Category Archives: Events

All Saints Blitz V

Robin Haldane swoops to win All Saints V

Robin Haldane wins All Saints Blitz V on Wednesday 30 May 2024 

Photograph: One of the most beautiful places to play chess.

We had our strongest line-up yet for the fifth All Saints Blitz with 14 players. School half-term meant that, freed from teaching duties, Robin Haldane (Streatham) and Marcus Gosling (Epsom) joined us for the first time and proved formidable competitors alongside three-time winner Tony Hughes (Wimbledon) and the hardy perennials Peter Roche and David Rowson from Kingston. Other Kingston first-timers were Aziz Sannie and junior Jaden Mistry. Derek Bruce, who volunteers teaching chess at the Tudor Drive library, used to play for Kingston in the 1970s.

Round 2: Aziz Sannie snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Marcus Gosling

Despite of the numbers being higher, the tournament controller John Foley kept to a leisurely five rounds with a break between rounds 2 and 3 for the players to patronise the café.

Round 3: Robin Haldane v Tony Hughes, with Nick Grey (right) v Aziz Sannie in the background

The two favourites, Robin Haldane and Tony Hughes, were jointly in the lead with 2/2 when they met in round 3 and obtained a draw when Robin went for a perpetual check. They both won in round 4, so it came down to the last round. Robin held his nerve against David Shalom whereas Peter Roche threw a spanner in Tony’s works. Peter found some strong moves in a complex tactical position, thereby kicking Tony’s hopes of a fourth victory into touch.

Robin Haldane receiving his box of chocolates prize from John Foley
(Photo: Marcus Osborne)

The final standings were:

1. Robin Haldane (4½/5)

2. Peter Roche (4/5)

3. Tony Hughes (3½/5)

Tony Hughes hat-trick at All Saints Blitz

Tony Hughes wins All Saints Blitz IV on Wednesday 24 April 2024

Photograph: Tony Hughes (left) sweeping aside Stephen Moss while Ian Swann and Nick Grey watch in admiration

Tony Hughes glided to his third victory out of three appearances at the regular “Last Wednesday of the Month” blitz held at All Saints Church in central Kingston. The top seed never looked in any danger as he scored 4½/5, half a point ahead of fellow Wimbledon club member Stephen Carpenter and David Shalom from Kingston. Thirteen players participated in the event with another five playing casual chess in the atrium. This is a remarkable upsurge in chess activity at the church which only introduced chess at the turn of this year.

The play was brisk without any coffee breaks which meant that the event finished by noon having started at 10.15. David Rowson played the “Swiss Gambit” by losing to lower-rated David Shalom in the first round and hoped that the draw would be favourable thereafter but with only five rounds there was not enough time to catch up. David Shalom has been playing very well since he started taking chess seriously again this season and his only setback was a loss against Stephen Carpenter.

The suggestion of a sixth round may be taken up in the future if the number of participants continues to increase. Fortunately five rounds were sufficient to generate a single winner. Tony collected his customary box of chocolatey comestibles from Olivia Smithies, who came along as assistant controller.

Olivia had learned of this regular event while assisting at the annual King’s Head “Beer and Blitz” tournament at the weekend which commemorates members of the chess community who have died during the year. Kingston member Ameet Ghasi was runner- up to GM Eldar Gasanov at this year’s King’s Head event. Olivia was eager to observe the efficient manner in which a blitz tournament could be managed using an iPad. She may just have worked herself into a new role.

Tony Hughes receives first prize from Olivia Smithies

One of the attractions for Olivia is that this was a Chess and Crèche event. Immediately behind the chess section is the toddlers’ play area. Olivia was able to monitor the results whilst at the same time supervising her daughter, who is nearly three years old.

Chess and Crèche: all generations are catered for at All Saints

Thus chess activity at All Saints Church spans three generations – grandparents, parents and children. The next All Saints Blitz – the fifth in the series – will be held on Wednesday 29 May, starting at 10.15am and running until around 12.30pm.

Maycock wins Easter Blitz with perfect score

We celebrated the conjunction of Easter Monday and April Fool’s Day with a Blitz tournament in which each player’s opening move was randomly selected and castling was banned

April Fool’s Day landing on an Easter Monday club night at the Willoughby Arms called for something a bit different. So inspired by an invigorating talk by the late IM Michael Basman in 2022, where he made players roll a 20-sided dice to randomise their opening moves, this Easter blitz tournament had a bit of a twist. Before a game each player drew their first move by random, and, just to ensure general opening theory was completely blown out of the water, players were also not allowed to castle. Crazy openings and exposed kings – what fun ahead!

There were 23 participants, with friends from neighbouring Surbiton Chess Club joining us for six rounds of 7+3 blitz. Despite the first opening combination drawn out the hat being the “not in the spirit of things” 1. e4 e5, this was quickly followed by the moans and groans of the recipients of a4, Nh6 etc. As tournament controller, I noticed without fail that about one minute into each round at least one player would exasperatedly gasp “Oh ****, I forgot I can’t castle!”

It was interesting to see how people dealt with this change to usual chess principles. Many would leave the king in the middle and go for the kill. Others would try to create a safe square for the king on their third rank, the younger players inspired by the Bongcloud! Manual castling was also attempted, but often felt too slow, while many tried to create a fortress – I was impressed by Ben Hambridge’s attempt below.

The ultimate fortress: Ben Hambridge (left) surrounds his king with pieces in his game against Rob Taylor

Interesting games proceeded throughout the evening, with many kings mated in the middle of the board, but all the players agreed it was a fun night of blitz with lots of strategic lessons to be learned. Kingston’s David Maycock prevailed, with a perfect score of 6/6, closely followed by Surbiton’s Chris Briscoe and our very own Peter Lalić. All notably strong players of course. Which proves that no matter how you tamper with the rules, quality will out.

Gregor Smith

Prize winners

1st: David Maycock (6/6)
2nd: Chris Briscoe (5/6)
3rd: Peter Lalić (4.5/6)

U2000 grading prize: Ernest Robinson (4/6)

U1600 grading prize: Ben Hambridge (3.5/6)
U1400 grading prize: Leon Mellor-Sewell (3/6)
Top junior: Joe Inch (3/6)

Easter Blitz winner David Maycock (left) receives his £50 cash prize from tournament controller Gregor Smith

David Rowson wins third All Saints Blitz in play-off

All Saints Blitz III held at All Saints Church, Kingston on 27 March 2024 over five rounds with a 3+7 time control.

David Rowson (right) receiving his prize from former Kingston Chess Club chair Peter Roche

David Rowson from Kingston Chess Club won the third edition of the All Saints Blitz in a play-off against Stephen Carpenter from Wimbledon Chess Club. The winner of the first two blitzes, Tony Hughes, was unavailable to participate citing “errands”. David and Stephen were running neck and neck throughout the tournament and drew their fourth-round encounter to end up on 4½/5 each. The prize was a large chocolate Easter egg, which David happily declared would be a present for his grand-daughter.

Stephen Carpenter (left) v David Rowson (round 4)

As part of the pastoral activities of the club, we invited Olga Champ, a urology nurse from Kingston Hospital, to talk on prostate cancer. Her talk took place after round one. Most of those playing on a Wednesday morning fall into the demographic where we must pay attention to men’s health. The talk explained what the prostate does, how it enlarges with age and how to test for malignancy with a PSA test and/or a biopsy. Olga stayed awhile to discuss the issue one-on-one. She was accompanied by Archana Sood, the Macmillan information and support manager at Kingston Hospital. The talk was well received and could be model for talks to other gatherings of chess players. The tournament concluded on schedule, despite including a talk. The play sped up; as Peter Roche put it with dark humour, “We know we don’t have much time left.”

Olga Champ giving some information on men’s health

Third place was shared by Kingstonians Ben Hambridge, Peter Roche and Nick Grey. Ben’s score of 3/5 was creditable given that he is a new player to the club with an estimated rating of 1600. Thirteen-year-old Joe Inch also did well, coming in with 50% in what we believe was his first over-the-board tournament.

This was the first time that we had an odd number of participants at 11. However, this turned out to be a bonus because the spare player was able to speak to the health visitor or was deployed to act as a chess instructor for one of the learners. The regular Wednesday-morning chess slot continues at the church, enlivened once a month by the Blitz.

Two learners with the Checkmate! book

The next Blitz tournament is scheduled for 24 April, running from 10.15am until 12.30pm

John Foley

Tony Hughes grabs his second All Saints Blitz title

All Saints Blitz II played at All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, 28 February 2024

Above image: Third-place Peter Roche (left) v second-place John Bussmann

Tony Hughes repeated his victory in the first All Saints Blitz by coming ahead of a field of 10 with 4½/5 in the second All Saints Blitz, dropping only half a point to Nick Grey. The Wimbledon Chess Club player was awarded a box of Lindor chocolate truffles for his achievement. In second place with 4/5 was John Bussmann from Kingston Chess Club, who defeated four other Kingston players.

Tony Hughes (left) receiving his prize from Kingston president and tournament controller John Foley

Three players had not played over the board for many years. We welcomed back former Kingston Chess Club chair Peter Roche, who had not played since 2019. Marcus Baker had taken a 30-year break before some recent games for Wimbledon. Ian Swann had not played since his school days in Gillingham.

Foreground: Stephen Carpenter (L) v Peter Roche
Background: Stephen Moss (L) v Marcus Baker
Foreground: Robin Kerremans (left) v David Shalom

We were joined by a handful of spectators, some who had been former club players and some who liked to watch the chess spectacle in the splendid surroundings of the church. John Saunders, the chess journalist, came along and took the photographs shown here.

Final placings

4½ Tony Hughes
4 John Bussmann
3 Peter Roche, Marcus Baker
2½ Nick Grey

Tournament controller: John Foley

The All Saints Blitz takes place on the last Wednesday of each month in the morning. It is free to enter and open to all. If you would like to enter please complete the entry form. Places are limited.

Tony Hughes wins inaugural All Saints Blitz

Blitz tournament played at All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, 31 January 2024

John Foley

All Saints is a historic church in Kingston, which was England’s capital in Saxon times. Nine Saxon kings of England were crowned here in the 10th century. In a development of its pastoral mission, the church seeks to reach older people through the provision of chess. The church accepted the club’s proposal of a regular chess tournament, along with volunteering for social chess. The church provides a welcome and warm space with a café in the centre of Kingston. The club believes that providing different types of playing spaces within Kingston enables a much wider range of people to enjoy the social benefits of chess.

There will be chess at All Saints every Wednesday from 10:15 to 12:30
A blitz tournament will take place on the last Wednesday of each month.

The club organised a small blitz tournament at the church to generate interest in chess from parishioners and visitors. The time control was 3 minutes plus 7 seconds per move over five rounds. It was a friendly event and not rated. We were joined by two players from Wimbledon Chess Club. Two other people from the church community joined us: Graham Williams, the husband of the curate, and Ian McDonald, the Lord Mayor of Kingston in 2009/10. In between rounds, the players restored their energy with coffee and croissants from the café. I was tournament controller and used Chess:Manager on my iPad for pairings.

Tony Hughes from Wimbledon was the bookies’ favourite, so to speak, having the highest rating of all the competitors. He was dubious of this expectation until it was pointed out that although some other players may have been stronger in league chess, when it comes to the faster form of the game, blitz chess, performance can be quite different. The ratings proved accurate and Tony duly won the event. Tony was in sparkling form and saw off all challengers to end with a perfect score of 5/5. He received a shiny silver cup which he gratefully announced he would be using as a prize for a future children’s competition.

Tony Hughes receiving the prize from event controller John Foley (photo: David Bickerstaff)

The main danger to Tony came from David Rowson. Tony saw off the challenge in the penultimate round, watched by a small but growing band of spectators. David ended in second place.

Round 4 crunch game Hughes v Rowson,
watched by Stephen Carpenter, Stephen Moss and Byron Eslava
Church ‘listeners’ Janet and Hazel were captivated by the over-the-board struggle

Some photos from the event by John Foley.

Round 1: David Rowson v David Shalom
Round 1: Gareth Williams v Stephen Moss
Round 2: Stephen Moss v David Bickerstaff
Round 4: Ian McDonald v David Bickerstaff

“Thanks to John and Stephen for organising a really enjoyable little tournament in a beautiful venue. Hope it can be repeated. Congratulations to Tony Hughes.”

David Rowson

“Thanks. Really nice morning even for our poor blitzers. Nearly beat Tony Hughes with Black. Beat Stephen Carpenter with c3 Sicilian dream position which I will analyse. Moss-Rowson was a treat, and David Shalom played well and gave me a thrashing. The church players that stepped up did very well.”

Nick Grey

Final results

Christmas Brain Camp is a success

John Foley

When schools break up for Christmas, parents can be forgiven for wanting to find some activity for their children, especially if it has some educational value. A new type of activity is a Brain Camp. The idea is to spend a few days of intensive game activities where the games have a special characteristic. All the games are strategy games. There are no dice or cards – there is no element of luck. The outcomes are down to the skill of the players, which increases gradually through practice and some theory.

The four-day Kingston Brain Camp was organised by John Foley through his chess teaching company ChessPlus, and ran from 18-21 December. It followed the same format as the Summer Camp in July. The children, aged 7-9, played under close supervision at the premises of a local school, Holy Cross Prep. The children were encouraged to learn and play several games. The camp was held in a friendly atmosphere where the emphasis was on learning and having fun. As well as chess and games equipment, we used software resources from LogiqBoard, ChessKid and Lichess. Alongside John were the highly experienced tutors Brigitta Peszleg and Dr John Upham.

Each game has its special characteristics and requires different strategies. The children feel as if they are all on the same level as they all have to learn to play games some of which may be unknown to them. The games included chess, the classic game which has been around for 1,600 years and which will never go out of fashion. A conventional chess camp focuses on chess only and revolves around lectures and competitions. This is appropriate when training talented children who want to get into competitive chess. However, when dealing with regular children it is important to provide a more varied diet than chess. 

Following years of research and practice, John has developed an approach to teaching games in which chess forms part of a continuum of games played on an 8×8 board. One of the drawbacks of focusing exclusively on chess is that children drop out too early. They are being introduced too rapidly to a game which takes a lot of effort to play well. Whilst children love competition, the joy of play can be lost if the stakes are too high. There is also a practical reason for playing other games: chess takes too long to play. Children do not like waiting for others to finish playing their games. We did not want to use game timers because these bring a different type of problem – children playing to the clock rather than focusing on the game strategy. If games are to be educational, children should not be under time pressure.

The games played included:

  • Loser’s Chess – the first player to lose all their pieces wins the game
  • Draughts – move diagonally on black squares, win by jump-capturing all your opponent’s pieces.
  • Halma – pieces jump over each other to reach the opposite corner of the board
  • Reversi – counters are reversed if they are caught between the opponent’s counters
  • Slimetrail – both players move the same piece and try to reach their corner, never visiting the same square twice

In addition to the games, there were several problem-solving challenges including:

  • 8 Safe Officers problem
  • 8 Queens problem
  • Knights Tour
  • Army power minimisation problem 

The children were fully engaged throughout and we never heard them say they were bored. The feedback from the children and parents has been very encouraging and we are planning to run another camp at Easter.

Maycock sleighs them at Christmas blitz

David Maycock scores 11.5/12 to take first prize in the inaugural Kingston Christmas Blitz, beating perennial rivals Peter Lalić and Vladimir Li to top spot

Donner and Blitzen, aka Ed Mospan (left) and tournament winner David Maycock, in action at the Christmas blitz

What to do to mark Christmas? Sing, be jolly, drink copiously. Well there was some of that, but chess players also like to play chess, so we celebrated the start of the festive season with a well-attended blitz, played at the Willoughby Arms on Thursday 21 December. Twenty-four players took part, including several of our friends from other local clubs, and these were the final standings:

The spirit in which the games were played was great, many mince pies were consumed, and we hope the Kingston Christmas Blitz is now an instant tradition. Thank you to everyone who supported the event: Gregor Smith and Ljubica Lazarevic for organising; Ljubica for arbiting; Greg Heath (and others) for setting up; David Bickerstaff for baking a cake; the members who brought biscuits and mince pies; Rick Robinson, the landlord of the Willoughby Arms, who generously provided a case of beer for the winner; all the players for taking part with such enthusiasm and good cheer; and the spectators who came along to enjoy the chess and camaraderie.

Congratulations to David on winning with a near-perfect score (though he admitted he was very fortunate to beat me twice, with one game lasting almost 20 moves). David, being a non-drinker, preferred to take home chocolate rather than beer as his prize, leaving second-placed Peter Lalić with the booze. Vladimir Li (sporting a magnificent Christmas-themed tie) was third; Stephen Lovell, showing that he has very much still got it despite playing very little over the past few years, was fourth; Richmond first-team captain Maks Gajowniczek came fifth; and Kingston’s Surrey League first-team captain Peter Andrews and club newcomer Ergo Nobel shared sixth place. Apologies to Ergo, whose “prize” for coming joint sixth (and in the process beating me 2-0) was a signed copy of my Rookie book.

Stephen Moss, secretary, Kingston Chess Club

Christmas Brain Camp

Chess and games camp for 7 to 11-year-olds from 18-21 December at Holy Cross Prep School, Kingston upon Thames KT2 7NU

John Foley

Following the successful summer chess camp which the children enjoyed, parents asked if I could run a camp to coincide with the Christmas holidays. Happy to oblige, the camp will run at a local Kingston School.

Update: the Camp will be running a week later than originally advertised because many schools would not yet have broken up if we had adhered to the original date.

The camp is for any child who enjoys playing board games. Prior knowledge of chess is not required. The event comprises lectures and demonstrations on various games such as draughts, halma and chess. We have a compendium of 36 instructional games. The children practise the games against other children and the instructors. There are some fun puzzles and maths-related activities.

The children who attend will obtain more confidence in playing games and will have spent an enjoyable few days in a friendly environment.

This is not a chess training event. It is an event to delight and inspire children who enjoy games and like having their brain stretched.

To register or find out more.

Chess Corner launched at Kingston Fairfield

A touch of New York chess hustler style comes to Kingston with the hugely popular unveiling of three concrete chess tables at Fairfield in the town centre

The official opening of the Chess Corner at Kingston Fairfield took place on Thursday 28 September. The event was a great success, bringing together a large number of players young and old, chess club members and council officials. The three chess tables were sporting impressive chess sets provided for the occasion by Kingston Chess Club.

The officials opening the Chess Corner: From left: local constabulary, John Sweeney, Kathryn Woodvine, John Foley, Alan Scrimgour, Stephen Moss

The opening formalities were led by John Sweeney, the local councillor for central Kingston, who had stepped in at the last moment to replace the chess project initiator Nicola Nardelli, another councillor from central Kingston, whose flight back to the UK was delayed. After a brief speech he handed over to John Foley, president of Kingston Chess Club, who thanked Kingston Council for funding this splendid project and hoped it would mark a resurgence of chess in the royal borough.

John Sweeney and John Foley cutting the ribbon

The ribbon was cut to the applause of the company present. The contingent of juniors who had waited patiently finally got their chance to play chess. The tables had been wiped down and the sets were ready for action. Soon everybody was playing chess, taking phone pics of the chess or just watching the action. Spectators were arriving continually throughout the afternoon into the evening. John Saunders, the noted chess journalist, who lives in Kingston, took some splendid photographs.

Youngsters eagerly playing chess, with their friends recording their moves for posterity
A young player showing the delight that chess can bring
… and another for whom delight has turned to disaster. We’ve all been there
Kingston club president John Foley (left) taking on an opponent in a blitz game
A skateboarder drops by. ‘I enjoy all board games’, he quipped

The photographs below were taken by Leila Raivio.

John Foley proudly shows off his new book, published on the same day: Checkmate!

Several people came along who would like to pursue chess competitively – they were duly signed up by Kingston Chess Club. We were also delighted to meet two teachers from nearby Kingston Grammar School, whose pupils are likely to use the facility. Two chess players who had known each other at university in Moscow (!) 15 years ago discovered that they both lived in Kingston. The children present came from a wide variety of schools in and around Kingston.

After the event, several of the participants repaired to the Albion pub, where we commandeered two tables on which blitz chess was played with clocks through the evening.

Convivial (but competitive) blitz in the Albion pub after the official launch of Chess Corner
The event brought together established members of Kingston chess club and new players eager to join

Anybody wishing to play on the tables in Chess Corner should bring their own sets. We are working on arrangements whereby sets can be borrowed from nearby Kingston Library or the Albion pub.

John Foley