The 1989 transitioning of power in Czechoslovakia from an authoritarian state to a parliamentary republic is often referred to as the “Velvet Revolution.” According to the Hammersmith Chess Club website, they too underwent their own velvet revolution in 2015. The outshot: new premises, a burgeoning membership, and we now hear, hosting their first congress in June. On 11 April we played Hammersmith at home in a Middlesex second division match. On paper, we were the slightly stronger side.

Mark played the King’s Indian Attack against Paul Kennelly, an adversary whom he has crossed swords with many times. In a closed position, the first exchange did not take place until move 17. Subsequently White was able to double rooks and centralise his queen, thereby exerting significant pressure on the black position which led to resignation. Once again, an impressive victory by Mark.

On top board, John’s opponent employed the Bayonet Attack (9.b4) against the King’s Indian Defence. Thematically White attacked on the queenside; Black, the kingside.  Such dynamic imbalance can lead to chances for each player and so it proved here: White holding the advantage in the early middlegame; Black, the late middlegame. But with John short of time in a position that lacked realistic winning chances, a draw was agreed. In my own game – an Exchange Caro-Kann – neither player was able to impose his will, leading almost inevitably to splitting of the point.

Three of our players lost: Joao, Chris and Alex. Joao played the Najdorf Sicilian, won an exchange, and seemed to be cruising to victory when time trouble struck. In searching for a checkmate with two powerful rooks, active king and passed pawn, he went astray and lost. This was a painful defeat which highlights the need to manage the 33rd piece, i.e. the clock. Time pressure also impacted the flow of Chris’ game. With a slight edge in a double rook and bishop ending, his position suffered a perceptible decline when he hurriedly pushed his g-pawn. One can’t help but feel that with more time, the game might well have had a different outcome.

Alex, as White, essayed the Smith-Morra Gambit against the Sicilian which was declined (1.e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3.c3 d3). In his own words, “I had a solid advantage throughout the game but got overexcited by my passed pawn and overlooked a simple threat. I lost a pawn and gave my opponent counterplay. It was a lost endgame for me.”

So overall, a disappointing team performance. This was definitely not our night.

EalingRatingResultHammersmith 2Rating
John Quinn21940.5 – 0.5Alex Freeland2078
Chris Greenshields20310 – 1Christof Brixel2031
Joao Santos19930 – 1Tom Townsend1894
Mark Winterbotham19041 – 0Paul Kennelly1860
Simon Healeas18480.5 – 0.5Sam Lazarus1582
Alex Lushpa16290 – 1John Goodacre1774
  2 – 4