On 8 April we travelled to the Carpenter’s Arms in central London to play Kings Head Two with both teams involved in a relegation battle. On paper, we were stronger on every board and hence the favourite to win the match.

As so often in chess (and life), not everything goes according to plan. On board one, Andrew comments: “My opponent played the unusual 3.Bd3 against the French. I countered with a reasonable plan (played by Alapin back in 1905 I since found) doubling my pawns in return for the two bishops and displacing his king. He was much more familiar with the resultant positions however and was way ahead on the clock. I wrongly swapped both pairs of rooks leaving me facing a good knight v poorer bishop ending which I could have held by being patient (and having more time) but it was tricky and I eventually allowed his king and knight to break through and gobble my pawns.”

Reflecting on his game, Jonathan writes: “My opponent mishandled the Bird’s Opening and I won the exchange on move 15.  Things looked done and dusted, but slowly he assembled the case that he had in fact sacrificed the exchange.  I had some defending to do as his knight and bishops probed, and perhaps he had drawing chances.  But I kept it solid and found the right squares for my pieces – in the end I was able to push back with some pawn breaks and make my material count.”

On board two, Alan notes: “My Queen’s Gambit was met with the Tarrasch Variation (2….e6 3.Nc3 c5) and I played the quiet 4.e3. After some strange looking moves by both of us, we reached a central structure with white pawns on c5 and d4 and black pawns on d5 and e6. This pawn formation is most often associated with the Botvinnik-Panov variation against the Caro-Kann. I had a positional edge, but this quickly turned into a near winning advantage after he tried to free his position with 14…e5?, overlooking the loss of a pawn. After a few more moves, he also had to give up rook for knight to defend against a threat of mate. I completed the win by creating two passed pawns on the queenside.”

Hristo made his second appearance this season for the team. As Black in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, he held a slight advantage in the middlegame which translated into a more active king in a bishop versus knight endgame which he won. There might not have been much in the way of fireworks or excitement, to paraphrase Hristo, but nonetheless an impressive performance.

On board three, Tony faced an unusual opening. He states: “The game started 1. e4 e5  2. d4 exd4  3. f4.  Apparently this is a recognised opening known as the Halasz Gambit, with which my opponent has had some positive results. I played Qh4+ and returned the queen to e7 where she stayed until move 22! Despite never castling, having my queen on a daft square and only developing my king’s bishop on move 28 to block a check, I had a strangely comfortable position, with my opponent in a bind and persistent threats on both sides of the board. My opponent sacced a further two pawns and almost had a dangerous queen and rook attack straight down the middle of the board to my uncastled king. But my attack was a tempo or two ahead and ultimately prevailed.”

My game was the last to finish. Playing White against the Tarrasch, I managed to win two pawns but at the expense of allowing Black piece activity. Fortunately for me, my opponent played the weakening 20…g5 which provided a target and, more importantly, led to the opening up of his king position. Finally, with checkmate looming, Black conceded defeat.

So overall, a highly pleasing 5-1 victory. However, with three matches remaining, we still need to pick up points to ensure first division status next season. 

Kings Head 2RatingResult       EalingRating
Nigel Fleming20561 – 0FM Andrew Harley2158
Peter Anderson1838 0 – 1Alan Perkins2152
Alex Bourke18190 – 1Tony Wells2042
Paul Chantrell17540 – 1Jonathan White1986
Neil Tomkin1701 0 – 1Hristo Colov1843
Alistair Morton1522 0 – 1Simon Healeas1840
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