On Tuesday, 9 April we made the trip to Stoke Newington in north London to play Hackney who fielded titled players on their top four boards. They are the current  champions and are quite likely to win the title again this year.

It was pleasing to see ECF Director of Women’s Chess, Agnieszka Milewska, make her debut for Ealing in the Middlesex League. In terms of travelling to the venue, it was not her most auspicious journey: delayed with the train, then caught a bus going in the wrong direction, and finally took a taxi that got stuck in football match traffic. She arrived nearly half an hour late but was still the first to finish. As White, a Leningrad Dutch led to a level position which came alive after her opponent’s 23…Qb2. Both players fought for the initiative but with neither making any headway, a draw was agreed after 40 moves with Agnieszka still having 21 minutes remaining on the clock. Given the combination of unpleasant journey, reduced time control, and higher rated opponent, this was a most impressive performance.

Next to finish was John on board two. Reflecting on his game, he notes: “My opponent chose a rare move order in the Nimzo-Indian. I established a large pawn centre and held a slight advantage but then, rather optimistically, gave up a pawn in attempting to open the position for my bishops. This gave Black a slight edge. I then blundered, overlooking a simple tactic – avoiding the tactic would have left me two pawns down in an inferior position with no hope of getting any counter play. All-in-all, a disappointing game.” Beside him on board one, Martin, yet again, had the difficult task of facing an IM. He summarises his game thus: “I  was Black in a Chigorin and although I was close to equal out of the opening, my opponent managed to build plenty of middlegame pressure. I made a mistake and he broke through to win.”

Andrew secured our sole victory with a fine performance. He writes: “My game went down a main line Philidor. As White, I was prepared and followed a recent book and got to play a trap which, as far as I know, has never been played before. A sacrifice on f7 enabled me to trap my opponent’s queen on b7 by playing Ra7 supported by my bishop on e3. This netted me queen for rook and bishop. I kept control of the position and converted when my opponent tried to break free.”

Commenting on his game against the Hackney captain, Alan states: “I was Black in a Taimanov Sicilian. He played a quietish line but managed to launch a dangerous kingside attack after my …h6 allowed him to open the g-file by g4-g5. At the time I thought I defended well and I mostly did except that, as my engine shows, I overlooked a combo in one of the variations. I got away with this and the attack was repulsed, leaving me with a big positional advantage. I offered a draw as I was feeling somewhat shattered.”

My own game completed the match. Playing Black against the English, I blundered, allowing my opponent to get a protected passed pawn on d6. Even worse, a knight became incapacitated on c8. I limped on but, realistically, never looked like holding the position.

Overall, we should not be too disappointed with a 4-2 defeat against the strongest side in the Middlesex League. That said, we do need to pick up some wins from our remaining five fixtures to ensure first division chess next season.

HackneyRating Result EalingRating
IM Richard Bates2383 1 – 0Martin Smith2176
FM Richard Britton2233  1 – 0John Quinn2165
FM Bob Eames22640.5 –
Alan Perkins2157
CM Diana Serbanescu2058  0 – 1FM Andrew Harley2150
Jonny Tennyson1974  1 – 0Simon Healeas1844
Jochen Wittman19410.5 – 0.5Aga Milewska1802
  4 – 2