A Tale of Christmas Chess…

08.12.16 – London League 3 – Wimbledon v Hammersmith

The last LL3 match before Christmas took place at the hallowed hall of Golden Lane. Our opponents were Wimbledon 2 and they were not in a giving mood.

The narrative of the night strikes a familiar theme to those who have read the chronicles of LL3 Hammer this chess season. So close and yet so far….. again!! As ever, the devil was in the detail.

The night did not start well – Bajrush had to pull out but luckily Robin Lee stepped in at the last minute. On top of that we were out-graded by an average of 18 points per board.

In essence the match came down to two critical games where Hammer contrived to snatch a defeat and a draw from the jaws of victory. This was really hard to take, particularly for the two Hammer heroes involved – Adam and Safi.

Adam’s opponent was our Yasser – the irony is that Yasser plays for us in the Middlesex League and Adam is his captain! Adam played an outstanding game achieving an overwhelming position both materially and positionally.

Unfortunately he had consumed too much time on the clock and a scramble ensued. These are always a nightmare to play especially when you know you had a won game just a few moves earlier. The reversal of fortune affected Adam and the loss became inevitable. To be honest it was daylight robbery, and a couple of consoling pints in the Shakespeare did not ease the pain. It was chess at its most cruel!

On another day Adam would have converted.

Safo, on the Black side of an exchange Lopez, played so inventively and was two pawns up in a won endgame Unluckily he fell for a tactic and a subsequent perpetual check. I felt for Safi because he played so well and was coasting to certain victory. Another case of daylight robbery.

The glorious defeated were Matteo, Sheikh, John Wooley, and Robin.

The latter three had games they probably wish they could quickly forget. Sometimes you just have those nights and the lads have to put it down to that. They shall return in 2017 better and stronger!

Matteo should have drawn but he pushed hard for the win. It was one of those situations where one is so focused on victory that your sense of danger goes south. Another half-point disappeared!

The three winners of the night were Paul, Orial and my good self.

Paul played so solidly and won in good style. He really is coming back into his best form.

Orial had an amazing game that resulted in a time scramble but he held his nerve and triumphed in grand style. A really good victory.

As for me playing a la Karpov I totally strangled my opponent. Up to move 45 all was good and I should have closed the Kingside up and then played on the Queenside. My biggest personal chess challenge is translating positional superiority into victory. This transition is one I struggle with. However, with a 40 minute deficit on the clock my opponent was under severe time pressure and blundered in a probably drawish position. After the Adam and Safi results I was just glad that Hammer were on the right side of a result!

Overall a loss was the result – the scoreboard does not lie. However, on another night and if Santa had been in a more generous mood, Hammer would have won 6-4.

You win some, you lose some. On a personal note I want to wish all my chess fighting Hammer colleagues a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you next year!

Result: Wimbledon 6 – 4 Hammersmith

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