Streatham and Brixton Chess Club's First Team has, without a doubt, had a season of two-halves in the London League - so far. The 2007/8 season began with a solid draw against a strong Drunken Knights team despite a default on board 4, but that was followed up with fine wins over Kings Head I, Kings Head II and most impressively of all over Cavendish I, who finished second place last year in the League. There were many moments to savour from these matches - from the consistent performances of Vekram Tiruchirapalli and Jeremy Leake on the top boards - frequently against titled players - to individual brilliancies such as John Carlin's miniature featured here. After that - our match against the currently-unstoppable Wood Green had the inevitable result, despite notable draws for Angus French, Jeremy Leake and Andrew Stone, against respectively International Master John Paul Wallace and Grandmasters John Emms and Chris Ward. Incidentally, Andrew's draw followed a particularly fine piece of adjournment analysis that we hope to feature shortly on the blog. And so the team ended 2007 with a more than satisfactory 3½/5.
Rather unfortunately, 2008 has so far not featured the same success. To be more precise - we have played three matches so far, and lost all of them. The recent 5½-6½ defeat to Hackney I was certainly close, and of course each contest certainly presented its fair share of intrigues, such as this riotous win of Jeremy's against Ilford or Adam Fysh-Foskett's deadly one-move counter-attack from the same match. Another silver lining is that we have been able to welcome new players to our team, with Adam Batson, Hamza Syed and Barry Morris all putting in impressive debuts. And finally here is an entertaining draw from board 2 of our match against Hackney I:
Hopefully the remainder of the season will witness a recapturing of earlier form: The team currently sits fifth from twelve, with three matches remaining, against Cavendish Seconds, and Mushrooms & Wimbledon Firsts.
The Second Team by contrast have had a far tougher time of it. Newly-promoted to the Second Division last year, this was never going to be an easy season. And so it has proved: the team sit in a relegation spot, second from bottom in the league. And there's a reason for this: London League II is a seriously tough division. For instance in our recent match against them, Beckhenam & Charlton sported two FIDE Masters on boards one and two, and then outgraded us on every subsequent board. Another example: in our match against Richmond I, all of their top six boards had higher grades than our board 1. Still, the Fat Lady is not singing just yet. The team has one match point to their names from gritty draws against Athenauem and Metropolitan Seconds, and club Phoenix's curious score of -1 (thanks to the subtraction of penalty points from their ten-board defaults of two entire matches) provides a second glimmer of hope. With four matches left to go, all is certainly not lost.
But if we look to the London League's new Under-120 four-board Minor Division, we can end this report on a high note. From their six matches, our team has won - six matches, and you can't beat that. Congratulations to them, and let's hope it inspires our two other London League teams to excellent performances in the remainder of the season.
Note: we've decided to cover club news every two weeks on Mondays starting today. In two weeks time, we'll provide a summary of the season so far in the Croydon & Surrey Leagues.