First league match for over 18 months….we lost

Over the board league chess ceased in March 2020 and leagues were suspended during lockdown. For some, the various online leagues that were organised have provided continuit. The chance to play competitive matches, with post match discusions on zoom. Others took a prolonged sabbatical from game.

19 July 2021 – Freedom Day – meant weddings, nightclubs and chess could resume without restrictions. Chess tournamemts were held, with suitable precautions. Emails were sent enquiring about club appetites to resume leagues, and fixtures were drawn up. We only had a week to find 5 players for our first fixture. At such short notice, we managed to find 4. The most important thing was to fulful the fixture and start the season.

 Herts CA : Herts League – Division 2B   Monday 8th November 2021         Borehamwood white on odd boards            

           St Albans 3                                     Borehamwood
Board  1 : Hotala, Grzegorz            1710   1-0   Choudhury, Shakeel             1803
Board  2 : Taylor, Stephen A          1750   1/2   Kent, Anthony R                    1750
Board  3 : Cross, Ian K                    1728   1-0   O’Sullivan, Terry J                1510
Board  4 : Ball, Matthew P              1690   0-1   Devan, Matthew                   1495
Board  5 : unlisted player                       –   1-d   default                              –
  Match Score :                                    3.5 – 1.5

The league kindly split Division 2 regionally to cut down on travel. We were last in Division 3, so a handy backdoor promotion. Shakeel was outmanouvered by his opponent on board 1. Terry was under pressure and had to cede the exchange, from which he could never recover.. Matthew played the black side of the Ruy Lopez and secured a fine win. After a Leningtad Dutch, black (to move) on board 2 reached the following position. With a time control of 70 minutes + 10 seconds a move, black needed the righ strategy to win.

28…Qg7 was played won black the b pawn, but but allowed the white to f3 and some counterplay. The computer likes 28…Qe6 which threatens Qe1 and then targetting white’s king f pawn. Black settled for a draw in a fairly level position where it was not easy to make progress.

Every player from each team seemed pleased to see each other. People matter, even if you only see them once a year at a chess match. We are all part of the eccentric chess ecosystem, and it was great to be back pushing wood again.


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