– from Chris Strong
Excited parents and children flocked to the Olympic Centre for the final battle. A sense of expectation hung in the air as players had their photos taken and flags were waved. Hopes were high as Meytel led the England team off with one point. Ken followed quickly and was disappointed to have missed a mate in one after coming out of the opening well. At the same time the U7 girls winner from Turkmenistan emerged with her final win giving an amazing 9/9; the only perfect score in the tournament.
Asha followed shortly after with a good game. Opposite side castling showed both players were going for it as pieces flew off the board. Her opponent saw the truth of the position and resigned after 22 moves. Bobby also won and recounted the final moves as he strode purposefully down the steps. Tristian was more subdued as he felt he should have won but was encouraged by the supporting parents who were pleased with his draw. B ecky, too, felt she should have had more but lost the initiative and the game. After two hours we seemed to be on the positive side of the scores but your correspondent was beginning to get hypothermia and things were not so clear.
A large group emerged on 2 hours 20 minutes with mixed results. Tai and Luke and Chuck lost, Haolin drew against the top seed while Anna, Elizabeth and Theo won. Theo had recovered from his mum’s birthday celebrations last night and declared he was “very satisfied” with his win which included a 35 minute stint on finding the winning strategy of forcing zugzwang in a King and Pawn ending.
Half an hour later and we saw the first clutch of all-England pairings. Jake beat James while Callum and Ananth drew. The two sisters, Marianne and Isabel, drew their respective games and suddenly more people were smiling.
Three hours in and the group of waiting parents is getting steadily smaller while the football match is growing massively. A short pause as the ball flies into the Marina and for the next few minutes we are entertained while they try and retrieve it with a rope! Clearly that was not going to happen and all the boys started to trudge back to the hotel for lunch.
Coming up to the four hour mark and amazingly some U7s are still playing. The sun is trying to come out but without much conviction. Players are emerging utterly exhausted, in tears if they lost and relieved if they won. There are still a couple of England players left inside. Zoë comes out 20 minutes later with a loss. In a prepared c3 Sicilian her opponent exchanged on d5 but kept the extra pawn and then grabbed a second one and took the game after 68 moves.
Only John left now. And he finishes with a fine win and secures 50% overall in the top section. It has been a tough tournament but the children have played their hearts out and the coaches have been superb.
Don’t forget – for more images from Greece, courtesy of Shaun Brewer, click HERE