Junior Team Chess Challenge

Finals report

This event is now in its third year and attracted over seventy teams.  No player can be older than Year 8, and at least one of the team of four has to be drawn from Year 7 or 8, so this event neatly fills a gap in the market; primary schools have always been well served by several competitions but this event is ideal for middle and preparatory schools or secondary schools with talented Year 7 and 8 players. Ten teams qualified from regional events held between October and March to play in the picturesque surroundings of Hertford College Oxford on Monday 16th April 2018 (its famous Bridge of Sighs has often featured on programmes such as Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour).

On arrival, the teams had the chance to hone their problem-solving skills by tackling four chess problems. Five teams provided perfect solutions, adjudicated by Nigel Dennis: Horris Hill, Magdalen College School Oxford, Royal Grammar School Newcastle, St Paul’s and The Judd School. We then walked via the Bridge of Sighs to the Baring Room where Grandmaster John Nunn gave a very well-received illustrated talk (with lots of audience participation!) about a game between Olafsson and Eliskases, together with three chess problems; one ended with mate delivered by two knights and another by a single knight against lone bishop.  John Nunn is a former British Champion (1980) currently a double British Champion (Senior and Problem-Solving) and is a double Grandmaster (including Problem-Solving, in which activity he was World Champion in 2004, 2007 and 2010).

The four rounds of rapidplay chess (10 minutes plus a five second increment) took place after guided tours of Hertford College conducted by student ambassadors and a much-appreciated packed lunch kindly provided by Hertford College. Game points rather than match points would determine the winner, so the performance of players on lower boards counted just as much as the stars on the higher boards.  The defending champions (also winners in 2016) King’s College Junior School Wimbledon stormed into an early lead by defeating The Judd School from Kent 4-0, but were closely followed by last year’s runners-up, St Paul’s, who defeated Heathside 3-1 and by Magdalen College School Oxford who beat Horris Hill also by a 3-1 margin.  King’s increased their lead over St Paul’s by half a point in round 2 when they won 3.5-0.5 against Magdalen and the stage was set for the King’s v St Paul’s encounter in round 3, which ended all-square. Despite only drawing with Heathside, who thereby finished third, in the final round, this was just enough to retain their title, since St Paul’s dropped a further point in beating RGS Newcastle and had to settle for silver medals once again.  Congratulations are due to King’s on their victory but also to all the teams for their sporting behaviour and for the excellent standard of chess played – just three points separated teams finishing in third and tenth position!

Round 1
Heathside 1 – 3 St. Paul’s
King’s CJS 4 – 0 The Judd
RGS Guildford 1.5 – 2.5 RGS Newcastle
Sutton GS 2.5 – 1.5 Chepstow
Horris Hill 1 – 3 Magdalen CS
Round 3
King’s CJS 2 – 2 St. Paul’s
Chepstow 1.5 – 2.5 Heathside
Sutton GS 1.5 – 2.5 RGS Newcastle
The Judd 2.5 – 1.5 Magdalen CS
Horris Hill 1 – 3 RGS Guildford
Round 2
Magdalen CS 0.5 – 3.5 King’s CJS
St. Paul’s 3 – 1 Sutton GS
RGS Newcastle 1.5 – 2.5 Chepstow
Heathside 3 – 1 RGS Guildford
The Judd 2 – 2 Horris Hill
Round 4
Heathside 2 – 2 King’s CJS
St. Paul’s 3 – 1 RGS Newcastle
RGS Guildford 1 – 3 The Judd
Chepstow 2.5 – 1.5 Horris Hill
Magdalen CS 1 – 3 Sutton GS

The final results were as follows —

1st King’s College Junior School, Wimbledon 11.5; 2nd St. Paul’s School 11; 3rd Heathside Preparatory School 8.5; 4th= Chepstow School and Sutton Grammar School  8; 6th= Royal Grammar School Newcastle and The Judd School 7.5; 8th Royal Grammar School Guildford 6.5; 9th Magdalen College School, Oxford 6; 10th Horris Hill 5.5

Particular thanks are due to John Nunn for his excellent talk; all the staff at Hertford College, including the catering staff and porters, and especially Home Bursar Dr Andrew Beaumont, Registrar and Director of Admissions Lynn Featherstone, Professor Peter Millican and Professor Fernando Alday for their unfailing courtesy and helpfulness, and for their generosity in providing the venue and refreshments.  Thanks are also due too to Jonathan Beckett for assisting with some administration, to Nigel Dennis for adjudicating the Problem Solving and arbiting together with Phill Beckett and John Swain, and to Phill Beckett for organising the whole event.

— John Swain


The Junior Team challenge is aimed at Year 7 and Year 8. Teams will consist of four players (reserves are allowed) at least one member of each team must be year 7 or 8. There will be a series of regional finals, with the winner and possibly the runner-up (if there is a large qualifying event) qualifying for the final, to be held at Hertford College, Oxford

The typical schedule is a team event using a Swiss system (unless there are a low number of entrants, in which case teams may play an all-play-all competition). Each team plays four rounds Every point scored will count towards the team total i.e. a team winning 3-1 would score three points, and the losing team would score one point. All schools can enter two teams, with the host team having the option of a third team in order to have an even number of teams.

The regional events are designed so that they can be completed in an afternoon, although a regional event could be held as a one-day event according, to the wishes of the host school.

National Finals 2018 at Hertford College, Oxford on  Monday 16th April   — this will be an all-day event

Hertford College is in the centre of Oxford, opposite the Bodleian Library, and the most famous feature is the ‘Bridge of Sighs’. The college frontage is often on the TV in Morse and Lewis – http://www.hertford.ox.ac.uk/ – for a virtual tour of the dining hall where the National Finals will take place, click here


To enter please contact the regional organiser directly.

South West London – King’s College Wimbledon – Saturday 7th October, 10.00am to 4.00pm
Contact: Matt Hortin Email: MJH@kcs.org.uk
Equal 1st – Kings College and St Pauls (both teams qualify for the final)
20 teams took part in the event

West Surrey Region – Aldro School – Saturday 21st October
Contact: David Archer Email ArcherD@aldro.org
Qualifier – Magdalen College School
6 schools in the Open Section, 18 schools took part

Oxfordshire Region – Magdalen College School, Oxford –Thursday, 16th November, 5.00pm – 7.30pm
Contact: John Place Email: jplace@mcsoxford.org
1st Magdalen College School; 2nd Horris Hill School
6 other teams in the top section – both teams qualified  for the final


South East Region – The Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells – Friday, 26th January 2018, 3.00pm – 6.00pm
Contact: Jacqui Charvat Email: jacqui.charvat@skinners-school.org.uk
Qualifier –  The Judd school
4 schools took part

South London Region – Wilson’s School – Wednesday 31st January 2018
Contact: Neill Cooper Email: nsc@wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk
Qualifiers – RGS Guildford and Sutton GS
10 schools took part

North East Region – Yarm School – Tuesday 6th February, 4.15pm
For details and entries contact Mike Pointon Email: mip@yarmschool.org
Qualifier – RGS Newcastle
4 schools took part

West Country Region – Bristol Grammar School – Monday 12th March
Contact: Graham Iwi Email: giwi@bgs.bristol.sch.uk
Qualifier – Chepstow
6 schools competed

North London Region Heathside Prep School – date to be decided
Contact: Lateefah Messam-Sparks Email: lmessamsparks@yahoo.com
Qualifier – Heathside
4 schools competed

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