Monthly Archives: October 2022

Peter Lalić (Kingston) v Tariq Oozerally (South Norwood)

Kingston v South Norwood, Alexander Cup, Willoughby Arms, Kingston, 3 October 2022

This game was played in Kingston’s first competitive match of the new season, in the first round of the Alexander Cup, which Kingston are defending. The game was a board two clash between two players who have had some hard-fought battles in the past. But on this occasion Black’s over-ambitious foray into enemy territory with his queen left it stranded, and the ever creative Lalić was able to trap it. This surprisingly straightforward win, analysed here with characteristic energy and wit, underpinned a powerful performance by Kingston, who ran out 8-2 winners against an outrated but spirited South Norwood team.

Peter Lalić, in action here at the Kingston Invitational, enjoyed a tremendous win in the first round of the Alexander Cup. Photograph: Brendan O’Gorman

Andrii Boiechko (Richmond) v David Rowson (Kingston)

Kingston v Richmond, friendly ‘Megamatch’, Willoughby Arms, Kingston, 5 September 2022

This game was played in a pre-season 16-board curtain-raiser between traditional local rivals Kingston and Richmond. Rowson was much the more experienced of the two players and in the end prevailed with an overwhelming attack, but he was struck by the quality of the play of an opponent who was just getting used to the rigours of over-the-board chess at long time controls. “Although his early move choices gave me the opportunity to launch my attack, I think he showed remarkable potential,” said Rowson with characteristic generosity.

Kingston sweep South Norwood aside as Alexander Cup defence begins

Alexander Cup first-round match played over 10 boards at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston, on Monday 3 October 2022

This was the first match of the new season for Kingston and a very important one – the first round of the Alexander Cup, Surrey’s premier knockout tournament, which Kingston won last season for the first time in 46 years. To have fallen at the first hurdle would have been a little embarrassing, but despite odd moments of doubt that never really looked likely on a night when a very strong Kingston team emerged as 8-2 winners. South Norwood fought hard, but in the end their lack of strength in depth told.

Top board saw a clash between Kingston’s David Maycock and South Norwood’s Marcus Osborne. Osborne had White and played an Open Catalan, but Maycock gained a slight edge out of the opening. He missed an opportunity to consolidate his advantage in the middle game, and the position resolved itself into a queen and rook endgame in which Maycock had an extra pawn. The players decided that, despite the pawn advantage, a draw was inevitable and repeated moves. Later computer analysis taking the game to more than 170 moves suggested they were right. That pawn was never going to break free.

Kingston’s David Maycock (right) does battle in the board one clash with South Norwood’s Marcus Osborne

On board two, the ever dependable Peter Lalić, with White, had a surprisingly straightforward victory over Tariq Oozerally, who was in effect lost after move 16 when his queen was trapped after an overambitious foray into enemy territory. Michael Healey had a much tougher time of it on board three against Owen Phillips, and admitted he was fortunate to escape with a draw. Phillips had two connected pawns running and looked certain to break through, but Healey kept fighting, time became a factor, Phillips went wrong and the pawns never quite made it to the eighth. A let-off for Kingston.

South Norwood were hugely outrated on the lower boards, and Peter Andrews and Alan Scrimgour proved too experienced for their opponents, giving Kingston an early 2-0 lead. The ever resilient Ken Chamberlain made Julian Way work harder for his win, and took the game to a rook and bishop v rook and knight endgame. But Way, as he usually does in endgames, found a way, his knight proving too mobile for Chamberlain’s blocked bishop. The “bad bishop”: is it my imagination or does that determine the outcome of about 50% of all chess games?

On board five, Will Taylor played a nicely controlled Petrov’s Defence to manoeuvre a positional edge over veteran Roy Reddin before trapping Reddin’s bishop and prompting immediate resignation, while David Rowson, with White on board six, saw off another South Norwood stalwart, Ron Harris, in a closed Sicilian. Harris, who loves to attack, accidentally mislaid a knight, but it turned out to be an interesting positional sacrifice, not sound but sufficient to conjure up an attack which got him back to near-equality. The canny Rowson was, though, unflustered in defence, his rook outgunned Harris’s bishop in the endgame, and White mopped up Black’s doubled pawns to make resignation inevitable.

Kingston’s Alexander Cup captain Ljubica Lazarevic (standing) studies the Roy Reddin-Will Taylor board five game

That left two terrific attacking games – one of which went in Kingston’s favour while the other didn’t. Vladimir Li, playing White, had a tactically sharp encounter with Mohammad Sameer-Had which, once the dust had cleared, resolved itself into an endgame in which Li had knight against bishop plus an extra pawn. With all the pawns on both sides disconnected, Li used his knight – it was a night for mobile knights – to force Black’s bishop offside to allow the White king to capture the crucial c-pawn and open the path for a passed pawn.

In the other game, the only game which Kingston lost, our president John Foley was downed by South Norwood captain Simon Lea. The game hinged on the thematic breakthrough d5 against the Slav.

White has just played 19. d5. This move is the culmination of White’s strategy and if it works (which in this case it did) White has an open game with free-flowing bishops and a clear advantage. However, Black had correctly prepared for this move and had 19…Nc5! up his sleeve. The game could have proceeded 20. d6 Bg5 21. Bxg5 Qxg5 22.Re3 Nxb3 (taking out the strong bishop) 23. Qxb3 Nd3 24. Rf1 Nf4 and Black has tricky counterplay.

The reason Black hesitated is that he was concerned about the advanced d-pawn. In practice, it would not be able to survive being so far from support. Black decided to exchange pawns first, which precluded the knight from reaching c5. The resulting open position played into White’s hands, and Lea conducted the final stage con brio.

24. Bd6 is winning. Afterwards, John surmised that often it is better to continue with one’s plan and rely upon favourable tactics rather than be diverted by fear that the opponent may have obtained a benefit – in this case an advanced pawn. A strategic hesitation and the game was lost.

Happily for Kingston, the assassination of the president did not presage collapse. The lesser citizens were doing enough to carry the day, and Kingston were through to a semi-final against Wallington or Streatham. The dream of back-to-back Alexander cups is still on.

Stephen Moss

Kingston triumph in pre-season ‘Megamatch’

Friendly match between Kingston and Richmond over 16 boards, played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on Monday 5 September 2022

It is too early to call these 16-board pre-season matches a tradition, but after the success of the encounter with neighbours Surbiton last year the Kingston club decided to repeat the exercise and issued a challenge to our neighbours on the other side of the Thames, Richmond, who have been going great guns at the Adelaide pub, their new venue in Teddington, and now boast more than 70 members.

They accepted the challenge and put together a team at relatively short notice to take on a Kingston team selected and captained by Julian Way. Kingston club chair Alan Scrimgour welcomed Richmond, and Richmond president Richard James informed him that this was the 75th anniversary of a previous “big match” involving earlier incarnations of the two clubs, played on 17 June 1947 over 36 (!) boards (result unknown).

On this occasion both sides were fairly experimental, with the opportunity taken to blood new members, but Kingston were unquestionably stronger on paper. Richmond were without stars such as Gavin Wall, Mike Healey and Bertie Barlow, whereas the Kingston team was headed by several first-team regulars. Richmond were outgraded on every board and Kingston ran out reasonably comfortable winners, but it was by no means a walkover and Richmond fought hard despite some large rating differences. A notable feature of the match was that there were no draws – in a friendly, players perhaps play with more freedom than in a league match where every half-point counts.

Ljubica Lazarevic gets the better of the resilient Michael Robinson-Chui in a bishop and pawn endgame

Richmond made the early running, with two of their ungraded players winning on the lower boards against two of our newbies, Hayden Holden and Stephen Daines, while Kingston’s youngest player, the immensely promising and committed Jaden Mistry, provided an assured win. That early 2-1 lead was, however, as good as it got for Richmond, with Kingston winning the next five games.

Kingston president John Foley mopped up after his opponent lost a couple of pieces; Vladimir Li roared home in just 18 moves after sacrificing his rook on h1 for a forced mate; Emma Buckley won convincingly in 33 moves after an unusual response to the Caro-Kann – 2. Qf3; Jon Eckert forced resignation after 25 moves, threatening an unstoppable mate after a quiet Exchange French opening; and David Rowson had to work hard against his talented young opponent, giving up two knights for a rook and pawn to gain an initiative which eventually produced an overwhelming attack.

Richmond struck back with a win on board seven against our late replacement, Jacky Chan, to make the score 6-3 for Kingston. Thereafter, wins alternated between the clubs (victories for Kingston debutants Charlie Cooke and Silverio Abasolo, losses for Max Selemir and Gregor Smith) before the score reached a decisive 9-5 for Kingston, with the winning point being scored by David Shalom on board 11.

That left only two games in play, Maxim Dunn for Richmond resisting strongly against Kingston’s much higher-rated David Maycock on board one and Kingston’s Ljubica Lazarevic in a bishop and pawn endgame against Michael Robinson-Chui. On board one an interesting position arose (see photograph below), with queens on a1 and a8 linking up with bishops. From a vantage point above the board a knight sacrifice on g7 looked inevitable, and so it proved.

The final game to finish was board 10, where, after mistakes on both sides, Lju Lazarevic prevailed. The result, 11-5 for Kingston, was a good one for the outrated Richmond team, but, in any event, it proved an excellent season opener for both clubs. For Kingston, fine wins by a clutch of new players gave cause for optimism ahead of a challenging season in which the club will field six league teams and three cup teams, and play more than 50 fixtures – a huge challenge given that the club’s membership remains smaller than that of some of its rivals.

Matching last season’s extraordinary performance in winning five trophies will be well-nigh impossible, but we have high hopes in the top divisions of the Surrey and Thames Valley leagues, to which we were promoted last year, and a successful defence of the Alexander Cup would be a tremendous achievement. The preliminaries are over. Now for the real thing.

Alan Scrimgour and Stephen Moss