The Sean Marsh Chess Column
Grandmaster at Yarm School !
The Yarm School Chess Festival took place over the weekend (21-22 Sept.) and featured a very special guest. Grandmaster Daniel King, known to most of you as not only a great player but also as a top author, TV chess pundit, video and radio presenter, was at the school throughout the festival.
First up was the Grandmaster simultaneous display, which attracted 19 participants, all hoping to defeat the great man. However, GM King swiftly demolished most of the opposition and gradually outplayed the vast majority of his opponents in the tougher games. Only your correspondent managed a draw; nobody won. There were some classic moments, such as the dramatic pawn breakthrough in King’s game with Andrew Killick, but mostly it was one-way traffic. I am hoping to show one or two of the games in a column in the very near future.
The following day saw the main event - the 7th Yarm School Team Championship.14 teams (of four players) entered the Primary section, and nine competed in the Secondary section. As well as these championships, eight senior players entered the friendly Rapidplay. Grandmaster King was present throughout the day to run coaching sessions, which were very well received by all.
The Primary section was split into three groups, with the top team in each group and best second-placed team all qualifying for the semi-finals.
Thus Yarm A qualified for the semi-finals, as did Royal Grammar School(Newcastle) C, as best second-placed team.
Newcomers Crookbarn gave a very good account of themselves against much moreexperienced opposition. They are at the start of their chess journey but notafraid to have a go. The interesting thing is that the head teacher, who runs the chess at the school, is an old chess rival of mine. We played each other in a school match about 20 years ago but had not met for 18 years. He has gone onto great things, becoming head of a school... I have done little but chess in those same 18 years.
Group 2 was clear cut, with R.G.S. A qualifying in style.
The biggest group, and the toughest. Yarm B did very well to force their waythrough to the next stage; they were helped by Yarm D’s surprise demolition ofR.G.S. B.
Elsewhere, The Links and Normanby really got stuck in against their experienced rivals. The Links seemed to be on course to force a 2-2 draw in every match before they tired at the end. Normanby, whose top players all leftschool last summer, are having to rebuild. At first they struggled but by theend of the tournament they had improved admirably and finished with a fine last-round victory. A good lesson to all us all.
The Semi-finals and Final
Tough matches, but on balance of play the right teams qualified for the big final. Yarm A were outgunned by R.G.S. A but Yarm B defended the honour of the school with victory over R.G.S. C.
The final was even tougher, with Yarm B putting up a much grittier performance than their A team. Eventually, they were ground down and R.G.S. successfully defended their title. Yarm A salvaged some pride when they beat R.G.S. C in the 3rd/4th place play-off.
So, that left the final standings as:
1st: R.G.S. A
2nd: Yarm B
3rd: Yarm A
4th: R.G.S. C
It was fortunate that R.G.S. Won this section, as they had forgotten to bringback the trophy!
The entry was slightly up in this section. The two all-play-all groups werehard fought. The top two teams qualified for the semi-finals.
Yarm A dominated group 1.......
Dramatic stuff here, as Hartlepool Juniors, making their debut in this event,scored just enough form a tense last match to go through to the nest stage.
Semi-finals and Final
Yarm A and R.G.S. A both forced their way to the final, with smooth victories over Hartlepool and R.G.S. B respectively.
Yarm Aended up worthy champions, beating R.G.S.A, their permanent rivals, 3-1 in the final. Hartlepoolsecured a fine third place with a surprise victory over R.G.S.B in the 3rd/4th play-off.
The adult sectionwas a five-round Swiss. The patience and concentration of the seniors were stretched to the very limits - they played in the same noisy hall as the juniors! I was delighted to see them all just enjoying their games; they never complained once about the conditions. (Except, sorry Gordon, you never did get your cup of tea.)
Jim Simpson, one of the strongest players in the whole of the North East, was the worthy winner with 5/5. His concentration must be superb, unless he is very deaf. Robin Killick, Gordon Middlemiss and ‘Dangerous’ Dave Richardson all shared second place on 3/5
The Yarm Festival of chess continues to this day and I'm pleased to announce that we have another Grandmaster lined up for this year's event. We have already enjoyed the services of GMs King and Bronstein and IM Hartston. Full details of the 2007 event will be posted here as soon as they confirmed.