Grange Chess Club Newsletter – Easter 2017

The intensity of our internal UK Chess Challenge competition has once again been relentless & gruelling. What a joy therefore to see the boys letting their hair down in our end-of-term Exchange Chess Competition! This is akin to the Welsh scrum, having endured a 20 minute battering on their own line by the French, being suddenly told to forget the rugby to go off to play some Frisbee. Grange boys, Benjamin H & Alex K-P included, develop a spring in their step akin to a pit pony coming out to a meadow in sunlight. The Prep I joint-winning teams were James R-Alastair F & Olly J-Stephen S. Despite the efforts of Freddie M-Charlie P & Henry M-Tom C there was some controversy in Prep II when the winning team turned out to be….Rupert R & Mr.T. I know, I know, I should know better at my age but before parents begin issuing writs or letters of complaint I put my hands up. I was simply having too much fun.

As Red Nose Day had arrived it was noticeable that we had even more clowns than usual in Chess Club. For Comic Relief day Henry T-E had donned a leather jacket with swept-back hair. In tandem with Good Cop Max L his team came 2nd in a Prep III section utterly dominated by Nick H & Ivo W. The Prep IV section was well-contested thanks to Benjamin H & Oli C as well as Alfie B & Aidan B, and the champions were Dylan H & Toby D. Sometimes I have occasion to remind the boys of The Morals of Chess, as expounded by Dr.Franklin in 1820, & a copy of which I keep by my bedside: “You must not, when you have gained a victory, use any triumphing or insulting expression, nor show too much pleasure, but endeavour to console your adversary.”

There was plenty of gentlemanly behaviour from the 20 who took part in the Welsh Junior Championships that we hosted over a weekend in February. Harry D was our only qualifier for the top section at U11, but sadly had to withdraw after a misplaced bout of boisterousness in the corridor, leading to a visit to A & E for a split lip. We had three in the top U10 section, including Toby C-R & Kip Sn, who managed to keep his lunch box to himself & came 5th. Alex M & Thom B competed with gusto in the U8s, as did Harrison C & Theo B in the U10 Major. Over the years I have seen several Club Members go into the Church – it is interesting to note that if Harrison follows their footsteps he may become Canon Cannon.  The U10 Major was the largest section & it went down in history as the occasion when Harry B achieved a Lifetime Best. Harry was 3rd, with Luke B snapping at his heels in 4th.

Nine boys including Jack G, James W & Anderson K were selected for the Gwent team that took on Glamorgan, Devon, Wiltshire & Somerset. Arthur N-B, who incidentally won the Grange Trophy as best player this term, managed to avoid the pitfalls of 2016 when he accidentally swallowed a fly. Qualification for the Hereford Megafinal has been in our minds during our internal UK Chess Challenge competition where it was 3 points for a win, 2 for a draw & 1 for a loss – if you play fairly! In Prep I there were early victories for Zach S & Chris Quiz-team R, and Redley T went through to Hereford. I have never seen James T beaming so much as the day he beat me in a head-to-head, & I know they still talk about it in the Tonkin household. In Prep II Bobby E, Zach H-P & Feargus C were early winners of chess badges & gold spots. Sebastian B was high on the leader board though the winner was Harry T with John N-B in 2nd.

It was bitterly competitive in Prep III where I enjoy rubbing shoulders with the intellectuals. Srinivas R is another genius from the quiz circuit & Will H often reflects sagely on the follies of mankind. Will reminds me of that great philosopher, Peter Cook: “’As I looked out into the night sky, across all those infinite stars, it made me realize how insignificant they are.” Ojas S, Rudy D & Jacob K were proud winners of cute furry mascots, and Freddy P & Jack B achieved the benchmark for the Megafinal. I am a great admirer of the sophistication of Prep IV boys though Dylan O stills owes me a piece of belly pork. Axton M’s interest in wrestling might lead to new skills that can be transferred to the chessboard. Sam R, George L & Finley S gave a good account of themselves in early rounds, while Will L & Samuel C powered through to the Megafinal.

This term I finally gave in to pressure from my Agincourt cohort & went to watch them in mini-rugby on a Sunday morning. There were several reminders of our chess lessons, including a complete & utter confusion over which direction was backward, & which forward. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in British Bulldogs. In the Summer Term we will turn our attention to the year group Chess Shields, the Grange Chess Superleagues & the TJ Hurdman Cup. I am hoping to catch a new episode of The Simpsons on Sky: called The Cad & The Hat it features Homer showing off his skills at the chessboard, with a guest appearance from World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Doh!

Kevin Thomas
Chess Coach

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