Junior Team Chess Challenge

Finals — Hertford College, Oxford. Tuesday 23 April 2019

Fifty-three players drawn from eleven schools attended the Final of the Junior Team Chess Challenge.  This is a competition, now in its fourth year, for teams of four players, at least one of whom must be drawn from Years 7 or 8.  For the third consecutive year, this was held at Hertford College, Oxford.  The event was organised by Phill Beckett, the Manager of Schools Chess.  The twelve teams had all qualified from one of ten regional events.

The teams had the chance to solve some chess problems on arrival, subsequently marked by Nigel Dennis. Magdalen College School Oxford and Royal Grammar School Newcastle were joint winners, each producing flawless solutions, closely followed by King’s College Junior School Wimbledon (25/30) and Chepstow School and The Judd School, both of whom scored 20/30.

We were then treated to a talk by Professor Peter Millican of Hertford College on “Chess, Computers and Artificial Intelligence” in Hertford College Chapel.  Prof. Millican is a Professor of Philosophy and also a Correspondence Chess Grandmaster, finishing fifth in the world championships in 1997.  Peter was in his element when playing swashbuckling, tactical openings, being especially famous for his expertise on the Double Muzio Gambit (a variation of the King’s Gambit where White sacrifices two pieces in the first eight moves!) Kingpin declared that he “has Bxf7+ tattooed on his knuckles”!  Peter’s talk ranged from examining one of his Double-Muzio games, advice on how to improve your play and also interesting insights about computer programming (with a practical example: noughts and crosses) and the nature of intelligence, drawn from philosophers active in the past four hundred years.

Hertford College provided an excellent packed lunch, after which the five-round Team Chess Challenge began.  Game points rather than match results were the key (unless game points were level) and each player had just ten minutes on the clock, plus five seconds increment per move.

Round 1
Nottingham High School 0-4 King’s College Junior School  Wimbledon
Magdalen College School 3.5-0.5 Royal Grammar School Newcastle
Brentwood School 1-3 Heathside School
Wilson’s School 4-0 Chepstow School
Torquay Boys’ Grammar School 0-4 The Judd School
Stover School 0-4 King’s CJS ‘B’

Round 2
King’s CJS ‘B’ 1-3 Wilson’s
Heathside 0-4 King’s CJS ‘A’
Judd 1-3 Magdalen CS
RGS 3-1 Brentwood
Torquay BGS 1-3 Nottingham HS
Chepstow 3-1  Stover

Round 3
King’s CJS ‘A’ 3-1 Wilson’s
Magdalen CS 3.5-0.5 King’s CJS ‘B’
RGS 0-4 Judd
Nottingham HS 0-4 Heathside
Brentwood 2-2 Chepstow
Stover 0-4 Torquay BGS

Round 4
King’s CJS ‘A’ 2-2 Magdalen CS
Wilson’s 1.5-2.5 Judd
Heathside 2-2 King’s CJS ‘B’
Chepstow 1.5-2.5 Torquay BGS
Brentwood 2.5-1,5  Nottingham HS
Stover 0-4 RGS

Round 5
Judd 1-3 King’s CJS ‘A’
Magdalen CS 3.5-0.5 Wilson’s
Torquay BGS 0-4 Heathside
King’s CJS ‘B’ 3.5-0.5 RGS
Nottingham HS 3-1 Chepstow
Stover 0-4 Brentwood

The final results were as follows —

1st King’s College Junior School, Wimbledon ‘A’ 16/20
2nd Magdalen College School 15.5
3rd Heathside School 13
4th The Judd School 12.5
5th King’s College Junior School, Wimbledon ‘B’ 11

6th Brentwood School 10.5; 7th Wilson’s School 10; 8th Royal Grammar School Newcastle 8; 9th= Chepstow School; Nottingham High School; Torquay Boys’ Grammar School 7.5; 12th Stover School 1

Many congratulations must go to King’s College Junior School Wimbledon ‘A’ which has won the event for an amazing four consecutive years.  They were pushed incredibly close (just half a game point) by Magdalen CS; the result depended on the last game to finish! 

Many thanks are due to Hertford College for their continued generosity in providing the venue and refreshments and to the catering staff and porters for their unfailing courtesy and helpfulness.  Special thanks are due particularly  to Estates Project Manager Dr Andrew Beaumont for coordinating the event, Prof. Peter Millican for his inspiring talk and Chaplain Revd Mia Smith for kindly allowing us to use the chapel for Peter Millican’s talk and the Prize-giving, as well as presenting the prizes.  Finally, thanks are due to Nigel Dennis for adjudicating the Problem Solving, and of course to Phill Beckett for being the mastermind of the whole event.

— John Swain (Assistant Arbiter)

Finals – Problems | Finals – Solutions


The Junior Team challenge is aimed at Year 7 and Year 8. Teams will consist of four players (reserves are allowed) and 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 e.g. 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 2019 at Hertford College, Oxford on Tuesday 23rd April 2019 — 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

Regional Events

13th October 2018 Kings College School, Wimbledon
Qualifier – Kings College Junior School
Contact Matthew Horton Email: MJH@kcs.org.uk

25th November 2018 King Edwards Grammar School, Chelmsford
Entry by email and queries to both Tim Worrall (TiC of chess at KEGS) at tworrall@kegs.org.uk and Robin Slade at chelmsfordjuniorchess@gmail.com | Flyer

Qualifier – Brentwood

3rd December 2018 Heathside School, London
Contact Lateefah Messam-Sparks Email: lmessamsparks@heathsideprep.co.uk

Qualifier – Heathside

4th December Yarm School, Stockton on Tees
Contact Michael Pointon Email: mip@yarmschool.org [4.15 – 6.15pm]

Qualifier – RGS Newcastle

11th December 2018 Magdalen College School, Oxford
Contact John Place Email: jplace@mcsoxford.org [start time 4.45pm]

Qualifier – Magdalen College School

11th December 2018 Wilsons School, Wallington
Contact Neil Cooper Email: nsc@cplusc.co.uk [4.00pm – 6.40pm]

Qualifiers – Wilsons School & Kings College School B

13th December 2018 The King’s School Grantham, Lincolnshire
Contact Phill Beckett Email: dep.manager.secondary@englishchess.org.uk

Qualifier – Nottingham High School

25th January 2018 The Judd School, Kent
Contact Doina Colf Email: DColf@judd.kent.sch.uk

Qualifier – The Judd School

29th January 2019 Torquay Boys Grammar School
Contact Tim Onions Email: tim.onions@yahoo.co.uk

Qualifiers – Torquay Grammar School & Stover School

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