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Captain's Report

4NCL 2014-15 Season

Surbiton entered two teams into Division 3 of 4NCL in the 2014-15 season. This was a bit of a risk, given that we didn't have the maximum number of nominated players allowed (24), although we did have close to that number. The ambition was for the 1st team to win promotion into Division 2 by finishing in the top 4, or failing that to finish in the top 16 to ensure staying in the new Division 3 in 2015-16 (and avoid going down to the new Division 4). To put that mission in perspective, there were 60 teams in Division 3 (North and South combined), making either ambition no small task.

We had more than enough players for both teams for the 1st weekend in November 2014. We had a great start with both teams winning on the Saturday - which led to a great celebration at an Indian restaurant in Daventry! (See picture.) But sadly we were brought back down to earth on the Sunday with two losses...

In Round 1, our 1st team faced Midland Monarchs 1, a team largely made up of juniors, led by IM Lawrence Cooper. Their average of FIDE 1800 belied their true abilities. The team won 4-2, with wins from Paul Shepherd, Ian Henderson, Koby Kalavannan and Alan Crombleholme, excellent job! Several short and sharp games were played, although the board 1 struggle took the longest to finish. Our 2nd team had an average of FIDE 1880 for the weekend, and while this put us firmly in the lower half of the draw, we were still a competitive side and slightly underrated probably. In R1, our 2nd team played Oxford 2, a team rated FIDE 1949 on average. We were out-rated on 4 of 6 boards, particularly on the higher boards. Despite this we triumphed with 3.5-2.5 with brilliant wins from Hugh Fenwick and Paul Durrant! Both these games were highly complex struggles but when the smoke cleared there was no doubt about the result. Excellent job! Just goes to show we can win against higher rated teams.

In Round 2, the 1st team faced Downend & Fishponds, a strong team with an average of FIDE 2111, making them the 4th highest rated team on the day. Our 1st team was rated an average 2052 and this match saw us out-rated on most boards. It was a very gruelling match with most games going into the 5th hour of play and I believe we were unfortunate to lose by a margin of 4.5-1.5, which did not reflect how hard-fought the match was. Ian's game in particular took 6 hours to complete, and at least an hour of that was a difficult rook and pawn ending. Thank you to Craig Kennedy for securing our one and only win of the match - turning around a difficult position to triumph in the 5th hour of play, great job! Our 2nd team faced The Rookies, rated an average FIDE 1971. This was undoubtedly a sterner test, but despite being underrated on almost every board we managed 5 draws and only the one loss, which was a fine team performance.

The second weekend in January 2015 was a bit of a repeat of the 1st weekend... both teams did very well on the Saturday, winning their matches, followed by a great curry, and two team defeats on the Sunday. Was a pattern beginning to emerge? Too much curry or beer on the Saturday night? To be fair, the 1st team's match on Sunday was very close and could have gone either way. The 2nd team's defeat was rather more comprehensive, but then we were comparatively lower rated and we defaulted one board that day. So, we had 50% for both teams going into the February weekend.

The third weekend, was one of mayhem and disaster, We had unprecedented problems getting to Daventry, as not only were no trains running from London to Northampton (which we knew about in advance), but also on the day the M1 and the M40 were closed owing to tragic accidents on Saturday morning. This meant alternative routes and long delays were the order of the day. The A41 (exit before the M1) was a salvation for some, but some of our players were so delayed that a game was a defaulted and another was all but lost on time. Of course, we weren't the only teams affected and the usual default in 1 hour and penalties were waived. That aside, the story of our 1st and 2nd teams could not have been more different.... The 1st team won both its matches against the amusingly named Throw in the Tal and The Full Ponty. The 1st team now stood on 8 match points with 20 game points, bringing it up to 11th place in Division 3s. In contrast, the 2nd team lost both matches, against Iceni 1 and BCM Rhinos. The 2nd team were unfortunate to default a total of 3 boards over the weekend, owing to availability problems, which didn't help our cause.

At the 4th weekend the 1st team were at maximum strength for the first time this season (average FIDE 2096). Chris Briscoe returned as our board 1 and Koby Kalavannan made his debut on Board 2. Playing on table 6 in R7, Surbiton 1 beat West is Best 1 by a 4.5-1.5 with 3 wins and 3 draws. The winners were Steven Jones, Ian Henderson and Alan Crombleholme. This set up a big match in R8 against the highest-rated team on the day, Broadland Bitterns (average FIDE 2172), led by IM Richard Polaczek. The team managed to draw on the bottom 4 boards but we lost on the top two. A tough one - but at least we won't have to play them again! The 2nd team had a splendid weekend - winning both matches by 3.5-2.5. Graham Alcock won both his games to have the best performance over the weekend. John Sugden made his 4NCL debut with a solid draw in R7 and a vital win that secured us the match in R8. Other 2nd team wins were scored by Paul Durrant and Ian Mason.

We had an availability calamity for the final weekend. Although we had a good 1st team, we did not have enough players to field a 2nd team, and so we took the decision to withdraw the entire 2nd team for the weekend. This way we could avoid board fines, but it was unfortunate for the 3-4 players that were available to play. That disappointment aside, the 1st team had a stunning weekend. Before the final weekend Surbiton 1 was placed 16th with 10 points. The mission was to stay in the top 16. But the team had a superb weekend, winning two matches and drawing in the final round, and only missed promotion to Division 2 by a whisker! A number of players beat the ratings odds and overcame higher rated opponents. Among the excellent personal performances at the weekend was Koby Kalavannan's two wins on board 1, more than justifying his top spot, and Nick Faulks' superb hat-trick! Surbiton 1 finished on 15 points and in 6th place by SOS (sum of opponent's scores). More details below:

In round 9 on Saturday, Surbiton 1 crushed Guildford 4 5.5-0.5. Although Surbiton 1 was rated 2030 on average and they were 1989 on average that was still a surprisingly large victory against a decent side. Wins by Koby on board 1, Ian Henderson, Paul Shepherd, Nick Faulks and Hugh Fenwick. That was a great start to the weekend and spirits were high for curry night! In round 10 on Sunday, Surbiton 1 faced Oxford 2, a higher rated side at an average 2084 compared with Surbiton 1's 2030. However, the team again performed brilliantly (powered by curry?!) to triumph 4.5-1.5 winners. Koby Kalavannan again won on Board 1, this time against someone rated 2201, and Paul Shepherd, Nick Faulks and Hugh Fenwick also won again. Pub night at the local Wetherspoon's was a real pleasure following that result! In the final round on Monday, Surbiton 1 faced one of the highest rated teams in the division, Celtic Tigers 1. The team contained a few familiar Thames Valley players though, such as Carsten Pedersen, Peter Kemp, John Quinn and Robin Haldane. On paper this match was just a non-starter with the opposition rated an average 2145 and our team rated just 1996 (with Koby Kalavannan not playing so he could play in the UK Schools Chess Challenge Surrey MegaFinal). However, in a very long match the team managed to draw, and came very close to actually winning the match as Alan Crombleholme was unlucky not to draw and Ian Henderson might have won. Nick Faulks won again - completing a hat-trick for the weekend, a great performance, which I doubt many 4NCL players can claim to have achieved! Graham Alcock, who travelled just for Monday, also made his presence count with a fine win.

See the final table here

Thank you to everyone that played this season - whether it was for Surbiton 1 or Surbiton 2. A special thank you to Paul Durrant who provided lifts every weekend, even when he was not playing.

In 2015-16, the venue is in Telford. This is further away for most players. Whether we field a team is going to depend on the availability and commitment of enough players.

Angus James 9 July 2015


2014-2015 Season's review for 4NCL Team

2013-2014 Season's review for Thames Valley 1st Team

2012-2013 Season's review for Surrey Ellam Trophy 2nd Team

2012-2013 Season's review for Thames Valley 1st Team

2011-2012 Season's review for Thames Valley 1st Team

2010-2011 Season's review for Thames Valley 1st Team

Into the Black!
Wimbledon B 1.5-6.5 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 9 May 2011

Captains' delight!
Richmond A 4-4 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 14 Apr 2011

Slipping on our own Banana Skins!
Staines 4-2 Surbiton, Thames Valley Knock-out 11 Apr 2011

Perfect Symmetry.
Surbiton A 6-2 Wimbledon A, Thames Valley Division 1 30 Mar 2011

The Origami Game of Doom!
Staines A 1-7 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 21 Mar 2011

Away Day Blues.
Maidenhead A 5.5-2.5 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 14 Mar 2011

Where are you?
Surbiton A 8-0 Staines A, Thames Valley Division 1 9 Mar 2011

We're in the Final
Surbiton 7-3 South Norwood, Alexander Cup Semi-Final 3 March 2011

Tragedy at the end.
Wimbledon A 6-2 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 14 Feb 2011

Staring at the Brake Lights.
Harrow A 4.5-3.5 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 10 Feb 2011

The Champions are Beaten!
Surbiton A 5-3 Ealing A, Thames Valley Division 1 26 Jan 2011

Richmond wheel in the Big Guns.
Surbiton A 2.5-5.5 Richmond A, Thames Valley Division 1 12 Jan 2011

Thanks be to Mark Hogarth!
Surbiton 5.5-4.5 Wallington, Alexander Cup 17 Nov 2010

Running naked down the street?
Surbiton A 5.5-2.5 Maidenhead A, Thames Valley Division 1 3 Nov 2010

It was written in the Bird Excrement!
Surbiton A 2-6 Harrow A, Thames Valley Division 1 27 Oct 2010

Pushing the Champions close.
Ealing A 4.5-3.5 Surbiton A, Thames Valley Division 1 5 Oct 2010

Beating the Pink Doll Gambit.
Surbiton 5.5-0.5 Richmond, Thames Valley Knock-out 22 Sept 2010

Surbiton Chess Club End of Season Report May 2010

Surbiton Chess Club Newsletter Sept / Oct 2009