On 20 May we welcomed Muswell Hill to the Actonians. They fielded three titled players and enjoyed an average 240 rating points advantage across the six boards. Clearly we faced a tough evening.

On board one, Alan came close to winning. He writes: “I was White and declined his Benko Gambit by playing 4.Nf3. I came out of the opening with a slight advantage and deployed my forces with the e5 advance in mind. Black grouped his forces on the queenside in typical Benko fashion to exploit his open b-file. I exchanged his fianchettoed king’s bishop by Bf4, Qd2 and Bh6 leaving his king looking short of defenders. When the e5 break came he didn’t deal with it and suddenly I had a big advantage. I went for the rook manoeuvre Re1-e4-h4 and sacrificed the rook for a pawn to expose his king. I was guaranteed perpetual check and hoped to find more. My engine demonstrates there were several ways to win but I didn’t find any of them and took the perpetual. A disappointing end to the game for me.”

My own game took a rather different course: a Benoni which never left the drawing zone. So, 1-1 after the first two games.

Reflecting on his performance, Jonathan notes: “Playing Bird’s Opening as White, I got a typical position where I’m trying to advance in the centre and on the kingside while Black is bombing down the queenside.  We neutralised each other and reached a complex position that I felt quite happy with, also because my opponent was falling well behind on the clock.  But the computer suggests my advantage was only slight, and it didn’t hang around for long.  After exchanges we moved into an ending where I faced his two bishops with a solitary rook – I was relieved to swap off pawns and hold out for a draw.”

On board two, Tony faced a women’s FIDE master. He comments: “I was Black against d4, c4, Nf3 and played the solid but not very good d6, c6, Bg4. The idea was to saddle White with a bad light-squared bishop, although it wasn’t long before I was forced to relinquish a good knight for said bishop. I had a couple of moments of luck: firstly my opponent (per a brief post-mortem) decided against a pawn sac that would have given her a healthy advantage; secondly after almost getting my queen trapped/lost on the queenside, my opponent made an inaccuracy and allowed my queen to escape to safety. Towards the end of the game, we each had a queen & rook and I was a pawn up. We ended with a threefold repetition when I could see nothing better except to return the pawn in exchange for complete safety for my king. Low on time I’d missed an opportunity to exchange queens, retain the pawn and be somewhat better in the rook ending.”

Hristo provides the following thoughts on his game: ”I didn’t play very well in the opening and was on the back foot from the beginning. At some point I sacrificed/lost a pawn to develop my pieces. I didn’t get full compensation, as his position was still better but did secure an advantage on the clock. At one point I was 20 minutes ahead with my opponent – in an unclear position – only having a minute and a half left. Unfortunately, that was the moment when I made an illegal move and he claimed two extra minutes.” Later Hristo forfeited the game when he mistakenly put his king in check, although the game was strategically lost at that point.

Finally, a huge thanks to Subas for stepping in at such short notice. As Black, he played the Queen’s Gambit Declined (Exchange Variation). Much of the game remained level but on move 36, he had the opportunity to take a +2.2 lead (according to Lichess) but failed to capitalise. The final endgame position looked drawn when Subas’s flag fell. Once again, he demonstrated he is quite at ease when playing 18 or 1900-level players.

Given the rating difference, this was a good team performance. That said, we lost and are a step closer to playing in the second division next season.

EalingRatingResultMuswell HillRating
Alan Perkins21520.5 – 0.5CM Stanley Badacsonyi2347
Tony Wells20420.5 – 0.5WFM Emmanuelle Hng2207
Jonathan White19860.5 – 0.5Simon Wilks2163
Hristo Colov18430 – 1Alecos Ethelontis2076
Simon Healeas18410.5 – 0.5WFM Eunice Hng2093
Subas Subbaraj1513 0 – 1Fredrik Ceder1930
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