Ealing 2 – Metropolitan 4

Played 4 January 2022

Last Tuesday we welcomed Metropolitan to the Actonians for a second division Middlesex fixture. On paper they were the stronger side but we got off to a good start when Trevor agreed a quick 17-move draw with an opponent rated 170 points higher. Judging by his opening play, Trevor has certainly enjoyed a classical chess education as evidenced by the importance given to the centre and king safety, the quick development of pieces, and the absence of pawn weaknesses.

Shortly after this game ended, I claimed a win by default as my opponent failed to show up. Satisfied with our start to the match and despite the freezing cold, I decided to go and watch tennis on a nearby court. Rather pleasingly a doubles match was being played at a decent standard. Feeling buoyed up, I returned to the chess but unfortunately my positive mood was short-lived.

Mark had opened with the Vienna but by move 17 it was more like goodnight Vienna. Although only a pawn down, queens were off and there was no clear way to create play. Essentially our board two faced a deeply depressing position in which his best hope was to salvage a draw after a long and arduous endgame. It is a testament to Mark’s resilience that he fought every inch of the way with his game being the last to finish. Indeed, in the rook and pawn ending there was (briefly) a scintilla of hope there might be a narrow path to a draw but sadly proved not to be the case.

In sharp contrast, Hristo went for glory. Against Black’s castled king with pawns on f7, g6, and h7, he played the surprising and sacrificial 12.Nxh7. Such a bolt from the blue was reminiscent of Korchnoi’s 13.Nxh7! in the 21st game of the 1974 Candidates Final in which Karpov was defeated in 19 moves. But alas, the same outcome did not follow. A couple of moves later, Hristo gave up a bishop for 3 pawns but in the end the material imbalance was simply too much and the game was lost.

In response to the Botvinnik English, Jason, as Black, played his beloved Dutch. After the early and thematic e5, he got a playable, if slightly unusual, position. However, White’s 19.Qa4! exploited a back rank weakness with an exchange having to be given up to avoid a mating threat. Jason fought on but later lost a piece and subsequently the game.

On board one Chris’s opponent was Ian Calvert whom he had not played for 12 years. The opening resembled a Fianchetto King’s Indian with White’s queen bishop on b2 rather than the customary e3. On move 15, White released the central pawn tension which led to major pieces being exchanged along the d-file, later followed by a couple of minor pieces. This yielded Chris the slight advantage of two knights against knight and passive bishop in a semi-closed position. In a surprisingly complex ending and fearing the loss of a knight, White unsoundly sacrificed it. However, the difficult-to-find 3-move refutation was missed and shortly afterwards a draw was agreed.

So, disappointingly, a 4-2 home defeat but, in fairness, Metropolitan played well and took their chances. Thankfully it is still early in the season, at least in terms of games played, with plenty of opportunity to do better.

Ealing RatingResultMetropolitan Rating
Chris Greenshields 20450.5-0.5Ian Calvert 1947
Mark Winterbotham 18890-1Petr Vachtfeidl 1942
Simon Healeas  1868 1-0 (default)Jeremy Law 1971
Hristo Colov  17720-1Jan Lepetun 1834
Jason Obihara  17590-1Adam Squibbs 1942
Trevor Bates  15640.5-0.5John Kitchen 1734
  2 – 4