Strong Ashtead side see off challenge of Kingston 2

Surrey League division 2 match played at the Peace Memorial Hall, Ashtead, on 25 October 2022

Although reigning Surrey division 2 champions, Kingston’s second team are under no illusions that this season will be tough. Our prize-winning side has now sailed into the top division leaving a ragbag of old-timers and young hopefuls to crew the new ship. Julian Way’s side is up against four strong club first teams – Epsom, Surbiton, South Norwood and Ashtead – and will be a likely candidate for relegation. Better this than the alternative that we get promoted and end up having to play ourselves in division 1. Guildford seem to manage this regularly but we are more sensitive souls.

Our first encounter in the division, away to Ashtead, was far from being a disaster. Indeed, the pluses outweighed the minuses. Kingston offered stiff resistance to a strong Ashtead team that outrated Kingston by well over a hundred rating points per board.

Former club president Ljubica Lazarevic won her game on board 7. A critical position was reached where her young opponent missed a tactic which would have given some counterplay.

White to play. You can find the answer on the game page referenced above.

Julian Way drew with Phil Brooks on board 2, which given Way’s experience and strength was not a surprise despite the rating disparity. More unexpected were the draws secured by Max Selemir against Bertie Barlow on board 5 and Gregor Smith against Ian McLeod on board 6. Terrific results against formidable opponents.

The youthful Selemir promises to be a key player for Kingston in future years, while Smith, who is captaining Kingston 2 in the Thames Valley League this season, gets better with every match after returning to competitive chess from a long lay-off, and will hopefully also be a vital member of the club in years to come as both player and organiser.

Kingston’s struggled on the higher boards. Kingston first-team star Peter Lalić was for once pitted against his regular team on board 1 – intriguingly, he has decided to play for four different clubs in the main four divisions of the Surrey League this season – and got the better of current club president John Foley in a hard-fought battle. Foley was level for much of the close manoeuvring game, but chose the wrong moment to reposition his knight, losing a vital tempo after which Peter secured the win efficiently.

On board 3 another multi-club player, Ashtead’s Seb Galer, overcame the resilient Peter Andrews with White, and on the board below, in the battle of the Jonathans, Hinton (author of the much-admired A Gnat May Drink) beat Eckert. That made it 4.5-2.5 to Ashtead, and while it never looked as if Kingston would spring a surprise nor did the home side have it all their own way.

It was the second loss on successive days for Kingston, as the day before the club’s third team had been defeated 2.5-1.5 at home by Hounslow C in Thames Valley division X, which provides an excellent training ground for players new to league chess.

Stephen Moss and John Foley