Hammersmith A v Ealing A, 18th October 2022

We fielded a strong team in our first game in Thames Valley League Division 1 at Hammersmith, with three circa 2200’s, but were still outrated by 66 points per board. Despite that, we took an early lead thanks to Simon Healeas on board six: “Playing the Chigorin as Black, I lost my e-pawn in the opening but countered by advancing the f-pawn to f3, thereby creating light-squared weaknesses around the white king. These ultimately proved fatal, with my opponent resigning after 26 moves as checkmate was inevitable.” There then followed relatively quick draws on boards 2 and 3 by John Quinn in a blocked London System and Andrew Harley in a French Classical, where Andrew offered a draw before committing to f4-f5, which would have opened lines but created weaknesses with unclear consequences. Jonathan White then went down in his debut match for Ealing on board 4; he was going OK until time trouble around move 30.

But at 2-2, Rick McMichael was better on board one in a heavy pieces endgame and Harry Symeonidis was a pawn up on board 5 in a rook ending, so looked good and a shock win seemed possible. There had been delays and confusion about the digital clocks at the start and Rick was unsure of the time limit and that didn’t help as he made a couple of critical errors, winning a pawn (or two) but allowing his opponent’s pieces into his position with devastating consequences. Harry’s game ended up in R and P v R with the K blocking the passed pawn. Harry was ahead on the clock in the blitz finish but sportingly (and correctly) agreed a draw as there was no way to make progress. So we went narrowly down.