Kingston hammer Richmond B to bring promotion closer

Thames Valley League division 2 match played at the Adelaide, Teddington on 22 March 2022

It is never nice to be bagelled (as they say in tennis) 6-0, and on the surface this does look like a runaway win for Kingston over Richmond B. But raw statistics sometimes lie, and there was some excellent fighting chess in this match before that very satisfying (from a Kingston point of view) scoreline.

This was Kingston’s first visit to Richmond’s excellent new venue, the Adelaide pub in Teddington, and we were mighty impressed. There were two matches in the playing room – Richmond were also entertaining South Norwood 2 in the Surrey League – which made it busy and intense but not too congested. With social chess being played in the bar downstairs and a general air of a club that knew its business and had found a fresh focus, Richmond are clearly on the up. As their near neighbours, we have been warned.

This was an A team up against a B team and we were expected to win handsomely. But Richmond were by no means weak, and Alan Scrimgour on board five was immediately in some difficulty with his trademark King’s Gambit against Serhat Abay. “The opening went wrong somewhere and I was lucky,” he said later.

Alan Scrimgour v Serhat Abay

I thought there must be an element of false modesty in him saying this because, in a horribly double-edged position with Black only a move or so from proclaiming mate himself, Scrimgour launched a powerful attack on Black’s exposed king and got there first to make it 1-0 to Kingston. But, admirably honest about his own play, he insisted there was no false modesty. “Having looked at my game,” he told me, “I can confirm that I was lucky. It was a messy game, and I missed a clear win earlier. We both made some terrible mistakes, but my opponent made the last one. As Savielly Tartakower said, ´The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake’.”

David Rowson, playing his usual brand of classical positional chess – winning a pawn early and building a series of incremental advantages – won smoothly on board three against Pablo Soriano to make it 2-0. And Peter Lalic, playing as so often for a long period on the 10-second increment, then won a dynamic attacking game against Raghu Kamath on board one to put Kingston 3-0 up with three games still in progress.

The way Peter plays such beautifully controlled chess on the increment is a wonder to behold, though he said he was fortunate to stumble on one tactic at the height of his time trouble and chided himself for being “unprofessional” in once again having to rely on the increment. For all that, however, his results and the general standard of his play suggest he is doing something right. He is a perfectionist in the opening – hence his tendency to fall into time trouble at the short controls that apply in evening chess – and the depth of thought early in the game seems to stand him in good stead for later tactical complications.

Playing White: Peter Lalić (top) and David Rowson (nearest)

David Maycock won a bafflingly brilliant game on board two against Ieuan Fenton, sacrificing a knight for an obscure positional advantage that nobody could really understand and magically not just getting the piece back 15 moves later but going a whole bishop up soon after that, without his opponent making any obvious blunders. It really was sorcery.

Ieuan Fenton v David Maycock

In the analysis afterwards, David doubted whether the sac was truly sound, but, as he said, “not all Tal’s sacs were sound”. (David is a modest fellow and you should not get the impression he was comparing himself with Tal; he was just making a general point that there were so many complications and possibilities he had a gut feeling something would turn up, which it duly did.) He also explained that he is practising playing without looking at the board – he feels seeing the pieces makes them too static and he prefers to imagine them moving in his head. I feel we have a genius in our midst.

It was 4-0 and the match was won, but Kingston weren’t finished yet. John Foley got the better of Victor Bluett in a hard-fought game on board four, with Foley maintaining a slight edge throughout before eventually trapping Bluett’s knight. Jon Eckert then completed a clean sweep for Kingston with an efficient win on board six, his opponent resigning in the face of Eckert’s three connected passed pawns driving ever closer to the finish line. A memorable evening that puts Kingston top of Thames Valley division 2 and, with games in hand, eyeing promotion to the premier division.

Stephen Moss, Kingston Thames Valley captain