It was great to see some new faces taking part in our latest online tournament. Very well done to Jaques, Zach and Sebbie, who all managed to win a game in their first Lichess arena tournament. Top scoring current pupil this week was William HL with 4 points. Top scoring Sheldwich alumni was Felix (again) with a very impressive 12 points.
Our next tournament is on Thursday 22nd. We will be playing a fun '3-check' arena. You do not need to checkmate your opponent to win the game, just check them 3 times. Everyone is welcome, even parents!
Just sign up at Lichess (https://lichess.orghttps://lichess.org)
Request to join the Sheldwich team (https://lichess.org/team/sheldwich-primary-school)
And then register for the tournament (https://lichess.org/tournament/LSzxVRB8)
We held our first ‘losers chess’ (you have to try and lose all your pieces, and if you can capture an opponents piece on your move, then you have to!) tournament on Friday. It lasted for 45 minutes and was a lot of fun. We had current pupils, former pupils and even a teacher (Mr Burns - aka schmilsson) playing. Very well done to Oliver Ladd, who was the top scoring current pupil with 8 points, and Felix Coker who was the top scoring former pupil with 12 points.
We will be holding another tournament on Friday 16th October at 6.00pm on Lichess. This will be a standard chess tournament (rather than 'losers chess'). Each player gets 5 minutes plus 5 seconds per move to play the game. After each game finishes you will be repaired against someone else who isn't currently playing, until the end of the tournament.
With no afterschool chess club at present, we need to focus on our online chess practise. We are using www.lichess.org. It is an excellent, free, open source chess site that Sheldwich Primary School have a ‘team’ on. During lockdown, we played a few arena tournaments against other schools in Kent. If you would like your child to join us on there, create an account for them and search for Sheldwich in the Teams section (inside the Community tab). You can use an anonymous user name, but please state your child’s name and class in the message, when you request to join the team, so that I can be sure that only Sheldwich children (or parents!) join our group. Once you have created an account, you can turn on ‘kid mode’ in preferences to disable chat. We will be holding weekly tournaments and events.
The school chess tournament concluded with Oli G winning again and becoming the first child to get his name on the trophy twice! Lots of children have scored 4 or more and have consequently qualified for the Megafinal. Unfortunately, the Megafinals have been postponed! It is possible that they will be held in October - if so, I will remind all the children who have qualified nearer the time.
The final crossable is available below:
On Saturday, four teams from Sheldwich took part in the first round of the National Primary Schools Chess Tournament at Chislehurst Girls school. This was a tough competition against schools who take their chess very seriously, many of them employing Grand Masters or International Masters to coach their pupils. Last year, our U11A team qualified for the semi-finals at Camber Sands in May, but we were hoping to get the U9s into the main event too this year.
After 5 rounds of intense concentration, the U9A team finished in 4th place, qualifying for the semi-finals and the U9B team finished 8th, just missing out on qualification. In the U11 competition, the U11A team held off tough competition from Dulwich College in the final round to take a very impressive 2nd place. At this point we thought the U11B team, in 7th place, had failed to qualify, but one of the teams in the qualifying places wasn’t eligible to qualify, so, to our surprise in the prize-giving, the U11B team qualified too!
Well done to all the children involved. It was a long day, requiring a lot of focussed effort, but all the children behaved beautifully and played some brilliant chess.
The semi-finals take place over the weekend of 16th May. If your children played in any of the three qualifying teams, please check your diaries and let me know if the children are available. In previous years, some parents have travelled down and back each day whilst others have chosen to book accommodation for the Friday and Saturday night in the area.
The first few rounds have gone very well and the winners are all wearing their badges proudly around the school. This year, the children will earn their badge when they reach 1 point, or after 3 games (whichever is sooner), and their mascot at 2.5 points, or after 6 games. Any child scoring 4 points or more will qualify for the Megafinal, along with the top boy and girl in each age category.
The new chess gradings have been released by the ECF so I've updated the file with the children's latest rapid-play grades.
72 children have signed for the School Chess Tournament and I'm very pleased to report that we have 30 girls competing this year. We will be playing one round per week. Each round will be played in the hall straight after lunch. Chess clocks will be used on the top 6 boards from round 3 onwards (20 minutes + 10 seconds per move). As always, this will function as a qualification tournament for the Delancey UK Chess Challenge.
I'll post pairings and cross tables here as soon as I can after each round.
Oli beat Zeno in the final round to set up a play-off between him, Josh and Felix, who all finished on 6 points. Josh and Felix drew the first game of the play-off, and then Oli beat first Josh and then Felix. All the games were close and it has been very exciting to see how strong the play has been on the top boards.
Final results: 1st Oli G 6, Joint 2nd Josh & Felix 6.0, Joint 4th Zeno & Sean 5.5.
Full list of qualifiers for the Megafinal:
Top Y6 Girl: Matilda
Top Y6 Boy: George M & Henry
Top Y5 Girl: Keira
Top Y5 Boy: Oli G
Top Y4 Girl: Emilia S
Top Y4 Boy: Dylan
Top Y3 Girl: Vashti
Top Y3 Boy: William HL
Top KS1 Girl: Maria & Zoe
Top KS1 Boy: Zach, Edward D & George D (tied on 4.5!)
Additionally qualified with 4.5 points: Josh, Felix, Zeno, Sean, Marley, Thiago, Spencer, Emmanuel, Finley, Molly W, Meg, Luca S, Jim
The Megafinal will be held on the 28th April at Sandwich Technology School.
The school tournament will take place this term. We've capped the number of entries at seventy this year and tried to select those children most able to play full games of chess independently. If your child wanted to play but has not got a place this year, please encourage them to keep practising and they will be able to play next year.
We will be playing 7 rounds, over the course of the term. The pairings are made using a Swiss system in which no-one is knocked-out and the children will be playing other children on similar scores. Each round's pairings and results will be posted here so you can see how your children are getting on.
As usual, this will also function as the first round of the national Delancey UK Chess Challenge. The second stage of the competition (the 'Megafinal') will be held on April 28th, back at Sandwich Technology School. The top boy and girl in each age category will qualify, along with anyone else scoring 4.5 points or more out of 7. Further details can be found here: https://www.delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com.
Rounds will take place in the hall on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings where possible, and all games will play to a conclusion. In previous years, we have adjudicated the games after a certain period of time, awarding victory to the player in the better position. This year, the children will have to checkmate their opponents to earn a full point. After an hour, if a player with a winning position is making no progress and is unable to checkmate, the game will be declared drawn. So please, please, practise checkmating patterns with the children (this video is a good place to start if you are not a chess player yourself!).
Throughout the tournament, the top six boards will play with digital clocks. Each player will get 30 minutes to complete their games.
There are badges and prizes to be earned during the tournament:
At 1 point (or after 3rd Game) - earn badge
For each subsequent point - earn a gold sticker for badge.
At 3 points (or after 6th Game) - earn mascot
At 4.5 points - qualify for the Megafinal
The overall tournament winner will receive a trophy to keep, a perpetual trophy with their name on it to cherish for a year, and will also get their name inscribed on the shield we keep at school!
Previous year's final cross tables can be found below:
This Ramsgate team was stronger than the one which beat us 3.5 - 0.5 at the start of the season, but we came closer to an upset here in the return leg in Ramsgate and the children are improving with every game. Oli's game was a back and forth affair - at one point I was genuinely expecting his opponent to resign - but he underestimated the danger of two passed pawns vs his rook and Oli saw the win slip through his fingers. Sean had a tremendous battle on board 3 and had several opportunities to win, before going wrong in a rook and pawn endgame. Zeno had a close game, but conceded a couple of pawns in the transition to the ending and couldn't recover. We had hoped that Felix's opponent's choice of refreshment may work in Felix's favour (see below), and so it proved to be, as he miscalculated an exchange late on in the game and Felix came out on top. The full result can be found here.
Our first win! For a while it looked like it might even be 4-0: Josh and Sean took early leads in the opening and both went on to convert their wins comfortably. Zeno was a piece up early on, but got hemmed in by some well-timed pawn advances, costing him his advantage and the game. Oli, once again, found himself in a fairly level endgame, and was able to capitalise on a small advantage, to win the game and wrap up the victory for the team. Well done to all the children for a well deserved win. The full result can be found here.
We took four teams to Rochester on Saturday, to compete in the first round of the National Primary Schools Chess Championships against eight other schools from across the South-East. All the children did brilliantly and there was a great team spirit amongst everyone. The U11A team qualified for the next round in spectacular fashion. Winning 24 games out of a possible 25 and having assured themselves of first place before the start on the final round. The semi-finals of the competition will take place over a whole weekend in May at Camber Sands.
Following our draw against Folkestone, expectations were high and the children didn't disappoint, earning another 2-2 draw, this time away at Bridge. Bridge, sportingly, fielded some of their own juniors for the game: two Simon Langton Boys pupils and a Year 5 pupil joined Mr Coker in the Bridge team. It turned out to be a good night for the Cokers, with father and son both winning for their respective teams. Our other point was earned by Oli on board 1, who finished off a very close game with a clever tactic in the end game. The full result can be found here.
It was lovely to have such a big Sheldwich turnout for GP4 in Maidstone. For lots of the children it was their first time at a chess tournament outside of school and they all represented the school admirably. Full results can be found here. The next KJCA tournament is Sunday February 17th at Sevenoaks School.
We again had a wonderful day at the Schools Chess Festival run by Chess in Schools and Communities. GM Chris Ward was on hand to provide a perfectly pitched lesson, we played a simultaneous against some of the CSC coaches and in the afternoon there was a tournament featuring over 25 schools from around the country. The children all did brilliantly and we came away with the 2nd place trophy, pipped to 1st place by the narrowest of margins. Well done to all!
The children have played really well over the past two terms. They have battled it out over the board, against their classmates, and have all got some great practise playing formal competitive games. The first three places in each class are below, but you can also download the full crosstables.
Butterflies - 1st George, 2nd Daniel, Joint 3rd Ethan H, Leo, Rufus, Henry
Dragonflies - 1st Zach, Joint 2nd Edward, Sebbie
Squirrels - 1st Isla, Joint 2nd Vashti, William
Otters - 1st Dylan, Joint 2nd Manu, Myles, Oscar D
Foxes - 1st Oli, Joint 2nd Felix, Josh, Zeno, Molly
Badgers - 1st Henry, 2nd Charlotte, 3rd George
Well done to all. Keep practicing; the whole school tournament will take place in Term 4!
We've earned our first point of the season! We entered the Walker Shield this year to give opportunities to our young team to play competitive standardplay chess against adults. We didn't expect to win many games over the course of the season and we were fully prepared to lose every match. But on Friday, in just our third match, the children pulled off an improbable 2-2 draw against a much higher graded team.
Oli, Zeno, Will and Felix all travelled to Folkestone on Friday night for the 7.30pm games. The nervous parents retreated to the foyer to play a few friendly games of chess between themselves, but in very short order, Felix was out of the playing area with a big grin on his face. His game had been close, but he had eventually promoted a pawn in the endgame to take the victory. Could an upset be on the cards? Zeno was next. He'd had his queen chased around in the opening and fallen too far behind in development. 1-1. We nipped into the playing area to check on the positions in the other two games. Will was a piece down and looked in a little trouble. Oli was a pawn up, but his opponents bishop-pair looked quite threatening and could potentially provide some compensation. At around 9.00pm, Will's race was run and he was finally checkmated. 1-2. Still we waited for Oli. Then, as 9.30pm approached, Oli emerged. Tired, but happy. He'd managed to simplify the position, get some pieces off the board and begin the unstoppable advance of his extra pawn towards promotion; whereupon his opponent, graded 100, graciously resigned. 2-2!
We may not earn another point this season. But maybe we will! What is certain is that the children are all improving and next season who knows? Maybe we'll win the trophy!
Our next game is on Tuesday 15th January, away at Bridge. Sheldwich school parent and governor, Mr Coker, plays for Bridge. It could be a bit of a father/son grudge match!
We were pleased to welcome back two ex-pupils for this match. Adam and Will, both in Year 7 at Q.E. now, have chosen to continue representing Sheldwich at chess. Children play so much chess and make so much progress here at Sheldwich, that it would be a real shame if they gave it up after leaving. Hopefully, if some of our current pupils wish to continue playing after leaving the school, we will be able to enter more teams in the adult competitions in future years.
Our second match finished in a 4-0 defeat, but we put in a very good fight against a Broadstairs team who outgraded us by almost 40 points per board. Adam, on board 3, was first to finish, getting his queen and rook forked early on and struggling to recover from the material deficit. Zeno, on board 2, got his bishop trapped and saw a later piece sacrifice refuted. On board 4, Will's game was very close and could have gone either way, finally getting mated when materially ahead. Oli, on board 1, after a very level middlegame, miscalculated an exchange and went into a rook and pawn endgame a pawn down. Although he battled resolutely, his opponent was too good and was able to convert this small advantage.
Well done to all of the children and our victorious opponents. You can read Broadstairs Chess Clubs' match report here: http://www.broadstairschessclub.co.uk/
This is a great place to start. They have meetings every two or three weeks during term time at the University of Kent. It is run by Owen Lyne, a lecturer in Mathematics at the university. Sessions are on Saturdays from 2.00pm - 4.00pm, so it doesn't take up the whole day like most other events. Typically the children get a 30 minute lesson followed by formally paired games between the children. Mr Burns is usually there coaching, so the children will know at least one person! This is a very well run club and we would highly recommend it, but it is popular and they often have a waiting list for places. The children have to be 8 to join and should know the basic rules of the game already. If you are interested in your children joining please email Owen (O.D.Lyne@kent.ac.uk).
A subsidiary benefit of the club is that it gives the children a potentially inspiring glimpse at what university is like: "Wow! They've got much nicer chairs than in my classroom!" "Is that Maths? It's just squiggles and letters!"
We played our first game in the Thanet and East Kent League's Walker Shield competition on Friday. It was very exciting to be playing competitive chess against adults for the first time. The children all played incredibly well and managed to focus and concentrate on the games for much longer than they are used to. The games started at 7.30 and the last one didn't finish until after 9.30.
The first game to finish was Josh on board 4. He'd been a piece up for much of the game and had almost got the game won, until his opponent managed to overpower his pinned his knight. His rook soon fell too and the game had slipped from his grasp. 0-1. On board 1, Zeno had sacrificed a piece early on in a complex position but never quite managed to justify the investment. His opponent defended well and skilfully pressed home the advantage. 0-2. There was much to cheer on board 3, where Sean played beautifully and managed to enter a rook and pawn endgame with much more active rooks. He quickly created a passed pawn and had all the winning chances, but after some accurate defence, a draw was eventually agreed through three-fold repetition. 0.5-2.5. On board 2, Felix played the longest game of the night, and was close to having used all of his one and a half hours thinking time when he finally succumbed. 0.5 - 3.5.
Congratulations to our opponents Ramsgate on a well deserved victory. They were very encouraging towards our players and were happy to share analysis and tips with the children afterwards.
Our next game is at home against Broadstairs on Friday 23rd November. All the fixtures and results can be viewed at: https://ecflms.org.uk/lms/node/28728/efixtures
In an attempt to push our more able chess players, I have entered Sheldwich Primary School in a local adult evening league this year. This will be a tremendous opportunity to play serious, long-play chess and should encourage the children to slow down and put more thought into their play. The matches, against adult teams from as far afield as Broadstairs and Folkestone, will feature four boards. I’ve invited 5 current pupils and 2 former pupils to form the squad, but I will be monitoring the performances of other children for possible inclusion. Later in the year we will also have the E.P.S.C.A qualifiers for which we will need U11 and U9 teams of 6, so there will be other opportunities to represent the school for our budding grandmasters.
We had seven Sheldwich children playing in the Southern Gigafinal in Richmond last weekend. This was the 3rd round of the competition which began with our school chess tournament in January. Will, Felix, Sean, Zeno, Luca, Oli and Vashti all did brilliantly in a very tough competition. Oli qualified for the Challengers tournament later in the summer with 4/6.
U11 Boys Group B - http://chess-results.com/tnr363423.aspx?lan=1&art=4&turdet=YES
U9 Boys Group A - http://chess-results.com/tnr363219.aspx?lan=1&art=4&turdet=YES
U9 Boys Group C - http://chess-results.com/tnr363221.aspx?lan=1&art=4&turdet=YES
Josh travelled up to Birmingham to take part in the Midlands Gigafinal and did amazingly. He finished on 4/6 in the U9s, winning a medal and qualifying for the Challengers tournament. Well done!
U9 Boys Group A - http://chess-results.com/tnr364515.aspx?lan=1&art=4&fed=ENG
Two teams of Sheldwich children spent the weekend competing in the English Primary Schools Chess Association National Championships Semi Finals, at Camber Sands. This is a very prestigious competition with all the best chess-playing schools from the south of England taking part. We fielded what we hoped would be a strong team in the U9s, and an U11 team which featured some of our experienced Year 6 players and a couple of up-and-coming Year 4s who, very bravely, took on much older opposition.
Both teams played 3 matches against other schools each day. Players had 40 mins each on the clock so there was plenty of time to think carefully about our moves. All the children played fantastically and they all tried writing their moves down so we could go over the games during the breaks. We had a salubrious Pontins chalet as our base, where we would all meet between rounds to brush up on our tactics and for some last minute tips.
After an exciting weekend of chess, the U11 team finished in joint 34th place with 11 points earning them a bronze trophy, while the U9 team finished in joint 18th place with 15 points earning a silver trophy. Special mentions should go to Will, who scored an amazing 5/6 on board 2 for the U11s, Oli who scored 5.5/6 on board 1 and Felix who scored 4/6 on board 2 for the U9s. Meg and Eeva also did brilliantly in the U11s, causing their older opponents plenty of problems throughout their games.
It wasn't all chess. We managed to get in a lot of football too, plus a royal wedding, some crazy-golf, hide and seek, beach volleyball and lots of rolling down sand-dunes.
Everyone is keen to go back next year. To do that we'll need to qualify through the preliminary zone, so we all need to keep practising! If we do qualify next year, Mrs Garrett has promised us team shirts!
Thank you to all the parents for bringing their children to the event and supporting us as Parent Reps and Team Managers. An especially big thank you to Motivocean UK and Mr Duffy for sponsoring one of the teams.
Under 9 Team: Under 11 Team:
Oli, Felix, Sean, Josh, Jim, Keira Adam, Will, Raf, Meg, Eeva
Seventeen Sheldwich children played in the Canterbury Megafinal. They all worked very hard, over a long day, concentrating on their games and playing some wonderful chess. We went two better than last year and have seven children qualified for the semi-final stage of the competition, the Gigafinals in Twickenham at the end of June.
Will H won the U11 Section (merged with the U18 sections) with an impressive 3.5/6. We dominated the U9 boys section: Oli won with 6/6, Josh was 3rd with 4.5/6, Sean was 5th with 4/6 and Felix and Luca both also qualified in 7th and 8th with 3.5/6. Dylan qualified, for the second year running, finishing 2nd in the U8 boys section with 3.5/6.
All the children did well, and, win or lose, will have improved their chess playing through the experience.
They weren't the only hard workers: Mrs Garrett and Mrs Hayhoe were tireless in their mission to keep the parents caffeinated. The full results can be found in the excel file below.
Four Sheldwich children took part in the KJCA GP7 at Sevenoaks School. All did brilliantly: Sean scored 4/6 in the U9s, followed closely by Josh on 3.5 points. Felix's 3 points were perhaps even more impressive as he managed to beat children rated 86, 48 and 64 in his first 3 rounds. Oli scored 4/6 playing up in the U11 section. Full results can be found here.
After a very exciting final round, Adam has emerged the winner of the School Chess Tournament, beating Oli G in a close game to take the title. Adam won every game he played, with his dropped half point coming from a bye when he was ill.
Adam is the only pupil to have attended chess club every term since it began three years ago. Indeed, Adam has been the top scorer in the competitive games played at chess club in every term apart from the current one. The win is a richly deserved reward for Adam's dedication. The new perpetual trophy is on the way to the engravers and will be presented at celebration assembly next term. The final cross table is available for download below.
Final results: 1st Adam 6.5, Joint 2nd Will H & Josh 6.0, Joint 4th Jim HM & Oli G 5.5.
Full list of qualifiers for the Megafinal:
Top Y6 Girl: Georgie
Top Y6 Boy: Adam
Top Y5 Girl: Sadie
Top Y5 Boy: Henry
Top Y4 Girl: Eeva, Meg & Molly (tied)
Top Y4 Boy: Josh
Top Y3 Girl: Hattie
Top Y3 Boy: Dylan
Top KS1 Girl: Isla D
Top KS1 Boy: Ethan H
Additionally qualified with 17 points: Will H, Oli G, Jim HM, Felix, William L, Rubin S, Luca, James D & Rafael.
The Megafinal will be held on the 13th May at Simon Langton Boys School.
(As well as the above qualifiers, we will also be represented by Sean, who qualified through the Woodnesborough Last Chance Saloon.)
Thanks to the generous funding provided by the PTA, we have now got our outdoor giant chess set in action and it is proving to be very popular. Children can sign up to play in teams of 2 or 3 in a book kept in the storage box. I will pair the matches and create the running order. The pieces will be available at break time and lunchtime, but they are not to be used before or after-school. I would like the games to be able to be played properly to a conclusion, so games may sometimes last across days. The children can record their position on slips kept with the book to help setting the pieces up correctly when they return.
It was lovely to see so many Sheldwich children coming to their first chess tournament. All played brilliantly and weren't fazed by the use of chess clocks either. Like last year, Sheldwich finished as the top performing school overall. Well done to all of the children for representing the school beautifully. Special mention should go to Josh who finished as the top U11 and Oli who was the top U9.
After 70 children registered for the tournament, we have decided to revise the format a little this year. Rather than splitting each round over three lunchtimes in Class 4, we are going to have all the children playing at the same time in the hall. Rounds will take place on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings where possible and the children will get 40 minutes to complete their matches, after which time the games will be adjudicated. From round 4 onwards, the top six boards will play with digital clocks with 20 minutes each to complete their games.
We will be playing 7 rounds, over the next three and a half weeks. The pairings are made using a Swiss system in which no-one is knocked-out and the children will be playing other children on similar scores. Each round's pairings and results will be posted here so you can see how your children are getting on.
The tournament is part of the UK Chess Challenge which is a national competition and the children could go on to compete against children from other schools. Further details can be found here: https://www.delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com. There will be an overall school champion and the highest scoring boy and girl at U7, U8, U9, U10 and U11 (plus any child scoring 17 points or more) will all qualify for the Megafinal in which is provisionally planned to be held at Simon Langton Boys School on a date yet to be confirmed.
The UK Chess Challenge awards 3 points for a win, 2 points for a draw and 1 point for a loss. On this basis, there are small rewards available to the children when they reach the following points:
3 points - Badge
6 points - 1st Gold Spot (sticker for badge)
9 points - 2nd Gold Spot
11 points - Mascot
12 points - 3rd Gold Spot
15 points - 4th Gold Spot plus Chess Score Book
17 points - Automatic qualification for the Megafinal
18 points - 5th Gold Spot
21 points - 6th Gold Spot
The overall tournament winner will receive a trophy.
Previous year's final cross tables can be found below:
Mr Griffiths found this old chess trophy in the roof space of the school over the summer. We have no idea how old it is or who first held it aloft in triumph. It's a lovely, weighty bit of metal, unlike the flimsy plastic affairs handed out these days.
We already have a shield, featuring the names of the winners, which stays on display in school. This trophy will also have each year's winner engraved upon it, but will instead be taken home by each year's winner to proudly display in their bedrooms until the following year's tournament. It could be you!
We went to Dulwich College for the latest round of the KJCA GP series. There was another good Sheldwich turnout and some fabulous chess played. Felix, Sean, Josh and Oli all played brilliantly in a huge field of 60 in the under 9 event. A big well done to Oli, who went one better than last time with a perfect 6/6, beating a player graded 82 en route to winning the event in clear 1st place. Full results can be found here. The next tournament is Sunday 4th March in Beckenham.
Mrs Garrett has been learning to play chess for the last couple of years and recently got the chance to put her new skills to the test, representing Woodnesborough against Broadstairs in the Walker Shield competition of the Thanet and East Kent Chess League. Mrs Garrett found herself on board 4, playing Michael Doyle (ECF grade 81). Each player would get 1 hour and 30 minutes for their first 36 moves and a further 15 minutes to complete the game - so potentially three and a half hours of chess lay ahead of her. Mrs Garrett has graciously given permission for the game to be shared here for teaching purposes. You can follow the moves on your own board, or click through the slide show below. Mrs Garrett played black.
1. e4 e5
A great start by Mrs G. Her opponent placed a pawn on e4, looking to control the centre of the board and allow the f1 bishop to develop and she replies in kind, e5.
White develops a knight and in doing so attacks black's e5 pawn.
The pawn on e5 needed defending, so f6 makes some sense from that perspective. But f6 is the square that black's g8 knight is happiest on, and moving the pawn from f7 opens the diagonal towards her king. Much more usual (and better) would be to defend e5 with 2... Nc6.
3. Bc4 d6
White sensibly develops his bishop, using it to attack the weak f7 square. Mrs G protects the e5 pawn again and provides a route for her light-squared bishop to get out, but in doing so she blocks in the dark-squared bishop. Three pawn moves in a row now... Mrs G needs to develop some of her pieces!
4. d4 Nc6!
White continues to develop quickly. Attacking the centre and letting his c1 bishop out. Mrs G develops a piece!! A fine move! From c6 the Knight applies pressure to the centre and if black plays d5, attacking the knight, the blocked pawns will reduce the power of black's light-squared bishop. Well played Mrs G.
This secures the centre for white and gives him the potential to develop his queen to b3 forming a battery with the c4 bishop. Mrs G will have to develop quickly and needs to start to fight for control of those white squares.
Another pawn move? And more weakening of the white squares! One benefit is that the g8 knight can now develop to h6 without being exchanged for the c1 bishop. But Mrs G has neglected one of the most important opening principals: develop your pieces!
This creates an immediate threat: 7. Bxg8. The knight is attacked twice and the Bf7 check also looks very annoying, as black will no longer be able to castle. Luckily, 7... Nh6 gets the knight out of the way and defends f7. Or alternatively, 7... Na5 forks the queen and the bishop temporarily. In both cases black has quite an unpleasant position as she hasn't developed many pieces, but it's not curtains yet.
Arrggggghhhh!! Now it is! Mrs Garrett said that as soon as she played this she realised she had gone horribly wrong. Always think what your opponent is likely to play next - before you make your move! Black's weakness on the white squares will be her downfall.
7. Bf7+ Kd7
The king's only square.
Checkmate. The king is trapped by his own pieces and white's control of the white squares wins the day.
So, a valiant first effort by Mrs Garrett and we can all learn from her mistakes:
1) Develop your knights and bishops quickly in the opening.
2) Don't make any unnecessary pawn moves.
3) Always think what your opponents best reply will be to a move you're considering.
What will you do then?
It was great to have six children from Sheldwich competing in the KJCA tournament in Maidstone. The children, most of them playing in their first KJCA event, all did brilliantly, and contributed to Sheldwich being the highest scoring school in the U9 section. Oli finished tied for 1st place in the U9s with 5/6, a wonderful achievement, and just reward for all the work he's put in over the last year to improve his chess. Felix, Sean and Josh all played in the U9 section too, whilst Will and Adam played in the, very strong, U11 section. All the results can be found here. Thank you to the parents for bringing the children along. Hopefully, we will have another good turnout for the next competition at Dulwich College, on Sunday 11th February.
We had a wonderful time at the Chess Classic. There was a full day of chess activities arranged by the charity Chess in Schools and Communities. In the morning, the children received coaching from CSC coaches and a talk from GM Chris Ward (who is the coach of the Kent U9 and U11 teams). He showed the children the position from the chess game in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and analysed Ron and Harry's tactical options. Some children got to go up on stage, where the Super GM tournament would be played that evening, to play against children from other schools. As they played, electronic boards relayed their moves to the big screen behind them and we all cheered them on. Later, the children played in a 5-round tournament and all did very well. Adam received a medal for his very impressive 4 wins. The children were full of enthusiasm after the tournament and most of them played chess all the way home on the coach!