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Success across the boards: record-breaking chess performance at national championships

QE’s chess team achieved third place – the School’s highest-ever finish – and won the Plate trophy at the game’s national UK school finals.

Propelled by a string of strong mid-tournament performances over the two days of the English Chess Federation National Schools’ Championship, the six-strong team secured the Plate – QE’s first trophy at the finals – with a last-round victory over number one seeds, King’s College Wimbledon.

Teacher in charge of chess, Geoff Roberts, said: “This competition is the one which every school has aspirations to win, so for Queen Elizabeth’s to come through a very strong regional group to qualify for the finals was a good achievement in itself.

“However, the team far surpassed this at the finals. Considering the calibre of the schools there, many of whom offer chess scholarships, to finish in third place was a truly outstanding achievement.”

The team had qualified for the national finals at the University of Nottingham after emerging as zonal winners following a hard-fought 3.5–2.5 victory in the North London final against The Latymer School, Edmonton.

In the first round of the nationals, QE were pitted against the second seeds, and eventual winners, Hampton School. They lost by the narrowest of margins – 3.5 to 2.5.

They quickly recovered and went on to record good results against other leading chess schools: firstly, a 5–1 victory over King Edward’s School, Birmingham, then a 3–3 draw against Westminster School, and thirdly a 4.5-1.5 victory against the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.

This set up a final-round showdown with King’s College Wimbledon. In what Mr Roberts described as his “particular highlight”, the QE six performed “superbly” to achieve a 3.5–2.5 victory and take both third place and the Plate – awarded to the highest-placed first-round losers.

The following pupils represented QE in Nottingham: Yash Mahajan, Year 13: Jason Tao, Year 11; Andreas Angelopoulos Year 11; Nishchal Thatte, Year 9; Rithwik Gururaj, Year 9, and Year 8’s Callistus Bhattacharya. In addition, Joshua John, of Year 11, and Daiwik Solanki, Year 10, represented the School in the zonal stages.

Each member of the team contributed at least 2.5 points from their five games at the national finals. Callistus finished unbeaten with 4.5 points out of 5; Nischal Thatte took 4 points out of 5 against some of the country’s top chess players playing on board 1, and team captain Yash finished with 3 points out of 5 on board 2.

“My congratulations to all the boys who have represented the School in this competition,” said Mr Roberts. He gave a particular mention to Yash “for captaining the team superbly” and “for his commitment to, and excellence in, chess throughout his seven years at Queen Elizabeth’s: this trophy is a fitting reward for his dedication.”

Mr Roberts also thanked Mathematics teacher Kirtan Shah for his support with the trip.

National finalists in prestigious chess competition, boosted by strong team ethos

QE’s team heads for June’s national chess finals after seeing off local rivals in a keenly fought regional final.

Their hard-won North London zonal final victory over Latymer School followed a more comfortable 5½ – ½ semi-final defeat of Mill Hill School.

The six-strong team drawn from Years 9–13 now take on 15 other regional winners in the national final of the English Chess Federation-run National Schools’ Chess Championship. QE has enjoyed some success in the national finals in the past, but not in very recent years.

Teacher in charge of chess, Geoff Roberts, said: “Qualifying for the national final of this tournament is a real achievement and one that confirms our place amongst the élite chess-playing schools in the country. This competition is the one which every school has aspirations to win, so for Queen Elizabeth’s to have made it through to the national final is especially pleasing.”

QE’s 2022–2023 team comprises: Yash Mahajan, of Year 13; Joshua John, Year 11; Jason Tao, Year 11; Andreas Angelopoulos, Year 11; Daiwik Solanki, Year 10, and Nishchal Thatte, Year 9.

“My congratulations to all the boys who have represented the School in this competition and a particular mention to the captain, Yash, in his last year at Queen Elizabeth’s, for his role in creating the strong team environment which has underpinned our success.”

Their place in the national final depended on the boys beating Latymer School in their zonal final. It was, said Mr Roberts, “an exciting match of high-standard chess with the result in the balance throughout – and in a dramatic finish with both players short on time, Jason Tao secured the winning point for a 4-2 victory”.

The competition has been running since the 1957–1958 academic year, with QE marking its first success there the following year, when it came third. It was another 41 years before QE next appeared on the leaders’ board, with a fourth place in 1999–2000. It last won a top place – joint-third – in 2016–2017. QE’s record also includes successes in the Plate competition, in which the trophy goes to the School with the best result from among the first-round losers. QE was a Plate runner-up in 2012–2013 and in 2013–2014, with a third place in 2006–2007.

The national final of the competition takes place at the University of Nottingham on 29th–30th June.


A QE chess first – and a national champion

Following the success of last term’s inaugural QE-wide online chess competition, the School has now held its first-ever Blitz tournament, attracting a large field eager to play the high-speed version of the game.

A second whole-school online chess tournament with classical time controls also took place. It was won by one of QE’s youngest and most talented players – Year 7’s Nishchal Thatte – who competed fresh from his victory at the U12 British Online Chess Championships run by the English Chess Federation.

Having first won his qualifier in the national event, Nishchal had progressed to victory across seven rounds at the championships, each lasting about two hours. He was also runner-up in in the national Rapidplay tournament – losing out on a tiebreak.

Congratulating him, teacher in charge of chess Geoff Roberts said: “In our own event, he was competing against players of all ages and his talent was on full display. Although Joshua John, of Year 9, and Yash Mahajan, Year 11, pressed hard, both finishing just half a point behind, Nishchal was a worthy winner.” This event saw 72 boys and two teachers compete, with similar numbers taking part in the Blitz chess competition, which was won by Daiwik Solanki, of Year 8, narrowly beating Yash, the runner-up, by half a point.

“The success Nishchal and some other younger boys had in these tournaments is particularly impressive and bodes well for a bright future for the game at the School,” added Mr Roberts, who oversees QE’s chess provision with the support of a number of external coaches.

Nishchal started playing aged five, taught by his father, and began playing in tournaments when he was seven. “I like to play very aggressively, as I’m good at that style,” he said.

Asked why he enjoys chess, he said: “It is a strategic game. There are only 64 squares, but so many different possibilities.”

He has a chess coach outside of School but also attends QE’s Chess Club, enjoying both the practice it provides and the social side – “a fun thing to do”.

It was his third time entering the British Championships, which was held online this year because of the Covid-19 restrictions. Video technology was used to ensure that competitors were not being assisted by others.

Success across the board – with youth to the fore in a QE first

Some 76 boys of all ages turned out for QE’s first whole-school chess tournament.

The online weekend event brought not only a high turnout, but also some exciting chess played to a good standard, reports teacher in charge of chess, Geoff Roberts.

The inaugural tournament champion was Year 7’s Aahan Shah, who won all five of his games to secure the title, beating Year 8’s Aryan Kheterpal in the final.

Mr Roberts said: “I was very pleased with the event’s success and to see the number of highly able and enthusiastic chess players participating from all year groups. I’m particularly delighted with the performance of the younger students, which shows a bright future for chess here.”

The tournament consisted of five 30-minute rounds played on the Lichess online chess platform – the main image above shows some examples of games played on the platform. In addition to the 76 boys taking part, two members of staff also competed – Economics teacher Sheerwan O’Shea-Nejad and Mathematics teacher Marco Saccardi.

“We held a single tournament for all year groups and for the teachers, so in that context a Year 7 winning really was a great achievement,” said Mr Roberts.

After the initial rounds, Aahan and Aryan were left as the only boys to have won all of their first four games, and so they met in the final. Aahan’s victory there made him the only player to win 5 points (1 point for every win.)

Senthuran Jeevan, of Year 13, took second place with 4.5 points.

The Sonneborn–Berger scoring system, which is based on the finishing positions of players’ defeated opponents, was used to decide the places of the next four players, who all scored 4 points. Third place went accordingly to Nishchal Thatte, of Year 7; fourth to Yash Mahajan, of Year 11, and fifth to Joshua John, of Year 9, while the defeated finalist, Aryan, was sixth.

“The Lichess platform worked really well, with its ability to add small time increments after each player’s move and with its built-in features that one would expect in face-to-face chess, such as a facility for players to offer a draw,” said Mr Roberts.

“Particular thanks go to Mr O’Shea-Nejad and Mr Saccardi for playing – the boys really enjoyed the opportunity to compete against their teachers.”

Across-the-board success: from a booming club to a young star’s perfect tournament score

Pupil Joshua John won QE’s Years 8-11 Chess Tournament – even though he was competing against boys more than three years above him.

Joshua, of Year 8, achieved the maximum possible score of 6 in the competition, which saw 60 boys competing to be named 2019 Years 8-11 Chess Champion.

There was hot competition in the year below, too, where 43 of QE’s youngest boys fought it out in the Year 7 Chess Tournament. Samrath Sareen took the title of Year 7 Chess Champion with a score of 5.5.

Teacher in charge of chess, Geoff Roberts, said: “I am very pleased to see the number of highly able and enthusiastic chess players we have at Queen Elizabeth’s.

“I’m particularly delighted to see Joshua John secure the title for the first time. It is very rare indeed for a Year 8 student to win this title, so Joshua is an especially worthy champion, having won all six of his games against a high-quality field.

“The Years 8-11 tournament was an enjoyable and competitive morning of chess. We were able to make use of the chess expertise that Sixth Form boys have developed, utilising their skills in the running of the tournament for the benefit of the younger pupils. All of the competitors undoubtedly enjoyed receiving advice from the sixth-formers who have been highly successful at chess over many years.”

Mr Roberts added that more than 100 boys are currently attending the after-school Monday and Friday sessions of the Improvers’ Chess Club.

Second place in the Years 8-11 tournament was shared jointly by five boys on 5 points:

  • Andreas Angelopoulos, of Year 8
  • Divyesh Bansal, of Year 9, who was also therefore best in his year
  • Yash Mahajan and Vedaangh Rungta, who were jointly best in Year 10
  • Ish Chhabra, of Year 11, who was best in his year.

Similarly, in the Year 7 tournament, joint second place went to five boys: Shardul Gupte; Karthik Kalaiarasan; Yoshiki Nagumo; Anirudh Srinivasan, and Nathan Xu.

Bright stars of the future emerge as QE chess team shines at prestigious tournament

Two of the latest recruits to QE’s team made significant contributions to the School’s achievement in finishing fourth at the 2018 Millfield International Schools’ Chess Tournament.

The teacher in charge of Chess, Geoff Roberts, said: “Joshua John and Andreas Angelopoulos performed strongly in this, their first, Millfield International tournament, which fills me with confidence for a bright future for chess at QE.” Both boys are in Year 7.

“The competition is a 12-board tournament; all our boys acquitted themselves well amongst the élite chess-playing schools from across the UK.”

After two qualifying rounds, the participating schools were divided into two groups, which went on to compete for either the Championship or the Major trophy. Having performed strongly in the qualifiers, the QE team were selected for a place in the Championship section as one of the top six teams, before finally being placed fourth.

The event, which is held annually at Millfield, the Somerset boarding school, is held in high regard by the English Chess Federation. Its website states: “The Millfield International is a unique event because, with teams of 12, schools cannot rely on one or two star players, but need a thriving chess community and team spirit to challenge for the top prizes.”

Back on top! Stapylton regain their title as QE’s leading House after a year of competition

Stapylton House are the winners of the 2017/18 House Cup – reclaiming the coveted trophy from last year’s champions, Underne.

Stapylton’s victory means this House has now won the trophy – formally the Eric Shearly Memorial Cup – for three of the last four years.

The triumph was announced at the end-of-year House assembly, where the cup was presented to House Captain Oliver Than-Lu and his Deputy, Omar Taymani, both from Year 12 (pictured above).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to all Stapylton boys: this victory reflects their consistency of achievement in extra-curricular enrichment activities across the academic year, with the older boys’ efforts being boosted by a particularly strong Year 7 cohort. I trust that boys in other Houses will be inspired to redouble their efforts next year to challenge Stapylton for the crown.”

The assembly celebrated outstanding performances over a wide range of fields, including the performing arts, sport and charity work.

For this year’s House Drama competition, participants were challenged to produce original plays on the theme of a dystopian future: Leicester won the competition for the third consecutive year.

The House Music competition was won by Pearce.

In chess, the winners of various competitions were honoured, as were the boys chosen to receive junior, intermediate and senior colours.

Similarly, the assembly highlighted the names of boys who had won colours for music and sports.

There was a review of performances in sport throughout the year, including cricket, rugby, water polo, swimming and athletics. One innovation was the announcement of ‘teams of the year’ for cricket and rugby, which included leading performers from all year groups.

House charity fund-raising events during the year were celebrated, together with the work done to support the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India, with which QE has enjoyed a longstanding partnership.

Participation in The Duke of Edinburgh Award at QE remains strong: 100 boys from Year 10 enrolled for the bronze award in October and are due to complete their Qualifying Expedition in August, it was announced, while 34 Year 11 pupils signed up for the silver award and 18 Year 12 boys for the gold.

The assembly also recounted details of:

  • The various challenges run on a specially arranged House Afternoon
  • The QIQE quiz, which was by Stapylton
  • A number of House competitions run by the academic departments: these included, for example, a Languages competition to design a poster about a famous and influential linguist, which was won by Year 8 Stapylton pupil Jashwanth Parimi, and a photography competition for Years 7–9 run by the Geography department.
After sweeping Habs aside in local competition, QE achieve top six finish in National Schools Chess Championship

QE confirmed its place among the country’s élite chess-playing schools with a strong performance at the game’s U19 national finals at Uppingham.

The Queen Elizabeth’s team reached the two-day event at the Rutland boarding school as one of 14 zonal winners from across the country, with two other places awarded after a repechage held at Eton College. Each of the 16 teams played four games at the championship, where QE took joint-sixth place.

Teacher in charge of chess, Geoff Roberts, said: “After an excellent victory against our local rivals, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, in the zonal final, QE’s team acquitted themselves extremely well at Uppingham, with only a narrow loss in our final match preventing us from achieving a top-three finish.”

Congratulating all the boys, Mr Roberts added: “This competition is the one which every school has aspirations to win so for Queen Elizabeth’s to come through a very strong regional group to qualify for the finals and then perform so creditably at the Uppingham finals is highly pleasing.”

With a total score of 201, Federico Rocco, of 2017-2018’s Year 11, was one of only seven players at the Uppingham finals to top 200.

Federico is one of eight boys who represented QE in the course of this year’s competition. The others, with their 2017-2018 year groups, are: Aneesh Chopada (Year 13), Yuri Evdokimov (Year 13), George Ivanov (Year 11), Senthuran Jeevan (Year 10), Devin Karia (Year 10), Rishul Karia (Year 13) and Shai Kuganesan (Year 11).

Mr Roberts paid a special tribute to Aneesh, Rishul and Yuri, who left QE this summer, for their “commitment to, and excellence in, chess throughout their seven years at Queen Elizabeth’s”.