Copthorne Prep Chess Club
With the worst of the winter weather behind us, the preliminary phase of EPSCA inter-county competition got underway on Saturday 5 February with the Sussex U9 team playing against some of the top counties in an event held at Orleans Park School in Twickenham. Our opponents included title favourites Richmond who were on home turf and consequently fielded two teams, as well as Oxfordshire, Barnet, and Buckinghamshire. Five children from Copthorne were selected to play in the Sussex team with Aidan B taking on the captaining role, supported by Hongqi Z, Kaelen P, Kai S and Samuel S.
A disappointing first round yielded just 3.5/12, but a rousing team talk raised the spirits and saw a much-improved performance returning 7.5/12 in round two. Despite overtaking Buckinghamshire, Sussex languished in fifth place and with the podium seemingly beyond the horizon, round three was played for pride. Nonetheless, the team raised the bar again with fantastic 8.5/12 which we hoped might be enough to overtake Richmond B and secure fourth place. We decided to have our own private prize-giving, however, as over a dozen Easter eggs had mysteriously appeared in the room. Whilst handing out these rewards, a somewhat irked Richmond arbiter arrived wanting to know why we were not at the prize-giving? It transpired that round three had thrown up some unexpected results and Sussex had managed to leapfrog several teams including Richmond A. We had actually won the silver medal behind Oxfordshire. An eruption of great excitement swept the room as the news was received. The team rushed as one, with eggs in hand, to the arena to receive their unexpected medals in what was a great end to a great day.
My favourite match was played in round three between Kai and the number six seed whose name I promised not to reveal. All I will say is that I confused Kai’s opponent with a teacher as he was 6 feet 2 inches tall. It is a lesson to learn – never underestimate your opponent just because they are half your age and half your height. Kai’s opponent was forced to resign, stunned, eight minutes into the game, leaving Kai leading the tournament at the half-way stage. Congratulations all round to Aidan, Aditya G, Amelie R, Aran S, Avyanna S, Daniel A-D, Hongqi, Kai, Niamh and Samuel.
St David’s Day (1 March) was celebrated by ten of our ‘older’ Copthorne chess players competing in the 43rd Cottesmore Annual Chess Congress, an all day U14 event. A total of 16 teams competed in what turned out to be a very close affair played out over six rounds. Despite the final standings having to be reissued several days after prize-giving, Copthorne exhibited its strength-in-depth finishing third place, fourth and sixth place. Aidan won the ‘Game of the Day’ award for his fourth round nailbiter in which he managed to checkmate his opponent with 15 seconds left on his clock whilst his opponent had just six seconds remaining. Niamh G was unfortunate not to have won the top girl award with 4.5/6, finishing second based on the sum of progressives tie-break.
Well done to all chess players in both the prep and pre-prep.
by Mr Rees