On Monday evening we played a home match against a similar strength Hatch End B team. Frustratingly we only managed a draw, although could possibly have won. We held our opponents on boards 1 and 2 to a draw, we lost on board 3 and won on Board 4, so the match was tied 2 – 2.
On board 4 Andrew playing black was the first to finish. He commented “I played the black side of a Rossolimo attack (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Bxc6 bxc6). I prefer taking towards the center to help fix the middle and play on the flanks. I was up a pawn on move 10 after Rxb2 in essentially an equal position. White tried to take control of the b file with his rooks but after an exchange of rooks on b3, I had a slight edge up a pawn while starting to push my pawns on the kingside while white’s queenside attack had stalled. We had the following position in the diagram with white to play (stockfish says -1.4 here). Notice how the fixed pawn structure forces play on the flanks. I am threatening f4 to trap the bishop.”
“White needed to move his knight on d2 to give the bishop an escape route but instead played 18.Qa3 (??). After 18…f4 19.Bxc5 dxc5 20.Qxc5 Bf6 (protecting the Knight on e7 while also attacking white’s Knight on g4), 21.Nf3. Black has a winning advantage (stockfish says -4.9), up a piece with a kingside attack while white’s knights have no easy way to enter the game. At one point later in the game both his knights were on the first rank, trying to protect his position. White later lost an exchange on move 26 (rook for bishop), giving black a clear advantage (-7.5).”
“I took my time converting. There was a way to convert faster but I was paranoid to prevent any counter-play! In the position below, after 38 moves, black is threatening mate with 39…Qh1. Technically it is a mate in 10, though that was not obvious to me. White had one way to prolong the fight—39.Qf5+ to force a queen trade.”
“Instead to my surprise, white went 39.Nf2(??), thinking he could block the queen mate after 39.Nf2 Qh1+ 40.Ng1 but unfortunately, he did not see 40…Rf2# with the king trapped between his two knights: A good lesson in the Rossolimo as black.”
As white on board 3 Geoff played the London opening but his opponent replied by repeating moves so that they had an almost symmetrical position by the early middle game. In an attempt to inject some life into the game Geoff sacrificed a knight for two king side pawns, exposing black’s castled king. However he was unable to generate enough counter play and the game eventually descended into a P v N+P position where black’s active knight managed to escort his pawn to a queening square before white’s king could do the same.
On board 2 Tony playing black reported “Tony played the Stonewall as black and soon was a pawn up with a virtually won position. However overconfidence bred complacency and he went down a bishop through simple carelessness. He fought back though and recovered the piece and even gained a pawn. It was then a tricky endgame with a quickplay finish and he couldn’t find the win in time and a draw was agreed”
Alex played white on board 1, opening with the King’s Gambit. White then castled queenside to launch a strong attack on black’s king, which had castled kingside. White was two pawns up at one stage, but black held the position. With the time running out and queens still on the board offering scope for perpetual checks by black a draw was agreed.
With the draw we are now bottom of Division 2 but with further home matches coming up.
David Housego, Hillingdon C team captain.