Thames Valley League division 2 match played at the Royal British Legion, Hounslow on 22 May 2023
Well, this was a turn-up for the books. Having successfully retained our place in division 2 of the Thames Valley League, there was zero pressure on us for this trip to play Hounslow A, who outrated the Kingston B side by more than 70 points a board. Perhaps that was the secret to our surprise victory – we could play with freedom and without fear.
Julian Way and Mateusz Dydak were well matched on board 1 and, with neither making obvious progress, agreed a shortish draw. Boards 5 and 6 were also evenly matched in rating terms, and though Charlie Cooke went the exchange up in his game, his opponent forced a perpetual. So far, as expected. However, what happened on boards 2, 3 and 4, where Hounslow held a substantial ratings advantage, was much less predictable.
On board 2 I played my usual unduly passive Scandinavian, but managed to hold my own in the opening without undue difficulty. We reached this position on move 29, with White to play:
Here White should just exchange queens and offer a draw, which, given the 300-point rating disparity, I would have taken, but my opponent was keen to maintain pressure along the g-file and played Qg3. This is, if not immediately losing, extremely bad for White: 29… Rd1 30. Kf1 Qd2 and the loss of at least a pawn is inevitable. I managed to get to a king and pawn endgame that was completely winning, but then made valiant attempts not to win. My opponent may even have had a theoretical draw, but happily for me (and despite my wretched endgame play) eventually lost on time.
Kingston captain Gregor Smith put up a tenacious fight against the canny Leon Fincham on board 3, but eventually succumbed in time trouble. That left Nick Grey up against Hounslow captain David White on board 4, and, in a closed Sicilian, Nick played superbly to win the game with Black and secure a memorable victory for the Bs by 3.5-2.5. A tremendous end to the season after all the travails earlier in the year.