Surrey League division 4 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 6 March 2023
Let’s be honest, this was not a good night for Kingston 3 – going down by 5-1 to Guildford 4. But on reflection the one-sided scoreline was understandable. We are still trying to bring on new and young players, whereas Guildford fielded a very experienced team, with veterans Peter Horlock and Mike Gunn in the middle order. The Guildford players were rated between 1628 and 1758, and the rating gap with Kingston was huge. The fact that this was Guildford’s fourth team shows what a large and powerful club Guildford is. How nice to have such depth.
As each game progressed the experience of Guildford’s players showed, but hopefully It was a good learning experience for Kingston’s team. The key thing is not to get downhearted by defeats to strong players but to learn lessons from every reverse. What we really need at Kingston is a better organised mentoring system, so that match time can be married to a thorough analysis of games in the company of one of Kingston’s plethora of very strong players. This is a system we are actively looking to develop at Kingston: a “buddy” approach that will have the useful side-effect of giving the teams a common purpose and uniting the club, stopping silos of players developing based on strength.
I’ve left the one Kingston high spot of the match until last – David Shalom’s victory with Black on board 1 against Tony Garrood, who is rated more than 100 points above him. David is having a really good season on his return to competitive chess, and this was a tremendous result. Well played David and thanks to the rest of the team for a spirited effort against a nard-nosed side that will pay off in the long term by making our emerging players stronger.
Thames Valley League division X match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 13 February 2023
Revenge was sweet with this win against Surbiton D, who beat us earlier in the season. The 2.5-1.5 victory was an unexpected one as we were outrated, and it took Kingston C top of division X of the Thames Valley League, though the chasing teams have games in hand. Optimistically, I have started to enquire whether there is a trophy for the team finishing first. (Spoiler: it appears that the prize is a clock.)
Colin Lyle succumbed on board 1 against Surbiton’s Colin Li – the battle of the Colins! – after a vibrant to-ing and fro-ing game. This is by no means discouraging for the Kingston Colin as the Surbiton Colin is far stronger than his rating of 1608 suggests. Greg Heath overturned a positional disadvantage on board 2 and accepted a draw from his opponent. Josh Lea, in his long-awaited debut for the club, beat his opponent with an aggressive game to level the score at 1.5 apiece. A terrific start to competitive chess for Josh.
So it was now all down to me. I had left Kingston A&E at 6.30pm following the diagnosis of a fractured shoulder. An hour later, I was lining up on board 3 against a player rated 1462. I had the black pieces. No pressure. White played a passive queen pawn opening, so I seized the initiative with a kingside attack which proved to be potent. White’s king fled but two pawns were lost in the process, creating two potential passed pawns for me on the kingside. My opponent resigned as my h-pawn headed for the queening square. For a brief moment, I even managed to forget the pain from my shoulder. The healing power of chess.
Thames Valley League division X match played at the Royal British Legion, Hounslow on 16 January 2023
This was a good victory against Hounslow C which avenged our home defeat to them earlier in the season. Colin Lyle played out a solid draw on board 1 with the black pieces, confirming his advance in the ECF ratings. Mark Sheridan and I both dominated our games from the start, and were able to convert positional advantages into wins. Hayden Holden was a piece up at one point, but let his advantage slip and his opponent proved too strong in the latter stages. A satisfying evening for a team that is really developing as the season unfolds.
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 four and five 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.