Category Archives: News

Surbiton B gain shock draw with Kingston A

Thames Valley League division 1 and division 2 matches played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 6 February 2023

It was a bad day – or rather night – at the office. Kingston’s first team, up against Surbiton B, had high hopes of consolidating its place at the top of division 1 of the Thames Valley League, but the Surbitonians had other ideas and went home with a deserved 3-3 draw. Indeed, they might have had more, with Kingston players getting draws in two games which at one stage they looked very likely to lose.

Kingston were without two key players – Peter Lalić and Vladimir Li – but that is no excuse. We still outrated Surbiton by an average of 200 points a board, and there was no escaping the fact that this was a considerable upset. Not terminal – we are still narrowly ahead of the chasing pack – but a decided wake-up call. The loss of a half-point in a match where we were hot favourites to win now makes the club’s trip to Hammersmith on 21 February even more critical.

The evening started serenely enough. Peter Andrews played powerfully to win with Black on board 5, winning a piece with a neat tactical sequence and giving his opponent little or no counterplay thereafter. Surbiton’s Graham Alcock held John Foley to a draw on board 4 and Kingston captain David Rowson survived being a pawn down against Nick Faulks on board 3 to eventually equalise and secure a draw from a position in which it looked very difficult to find decent moves. A good save – and 2-1 to Kingston.

Peter Andrews (foreground, right) played powerfully to beat Andrew Boughen in Kingston’s sole win of the evening

Meanwhile, things were not going well for Kingston chair Alan Scrimgour on board 6 against David Cole, always a redoubtable opponent. Cole had what looked like a winning advantage, but blundered in time trouble (which he admits he is prone to, especially at Thames Valley’s overly fast time controls) and Scrimgour confidently played an endgame in which his rook nullified Cole’s bishop and two pawns. Another crucial save.

That left the two top boards. We hoped David Maycock would be our banker on board 1, but for once it was not to be. Liam Bayly played with great finesse, blunted David’s attacking instincts, and got the upper hand in the endgame to secure a memorable win. That made it 2.5-2.5, and winning the match was now all down to Will Taylor with White on board 2 against Paul Dupré.

Will played extremely well and had a winning position after 41 moves, but once again those pesky time controls took their toll. Playing on the 10-second increment and with just 15 seconds left on his clock, he chose a defensive move against what he thought was the threat of a perpetual check when he had a forced mate. The opportunity went begging and Dupré could breathe again. The game, though not without further incident over the next 20 moves, ended in a draw after Paul traded down to an ending where his bishop could stop Will’s connected pawns. The match was drawn and the post-mortems went on in the bar long into the night.

In the second match, Wimbledon A trounced Kingston B 5.5-0.5. Here it was Kingston’s turn to be heavily outrated, and we proved less successful than Surbiton in overcoming the odds. On board 1, Max Selemir had a characteristically exciting game against the experienced Dan Rosen, as usual throwing the kitchen sink at his opponent, but in the end his piece advantage was no match for Rosen’s phalanx of advancing pawns.

On board 2, captain Gregor Smith was outmanoeuvred by another veteran, Ian Heppell; Kingston stalwart Nick Grey lost against Tony Hughes in a close game in which a pawn advantage proved enough for the Wimbledon man; I surrendered tamely to Stephen Carpenter; Byron Eslava went down fighting on board six against Alex Boitier; and it was left to Charlie Cooke to save us from being bagelled with an excellent draw against the dangerous Sean Ingle on board 5. Some serious wound-licking was in order.

Stephen Moss

CSC/Kingston 1 power on with dual victories at 4NCL

Two wins by Peter Hasson ensure a successful weekend for CSC/Kingston 1 to keep their promotion hopes alive, but the second team struggle as life in division 4 gets tougher

CSC/Kingston 1 didn’t expect to be playing in division 3 of the 4NCL this season – their promotion was a fortuitous one after another team dropped out – but so far they are making a wonderful fist of it, and by winning both matches at this third 4NCL weekend they kept their outside hopes of a further promotion alive.

The Saturday match against Brown Jack was tough. CSC/Kingston had a healthy rating advantage, but Brown Jack (named after the pub in Wroughton, near Swindon, where it meets, which presumably is itself named after the famous racehorse of the 1930s) fought hard, and five of the six games were drawn. Only Hasson managed a win, but that was enough to give CSC/Kingston a vital victory by 3.5-2.5.

Sunday’s match was more straightforward – a 4.5-1.5 victory over Shropshire & Friends, with wins for Peter Finn, Clive Frostick and Hasson again. The weekend left CSC/Kingston joint second in the table with three other teams – a remarkable performance given that the team did not take part in the first weekend and were given two half-point byes. Both the byes were awarded against teams in the lower half of the table who we would have hoped to beat, and that may come back to haunt us at the end of the season. But for the moment the mood is upbeat and hopes of a second successive promotion high.

CSC/Kingston 2, who were not as strong as on the two previous weekends, found the going harder, though to lose on Saturday by only 3.5-2.5 against the higher-rated Full Ponty team was a very creditable performance. On paper, CSC/Kingston had a much easier task against Barnet Knights C on Sunday. But ratings mean little where juniors are concerned, and Barnet’s youth-orientated team gave a very good account of themselves, drawing the match 3-3. Nick Grey had a good win and, having drawn with Black with a higher-rated player on Saturday, enjoyed a good weekend.

CSC/Kingston 2 are now joint tenth in the table and have little realistic hope of promotion. But we always saw this season as a tentative return after the pandemic and, if the club can revert to running three teams next year, the hope will be to field a stronger second team that will target promotion and a third team that can both play with less pressure and give game time at 4NCL’s pleasingly long time control to newer players.

Stephen Moss

Table-topping Kingston do double over Guildford

Surrey League division 1 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 30 January 2023

David Maycock conjured a crucial win from a drawish position against Clive Frostick. Photograph: John Saunders

We had built ourselves up so much for this match that when it came there was a slight sense of anti-climax. We had assembled a very powerful team, whereas Guildford were not quite as strong as we anticipated. Which is not to say they did not have a very good side; with their resources they are able to put out three highly competitive teams. The match was well contested and victory by 5.5-2.5 perhaps flattered Kingston to some degree. But in the end strength on the upper boards told, with wins for David Maycock, Peter Lalić and Mike Healey on boards 1, 3 and 4, and Kingston president John Foley also winning on board 8.

Vladimir Li could make little progress against James Toon, and their game was drawn. Photograph: John Saunders

The first game to finish was Vladimir Li against James Toon on board 5. Li ventured a Sicilian and quickly equalised, but Toon played very solidly, the game never really got out of second gear, and the players drew by repetition on move 26. Analysing the game later, Li thought he might at one point have been able to trade down to a rook endgame in which he was slightly better, but the chance was missed.

It has been a brilliant month for Peter Lalić, winning 12 and drawing two of his 14 classical games and often in relatively short order. He did it again here, despatching Guildford captain Nigel White in just 21 moves. Peter played his trademark Nimzowitsch Defence, and set up a web of tactical possibilities. White tried to counter-attack with his rook, but relieving it of defensive duties led to instant nemesis.

Peter Lalić continued his blistering recent run of form, winning in just 21 moves. Photograph: John Saunders

There was another unusual opening in the game between Kingston captain David Rowson and Guildford veteran Phil Stimpson. Stimpson played the Queen’s Pawn, Chigorin Variation (1. d4 d5 2. Nc3). On move three, after David’s 2… Nf6, Stimpson played Bf4 – a line popularised by the Georgian grandmaster Baadur Jobava, so now known as the Jobava London System.

An intriguing positional struggle ensued (with much shuffling of knights). Stimpson, without bothering to castle, made a kingside pawn push which could have proved dangerous, but Rowson blocked it and forced an exchange of queens. After that the heat went out of the position and peace was declared. 2-1 to Kingston, but with a couple of home players under pressure the match was far from in the bag.

The next result, however, calmed the nerves. On board 1, the game between David Maycock and Clive Frostick had looked very even, with some knowledgeable spectators predicting a draw. But the remarkable Maycock found a way to win, first squeezing a small edge out of a position which was indeed level at move 24, then striking decisively to win a piece when Frostick lost coordination of his rook, knight and bishop. 3-1 to Kingston and now we could start to breathe more easily.

IM Graeme Buckley made his debut for Kingston, drawing with Craig Young. Photograph: John Saunders

IM Graeme Buckley, making his debut for the club against the 2100-rated Craig Young, who played the Petrov Defence. Buckley, a notably aggressive player, castled queenside and launched a kingside pawn push, while Young tried a pawn storm on the opposite flank. But both in the end ran out of steam and a draw was agreed to make the match score 3.5-1.5 to Kingston. The finishing line was drawing near.

The player who had the honour of taking us over it was Mike Healey, playing White against Sebastian Galer. Mike played his beloved Sokolsky (1. b4), but Seb maintained a small plus in the opening. Mike, though, understands the positions that arise from this opening and, by expanding on the queenside, turned the tables, built an edge of his own and eventually won rook for bishop when Seb overlooked a neat tactic.

Mike Healey took Kingston to victory in the match with a win over Sebastian Galer. Photograph: John Saunders

With slightly optimistic hopes of getting his untrammelled c-pawn home, Seb played on and this position was reached, with White to play on move 41.

Would you perhaps be a little concerned about your rook on d2 and the imminent promotion thereafter of the black pawn? I think I would. But not Mike. He had designs on Black’s hemmed-in king. The game proceeded: 41. f5+ Kg5 42. Kg3 h5 43. Rh7 hxg4 44. hxg4 cxd2 45. f4# A very Mike mate.

One of the other Kingston players noticed how sportsmanlike Seb was in defeat, and he and Mike were still happily analysing the game in the bar at closing time. Seb also gave me his scoresheet to allow me to reconstruct the game, so he officially wins the Nicest Chess Player of the Night award.

Will Taylor and Alex Warren look perplexed as they embark on a post-mortem. Photograph: John Saunders

Mike’s win made it a match-winning 4.5-1.5, with Will Taylor on board 6 and John Foley on board 6, up against a very promising junior, still playing. Will, with White against another Sicilian, had a perfectly playable position, but allowed his opponent, Alex Warren, to get a pawn to h3. Once the queens came off and with Will behind on the clock, his position went rapidly downhill. Black established a rook on the seventh and put his knight on g4 bearing down on h2. After that it was, in every sense, only a matter of time as Warren made no mistake.

The last game to finish was the president, who is on a rather majestic winning streak. John’s recent run of success has been founded on his endgame skill, and so it was here. Both players had a knight and five pawns, but John had a two-to-one majority on the queenside, boiled that down to a lone pawn, and then used that pawn to get the Black king offside while mopping up his opponent’s kingside pawns with his knight. An object lesson in why the endgame is still the bit which matters the most.

John Foley looks serene as he gives his young opponent an endgame masterclass. Photograph: John Saunders

The final score was a satisfying 5.5-2.5, Kingston had done the double over the formidable Guildford club, last season’s Surrey division 1 champions, and one or two people from other clubs tweeted immediately after the match that this year’s championship was now done and dusted. It isn’t – we still face difficult trips to Coulsdon and Wimbledon – but we have at least given ourselves a very good chance of winning the Surrey Trophy for the first time since 1975.

Stephen Moss

Kingston 3 overwhelmed at South Norwood

Surrey League division 4 match played at West Thornton Community Centre, Thornton Heath on 26 January 2023

A trip to South Norwood is never easy – and this was one of the harder ones. The logistics of the journey from Kingston to south-east London make it hard enough – campaign medals should be struck for all those who join the expedition – but here an inexperienced Kingston 3 team was up against a much stronger South Norwood 2 side. The result was never in doubt, and Kingston were on the wrong end of a 5-1 defeat.

The undoubted high spot was new recruit Mark Sheridan’s terrific draw with Black on board 2 against the highly rated Mohammad Sameer-Had. Mark played the Petrov Defence, equalised and, recognising the rating differential, sought to trade pieces to reach a drawn endgame. It was in fact Sameer-Had who, fearing the loss of a pawn, offered the draw, so a moral victory for Mark and a real coming-of-age result.

Promising youngster Shaurya Handu also secured a draw on board 5, but elsewhere thing went less well. The ultra-attacking Ron Harris had too much firepower for David Shalom on board 1; Sean Tay and captain Stephen Daines went down fighting on boards 3 and 4; and Jaden Mistry fell for a nasty trick that resulted in mate against the wily veteran Barry Miles. A learning curve for Jaden, but a bitter one. Young players don’t just have to learn chess; they have to learn to tap into their inner resilience too. The game has many knockbacks.

Stephen Moss

Kingston get vital win at Surbiton in titanic clash

Thames Valley League division 1 match played at the United Reformed Church, Tolworth on 24 January 2023

The two teams do battle at the start of an epic local derby. Kingston players on the right of each board

What a tremendous match this was. Surbiton had put out a very strong team and clearly meant business. They were slightly outrated on boards 1 and 2, but with players as good as Mark Josse and Chris Briscoe had nothing to fear from the killer Kingston duo of David Maycock and Peter Lalić.

Josse played his usual Sicilian and David offered an early knight sac which really put the proverbial cat among the pigeons:

Engines are a little equivocal about the sacrifice, giving Black a small edge, but in practical play it gives White excellent chances, with the Black king marooned in the centre and Black underdeveloped and lacking coordination. Josse accepted the sacrifice and it led to a game of great complexity. It was the last game to finish, so let’s leave the result for a moment.

The first game to finish, after two hours’ play, was board 6 – a draw between Peter Andrews and Surbiton captain Angus James, two players with similar ratings and rock-solid techniques. Peter played a Sicilian and was never worse. Next to finish was Briscoe v Lalić. The latter had played the Nimzowitsch Defence. Briscoe had a decent edge and a time advantage, but Peter showed his usual resolution to equalise the position and was quick to accept a draw when it was offered. 1-1.

Vladimir Li looked to have a space advantage against David Scott’s French Defence, with a phalanx of pawns pushing forward on the kingside. But later analysis showed that the apparent advantage was illusory. Scott countered skilfully and the position was level when a draw was agreed with time starting to run short after 30 moves. The Thames Valley incremental time control of 65 + 10 is just a bit too swift for chess at this level. Administrators please take note.

When would we get a positive result? Not yet. Next to conclude was the board 4 game between Kingston captain David Rowson and Altaf Chaudhry, a dangerous opponent, especially in a time scramble. Chaudhry played the Nimzowitsch Variation of the English Opening (1. c4 e5 2. Nf3) – it was a big night for Nimzowitsch – but David marshalled his pieces cannily and by the middle game appeared to be calling the shots. But Altaf will always complicate and usually when time is short. In the position below, what should David play?

He chose 25… dxe5, and Altaf was able to trade down to equality. Better is 25… Bxe5 because Black will win a kingside pawn: 26. Bxe4 fxg3 27. fxg3 Bxg3 28. hxg3 Bxe4. White’s g-pawn also becomes vulnerable. Engines reckon this is one that got away for Kingston, but when time is running short these critical decisions are far from easy. Altaf reached an equal endgame and the game was drawn. 2-2.

All the while, Kingston president John Foley and Surbiton’s Liam Bayly had been locked in a highly technical struggle on board 5. Foley, with White against an opponent he knows well, had successfully sought to unbalance the position, but left himself with a backward c-pawn. He cleverly resolved the situation by allowing himself to be saddled with doubled d-pawns which he correctly calculated would be dangerous in the endgame.

Nxg6 is feasible here because of the possible fork of king and rook by checking with the queen on g3 after first capturing the knight on e4, but 27… Rc3 holds the position for Black. John actually played 27. Rc1 and, in time trouble, Liam took the rook, giving John control of the c-file. Had Liam doubled his rooks instead, he would have had a slight edge. As it was, it was John that had the advantage and, by trading queens and advancing his pawns, he eventually broke through Liam’s defences. Playing this sort of endgame in a time scramble is nightmarish.

At last then we had a winner on the night: 3-2 to Kingston and just the Maycock-Josse game left. By now both players were on the increment, but it was David who was pressing, forgoing what looked like a perpetual, driving Mark’s king across the board and eventually delivering mate. A brilliant win and a terrific way to end a keenly contested match, which Kingston won 4-2 to put them level on points with Richmond A and Hammersmith A at the top of the Thames Valley division 1 table.

Stephen Moss

Kingston beat Ealing to kickstart Thames Valley title challenge

Thames Valley League division 1 and Surrey League division 2 matches played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 23 January 2023

A full playing room for the double-header v Ealing and Ashtead. The flags are a hangover from the World Cup

It was a busy night at Fortress Willoughby, with the first team in action against Ealing A in Thames Valley League division 1 and the second team facing Ashtead, runaway leaders of Surrey League division 2. Both matches were extremely one-sided: Kingston overwhelmed Ealing, who were missing several of their stars and defaulted on board six, 5.5-0.5, but Ashtead had no difficulty brushing aside Kingston 2 6-1. The win over Ealing keeps our title hopes alive, but the heavy defeat to Ashtead leaves us rooted to the foot of division 2.

In the Ealing match, David Maycock (despite being under the weather), Peter Lalić and Vladimir Li kept up their extraordinary winning run on the top boards. Black on board 1, David gained an edge in the opening and marooned White’s queen uncomfortably in the middle of the board. His opponent, Tony Wells, gave up the exchange in a bid for counterplay, but it never really materialised, and David found a neat tactic to win the other rook and bring the game to a speedy conclusion.

On board two, Peter Lalić, following on from a supremely confident tournament victory at the weekend, also gained a nice edge in the opening, and then sac-ed a rook to force mate (see below).

25. Rxb7+ wins. 25… Kxb7. 26. d6+ Kc8 27. Qa6+ Kd7 28. Qb7+ and Black resigns. Mate in one is unavoidable.

Vladimir Li, with Black on board 3, had a sharp game with Mark Winterbotham. Li got the better of the opening and had a central pawn phalanx heading for promotion, but with time running short Winterbotham conjured up a counter-attack that looked promising. Eventually, though, Vladimir snuffed it out, exchanged queens, and his connected passed pawns were unstoppable.

Kingston board 3 Vladimir Li (foreground, right) got the better of Ealing’s Mark Winterbotham in a sharp struggle

Will Taylor drew on board 4 against an old-school opponent who insisted on slow play – just 35 moves on the night with the option of adjourning or adjudicating. Neither was necessary as they agreed the position was drawn. On board 5, Kingston captain David Rowson had a nailbiting game against Harry Symeonidis, who played the very imaginative Nxh7 in the position below.

Unfortunately for Symeonidis, he failed to follow it up in the optimum way. “He should have played 20. h5, not g5,” explains David. “The position was a bit messy after that and I was anxious, even though I was piece for pawn up. However, he didn’t find a way to complicate my life too much and I was able to simplify to a won ending.” With the Ealing default on board 6, that made it an emphatic 5.5-0.5. An impressive win by David and his team.

The high spot of the second-team match, for Kingston at least, was Peter Andrews’ draw with the highly rated Phil Brooks on board 1, after opening fireworks produced a level middle game and peace broke out. On board 2, Jon Eckert lost to another very highly rated player, Gareth Anthony, in a keenly contested French Winawer. On board 3 John Bussmann, playing his first league game of the season, succumbed to the experienced Dan Rosen. John was plus 2 early on but said he played too timidly, failed to open lines of attack and got into an ugly closed position.

Another veteran, Jonathan Hinton, beat the promising Kingston youngster Max Selemir on board 4; Bertie Barlow and I had a short draw on board 5 – I had a slight edge and a braver man would have played on; Wayne Clark’s Vienna Gambit on board 6 allowed him to build an irresistible attack against Kingston’s Charlie Cooke; and on board 7 Byron Eslava faced a tough league debut against another strong Ashtead regular, Ian McLeod. Byron lost, mislaying a few pawns en route, but was far from disgraced. All very character building. Possibly.

Stephen Moss

Kingston see off Streatham to reach Alexander Cup final

Alexander Cup semi-final played over 10 boards at St Thomas’s Church, Streatham on 17 January 2023

Given that the two teams were evenly matched in terms of ratings, for Kingston to win 7.5-2.5 and thus progress to the final of the Alexander Cup, which the club currently holds, was a remarkable achievement. Streatham had very strong players on the three top boards, yet they were all beaten by Kingston’s “Three Musketeers” (David Maycock, Peter Lalić and Vladimir Li) to set the tone for an extraordinary evening. We were missing several significant players, yet in the end it barely mattered as Jon Eckert, Max Selemir and Gregor Smith stepped up superbly in a side brilliantly organised by captain Ljubica Lazarevic.

I was unable to be at the match, so have relied on notes supplied by Peter Andrews, who drew with Streatham captain Martin Smith on board 6. “The games were much closer than the match score suggests,” says Andrews. “Four games (Peter Lalić , John Foley, Gregor and Lju) went to single minor-piece endgames, and Will Taylor to R+P v R, so it was a late night!”

The board one match-up was a classic, with David Maycock playing Black against Fide master Venkataramanan Tiruchirapalli. “David had to give up a piece when his opponent promoted,” says Andrews, “but he had time to win a second pawn for it and his two connected passed pawns eventually won the game, though opposing pieces were gathering round his confined king.” Later analysis showed that Tiruchirapalli had one gilt-edged opening to cement his mating chances, but he got the move order wrong and the opportunity was gone.

Kingston’s David Maycock beat FM Venkataramanan Tiruchirapalli in a high-class game on board 1

On board 2, Peter Lalić was in technical – rather than tactical – mode (though clearly the dividing line between the two is not hard and fast), winning a pawn, reducing down to a knight and six pawns v bishop and five pawns endgame, and forcing resignation after 45 moves. Can chess really be so simple? In Peter’s hands, apparently yes it can.

According to Peter Andrews, “Vladimir’s game was wild but his opponent’s king was trapped in the centre”, while John Foley, with Black, had what Andrews called a “smooth” win, playing with great efficiency and technical nous to trade down to a won endgame.

Max Selemir, making his Alexander Cup debut, won relatively quickly, while Gregor Smith – another debutant in the competition – had a tougher struggle but eventually prevailed, turning an endgame which looked potentially tricky for him into a win. Peter Andrews conjured up a perpetual to draw; Jon Eckert also had a comfortable draw; and the self-deprecating Will Taylor said he “skilfully converted my middlegame advantage into a pawn down rook ending, which I barely held.” Lju, stepping in for an unwell player on board 10, lost a hard-fought game, but by then the match was over and her work was done.

Stephen Moss

Kingston B outgunned by strong Hounslow A side

Thames Valley League division 2 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston, on 16 January 2023

It was always going to be tough in division 2 of the Thames Valley League, and playing against a Hounslow A side when we were outrated on virtually every board and missing some of our higher-rated regulars was always going to be a big ask. We went down 5-1, but as always it wasn’t without a story.

Before the off, there was a rumbling coming from board 2, where Max Selemir’s opponent took a dislike to our beautiful new chess sets. The board was apparently too big! Eventually an alternative was found and the game was able to proceed. Max’s opponent also insisted on slow play – a relative rarity in evening chess these days.

Unflustered, young Max played his exciting attacking brand of chess and, after a complex exchange, found himself two pawns down but with an initiative as compensation. However, Max’s experienced opponent stifled Max’s assault and managed to play his 35th move with four seconds left on the clock, reaching the time control and winning the game. 

Following a communication mix-up between me and John Foley, we found ourself one player short at the start of play. After a quick phone call, John – fresh off the back of 12 hours of exhausting classical chess at 4NCL at the weekend – kindly agreed to come over to the Willoughby as fast as he could and play on board 1. Facing a 15-minute time deficit, John blitzed through the opening and achieved a strong position. However, facing a complex endgame in which he felt he had an advantage, the time deficit caught up with him and he unfortunately flagged.

A great effort from John and an exciting game, marred only by John’s opponent asking why he was not recording moves when his clock dipped below five minutes. John’s opponent believed that, with a 10-second increment, moves had to be recorded till the bitter end, but he was wrong (moves only have to be recorded when the increment is 30 seconds; otherwise the “five-minute rule” applies).

The points were shared on boards 3 and 4. On board 3, Charlie Cooke played confidently against Leon Fincham’s 1. g3, and the game came to a quiet draw. On board 3, I managed to gain a positional advantage out of the opening against David White, but frittered it away and ended up swindling a draw by repetition in what was a losing endgame. Thankfully, my advanced pawn gave my opponent enough to worry about in a time scramble. 

On boards 5 and 6, it was great to give opportunities to two of our third-team stalwarts, David Shalom and Sean Tay. Both put up a good fight against strong opposition, but in the end the points were Hounslow’s. Sean especially battled bravely, and would probably still be playing now if it wasn’t for us having to stop the game at 10.30pm – another victim of the league’s archaic time controls. Sean’s rook-and-pawn endgame went to adjudication, but we have agreed to a Hounslow win due to Sean’s opponent’s overwhelming pawn majority. 

A busy February now faces Kingston B, with a game every Monday of the month. Hopefully our first victory is just around the corner. 

Gregor Smith, Kingston B captain in the Thames Valley League

Sheridan leads the way in Kingston C win at Hounslow

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.

Stephen Daines, Kingston third-team captain

CSC/Kingston 1 enter promotion race after perfect 4NCL weekend

Supersub Foley inspires CSC/Kingston 1 to dual wins as the team acclimatises itself to the heady heights of division 3

The unexpected elevation to division 3 of the 4NCL has not fazed CSC/Kingston 1, who won their third- and fourth-round matches at the weekend and are now eyeing another step up. It was a tremendous result after a week of uncertainty over who would actually be in the team at Daventry.

A few days before, the situation looked grim. Star player Peter Finn had Covid and another strong player had dropped out. All sorts of stopgaps were being considered, but would have been little more than sticking plasters given the strength of the league’s division 3, to which we were promoted at the end of 2022 when another team dropped out.

Happily, the fears did not materialise. Indeed it was a triumphant weekend for the team, who thumped Ashfield 1 5.5- -0.5 on Saturday (Ashfield recorded a minus score because they defaulted a board and were accordingly penalised) and then defeated Oxford 2 in a much closer match on Sunday.

The key to the success was that the talismanic Finn had recovered from Covid and pronounced himself fit to play, and Kingston president John Foley stepped in to replace the indisposed player. Foley admirably volunteered to cover the default on Saturday, so that his five team-mates all got games, and then won a long encounter on Sunday to secure a 4-2 victory.

The two wins leave the team on six points after four rounds – we were given one-point byes in the first two rounds, played before the promotion had been agreed. There are several sides which on paper are stronger than CSC/Kingston 1 and they have a head start because we missed the opening weekend, but after these two victories we are breathing down the necks of the leaders. Warwickshire Select 1 will be favourites, but at least we now have an opportunity to challenge for back-to-back promotions.

Stephen Moss