Harrow D (3.5) v Ealing C (0.5) – 13 April 23 – Hillingdon Division 3

Harrow D are a very strong team, currently leading Division 3 and last Thursday evening we lost to them by 3.5 – 0.5. Their grading strength was from 1760 to 1540, whilst ours was from 1503 to 1233, an average grading difference of around 300 on each board.

On board 1 Subas played white against the Scandinavian Defence, with the Portuguese Gambit variation. There was also, surprisingly, quite an early offer of an exchange of the queens by the opponent. The game was fairly even and steady until the 23rd move when Subas made a blunder with an incorrect move and as a result needlessly lost a pawn. At that point from a healthy lead in time keeping he went on to losing time. Subas had to rush some of his moves with negative returns. He eventually lost on time.

David H playing as black on board 2 in the Chigorin system (Nc6 as a defence after white’s d4 followed by black’s d5), which weakens black’s centre, was soon having to think hard and was getting behind on time as his opponent played his moves much more quickly. Both players castled queenside. But black first had to double pawns on the f file and then lost a rook for a knight. Black’s position soon deteriorated after that and although queens were exchanged, white pushed his pawns forward and was able to capitalise on black’s weakened pawns on both kingside and queenside. In a king and pawn ending, black resigned when he couldn’t stop white’s passed pawn queening first.

On board 3 Michael’s game as white finished last. Michael was doing very well against his opponent who was graded over 400 higher, but who was playing so slowly he got into serious time trouble. However his opponent managed to take white’s queenside pawns and then promote two of his pawns to queens. By this stage he only had a few seconds left on his clock and Michael still had 5 minutes. Black immediately started checks with the black queens and Michael thinking the game was over nearly conceded but realised he could take the black queen and escape behind his remaining pawns. Black was still giving checks when his time ran out but Michael hadn’t realised this. In the confusion, black tried to claim Michael had already conceded. After some discussion between the players and both captains, Michael sportingly offered and his opponent accepted the draw. Since we’d already lost on the other three boards it didn’t change the match result. However well done to Michael for holding on against a much stronger opponent.

Neville played black on board 4 and wrote; “Black started well against (subjectively) White’s weak opening. White’s weak position encouraged Black to play more aggressively than was possibly wise. It would have been sensible for Black to castle when he had a chance but he decided to bring his Queen out too early instead to put more pressure on White at Move 10. White’s response to this was to attack the Black’s Queen with his Knight. With the subsequent moves Black could have forced a draw by repetition but who goes for a draw so early in the game? (Had Black known White’s much superior rating at this point, he may have gone for the draw.) Instead, Black tried to take White’s defending Knight out of the game. This unfortunately gave White’s other Knight the possibility of a fork which Black could only defend by moving his King. Black then made an error on Move 18 which allowed White to check Black’s King and force an exchange of Black’s Queen for White’s Rook. There was no recovery from this.”

Although we lost everyone performed well against much stronger opponents.

David Housego, Hillingdon C team captain.