Hendon 4 – Ealing 2

On Leap Day Ealing travelled to the Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club to play a strong Hendon side which boasted three titled players on their top three boards. The first game to finish was Jonathan’s and, in terms of a missed opportunity, was typical of certain games that followed. He writes: “I got a strong attack out of my Dutch defence, got into a position where there ‘must be something’, spent ages looking for that something, and then found myself playing on the increment.  Then, when there really was something – a sacrifice for what I’m told is an advantage of -28.45 – I missed it.  Would have been a very nice finish – and I think Tony on board 5 saw it (Rb8).  The position went very quickly from won to drawn to lost.  I am still reflecting on what might have been.”

In a similar vein, Andrew comments: “ A Pirc/Modern turned into a strong Philidor-like position for me as White. I won the exchange (for a pawn) and then immediately sacrificed it back again to open up his king, forcing a queen swap and another win of the exchange (and a pawn). I wish I could end the story there and it would have made my best games collection! He played a final trick which I saw, but with 2 minutes (plus increment) on the clock, I tried to force the exchange win on better terms (not leaving him with the two bishops) but bizarrely miscalculated the number of pieces he was capturing and ending up with R v two bishops rather than R + knight + pawn v two bishops, so instead an entry to my worst ever move selection. Oh dear! So one point turned into zero…”

On board three, John had a tough battle on his hands against a 2300+ adversary.  Reflecting on his game, he notes: “Against the Kings Indian my opponent played the fianchetto variation. We reached a complex middle game position which was fairly level. I started to run short of time and played a couple of weak moves giving him the initiative and a +1 advantage. I then completely missed a queen manoeuvre which he played which left him completely winning (+9). A couple of more good moves from my opponent and it was mate in 4 so time to go home.”

But Hendon, by no means, had it all their own way. Summarising his game, Tony observes: “Playing White against the French, as is so often the case, I was worse a few moves into to opening. A bit later, I thought I had started to play well, with enduring threats on both sides of the board, although computer analysis said I was -1.5 at one point. But under pressure of losing a pawn, and with my time getting low, my opponent sacrificed a knight to obtain two strong central pawns and I think to try and complicate matters. Five accurate moves of mine later (according to the critical computer), my opponent resigned.”

Similarly, Alan extracted the full point. He notes: “Against my Sicilian with 2…e6, he played 3.d3 and the King’s Indian Attack formation. I responded with …d5, …Nc6, …Bd6 and …Nge7. I have been playing this setup since 1968, including 2 games in 2023 against David Rowson (Kingston) and Richard Britton (Hackney). I deviated from my game with Rowson in which I had problems in the opening. With help from my opponent I obtained a clear advantage. I had excellent development, a big space advantage and a promising queenside attack. My advantage increased to about +3.5 by which time I controlled the open a-file and had a monster knight on c3. His position was very congested and he had no counterplay. I failed to cash in and after unwisely opened the position my advantage dwindled at one point to a mere +1.0. But he was very short of time and in a complicated position he allowed a knight fork of his queen and rook which was decisive.”

The last game to finish was Martin’s on top board. He reports: “I was White in a Caro-Kann that transposed into an IQP Sicilian.  I developed a promising kingside attack with good (+0.8) chances.  At <3 mins each I sacrificed a knight for pawns in front of his king, and chose not to take a possible repetition thinking that I was winning (computer says I was at +1.5). But IMs are IMs for a reason, and he outplayed me in the tactical time scramble and was able to liquidate to a winning endgame with the extra knight.”

So the match ended, disappointingly, in a 4-2 defeat. One can’t help but feel that on a different night, we might well have won this one. On a positive note, this contest typified the “thud and blunder of evening club chess,” to use Stephen Moss’s phrase. Long may it continue!

 Hendon RatingResultEalingRating
IM Lorin D’Costa 24471-0Martin Smith2194
FM John Richardson 23261-0John Quinn2191
CM Rob Willmoth 21731-0FM Andrew Harley       2178
Gary Senior 21190-1Alan Perkins2148
Jonathan Rubeck 19460-1Tony Wells2019
David Amior 19151-0Jonathan White1998
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