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

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.