Kingston 2 win the Centenary Trophy by a whisker

Epsom’s failure to secure a draw in their final match against South Norwood mean they fall at the final hurdle, allowing Adam Nakar’s team to snatch promotion

In a way, this was the sweetest triumph of all in a season in which there have been plenty. Kingston’s second team had started off the season using the Centenary Trophy (division 4 of the Surrey League) as a testing ground for the new players who had joined in the wake of the pandemic – people who had got the chess bug online and now wanted to play some over-the-board chess. It was only halfway through the season when we suddenly realised “We can win this”.

In the end, we were a little lucky. Excellent wins away to South Norwood and Richmond put the team captained by Adam Nakar in the hunt, but we needed other results to go our way. In particular, we needed long-time league leaders Epsom 3 to stumble away to South Norwood 2. That trip was always going to be a tricky proposition for Epsom, but they only needed a draw to seal the division and seemed confident of getting it.

The match stood 3-2 to South Norwood on the night, but the game between South Norwood’s Ken Chamberlain and Epsom’s David Flewellen was adjourned, with the higher-rated Flewellen pressing for the win which would level the match at 3-3 and give Epsom the trophy. When they resumed a few weeks later, Flewellen carried on pressing, but Chamberlain is noted for his doughty defence and the issue was still undecided when they adjourned again. Because it was so late in the season, no third session was permitted under league rules, thwarting Epsom’s bid and handing the trophy to Kingston.

Flewellen sent the Kingston captain a note offering hearty congratulations, which was an extremely generous and sporting gesture in the circumstances. At every stage this season, Kingston and Epsom have been locked together in tough tussles, and it speaks volumes that the camaraderie between the two rival clubs has remained intact.

Kingston, Epsom and South Norwood all finished on 3.5 match points, and even the game points were tight, with Kingston 2 winning the division by a mere half-point from Epsom, with South Norwood close behind in third. A wonderful and unexpected end to the league season. Congratulations to Adam and his team.

Stephen Moss