Harrow C (1.5) v Ealing C (2.5) – 1 December 22 – Hillingdon Division 3

On Thursday evening we played an away match against Harrow C. Our overall grading was similar to Harrow’s, so we were pleased to win by 2.5 – 1.5. Harrow play a shorter 2½ hour match, so time can be important.

On board 1 Alex played a French defence as black and his opponent opted for a drawish exchange variation. It was a very even game where black had only a slight “computer” advantage.  A draw was agreed as it was an absolutely symmetrical position without any clear plan for both sides. Stockfish engine analysis after the game also confirmed it as equal.

Tony played aggressively with white on board 2, offering a pawn gambit. Black refused this but should have accepted and white achieved strong central pawns and a promising attack on the kingside. Black defended resolutely but, as often happens, eventually blundered in defence just as the attack looked like fizzling out. Tony won a queen for rook and swapped down into an easily won endgame.

On board 3 I played black against a solid Ruy Lopez opening. White created a backward pawn on a6 and then successfully attacked it and took it with his rook, after queens were exchanged. A further pawn loss left black two pawns down with white’s bishop against black’s knight. White was able to create two connected passed pawns and although black held them off with his king and knight he lost when he ran out of time.

Michael, white on board 4, played the Smith Morra Gambit against black’s Sicilian. He missed an early opportunity to gain material by not seeing how in sacrificing his bishop in taking black’s f7 pawn and giving check, he could win a piece. Later a complicated situation arose in the centre where black was winning, but neither player saw it. Later still white managed to get control of the c file with his rooks and queen. After that he won black’s bishop. Black played on gamely, creating some complications, but white managed to stay focussed and overwhelm him with material. Michael’s pgn of the game is below.

The win leaves us third in League Division 3 after our first two matches.

David Housego, Hillingdon C team captain.