Ealing B 3 Hatch End B 2

Ealing B played host to Hatch End last night in the Final of the Hillingdon Plate competition. Having seen off the Hatch End team to reach the final, it may have been expected that we would stroll to victory here. Far from it, indeed, but for a missed opportunity by their young board three, it would have been Hatch End that took the spoils.

The following position arose in Aga’s game in a Classical Kings Indian: After Black’s 29…Re8, White has only one saving move but Aga misses it. In return, Black has two possible moves: one wins the other loses. He chooses the wrong one and a short while later the win is Aga’s. A huge stroke of luck!

The win that followed on five was happily more prosaic with Matthew going a full bishop up early on and converting the win without any melodrama.

So, two-nil up, a promising position developing in Jason’s game and typically solid set-ups on the board from Simon and Xavier. But, rather than toppling gently into Ealing’s hands, the match went right to the wire.

Firstly, although Jason established a two pawn advantage, a typical opposite-coloured bishop scenario unfolded, in which despite all his efforts he could not gainsay the resourceful defence of his opponent who successfully exchanged down to a drawn K+B v K position.

By the time this draw had finally been reached both the other games were in their final stages.

Xavier had established a very closed position and used up almost all his clock time trying to find a viable way to break through on Black’s queenside. He was unsuccessful whereas White managed to open the g-file and launch an assault on the White king. Down to increments, Xavier was unable to repel the attack and succumbed to mate on g2 by the enemy queen.

Suddenly, it was 2½-1½ and all to play for. Both Simon and his opponent had less than three minutes on the clock in a position with little tactical jeopardy and equal material. A draw would suffice for Ealing but could Hatch End force an unlikely win? After a few more moves, with his clock down to 15 seconds and with the captain’s permission, Black offered the draw which Simon, knowing it would clinch the match, accepted.

So Ealing B win the 2023-24 Hillingdon League Plate. It is gratifying to win something from what has been, by and large, a successful campaign, even if we are not to achieve our goal of promotion. My thanks to all who have taken part in our adventures over he past few months. A full report will follow soon.

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