South Norwood v Kingston, Lauder Trophy, West Thornton Community Centre, 5 October 2023
This was always going to be a tough match and so it proved. The rules of this excellent competition dictate that the collective ratings of the six players in a team must be less than 10,500. This tends to make for very close and exciting matches, and this was no exception.
South Norwood have won the Lauder four times in its 23-year history and are expert at bringing in their team just under the 10,500 threshold to maximise their chances. They had the strong Tariq Oozeerally on board 1, the dangerous (and underrated) Simon Lea on 2, and solid players all the way down to captain David Howes on 6. We knew this was a difficult assignment.
Jon Eckert, playing with the black pieces on board 3, drew first blood for Kingston with a fine win over Kaddu Makusa, opening up the g-file and using his queen and rook to inflict an irresistible mate. It looked very good for the away team because Dieter McDougall, making his debut for Kingston, was a piece up against John Ganev on board 5 and seemed nailed on to make it 2-0. But he got into horrendous time trouble, tried to play for an age on the increment and eventually blew up, falling into a mating net. South Norwood were back in the hunt.
Another new Kingstonian, Ergo Nobel, drew with the experienced Howes on 6 and Sean Tay was doing fine against Ken Chamberlain on 4, but Peter Andrews was in trouble against Simon Lea on board 2, having played what he later admitted was an unsound sac of piece for two pawns. Everything pointed to the match hingeing on the heavyweight clash on board 1 between Oozeerally, with White, and the ever reliable (indeed inspired) Peter Lalić, who has often been Tariq’s nemesis in these clubs’ encounters in the past.
This was a tremendous game, later described by a veteran Kingstonian as “one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen”. This was the position after White’s 14th move:
Four moves later, Black’s queen was trapped in the opposite corner:
But in moving between prisons, it had managed to account for both White rooks. Tariq resigned in a position which was hopeless, despite Peter’s queen still resting on h1. A quite extraordinary game, over in 19 moves.
Peter’s win and Sean’s eventual draw on board 4 took Kingston to 3-2, which guaranteed victory on board count – the top boards are given higher numerical values in the event of a tie and Kingston had won on boards 1 and 3. Peter Andrews battled on and got a pawn to the seventh, but with knight and two rooks against queen and two rooks it was going to take a miracle to get it any further. No miracle was forthcoming, so the match ended up tied at 3-3. But the wins by Lalić and Eckert were enough to secure a 12-9 win on board count, and Kingston march on to the next round, where we will face Coulsdon or Dorking.
Alexander Cup first round played over 10 boards at St Thomas’s Church, Streatham on 3 October 2023
Kingston, playing away to Streatham & Brixton, won 7-3 in the first round of the Alexander Cup, which is the knockout competition for teams in the Surrey League. This was the opening fixture of the season for Kingston’s first team, which won impressively on the top five boards. In spite of the summer break, the team has come back refreshed and ready for action. No doubt the fact that most of the top players participated in the Kingston Invitational has helped to expand their opening repertoires, strengthen their positional nous and sharpen their tactics. Although the final result was convincing, during the match the games ebbed and flowed and after two and a half hours Kingston was only edging ahead 4-3.
The highlight of the match was the win on board 1 for Kingston by David Maycock (ECF-rated 2289) against Venkat Tiruchirapalli (2320). This was their second encounter in the Alexander Cup this calendar year – David also beat Venkat in last season’s semi-final in January. Venkat played the Breyer Variation against David’s Ruy Lopez, but soon got into trouble. David, who had prepared for the encounter, made not one but two exchange sacrifices to leave Venkat in zugzwang with queens still on the board. This was a sublime game which the team members praised afterwards as being among David’s best so far in his promising career.
On board 2, Streatham’s Phil Makepeace (2176) avoided early complications by going for a double fianchetto in a queen’s pawn opening. Vladimir Li (2263) put his queen’s bishop outside the pawn chain and waited for White to do something. Sure enough, White opened up the position, after which the Vladimir’s more actively placed pieces dominated the board. At 9:01pm our on-site commentator Stephen Moss sent an update on WhatsApp to the club faithful: “Vladimir’s position against Phil Makepeace is wild. Monster calculation required.” Two minutes later he was obliged to issue a correction, “Ignore my last message. My stupidity. For wild read complex, but Vladimir had it under complete control and his opponent has just resigned.” This is the burden upon a chess commentator – how to rapidly assess a complex position between strong players.
Kingston’s Mike Healey (2236) against James Toon (2097) on board 3 was the first game to finish in just over an hour and notched the first point to Kingston. Mike belied his reputation as a purveyor of chess anarchy by playing a splendidly practical game. He thought it was dull; we found it delicious. He went a pawn up, traded off pieces and that was that. He could take the early train home.
The board 4 game between Streatham’s Robin Haldane (2076) as White and Silverio Abasolo (2226) was a delight to watch. Robin advanced his pawns in the middle and on the kingside with aggressive intent. Silverio was completely calm about the situation and to while away the time watched some other games until Robin finally launched his attack. Silverio was fully prepared and had massed several pieces against Robin’s f4-pawn in an obverse strategy to overprotection. Once the position opened up, it was clear that Silverio held the upper hand. However, Robin had some tricks up his sleeve and, although down to just a few minutes, he reeled off some fancy moves. Silverio had seen it all and won a piece for two passed pawns. The endgame was blitzed out by both players. Whereas ordinary players might try to stop the passed pawns, Silverio opted to go for checkmate directly. It was not obvious how he was going to mate with rook and bishop against a king on the flank, but with the reinforcement of the king into the fray he achieved victory in the nick of time.
Matthew Tillett (1988) of Streatham put up strong resistance in the Pirc Defence to Peter Lalić (2251) on board 5. Peter described the game as uneventful, by which he meant there were no sacrifices or wild attacks. Peter focused on improving the position of his pieces and sidelining the enemy knight on the queenside. As the pieces were gradually exchanged, the relative advantage of Peter’s pieces became evident. It was a slow and systematic victory.
Whereas on the top half of the team list, Kingston scored 5/5, on the more evenly matched bottom half Kingston scored only 2/5. Peter Andrews (board 8) and Alan Scrimgour (board 10) took draws, having checked the match position. On board 6, Ben Simpson (1977) defended well against Will Taylor (2091), who left himself with too little time to prosecute the attack. When Ben forced the exchange of queens, Will’s attack was bust and Streatham took the point. On board 9, Kingston’s Julian Way essayed the Three Knights Game a little too casually, leaving his king stranded in the middle unable to castle. Mark O’Neill finished off the game with a sacrificial flourish.
David Rowson was making no progress on board 7 and his offer of a draw was refused by Azizur Rahman. As the game drifted into completely drawn territory, David adopted a stoic demeanour. Suddenly, out of the blue, David complicated matters by sacrificing the exchange for a couple of pawns and an advanced outpost for his knight. Nobody could work out who was winning as the worn-out players entered a time scramble. In the dramatic finale, they each had a minute left on the clock. Rahman allowed a knight fork against king and rook. David picked up his knight and played it to the wrong square, but before he released his finger he switched squares to deliver the fatal blow. The victory came after two hours and 50 minutes of intense concentration.
The time control was 75 minutes plus 10 seconds for each move. This match was the first played under the new arrangements for three-hour matches in the Surrey League. Both teams had non-playing captains – John Foley for Kingston and Martin Smith for Streatham. During the match, the captains conducted detailed discussion about how to interpret the new arrangements whereby the clocks are stopped after three hours of play and the result of each game is to be “determined” by agreement between the captains and the relevant players, with the default being adjudication. Fortunately all the games were completed with 10 minutes to spare, so the new arrangements did not need to be activated.
Kingston has won the Alexander Cup for the past two seasons. We will now face Coulsdon at home in the semi-final, with Epsom or Wimbledon waiting should we progress to the final. On a personal note, Martin Smith kindly purchased a copy of my new book for beginners, Checkmate!, which has just been published. It is to be an addition to the Streatham chess library and a recommendation to Streatham juniors. To be fair, I had previously purchased a copy of Martin’s magisterial history of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club. Authors in the chess sphere provide support to each other.
Thames Valley division X match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 2 October 2023
It is fair to say that this was not the optimum start to our 2023/24 season – a 4-0 whitewash at the hands of visitors Maidenhead C. But fair play to Maidenhead for bringing a strong team, and well done too for getting to the club in excellent time despite a long journey. The match actually started two minutes early, which is unheard of in the Thames Valley League. The Maidenhead captain, Yuri Krylov, said he was new to captaincy and that no one had told him how far it was from Maidenhead to Kingston. Such naivety.
Kingston junior William Lin on board 4 had a sharp encounter with Pierre Roy, who looked a more than capable player. Roy got the better of the tactical battle, and the two players retired to the garden of the pub for a friendly post-mortem, with William’s father watching intently. “We know where we went wrong,” he said as the analysis ended, which is surely the point both of junior chess and of this important training division.
On board 1, Colin Lyle essayed a French Defence against Krylov, but the result was far from joli for the Kingston player as Colin went the exchange down and the Maidenhead captain smoothly converted. Jaden Mistry on board 2 and Ergo Nobel, making his club debut on board 3, fought hard in games which went to the wire, but both eventually succumbed in tight rook endgames. Things can, to coin a phrase, only get better.
There was a tremendous attendance on the night by social players, including two who had come along in the wake of the opening of the concrete chess tables at the Fairfield recreation ground in central Kingston, and in an effort to lift the spirits after an opening-match drubbing here’s an attempted arty picture of night-time chess in the incongruous beach huts in the garden of the Willoughby Arms. Enticing, don’t you think?
This week sees a hugely significant away match in the first round of the Alexander Cup against a strong Streatham team as Kingston start their defence of that coveted title, as well as the opening Lauder Trophy match against South Norwood (a tricky draw in both competitions). And next week we begin our Thames Valley division 1 title defence. There will be no hiding place in a tough eight-month campaign comprising more than 70 matches. Frankly, we feel exhausted just thinking about it. Back to the beach huts and roll on summer!
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 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.
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.
The photographs below were taken by Leila Raivio.
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.
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.
How well do chess players with different ratings solve different types of tactical chess positions? And how long does it take them to do so? The Chessable science team invites chess players to take part in an online test. This test is part of research on decision-making in chess. The test consists of 10 positions which should be solved in a maximum of five minutes each. Before the test begins, there are two sample puzzles. After solving the positions, participants may answer some questions via a link.
Chess players of all levels can participate. The only condition is to have a Fide Elo rating. To participate, click on https://chessable.typeform.com/decisionmakingto fill in a short questionnaire (Elo rating, name, etc.). After a few weeks, you will get a link to the online test. The questionnaire closes on October 15, 2023. The names of participants will be kept confidential. The research results will lead to a paper and a blog on the Chessable site.
Via the questionnaire, participants can opt for a one-month free Chessable PRO Account. To get the Chessable PRO account, list your existing Chessable account or create a Chessable account for free at www.chessable.com. After November 21 you will see the PRO status when you open your account.
An impressive performance against a strong field gives Peter Lalić victory in the third Kingston Summer Blitz tournament
The final blitz tournament of the Kingston Summer Blitz Series was won by Peter Lalić. He scored 5.5/6 to hold off a strong field which included two titled players, some very talented juniors and a few new faces. Peter defeated Staines’ Ye Kyaw in the final round to clinch first place. Kyaw (4/6), who had a very impressive tournament, took the U2000 grading prize.
There was a titanic battle in round 4, with FM Vladimir Li taking on IM Graeme Buckley. A minor piece and pawns endgame went on for well over 100 moves, with both managing to promote. A tense finish, with Buckley playing on the increment, eventually ended in a draw, with the engrossed crowd (and tournament organisers fearing a very late night) breathing a sigh of relief.
However, stealing the show as ever was the seven-strong junior contingent, playing with confidence and poise. Youngsters William Lin (2.5/6) and Ethan Bogerd (3/6) picked up some impressive results and look like promising prospects, while Jaden Mistry again mopped up the giantkiller prize with another two victories against 2000-rated opponents. Jaden continues to go from strength to strength.
Special mention to Ben Hambridge, who popped his head into the club before heading back to university and picked up the U1600 grading prize with a solid 4/6. And thanks to Julian Way for acting as tournament organiser, allowing me to play this time. We will be back in the winter with the next edition.
1st – Peter Lalić (5.5/6) 2nd – IM Graeme Buckley (5/6) 3rd – FM Vladimir Li (4.5/6) U2000 grading prize – Ye Kyaw (4/6) U1600 grading prize – Ben Hambridge (4/6) Giantkiller prize – Jaden Mistry
Report by Gregor Smith, Kingston Summer Blitz organiser
Silverio Abasolo scores 5.5/6 against a powerful field to win the second blitz tournament of the summer at the Willoughby Arms
The Kingston Blitz series continued with 21 players from Kingston, Surbiton and Richmond chess clubs congregating on Monday 17 July for six rounds of 7+3 blitz. A strong field was assembled, with seven players rated above 2000, plus a few dangerous juniors lurking for scalps.
It was one of those juniors – Kingston’s fast-improving Jaden Mistry – who set the early pace, with impressive victories over 2000+ rated players Will Taylor and Julian Way. An impressive feat, all but wrapping up the giantkiller prize with four rounds to spare.
Round 3 saw the first clash of the titans, as Peter Lalić and Silverio Abasolo faced off in fierce fashion. With both down to their final three seconds, Silverio played at lightning pace, building his time back up to 30 seconds before managing to force his pawns to promotion to clinch the game.
Meanwhile, Mike Healey and David Maycock had successfully navigated the first three rounds with perfect scores and met on top board in round 4. Mike opened up his kingside, putting pressure on David’s defences with rooks on a1 and b1 threatening from range, and eventually smashed through to pick up the exchange. Mike then began to force home his material advantage, grabbing pawns, but David, who never gives up, battled on and managed to fork Mike’s rook and king, turning the tables and securing victory. “You always manage a swindle, David,” chirped Peter Lalić.
David (4/4) would now face Silverio (3.5/4) in what looked to be a fifth-round title decider, and it was Silverio, playing with the black pieces, who prevailed. In the final round, Silverio was up against Joseph Morrison, a talented Surbiton junior who put up another excellent Kingston Blitz performance, gaining his third consecutive U2000 grading prize. Something tells me he won’t be eligible for this category for much longer. However, it was the impressive Abasolo who came out on top, winning the tournament with an unbeaten 5.5/6.
The event was held at Monty’s Nepalese Restaurant in Kingston on 29 June 2023
One week after our AGM, 21 members gathered for the annual club dinner, this time at a Nepalese restaurant in a central location in Kingston, to celebrate the best season in our history. To facilitate conversation, there was a seating plan which placed members alongside others of a similar age and rating. This technique seems to have worked because a memorable evening was enjoyed by all.
The highlight of the proceedings was the prize-giving. This year we dispensed with our former categories, such as the player who achieved the best performance. Instead we focused on one captain and one player who made the crucial difference. David Rowson received the prize for Captain of the Year for having steered our first-team players to win both Surrey League Division 1 and Thames Valley League Division 1. The prize for Player of the Year went to Silverio Abasolo. His results during the season were admirable, but the crucial one was his game against IM Chris Baker which he managed to win from a rather dubious position to enable Kingston to retain the Alexander Cup – the premier knockout cup for the Surrey League.
This season Kingston also won the knockout cup for the Thames Valley League, as well as Division X in the Thames Valley League under the stewardship of Stephen Daines. To add icing to the cake, our 4NCL team, having started the season in Division 4, won promotion to Division 2 (a third-division team having pulled out, allowing accelerated promotion).
The prizes were handed out by club president John Foley. Unfortunately the new secretary had forgotten to bring the glittering baubles, so a bar of chocolate was handed over as an exchangeable token instead. The president made an engaging and witty speech setting out the facts above. When he finally sat down after 15 minutes, there was relief amongst those assembled who had been warned by the secretary to expect a speech lasting at least an hour.
Vladimir Li scores 5.5/6 to see off a strong field in the first of a series of blitzes at the Willoughby Arms planned for the summer
After a successful pilot in April, competitive blitz returned to the Willoughby Arms on Monday 19 June as Kingston Chess Club hosted the first of a series of summer blitz tournaments. It was a six-round Swiss with the “long” (for blitz!) time control of seven minutes plus a three-second increment per move. Twenty-two Kingstonians welcomed four players from neighbouring Surbiton Chess Club – we are keen to open these events to other local clubs whenever possible – in a 26-player field.
Round one went to form, with the more experienced players successfully fending off the recent influx of Kingston juniors, who enthusiastically battled away all evening. The highlight of the second round was a delightful (except for his opponent) smothered mate by Josh Lea, whose forced queen sac on g1 was followed by Nf2++, leaving Jimmy Kerr’s king helplessly stranded in the corner. “Just like you do in the puzzles!”, Josh remarked wittily. Philidor, after whom this mating pattern is named, would no doubt share Josh’s pleasure. Henceforth, we will call this Lea’s Legacy.
The first upset came in round 3 as club president John Foley got the better of reigning Kingston blitz champion Peter Lalić. John has annotated this interesting game. A less interesting game played out on board 3, where Alan Scrimgour’s queen and king fork on move five saw an early resignation and wry smile from Surbiton’s Graham Alcock. A distinctly unneighbourly gesture from the Kingston chair.
In round 4, Foley claimed another scalp, this time of Kingston star David Maycock, who flagged in time trouble. That put Foley, who claims to be only a moderate blitz player, on the perfect score of 4/4, sharing the lead with Vladimir Li, whose victory against Alan Scrimgour also took him to 4/4.
At the same time, the action was hotting up on the lower boards – in every sense, as it was a very warm evening – with the usual blitz madness of spectacular blunders, swindles and flagging in winning positions. Nick Grey was unfortunate to lose on time against Stephen Moss as he was about to deliver the coup de grâce, in a game Nick had completely dominated. What a cruel form of chess blitz is.
Foley and Li faced off in round 5, in what looked to be the tournament decider. And it was Li who prevailed, putting the Kingston president in an unbreakable bind to go a full point ahead of the chasing pack. Li went on to draw with Peter Lalić in an entertaining and richly tactical final-round game to claim outright first prize with an unbeaten 5.5/6. All in all, another successful running of the Kingston Blitz, which was played in great spirit. We will be back on Monday 17 July for the next edition.
1st Vladimir Li (5.5/6) (prize = £50) 2nd= John Foley (4.5/6) 2nd= Alan Scrimgour (4.5/6) 2nd= David Maycock (4.5/6) U2000 prize – Jojo Morrison (4/6) U1600 prize – Jaden Mistry/Josh Lea (3/6) Giantkiller prize – John Foley
Report by Gregor Smith, Kingston Summer Blitz organiser
Surrey League division 2 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 29 May 2023
Well that, frankly, was bizarre. This was a crunch relegation match between Kingston 2 and South Norwood 1. Lose it and we would go down to division 3. If South Norwood 1, who on their day can field a strong side, were to lose by more than 5-2, they would be relegated. We expected them to come with a strong team. As it was, only four South Norwood players showed up.
The three defaults gave us an instant 3-0 lead. We were almost safe without having to push a pawn – thank you South Norwood! Alan Scrimgour then agreed an early-ish draw with Paul Dupré on board 2 to ensure a drawn match – enough for us to leapfrog Surbiton 1 and survive in the division. Soon after, Nick Grey agreed a draw with South Norwood captain Simon Lea on board 5 to win the match and ensure we finished the division clear of the relegation zone. That left two extremely hard-fought games: Peter Andrews against the 2220-rated Marcus Osborne on board 1 and David Shalom against Ibrahim Abouchakra on board 6.
Peter played excellently, pressing throughout and having the better of the game, but Marcus is nothing if not resourceful. He kept posing counter-threats and setting traps, and in time trouble Peter blundered and allowed a mate. Peter was, naturally, not best pleased, but the consolation is that he has had a tremendous season and contributed hugely both to the first team’s triumphs and to keeping both B teams in the second divisions of the Surrey and Thames Valley leagues.
David Shalom was also on top in his game, winning the exchange, but Ibrahim used his bishop well against David’s rook to control a pawn advance, eventually queening and forcing mate. Again, disappointment for David, but his return to competitive chess this season has been a great success, and he played a key role in the vital second-team victory away to Surbiton 1 which helped make survival in this tough division possible.
The four players from South Norwood had done well, limiting Kingston’s victory to 4-3, which means they, too, will survive in division 2, sending Surbiton 1 down. Truly, a bizarre conclusion to a very strange evening. The moral of this tale may be “Don’t play league chess matches on bank holidays.”
Stephen Moss, Kingston 2 acting captain in Surrey League