Monthly Archives: November 2022

Holden holds on in thrilling battle at Surbiton

Thames Valley division X match played at the United Reformed Church, Tolworth on 15 November 2022

Kingston junior Jaden Mistry (foreground) battled hard against Colin Li, but the latter’s strength eventually told

This was a very entertaining and hard-fought match between Surbiton D and Kingston C – two four-person teams made up of promising juniors and other players either relatively new to chess or, as in my case, scraping away the rust of 40 years of inactivity.

On board 1, Hayden Holden fought out an encouraging draw against Surbiton’s JoJo Morrison, whose official rating is 1658 but who is a good 100 points stronger than that. An excellent result for Hayden, and you could tell from the two youngsters’ animated post-match analysis that they had both enjoyed the game and been bursting with attacking ideas throughout.

The middle game had been very double-edged and Hayden felt he had missed a win when he had a chance to infiltrate with his queen. But it eventually resolved itself into a bishop v knight endgame in which Morrison had an extra pawn. With a long grind beckoning and school work still waiting to be done at home, peace was declared. The joys of evening chess!

Kingston junior Jaden Mistry took another step on his learning curve with a tight game against Colin Li, a relative newcomer to chess but one who shows enormous promise and works hard at his game. Li already has a rating of 1600 and will soon be pushing way beyond that. Jaden played well, but Li had too much ammunition, winning a couple of pawns and marching one of them up the board, with Jaden’s queen helpless in the face of two rooks and a knight.

Max Mikardo-Greaves and Surbiton’s Phil Goodings had the most complex game of the evening, with all the pieces clustered in the middle of the board and a unfathomable range of tactical possibilities on offer. Max went the exchange down and then lost further material, but with Goodings’ rook slow to get into the game the piece count hardly mattered as Max launched a desperate attack. It looked very likely to succeed until Max went wrong in time trouble and let a possible mating attack with queen and bishop slip away. With that chance gone, Goodings was able to press home his material advantage. A tremendous game and a gallant performance from Max.

On board 4, my opponent Kim Cross and I played rapidly – the game was over in just 45 minutes. I turned a strong positional plus into a material advantage and, with Cross’s king uncastled, saw what I thought was a forced mate in eight moves, using my queen and bishop to trap White’s king in the centre. Amazingly, my analysis proved correct! I blitzed my way through my last seven moves, and my opponent resigned one move away from checkmate.

Alas it was not enough for the Kingston team, who lost the match 2.5-1.5. But given the rating disparities that was about what we expected, and there were creditable performances from all the players. Jaden is not the only one on a learning curve.

Stephen Daines

Way escape allows Kingston to squeeze past Guildford 2

Surrey League division 1 match played at the Guildford Institute on 14 November 2022

Guildford are the strongest club in Surrey and a trip there is never easy, even when you’re playing their second team. They field two sides in division 1 of the Surrey League, and on the strength of their performance against a Kingston first team at close to full strength you can see why. This was indeed a second team that many clubs would be happy to have as their firsts.

Sebastian Galer is a strong board 1, rated close to 2100, but he was facing David Maycock, who is at least 200 points higher. Maycock also had White and, confronting Galer’s Modern Defence, slowly increased the positional pressure before smoothly converting. Another fine game from Kingston’s young star.

David Maycock (left) skilfully outmanoeuvres Guildford’s Sebastian Galer on board 1. Photograph: John Foley

On board 2, the equally reliable Peter Lalić was up against Jai Kothari, a junior rated 1892 whom Guildford rate so highly that they played him above the experienced James Toon (rated 2046). There was some discussion about whether this rating difference was permissible – some leeway in the ratings gap is allowed for fast-rising juniors – and it does appear that league rules were broken, as the league has penalised Guildford for a board order infringement.

A dynamic encounter between promising youngster Jai Kothari (left) and Peter Lalić. Photograph: John Foley

The game itself was full of dynamic ideas, and Lalić later remarked on Kothari’s “confidence and decisiveness”. Kothari opened with d4 and played the rare Chigorin Variation: 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Bf5 3. Bf4 e6 4. e3 a6 5. g4! A misplaced knight cost Kothari several tempi and Lalić gained an edge, but the youngster was way ahead on the clock (in the photograph above, it shows 48 minutes for White and just 59 seconds for Black!), and only Lalić’s ability to play wonderfully creative chess on the 10-second increment saw him through, extending his advantage and establish a mating net to win the game in 38 moves. Judging by his play here and his club’s confidence in him, Kothari is a name to watch.

These victories on the top two boards were enough to give Kingston a 4.5-3.5 victory on the night (adjusted to 5-2 because of the board order infringement), but the other six boards were a dogfight. Guildford’s James Toon secured a hard-fought draw against Silverio Abasolo on board 3 in a game between two highly rated players that was nip and tuck throughout, while on board 4 Peter Stimpson’s London System had David Rowson in a spot of bother. Both kings were in the centre, but Stimpson’s looked safer and it was a surprise when he allowed a queen exchange which gave Rowson a slight advantage, though not enough to try to force a win.

Phil Stimpson and Kingston captain David Rowson (right) settle for a draw on board 4. Photograph: John Foley

Board 5 was another draw – John Foley dropped a pawn early to Julien Shepley but had active compensation, with his bishop more active than Shepley’s knight in an endgame which saw pawns running on opposite sides. It was the same story for Alan Scrimgour against Ian Deswarte on board 7 – another pawn down, another draw. But the key escape for Kingston was Julian Way’s on board 6. Way’s opponent, Michael Morgan, cleverly transposed moves against the Philidor Defence and Julian lost two pawns. However, Julian resourcefully sacrificed another pawn, his b-pawn, to get pressure with his rooks on the b-file and made life so difficult for his opponent that he agreed a draw. This was the crucial save for Kingston.

On board 8, Jon Eckert played a complex French Defence – his opponent chose the Tarrasch Variation – and was doing OK until in mutual time trouble Jon opened up the position. His opponent, Rob Merriman, infiltrated and had too many threats. That made the match 4.5 to 3.5 to Kingston – a narrow win that puts us level on 2/2 with Guildford 1 at the top of Surrey League division. The away match to Guildford’s first team on 9 January is going to be a match to savour.

Jon Eckert ‘s French Defence was proving resilient against Rob Merriman until time trouble. Photograph: John Foley

The trip down to Guildford is one of the team’s longer journeys, and Kingston first-team captain David Rowson would like to thank John Foley and Jon Eckert for offering lifts to other players, and Peter Lalić for undertaking an even longer drive into deepest Surrey. On the return journey, the A3 was closed and so we had to drive slowly in the dark along narrow country roads through small villages. One of the places was Ockham, birthplace of William of Ockham who is famous for the ontological principle that “entities must be be multiplied needlessly”.

Kingston’s third team also played at Guildford on the same evening – see Stephen Daines’ report below – and getting 14 players there was no mean effort.

David Rowson and Stephen Moss

Tay wins on Kingston 3 debut, but Guildford prove too strong

Surrey League division 4 match played at the Guildford Institute on 14 November 2022

The trip down the A3 was an adventure for the new crop of Kingston players as they faced the fourth team of the Guildford club in division 4 of the Surrey League. Losing 4.5-1.5 was a formative experience in a match in which we were heavily outrated. To add insult to injury, we were subsequently penalised for a board order infringement. That ruling cost us a point, making the official score 4.5-0.5. We live and learn.

Our most impressive performer was Sean Tay, making his debut for Kingston. Sean defeated a player rated 1723 after a hard-fought game. The match also saw the debuts of juniors Shauyra Handu and Jaden Mistry on boards 4 and 5 respectively. They came up against players rated 1656 and 1607, and despite sturdy performances by the Kingston duo their opponents were just too strong. Kingston treasurer Adam Nakar seemed to have the advantage on top board at one stage, but ended up with a draw.

The only player I was frustrated with tonight was myself. As White, I opened with a Colle System to try to gain positional superiority in the centre. I missed an opportunity to win a bishop and then lost the exchange. The worst part was that despite my material disadvantage I manoeuvred a passed pawn to the seventh rank and missed the opportunity to queen.

In spite of the loss, all the players learned something and enjoyed the experience. With a lot of new players at the club – and more arriving by the week – it is essential that we give as many as possible game time. We don’t want to be a club divided into league players and social players (unless the latter wish to restrict themselves to fun chess at the club of course). We are looking to build clear pathways into competitive rated chess, and are happy to take a few defeats along the way if we have to.

Stephen Daines

Maycock stars as Kingston overwhelm Richmond

Thames Valley League division 1 match played at the Adelaide, Teddington, on 8 November 2022

The clash between Kingston A v Richmond A was eagerly anticipated, and it fully lived up to the billing. On board 1, Kingston’s David Maycock was White against IM Gavin Wall. As usual, Maycock fell into time trouble, but even playing on a 10-second increment doesn’t faze him and he got the better of the tactical melee which erupted in the middle game. Both kings were in imminent danger of being compromised, but Maycock’s attack was just the speedier and Wall resigned.

Lengthy analysis by the two players in the bar afterwards suggested Wall’s resignation was premature – retrospectively, he thought he had drawing chances. Maycock concurred, though he described the position that would have resulted if Wall had carried on as “pleasant”. Maycock has started playing for Wall’s Richmond team in the London League, so the analysis was mutually generous. These two clubs, based on either side of Kingston bridge, are so close that there is a certain incestuousness among the personnel, though happily that doesn’t dampen the competitive edge.

David Maycock (left) won a thrilling game against Gavin Wall, though analysis showed resignation was premature

Elsewhere, things were a little less frenetic. On board 6, Peter Andrews with Black won a pawn out of the opening in a Queens Gambit Accepted and never really let go of the advantage. His opponent, Richmond captain Maks Gajowniczek, had compensation in the form of a slight initiative, but Andrews quickly neutralised it, traded down to a knight endgame, won a second pawn and smoothly converted, though he complained later that in his urge to simplify he had missed the chance to win a piece and thus wrap up the game a good deal earlier.

Peter Andrews (right) went a pawn up in the opening against Maks Gajowniczek and never relinquished his grip

On board 3, Kingston newcomer Silverio Abasolo won a tremendous attacking game against Andrew Hebron, building up an overwhelming position with the Four Pawns Attack against Hebron’s King’s Indian. Playing with great verve, Abasolo dominated a series of sharp tactical battles, won the exchange and forced resignation in 25 moves. An exemplary display by a player who promises great things for Kingston.

KIngston newcomer Silverio Abasolo (centre) swept to victory on board 3 with a series of sharp tactics

Vladimir Li, playing Black on board 4, also built up a powerful pawn centre against the experienced Chris Baker, though Baker fought back stoutly and had a chance to equalise when Li offered a knight sac. Baker turned it down – taking it would have led to an attack that looked dangerous but seems to result in a perpetual – and thereafter in a time scramble his position steadily deteriorated. In the end he lost on time, but the situation was already irretrievable.

On board 5, Kingston captain David Rowson took on the fast-rising Maxim Dunn, whose recent record in a variety of leagues is tremendous. Dunn, playing a Sicilian Dragon, activated his pieces powerfully, lined up his rooks on the g-file and was bearing down on White’s king. He was also dominating the a8-h1 diagonal with queen and bishop, but made one fatal mistake – putting his bishop, which Rowson had dislodged from d5, on h1, assuming his attack was unstoppable. Rowson manoeuvred his f-pawn to break the connection between queen and bishop, and the castled king was able to capture the stranded piece.

“My win was (without false modesty) almost totally undeserved, as I played the opening and early middle game horribly,” said Rowson later, “but the trick which enabled me to win was unusual and quite interesting, I think.” Even after the loss of Dunn’s bishop the win was far from facile, but eventually Rowson was able to trade down to a winning endgame.

Richmond’s sole point in a 5-1 defeat came on board 2 where Mike Healey, who plays for Kingston in the Surrey League but opts for Richmond in the Thames Valley (more incestuousness!), defeated Peter Lalić. Lalić played the Scandinavian and built up a nice edge in the opening. But Healey fought back with his usual energy and established a rook on the seventh rank, while Lalić was saddled with a bizarre pawn structure – he had both doubled and tripled pawns, and all seven of his pawns were isolated. Is this a record?

Despite this strangest of pawn structures, the engine still gives Lalić a tiny edge, but the position was horribly difficult to play with time short and Healey was able to get a pawn to d7. Lalić was forced to give up rook for knight to stop the pawn queening, and, though he fought on with characteristic vigour (no premature resignations here), his bishop was no match for Healey’s rook in the endgame.

A fascinating game in a match that had a great deal of complex and high-class chess – much of it above the head of this hard-pressed reporter. Any IM-strength players who wish to become correspondent for this website, please get in touch. Usual rates apply.

Stephen Moss

Dream debut for Kingston at 4NCL

The new CSC/Kingston team win four matches out of four at their opening 4NCL weekend, with the first team recording perfect 6-0, 6-0 victories

Kingston has long pondered entering a team in the over-the-board 4NCL (we actually won the online version in 2020), but the distance to venues and the fact that quite a number of Kingston players were already attached to other teams were disincentives. This season we finally plucked up the courage to do it and found an imaginative way to make it work – forging an alliance with the well-established Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) squad and running joint teams, expertly marshalled by Kate and Charlie Cooke (who has joined the Kingston club) and playing under the banner of CSC/Kingston.

There has long been a connection between the two organisations: Kingston president John Foley captained the inaugural CSC team; club chair Alan Scrimgour is a first-team stalwart; Jon Eckert and Nick Grey are second-team regulars; Martin Jogstad, Max Selemir, Hayden Holden and I have now joined the ranks, and we hope that over time more Kingston players will sign up, joining the 20 or so players on the Cookes’ squad list. CSC ran three teams before the pandemic. Currently, it has two, but the intention is to revert to (at least) three as the squad grows.

Peter Finn: One of the stars of the CSC/Kingston first team, which will henceforth be playing in division 3 (west)

The opening weekend – played on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 November at the Mercure Court Hotel in Daventry – for the newly minted CSC/Kingston outfit could not have gone better. CSC/Kingston 1 won both its matches, against War and Piece B on Saturday and Anglian Avengers 2 on Sunday, by a perfect score of 6-0.

This was the only weekend CSC/Kingston 1 will play in division 4, as it has been awarded a berth vacated by another team in division 3 (west) for the remainder of the season (the competition comprises 11 rounds over five weekends and concludes on 1 May). Given the strength of CSC/Kingston 1, with FM Martin Jogstad, Peter Finn (whose Fide rating is 2175) and plenty of other very strong players to back them up, this is a very positive move for the team, which should be able to hold its own in division 3 and might even start eyeing the rarefied heights of division 2 if things go well and the leading players make themselves available for winter treks to distant hotels at the edge of motorway junctions.

The second team also won both its matches, though admittedly given the rating disparities with our opponents this was to be expected. It was, however, far from plain sailing. On Saturday, we beat Crowthorne B 4-2, but on board one Crowthorne’s Harvey Duckers downed the experienced Giampiero Amato, who was rated more than 100 points above him. Daniel Shek also defended well to earn a draw against CSC/Kingston’s Charlie Cooke, and Jon Eckert had to work hard in a long rook-and-pawn endgame to hold out against Crowthorne’s Shree Rao.

Jon Eckert: Held out in two long rook-and-pawn endgames against opponents who were a pawn up and pressing

The following day, CSC/Kingston 2 beat She Plays to Win Uni by 4.5 to 1.5, with wins for Amato, Max Selemir, Charlie Cooke and your correspondent. Eckert, despite being exhausted after spending most of the weekend driving up and down the M1, defended expertly to draw another long rook-and-pawn endgame in which his youthful opponent was pushing for a win.

A tremendous first weekend for Kingston in the 4NCL that bodes well for the club’s future in the competition. We would like to thank CSC for allowing us to be partners in their excellent and ambitious team, and pay tribute to the tireless organisational work of Kate and Charlie Cooke. From personal experience, I know how tough it is to get six or seven chess players from Kingston to Ealing or Hounslow vaguely on time, so to get a dozen or more bodies to the middle of England 11 times a season does not even bear thinking about. Organising the Normandy Landings must have been more straightforward.

Stephen Moss