Uxbridge B v Ealing C – 24 November– Hillingdon Division 2

In our away match against Uxbridge B last Wednesday evening, we again faced a team who outgraded us on all boards and unfortunately we lost the match by 3 – 1.

Tony playing black on board 1 tried the Albin counter gambit against white’s Queen’s gambit for a bit of fun and was rewarded with an active position asking white a lot of questions. Unfortunately his 1960 rated opponent found the answers! It was for the most part a closely contested game but white gradually converted into a winning endgame position where zugzwang would render black’s position untenable. Tony ran out of time to lose the game.

Alex playing white on board 2 played his favourite Smith Morra gambit to black’s Sicilian defence. He soon had a very active position and sacrificed his bishop on h7 to open up black’s castled kingside as most of black’s pieces were over on the queenside. Black’s king was forced into the open and black resigned on move 23 with white’s queen sacrifice leading to black being mated on the back rank.

Jerry Scott was playing black on board 3.  He reported “White played a Queen’s Gambit, an opening that is one of Jerry’s favourite and the one that he most often plays himself as white.  Unfortunately, it would appear that a lack of games over the last year and a half due to COVID had taken their toll on Jerry’s memory (or may be it is just old age creeping in!).  He did not play the defensive moves in the right order and ended up in difficulties with pinned pieces trying simultaneously to defend a central pawn and not wreck his Kingside pawn structure in front of his castled King.  He eventually succumbed to some good tactical play by his opponent, losing a minor piece trying to prevent against an advanced central pawn shove, at which point he did the honourable thing and fell on his sword.”

Andrew was white on board 4 playing a London system, and wrote “Out of the opening, black played both Bg4 and Bb4. White attacked the b4 bishop 9.Qb3, and after 9…Qb6 quickly seized the initiative with 10.c5.  After 12 moves white had a commanding position–with 12…b6 black tried to undermine his pawn chain.  Stockfish gives this position below at +3.5 for white:

This is winning for white, after the forcing sequence, 13.Qb4 Qxb4 14.axb4 bxc5 15.dxc5, white’s queenside pressure and advanced pawns will be too much to handle.  Weak pawns on both a7 and c6 will be challenges for black to hold.  However Andrew played Bc7 which is too slow, though keeping the advantage and preventing bxc5.  White exchanged queens two moves later and again had another moment to consolidate the advantage after 18…Rc8 (below) when black finally gets around to kicking the white bishop away, but leaves the a file unprotected. Stockfish evaluates this as +2.6 for white:

The simple 19. Bh2 keeps the strong advantage with the eventual a4 and Ra1 creating a breakthrough on the queen side.  White did see this series of moves but last minute noticed g7 unprotected and went 19.Bf5 which immediately gives away the advantage to black after the missed Nxf5.  The game soon went into an equal rook endgame where there were chances for both sides.  White again could push a4 but never did.  In the end White was down a pawn but had plenty of counter rook activity.  On move 42 white had the following equal and drawish position:

The key is to realise the c5 pawn is lost.  Here both 42.Rb8, attacking the black b4 pawn, and 42.Re8+ Kf6, Rc8, forcing the king back and then attacking the black b4 pawn, keep the balance.  Instead white went 42.c6 which allowed Kd6 and the pawn is lost without taking the b4 pawn.  After white moved he realised the game was lost and resigned several moves later.”

The final result of 3 – 1 to Uxbridge doesn’t reflect how closely fought the games were, and well done to Alex for winning against a stronger opponent.

David Housego, Hillingdon C team captain.