Kingston newbies come of age at South Norwood

South Norwood 3 v Kingston 4, Surrey League division 5 match played at West Thornton Community Centre, Thornton Heath on 4 April 2024

On the same night that the old soaks of Kingston 2 lost to South Norwood 1, a (mostly) young, boundlessly enthusiastic Kingston 4 team led by acting captain Ed Mospan strolled to a 4.5-1.5 victory against South Norwood 3. After our all-conquering season in 2022-23, we have had some setbacks this year, but here was hope for the future: the inspiring Mospan, who initiated the Kingston Rapidplays a few years ago, has returned to the club after a three-year absence, and four of the other five players are new to Kingston this season. Clubs have constantly to renew themselves, and here was renewal in action.

Ed himself, perhaps weighed down by the burden of the acting captaincy (the usual third- and fourth-team captain, Stephen Daines, was indisposed), lost a quickfire game to John Ganev on board 2, both players blitzing out their moves as if they were competing in one of Ed’s much-missed rapidplays (time for a revival surely). That gave South Norwood 3 an early 1-0 lead, but it was to be the only reverse of the night.

A succession of wins for Kingston’s new “fab four”, none of whom has played more than a handful of rated games for us or indeed anybody else, followed. David Bickerstaff (pictured above, right, alongside Captain Mospan) beat the very experienced South Norwood captain David Howes on board 3; Leon Mellor-Sewell, brimming with confidence, won well on board 4; Ergo Nobel, continuing a fine run of form, won on board 5; and Rob Taylor triumphed in a chaotic game on board 6.

Sean Tay, a veteran in this Kingston team having been at the club for a couple of seasons, then rounded off a very satisfying evening with a draw against super-solid South Norwood stalwart Ken Chamberlain after a three-hour struggle on board 1.

Kingston may have had more glamorous team victories this season, but there has been none that gave me this much pleasure: a group of players relatively new to chess bonding as a team and bringing home the spoils after the sort of lengthy journey that only members who are really enthusiastic about playing for the club are willing to make. That all-important renewal is in safe hands.

Stephen Moss, Kingston Chess Club secretary