Hurricanes hold super-strong Charlton!

By Hendon LOCL captain Andrew Medworth
Wednesday 4 August, 2021

In round 9 of the London Online Chess League, the Hendon teams faced an uphill battle, with the start of the school holidays depleting our line-up. However, the Hurricanes got an excellent result against an extremely strong Charlton team featuring two FIDE Masters!

We seem to be more reliant on school-age juniors – and parents of school-age children – than many London clubs. Normally this is a wonderful thing, as it means we have a future! But being the first week of August, today it counted against us, as many of our players understandably had other plans. Many thanks to those who were able to turn out tonight!

Hendon Hurricanes Hendon Hurricanes Charlton Chess Addicks Charlton Chess Addicks
Sacha Brozel
2260 0 - 1
FM Gary Clark
CM Rob Willmoth
2200 ½ - ½
FM Anthony Stebbings
Jean-Claude Sartenaer
1810 1 - 0
Nick Briggs
Chris Rogal
1803 ½ - ½
John Wager
2 - 2

The main news was in the Queens Division, where the Hurricanes seemed to have picked the wrong week to challenge a Charlton Chess Addicks side which romped to victory in season 2, and had beaten us 3–1 on both previous meetings.

The match looked like it should be closer on the top two boards, where the FMs were playing for Charlton, but when Sacha lost two pieces and a pawn for a rook and was then mated, things weren’t looking good for us.

Rob managed to get a good draw as Black on Board 2, when a positional line of the Sveshnikov simplified down into a level rook ending.

Chris Rogal also drew his game on Board 4; he had the better of things in the middlegame, but shunned the opportunity to open the position with …b5, the pawn structure became locked, and the position was agreed drawn. This at least ensured that whatever happened, we wouldn’t do worse than in our previous meetings with Charlton!

However, JC, making his LOCL debut on Board 3, then stepped forwards as the hero of the hour! He played a very aggressive opening, but Black seemed to come out of it better with a bishop against a knight. However, at a crucial moment, his opponent shed a pawn, leaving JC with connected passers on the queenside, and then failed to bring his king over to help. JC queened a pawn and won the game, drawing us the match!

Tying a match against such a strong side is quite an achievement, especially when you consider we scored +1 on the bottom two boards where our opponents outgraded us by almost 300 points on average. Congratulations to the Hurricanes, especially to JC for the win!

The round 9 games in the Queens Division are currently available here.

Hendon Spitfires Hendon Spitfires Hackney Happening Hackney Happening
Morris Jones
1758 ½ - ½
Marceli Ciesielski
James Baxter
1700 0 - 1
Adam Robinson
Gul Kapur
1533 0 - 1
Robert Wright
Julie Oh
1485 0 - 1
David Scott
½ - 3½

Sadly, in the other matches the news was not as good. We’d beaten Hackney Happening in the last two seasons, but tonight the Spitfires didn’t have the strength to repeat that, and suffered a heavy defeat.

Morris scored our only half-point on top board, in a crazy game where his opponent blundered away an overwhelming advantage, but for Morris to fully capitalise, he’d have had to push his queenside pawns immediately, and he hesitated, allowing the Black king and knight to get back over.

The players ended up agreeing a draw in a position where Black had two pawns for the exchange; my engine suggests White had a win available, but it wasn’t easy to see, and I understand why Morris didn’t want to risk it, being low on time.

On Board 2, James Baxter unfortunately missed an opportunity to trap his opponent’s rook on g4, and then played an incorrect tactic based on a mate on g2, which that very rook was covering! He lost material and was soon mated.

Gul’s Board 3 game started late due to technical difficulties, with his opponent kindly agreeing for the clocks to be reset. However, he lost a piece in the opening, and while he fought valiantly, he wasn’t able to recover from that.

On Board 4, Julie Oh showed excellent fighting spirit in another long game, but ultimately lost. She dropped two pawns in the early middlegame, but her opponent went wrong and allowed her to win the queen for a rook and bishop with a clever tactic. However, she lost the exchange back, leaving White with two rooks for the queen, and when the rooks began to coordinate, things looked ominous. The end result was a knight ending a couple of pawns down, which her opponent converted.

Exciting games and a great effort, but in the end Hackney ran out clear winners – unsurprisingly, as they were strong rating favourites.

The round 9 games in the Rooks Division are currently available here.

Paisley A Paisley A Hendon Harriers Hendon Harriers
Derek McCormack
1851 1 - 0
David Lewis
Michael Ash
1908 1 - 0
Matty Berenblut
John McKenna
1690 1 - 0
Stanley Jacobs
Anna Marciniak
1459 0 - 1
Dev Ranka
3 - 1

It was a similar story in the Harriers match, where we faced a team from north of the border for the first time, in the shape of Paisley. Again, our team was heavily outgraded, and the stronger side prevailed.

On Board 1, David Lewis ventured a Budapest Gambit, but took the pawn back at a tactically inopportune moment and his opponent took full advantage.

On Board 2, Matty fought well, but was worse for most of the game, after having lost his valuable light-squared bishop for a knight in the opening, and gone a pawn down as well. In the end his desperate attack only stranded his pieces and he lost a rook and the game.

On Board 3, Stanley was a bit worse out of the opening, but fell for a snap checkmate, putting lengthy resistance sadly out of the question.

There was better news on Board 4, though, where Dev Ranka was given a big helping hand by his opponent when she weakened her kingside with a wild unprovoked pawn thrust. Dev won material, and while it looked like his opponent had won a rook back with a queen fork, taking the piece put her queen offside, and Dev was able to press home a mating attack. Congratulations to him!

The round 9 games in the Bishops Division are currently available here.

Not an easy week, but still some good results. Thanks again to all who played!

There are now just two rounds left of LOCL season 3.

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