St Lukes

Kingston makes solid entry into its first Southern Counties Team RapidPlay

Played at St Luke’s Church, Kidderpore Avenue, London NW3 7SU, 22 June 2024

by Jameel Jameel with contributions from the team

This was Kingston’s first time competing in the SCCU/London Clubs RapidPlay Championship, and I was elated when Kingston president John Foley kindly offered me the captaincy. The Southern Counties Chess Union, which represents the counties around London, set up a team championship two years ago which has filled the gap left by the demise of the National Club Championships. There were three sections: Minor, Intermediate and Major. We dipped our toe into the water by entering the Minor, where the average team rating cannot exceed 1600.

My team-mates were David Shalom, Edward Mospan and Robin Kerremans. I would like to express my gratitude to them for committing their Saturday at such short notice. We were notified a few days ahead of the event that a place had become available due to another club having dropped out.  

Team tournaments are great fun but you only get out of them what you put in. The SCCU Rapidplay tournament was enjoyable on all levels. One must have a positive attitude and keep that attitude throughout the day. Team camaraderie was high and an important factor in our experience. Even though this was Kingston’s first time in this SCCU event, we were among familiar faces and could put faces to familiar names. The event was as social as it was competitive, and we enjoyed the off-board chats. 

Playing in the Minor section was the right choice: not too much pressure but enough of a challenge to make every game enjoyable. This was my first tournament and, I must say, I underestimated the psychological aspect involved in remaining dogged. There were six rounds with a time control of 25min+5sec.


Edward Mospan: I was resolved not to be pressured into playing hastily just because my opponent does. I have experienced more than once the mutually bad move theme when in an equal or winning position. In the words of Svetozar Gligorić, I play against pieces and not the opponent. Here is my second-round win against a player rated 1680. After this, I was on a high.

Robin Kerremans: In one of my games I got to try out a variation of the Caro-Kann that John Foley showed me [Tartakower Variation – JF], where you trade off knights on f6 and double a pawn. I got my opponent to lose his rook early on. My most memorable game was in round 2 against Gero Tona (Beckenham and Bromley) when I played the English against a King’s Indian-like set-up. At some point, my opponent thought that his time in minutes on the clock was actually in seconds, and he started playing more erratically. But up to that point, I was already pressing an advantage – here is the position.

Jameel Jameel: I have been accused of being a somewhat obstinate individual when faced with matters requiring objectivity, and chess is certainly one of those matters. However, chess is dynamic and can be very volatile – one second you’re winning and the next you blunder the position entirely. Certainly, in my final game, a combination of over-confidence (being a rook up against three passed pawns) and mental fatigue (feeling relieved I was going to end the tournament with an easy win) led to my demise.

I found myself in a position whereby a rook and advanced passed pawn, versus a knight defending the queening square, was seemingly a sure win. At face value, the heuristic I had in mind was to queen, let him capture, and simply be up a rook against three pawns. Had I exerted even the slightest cognitive effort, I would have realised that I could have pinned his knight to his king and been up a queen. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur to me, and in only a few moves I found myself having to trade off my rook for one of his passed pawns and ultimately losing a game I had no business losing (after a barrage of mindless checks).

I felt that I took out the heavyweights (1900s) effectively, but got overconfident in winning positions against lower-rated players and ultimately lost those games. I was happy to have won against Paul Jeffrey and Marcus Gosling – the top and third highest-rated players respectively in our division. I was not acquainted with Marcus, the President of the Epsom Chess Club, although Ed recognised him. I managed to chase his king until checkmate was unstoppable:

Whilst the tournament could have (and frankly, in my case, should have) gone better, it was a great effort individually and collectively. I recall side-eyeing the adjacent boards thinking “We’ve got this in the bag” only to return being told that we lost the round. We came tenth and trounced the team that came fourth. Considering our team was formed at less than 24 hours’ notice, I think we should consider that a success.

Robin and I achieved 4/6. Ed and David looked in their elements – both guiding us in the right direction when we didn’t know where to go. Teams from south-west London did well: Epsom won the Minor and Richmond won the Major. Congratulations to them. Here are their prizewinners.

Epsom won the Minor
Richmond won the Major