Prague Trip 2012 – Under 12s

– from Peter Purland

Our annual Under 12 trip this year was to Prague where we were guests of Jaroslav Nemec and the Caritas Organisation. On Saturday 2nd June two groups assembled. Daniel Abbas, Matthew Fergusson, Ashwin Kalyana, James Kearney, Mark Kenyon and Johann Power met Glynis and Peter at Manchester and flew to Prague via Frankfurt. Although we were slightly late in Frankfurt we still had plenty of time and arrival in Prague was early. Meanwhile Victor was at Heathrow meeting Joshua Higgs, Taran Jina, David Liu, Matthew McLachlan, Richard Meikle-Briggs, James Meredith, Gwilym Price, Billy Twigge-Molecey, Prashast Vir and Richard Zhu. Their plane was about 10 minutes late in to Prague. We were all met at the airport by Jaroslav’s family and employees and taken to the Pension Krystal which is owned by Caritas. We settled in and had dinner after which the players went in to the garden and played soccer whilst Victor, Glynis and I had a meeting with Jaroslav. We then had a meeting with the players before going to bed ready for a speed chess tournament the next day.

The timings in the Czech Republic can be a culture shock for our players as breakfast was 0700 and round one (of nine) was at 0915. The event took place at Rakovnik which was just over an hours drive towards Plsen and was 20 minutes each on the clock. This was a local one day event with almost all the other 34 players being adults with an average rating of about 1950 so we were in for a tough day. As only two of our players had fide ratings we were kept apart in round one but the standard was high and we were almost all playing top half players. This showed in the results (+3 =1 -12). Round Two only had one inter squad game (drawn) and our final total was +8=4-4. Round three was fairly typical of the yoyo effect as we scored +4 =2 -10. Round four result was +2 =8 -6 and at the lunch break our top player was Mark Kenyon on 2.5. His reward was a 2017 player and the result was predictable giving Joshua Higgs. Gwilym Price and Richard Zhu the chance to leapfrog him. Fortified by a good lunch we produced our second best result in round 5 with +4 =7 -5. In round six only Gwilym of our top three won leaving him our sole player on 4\6 but a 2104 opponent undid him in round seven and he was joined on 4 by Matthew McLachlan and Billy Twigge-Molecey. Round six was +5 =4 -7 whilst round seven was very similar with +5 =3 -8. Gwilym lost again in round eight but Matthew and Billy won to move on to 5 points. Our score this round was 9 (+7 =4 -5) – perhaps we are getting used to the time limit! In the final round Billy and Matthew were paired and any result other than a draw should see them in the prize list. Matthew won our vital battle to finish off with 6\9 The final round produced 9½ points (+9 =1 -6) so ending off very strongly. Matthew got 9th place prize and Billy got the prize for the best U1800. It is a measure of the strength of the tournament that the best 1800 was almost halfway down. By standard conversion only two of our players are over 1800 so the scores were certainly as good as we could expect. We then returned to the hotel taking a little longer as there were traffic jams coming in to Prague but we were still eating just after 1900 and after another good meal the boys went out to play football. We then had our usual meeting and headed for bed.

Monday looked to be a busy day although we were thankful for an 0830 breakfast. Our first activity was bowling and we were there for two hours. The best of the players (by a long way) was Mark Kenyon who averaged 75 per game although all of them seemed to enjoy themselves and the gutters did not see too much use! We then had an outside simultaneous against WGM Katerina Nemcova. She was given a hard time by our 16 youngsters and conceded losses to James Meredith, Joshua Higgs and Johann Power. We were running a bit late going on our sightseeing of Prague and started off with a tram trip to the city centre where we met our guide. We got the funicular up Castle Hill (Perlin) and looked at the Hungry Wall (a 15th century job creation scheme) then the Czech Eiffel Tower before going in a mirror maze which proved great fun. (The old ones are still very good!). We then walked to the main castle but were forced in to a café by very heavy rain which, of course, further delayed us. We saw the changing of the guard at the castle entrance then looked round the outside of the castle and St Vitus Cathedral before walking down Golden Street and out down the Old Castle Steps. We then went to Charles Bridge with all its statues before going across it and meeting our transport the far side. We were then taken out to a newly opened gym complex (owned by our hosts brother) where the players had a 4 a side soccer competition won by Prashast, Tara, James K and Matthew Mc whilst Glynis and I had a swim. We then gorged ourselves on pizzas before the players had a mini soccer competition won by Josh. Then it was back to the hotel, a quick meeting and bed.

Tuesday started with an 0800 breakfast after which we got on the bus for our castles tour. There was heavy rain on the journey which, fortunately had stopped by the time we reached Konopiste Castle. This was the home of Crown prince France Ferdinand, his wife Sophie and there three children and was almost an exile as the Hapsburg establishment did not approve of Sophie. However with his love of hunting (there are over 3000 trophies in the castle) he was happy with his situation. Unfortunately for the pair they were sent to Sarajevo in 1914 and the rest is history. The Czechoslovak government confiscated all Hapsburg possessions and the castle is now in state ownership. Fortunately most of the furniture, the superb collection of weapons and the trophies remained intact and it was this that we were shown during an excellent tour. We then had time in the souvenir shops before moving on. We then had roughly an hours drive to Karlstein where we went to a very nice local restaurant. Fish and chips proved the favourite – two fish each! – whilst a few others sampled the rest of the menu.

We walked up to the castle which was steep but OK and followed this with a guided tour of the castle. This was built by Charles IV who seems to be the most revered of the Czech monarchs. It had become ruined in the 19th century but was reconstructed in the late 19th century so much of what is seen is not very old. Nevertheless it was furnished authentically. It is in three parts, residence, central tower (which includes the religious areas) and the treasury tower where the crown jewels used to be kept. This area has never been taken in battle. After the tour we walked down through the village and got the coach back to Prague. Here we were in the Oasis Chess Club playing a match against Prague Juniors. They were slightly older than us but we are, of course, a national team. The time limits were faster than we had hoped for but the lads acquitted themselves well winning 11-5 with white and 8½ – 7½ with black to give us victory 19½ – 12½. Only Ashwin, Richard MB and Gwilym got 2\2 in what was a well fought match. We then had the good old continental favourite, the blitz tournament! This was dominated by the Hollan twins (who played in the South Wales International in Penarth). Petr Hollan was first with 6½ Martin Hollan 2nd with 6 and Mark 3rd with 5½. Boxes of chocolate were also won by Daniel 4th, Billy 5th, Parshast 8th, Richard 9th and Ashwin 10th. We returned to the hotel for our final dinner there and, as I send this, they are having a quiz which has been arranged by our hosts as part of their “Boy of the Visit” competition.

Wednesday was another 0800 breakfast after which we packed and those efficient enough had a last game of soccer. The final thanks were then said and the results of “Boy of the Visit” were announced. This saw Johann Power winner with Mark Kenyon runner up. We then headed for the old town square where we did our last souvenir shopping and saw the astronomical clock working before heading for the airport where we separated and flew home after a very successful trip. Many thanks are due to Jaroslav Nemec, his family and the Caritas team for putting together a brilliant package and I am sure the boys enjoyed it, learnt a lot and formed greater friendships.

Prague v England
Tuesday 5th June 2012 Oasis Chess Club
  England   Prague   England
1 Daniel Abbas 1-0 Arsenij Anaskin 1-0 Mark Kenyon
2 Mark Kenyon 1-0 Martin Hollan ½-½ Daniel Abbas
3 Prashast Vir 0-1 Vojtech Parizek 1-0 Matthew Fergusson
4 Matthew Fergusson 1-0 Jan Havelka 0-1 Prashast Vir
5 Matthew McLachlan 0-1 Petr Hollan ½-½ Taran Jina
6 Taran Jina 1-0 Michal Jelinek 1-0 Matthew McLachlan
7 Joshua Higgs 1-0 Kilian Slovak 1-0 Richard Zhu
8 Richard Zhu ½-½ Pavel Haase ½-½ Joshua Higgs
9 Ashwin Kalyana 1-0 Veronika Mackova 1-0 Billy Twigge-Molecey
10 Billy Twigge-Molecey 1-0 Jiri Havelka 0-1 Ashwin Kalyana
11 Richard Meikle-Briggs 1-0 Josefina Kralova ½-½ David Liu
12 David Liu 1-0 Jonas Volek 0-1 Richard Meikle-Briggs
13 James Kearney 0-1 Michael Pivonka 0-1 Johann Power
14 Johann Power 0-1 Sofie Pribylova ½-½ James Kearney
15 Gwilym Price 1-0 Zdenek Lhotsky 0-1 James Meredith
16 James Meredith ½-½ Viktor Pribyl 0-1 Gwilym Price
    11-5   7½- 8½  
Final Score – England 19½ – Prague 12½
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