Grange Chess Club Newsletter – Summer 2017

All chess games are battles and, as such, reminiscent of real battles fought by real armies. Finley S, for example, may employ a pincer-like movement as used so effectively by Hannibal at Cannae, whereas the gung-ho Freddie M brings to mind the Charge of the Light Brigade. There are several Kamikaze pilots in Prep II but I will spare their blushes by keeping my lip buttoned. Chess analysts have struggled, however, to find an historical precedent for the closed positions favoured by Axton M who recently surrounded his own King with two sets of defenders, thanks to the flexibility of Exchange Chess. Surely Axton is thinking of the use of the blockade at Julius Caesar’s victory over Vercingetrorix at the Battle of Alesia in 52BC? Or possibly Aaron Nimzowitsch’s classic chess work My System, the 1st edition of which sells for more than the GDP of a post-Brexit Britain.

The Grange Superleagues have been the main arena this term, and none has been more keenly contested than Premiership 5 where Charlie P took gold, with Rupert P, James R and Jacob K in hot pursuit. I learned a lot about pirates and sea shanties from Zach S, and am hoping to attend the Pirate Festival myself in future. Dylan P overcame Alastair F in a match of some complexity, and the games of Feargus C were often a joy to behold, although he can be the author of his own misfortune. Well done too to Zach H and Chris R. Gold in Premiership 4 went to Redley T, with Tom C and Stephen S, who’d had a haircut, taking silver. Dylan H competed with gusto and the fast-improving Harry B took gold in Premiership 2.

Once again, the atmosphere was electric for our Exchange Chess Competition, and although the volume was typically high I did not have to issue any Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, although Benjamin H and Benjamin H – who seemed to have bonded very happily – caught the eye with their own new version of the Mexican Wave. Success at Exchange Chess rests upon a combination of razor-sharp thinking and low cunning, and the teams that rose to the top included Srinivas R and Nick H, and Harrison C and James W. The Grange is very good at celebrating St.Cake’s Day and I was delighted that Mrs Kirman delivered two trays of left-overs for distribution to Chess Club. We duly formed an orderly queue outside where the ritual scoffing took place, with Jack B in pole position, as you would expect. I was surprised and delighted early last Saturday when a gaggle of Grange boys led by John N, called at my house to remind me that the Lions were kicking off in five minutes at the rugby club. I have yet to discuss the result with Will H.

We ran two knock-out competitions this term: the year group Shields and the T.J. Hurdman Cup, where Freddy P returned to top form in early rounds, seeing off Alex K along the way. The Prep I Shield was won by Alex M, with Harry T the runner-up of Prep II after an arduous final.  There is a Golden Era in Prep III, where the level of talent on show reminds one of the flowering of Art in Florence during the Renaissance, or the incredible standards of the ‘Golden’ Hungarian football team of the 1950s [The Magical Magyars]. All four semi-finalists in the T.J. Hurdman Cup were in Prep III, including Toby C and good cop Max L. Our biggest external event this term was the Mercia Megafinal in Hereford, where an incredible eight boys qualified for the British Gigafinal in Manchester in July, including Kip S and Henry T, both of whom are on top of their game. We had two champions, or ‘Supremos’: Luke B at U8 and Harry D at U10, with an ex-Grange boy also winning the U12 event. Ivo W is another outstanding performer, qualifying for the Gigafinal, winning the Prep III Shield as well as the T.J. Hurdman Cup. To paraphrase the darts commentator Sid Waddell: “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer … Ivo Woodward’s only 10.”

But it is Prep IV that I want to consider now as that sad moment arrives when they leave us for the delights of Monmouth School. Sam C was impressed by the English and Drama at the Induction Day, Tom S enjoyed the Science and Jack G loved the DT. Alfie B, who is a boy after my own heart, chose the food as the best aspect of the day. I fully expect every one of them to reach the pinnacle of their chosen careers. Arthur N will no doubt follow in his father’s footsteps in being called to the Bar; the Bar of Monmouth Rugby Club, that is. I also enjoyed the company of William L – whatever career path he chooses will no doubt end with a Nobel Prize. I can see Aidan B becoming the first Grange boy since William Webb Ellis first picked up that ball [and ran with it in the wrong direction] to be picked immediately for the Monmouth School 1st XV. I will miss them all, George L and Oli C included, though I do have the consolation of teaching Anderson K’s younger brother at Agincourt.

My Top Tip for the leavers is: find a girl, settle down. No not that! That comes later. My advice for now is: join the Junior History Society at MS not least because in September one chess teacher will be in 18th century costume adopting a role from Horrible Histories in order to address that august gathering, and in so doing will be riding roughshod over any Health and Safety regulations.

Kevin Thomas
Chess Coach

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