London League finale! Drunken Knights vs Wood Green
On Monday night the biggest match of the London League season took place in The Plough - a pub right next to the British Museum.
Wood Green were multiple times defending champions, fielding a team of 7 GMs, 4IMs and 1 FM over the 12 boards. Drunken Knights are in comparison an 'amateur' team but still averaged a playing strength of around 2300 with 1GM and 4 IMs. Overall 23/24 of the players competing had a FIDE title.
The atmosphere was friendly yet tense and but slightly relaxed by the generous bar tab (thanks again)!! Play got started at 7pm and the early stages looked promising for underdogs Drunken Knights. A win by GM Nick Pert on board 2 was quickly cancelled out by Peter Sowray's win against GM Jon Speelman. I was next to finish with my win putting DK into the lead for the first time...
Not only were the Knights leading the early charge but things looked promising elsewhere. My housemate Peter Roberson was winning against GM Stephen Gordon and Fiona and Zehra both had excellent winning chances with other games being to close to call.
Then Wood Green's class in the final stages started to show. On top board British Champion Gawain Jones managed to convert queen vs rook against GM Simon Williams to put Wood Green ahead. My thanks to Gawain for kindly annotating this game, if you want more of his annotations/thoughts on chess then I recommend you check out his excellent blog at http://gawainjones.co.uk/
Elsewhere IM Malcolm Pein, organiser of The London Chess Classic, held a draw against Fiona Steil-Antoni and GM Chris Ward swindled a win against Zehra Topel. Overall Wood Green ran out comfortable 9-3 winners but it was generally agreed the score flattered them somewhat.
Still there was no arguing with their impressive strength and I congratulate them on a 20th London League title and an astounding 11th in a row! The Drunken Knights were left to drown their sorrows and contemplate another tilt at the title next year.