Battersea MB start title defence with win over Greater London – but it wasn’t easy

London Chess League update
Battersea Chess Club sponsored by Bishop's Move

As the masses gathered at south London’s home of chess to watch Tuesday’s big Battersea Vs Battersea clash, there was another match taking place up in town.

Battersea MB, the club’s u125 team and reigning champions of the London League division 6, took on Greater London in their first match of the season.

And I’m pleased to say we started the defence of our title with a win.

The match card on the London Chess League website
The match card on the London Chess League website

Fielding two new boys on the lower boards, Gregg Hutchence and Edwin Magombe, who will both probably soon achieve with grades far above the grade limit, I was confident.

After all, we’ve never lost to the grand old GLCC, founded in 1887, in this division.

But, as always, it was not at all comfortable.

Edwin, who sent me his game afterwards, absolutely plastered his opponent and I think it’s fair to say he was a class above the guy he was up against.

Edwin’s opponent broke all the rules of normal opening play and stormed his pawns forward, but Edwin stayed cool and played a nifty knight sac early in the game to open him up. It worked beautifully. Regardless of how your opponent played Edwin, that was very impressive.

However, Edwin apart we struggled. I didn’t see Gregg’s game but despite being on board 4 he was up against a much stronger player and lost. Gregg’s original opponent didn’t turn up and they subbed in another guy who was rated 88, but I suspect under-rated.

Gregg, I hope you’ve recovered – it looked like you got ambushed a bit!

My game was, well, poor. Up against a player I’ve comfortably beaten before when I was playing better chess, I misplayed the opening and made several errors. He failed to take advantage and a passive queen move I still can’t quite understand let me off the hook and into his position. It ended with him being caught in a mating net.

By this point it was 2-1 to us with the match result hanging on the board 2 game involving our Latin late-comer Joel Morales, who for once was on time.

Just a draw was needed and Joel’s game… well, it was looking like a clear win.

In a knight Vs bishop endgame with 3 pawns Vs 1 on the kingside and 2 Vs 2 on the queenside all Joel had to do was march to victory. Or did he?

Joel was up against a tricky, stubborn opponent I also have had trouble dispatching and after opting to swap his knight for the last remaining pawn on queenside found himself with a K + 2 pawns Vs K + a bishop and it didn’t work out well. Joel’s opponent was able to barricade him and the game ended in a draw.

Joel was understandably gutted afterwards, he had dominated the game but couldn’t strike the final blow.

The match ended 2.5 – 1.5 to Battersea, and we remain unbeaten against Greater London and start the season with a win but with much improvement needed.

Next up we take on the Metro Gnomes at 7pm on October 18 at the league’s new Citadines Hotel venue in Holborn.

Let me know if you are available.

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