Category Archives: News

Kingston boost promotion hopes with thumping win over Richmond

Thames Valley League division 2 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 24 January 2022

At last the Kingston Thames Valley team showed its true ability and credentials as a promotion contender with a 5-1 win over league leaders Richmond. It was Kingston’s A team up against Richmond B, so Kingston started strong favourites. But Richmond like to spice their second team with a few first-team regulars, so it was by no means plain sailing.

Kingston take on Richmond B, with board one titans Bertie Barlow and Peter Lalic in the foreground

Jon Eckert, on board six, led the way for Kingston with a swift win over Rob Hunter. Eckert grabbed a piece for three pawns and was for a while worried that his king was exposed by being unable to castle, but two bishops working in harmony gave him control and the piece advantage quickly told. Kingston were up and running.

Kingston stalwarts Julian Way and Alan Scrimgour, on boards three and four, got solid draws against highly competitive opponents, and the scene was set for the conclusion of the game of the night on top board between Kingston’s Peter Lalic and Richmond’s Bertie Barlow, who has been having a terrific season and is no respecter of reputations or players rated 240 points above him.

Barlow tends to play quickly and Lalic fell behind on the clock, but despite playing on the increment (the time control for this game was 65 minutes and a 10-second increment) for quite a few moves as the game reached its climax, Peter constructed a masterful attack, doubling his rooks and throwing in a knight to corner Bertie’s beleaguered king. Loss of a piece was inevitable but Barlow bravely tried to complicate, only to end up being mated by Lalic’s marauding rooks.

David Maycock won on board two, but you wouldn’t have known he had just secured victory immediately after the game. He had a face like thunder and said he had played poorly, getting himself into a positional tangle against a player rated more than 400 points below him. David is a perfectionist – surely a good thing as long as he allows himself to enjoy some of the pleasures of victory. Isn’t the ability to “win ugly” part of a strong player’s armoury? Not every game can be an aesthetic triumph.

That made it 4-1 and left Vladimir Bovtromovich to finish off his game against Pablo Soriano. He was winning comfortably in an endgame that pitted rook and five pawns against rook and three, but made life difficult for himself by getting his king offside and allowing his opponent’s king and rook to get a pawn home first. Bovtromovich had to sac his rook and enter a complicated endgame where he had four pawns against rook and pawn, which sounds – and indeed looked – a little troublesome.

The position was tricky, but an active king and the fact that two of his pawns were well advanced meant Bovtromovich almost certainly still had an edge. In the event, Soriano went wrong before the full complexity of the position could be tested, grabbing a pawn in an effort to get his own sole survivor through but managing only to allow one of Bovtromovich’s quartet to queen first.

That made it 5-1, and it was time to go to the bar, which was buzzing with activity. This was the final match at Kingston in which masks were mandatory in the playing room; they will be optional from next week. The issue has been divisive and we are pleased to be through the compulsory mask phase – we hope forever.

Stephen Moss, Kingston Thames Valley captain

Kingston launch an online arm

FM Julian Way spearheads start of a monthly online club that aims to complement the weekly in-person meet-ups

Sunday 16 January saw the start of what we are grandiosely calling Kingston Chess Club Online. It does what it says on the tin: it’s the club meeting in online form, initially once a month, to back up our weekly in-person meetings. FM Julian Way, a pillar of the Kingston club for 30 years, is the driving force behind the initiative, and gave the opening talk, based on a game former world champion Mikhail Tal played against the East German international master Reinhart Fuchs in 1964.

The game was not one of Tal’s attacking gems, but a relatively quiet positional game where he won a pawn early on and proceeded to win very simply and smoothly. A textbook example of how to exploit a space advantage, judge an endgame plus, and make a bishop count against a increasingly desperate knight. An instructive game by a great master.

The idea is that we will use the monthly online meet-ups to study games, work on openings, look at endgame studies and commission talks, while holding online club tournaments and simuls by visiting expert-level players on some other Sundays in the month. The club wishes to thank Julian for facilitating the online club, which meets by Zoom, and for offering to help run it in the future. It promises to be a hugely important addition to Kingston as it seeks to emerge from the pandemic and develop as an organisation that wants to cater for both experienced league and tournament chess players and the new generation of chess wannabes that got interested in the game during lockdown.

Kingston Chess Club online will now settle into a monthly pattern – meeting on the last Sunday of each month. Michael Healey will lead the next discussion, looking at the life and games of Russian grandmaster and former Soviet champion Yuri Averbakh, who will be 100 years old on 8 February.

Stephen Moss

Masked return proves a success as outgunned Kingston survive

Surrey League division 4 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 10 January 2022

Chess made a tentative return to the Willoughby Arms on Monday 10 January when Kingston B, captained by Adam Nakar, took on a strong South Norwood B side. It had been touch and go in the week after New Year whether the club would resume playing matches, but in the end the committee agreed they should resume with two important provisos in the face of the Omicron surge: masks should be worn, by players and spectators alike in the playing area unless an attendee was medically exempt, and, where possible, players and supporters should do a lateral flow test to ensure they were Covid-negative before coming along.

In the event, the match went off without a hitch: many thanks to David Howes and his team for complying with good grace. Everyone wore a mask, though some occasionally slipped beneath the nose, and no one complained about the inconvenience. It can be done! These rules are in place subject to a continual review by the club committee.

As usual, it took about 10 minutes to untangle who wanted what time control and to set the clocks accordingly: quickplay, slowplay, Fischer increments, adjournments, adjudications. We had three different sets of playing conditions across the six boards. The Surrey League seems to be oblivious to the fact it is making a laughing stock of itself with all these variations: please just establish one time control for evening chess – 75 minutes with a 10-second increment will do very nicely. The Thames Valley League, with its variable playing session lengths, is even worse. You need to be an international lawyer to understand the league rules and fathom all the possible permutations.

Anyway, on to the match itself. South Norwood were stronger on paper, as Nakar continued with his bold policy of blooding some of the new players who have joined Kingston since we started meeting again last summer. Two of those newbies, Max Mikardo-Greaves and Harry Straszewski lost to experienced South Norwoodians on boards five and six, but neither game was a hammering, and Max and Harry were still there in the bar analysing their games at 11.15pm. This is how chess improvement happens.

Another Kingston newcomer, Yae-Chan Yang, beat the 1660-rated Kaddu Mukasa on board three – a terrific result for Yae, who had travelled down from Cambridge (where he is studying physics) to play in the match. He looked suitably delighted, though was still quivering somewhat after constructing a mating attack in an attacking game where no prisoners were taken. Yae does like to play seat-of-the-pants chess.

Gregor Smith, fresh from his triumph in the Richmond Blitz just before Christmas, was on top for most of the game against South Norwood’s Mr Solid, Ken Chamberlain. The game went to adjudication, but Gregor was two pawns up in a rook-and-pawn endgame, and a few days after the match Ken conceded rather than trouble the adjudicators.

On top board, Vladimir Bovtramovich won a fine game against the dangerous attacking player Ron Harris, breaking through with rook and queen and forcing Harris to sac a bishop in a last desperate bid to survive. The effort was unsuccessful and Vladimir’s attack became irresistible. On board two, the experienced Martin Cath proved too strong for the Kingston captain, outmanoeuvring Adam and demonstrating all the positional skill he has built up during 60 years or more of competitive chess.

So, with the adjudicated game going Kingston’s way, the match stood at 3-3 and the league points were shared. A very satisfactory result for Kingston, who are trying to give new players match experience rather than win promotion to Division 3 (that’s our story and we are sticking to it). Above all, the match was a demonstration that chess in masks is practicable, perhaps even enjoyable – especially if you win. And it helps that you can dispense with the mask in the bar downstairs, it being deemed difficult to drink beer through a mask.

Stephen Moss

Holiday break

The club is now taking a break until the scheduled resumption of the season on 10 January. Meeting that schedule will of course depend on whether there is a further tightening of government restrictions on socialising in the next three weeks, and on what attitude the leagues in which Kingston plays take to the spread of the Omicron variant. Although the club is not holding any events, there is at present nothing to stop members from visiting the Willoughby Arms to play casual chess. The club will continue to monitor the Covid situation and will update the events calendar and issue further bulletins here as required. Happy Christmas and best wishes for a more buoyant New Year than we have enjoyed over the past 22 months.

John Foley, chair, Kingston Chess Club

Kingston make winning start in Surrey League promotion bid

Surrey League division 2 (Beaumont Cup) match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 6 December 2021

The first Beaumont Cup match of the season and the captain was nervous. After all, 41 years had passed since he had last led out a Kingston team to take their places at the boards. Did he still have what it takes? The loss of the toss might have suggested otherwise. On paper, given the grading disparity, Guildford 3 should have been no match for the cream of Kingston, but were they a banana skin lying in ambush? 

In the event, the Guildford players put up a creditable fight and several of the Kingston players were required to press the grind button to achieve their wins. For some time all the players doggedly stayed in their seats, the atmosphere heavy with concentration. To be honest, it was not so easy to stand up and move around in the central seats anyway, due to a lack of space between the rows, but this was probably all to the good in the case of a player such as myself, who otherwise gets distracted by the other games.

Seven-board match in the background – Kingston players on the right-hand side of each board. Intense social game being played in foreground

John Foley and Alan Scrimgour made quicker work of it than the rest of us, winning quite early. Mike Healey demonstrated yet again how at home he is defending the Ruy Lopez, and Peter Lalic skilfully tightened the screws on his opponent’s Sicilian centre. Almost from the start of his game, Julian Way was nursing a slight advantage, and it looked like his king march to the far side of the board would see his passed pawn home. However, according to Julian the king took the wrong route, and his opponent Henry Loomis’s resourcefulness, aided by a mobile knight, resulted in a draw by repetition.

My game followed a pattern which is familiar to me. As Black in an English, I was given the two bishops and complacently assumed that I could slowly let the position win itself with natural moves, whatever they might be. I underestimated Trevor Jones’s ability to keep finding strong moves in the middlegame, until the position was looking very good for him, with my king exposed and my pieces not co-ordinating well. I was fortunate to find a way to swap off most of the pieces until an opposite-coloured bishop ending was reached and a draw agreed (game below).

Finally, Will Taylor, who had been a pawn up for much of his game, finished it off in a king and pawn ending. A conclusive win by 6-1. More challenging matches may lie ahead, but it was great that we avoided a banana skin first time out. Thanks to everyone for their participation, and to Greg Heath for all his help in preparing the room for the match.

David Rowson, Kingston Beaumont Cup (Surrey League division 2) captain


Peter Lalic wins London Classic Blitz

Talented Kingston player returns to winning ways

Peter Lalic won the Blitz Tournament at the London Chess Classic on Sunday 5 December with an impressive 9.5/11, half a point ahead of Harry Grieve and two points ahead of grandmaster Keith Arkell, who was the top-rated entrant (2398). This was the third blitz in a series of four in the London Classic festival.

Peter Lalic, taken at Kingston’s recent Alexander Cup victory over Epsom

The Classic is an annual event that brings the cream of international chess masters to London. Due to Covid, the Classic was cancelled last year, and this year it has had to be scaled down. The World Chess Championship in Dubai has also diverted the chess world’s attention away from London. The associated London Chess Conference which I direct has also been postponed until a more propitious date in the New Year.

The blitz tournaments are the only London Classic events which are open to all – the other events are invitation only. The entry fee is £15 and the time control is the nowadays unusual “all moves in five minutes”. This gives rise to some fraught disputes mainly about not placing the pieces in the centre of the square, which unfortunately was also the case during this event. The games were FIDE blitz rated. The first prize of £250 was the first prize money Peter, who took a sabbatical from competitive chess before making a welcome return in the summer, has won in seven years. With a performance rating of 2337, he will not have to wait very long until his next prize.

Peter’s path to victory was as difficult as it gets because he played against all of the top contenders. In round 3, he beat FM Tarun Kanyamarala, the young prodigy from Dublin, who won the 1st EJCOA Forest Hall Invitational event in Newcastle in October with a performance rating of 2508. In round 4, he beat FM Harry Grieve, a mathematics undergraduate at Cambridge who plays for the well-funded Guildford Young Guns 4NCL team and has been tipped by leading English trainer IM Andrew Martin as a future grandmaster. In round 5, he drew with the Canadian FM Tanraj Sohal, a pan-American blitz chess champion, who won the second blitz in the London Classic series 9/11 after drawing with Peter in the final round on the previous evening. In round 6, Peter lost to Keith Arkell, the ubiquitous chess weekender. This is the second time that Keith has beaten a Kingston player recently and plans are afoot to spring an anti-Arkell trap next time. In round 8, Peter defeated IM Ezra Kirk (2308), and in round 10 swept aside the young prodigy FM Shreyas Royal. By the time he reached the last round, there were no comparable players left to pair, and Peter faced Heinrich Basson from South Africa, who had scored 2.5 points fewer. Basson did not present any obstacle.

Final results

Peter has a remarkable memory for chess and was able to reconstruct all 11 of the games he played in winning the event. He also performed well in the second of the four London Classic blitz tournaments, and here is his victory in the penultimate round against Harry Grieve.


Healey runner-up at Golders Green

In a double success for Kingston players at the weekend, Mike Healey obtained second place behind Alexander Cherniaev at the Golders Green RapidPlay on Saturday 4 December, scoring 5/6. Mike lost to perennial winner Cherniaev at their encounter in the penultimate round.

John Foley

Shanley shines, but Kingston’s newcomers lose to Epsom

Surrey League division 4 match played at the Haywain Brewers Fayre, Epsom on 29 November 2021

At time of writing, I am celebrating: my daughter is turning 2,000 days old! Milestones in days are tragically under-appreciated. It felt almost as long ago that we had our last Centenary Trophy match, but a mere 634 days – not even a million minutes – covers the period between our match in this league against Richmond on 5 March 2020 and this game at Epsom.

Just one player from that Richmond trip can claim to have played in both these matches. Jon Eckert was the experienced top board for this fixture, with five players new to the club this season below him: John Shanley, Yae-Chan Yang, Max Mikardo-Greaves, Harry Straszewski and Jake Grubb.  Epsom had a similar mix of experience and newcomers – it’s great to see so many new players coming to over-the-board league chess.

Surrey League debutants Max Mikardo-Greaves, Harry Straszewski and Jake Grubb do battle

After an hour and a quarter’s play, all the queens were still on all the boards and the fights were raging.  Soon after, Grubb finished first, on board 6, some key chances being missed in an unfortunate defeat to the hard-working Epsom captain David Flewellen. Next up was Straszewski on board 5, getting his queen trapped on f4 and losing a rook in the rescue. He fought valiantly but the result was inevitable.

Jon Eckert won on board 1, building a nice attack and keeping his cool as his veteran opponent Michael Wickham, who has slain me in our last two matches against Epsom, found numerous difficult tactics for him to see past:  2-1 to the hosts. Yae-Chan Yang on board 3 was living precariously, and, after dodging the mines for a while, one was triggered and his position collapsed. 3-1.  Could we get a draw?

Mikardo-Greaves had played an excellent game on board 4 against an opponent who on paper was far stronger. His position was close to winning, but a knight tactic proved his undoing. Very unfortunate, but a good topic of discussion for the drive home. John Shanley, though, finished on a high for Kingston. His opponent sacrificed a piece for a dangerous attack early on, but, despite the Black king being forced to trek ignominiously across the board, Shanley kept the attack at bay. As it finally fizzled out, he got to a winning endgame and finished it nicely.

Board 3 (nearside) former Kingstonian Chris Wright v Yae-Chan Yang (white)

So we lose 4-2.  But plenty to take away and learn from this – all the newcomers insisted they enjoyed their exposure to the rigours of league chess and the traditional journey to the away venue in polar conditions (more exposure, of an icy kind). We will, as they say, take the positives and use the experience to strengthen us for our next match.  There’s less than 1,000 hours between the end of this match and the start of the next one, so the intense mental preparation starts now!

Adam Nakar, Kingston Centenary Trophy (Surrey League division 4) captain

Kingston overwhelm Epsom in Alexander Cup

Alexander Cup match (10 boards) played at the Haywain Brewers Fayre, Epsom on 22 November 2021

Wimbledon provocateur Paul Barasi has been complaining that Kingston’s season seems to comprise of nothing but beating up Epsom, and he has a point. After defeating them in the Lauder Trophy earlier this month, Kingston have now given their ambitious rival (revived in the past few years by Marcus Gosling and already on course to become one of Surrey’s strongest clubs) a fearful drubbing in the county’s most prestigious cup competition.
 
Barasi complained when, on Twitter, Kingston described the Lauder win as “epic”, doubting that Epsom deserved the epithet. But Kingston have struggled in the past decade or so, whereas reborn Epsom have been soaring, and the Lauder victory felt like a watershed. This much-anticipated Alexander Cup match was an even more significant moment, with Gosling & Co out for revenge, Epsom enjoying home advantage and Kingston captain John Foley reminding his troops that Kingston had not won the Alexander Cup since 1976.

Kingston from left: Scrimgour, Gibbons, Foley, Healey, Taylor, Maycock, Rowson, Bussmann, Lalic, Eckert

Kingston had an average rating advantage of around 30 points a board (in the new four-digit classification), but a close match was nonetheless anticipated. Epsom, in their impressive pub venue with a quiet playing room and tables in an adjoining room for social chess, had installed a large scoreboard and bought pricey new wooden boards for what they clearly saw as a defining match. But as the night wore on and the scoreboard recorded their tale of woe, they must have wished they had kept it all a little more low key.

Alan Scrimgour, playing his trusty Sicilian on board 7, led the way for Kingston with a 22-move victory over Natasha Regan, whose ambitious piece sacrifice backfired. Epsom’s Daniel Young on board 4 tried a speculative knight manoeuvre that came unstuck against Kingston’s wily David Rowson. It was 2-0, and Epsom may already have been wishing they hadn’t invested in the new scoreboard.

Kingston were soon sprinting ahead, with a smooth win on board 3 for David Maycock over Kevin Thurlow, and a very fine victory by John Bussmann over former Kingston regular Matthew Baker. Bussmann is noted as a sharp tactician, but here he played with great positional precision in a game which chess luminary John Saunders later described as the “game of the day”. Veterans Jon Eckert and Malcolm Groom agreed a draw on board 10, giving Epsom their first half point, but the writing was already on the wall. Literally, thanks to that wretched giant scoreboard.
 
Paul Gibbons, playing his first match of the season for Kingston, secured a draw on board 8 that took the running points total to five, and soon after Peter Lalic, on board 2, produced a spectacular double-piece sacrifice to force checkmate and take Kingston over the finishing line and into the semi-finals. The Lalic game was a truly extraordinary one, with Peter playing a characteristically imaginative and challenging opening which completely bamboozled his opponent, Michael Dams. Saunders points out that there is no precedent among ChessBase’s new Mega DataBase 2022’s 9.2 million games for the first two moves played in this encounter: 1. Nc3 e6 2. d3 Bb4. And it got crazier from there.

Epsom from left: Anvarinaeini, Dams, Thurlow, Baker, Gosling, Regan, Young, Hamilton, Groom.
IM Peter Large was exercising the time-honoured prerogative of the team’s board one to arrive late for the match

The match had been won, the champagne corks were already popping back at the Willoughby Arms – metaphorically speaking that is: in reality Greg Heath was having another beer and the ascetic twentysomethings following the match via WhatsApp were sipping their glasses of Diet Coke – and all that remained was the mopping up. At Epsom, not the Willoughby.
 
John Foley won a queenless middlegame with a precisely calculated pawn advance against Robert Hamilton on board 6; Will Taylor (having nobly made the trek down from Walthamstow) drew with Epsom president Marcus Gosling on board 5; and, in the last game to finish, IM Peter Large won a roller-coaster struggle with Mike Healey to record Epsom’s sole win of the evening, drawing Healey’s king into a mating net with Large’s own king and two bishops. Healey thought he had drawing chances if he had traded his rook for one of those killer bishops, but went for glory and paid the price.
 
By then, though, the match was long over and Kingston were celebrating, with a final result of 7.5-2.5. Gosling promised there would be a painful post-mortem – he threw an imaginary punch as he said it – and next year Epsom will be back even stronger. Their ambition knows no bounds, and good for them. But for the moment, Kingston had the spoils and Foley’s dream of winning the Alexander Cup for the first time in almost 50 years was still alive.

Stephen Moss

Kingston on verge of victory over Surbiton

Thames Valley League division 2 match played at the United Reformed Church, Surbiton on 2 November 2021

Local rivalry renewed and once again Kingston are in charge against the auld enemy, though it was admittedly the Kingston first team up against Surbiton B in Division 2 of the Thames Valley League. Both teams were missing key personnel, and Kingston suffered a late withdrawal, which meant that the captain himself had to play – never a happy situation. For a long time, it looked as if Surbiton would prevail, but at the end, as the cold in their wintry new church venue told, there were some strange twists that changed the picture entirely.

The facts. Peter Lalic, whose arrival at Kingston alongside David Maycock has helped to transform the club’s fortunes, played the Budapest Gambit and won a pleasing game against Liam Bayly on top board. Jon Eckert overcame a ratings deficit of 140 points and a poor lifetime score against his opponent to beat Paul Dupré in an excellent game on board 2. On board 3, Surbiton’s Nick Faulks returned the favour by overturning another large ratings deficit to defeat Kingston’s David Rowson.

From Eckert v Dupré, White to play and checkmate in 15 moves ignoring desperadoes (answer)

I was very lucky to squeeze a draw out of my game on board 5 against the solid and thoughtful David Cole. I sacrificed (or perhaps just lost) a pawn for what turned out to be nothing early on, and was always up against it. David had what was almost certainly a winning rook endgame but happily no time to prosecute it, so rather than trying to win on the increment took my rather desperate draw offer. On board 6, Adam Nakar dropped a piece early and looked certain to lose, but fought valiantly and secured a miracle draw two pawns down in an endgame where opposite-coloured bishops were the only pieces left on the board. He has written a blog about the joys of such endings – the point being that with opposite-coloured bishops you should never give up even the least promising-looking of positions.

That made it 3-2 to Kingston, so it all hinged on board 4. Cue anti-climax: the two players – Kingston’s extremely promising newcomer John Shanley (the medical hero of the Maidenhead match the previous week) and Surbiton’s Andrew Boughen – adjourned. Shanley has the edge and I am foolishly already calling the match as a win for Kingston, but we won’t have a definitive result for a couple of weeks.

This raises all sorts of questions. Should we really still be playing adjournments in the age of engines and digital clocks that allow for increments so avoid flagging? Why on earth does the Thames Valley League permit a variety of different time controls to be played in the same match? Quickplay on some boards; slowplay on other boards; even different forms of quickplay, with some players allowed to opt for increments and others for fixed times. We were using three different time controls across six boards, which is madness, yet permissible under Thames Valley rules.

It’s a shambles, a nightmare for captains, confusing for players and needs to be rationalised. Some clubs opt for two-and-a-half-hour playing sessions and others for three-hour sessions, each of which comes with a variety of different time controls, adding to the confusion. I count at least six different time controls in use in the league. Sorry, but this needs to be looked at as soon as possible. Why not 75 minutes and a 10-second increment for all evening chess? That’s fair, easy to understand and provides sufficient time for a perfectly good game.

 A blog by club chairman John Foley covers these issues in more detail 

But enough ranting. Thanks to Surbiton for an excellent match that was in the balance to the end – indeed could, I suppose, still be said to be in the balance, though the doctor’s diagnosis is that his opponent is unlikely to recover. It’s nice for the club to be off the mark in the Thames Valley. We would love to be back in Division 1. And, speaking for myself, I was extremely pleased to squeak a draw as a last-minute substitute after the Maidenhead disaster last week. My season is up and running … or at least stumbling.

Stephen Moss, Kingston Thames Valley captain

P.S. John Shanley drew his adjourned game when it was resumed after a two-week delay. He was a little disappointed not to convert his advantage, but, as his opponent said, a computer’s evaluation that you have a 2.7 plus is not so easy to convert in practical play in a rook v bishop and knight endgame. In the end, a draw was agreed, so Kingston did win the match, getting us off the mark in Thames Valley League division two, which we are very hopeful of winning this season (famous last words).

Kingston back on Lauder trail with epic win

Lauder Trophy match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 1 November 2021

Epsom, the brash new boys on the Surrey club chess scene, arrived at the Willoughby Arms full of hope and self-belief for the opening round of the 2021/22 Lauder Trophy. Happily, Kingston were able to snuff out the potent threat they posed and secure a 4-2 win that put them back in the hunt for the cup they won in 2018/19 but lost to South Norwood in the recent final of the 2019/20 competition (the 2020/21 event was lost completely to the pandemic).

There was a wonderful match-up on board 1 between Kingston’s bright new teenage star David Maycock, who recently came third alongside GMs Keith Arkell and Mark Hebden in the Hull Weekender, and Epsom’s veteran international master Peter Large. Their game was complex (too complex for me to grasp at least), but Large – with white – gradually took control, built up a time advantage, kept squeezing, and Maycock was eventually forced to resign. A victory for experience over youth.

On board 2, the last game to finish, Vladimir Bovtramovics came out on top in a tense struggle with Epsom captain Marcus Gosling, whose piece sacrifice proved to be unsound; wily tactician John Bussmann forced a quick win on board 3 when Malcolm Groom played the London System but omitted to castle; Jon Eckert, who has made an excellent start to the season, won efficiently on board 4; Yae-Chan Yang, returning to chess after five years and making his league debut for the club, overwhelmed his opponent on board5, sidestepping the Hillbilly attack against his Caro Kann and coolly building his own attack while playing on the increment (though he said later that the coolness was an illusion and tribute to his acting skills because inside he was shaking throughout); Jake Grubb, another Kingston league debutant, fought bravely but eventually succumbed to a tide of black pawns sweeping up the board.

Vladimir Bovtramovics v Marcus Gosling (Photo: John Foley)

A terrific match, played in an excellent spirit in front of almost 20 Kingstonians who had come along to support. Thanks to the Willoughby, as ever, for hosting, with supporters spilling out of the playing room and into the bars and garden. “Bring us back some silverware!,” bellowed Rick the landlord when he learned of Kingston’s progress to the Lauder semi-final, where we will face Ashtead or Dorking. We’ll do our best Rick.

Stephen Moss, Kingston Lauder Trophy captain