Champions of Middlesex Chess League Division 2

We are Champions!!

Yesterday the team travelled to Muswell Hill to play our 4th away match of the season. It was an important match as we had the knowledge that a win would make us champions with 3 matches to spare. There were unfortunately also many issues with team selection, as we were short of players until the day before the match, and one of the selected players found himself unwell on the day and needed a quick substitution.

Thankfully Sohum Lohia helped us solve the former issue by volunteering to play, and Christof Brixel stood in at very short notice (noon on the day) to replace the player who couldn’t play. I really appreciate Sohum and Christof for volunteering themselves ahead of this important match, especially in view of the remote location of the playing venue.

The match unfortunately didn’t start well as one of our players defaulted. However, Sohum and myself got very strong positions early in our games, and converted our advantages. Congrats also to Sohum for scoring his first win for this team. Christof then won a sharp game sending us to 3-1, so we required only one more half-point to secure our title. Eventually, Greg Billenness was the hero who scored the win to push us over the finishing line, making us the champions of the 2023-24 season of Middlesex League, Division 2! Finally, Carsten Pedersen rounded the match off in an adventurous game on the top board. As a result, we prevailed 5-1 with 5 wins, and with that our quest to be division champions culminated in success. Detailed match results are below or at this link.

With this result, we scored 9 wins out of our 9 matches (so far), which means we are champions with 3 matches to spare. The league table can be found below or at this link.

We currently have 18 match points, while no other team in the league could obtain more than 17 points even if they win all of their remaining matches. Managing 9 wins in a row has been an impressive feat, which only because of our players’ contribution was possible. Several players, including Zain Patel, Lazar Lukic, Raman Vashisht-Pigem, Maria-Alexandra Ciocan, Alexander Freeland and Paul Kennelly impressively made perfect scores in their games for this team, while players Carsten, Christof, Tom Townsend (4 games), Grigoris Sklavounos, Greg Billenness and Paul Kennelly contributed massively to our season playing many matches. Special mentions go to Chris Skulte, Tom and Christof who helped with captaining duties at (just) a few of our matches where I was late or unavailable, and Adam Cranston, who despite having never played for this team, managed some of the correspondence with ECF LMS.

The only team picture we have from a match night… we should really take some more photos…

There were also some players who scored especially important or notable results, such as Carsten, who scored the decisive victory at our away match against Metropolitan, by far our closest match of the season which we prevailed only with a tight score of 3.5-2.5; Chris, who won an important game in our close away match against Harrow Juniors back in December; Ceferino Gonzales, who took a draw in a better position in the aforementioned match against Harrow Juniors to secure our match victory; and Gaston Franco, who last week scalped a notable (home) win against Harrow Juniors’ Bodhana Sivanandan, the reigning champion of the World Youth U8 Chess Championship (Girls category). Also I must thank the players who had to replace other players at short notice, especially for matches away at remote venues, and in several cases under awful weather as well. These players include Marco Gallana and Ceferino who kindly volunteered to travel to Harrow for our aforementioned away match in December, and Sohum and Christof whose contribution in yesterday’s match was invaluable and deeply appreciated. However, it must be said that all other players contributed massively to our success this season, a perfect run is the perfect substantiation of both the ability and dedication of all of our team members. Even the smallest mishap or distraction could ruin a perfect run, but all our players managed to keep our focus right from the beginning until the end, racking up match wins after wins after wins. An impressive number of 23 different players have featured at least once in our matches. I can’t overemphasise how much I appreciate how much all our players have contributed to the team, not just by playing but also in other ways, e,g. with administrative duties, or by participating in interesting discussions in the WhatsApp group which have (arguably) helped enhance the team’s morale :D.

Example morale building post…

Players who contributed should pat yourself on the back, this team could never have achieved this much without you, and please let it be known that you have this captain’s gratitude and appreciate for what you have done. More detailed player stats can be found below, or at the link this link.

With this, the summary of our quest to be champions is concluded. Thank you all for your time.

Luke Lau
Proud Captain of Hammersmith 1, Middlesex League Division 2 Champions