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Surbiton’s First Foray Into the 4NCL

On a hot summer’s day back in mid-August I sent out an email inviting members to attend Surbiton’s Annual General Meeting, and asked for suggestions for further Agenda points. I didn’t expect anyone to respond – apart from a few who might have sent apologies for absence – and so I was astonished to find that 10 minutes later one of our members, a certain writer for The Guardian, Stephen Moss, had responded – and with three suggestions! I almost fell off my chair in shock. Amongst the suggestions was:

“…what about entering a 4 NCL team
(maybe even two teams)”
– Stephen Moss


Well that got me thinking. After a bit of research on the 4NCL website, I decided that the easiest and quickest way of working out whether there was sufficient interest would be to do a quick and dirty piece of research (research being my previous occupation). So, I created a 2-question online survey using SurveyMonkey and sent it off to the members of the club. Within hours I had positive responses from several members, and their provisional availability suggested we could seriously consider entering a team.

By early September, we had nine members lined up. These included:
· CM Chris Briscoe - who was to leave Wood Green Hilsmark no less, 4NCL Division 1 Runners-Up in 2012-13
· Paul Shepherd – whose exploits helped Surrey win the 2013 National Counties Championship
· Ian Henderson – a former British Championship participant
· Koby Kalavannan – a rapidly improving junior and 2013 winner of Surrey’s Individual Slater-Kennington Cup
· Stephen Moss – who is coached by GM Daniel King I read in CHESS Magazine

However, as up to 12 players can be nominated in Division 3, we decided to look for more players amongst our good friends at Mushrooms Chess Club. At this time the marvellous Paul Durrant found himself playing chess in The Paignton Congress and he happened to bump into some Mushrooms players. Amongst them, a certain Alan Crombleholme, who was doing rather well in the Premier, and Hugh Fenwick. Paul managed to persuade them to sign up, and Alan finished 3= with 4.5/7 in the Premier, concluding a very agreeable week of chess. That left us with one more space and our Italian endgame maestro Stefano Bruzzi, volunteered.

Following conversations about dates, costs, accommodation, ECF codes, FIDE codes, ECF membership numbers, dates of birth, etc, and so forth, I finally registered a team within days of the deadline. I suppose that wasn’t too bad given that this had only started as an idea just a few weeks before.

And so what can we expect when we start in November? Well, we can expect to have some tough matches against quality players and hopefully we will all play some quality chess. Seeking stronger opponents is important for the development of a chess player, and we hope that the 4NCL will give us plenty of opportunities to match our wits against some of the best players in the UK.

Watch out for future reports on how we get on – in November 2013, January 2014, February, March and May. Fixtures for 2013-14 will be published here.

If you are interested in joining Surbiton Chess Club to play for us in the 4NCL, Surrey leagues, or Thames Valley leagues, please send an email to surbitonchessclub@gmail.com

Angus James