On 30 March we faced West London who are based in an elegant Victorian building, namely Chiswick Town Hall. Wealth is quietly signalled as you enter via a covered stone porch with open sides, or porte cochère if you come from Surrey. The interior radiates affluence of a bygone era with a large chandelier, embossed tiles, ornate wood panelling, impressive artworks, and a marble balustrade embellishing the main staircase. But would the quality of chess live up to such grandiose surroundings?

Joao, as Black, quickly got us on the scoreboard and set us on the road to victory. His opponent played the Grand Prix Attack but Joao calmly defended and then started to create chances on the queenside. A threefold repetition led to splitting of the point.

On top board, it was a pleasure to welcome Alfie Onslow to the team who provided much-needed firepower. He did not disappoint. Facing the Dragon Sicilian, he castled queenside, advanced the kingside pawns and launched a ferocious attack. It was not long before his opponent capitulated. The game had distinct echoes of Fischer’s 1958 win against Larsen at Portoroz when the Dragon was so brutally slayed.

In stark contrast I played cautiously. A draw was agreed after 27 moves.

Tony, as White, played unusually against the French (1.e4..e6 2.d3). After the game I asked him the name of this line to which he responded “Weird.” Judging by the ensuing position and subsequent loss of two pawns, perhaps Weird is not the strongest set-up to employ against the French. But Tony played the middlegame with his characteristic vigour and verve and clawed back the two pawns. Unfortunately the loss of a piece – after so much good play – ultimately cost him the game.

Mark, as Black, continued his run of excellent form by exploiting the weakness of his opponent’s isolated queen’s pawn (IQP) in a positional squeeze. A series of exchanges and winning of the IQP translated into a superior endgame; the dominant march of the black monarch sealing the victory.

The final game to finish was on board two. It was pleasing to see Andrew Harley in the team whose presence hugely strengthens our top order. Commenting on his game, he said “My opponent playing White swapped queens early on but I managed to gain a slight edge and then a pawn via a tactic. We eventually reached an opposite-coloured bishop ending with me 3 pawns up. I broke the blockade by sacrificing two pawns to reach a winning king and pawn v king finish.”

Having played half our matches, Ealing are now on 3 points out of 5. I believe we can finish the season in the division’s top 2, subject of course to the continuing availability of strong players.

West LondonRatingResultEalingRating
Chris Fegan21010-1Alfie Onslow2262
Colum Jezierski19710-1Andrew Harley2194
John Bass1966 1-0Tony Wells2023
Andy Hayler19470.5-0.5Joao Santos1995
John Tobisch 18980.5-0.5Simon Healeas1855
Graham Chase Unrated0-1Mark Winterbotham1896
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