Gateway entered two teams into the English Primary Schools Chess Association semi-finals plate competition, which took place at Camber Sands on Saturday 7th June. Due to a few absences, we had two teams of mixed experience - for some of the children this being their last Pontins adventure and for most of the children, their first of many!
The plate competition this year was probably the toughest one since Mr Sonley took over, with several schools opting to enter this year.
Representing the U11s were Ruaidhrí B (Captain), Jake R, Tim E, William G-R and Jonathan E.The first day began well, but faded in the last game, which meant we ended up winning exactly 50% of our games, putting us in 6th place at half the half way point. The second day saw a rise in confidence and playmaking - possibly due to the magnificent barbeque arranged by the Gateway parents on a warm, fun and friendly Saturday evening. The parents were all fantastic throughout the weekend and a special thanks to Mr Everett for bringing his barbeque and taking on the role of Head Chef, not easy when there are 25+ hungry mouths to feed!
Gateway ended up a respectable 3rd after a late flurry, beating the eventual winners (The Hall) and drawing against 2nd place. Jonathan had played hardly any chess this year and was a last minute replacement. He would be the first to admit that he found the competition tough, but was under no illusion and his contribution actually made the difference between coming 6th and 3rd - a real team player.
I think it's fair to say Tim had a bad first day by his normal high standards, but recovered very well to win all three games on the second day with true grit and determination (and maybe Dad's barbeque). Jake had a very good tournament overall winning the majority of his games in style.
William, who was promoted from the U9 team, playing in his first team tournament and therefore playing children two years older than himself, was outstanding and a bright prospect for the future.
Ruairidh led by example, not only did he win every game with relative ease, he also did his duties as captain and provided his experience and support for other children when needed.
The U9 team consisted of Billy G K (Captain), Joshua P, Peter N, Simon E, Tilly W and Toby G K. For the entire team this was their first tournament playing in a team chess competition, against no-doubt seasoned (nine year old) veterans.
Expectations were fairly unknown to start with, as this activity was more about gaining some experience at a high level...out of the nice warm cosy classroom, straight into the chess firepit of 800+ children, most of which are AT county or national level.
After a great start with a win in the first round, the games got a lot harder. The children battled exceptionally well, with Simon E even disputing an illegal move not only to the opponent, but to their coach... he won his claim, but lost the game unfortunately. Everyone played very well, and you could see the concentration and fighting Gateway spirit in all of the children throughout both days.
The U9 team ended up a very respectable 8th. Two more points and they would have been 5th, so a great result and effort!
The boys performed well, with all of them getting some points on the board with some great games and respectable victories, most notably against The Hall. There was one person that stood out however…
Tilly 'Kasparov’ W is a happy, giggly chess player in the classroom.... take her to a chess tournament and she's suddenly turns into a fierce competitor. Not only did she win four out of six, she was also the only girl in the tournament to remain undefeated, forcing draws from the other two games from losing positions.
Gateway now has a few rising female chess players, including Hannah and Sophie W, who both qualified for the ‘megafinals’ this year. Sophie even qualified for the ‘gigafinals’ and both won the U9 and U11 Suprema award (top girl). We believe this is the first time this has happened for a Gateway girl, and twice in one year!
So in summary, an enormous event, wonderful weather, beautiful beach, chaotic chess, great games and above all fabulous fun. A big thank you to all the parents for their help and support throughout. Especially the mums for arranging the Saturday night BBQ, and Team Managers Mr Grief-King and Mr Payne, but everyone did their bit and everyone went home with a smile on their face.
Ben Sonley (Chess Coach)