On 7 November we opened our Middlesex first division campaign against Hendon 1 at Actonians. In terms of average ratings across the 6 boards, we enjoyed a slight edge (2014 v 1950). It was particularly pleasing to welcome Alan Perkins back to the team after a 2-year absence.

Despite the break from classical chess, he was in sparkling form, impressively winning a 21-move miniature. He writes, “My opponent played the solid Tartakover Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. When he seemed to lose a tempo in the opening I was tempted to try an early e4 advance. The engines aren’t keen on this but he erred by allowing me to open the position. He couldn’t defend his f7-pawn when I attacked it with queen on b3, bishop on c4 and knight on g5 and I won quickly.”

On top board, Alfie led by example. He comments, “I played a very double-edged Sicilian in which I sacced a pawn for activity in a queenless middlegame. I then traded into an endgame where I had a mating net which combined with his passivity decided the game.”

In defeating the Hendon captain, Jason revealed an excellent knowledge of the French defence. He observes, “I played the black side of an Advanced French. With the position locked in the centre, my opponent played f4 to start a counter-attack which I thwarted. Play then diverted to the queenside. I exchanged major pieces leaving me with both bishops and 7 pawns to my opponent’s bishop, knight and 7 pawns. Following a subsequent tactical skirmish, I emerged a bishop and a pawn up and my opponent duly resigned.”

The remaining 3 games were all drawn. To quote Andrew: “I was Black against an IQP and equalised early on, but offered a draw (slightly prematurely) when it seemed like a freeing d4-d5 break was inevitable.” In my own game, I laboured under the delusion that I might be able to win an equal knight and pawn ending. I actually came close to losing but managed to secure a draw after 83 moves with 23 seconds remaining on the clock.

Mark writes with his usual frankness, “My game was a very yo-yo affair. I was slightly worse out of the opening, then built up kingside pressure and had multiple relatively straightforward chances to win, chose multiple wrong options leaving my opponent with enough to win. However, my opponent returned the favours. The game concluded with me having a strategically winning position although material was level (bishop and 6 pawns vs bishop, knight and 3 pawns). But with 4 minutes left to play it through versus my opponent’s 20, I offered a draw. A comedy of errors, though neither side laughing.”

Overall this was a good team performance which gave us a cracking start to the season.

EalingRatingResultHendon 1Rating
Alfie Onslow22551 – 0Gary Senior2162
FM Andrew Harley21820.5 – 0.5Adam Raoof2089
Alan Perkins21551 – 0James Robinson1925
Mark Winterbotham18790.5 – 0.5Jonathan Rubeck1886
Simon Healeas18340.5 – 0.5Jean-Claude Sartenaer1844
Jason Obihara1779  1 – 0Andrew Medworth1794
 4.5 – 1.5