Surbiton 1 too strong for Kingston 2 in local derby

Kingston 2 v Surbiton 1, Surrey League division 2 match played at the Willoughby Arms, Kingston on 22 April 2024

There was nothing (except local pride) riding on this match – Surbiton could not catch divisional champions Ashtead and we were safe from relegation – but our neighbours in the borough of Kingston nevertheless brought a strong first team to the Willoughby and were too good for our seconds, running out 5-2 winners. We were nonetheless happy with our four draws, and the other three games were all very well contested, so it was a satisfying evening given the rating disparity between the two teams.

Performance of the night for Kingston came from Jon Eckert, who played with typical élan with Black on board 4 to hold Liam Bayly, despite the latter being rated 250 points above him. Alan Scrimgour drew with the dangerous Altaf Chaudhry on board 3, and David Shalom also secured an excellent draw against Graham Alcock on board 7. Indeed, in the bar afterwards when I congratulated him on the draw against an opponent rated 100 points above him, he looked a little crestfallen at not having pressed home his advantage. I must learn not to seek to limit my players’ expectations. Ratings are only numbers after all.

Our other draw came from David Rowson in the battle of the Davids – his opponent was the highly rated David Scott – on board 1. David R played a Caro-Kann to which David S responded with a very solid set-up, and after some complicated middlegame jostling a draw was agreed in the position below, where White has a small edge because of Black’s pawn islands.

“I think I should have played on as I had a bit of an advantage,” David said later with typical honesty, “but I was getting tired after trying to work out what was going on previously. Neither of us completely understood what was going on.”

There was a fascinating clash of the captains on board 5 – Kingston skipper Gregor Smith with White against his opposite number Nick Faulks. Gregor played the Smith-Morra Gambit (how could a Smith play anything else?) against Nick’s Sicilian and really went for it. We will show the game in full.

The other two games also resulted in losses, but both were extremely tight encounters. Nick Grey was beaten by Andrew Boughen on board 6, extra pawns in a minor piece endgame deciding the issue, and Surbiton’s ever creative Jasper Tambini got the better of Julian Way in a high-level match-up on board 2. Julian played a sharp response to Jasper’s Ruy Lopez, and after 11 moves he had a slight edge in the position below.

But Jasper is a fine tactician and made imaginative use of his knights on the kingside while threatening a pawn storm on the queenside. He built up a solid advantage and eventually found a winning tactic to seal the deal. That gave Surbiton a well-deserved 5-2 victory in a match played in an excellent spirit between two clubs who have mastered the art of friendly local rivalry.

Stephen Moss, Kingston captain in Surrey League division 2

Final table