Albany 2.5 -Ealing 3.5

On 28 February, Ealing played Albany in a Middlesex second division match. Having beaten them at home earlier in the season, we were now aiming to repeat that success at the Wheatsheaf pub in central London. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Albany is a duke who becomes stronger as the play progresses; so too it proved for us as the evening wore on.

We started badly with Joao being defeated. Playing black against the Alapin Sicilian, he allowed his opponent to embed a bishop on g6 and queen on h5. Facing such light-squared hegemony on the kingside, an exchange was given up to parry a powerful attack but this led to a lost ending.

With the white pieces, John levelled the score. He comments “My game was an old-fashioned Classical Slav. White had a small advantage out of the opening with more space and more active pieces. Black mistakenly moved his well-placed knight from d5 to b6 which allowed White to build up a strong initiative on the kingside which developed into a decisive attack. White captured all the pawns in front of the castled  king with his queen and knight, and a rook came across on the third rank to f3 to ensure checkmate or the win of the black queen.”

In my game, a Fianchetto Kings Indian, my opponent, as black, revealed a much better understanding of how to play the structure. He concentrated on an early counter-attack – as opposed to seeking equalisation – which chimes with the zeitgeist of current chess practice. Steadily he strengthened his position, culminating with doubled rooks on the seventh rank and, shortly afterwards, my resignation.

It is always a pleasure to have Tony join the team. Regarding his game, he states “I was on the white side of a French Defence with an early c5. My opponent bashed out the first 9 moves with no thinking time whatsoever while I took a good 30 minutes. After the game, he explained it was all book until my ‘novelty’ on move 10 which prompted him to slow down a bit. The middlegame was full of tension and looked quite scary for my opponent despite, according to computer analysis, being slightly better for black. With various sharp lines on offer, I sacced the exchange to open lines to his king. The computer judged this to be wrong but with both of us having less than 3 minutes on the clock, a few moves later I accepted his offer of a draw. 

After the game, in an interesting illustration of chess blindness, it turned out we’d both spent a long time thinking about a possible move for him that would have left a piece en prise with no compensation.” 

On board 2, Andrew writes “Playing black in a Nimzo-Indian, I captured a pawn on e4 early on and held on to it with …f5. My opponent boldly sacrificed another pawn for some play, but eventually won back a pawn, allowing me to liquidate into a rook and pawn ending and then a king and pawn ending a pawn up, with an easy win.”

The match result now came down to the last game with Jason clinching victory for the team. He comments “My opponent opened with b3, I responded with the Dutch Defence. From the outset he was trying to exchange pieces to simplify. He missed that I could get control of the open e-file with my queen and rook.  From there I was a pawn up and was able to penetrate his defence and convert to a win.”

So, Ealing won the match 3.5 – 2.5, although by a narrower margin than the rating differential might suggest.

Albany RatingResult EalingRating
V. Sagues  2054 0-1J. Quinn 2206
N. Naumovich  1960 0-1A. Harley 2194
R. Stern  19340.5-0.5T. Wells 2026
M. Dunn  1934 1-0J. Santos 2013
H. Groves  1830 1-0S. Healeas 1856
S. Sonnis  1613 0-1J. Obihara 1785
   2.5 – 3.5