Back to the Holly Bush!

By Andrew Medworth, Hendon Club Captain
Saturday 22 January, 2022

On Thursday, we returned to The Holly Bush, hosting our first club night there since it reopened after refurbishment, and our first in 2022! It was a busy evening, with two Middlesex League matches: the first and third teams from Hendon and Hammersmith faced off against each other.

We were delighted to see several new people turning up to play social chess, some mentioning my OTB players’ guide from last year as having encouraged them, which is great to see! We hope to see them return in the future!

COVID-19 continues to pose challenges raising teams for League matches, with a couple of people having to drop out on the day of the match. Thankfully, we were still able to raise two full teams.

Both matches turned out to be fairly evenly balanced on paper, though it’s hard to know how reliable ECF grades are at the moment, with so many players having played so little OTB chess since March 2020.

In the first-team match, though, we were somewhat outclassed, going down on the top two boards and unable to score a win anywhere. In my own game, I was frustrated to be unable to win a clearly better position, having won a pawn out of the opening for little compensation.

Hendon 1 Hendon 1 Hammersmith 1 Hammersmith 1
Orgler, Philipp
2119 0 - 1
Bonn, Thomas B
Duma, Daniel
0 - 1
Kelmendi, Bajrush
Robinson, James M
1930 ½ - ½
Franco, Gaston
Eedle, Eric F
1834 ½ - ½
Townsend, Tom
Rogal, Chris S
1803 0 - 1
Fleming, Liam
Medworth, Andrew
1814 ½ - ½
Bezzini, Matteo B
1½ - 4½

In the third-team match, though, there was better news, with Stanley scoring a win early on. It looked like we might have a problem later, with a couple of defeats on the middle boards, but Morris pulled out a win on top board in the very last game to finish, to secure a match draw.

Hendon 3 Hendon 3 Hammersmith 3 Hammersmith 3
Jones, Morris
1758 1 - 0
Cranston, Adam
Kent, Anthony R
1756 ½ - ½
Hoong, Jonathan
Murphy, Nick
1751 0 - 1
Rothwell, Ben
Oh, Julie
1567 0 - 1
Moore, Chris J
Kapur, Gul
1491 ½ - ½
Pitts, James
Jacobs, Stanley G
1390 1 - 0
Ausena, Jonathan
3 - 3

Conditions at the Holly Bush are certainly a bit cramped with two six-board matches happening concurrently – unfortunately, the compressed schedule of this Middlesex League season will force us to do this fairly often between now and the end of the season – but there are worse problems to have, and it’s great to see people gathering in numbers to play over-the-board chess once more.

Many thanks to everyone who played!