Kingston pummel Richmond B in Thames Valley clash

Thames Valley League division 1 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston, on 28 November 2022

In the chess leagues we play in there are many matches which could qualify as derbies – for instance, Kingston versus Surbiton and Kingston versus Wimbledon, to name just two. Matches against Richmond teams are another example and, having recently played their A team, here we took on their B team (both Thames Valley League matches) and next week will play Richmond again in the Thames Valley Knockout. It’s good to play opponents we know well and are friends with, even though the rivalry is real.

Another aspect of this is that it sometimes happens that players face opponents who might be on their side in another league. Last night, for the second time this season against a Richmond team, Peter Lalić faced an opponent, Jon Eckert, who also plays for Kingston in other competitions. This didn’t incline Peter to be pacific; using yet another original opening line (1. Nc3 e6; 2. h4!? – Peter might disagree with the annotation!) he won in 18 moves.

Peter was on board 1 as David Maycock was tied up moving house (though in any case their ECF ratings are now so close as to make them almost interchangeable at the top of the Kingston order), but Alan Scrimgour kindly stepped in at short notice to make sure we had a full team. It was also good to have Will Taylor playing, having journeyed down from North London.

Kingston chair stepped in as a late substitute and won with his favourite Sicilian Taimanov

The final score of the match reflected the large difference in ratings (on average, just over 220 points). However, as usual the games were generally competitive, and one or two might have ended differently. I’m thinking specifically here of my own game, in which, facing a line of the Italian which I play myself, I managed to end up in an inferior position. Fortunately, this encouraged my opponent to attack on the kingside too quickly, and I was able to exploit the holes this created. In Will’s game the turnaround was different: having won the exchange neatly against Bertie Barlow, Will lost it again in time trouble and was unable to win the resulting theoretically drawn rook ending.

Julian Way played an unusual line against Sampson Low’s French Defence and emerged from complications two pieces up. On board 2, Vladimir Li fatally destroyed his opponent’s king’s pawn cover, and on board 6 Alan, playing his favourite Sicilian Taimanov, won a pawn and eventually the game, on time.

A very satisfying evening for Kingston A. In our first two Thames Valley Division 1 matches this season we have a record of 10.5 for and 1.5 against, all versus Richmond teams, who may not feel it’s such a friendly derby. Now we need to show the same form in the Surrey League: next up Coulsdon CCF on 12 December, a tough challenge.

David Rowson, Kingston first-team captain