On Saturday 28 January Blue Coat School hosted the quarter final of the National Primary Schools’ Chess Championship. We had four teams representing the school; two in the Under 9 section, and two in the Under 11s. I knew that the competition would be tough, with many excellent players from other local schools taking part. However, with so many bright, keen young chess players in our school clubs at the moment, I was very confident that we would give a good account of ourselves, and so it proved. This, along with plentiful space in the Dining Hall for the chess, many helpers and fantastic refreshments put on by our wonderful catering staff, everything was set for a great day.

In the Under 9 ‘A’ team Taranvir Kang, Arya Vemuri, Ehsan Ali, Dhruv Susarla, Aadi Grover and Jia Samra all played excellently, scoring a number of wins and draws against the toughest opposition along the way. This ensured a final total of 11 and a half points; More on this later…

The Under 9 ‘B’ team consisted of some of our slightly less experienced, but very enthusiastic and promising players, and I was very happy to see Aarav Massey, Oliver Almond, George Evans, Freddie Trevis, Henry de Bono, Will Smallwood and Priyamvada Agarwal so keen to come and play. I’m absolutely delighted to report that they more than held their own in the tournament, and after a very tight final two rounds actually ended up on 11 and a half points, level pegging with the ‘A’ team. This meant that the two teams finished 5th equal, and both qualify for the semi-final of the competition. What a fantastic result for our Year 3 and 4 chess players!

In the Under 11 section, our ‘B’ team was Ryan Raeiszadeh, Esa Yaqoob, Josh Dhillon, Ibrahim Mahmood, Aryan Massey-Arora and Ayaan Ali. The boys all concentrated well and played good chess, and with a little more experience would have finished in the qualifying positions. I was particularly impressed by Ryan’s concentration and determination on board 1 against many strong players.

On to the Under 11 ‘A’ team, and a tough test at the top for Tristan, Hasan, Jovan, Ansh, Joseph and William. I can report that everyone performed absolutely brilliantly; Hasan won a quite dramatic last round game on board 2, coming back from a much worse position to turn the tables and score a nice win, leaving him with an impressive 4/5. Jovan bounced back from a 3rd round defeat with a great win in round 4, and Ansh, William and Joseph all added plenty of points during each round to keep the team in the top half of the table. Our star performer was Tristan; Playing on board 1 against all the toughest opponents in the competition, he didn’t drop a single half point, winning all 5 of his games in fine style. All of these excellent performances left the team in 2nd place overall, and the team return from the competition with splendid silver medals and a place in the semi-final.

Many thanks to everyone who made it such a successful event, from all the chess helpers, the Blue Coat staff, parents who brought all of the players along, and to all our chess players who did so well in the tournament – I hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as I did.