Online Match – The Chess Academy (Hong Kong) vs Clube Xadrez Mos (Spain)
Chess is a beautiful sport. One that brings people of very distant nations, cultures and ages together. This Sunday, The Chess Academy (led by Coach Manuel) organized a new event to help some of the best young Hong Kong players to challenge themselves by playing against one of the top Clubs in Spain, Clube Xadrez Mos.
The teams were made of 6 players, and they would face an opponent with a similar FIDE rating. In order to decide the winner they played 2 games with 30 minutes per player per game, one with the white pieces and one with black.
Before the games started we talked to the other team for a few minutes to say hi and wish each other good luck. Everyone was a bit shy and nervous but once the games started all the players switched into “competition mode” and the games were of very high quality.
Round 1: TCA 4.5 – CXM 1.5
The first round finished with a clear victory for the TCA team, and this match was always under control. On board 3, Ben Han faced an open Sicilian and after a quick development he was ready to start an attack faster than his opponent. Ben used that initiative to break the centre and win material before his opponent could even castle his king.
This victory was followed shortly after by Danbe Luk (only 8 years old), that captured the pawn his opponent sacrificed in the Volga Gambit, traded some pieces and used his time advantage to win more material and the game.
With 2-0 on the scoreboard things were looking good for the HK team, but then we suffered the only defeat of the round. On board 2, Ronald Choy played a great opening and middle game in a King’s Indian and obtained a decisive material advantage. Unfortunately, under time pressure he made a big mistake that cost him his queen and soon after he resigned. 2-1 and the other positions were not clear.
Max Liu, on board 5, was the next one to finish. After a very active opening play he used a combination to exchange a knight for his opponent’s dark-squared bishop. After that, his attack was much stronger and his opponent couldn’t parry all the threats. 3-1 and everyone felt relieved.
The last 2 games were very exciting. The first board saw a fantastic fight between 2 of the best under 16 players in their countries. James Kwong took a pawn in the opening but his opponent got some compensation in exchange. The game was full of complicated tactics and, in the end, when Black seemed to be winning, James found a rook sacrifice that allowed him to give perpetual check. Draw and 3.5-0.5, so the first round was a win for the TCA team.
Justin Cheng was the last player to finish his first game. The game was a very complicated King’s Indian position with a fianchetto where both players had good ideas and attacked on opposite sides. Only when the time was running low for both, Justin could use a very nice intermediate move to win material and, soon after, the game. 4.5-1.5 Final Score for Round 1.
Round 2: TCA 4 – CXM 2
After a few minutes to rest and drink some water or eat some snacks, the second game started. The players faced the same opponent but with the other color now. All the games were a lot more balanced in this second round, and everyone was extremely focused as they all wanted to win this match.
The first game to be decided was the 6th board, where Danbe got a very solid position from the opening and in a game full of subtle piece play, he managed to open the position at the right time and go into an endgame where he got an extra pawn and he converted it into a win. This victory was celebrated by the whole team as now the HK team only needed one more point to win the match. Right after Danbe finished Max fell for a trick when he was in a winning position.
Quite sad, but Max played 2 great games and only this mistake prevented him from getting his second win. 1-1 in the second match, and everything to play for. Luckily for the HK team, Justin and Ronald both outplayed their opponents and almost at the same time they used a combination to win material and get a comfortably winning position. From there, a good display of technique and they both won the game. 3-1 and the overall score was 7.5-2-5, which meant the HK team was the winner.
Even then, the 2 remaining players, James and Ben, kept fighting trying to win their own games. James had a very interesting opening and middle game, but at this level, giving your opponent an outpost in the centre can cost you a lot. His opponent handled the positional advantage with great accuracy and didn’t give James a chance to save the endgame. 3-2 and only Ben was left. He had a very drawish endgame and, when everyone was expecting a draw, he found a pretty tactical resource that won him an exchange. Having studied these kind of positions in his training, it didn’t take long for him to convert that advantage into the full point. 4-2
Final Score: TCA 8.5 – 3.5 CXM
After all the games were over, with another video call we greeted each other and thanked them for the great time we had playing with them. Everyone learnt something today, and they did while having a good time. The result is definitely not the most important part of the event, but winning against such a strong team needs to be an encouragement for the TCA players to keep training the way they are and good results will keep coming.
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