Report by Mark Murrell
The delayed start to the Essex and London leagues provided an ideal opportunity to engage with our East London neighbouring clubs in warm-up rated matches after a season and more of internal competition under the rule of six tiers and the spring plan steps. Whilst the club also had the benefit of competitive play during the Essex Back to Chess Fest during the late summer our visiting clubs had only recently resumed their meetings. This was their first engagement in match chess and a welcome one too. Our teams were selected to match the opposition board for board as best we could whilst giving rated match chess to a wider cross-section of the membership.
Making use of rare availability of the Hall during half-term week, it was filled to a socially distant capacity on 26 October as the club fielded two 10 board teams for G60+15 matches, with some social chess and analysis taking place in the House lounge areas.
W&W v Hackney
The main event was a rare visit from Hackney from the London League first division but on this occasion fielding an “all club” team as a warm-up for a hoped for 30 board match against Hammersmith at the new London League West central venue the following week. Our club will play in the London League East competition based around a revamped Citadines Hotel in Holborn Our team has found itself in the second division of three in a reconstituted competition for a season managing living with covid-19 as our squad under the captaincy of Keith Jones is an amalgamation of our former Division 2 and 4 sides.
Hackney had the rating advantage on the top boards with the lower boards favouring Wanstead, albeit several unknowns in the mix. The Club took a mid-session 3-1 lead with successive victories by Andy Swales, Emmet Clarke and Matthias Lataille should have been 4-0 as Hutch Hutcheson let a good position slip away. Steve Rix held for a crucial draw on board 3, whilst debutante Huw Jacob extended the lead temporarily before David Smith succumbed to the always tricky Peter Burgoyne. Two up with three of the top 4 boards to play and Hackney looking good in all three.
John Cawdery’s run of form came to an end against David Ledger, whilst John Hodgson was defending a rook and pawn ending against Bob Eames two pawns adrift and Istvan Karacsony battling to stay in a minor piece ending. John managed to defend for a draw (with all the pawns on the one flank) but overlooked a mating net tactic which would have netted his opponent’s rook instead. All down to the final game for the second week in succession, as Istvan and Paul Conway battled out their B v N ending into extra time (delaying the adjournment to The George for the social part of the evening) playing on their 15 second increments. Istvan had done just enough to snuffle out his opponent’s advantage and win the match in what was an excellent team effort.
W&W v Warriors
Meanwhile at the other end of the Hall, another club team had its hands full against the Warriors a scratch team from the junior coaching chess club assembled during the week, playing in their first standard play match against the club. The Warriors established a 4-0 lead in rapid order across the bottom half of the matchcard (including two debutantes, Frank and Ray) to main club activity), with only Paul Read pulling one back for the club as his experience in the endgame prevailed in a R v B ending. Warrior’s captain, Tobias Stevens (not unused to standard match play) was held to a draw by new club Secretary, Terry Skippen, in his first over-the-board action since the first lockdown, taking the Warriors close to victory. Close but not close enough, as one by one the club narrowed the lead, winning the last four games to steal the match. A steal it was too as at the Warriors threw away their advantage in two of them.
Across the two matches, the Club fielded 30 players.
The week before, on 19 October, an originally billed eight board match was reduced to seven boards (though only six played on the night) the match taking over our club room for the evening with social chess in adjoining rooms. Unexpected absences are likely to be a feature of the coming season as covid infection rates and other seasonal viruses fluctuate. Chingford had to come from behind and win the last two games to finish (boards 2 and 3) to share the spoils over seven boards but with bragging rights over the games played. Chingford had toyed with an excursion into the Essex League in the absence of any sign of North Circular League action with travel out to east Essex being the deterring factor.
Both visiting teams took full advantage of our facilities and rematches have been mooted. Two excellent evenings of fighting chess in great spirit, with the match play conditions for home Essex League matches to come working well.
26 October 2021: Wanstead & Woodford 5½ – 4½ Hackney
26 October 2021: Wanstead Warriors 4½ – 5½ Wanstead & Woodford
19 October 2021: Wanstead & Woodford 3½ – 3½ Chingford