By Martin Smith, Captain S&B LL 1st team -- 28 April 2017
Tuesday 25th April 2017 – will it be long-remembered at S&B’s London League Super Tuesday? Two of our teams – that’s 16 of us, good and true, lined up for action at Golden Lane: including two visitors from overseas (though I can’t, in all honesty, say we flew them in, 4NCL-style, especially for the occasion).
First up, our 4 board team in the Minor ‘A’ division. Captain Jose Dmitri wasn’t in action, but stand-in captain Paul Ritchie (a Scot, but not – yet - counted as a foreign visitor) lead the charge on board 1: “I forgot how to play the white side against the Cambridge Springs as early as move 8 and ended up a pawn down.” Nae bother: after many adventures Paul drew, and with wins from Mircea Belei and Matthew Hitchens, S&B MA are 2.5 v 1.5 ahead (with Peter Keetley adjourned). Great result, giving our the team a good chance of topping the table.
Paul’s brilliant match report continued: “if high quality chess was what you were looking for then you only had to amble across the hall to see our very own Streatham first team against the mighty Wood Green.” Yes, “mighty Wood Green” who fielded 12 GMs against Cavendish a few weeks previously. Against us they put up just 5 GMs, supported by 4 IMs and 2 FMs, all with a team-grade average of only 229. (Huh. Come on Wood Green, show us some respect… ;-)
The first sign of things to come was when our board 2, Andrew Stone (210 – all grades are as at July 2016), secured a draw against GM Tomas Fodor (245). Andrew has been playing the English Opening this season, and here it pays handsome dividends. The game is a relatively quiet beginning – with Andrew’s comments - to a sequence of four.
Next – and netting the whole point – was Gabriel Barr (168e) on board 7, in his first season (and we hope not his last) for S&B. He seems to thrive in the LL, and here, completely unintimidated by his opponent’s Kingside build up, he disposes of FM Sophie Milliet (226) in fine style. “I think her early Bb5 taking it out of Najdorf theory actually played to my advantage because I’m not very theoretical” commented Gabriel.
On board 3, veteran of many top-board struggles, Jeremy Leake (210), scalped GM (Jonathan Rowson - 244) with a typical piece of Leakean bamboozery. Jeremy said afterwards that the Modern Benoni used to be his staple weapon many moons ago. It’s the type of opening that suits his mazy style.
We had to wait till closing time for the icing on the cake, and many of us had a ring-side seat for the final shoot-out between genial German Jérôme du Maire (219) and a certain GM Luke MacShane (256) on board 1. Jerome played for us last season when over here working in London. We were delighted to learn that he was coming back for a couple of weeks and could fit in a match or two for S&B. Unaware of the status of his opponent in English chess, Jerome proceeded to out-play him, robbed of a sensational victory in a quick-play time scramble. The annotations are Jerome’s own, and in German, but you should be able to get his drift… He commented later in an email that he “was always slightly better” (adding a smiley) and “what an amazing experience and game…we made more than 20 moves each in the blitz phase” so - Jerome says - the reconstruction may not be accurate. However there was “a simple mate on move 61” when he could have “just queened my pawn without losing her immediately”.
So we were 2 out of 3 on the top boards – stunning - but with only Gabriel’s win lower down, we lost 3 v 8 overall. Taiwo Olutola (146) adjourned on board 12, but has his back to the wall 2 pawns down in a double rook ending v Tom Farrand (201). However, there were some other “might-have-beens”, including Jagdip Patel (155) on board 10, who was close to an IM scalp (v Malcolm Pein – 206). Indeed everyone rose to the challenge of conceding 30 plus grading points (our average grade was 182) - including, for this match only, our other visitor, Hugh Brodie (155e) from Canada, who joined our doughty S&B colleagues for the annual Wood Green dust-up. Thanks to all who played, including club members up for the challenge but who didn’t get the chance for some giant-killing on our Super Tuesday.