Athenaeum 1 v Richmond 03-04-19

Our run of excellent results finally came to an end when we were comprehensively beaten by Athenaeum, although we were, on paper, slightly the stronger team. These things happen: we’ll just have to beat Battersea in our last real match of the season.

Congratulations to Iain, our only winner on the night: there was also a quick draw from Mike Healey and solid halves on the bottom four boards: congratulations to them as well. Apart from that, not much joy. Thanks to all who played – and well done Athenaeum!

Athenaeum 1 Richmond
1 Mark Gray 200 0:1 Iain Gourlay 225
2 Dimitar Mogilarov 202 1:0 Gavin Wall 223
3 Daniel Lindner 204 ½:½ Mike Healey 212
4 Emmanuel Voyiakis 188 1:0 Caspar Bates 200
5 Colin Menzies 206 1:0 Julien Shepley 174
6 Olivia Smith 188 1:0 John Burke 181
7 Carl Hetherington 166 ½:½ Martin Benjamin 176
8 John Walton 175 ½:½ Mike Smart 171
9 Charles McAleenan 156 ½:½ Chris Baker 165
10 Steve Madden 156 ½:½ John Bass 168

43 years on, John Walton was again playing for Athenaeum against Richmond. Just as in 1976, he drew his game, but this time his teammates were more successful.

Kingston A v Richmond B 01-04-19

There wasn’t much time for Richmond B to relax before a visit to promotion candidates Kingston A on the evening of April Fools Day.

We suffered the expected defeat, the high spots being draws against higher rated opponents from Bertie, Ian and Adrian.

Kingston A Richmond B
1 David Rowson 178 1:0 Chris Baker 165
2 John Foley 177 ½:½ Bertie Barlow 162
3 Peter Roche 165 ½:½ Ian McLeod 159
4 Julian Way 162 1:0 Sampson Low 160
5 Paul Gibbons 157 ½:½ Adrian Waldock 138
6 John Bussmann 151 1:0 Max Brindley –
7 Ljubica Lazarevic 122 1:0 Dan Donohoe 103

I hope to be able to add a report from Adrian at some point in the near future.

The B team’s season will conclude with two matches against Maidenhead A: at home on 11 April and away on 29 April.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (27)


Last week I left you with this helpmate in 2 moves, composed by Chris Feather.

There are two solutions (remember that Black plays first):


1. Re5 Rh1 2. Rc4 Ra1#

1. Be5 Rxb7 2. Bc4 Ra5#

This demonstrates a double Grimshaw. In the first solution the black rooks interfere with the bishops, while in the second solution the bishops interfere with the rooks.


Hat tip to John Saunders who, in his latest CHESS column, reminds me of some 1960s opening theory. Can you find a good move for White here? (You’ll also see that former RJCC member Luke McShane is this month’s cover star.)



We Were the Champions (11)

Our last match of the season saw us up against Athenaeum, another of London’s leading clubs of the day. They fielded the legendary Bob Wade on top board, a Correspondence GM on second board, and a number of young players who were working with Bob helping to research and write chess books for Batsford.

We needed to win this match to take the London League title for the first time, and were able to field a team close to full strength. As a result, my services were not required, although our top three boards were all current (at the time) or former pupils of my alma mater, Latymer Upper School.

We won in style: draws on the top boards and a stonking seven wins out of eight lower down. Athenaeum’s original board 8 failed to show, but they had a reserve in place.

29 March 1976 Pimlico School
Richmond & Twickenham 1 Athenaeum 1
1 MF Stean 233 ½:½ RG Wade 219
2 AP Law 225 ½:½ KB Richardson 223
3 DSC Goodman 200 ½:½ Dr KD Sales –
4 MJ Franklin 192 ½:½ JS Walton 195
5 KI Norman 191 ½:½ AL Hosking 189
6 GH James 211 1:0 CCW Sheppard 199
7 JC Benjamin 183 1:0 TD Harding 188
8 MJ Lightfoot 183 1:0 WG Raines 172
9 DM Andrew 182 0:1 SJF Walsh 181
10 AR Bracher – 1:0 HC Thomas 182
11 P Gillham 184 1:0 RV Atkins –
12 PJ Sowray 170 1:0 CJ Stonehill –

The lives of two of the Athenaeum players would later diverge. Bill Raines became a Church of England clergyman, while Hilary Thomas, sadly, was in the news recently for the worst of reasons. Tim Harding is now a respected chess historian and author: if you have any interest in earlier British chess history you should read his books.

John Walton and Steven Walsh are still pushing pawns for Athenaeum today. Gavin’s team may well encounter them in the 2019 replay of this match next week.


Richmond B v Hounslow A 28-03-19

Richmond B faced another tough Division 2 match, at home to our local rivals from Hounslow. There was an excellent win from Ian against a very experienced campaigner and two excellent draws, from Adrian, and, especially from young Lewis, against a much higher graded opponent. Hounslow have a winning 4-2 lead, with one game adjourned.

Richmond B Hounslow A
1 Bertie Barlow 162 Adj Mateusz Dydak 172
2 Ian McLeod 159 1:0 Leon Fincham 158
3 Sampson Low 160 0:1 Seshagiri Vaddadi –
4 Maks Gajowniczek 135 0:1 Frank Zurstiege 154
5 Adrian Waldock 138 ½:½ David White 150
6 Max Brindley – 0:1 Peter Hawran 134
7 Lewis Low 91 ½:½ JJ Padam 136

I should receive a report from Adrian sometime soon, but he has an even harder match, away to Kingston on Monday, to deal with.

Division 2 is pretty challenging for our B team at the moment, but at the same time Division 3 would be a bit too easy.

Richmond v Hackney 1 27-03-19

Last night’s London League match pitted us against one of London’s strongest clubs, Hackney.

Although we were outgraded, in some cases heavily, on almost every board we managed a narrow win. Plaudits to Mike, Mark, Caspar and Martin for their wins, and to Gavin, John Bass and Chris for their draws.

We’re now in a very good position to repeat last season’s second place in the league, with only Athenaeum (next week) and Battersea (as well as a win by default against Drunken Knights 2) to come. Battersea are still on 100%, but have only played 5 of their 11 games, and still have to meet Hackney and Cavendish, as well as Wood Green and ourselves.


Richmond Hackney 1
1 Gavin Wall 223 ½:½ Richard Bates 225
2 Mike Healey 212 1:0 Richard Britton 210
3 Mark Josse 204 1:0 Dave Ledger 208
4 Caspar Bates 200 1:0 Bob Eames 206
5 Jonathan Somekh 174 0:1 Nicholas Walker 202
6 John Burke 181 0:1 John Reid 202
7 Martin Benjamin 176 1:0 Tobias Baumann 181
8 John Bass 168 ½:½ Kevin Bowmer 189
9 Chris White 177 ½:½ Piro Balloglu 171
10 Andrew Waters 168 0:1 John Tennyson 173

Our top 5 players are all former members of Richmond Junior Club, as, of course, is the Hackney Board 1 (and, before you ask, Richard and Caspar are not related). Furthermore, our next three players are all part of the ‘B-Squad’ who joined Richmond as teenagers or young adults in the late 70s, but were too old for RJCC. The legacy of what happened in the 1970s still lives on.

Supersize Your Chess Club

The March 2019 issue of the British Chess Magazine features an article in which Adam Raoof sits down with four members of Hammersmith Chess Club (who are about to win Division 1 of the Thames Valley League) to discuss the club’s rise from what appeared to be terminal decline in October 2014 to its current preeminence.

At that time they had only 19 members and were in danger of bankruptcy. By October 2016 they had 31 members, and now they’re up to 86, with almost 15 new enquiries in January 2019 alone. According to PR and Events Officer John White: “The club had become a bit stale, with no proper governance, few events and a declining membership”. But now they have, in John’s words again, “proper Committee, proper Constitution, good Twitter use, brilliant website that is always updated, get people involved, offer more than just playing chess, emphasize the social aspect, get involved with a junior club”. The club is involved with the local community, raising money for charity through outdoor chess displays every summer. They also organize trips abroad to meet other clubs: Amsterdam and Cork in the past two years, and, this year, Wroclaw.

According to committee member Andy Routledge it comes down to three things:

1. Run the club properly. A committee that functions, not just stale people doing stuff the same way it’s always been done.
2. Do stuff. Organise things other than just league matches.
3. Communicate the stuff you do. Website, Twitter, Facebook, emails etc.

Hammersmith’s neighbours from south of the Thames, Battersea, have been equally successful in the last few years. A little bird tells me a similar article about their secrets of success may be coming soon.

All this is fine, but you need to find the right people. Committee members who are reliable, conscientious and efficient organisers. Committee members who have communication skills, who are good at meeting and talking to people. This takes time, and is unpaid work. Most people have jobs, these days often involving working long and sometimes unpredictable hours. Most people have families. Most people have other interests. It’s not easy to find the right people, and most clubs, especially smaller clubs, don’t have them around. Sometimes you strike lucky and the right person comes along and knocks at your door.

The other problem we have at Richmond at the moment is the lack of a suitable venue to enable us to ‘do stuff’ beyond playing matches and a few social games. Unless you know someone who can do you a favour, decent venues in this part of London are prohibitively expensive.

There are ways forward, but we need more people to get involved. If you can help, or you know someone who might be interested, please get in touch with myself or another committee member.