Team Chess Challenge

NSCC Team Chess Challenge 2019 – report on the final

Fourteen teams contested the Final of the Team Chess Challenge, now in its sixth year. Neill Cooper invented the format of this event in 2014. The idea is that many schools can field a team of only four chess players and the rapidplay time limit (ten minutes per player plus a two second increment) means that exciting, fast chess is guaranteed and five rounds can be accommodated in about three hours. The Swiss format also means that teams find their own level and many matches are closely contested; the Final is decided by game points (rather than match points) so every game counts and the contribution of the lower boards is just as important as that of the stronger players.

The first round was seeded according to rapidplay gradings and so perhaps it was not too surprising that four teams scored the maximum four points: Eltham College, Millfield School, Royal Grammar School Newcastle (top seeds) and Westminster School. Westminster demolished Eltham by a maximum score in round 2 whilst RGS did almost as well, defeating Millfield 3.5 – 0.5. A large gap opened up after round 3 when RGS disposed of Westminster 3 – 1 and they cruised to victory thereafter, defeating Nottingham High School 3.5 – 0.5 and Eltham College by the same margin to retain their title with the highly impressive score of 17.5/20, a point more than they achieved last year. Millfield finished second (15) but sum-of-progressive scores were needed as a tie-break to allocate Westminster the trophies for third place, ahead of Eltham and Nottingham HS, all on 11.5.  The fact that just 3.5 game points separated ten of the fourteen teams emphasises how closely the event was fought: 

1st – Royal Grammar School Newcastle (17.5/20)
2nd – Millfield School (15)
3rd – Westminster School (11.5 – SOP 42)
4th – Eltham College (11.5 – SOP 38.5)
5th – Nottingham High School (11.5 – SOP 38)

6th – Wilson’s School (11); 7th – Mill Hill County High School (10 – SOP 34); 8th – Chepstow School (10 – SOP 27); 9th= The King’s School in Macclesfield (9 – SOP 23), Torquay Boys’ Grammar School (9 – SOP 23); 11th – Bolton School Boys’ Division (8.5); 12th – Westcliff High School for Boys (8); 13th – Southend High School for Boys (5); 14th – Greensward Academy (2.5)

Thanks are due to: the hosts of the afternoon qualifying events from which the finalists had emerged; Imperial College who hosted the event once again and provided excellent refreshments; Professor Jonathan Mestel GM who entertained everyone with a talk on two tricky positions where underpromotion and stalemate traps abounded; Stewart Haslinger GM, who like Jonathan also works at Imperial, presented the trophies; Chris Howell as Chief Arbiter; Chepstow, Wilson’s and Westminster for providing the equipment; last – and certainly not least – Neill Cooper for masterminding this very enjoyable event once again.

— John Swain (Assistant Arbiter)

National Final – schedule

Wednesday 3rd April 2019. Play is in Rooms 341/342, Huxley Building, 180 Queen’s Gate, Imperial College, London  SW7 2AZ (number 13 on the South Kensington campus map –

Organiser – Neill Cooper ECF Manager of Secondary School Chess
Arbiter – Chris Howell and/or John Swain

From 10.30am – arrive, refreshments, Chess Problem Solving Challenge organised by British Chess Problem Solving (BCPS)
11.15 – Presentation by Professor Jonathan Mestel (Grandmaster and former British Chess Champion)
12.00 – Lunch
12.40 – Round 1; 13.20 – Round 2; 13.55 – Round 3; 14.35 – Round 4; 15.10 Round 5
15.50 – Prizegiving
16.00 – Depart

There is no charge for participating in this event. Rate of play in the National final is all moves in 10 minutes + 2 second per move increment. Games are NOT ECF graded.

Maps and directions at

If you need to contact me on the day my phone number is 07976 737075. Alternatively Imperial College Maths Department is 020 7594 8483

— Neill Cooper

Team Chess Challenge is a competition open to any British school with pupils in any of years 7 to 13 (English year groups). Each team taking part consists of four pupils who attend the same school and are in year 6 or above. Team Chess Challenge has been developed as a chess tournament which ALL secondary schools might like to enter.

The structure of Team Chess Challenge is that regional finals will be held on afternoons during the Autumn term of 2017 or early Spring 2018. The winning school at each Regional Final will qualify for the one day National Final. The host school will decide the details of the Regional Final. Typically at each Regional Final, between four and sixteen teams will participate. The host school can decide how many teams schools can enter. They should ensure an even number of teams take part, by entering an extra team if necessary. Schools may only enter one Regional Final, which should be local to them, and can only send one team to the National Finals.

The regional final is organised as an afternoon tournament lasting between 2 and 3 hours. Each event shall have four rounds (unless only 4 teams are playing) each lasting 25 minutes. Swiss pairings will be used so that in the later rounds, the leading teams play against each other, and similarly the weaker teams play each other. Every game counts, so the maximum score is 16 points. The winning team is the one that scores the most points (out of 16). The host school can decide the starting time of their final, which may be during afternoon school or after school has finished. The principal aim of the regional final is that large numbers of school teams enjoy playing chess. The production of a winner to play at the National Final is an important subsidiary to this main aim.

There is no entry fee for the tournament, but the host school may make a small charge for the provision of the refreshments, and possibly trophies, at the Regional Finals. Games are not graded, and there is no requirement for your team players to be members of any chess organisation.

Regional Finals

North East Region – Yarm School – Thursday 11th October
Winners – RGS Newcastle
4 teams from 2 schools

Essex Region – King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford – Sunday 25th November 10.30 – 13.30
Winners – Southend High School For Boys
8 teams from 6 schools

West London Region – Eton College – Tuesday 27th November 4.30 – 7.00pm
Winners – Westminster School
4 teams from 3 schools

East Essex Region – Greensward Academy – Tuesday 15th January 2019
Winners – Westcliffe A and Greensward A 12/16
6 teams from 3 schools

Devon & Somerset Regions (combined) – Torquay Boys Grammar School – Tuesday January 29th 2019 
Winners – Millfield 15/16, Second – Torquay BGS  12/16
8 teams from 4 schools

South London Region – Wilson’s School – Wednesday 30th January 2019 4.00 – 6.30pm
Contact Neill Cooper Email:

West of England Region – Bristol Grammar School – Monday 11th February 4.00 to 6.30pm
Winners – Chepstow 12.5/16
11 teams from 6 schools

Scotland – to be run by Lothian Junior Chess Web:
Winners – Stewart Melville

North West Region – Bolton School – Thursday 31st January 1.00pm start
Winners – Bolton School Boys and King’s Macclesfield 14/16
7 teams from 6 schools

North London Region – Mill Hill County High School – Thursday 7th February
Winners – Mill Hill County High School and University College School 14/16
6 teams from 4 schools

Repechage – Eton College – Tuesday 5th March 2019 4.30 – 7.00pm
Contact: Justin Moston Email: