Copthorne Prep fielded two of the youngest teams, each of three players, in the highly competitive Southern semi-final of the ECF National Schools Girls’ Tournament held at St Catherine’s, Bramley on Sunday, 13 January.  Our squad comprised Sorcha C, Niamh G, Ann T, Amelie R, Natalie V-H and Jasmine O.  There were great performances all round with Jasmine and Ann in particular playing disciplined controlled chess and it was both notable and commendable that Copthorne girls were often the last of the 168 players to leave the playing hall.  Jasmine partnered with Sorcha and Ann and scored a very respectable 6/15 resulting in a mid-table finish, whilst Amelie partnered with Niamh and Natalie and placed 6th overall with 10½ points out of 15, winning the Top Under-9 team gold medal, and qualifying for the Final due to be held on the 6/7 April 2019.  Copthorne Prep was the highest performing school in Sussex and this was an outstanding performance from a young squad who we did not expect to qualify for the finals until next year.  The result bodes well for our ambitious stretch target of Copthorne Girls winning the ECF National Schools title in 2021.  Taking into account the Northern UK semi-final, this competition is the largest girls’ tournament in the world.  Fantastic result girls but our thanks also extend to the parents without whom these extracurricular team events would not be possible.

Chess news from the weekend just gone. Apart from the fantastic result from the Copthorne Girls’ squad on Sunday, Amelie also captained the U9 Sussex squad of 18 players in an inter-county match against Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire held in Twyford on Saturday. Amelie was one of only two Sussex players to win all their games – an extremely difficult thing to do when you are playing on any of the top three boards. Amelie was also only one of two girls in the squad which is an imbalance I am seeking to address going forward. Sussex finished second but Amelie was still grinding her opponent down (from the winners Berkshire) whilst the trophies had already been given out and most people had left. Amelie had a reasonable performance in the LJCC U10 Majors standard-play event in late December with 3/6 and whilst it was not strong enough to win Top Girl (there were over a hundred players in her section), it was good experience for her as an U9. She can try again as an U10 in December.