Our final double match night of the season!

By Andrew Medworth, Club Captain
Friday 27 May, 2022

Last night saw two Middlesex League matches at the Cumberland Club for the last time this season. It was a big night, with the rescheduled home match between Hendon 1 and Hackney (always a crucial one!), and Hendon 3’s final match of the season.

I’m delighted to report that the first team defeated Hackney, and the third team held on for a thrilling draw after a topsy-turvy finish!

Hendon 1 Hendon 1 Hackney 1 Hackney 1
Richardson, John R
2376 1 - 0
Shaw, Dashiell L
Stoica, Savas Marin
2155 0 - 1
Eames, Robert S
Duma, Daniel
2083 0 - 1
Kovacs, Zoltan
Jain, Gautam R
2015 1 - 0
Tennyson, John
Rubeck, Jonathan
1908 1 - 0
Robinson, Adam
Eedle, Eric F
1878 1 - 0
Jones, Zebedee
4 - 2

The Lions had unfortunately been unable to field a strong lineup for the away match against the same opponents just nine days earlier, and had gone down to a heavy defeat, so it was good to be able to get a strong team out this evening.

All the games went the distance; Hackney drew first blood on Board 3 after Daniel overlooked something when trying to force a draw and ended up material down in the ending, but we struck back with some good wins on the lower boards. While Savas fell victim to a strong exchange sacrifice, John won a rook ending on top board to clinch the match.

A very satisfying victory – particularly since we’d offered to reschedule the match after Hackney were unable to raise a team for the original date near Easter!

Hendon 3 Hendon 3 Hammersmith 4 Hammersmith 4
Sartenaer, Jean-Claude
1810 1 - 0
Stones, Jake
Wylde, Martin
1713 0 - 1
Steyn, David
Landman, Aharon
1619 0 - 1
De Angelis, Edoardo
Garcia, Tom
1681 1 - 0
Valle, Frank
Pollack, Maximo
1230 0 - 1
Kwabiah, C Kenneth
Christidis, Athanasios
1 - 0
Lee, Robin
3 - 3

The third-team match was an absolute thriller. We were heavily outgraded on the bottom two boards, but in fact Athanasios pulled out a win there, as did Tom, putting us two up (congratulations to both on their first wins for Hendon!).

Maximo had a lost position on board 5, but getting +1 from the bottom three boards, with JC having an excellent position on Board 1, made me very optimistic that we would win the match.

Unfortunately, Martin fell victim to a strong central sacrifice and lost on Board 2, but I still felt we’d win if Aharon could make a draw on his debut on Board 3.

However, the first and third boards proved to be absolute roller-coaster rides! First Aharon seemed to be more or less lost, with an open king, until his opponent suddenly hung a knight… but then I looked barely two minutes later, to find that Aharon had been mated! This meant we were a point behind, and needed JC to win in order to tie the match.

JC had a winning position at one stage, with a queen, bishop and pawn against two rooks. However, his opponent had a strong passed d-pawn which made the win far from simple. Suddenly, it looked like JC had blown it, losing his bishop, with the queen powerless to prevent the d-pawn running through. With both players short of time, JC desperately pushed his kingside pawns to open up the White king – and he was rewarded, when his opponent blundered, allowing checkmate after the pawn queened, with two extra rooks on the board!

So after all that excitement, Hendon 3 concluded their season with a hard-fought 3–3 draw.

I can’t resist sharing JC’s game, as some of the tactics there are very interesting.

[Event "Middlesex League"] [Site "Hendon"] [Date "2022.05.26"] [Round "?"] [White "Stones, Jake"] [Black "Sartenaer, Jean-Claude"] [Result "0-1"] [BlackElo "1810"] [BlackTeam "Hendon 3"] [FEN "1r1r2k1/pp1b1pb1/3p2p1/q6p/4PB1P/2P5/PPB3P1/R2Q1RK1 b - - 0 19"] [SetUp "1"] [WhiteElo "1856"] [WhiteTeam "Hammersmith 4"] { We join the game in the early middlegame, with JC doing very well. } 19...Qb6+ 20.Kh1 Qxb2 21.Bxd6 $2 ( 21.Bb3 { and the pressure against f7 forces } 21...Be6 22.Bxe6 fxe6 { when Black's king is opened up } 23.Bxd6 Rbc8 24.Rb1 Qxc3 25.Rxb7 Be5 26.Bxe5 Rxd1 27.Rg7+ Kh8 28.Rc7+ Qxe5 29.Rxc8+ Kg7 30.Rxd1 $10 ) 21...Be6 $2 ( 21...Bg4 $1 { wins material, as covering d1 prevents White reinforcing the Bd6 } 22.Qd3 Qb6 23.e5 Bxe5 24.Bxe5 Rxd3 25.Bxd3 Re8 $19 ) 22.Bb3 Bxb3 23.axb3 Qxc3 24.Qd5 $2 { Allowing a neat tactic. } ( 24.Rc1 Qa5 25.Bxb8 Rxd1 26.Rcxd1 $15 { White should probably survive here. } ) 24...Rd7 $2 ( 24...Rxd6 $1 25.Qxd6 Be5 26.Qd7 Qg3 { The double threats of ...Qh2# and ...Bxa1 win material } 27.Qh3 Qxh3+ 28.gxh3 Bxa1 29.Rxa1 a6 $19 { The ending is completely winning, as Black has an extra pawn and the much better structure. } ) 25.Bxb8 $2 { A difficult move to explain. Perhaps White missed that after } ( 25.Rac1 Qe3 26.Bxb8 { is a much better version, as there is no vulnerable rook on a1 } 26...Rxd5 27.exd5 $10 ) 25...Rxd5 26.exd5 Qc8 { both b8 and a1 are hit. } ( 26...Qxa1 27.Rxa1 Bxa1 $19 { would also do the job - the Black king will get to the White pawns first } ) 27.Rad1 Qxb8 28.d6 Qd8 { Black is completely winning here, with a bishop, queen and pawn for two rooks. } 29.Rf4 Qd7 30.Rc4 { Obviously White's main hope is in pushing his d-pawn. } 30...Bf6 31.Rf4 Kg7 32.Rc4 { Despite engines giving Black an overwhelming advantage, this is a hard position to play over the board, because it's hard to see how Black takes the d6 pawn without losing material. } 32...Be5 ( 32...Qb5 $1 33.d7 Qxb3 { is the engine's accurate solution, when White has too many pieces hanging } 34.Rcd4 ( 34.d8=Q Bxd8 35.Rxd8 Qxc4 ) ( 34.Rdc1 Qd3 ) 34...Bd8 35.R1d3 Qe6 { and Black can start pushing the queenside pawns } 36.Kh2 a5 37.Rd6 Qe7 38.R6d4 b5 39.Kg3 a4 40.Kf3 a3 41.Rd2 b4 { White is completely helpless } ) 33.Re4 Kf6 ( 33...Bxd6 34.Red4 Qe7 35.Rxd6 Qxh4+ 36.Kg1 Qb4 $19 { should be good enough, with three extra pawns, but it's understandable to have concerns about the well-coordinated rooks } ) 34.Rc4 Ke6 $2 { This should have thrown away the win. } ( 34...Bxd6 35.Rcd4 Ke5 $19 { is a nice solution - Black will easily unpin. } ) 35.Rc7 $1 Qd8 36.Re7+ $1 Kf5 37.Rf1+ Kg4 $2 { After this White is actually winning! } ( 37...Ke4 $1 38.Re1+ Kd4 { and White should take the perpetual } 39.Rd1+ ( 39.R7xe5 Qxd6 { should be holdable as well, but Black is pressing with the two extra pawns } ) 39...Ke4 $10 ) 38.Rxe5 Qxh4+ 39.Kg1 Qd8 40.Rd5 h4 { Desperately trying to drum up counterplay. } ( 40...Qd7 41.Rd4+ Kg5 42.Rxf7 $1 Qxf7 43.d7 $18 { and it's a knockout } ) 41.Rfd1 f5 42.d7 h3 43.R5d4+ f4 44.Rf1 ( 44.gxh3+ Kxh3 45.R1d3+ Kg4 46.Re4 Qb6+ 47.Rdd4 $18 ) 44...g5 45.Re1 { White is still completely winning here. } 45...Qa5 46.Red1 Qd8 47.Rc4 ( 47.gxh3+ Kxh3 48.Kf2 $18 { and Re1-e8 will come } ) 47...Qb6+ { With both players low on time, and JC having to win in order to tie the match, the situation was extremely tense. } 48.Rdd4 $2 ( 48.Rcd4 $1 { is the only winning move } 48...Qxb3 49.R1d3 ( 49.d8=Q $2 Qe3+ 50.Kf1 hxg2+ 51.Kxg2 Qf3+ 52.Kg1 Qg3+ $10 ) 49...Qb1+ 50.Kh2 hxg2 51.Kxg2 Qe1 52.Rf3 Qe2+ 53.Rf2 Qe7 54.d8=Q $18 ) 48...Qe6 49.d8=Q $2 { It was already very hard for White to find the drawing path, but this allows instant mate... } ( 49.gxh3+ $1 Kh5 $1 50.d8=Q Qe1+ 51.Kg2 Qe2+ 52.Kg1 $10 ) 49...Qe3+ $2 { ...which was missed! } ( 49...Qe1+ 50.Kh2 Qg3+ 51.Kg1 Qxg2# ) 50.Kh1 $4 { I couldn't believe this watching live! } ( 50.Kf1 { and Black has nothing better than a draw } 50...hxg2+ 51.Kxg2 Qe2+ 52.Kg1 Qe1+ 53.Kg2 Qe2+ $10 ) 50...Qe1+ 51.Kh2 Qg3+ 52.Kg1 Qxg2# { An extraordinary finish to a topsy-turvy game, saving the match! } 0-1
The matches in full swing, with Stones–Sartenaer in the foreground
The matches in full swing, with Stones–Sartenaer in the foreground

Many thanks to everyone who played! Special thanks to those who helped with putting equipment out beforehand and clearing it away at the end.