Muswell Hill 3.5 – Ealing 2.5

On 17 January we travelled to Muswell Hill to play the Middlesex champions. This was always going to be a tough match with our opponents enjoying an average rating advantage of over 100 points per board.

On board 2, John got us off to a solid start. He writes, “My game was a Stonewall position reached by a Semi-Slav move order. After exchanging 3 sets of minor pieces a position was reached with White having slightly more active pieces but a worse pawn structure. It may have been slightly better for me but I offered a draw as I was not sure how best to proceed. My opponent accepted, as he thought my activity was going to be worth more than the pawn he might have won in some lines. All-in-all not much happened.”

On a neighbouring board, Alan had a difficult game. He comments, “My opponent played the c3 variation against my Sicilian, which is very popular at this level. I played …e6 and …d5 and replied to exd5 with …exd5, as I have done many times before, with quite good results. The game transposed to a French Defence where I had an Isolated Queen’s Pawn (IQP), but fairly comfortable and active development. I was under some pressure due to his normal play against the IQP and his control of the open e-file. He managed to create threats against my king as well. I didn’t see the danger and blundered, allowing a neat winning combination.”

It was pleasing to welcome Xavier to the team who made a highly impressive debut against a strong opponent. Reflecting modestly on his performance: “I managed to sneak a win on time having been a pawn up with high chances of winning a second one. I consider myself quite fortunate to win considering that I was struggling to see any openings until my opponent decided to take the initiative himself.”

Mark also contributed to the team score. He says, ”As White I tried the Rossolimo Attack against the Sicilian for the first time, but it soon became more of a defence, as my opponent raced his h-pawn to h3, exchanged it on g2 and had a dangerous looking rook on the open h-file. Although it was pretty bad for White there was no single knockout blow, and one slightly impatient move allowed me to equalise by putting pressure down the e-file on Black’s uncastled king. Although there was still play in the final position, the computer assessed the final position in which a draw was agreed as 0.00.”

As Black against d4, I sought an unbalanced position but despite my best efforts White secured an edge which he maintained throughout the middlegame. His  passed rook’s pawn effectively signalled my impending defeat.

Andrew’s game was the last to finish, having treated the spectators to a textbook example of how to remain resourceful whilst facing major difficulties at the board. He states, “I had played …f5 weakening my king, White sacrificed with g4 fxg4, Qg6 Bf8, Ng5! hxg5, Be4 which should have led to mate. However a few moves later, in a totally winning position where he actually had a forced mate, White missed a little trick when he sacrificed a rook on d6 but I didn’t recapture, instead playing …Ne5-f7! forking the queen on g5 and rook on d6, forcing White to bail out into a drawn opposite-coloured bishop endgame. A very lucky escape!”

So in the end a narrow defeat 3.5 – 2.5. Considering the strength of the opposition, this was  a closely fought battle and one from we should not be too downcast.

Muswell HillRatingResultEalingRating
Kim Yew Chan22820.5 –0.5Andrew Harley2176
Peter Finn22320.5 –0.5John Quinn2174
Simon Wilks2202 1 – 0Alan Perkins2159
Joel Bird2107 0 – 1Xavier Cowan1934
Stanley  Badalsonyi2087 1 – 0Simon Healeas1869
0.5 -0.5
Mark Winterbotham1867
 3.5 –2.5