Our Stevenson Cup side played Lewisham 2 in the last match of the season on 11th March 2020 and the last match for some time since matches in the Kent League have been suspended.
The match seemed to start badly when one of our players had a domestic emergency, which meant he did not arrive. So we started a point down, but thereafter wins by Jim Johnson and Dave Helps and a draw from Tony Packham left the match poised at 2.5 – 2.5 and when Ian McAllan drew one of his long games we had drawn the match.
On 4th March our En Passant Cup team played Beckenham. The winner would be the Metropolitan Area champions. Unfortunately Beckenham could only put out a weak team and we won the match comfortably with Jim Johnson, Ian McAllan, Greg Edwards, Dave Helps and David Hackett all winning to give us a 5 – 1 victory.
Sidcup’s second team have moved to the top of the En Passant section of the Kent League with a win over their rivals from Gravesend. The table after the match looks like this:
Sidcup were missing their inspirational captain Lee Brockwell who had deserted the club in favour of the slopes of the Pyrenees. David Helps stepped into Lee’s snow boots and they seemed to fit immediately. In recognition the boiler at the Hurst Community Centre was also taking the night off.
The evening began with a brief discussion on the bottom boards about a League proposal to be discussed at the next AGM to switch to incremental time controls. Chess leagues in London have taken the lead and others are following suit, but in Kent there are views on both sides. It could be a long meeting!
Then there was chess. We got started on time and Jim Johnson agreed an early draw with Gravesend’s David Clear. It wasn’t long before David Helps had levelled in his game and he also split the point on board four. Another half-an-hour went by before the next games finished, and they were both wins for Sidcup. Ken Smith on board six had developed a crushing attack that forced a resignation and David Gilbert on five was two passed pawns ahead when his frost-bitten opponent (Black to play) decided to call it a day.
The match result was sealed when Tony Packham’s opponent offered a draw on board two, despite being a pawn up, which caused an immediate handshake. Finally, with the tables and chairs being stacked around them and the last of washing-up soap suds being sucked down the sink, Sidcup’s Ian McAllan and Gravesend’s Kerry Kingston agreed a draw on three. Indeed no other result is possible in an ending with King and Knight versus a lone King. Sidcup had a 4-2 victory.
Sidcup’s final match in the En Passant section is another crucial one at home to Beckenham & Bromley on Wednesday, 4 March 2020.
Well, we finally played another match and are still unbeaten. Chislehurst put out a very strong team against us and after Dave Hackett’s early loss against a very experienced player, we were always on the back foot. However, Ian McAllan won when his opponent played unsoundly and Jim Johnson, Tony Packham, Greg Edwards and David Gilbert all drew.
Last season our Intro Cup side won many matches against stronger opposition in winning the metropolitan section of the Intro Cup, but this season the wheels have come off and we lost all three matches before Christmas.
It looked like this dismal sequence would continue in our first match of 2020 against Lewisham when we were in losing positions on all four boards, and indeed we lost our games with white, but Janis Elton luckily won on time and Dave Helps turned his game around to win and draw the match.
The league season is over with mainly disappointing results.
One of our best players was unavailable for all but one match because of work commitments and another was ill for most of the season, but that does not fully explain why our Stevenson Cup and En Passant Cup sides won only one match each.
Our Harvey Cup side had an average of six players unavailable for each match and did well to be in the running for a semi-final place until losing its last two matches and finishing in mid-table.
However, our Intro Cup side, which was the only team to have a settled side, won their division despite never fielding a team with an average grade of as much as 90 and being out-graded in most of their matches. The semi-final against Medway was drawn 2-2, but we lost on tie-break, Janis Elton having won on bottom board. Janis, with a season’s score of 7/11, will surely be seeing her grade go up substantially.
At Christmas our Harvey Cup side have a 100% record and are the only team in the competition to not have either lost a match or conceded two draws.
Our side playing against Petts Wood in the first match of the season was rather weak with six players unavailable. When one player could not find the match venue and arrived seven minutes after the default time prospects did not look good, but Janis Elton equalized the score with a fine win against a player graded 32 points above her and Chris Cheeseman won a piece and the game. One of Petts Wood’s good juniors brought the score back level, but then Ian McAllan ground out a win playing against a bad bishop and Lee Brockwell, having turned down a draw offer, won on time to complete a surprising 4 – 2 victory.
In the second match of the season against Charlton seven players were unavailable, but Tony Packham and Greg Edwards won and then Ian McAllan’s opponent got his own king trapped in a drawn position. On seeing this Lee Brockwell agreed a draw in an equal position to win the match 3.5 – 2.5.