Flying high once more in round 8

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 28 July, 2021

In the eighth round of the London Online Chess League, the Hendon teams were undefeated once again, and came very close to a clean sweep!

SchachAttack SchachAttack Hendon Hurricanes Hendon Hurricanes
IM Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad
2470 1 - 0
Gary Senior
Muhammad Ismayilov
2275 0 - 1
CM Rob Willmoth
Mike Healey
2260 1 - 0
Alex Leslie
Michael Handley
2080 0 - 1
Kennan Kesterson
2 - 2

In the Queens Division, the Hurricanes faced SchachAttack, whom we last faced in the last round of season 2. They were a tough side then, and they were even tougher tonight!

On Board 1, we were delighted to see our long-time member Gary Senior making his online debut for the club! Unfortunately, he was facing a warm welcome to the competition in the form of an International Master, Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad! Gary unfortunately came under a strong attack in the Dutch Defence, losing a critical pawn, as well as the two bishops, and his opponent confidently converted the ending.

There was better news on Board 2, where Rob avenged his defeat against the same opponent in season 2 in some style, in a game which justifiably made an appearance on the live commentary!

[Event "London Online Chess League Season 3 - Queens"] [Site "?"] [Date "2021.06.09"] [Round "8.3.2"] [White "Willmoth, Robert"] [Black "Ismayilov, Muhammad"] [Result "1-0"] [BlackElo "2275"] [FEN "q1rr2k1/pb2bpp1/4p2p/n1pn4/8/PP1BPNNP/1BQ2PP1/2RR2K1 b - - 1 19"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "2200"] { White's bishops are menacingly pointing at the Black king, and Black has several pieces offside. Black must be extremely careful. } 19...Bf6 $2 ( 19...Nf6 { was more or less the only move according to my engine. Black's pressure on the long diagonal forces concessions from White. } 20.Be2 Rxd1+ 21.Rxd1 Nc6 22.Qc4 $14 { White is clearly for choice, given his superior structure, but Black is still well in the game. } ) 20.Nh5 $1 { Excellent from Rob - the kingside attack is now overpowering. } 20...Bxb2 21.Qxb2 f6 22.e4 $1 Nc7 { And now White's attack is crowned by a powerful denouement. } 23.Nxf6+ $3 gxf6 24.Qxf6 Rd7 25.Rxc5 { Quite a picture: the disorganised Black army cannot get across to aid its stranded monarch! } 25...Bxe4 26.Qxh6 Rg7 27.Rg5 Rxg5 ( 27...Ne8 28.Qxe6+ Kf8 29.Bxe4 { is also mate soon } ) 28.Qxg5+ Kf7 29.Bxe4 { A barn-storming finish from Rob! With mate impending, Black resigned. } ( 29.Bxe4 Nd5 30.Ne5+ Kf8 31.Bxd5 Rc7 ( 31...exd5 32.Qf6+ Ke8 33.Qf7+ Kd8 34.Qd7# ) 32.Qf6+ Ke8 33.Qxe6+ Kf8 34.Qf6+ Ke8 35.Bf7+ Rxf7 36.Qxf7# { is the longest mate can be deferred! } ) 1-0

Kennan also completed a fantastic attack against his strong opponent to put us on the verge of victory!

[Event "London Online Chess League Season 3 - Queens"] [Site "?"] [Date "2021.06.09"] [Round "8.3.4"] [White "Kesterson, Kennan"] [Black "Handley, Michael"] [Result "1-0"] [FEN "rnb2rk1/pp4pp/1q2p3/3pP3/5P2/3B4/PP4PP/R1BQ1R1K b - - 0 16"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "1922"] { Material is level, but with the two bishops and a lead in development, Black's position is already critical. } 16...Rf7 $2 { +8.18/21 } ( 16...g6 { stops Qh5. After } 17.Qg4 Qc7 18.Bd2 Qf7 { White is still much better, but at least Black does not suffer the same fate as the game! } ) 17.Qh5 g6 18.Bxg6 $3 { A somewhat surprising sacrifice, at least to my eyes, but completely decisive! Similar to Rob's game, Black's queenside pieces are completely misplaced. } 18...hxg6 19.Qxg6+ Kf8 20.f5 $1 { Brutally opening up lines. } 20...exf5 21.e6 Bxe6 22.Re1 { Beautiful stuff! Black is defenceless. } 22...Ke7 23.Re2 ( 23.Bg5+ { Getting this in before Black has played ...Nd7 was a bit more accurate according to my engine } 23...Kd7 24.Re5 Na6 25.Rae1 { Black doesn't have time to get the ...Rc6/Nf6 defensive setup, so is completely busted. For example } 25...Re8 26.Rxe6 { and it's time to resign. } ) 23...Nd7 24.Bg5+ Nf6 25.Rae1 Raf8 ( 25...Rc8 { was more resilient } 26.Qxf5 Rc6 { is a better defensive setup. But after } 27.Qg6 Qd8 28.h4 { the game will only have one winner: Black can barely move and White's pawns are coming. } ) 26.Qxf5 Kd7 27.Rxe6 Ne4 { White needs to be a bit careful with the back rank, but Kennan had it all under control. } 28.Re7+ $1 ( 28.Qxd5+ Kc7 29.Qc4+ ( 29.Rxb6 $4 Rf1+ 30.Rxf1 Rxf1# { is what White must avoid of course! } ) 29...Qc5 30.R6xe4 { also wins } ) 28...Kc6 29.Qd7+ Kc5 30.Be3+ ( 30.Rc1+ Kd4 ( 30...Kb4 31.Rxe4+ dxe4 32.Bd2# { is an elegant mid-board mate pointed out by the engine! } ) 31.Qa4+ Kd3 32.Qd1+ Nd2 33.Qxd2# ) 30...Kb4 31.Rxf7 { Simple and safe - good practical play, even if the engine spots faster wins. } ( 31.Bxb6 $4 Rf1+ 32.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 33.Bg1 Nf2# { is again to be avoided! } ) ( 31.Rxe4+ { is immediate mate } 31...dxe4 32.Bd2+ Kc5 33.Rc1# ) 31...Rxf7 32.Qxf7 Qb5 33.Qe7+ Ka4 34.Qa3# { Great game by Kennan! } 1-0

That left the outcome of the match dependent on Alex Leslie’s game on Board 3. Alex came out of the opening with a great position, having strong pressure down the d-file. There were some mutual mistakes in the following complications, with Alex’s opponent sacrificing the exchange and Alex sacrificing it back, but the ultimate outcome was a winning queen-and-rook ending, with Alex having six pawns against five.

Unfortunately, Alex had much less time than his opponent, and this proved to be a decisive factor, with the major pieces rampant, neither king very safe, and the position tricky to play. It was very difficult to muster the accuracy required with so little time, and Alex sadly fell into a snap checkmate.

Nonetheless, a drawn match against such a strong side is a great result, so congratulations to the team!

The round 8 games in the Queens Division are currently available here.

Wimbledon A Wimbledon A Hendon Spitfires Hendon Spitfires
Peter Hasson
2073 ½ - ½
David Amior
Nick Keene
2073 ½ - ½
Chris Rogal
Mike Williams
1788 0 - 1
Anton Drel
0 - 1
James Baxter
1 - 3

In the Rooks Division, the Spitfires started with a free win against Wimbledon A due to a default.

David got a solid draw on Board 1. I thought he was slightly worse for a while as his opponent had the two bishops, but the game eventually simplified to a major piece ending where his opponent decided not to press matters, with his pieces tied down to the defence of an advanced pawn.

On Board 2, I thought Chris was very fortunate to survive a position where his opponent had two bishops for a rook and pawn, and Chris’s knight was stuck on h4. There were some mutual missed tactics, but in the end Chris broke out and pushed his b-pawn, leaving his opponent with no option but to force perpetual check.

On Board 3, Anton reached a complex middlegame. Initially it looked like his opponent might be able to open the kingside to his advantage, but he didn’t play in the most incisive way, and eventually weakened his own king position with 32.h4. After that his position fell apart surprisingly quickly as Anton’s pieces flooded in.

A good win, as Wimbledon are a strong side, even given the default. Well done Spitfires!

The round 8 games in the Rooks Division are currently available here.

Hendon Harriers Hendon Harriers Battersea Too Battersea Too
Gul Kapur
1533 1 - 0
Bill Drennan
Matty Berenblut
1450 0 - 1
Malcolm Dancy
Marcel Berenblut
1450 1 - 0
Ed Clark
Stanley Jacobs
1390 1 - 0
Marco Flaccavento
3 - 1

In the Bishops Division, the Harriers faced a Battersea side that outgraded us on three of four boards. However, the Harriers weren’t daunted, and ran out winners!

On Board 1, Gul was a bit lucky not to fall into an opening trap in the Nimzo-Indian, but later managed to get a much better position in a major piece ending (lots of those today!), and showed good technique to finish off his higher-rated opponent once he won a crucial pawn.

On Board 2, Matty Berenblut was also facing a higher-rated opponent, but he got a great position, a pawn up in a rook-and-bishop ending. After some mutual missed tactics, that became two pawns, and I had high hopes Matty would win. Unfortunately, he lost control of the position, and ended up moving his king into a mating net. A very good try from which Matty can take a lot of positives!

On Board 3, Berenblut Senior had a more straightforward time than his son, getting a great position after his opponent played a dodgy line of the Sicilian, later winning the exchange plus two pawns and converting comfortably.

Last but not least, on Board 4, Stanley won a piece in the opening, and carried it into the ending, but ultimately didn’t need it, as he mated his opponent nicely in the corner of the board!

Congratulations to the Harriers on an excellent win!

The round 8 games in 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.