Kingston 2 avoid the drop in Surrey Div 2 (with a little help)

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