With the recent explosion of enthusiasm for Chess amongst Years 6-8, it was an exciting prospect to reignite the forgotten tradition of the Anselm’s Chess Championships. The Holmes Chess Cup was dusted and polished ready for its first new name since 2010 and pupils began to whisper with excitement.
It took only three days for 32 places to be filled. The seedings were created, based on recent involvement in the ladder competition, and the tournament bracket generated.
Just as everything was ready, half-term arrived! Not to worry, a perfect opportunity for some last minute practice, strategizing and studying, even if it was instead of exam revision, (sorry academia!).
Back in school and once again more distractions from Chess; assessment week. However, despite the standard complaining and “Sir, I’ve done all of my revision, can I play Chess?” moments, pupils valiantly completed their assessments. Finally, let the Chess begin!
The Championships structure was a standard knock tournament. The excitable 32 pupils battled through opening round over the first few days. Knights fell, Rooks crumbled, even the odd pawn got promoted. Nevertheless, a few upsets and several stalemates later, 16 pupils had advanced to the second round.
The standard of Chess throughout the Championships has been phenomenal, and it became apparent as early as round 2 that the seeded players wouldn’t have it all their own way. By the end of the round, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, seeds had all lost their kings! Gasps could be heard in classrooms and corridors as news spread.
Eight players advanced to the quarter finals, including three who had only learned to play a month before the competition. Amazing! However, some difficult opponents awaited them. Four tough games later and the victorious semi-finalists had been decided.
The effort and commitment of pupils has been exemplary, and it was only fitting to organise a suitable occasion for the final rounds. So, the Semi-Finals were played in Hargreaves Hall, with a supportive audience of around 30 year 3-8 pupils, all there voluntarily and several staff. One match was even projected onto the big screen. The Chess being played really was impressive. One match was played almost perfectly by both players, until one mistake created an opening and an abrupt ending followed. The other, being played very conservatively and defensively, resembled the 100 year war. A real battle of attrition at its finest.
The Finals and 3rd place playoff were again played in the Hargreaves Hall. Once again a large audience piled through the doors to take their seats. Most of Year 6 arrived, to support the two boys who had made the finals, several Year 7s and 8s, and a few rogue, vagabond teachers who had wisely decided that the Chess Championship Finals were the must go to event of 2021!
A whole report could be written on the final. The Chess was excellent, although both boys were clearly feeling the pressure. At one stage, Black hung a free queen, which was subsequently not taken! White had a Checkmate move, which was also not seen. But White did have a well thought through checkmate plan. Unfortunately for White, Black had spotted the plan and laid a counter trap, which worked for him perfectly, taking White’s Queen and Rook in two moves and leaving only one winner.
A huge well done to all of the pupils who have been so enthusiastically involved with the Chess this term. You have inspired Mr Hitchman to provide even more next year and he cannot wait!
Finally, a massive well done and congratulations to Edward, Year 6, who will be the first name engraved on the Holmes cup since 2010.
1st Edward, Year 6
2nd Oscar, Year 6
3rd Holly, Year 7