watching live, but it's absolutely necessary to justify White's play - everything else loses. } ( 19.Qa4 $2 Qxe3+ 20.Kh1 Rxa7 21.Qxa7 Rxd1+ 22.Nxd1 Qc1 $19 { Black wins material. } ) 19...Qxe3+ ( 19...Nxd6 20.Rxa8 { is similar to the game } 20...Kh7 21.Rxd6 Qxd6 22.Rxc8 Qe6 23.Rd8 Qxe3+ 24.Kf1 ( 24.Kh2 $2 Qf4+ 25.Kg1 Qc1+ $10 ) 24...Qc1+ 25.Ne1 Qxb2 26.Rd3 $16 ) 20.Kh1 Nxd6 21.Rxa8 Qe7 22.Rxd6 Qxd6 23.Rxc8+ { The very nice point of White's play - he has a rook and two knights for the queen, which should be a significant advantage. } 23...Kh7 24.Re8 Qg6 25.Re2 Qa6 26.Rf2 ( 26.Rd2 Qa1+ 27.Nd1 $16 { was better, protecting b2 } ) 26...Qa1+ 27.Kh2 Qxb2 28.Ne4 Qc1 $6 { Letting c5 go was a bit of a strange decision. } 29.Nxc5 b6 30.Nd3 Qe3 31.Nfe5 f6 32.Nc4 { White has coordinated his pieces nicely. } 32...Qd4 { At this point Black dropped below 10 minutes, while Anton still had over 20 on his clock. This time advantage persisted for the rest of the game. } 33.Rf5 Qc3 34.Ne3 Qd2 35.Rf3 h5 36.Kg3 ( 36.Nf4 { is the preference of Stockfish } 36...Qd6 37.Kg1 g6 38.Nfd5 f5 39.h4 b5 40.Rf4 Kg7 41.g3 $18 { White's piece coordination is superb now. } ) 36...Kg8 37.Kh4 Kh7 38.g4 hxg4 39.Kxg4 Qh2 40.h4 Qg1+ 41.Rg3 Qa1 42.h5 Qa5 43.Nf4 Qa8 44.Nf5 Qe4 45.Rd3 Qe1 46.Rd7 { With White's rook penetrating to the seventh rank, the end is nigh. } 46...Qg1+ 47.Ng3 f5+ { Desperation, but there was nothing else - Ne6 was a deadly threat. } ( 47...Qe1 48.h6 $1 Kxh6 49.Nf5+ Kh7 50.Rxg7+ Kh8 51.Ng6# ) 48.Kh4 Qh2+ 49.Nh3 Qxc2 { Collapsing in a hopeless position. } 50.Ng5+ Kh6 51.Rd6+ g6 52.Rxg6# { A really nice game by Anton against a very decent opponent, absolutely vindicating the decision to promote him to Board 1! } 1-0

The Rooks Division games from round 2 are currently available here.

Streatham & Brixton B Hendon Harriers
1
Martin Smith
1960 ½ - ½
James Baxter
1700
2
Michael Chung
1630 0 - 1
Julie Oh
1485
3
Alan Romeril
1638 0 - 1
Marcel Berenblut
1450
4
Alex Spencer
1413 1 - 0
Dev Ranka
1270
1½ - 2½

There was good news in the Harriers match as well, where we faced another Streatham & Brixton side, who fielded a much weaker lineup here than they generally did in season 2, where they won the Bishops Division.

James was somewhat fortunate to draw, having appeared to get himself into trouble with his king under attack through the middle, but his opponent didn’t find the most accurate way, and James was able to complete another of his great escapes!

Dev unfortunately lost from what looked like a really promising position when he let his f5 pawn go. The resulting double-rook ending with opposite-coloured bishops should probably have been drawn, even a pawn down, but Dev’s opponent managed to liquidate favourably, and prove that even with all rooks traded, a “pure” opposite-coloured bishops ending is by no means automatically drawn.

From there it was all sweetness and light, though! Marcel Berenblut scored a very smooth win with the Black pieces after winning a pawn early in the game. Last but by no means least, I was delighted to see Julie Oh win her first game for the club! Her opponent mouse-slipped horribly on move 7, but played on and on, and Julie remained admirably calm to close out the victory.

Well done to the Harriers!

The round 2 games from the Bishops Division are currently available here.

Many thanks to everyone who played tonight!

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