Author Archives: johnfoley

About johnfoley

President, Kingston Chess Club

Kingston Easter Blitz sets new standards

Peter Lalić wins the inaugural event in a thrilling Armageddon play-off with close friend (and deadliest rival) David Maycock

Thirty players and assorted spectators gathered for the inaugural Kingston Easter Blitz played on Easter Monday. Gregor Smith, whose brainchild the event was, controlled the evening impeccably. The time control was 7 minutes per game plus 3 seconds increment per move. This is equivalent to 20 minutes per game, which is the maximum allowed for a game to qualify as a blitz. Gregor, as an official English Chess Federation ratings officer, will submit the games to the national listing.

The games were played on spacious modern trestle tables with new competition boards and sets. The time between rounds was only five minutes – enough to order a drink at the bar and look at the standings, which were displayed on a large screen at the end of the room. We used pairing software that we had first encountered last month at the London Chess Conference, which its developers attended. After each game finished, a hand signal (usually a polite one) was sufficient to notify Gregor of the result, which he then immediately updated on the pairings screen.

Kingston Easter Blitz in play with spectators

One participant said that he had an alternative blitz he could have attended, but he preferred Kingston because of our efficiency – there are no delays between rounds. The modern pairing software and the large screen make all the difference.

There were plenty of exciting games. In the final round, as if preordained, to force the tournament to extra time David Maycock, on 4/5, had to beat Peter Lalić, who was on 5/5, which he duly did. The play-off was then held surrounded by the biggest crowd seen upstairs at the Willoughby Arms since England were involved in a penalty shoot-out. (This is a football-loving pub – hence the flags and memorabilia which festoon the playing room.) The Armageddon format meant that the players bid to be White by giving away some time. They settled on Peter (four minutes) v David (five minutes).

Armageddon! David Maycock and Peter Lalić, appropriately dressed in battle fatigues, fight it out for first prize

Peter won convincingly with a sacrificial attack and collected the first prize of £50. What does Peter play in the position below?

An engine suggests 12. Nxd5, with some neat tactics to follow: 12…Bxg5 13. h4 Bh6 14. Qe4 g6 15. Ne7+ Qxe7 16. Qxb7, giving White a small plus, but in blitz (and certainly in Armageddon with no increment – a recipe for chess chaos!) the route-one approach can be more effective. Peter needs no second invitation to sac a piece, and played 12. Bxh7+!? Objectively the position is level, but in blitz the initiative counts for a lot. The game proceeded: 12…Kxh7 13. Qh4+ Kg6 14. Qe4+ f5 15. Qxe6+ Kh7 16. Nxd5 Bxg5 17. Nc3 Bf6 18. Qxf5+ Kh8 19. Rd3 Qe8 20. Re1.

David is in trouble here, but far from lost. 20… Qd8 or 20… Qc8 just about hold, but he is worrying about keeping control of the e8-h5 diagonal and plays 20… Qf7??, which pretty well loses on the spot to 21. Ne5! To avoid mate, Black has to relinquish his queen. An intense game played in great spirit, and after the rivalry the two players (who have done so much to galvanise Kingston over the past two seasons) could revert to being friends. Armageddon, as the name suggests, is not, however, recommended for the faint-hearted.

The under-2000 rating prize (a chocolate confection) went to JoJo Morrison on countback over Lucy Buckley with a commendable 4/6. Greg Heath won the U1500 grading prize. The giant-killer prize (beating someone 400 Elo points higher) went to Jaden Mistry, who beat Byron Eslava in the first round. Stephen Moss would have been the recipient had he kept his nerve (or perhaps lost his moral compass) against IM Graeme Buckley. This is all the more remarkable given that Stephen was playing on the increment with only a few seconds to make his moves for much of the game.

Stephen Moss (left) agreeing a draw in a winning position against IM Graeme Buckley

Stephen agreed a draw in the final position.

Stephen had nothing to lose by capturing the g-pawn, leaving him with three pawns against a knight. According the the endgame tablebase, this is a win for White. As Graeme pointed out, there was no rush even to capture the pawn; simply advancing the a-pawn wins.

Stephen explained that he would not have felt comfortable taking the point given that he had been penalised one minute for an earlier infringement in the game. This saintly level of piety will see Stephen gain fast-track entry at the pearly gates (though not to the British blitz championship). However, Stephen had a point because earlier he was about to lose on time as he dithered over a move. Having decided not to move the piece to the tentatively chosen square – he realised he was moving his king into check, which is itself illegal of course – he returned it to its starting point and pressed the clock. This was also illegal and so the arbiter was called over.

During the intervening time, Stephen managed to compose himself and find a move. This is a rare example of someone being penalised for an illegal non-move. During a later game, Stephen declined a draw offer with a grumpy “No”, which also immediately made him feel guilty. Methinks Stephen is never going to break into the world’s top 10,000 players unless he is prepared to lower his ethical standards.

John Foley, president of Kingston Chess Club

Top half of the results table

A tale of three draws

Kingston’s second team draws three tough matches in quick succession to kickstart a so far frustrating season and give hope in two tricky division 2 relegation battles

For Kingston’s second team, the season so far has been characterised by a tough struggle in division 2 of both the Surrey and Thames Valley League. We cruised to victories last season, resulting in our first team being promoted. Our second team stepped up to the plate, but lacks the elo firepower. Nevertheless, we are still keeping our heads above water.

By a strange quirk of timetabling, we had plenty of match-free Mondays early in the season but now the fixtures are piling up. It’s been an intense period, with three games in eight days, all of which ended in draws.

Kingston B v Hounslow B: Thames Valley League division 2 played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 20 February 2023

The first drawn match took place at the Willoughby Arms – the return match against Hounslow B following our victory the previous week in the Thames Valley League. Hounslow turned up with some reinforcements this time and proved a stern test.

Alan Scrimgour was first to finish with a quickish draw on the top board. Hounslow’s impressive junior Vibhush Pusapadi claimed another Kingston victim, defeating Charlie Cooke on board 5, but Adam Nakar – making his second-team debut this season – won nicely on board 6 with a powerful attack against Barry Fraser. 

Meanwhile, I was again miserably succumbing to time pressure on board 4 and was dispatched by the quick and accurate Eugene Gregorio, who dismantled my pawn structure and forced home the victory. However, young Max Selemir won smoothly on board 3 against JJ Padam, who the previous week had held John Foley to a draw. 

This left Peter Andrews and Frank Zurstiege playing until lights out on board 2. The game was stopped and an adjournment was agreed, with Peter sealing his next move. After analysing the position with silicon assistance, a draw was agreed. “The computer evaluation is drawn,” Peter explained. “I made rather a mess of a good position by expecting him to succumb to my attack, but he missed a clear win as he fought back in my time trouble so I can’t complain.” Match drawn 3-3.

South Norwood 1 v Kingston 2: Surrey League division 2 match played at West Thornton Community Centre, Thornton Heath on 23 February 2023

With barely time to sleep and eat cornflakes, we were off to South Norwood three days later for an unaccustomed Thursday match. Acting second-team captain Alan Scrimgour assembled a strong seven-board- team to face off against our fellow Beaumont Cup basement strugglers. 

Peter Andrews wasn’t in the mood to hang about this time, and won swiftly with White on board 3 against Paul Dupré, deploying a neat tactical sequence that resulted in a loss of a queen or checkmate. A welcome 1-0 to Kingston. 

A series of draws followed – from captain Scrimgour, Max Selemir and myself, who, again in time trouble, panicked and took the easy way out. Nick Grey was beaten on board 7 by Kaddu Mukasa, and the match was again all square. Jon Eckert was unable to convert a promising-looking attack, expertly defended by opponent Roy Reddin and a draw was agreed. 

Everything hinged on the top board, where John Foley at one point held the advantage against Marcus Osborne but let it slip as they reached the time control. The players had agreed in advance to adjudication and the game position was duly noted. The engine could not find a decisive win in home analysis, so a draw was declared without having to reach the adjudicator. John had lost his previous two encounters with Marcus and was pleased to have secured a draw on this occasion. Another solid drawn match for Kingston. 

The adjourned position. White (Kingston) to play – h4 should draw.

Kingston B v Maidenhead A: Thames Valley League division 2 played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 27 February 2023

Having downed some breakfast tea and toast, four days later, we were back on the treadmill for an action-packed Monday night at the Willoughby Arms, where our first team were also playing in a vital eight-board match against CCF (Coulsdon). We used all our fancy competitive sets, which had been purchased for exactly an evening like this – two big matches conducted simultaneously. A tight squeeze between the tables, but a great atmosphere as we welcomed our opponents, Maidenhead A, who are flying high, unbeaten, at the top of Thames Valley division 2. 

A first-team match on the same evening meant we lost our top boards, Alan Scrimgour and John Foley, who had stepped up to the first team following a couple of withdrawals for medical reasons. It was going to be a tough task, our second team being outrated on five of the six boards. However, Charlie Cooke had other ideas and won impressively on board 4, taking advantage of an open centre with a neat tactic to win a piece and put Kingston one up.

Hayden Holden, who for the second time in a fortnight had filled in at the last minute on board 6, lost but put up a brave fight against his far higher-rated opponent. Hayden was proud of his performance, despite feeling he had let his advantage slip away. Adam Nakar was also left frustrated on board 5, feeling he too had let an advantage slip as he succumbed to William Castaneda. That loss put Maidenhead 2-1 up.

On boards 2 and 3, Max Selemir and I both drew, which left Peter Andrews playing a crazy game on top board and needing to win to draw the match. With just eight seconds left on the clock at one point, Peter sacrificed a piece in order to go in hot pursuit of his opponent’s king. Through a series of checks, he forced his opponent’s king on to the seventh rank, first winning back the piece and then delivering a memorable mate, with Qf1 being the final blow. Has anyone else ever delivered checkmate with a piece on your own first rank?) Thus was gained a spectacular point, securing Kingston a well-earned 3-3 draw against the league leaders. 

So, there it was. Three drawn matches in a busy eight days. Thanks to all who played. Particular recognition goes to Peter Andrews with 2.5/3 and Max Selemir with 2/3 across the three matches.

Gregor Smith, Kingston B captain in the Thames Valley League

Kingston victory at Hammersmith reinforces bid for Surrey/TVL double

Thames Valley League division 1 match played at the Mindsports Centre, Dalling Road, London W6 on 21 February 2023

This was a famous victory that potentially sets up Kingston for a historic double this season – winning division 1 of the Surrey League and the Thames Valley league in the same year. Kingston have certainly never achieved this, and as far as we can see only Wimbledon (twice – in 2016/17 and 2017/18) have managed it.

Last season Hammersmith won division 1 of the Thames Valley League, winning nine and drawing one of their matches. Clearly, this would be Kingston’s biggest challenge yet in our bid to win both this league and the Surrey League. Hammersmith had the edge on rating, but a close match was anticipated and so it proved. I had the dual role of chauffeur and reporter on the night – keeping the club updated on WhatsApp. There was a delayed start while the Leap digital clocks were reset, but eventually all the games were played at 65 minutes for all moves with a 10-second increment.

On board 1, David Maycock defended against a Catalan, while on board 2 Peter Lalić found himself playing Ali Hill, whom he had faced in a recent tournament. Silverio Abasalo played a French on board 4, while David Rowson was facing an early charge by Bajrush Kelmendi’s g- and h-pawns.

The match was finely balanced after 90 minutes’ play, with Peter Lalić a pawn down and David Maycock a pawn up but with tripled pawns. The match continued tensely over the next hour, with Kingston club members from far and wide (the website editor was on holiday in Florida feeling very deprived of chess news) hanging on the next WhatsApp update.  

By 10pm David Maycock was playing on the increment, while Peter and his opponent were down to three minutes each. The breakthrough came with a win for Vladimir Li on board 3, followed a minute later by one for Silverio on board 4. David Rowson’s draw on board 5 left Kingston close to success.

On board 2 a flurry of tactics transformed Peter’s pawn deficit into a winning rook and pawn ending, which he duly converted to win the match. On board 6, John Foley’s bishop was trying to stop two knights from escorting the remaining pawn to promotion, but Christof Brixel played the endgame flawlessly. David Maycock was last to finish, successfully holding a tricky rook and pawn ending. 4-2 to Kingston.

The final game to finish was on board 1, where Davis Maycock (left) held a tricky endgame against Marco Gallana

The turning point of the match was Peter Lalić’s game. Peter was in an inferior position for most of the game and was reduced to moving a rook up and down on the same squares. However, his patience paid off when he spotted spectacular rook sacrifice. 41. Rxf7+ wins in all variations. The rook cannot be captured because 42. Bxe6+ wins the queen.

A tremendous move to win a memorable match.

Alan Scrimgour

The London Chess Conference 2023

When the London Chess Conference was first held in 2013, it was supposed to be a one-off, but it is still going strong 10 years later. What is the secret of its success, and what can we expect at next month’s event?

John Foley

The London Chess Conference, which will place from 17-19 March, is a gathering of some of the leading lights in chess and education from around the world. The venue is the sparkling, newly-built Elm Grove Conference Centre at the University of Roehampton in south-west London. This year the theme of the conference is Chess and STEM. We examine how chess teaching can be adapted to help children to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. There are places available for those wishing to attend the conference. For more details and to register, visit the conference website.

STEM subjects are seen as fundamental to careers in the 21st century, and any methods that assist children to learn are to be welcomed. If STEM are the vital academic academic subjects, then the vital skills that are needed in order to succeed in the future are the 4C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. We expect to see examples of how chess helps children to acquire these skills.

The range of sponsors indicates the importance of the event. The partner sponsors, whose backing ensured the event took place, are the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the European Chess Union (ECU) and Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC). In addition, we have received sponsorship from the English Chess Federation, ChessKid, Chessable, Chess Manager and ChessForEdu. Chess and Bridge has also committed material support. As a result, we are able to secure the attendance of noted international experts to present at the conference.

Elm Grove Conference Centre, University of Roehampton

The conference started in 2013 alongside the London Chess Classic. The two events were co-located at Olympia until 2017. Due to the growth of the events, the conference was held separately at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith in 2018 and 2019. The Covid pandemic forced the conference to be run online in 2020. Finally, we are able to meet in person again at Roehampton. The conference themes reflect the wide range of intersections between chess and the spheres of culture and education.

  • 2013 Chess and Education
  • 2014. Chess and Mathematics
  • 2015 Chess and Society
  • 2016 The Didactics of Chess
  • 2017 Scholastic Chess
  • 2018 The Future of Chess in Education
  • 2019 Chess and Female Empowerment
  • 2020 ChessTech
  • 2023 Chess and STEM

The number of attendees has grown each year, and 140 people registered for the last in-person conference in 2019. These included some of the movers and shakers of the chess education world, including officials from FIDE, ECU and other international representative bodies, officials from national chess federations, politicians and policy makers, managers of chess education projects including Erasmus Plus, organisers of school chess teaching, chess tutors, chess trainers, teachers, chess authors and journalists.

John Foley opening the 2019 conference, with Malcolm Pein sitting behind. Photograph: John Saunders

This year, the format of the conference continues to evolve. We have moved to a hybrid format so that some talks will be presented digitally – either from a remote presenter or in some cases pre-recorded. Pre-recording guarantees that the playout does not suffer from poor internet problems. It is also more useful when the language is not English and subtitles or a voiceover is required.

The opening event of the conference, on the afternoon of Friday 17 March, consists of a seminar on pre-school chess. The first part will comprise digital presentations and the second part will comprise in-person presentations. This seminar has been organised by FIDE and is probably the most expert gathering on early-years chess that has ever taken place.

The conference proper kicks off on the morning of Saturday 18 March with opening speeches by Dana Reizniece-Ozola, the chief executive of FIDE (and former finance minister of Latvia), and Malcom Pein, the chief executive of CSC as well as a board member of the European Chess Union.

FIDE started sponsoring the conference in 2019 and now treats the conference as the world’s premier chess and education conference. It has expanded the scope of the conference with the early-years seminar and has enabled several important chess officials from outside Europe to attend the event. The conference sequence would not have been possible without the continuing support of CSC, which has sponsored the event from the beginning. ECU has been supporting the event since 2016 and we are grateful to Jesper Bergmark Hall, chair of the ECU Education Commission, and Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou. ECU’s general secretary, for their unwavering commitment.

Dana and Malcolm are followed by Jerry Nash, chairman of the FIDE Education Commission, who will focus on how chess develops critical thinking, which is the foundation of the scientific method. Thereafter the day is structured around each of the STEM disciplines, with experts exploring the different ways in which chess engages a specific discipline.

For science, we have Mark Lawrenson from STEM UK, the network of teachers who teach STEM subjects. A physics teacher, he provides insights into how to inculcate children with structured ways of thinking. We will also hear about the Chessable research awards from Alexey Root – the application of chess-related ideas to real-world problems.

Audience at the 2019 conference. Photograph: John Saunders

For technology, Boris Bruhn from Hamburg and a member of the FIDE Education Commission will give an overview of classroom technology used for chess. This includes how to make use of the large interactive screens as well as digital devices held by the pupils. Taking into account all of the software available, this is a large undertaking. Mike Klein (aka FunMasterMike), along with Carey Fan, will give an extensive overview of ChessKid, the leading software platform for learning chess.

For engineering, Rolf Niemann from the science centre at Lund University will show us how to control a robot using coding. A chessboard is a convenient space on which to drive a robot given its built-in co-ordinate system. Chess offers a ready-made domain for the practice of controlled movement rather than having to fabricate an artificial environment. Paolo Sartorelli will describe the new project Chess and Artificial Intelligence which is being funded by Erasmus Plus. Paweł Kacprzak will show us some AI in action – the ability to scan a document or indeed a chessboard and convert that into a digital format where it can link to a chess engine or a video about that very position. It has to be said that chess naturally lends itself to artificial intelligence. This was recognised by Alan Turing, who developed the world’s first chess evaluation algorithm.

For mathematics, Tiago Hirth from Ludus, the maths and games centre, at Lisbon University and Monika Musilek from Haus der Mathematik, the mathematics teacher training institute in Vienna, will talk about their work together investigating how children learn mathematics through play. They will show some strategy games which the participants will have a chance to try.

On Sunday 19 March, the conference looks at broader topics. The first session in the morning will look at how chess and games can help children who are struggling with academic subjects. We will hear from Marion Schöttelndreier, who is an assistant school principal with particular responsibility for science and technology at a secondary school in Lund, Sweden, who will outline some of the notable social benefits of chess. Mikkel Nørgaard from Skoleskak in Denmark will show how chess can in some cases improve mental health. Anastasia Sorokina will talk about the Infinite Chess Project, which finds ways to relate to children with some forms of autism. Brigitta Peszleg from ChessPlus will show some strategy games, such as Halma, which bring joy to all ages and makes learning effortless.

The second session looks at chess teacher training. Currently, there seems to be a lack of interest by schools in the professional accreditation of chess teachers, but the trend is that some formal training will be required, especially as the qualifications endorsed by official chess bodies gain credibility. The speakers include teacher trainers who have taught the basic European course (known as ECU101) and FIDE’s introductory course for teachers known as the Preparation of Teachers course. Other approaches to teacher training will also be covered.

Teaching chess to Year 4s

After lunch, there is an opportunity to hear about innovative chess projects from around the world. The session will be headed by the former education minister of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli, where chess has been incorporated into the curriculum. In a round-table discussion, we will hear from speakers from Armenia, Germany, England, Romania, North Macedonia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Botswana.

Overall, it is an ambitious conference which, like a good chess move, tries to achieve several objectives at the same time. It brings together people who are genuinely committed to having games available to STEM teachers. People will come away having had their preconceptions blown away by the infectious enthusiasm of chess proponents from around the world.

It has been 10 years since the first London Chess Conference. It was originally the brainchild of Stefan Löffler and Malcolm Pein, and was only supposed to be a one-off. Its longevity is due to the fact that people liked it and want to come back again. It is the unique mix of people that gives the event its magic. The programmes are devised to capture the current state of play in the worlds of chess and education. Yet attendees value more the opportunity to meet others with whom they share a common interest – a community of practitioners.

Networking is done during breaks, in the evening, at side rooms, and even coming and going to the airport. New projects are hatched and collaborations begun. We can point to several major projects and methods which would not have occurred had it not been for the London Chess Conference. Ultimately the success of the conference is due to the perception and belief that we need to keep trying for the benefit of children everywhere so that they will become thinkers of the future.

It takes a lot of work to construct a professional event. I am proud that it is still running after 10 years and has achieved a measure of international recognition. Many people are involved in making it happen. This year, recognition for their contributions is due to Brigitta Peszleg, Leila Raivio, Rita Atkins, Kate Cooke, Etienne Mensch, Karel van Delft, John Upham and Stefan Löffler.

The keen-eyed reader will notice that the London Chess Conference is organised by ChessPlus Limited. This is the name of the chess consultancy which provides training for chess teachers. The pedagogical approach condenses many years of experience from chess teachers across Europe to integrate chess into the educational framework. ChessPlus runs a programme of courses comprising The Smart Method to Teach Chess, Chess and Mathematics, Chess and Logic, Chess and Critical Thinking and so on.

John Foley is director of the London Chess Conference

Michael Basman v Peter Lalić

Bird Rapidplay, Kingston, 14 February 2022

This game was played when Mike Basman visited Kingston Chess Club to give a talk on the Victorian chess player Henry Bird. He pointed out that Bird (who gave his name to the Bird’s Opening 1.f4) played a variety of unconventional openings but rarely the eponymous opening. In order to recreate the same spirit of unconventionality, Mike devised a format that evening whereby the first move for Black and for White was randomised. It was on this basis that the opening moves for his game against Peter Lalić were determined. Ironically, given that both Mike and Peter play unconventional openings, it is perfectly possible that they would have played the same opening as occurred in the game even if they had not been constrained to do so.

The Old Indian Attack is characterised by 1. d3 and 2.Nf3, so White is holding back from occupying the centre with pawns. The opening was first essayed in competitions during the 1850s and was popularised by Aron Nimzovich at the turn of the 20th Century. Nimzovich’s seminal Chess Praxis was Mike’s favourite book. (Mike preferred the simplified spelling of the Riga master’s name.)

We would have forgotten these games but a couple of months later Mike unexpectedly produced a booklet on Henry Bird which included a brief overview of the master as well as the games from the Kingston Bird Tournament. I reproduce his annotations below. We are grateful for having received this publication which draws parallels between the lives of Bird and Basman. Mike Basman died on 26 October 2022.

John Foley

Peter Lalić and Mike Basman playing Chinese chess in Epsom

Peter Lalić (Ashtead) v John Foley (Kingston)

Ashtead 1 v Kingston 2, Surrey League division 2, Peace Memorial Hall, Ashtead, 25 October 2022

This game was played on top board in the match between Ashtead and Kingston’s second team. In the Surrey League, players may play for more than one club provided that they are playing in a different division. So Peter Lalić, who loves to play as often as possible, plays for Kingston in the first division and for Ashtead in the second division. Hence inevitably Kingston team-mates can face each other as here. It was a friendly encounter, even though Peter was gently ribbed by Kingston loyalists. After the game, we spent half an hour analysing game variations which Peter incorporated into his extensive annotation.

Jack Buckley (Ashtead) v Ljubica Lazarevic (Kingston)

Ashtead 1 v Kingston 2, Surrey League division 2, Peace Memorial Hall, Ashtead, 25 October 2022

Ljubica Lazarevic

I had been rather apprehensive about our away match to Ashtead. I’ve discovered of late that evening league matches are somewhat disagreeable with me – a match seems to guarantee no sleep that evening, leaving a less than bouncy and cheerful Lju come the morning. I’m also rather, dare I even say it, rusty, chess-wise. Whilst a very reasonable commute from Kingston, I also had the additional (irrational) fear that the car wouldn’t start having not touched it for a month. Graciously, I had made my peace with what fate the universe held for me, and off I went.

Jumping into my trusty Jazz as it purred away down an unusually quiet route down to Peace Memorial Hall, everything was looking better than I feared, that is, until I discovered I was up against a junior. I reminded myself that I had made my peace with the situation, and sat down and got ready to play at the specially issued “junior”-sized chess board on the #7 slot.

Onlookers may have been somewhat surprised to have seen that not only had board 1 migrated next door to my young opponent and me, but also leading out the determined Ashtead team was a certain Kingston stalwart in the shape of Peter Lalić. Surrey Chess Association rules specify that you must nominate your strongest players for your first team, which was the case with Peter, and it was nice to see him supporting a very ambitious Ashtead eyeing up promotion. And ambitious they were. The victors of the evening, scooping up an impressive 4.5 points across the seven boards. Kudos to them, and they will certainly be a team to watch this season, along with frenemies Epsom.

As the lone Kingston victor from the match, I was kindly volunteered to submit my game. I must admit, despite the win, I enjoyed this game. It had been a long while since I’ve played and had a pretty good understanding of what was going on, and being able to come up with (sometimes wanting) plans. My junior opponent also had opportunities too – a youngster who has only recently obtained a rating and will undoubtedly only get stronger. I can claim the bragging rights from the first scalp.

On to the game! For those of you who value the finer points of chess, you may want to avert your gaze now…

Kingston C lose to Hounslow C on div X debut

Thames Valley division X match, played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston, on 24 October 2022

A number of players new to league chess have joined Kingston since the end of lockdown, and to give them game time in a relatively unpressurised situation the club has joined division X of the Thames Valley League. This is a four-board (car-full) league suitable for average club players and those building up their skills. These matches give plenty of playing practice to those who enjoy chess and want to get competitive game experience. This was also my debut as a captain of a Kingston chess team – a daunting prospect which I relish.

  • Hounslow C had the veteran David White on top board against Kingston’s up-and-coming Hayden Holden. Despite being massively outrated by 437 points, Hayden gave a very good account of himself before eventually succumbing to pressure.
  • Kingston’s club secretary Greg Heath got a creditable draw against an opponent 122 points ahead of him on current ECF ratings.
  • My defeat on board three came after 60 moves when I messed up what should have been a drawn ending and allowed an unstoppable passed pawn.
  • Colin Lyle won on board four in his first-ever rated game after checkmating his opponent in eight moves. An auspicious start! Congratulations to Colin.

Overall a lot of positives can be gained, despite the disappointing result.

Stephen Daines

Jasper Tambini (Surbiton) v John Foley (Kingston)

Played at Surbiton 25 April 2018

John Foley

The recently published games on this site of Peter Lalić against Jasper Tambini evoked a memory of a game I played a few seasons ago against Jasper. It may appear that Jasper has a hard time against Kingston players; I do not know his full record. What is clear is that his games are memorable win or lose.

This game was noteworthy for Black’s two sacrifices: a Greek gift on the 12th move, a momentary opportunity which if not taken immediately will evaporate on the next move, and an exchange sacrifice on the 18th move which maximises the mobility of Black’s pieces whilst gaining a preponderance of pawns.

Kingston ousted from Lauder Trophy by Epsom

Kingston v Epsom, Lauder Trophy, Willoughby Arms, Kingston, on 10 October 2022

Graeme Buckley (left) and Susan Lalić face David Rowson and Julian Way on boards 1 and 2

It was a bad night for Kingston, as the holders of the Lauder Trophy suffered the indignity of going out in this season’s preliminary stage, beaten 4.5-1.5 by a strong Epsom team. Kingston’s stellar run was brought crashing down. The last time Kingston lost a match was in November 2021 when Epsom 3 beat Kingston 2. So, Epsom has started and finished our unbeaten run.

The Lauder Trophy is a tournament in which the teams are restricted in the total rating of the players, and the main challenge to captains is to spreadsheet juggle their players to form a team which comes in under the limit. Epsom captain and prime mover Marcus Gosling has finally found the winning formula: international masters on the top boards and underrated juniors on the bottom boards.

Alas, Kingston were not able to counter this pattern and lost on the bottom three boards. David Rowson secured a draw on board 1 against IM Graeme Buckley, though did wonder later whether he should have played on given that the tide was running strongly against Kingston. The Buckley family were out in force for Epsom, with Graeme’s wife Susan Lalić defeating Julian Way on board 2. Their daughters Emma and Lucy obtained a point between them on boards 3 and 4, Emma gamely stepping in after 30 minutes to face Alan Scrimgour on board 3 when the scheduled player Epsom failed to turn up. Meanwhile, Susan’s son Peter Lalić was playing some thematic games in the garden, being too strong to fit into the Kingston line-up.

Stephen Daines prepares to face the music against Maya Keen on board 6 in the Lauder Trophy

Being objective, the games were not of the highest quality. However, our board 6 Stephen Daines was impressed by his young opponent Maya Keen, who outplayed him in the endgame. Stephen hasn’t played a rated game in 40 years, but as a Willoughby pub regular he decided to join our chess club having seen how much everybody enjoys themselves. The pub landlord, who is very keen on his trophy cabinet being filled with silverware, looks forward to asking Stephen how he got on.

The photographs show that another match was also in progress alongside the crunch Lauder clash – Kingston B suffered a surprise defeat to an outgraded Surbiton C in division 2 of the Thames Valley League. It really wasn’t a great night for Kingston in terms of results, but the upside was the chess-related energy at the Willoughby. We had 24 players upstairs, together with parents and spectators. In the garden, where you can play in heated and well-lit beach huts, there were at least a dozen players. So in total there were nigh on 40 players at the club tonight. Who said chess was dead?

Kingston congratulates Epsom on a convincing victory and wishes them luck in the next round against Guildford.

John Foley