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John Saunders


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Tournament: Alexander Cup Final, Surbiton v Kingston • Venue: Ashtead • Date: 22 May 2018
Download PGN (eight of the ten games) • edited Saturday April 15, 2023 5:39 PM

John Saunders reports: The Alexander Cup Final, the knock-out competition of the Surrey County Chess Association, was held at the neutral venue of Ashtead Chess Club on 22 May 2018. The finalists were Surbiton CC and Kingston CC.

Bd Surbiton FIDE ECF 6-4 Kingston FIDE ECF
1w Chris Briscoe 2202c 208 0-1 John Nunn 2579g 243
2b James P Holland 2217 209 ½-½ Martin J Jogstad 2312f 218
3w Steven A Jones 2225 207 0-1 Michael W Healey 2141 207
4b Tony CM Stewart - 192 ½-½ Alan Scrimgour 2101 183
5w Oliver Gill - 197 1-0 John P Foley 1957 182
6b David A Scott 2142 208 1-0 David J Rowson - 176
7w Ian R Henderson 2074 189 1-0 William J Taylor 2070 174
8b Michael PF Singleton 2077 183 ½-½ Julian M Way 1973f 172
9w Paul D Shepherd 2067 181 1-0 Paul JJ Gibbons - 156
10b Mark J Hogarth 1902 143 ½-½ Jonathan M Eckert 1637 152

Going into the match, Kingston were seeking to win the Alexander Cup for the first time since 1975/76, while Surbiton were looking for their first ever win.

Kingston, captained by Guardian journalist Stephen Moss, were regarded as the underdogs but they really pulled the stops out in gathering together their club 'old boys' for the occasion. Kingston was GM John Nunn's first club as a youngster and he is still honorary vice-president of the club. He returned to play his first game for the club since 1974, which may be some sort of record in terms of gaps between appearances for clubs in team chess (can anyone think of a longer one?). Other players travelled huge distances to represent their club, with Martin Jogstad flying in from Sweden, while Will Taylor caught the Eurostar from Paris. Their team might have been stronger still had not two of their veteran players, Peter Roche and Ken Inwood, been unable to attend. I understand that Ken Inwood, the 1953 British Under-18 Champion and still a formidable player today, is unwell and wish him well for a speedy recovery. Meanwhile Surbiton, though without titled players, fielded a team that batted all the way down, as they say in cricket, though they too were missing such strong players as Mark Josse (ECF 196).

The top board game between Chris Briscoe and John Nunn was a full-blooded encounter, with the Surbiton board one punting 6.Bg5 against Nunn's Sicilian Najdorf variation, apparently undaunted by the fact that his opponent had written a 320-page book on this line back in the 1990s. However, it was Black who avoided most of the detail given in this thick tome by avoiding playing ...e6, instead following a game between Leonard Barden and a Czech opponent at the 1954 Amsterdam Olympiad. In a position where Barden had opted for a knight retreat and steered towards a draw, Briscoe decided to sacrifice his horse for a kingside assault. It was a brave decision and for a long time seemed quite a productive one as he put Nunn's kingside under considerable pressure. It was only after Nunn had given the piece back that White wilted and eventually lost on time.

However, Surbiton had already struck first with two wins on boards five and nine. Mike Healey replied with an equally brisk win for Kingston but, even as John Nunn was winning on top board to level the match, Surbiton were cashing in on their rating advantage on the middle boards. So it was a first Alexander Cup success for Surbiton Chess Club, and a great moment for them, in particular their long-serving and much-admired chairman Paul Durrant, who has done so much to build the club into what it is today. Receiving the trophy from Kevin Thurlow (representing last year's winners, Redhill), winning captain Chris Briscoe referred to Paul Durrant as his club chairman and soon-to-be father-in-law. Congratulations to Chris on both accounts!

Surbiton team

Surbiton team: (left to right, back) Paul Shepherd, David Scott, Steve Jones, Mark Hogarth, Chris Briscoe, Tony Stewart, Mike Singleton; (left to right, front) Ian Henderson, Oliver Gill, James Holland.

Kingston team

Kingston team: (left to right, back): Jon Eckert, Paul Gibbons, David Rowson, Will Taylor, Alan Scrimgour, John Nunn; (left to right, front) Mike Healey, Julian Way, John Foley, Martin Jogstad.

Presentation of trophy

Kevin Thurlow (left) presents the Alexander Cup to winning captain Chris Briscoe and Surbiton club chairman Paul Durrant

Alexander Cup

The Alexander Cup: Surrey's premier team knock-out competition,
competed for since 1922/23 and named after Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander (1879-1965)

File Updated

Date Notes
22 May 2018 Uploaded for the first time.
22 May 2018 [Time 22:53] Now includes the full score of Henderson-Taylor (Board 7). My thanks to Will Taylor for supplying the final few moves.
7 August 2018 Added the board 2 game Jogstad-Holland. Thanks to John Foley for submitting the game.