Hendon teams unbeaten in round 7

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 21 July, 2021

In round 7 of the London Online Chess League, the Hendon teams were unbeaten, with the Hurricanes and Spitfires scoring emphatic wins, and the Harriers tying their match.

Hendon Hurricanes GLCC A
1
Rob Willmoth
2200 1 - 0
Nigel Blades
2097
2
Alex Leslie
2088 1 - 0
Tim Pelling
2118
3
Kennan Kesterson
1983 0 - 1
Erwin Solari
2090
4
David Amior
1900 1 - 0
James McDonnell
1885
3 - 1

In the Queens Division, the Hurricanes were facing a side from the Greater London Chess Club, looking to avenge the Harriers' defeat to GLCC B in round 3. They did a fantastic job, running out 3-1 winners.

On Board 1, Rob’s position looked very level going into the ending, with a symmetrical pawn structure, and the only imbalance being Rob’s knight against Black’s bishop. This might normally have been to Black’s advantage, with pawns on both sides of the board, but Rob’s knight was well-placed, requiring his opponent to play accurately. This he didn’t manage to do, and Rob won a crucial pawn on the queenside, which quickly decided the game in his favour.

On Board 2, Alex’s game reached a very interesting middlegame position, with both sides having well-placed centralised knights, Alex having a slightly worse structure, but his opponent having pushed pawns in front of his king. The key moment came in the sequence after move 30, with both sides missing chances for an advantage, but on move 37, Alex’s opponent went astray, allowing a decisive queen penetration, and was soon mated.

On Board 3, Kennan was a little worse, with his opponent having the advantage of the bishop pair, but he incurred further weaknesses when his c4 push left both c4 and d4 weak. When c4 ultimately fell, Kennan felt the need to give up his queen and knight for two rooks, but this material advantage rapidly proved decisive.

On Board 4, David Amior missed a couple of chances early on before achieving a strong penetration on the a-file with his rook. His opponent’s attempts to break this bind only weakened his position further, and eventually he fell for a mate in two, albeit in a position where David was still much better.

Congratulations to the team on the victory!

The round 7 games from the Queens Division are currently available here.

Hendon Spitfires Petts Wood & Orpington B
1
Anton Drel
1800 1 - 0
Shlok Verma
1945
2
Chris Rogal
1803 0 - 1
Brendan Keenan
1945
3
Amirabbas Mehrafarin
1734 1 - 0
Reuben Salimu
1901
4
James Baxter
1700 1 - 0
Roy Parsons
1750
3 - 1

In the Rooks Division, the Spitfires faced Petts Wood & Orpington B, the first time we had encountered them since season 1. We managed to win 3-1, in a pleasant reversal of the scoreline from that night, though both sides looked very different from the way they did that day.

On Board 1, Anton’s aggressive gambit against the French Defence ended up working out, but only after his opponent got greedy and tried to take a second pawn; if Black had been satisfied with just the b2 pawn and kept the centre closed with …c4, he would have been much better. However, once Anton got the upper hand, he was ruthless, several times spurning opportunities to win his opponent’s queen in favour of going for checkmate, which he achieved on move 33. Another excellent result for Anton!

On Board 2, our fearless chairman Chris had a fairly level position, but in putting a knight onto the tempting e4 square, he missed that his opponent could take twice and win f7. White missed that tactic the first time, but unfortunately Chris allowed the exact same idea a couple of moves later, and his opponent succeeded at the second time of asking, leaving him decisive material ahead.

On Board 3, nothing much seemed to be happening in Amirabbas’s game; there was some tactical excitement in the middlegame, but material remained level; Amirabbas then dropped a pawn, but his pieces were well placed. However, his opponent then moved his rook to an absurd square where it was hanging to both White’s knights, and resigned before Amirabbas could take it, so this must have been some kind of horrendous mouse slip.

We seem to be seeing at least one such physical error in pretty much every round at the moment – thankfully this one was to our benefit! – so I can only repeat my advice to all online players to move by clicking once on a piece and then clicking once on the destination square: this is much more reliable than trying to click-and-drag. Any disadvantage in speed is negligible at these slow time limits.

On Board 4, James’s opponent missed an opportunity to open the centre to his advantage, then lost his bishop pair and dropped a pawn, so the game started to tip in James’s favour. There were some mutual inaccuracies before James’s opponent finally made an incorrect trade of his d6 pawn for the one on f7, freeing Black’s queen. After the White rook made a suicidal pawn grab on h7, the queen penetrated decisively, winning material and then delivering checkmate.

Well done to the Spitfires!

The round 7 games from the Rooks Division are currently available here.

Battersea Dogs Hendon Harriers
1
Alan Palmer
1795 1 - 0
Gul Kapur
1533
2
Arnold Hunt
1570 ½ - ½
Julie Oh
1485
3
Gareth Hilton
1450 ½ - ½
David Lewis
1465
4
Joshua Holliday
843 0 - 1
Matty Berenblut
1400
2 - 2

In the Bishops Division, the Harriers faced the Battersea Dogs, for the first time in 2021.

Gul’s Board 1 game had some interesting tactics; his opponent’s decision to play Nxd5 on move 30 was incorrect, as Black could have played …Qxd5 followed by a later …h3 with a decisive attack. However, this opportunity went by, and ultimately the game sadly hinged on a blunder, as Gul forgot to retreat his attacked bishop.

On Board 2, promising junior Julie Oh played a long and extremely eventful game that is hard to summarise! There were many twists and turns, but one of the key ones came on move 41, as Julie allowed the last pair of minor pieces to be swapped off, resulting in a pawn falling, and then shortly let another one drop.

In the resulting single-rook ending a pawn down (two pawns for Julie against three for her opponent), there were further inaccuracies by both players, but the question was whether White would win or Julie would hold the draw. The final twist came when White repeated the position in a situation where he was surely winning. Both players were low on time and no doubt tired by this stage, but both deserve a great deal of credit from the game.

Board 3 was another long and eventful encounter! David had a great position after his opponent kept insisting that David take his d4 pawn with check, which David eventually did, and got a promising rook penetration into the bargain. After that there was an exchange of blunders, particularly on move 35, where 35…Nxg3+ would have won on the spot.

The end result was a rook ending with level material, which then simplified to a king-and-pawn ending, three pawns versus three, which should have been a draw. There was then an exchange of errors, with the position swinging between lost for David and drawn. However, eventually, with White having a g-pawn against Black’s h-pawn and the White king having a lead in the race to the kingside, the position should have been easily winning for White in the end.

But there was a final twist: White did not know how to win K+P versus K, and fatally pushed his g-pawn on move 57, rather than taking the opposition. David did know how to hold, meaning the game finally ended in an exhausting draw!

On Board 4, Matty scored a comprehensive victory after he had a completely winning position as early as move 9, when his opponent hung the c7 pawn, and Matty did a great job of cleaning up from there.

Overall there was luck on both sides of this match, and in the end it sort of balanced out. We should have drawn Board 1 and won Board 3, but we were lucky not to lose on Board 2, and very lucky not to lose on Board 3 later. Let’s just say well done Harriers on drawing the match against a decent side, and leave it at that!

The round 7 games from the Bishops Division are currently available here.

Many thanks to everyone who played this week!

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