CSC/Kingston 1 reach dizzy heights of 4NCL Div 1

An extraordinary and stressful final 4NCL weekend of the season saw CSC/Kingston 1 win promotion to division 1 and CSC/Kingston 2 go down to division 4, leaving tricky questions for the squad for next season.

What drama there was in Daventry and Telford at the denouement of the 2023/24 4NCL season. At Daventry, CSC/Kingston 1 played superbly to win all three of their matches and secure second place in the final table and promotion to division 1 of the league, where teams with clusters of GMs await. Anyone fancy playing Alexei Shirov next season? Actually all our leading players will fancy it – and will give a very good account of themselves.

IM Vladyslav Larkin, who made a brilliant debut for CSC/Kingston 1, beating GM and three-times British champion Jonathan Mestel and scoring 2.5/3, would certainly be up for the challenge. As would CM David Maycock (pictured above), who scored 3/3 over the final weekend to complete a tremendous 4NCL season in which he scored 9.5/11 and racked up a rating over the 11-round competition of 2550-plus. It was more than enough for a nailed-on IM norm, except that one of the opposing teams at the final weekend managed not to give him the titled player he needed to satisfy that requirement. Very disappointing for David, and indeed infuriating for the entire team. That we did not let our fury destabilise us and kept our eye on the promotion prize made the success all the more admirable.

At Telford, valiantly though CSC/Kingston 2 battled, all the results went against us and we were relegated from division 3 (knights) to division 4. Having such a gulf between the two teams makes squad management difficult, and it is imperative that we work hard to get a team back into division 3 next year. Division 3 is perfect for players rated 2000-plus – highly competitive, with good games guaranteed in every round. Division 4 can be more hit and miss, with a big gap between the strong teams and the rest.

A word for CSC/Kingston 3, who performed creditably all season in division 4 and ended in the top half of the 27-team table (might there be scope for making 4NCL a five-division league?). Jon Eckert should be mentioned in dispatches: he played every round and drove thousands of miles to ensure that he and his team-mates were at the venues in good time. On a given Saturday or Sunday, especially when the team was playing in Telford, he would spend five hours playing and more than that driving up from London and back. Utterly exhausting and truly selfless. It is not just the first team that has heroes.

The three teams were as always excellently managed by team captains Kate and Charlie Cooke, who handled the logistics of getting 20 players per round to distant motorway hotel locations with aplomb. How they do it I have no idea. It requires the motivational powers of Alex Ferguson and the operational nous of a food distribution company. Well done to them and well done to the players who got CSC/Kingston 1 to the top of the mountain. Now, how do we set about establishing a serious foothold there?

All the results from the weekend’s three rounds are shown below, as well as the final tables. 4NCL has yet to publish the games from rounds 10 and 11. At some point, when the games have been published and we have had time to analyse them, a number of them will be annotated and added to this website’s games section.

Stephen Moss, Secretary, Kingston Chess Club

CSC/Kingston 1

CSC/Kingston 2

CSC/Kingston 3

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