December 7 witnessed two home matches. We hosted visitors from Surbiton for a cup match, which, as we were missing our strongest players, we were expecting to lose heavily: they beat us in the cup every season. But something remarkable happened: in an outstanding performance we came away with a 4-2 victory. Seb scored his best ever win, triumphing in a pawn ending after his opponent turned down a draw, and there were also wins for Chris K and Bertie along with draws for Chris W and Ian.
Unfortunately the clash of fixtures with our B team match at home to Hounslow B meant that our B team was weakened, and they went down to a heavy defeat, with a win for Huw and a draw for Stuart the only bright points.
Our TVB team completed their 2017 programme with a visit to SW19 to take on Wimbledon D. Now Wimbledon D had beaten Hounslow B 5½-½, and Hounslow B had in turn beaten us 4½-1½. Guess what happened. We won 6-0, and, no, they hadn’t forgotten about the match. We’d fielded a weakened team against Hounslow, who had themselves fielded a weakened team against Wimbledon. This time Wimbledon had a fixture clash. Their C team was entertaining Hounslow A, so they fielded a very low graded D team. Having said that, although I won very quickly and Bertie won fairly quickly, their other players put up a stout resistance before Seb, Stuart, Adrian and Masoud managed to convert their advantages.
On Monday our A team travelled to Ealing for what might turn out to have been a crucial relegation match. After some late changes to strengthen our team we were pleased to see that we outgraded our opponents on every board, and even more pleased when Masoud won quickly. But after that things started to go wrong. Draws by Gavin, Chris W, Bertie and Ian, along with a couple of losses left us a point down with just Chris K’s game to finish. He was two pawns down and his opponent had a winning combination on the board. But he failed to trade rooks first and found that his intended knight fork was illegal due to a pin. He had lost the exchange and his advantage, and, more importantly, the extra two minutes awarded to Chris gave him a time advantage in the ensuing scramble. He eventually won on time in a tablebase drawn position with rook and pawn against rook.
An exciting finish, with a lucky win for Chris and a lucky draw for the team.
News just in as we go to press: Gavin’s Eastman Cup (London League KO) team scored a big win against Battersea to go through to the next round. Gavin had managed to raise an extremely strong team, with a few guests from other clubs who don’t take part in this competition. Ameet Ghasi, Richard Bates, Callum Kilpatrick, Mike Healey, Blair Connell and Caspar Bates won their games, while there were draws for Gavin Wall, Bob Eames, Julien Shepley and John Bass.