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Surbiton A team in the Thames Valley Division 1 and Knock-Out Competitions
Season 2012-13 Review

I feel very positive about how we performed last season! The key word for me is IMPROVEMENT!

Let’s take a brief look back:

Here is the final Thames Valley Division 1 League table:

                                   P          W        D         L          U         BD       De       Pts

Richmond A                 14        10        3          1          0          28        0          11½

Wimbledon A               14        8          4          2          0          16        3          10

Surbiton A                  14        7          4          3          0          14        0          9

Ealing A                       14        6          3          5          0          5          0         

Kingston A                   14        5          2          7          0          -2         3          6

Richmond B                 14        4          3          7          0          -8         0         

Maidenhead A              14        4          2          8          0          -18       0          5

Hammersmith A            14        0          3          11        0          -35       0         

As last year we finished third but with an extra half match point to our name so we have improved the team results in each of the last three seasons.

We were right in the mix of the title fight right until mid May. I found that very pleasing indeed. We drew twice with the eventual champions ( Richmond A), once with the second placed team ( Wimbledon A) and drew and won against fourth placed Ealing A, so we were really competitive against the top sides throughout. I have said previously that any team can beat any other in this league and so it proved when we went down to Maidenhead A (I have never got anything out of that away trip except pain!) and Richmond B (who fielded an IM strength player on Board 1 and an FM on Board 2 that day). The only duffing up we got was against Wimbledon A away but that was right at the end of the season and we were a bit under strength relative to our potential that day. Those losses should not detract from all of the very good performances we made as a team and as individuals.

Richmond A thoroughly deserved their title and fielded consistently strong sides throughout the season, having added significant horse power to their playing staff relative to the previous season. When they needed to they just kept winning at the business end of the season which left no chance for ourselves or Wimbledon A to catch them.

As well as the league we also competed in the Thames Valley knock-out competition. We won very well 5-1 against Hammersmith in the first round thereby avenging our defeat at their hands at that stage in the previous season. Our semi-final against Richmond was, unfortunately, one that got away. We out-graded our opponents but ended up with a 3-3 draw and elimination on board count.

Lots of good stories about our individual performances with IMPROVEMENT again featuring strongly as a theme:-

Click here for the statistics table

I decided to deviate from the “awards” format used in the previous couple of seasons and focus on some overall heartening individual stories.

The core of our team last year was Steven Jones, Nick Pelling, myself, Ian Henderson, Angus James, Stefano Bruzzi, Malcolm Groom and Paul Durrant and I really appreciate the loyalty all of you guys showed by turning out to most of the matches when invited. Having a stable core to the team is really important, especially when it is playing well!

Let’s start with Steven Jones. This was Steven’s debut season for us and I chucked him straight onto Board 1. As Mark Josse has previously observed to me, it is very tough on top board in our leagues and any score around 50% is a good result. As you can see, the opponent’s average grade on top board was approximately 200. I should have made this point more forcefully in previous seasons. Steven was very unlucky not to end up on 50+% as his first game was a tragic case of win to loss in a couple of moves in a time scramble. Perhaps the highlight was Steven’s win against IM Gavin Wall in our 4-4 away draw against Richmond A. Steven made a very important contribution to our success last year.

Nick Pelling (often known as “two jobs” Pelling!) kicked on well from last season and showed good improvement. Given the amount of stuff that Nick gets up to in his professional life the standard of chess he produces with so little practice always blows me away. Always entertaining too in a slightly scary sort of way from a captain’s perspective!!

Ian Henderson really set the board alight this season with a massive plus score and for a long time I was hoping he would sneak through unbeaten. 11/15 is really great result and I wait with interest to see how he fares in the August grading list. Another big improvement for sure!

Ok, I will make one exception to my no “awards” policy for this season! Anyone who manages 10 draws out of 13 really does need to get the Mr Solid award and it goes to….Angus James! Angus normally ended up on an odd numbered board and, with my abysmal record when calling heads or tails, he got plenty of chances to improve his Black repertoire! Really solid season Angus and it was nice for me as captain to know that no-one was going to take any easy points off you.

One of the most heartening tales of the season for me was the way Stef Bruzzi overcame a rough start. At one point Stef was on minus 4 and understandably a bit down about it. I am just so glad that Stef stuck at it and turned it around to a plus 2!  A really impressive improvement in the second half of the season. Stef has played at a higher level than any of us and his class and knowledge is still there. My advice to any opponent who has an adjourned game resumption against Stef and is slightly worse in a technical endgame is simple: Resign and save the petrol money!

Malcolm Groom had a solid season and played in almost half of our matches. Malcolm is another one who has made an improvement year on year and he has had some good results. I look forward to Malcolm continuing the trend next season.

Paul Durrant did another good job for the team last season and delivered yet another plus score. Especially meritorious as I played him above his favourite bunny boiling board 8 in a number of matches!

Some messages for the other guys:-

Mark, Chris and Edgar   you are class, quality players that any team captain would want to play for them. I know there are numerous issues around clashes of commitments, ease to get to venues from work and other distractions. All I can say is you are welcome any time and I hope to see you a bit more next season.

Moon-gu – where are you mate? You looked really promising at the beginning of the season and we would love to see you again! Please get back in touch.

Michael – you are a promising young player and you have real potential. Try to play a bit more and the rewards will come!

Stephen K – you won the Slater-Kennington last year and that demanded that you get more games for the first team. You did not disappoint. I love it when someone’s form just demands that they get played in the team. Keep it going!

I would also like to mention Rob Harrison who ended up not getting a game but several times was prepared to be reserve and got stitched up by a home team default in one match thereby robbing him of the chance of getting on the scoreboard. Thanks Rob, I appreciate your support.

Oh, and it appears that I finally found my Dr Jekyll (although he sometimes waited until an adjournment resumption before turning up at the board)!

My Manifesto

I know sometimes that I am quite pushy when it comes to trying to secure players for my team or asking people to play on their adjournments. I want to explain why that is.

I really love Surbiton Chess Club. Since I joined in 2006 I have met such a lot of good, friendly people, had such a great time playing chess and talking rubbish about our games and many other topics afterwards in the pub with my new friends that I really feel I owe the club a lot. I want to repay that by trying my very best as captain to win an historic Division 1 title. If I cannot do that the very least I want to do is to take us as far as we can get and make the journey as fun and instructive as I can along the way. I believe in improvement! No game is a wasted game if you learn something from it and that makes you a better player next time.

So please forgive me when I bug you sometimes to play next season, I will be doing it because I want the club to succeed.


 Once again, thanks to each and every one of you for your efforts last season. I look forward to us doing even better next season and wish you a great summer!

Paul Shepherd 24 June 2013


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