This annual event was held over the weekend 10-11 December at Liverpool College. It was a very hard fought contest and, for the first time, the English regions won all three sections. The four teams are, Scotland, Wales, North of England and English Midlands. The U16 section has 6 boards and the other two sections 10 boards. This year there were even a few reserves on site so the total playing exceeded 106.
The Under 16 section was full of some very good chess which went on for the full 150 minutes allowed. Although the North team had the edge there was very little to choose between the other three teams and the results were still in doubt with 30 minutes to go. In the end the North triumphed followed by Scotland, Wales and the Midlands.
At U14 level the North (in fact the North West) are incredibly strong and, even without their top two boards, only dropped 5½ points. The tussle for second place went right up to the final game when Scotland managed to win a rook and pawn ending in an exciting game which showed the strength of the tournament as it was the bottom board! This put the Midlands third with Wales fourth.
The U12s was entirely different. Scotland and the Midlands both won their first two games and thus played for top spot in the final round whilst Wales and the North battled for third and fourth. The Scotland-Midlands match was again decided on the last game, in this case board eight, and the Midlands got their revenge to win 5½ – 4½.
Wales v the North was also nip and tuck with Wales gaining the vital point in the second last game to finish. All in all this was an excellent weekend with a lot of good, fighting chess and some exciting finishes. We will meet again in December 2012
– Peter Purland