Counties – reports

ECF Secondary School Rapidplay Chess Tournament, Sunday 20th September 2015


Eton College hosted the fourth annual Secondary School Rapidplay Chess Tournament in their magnificent school hall. 250 players made up 40 teams representing 33 schools from fourteen counties, from Lincolnshire to Somerset, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire to Kent. Over 600 rapid play games were played across the five rounds.

Schools featured included National School Chess Champions Haberdashers’ Askes and past winners Hampton School. As well as some very strong teams, there were many others of a range of strengths seeking to do their best. Whilst the top players were graded over 200, the median grade was closer to 100.

The event was opened with a short address from Phil Ehr, Chief Executive of the English Chess Federation. Play went remarkably smoothly with any issues being quickly resolved by arbiters Chris and Matthew Howell. The draw for each round and scores were clear for all to see on an enormous screen at the end of the hall.

The scoring system was based on games points (so every game counted towards the total) rather than match points. This proved popular with the weaker teams who found that their scores were increasing even when they were losing matches. Also the Swiss system lead to many close matches – half the results being 4 – 2 or closer, even though the first round matches were all more one sided than this.

However, a downside of this scoring system was shown this year. Whilst Hampton won all 5 matches, including beating Habs, they scored a lower game point total. So whilst Hampton were match point champions, the game point (and therefore event) champions were Haberdashers’ Askes by half a point. Third, a further half point back, were QE Barnet with RGS Guildford a further half point behind. Fifth place was taken by King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford in their best ever chess result. Sixth place were North London Collegiate, the best result that I have seen by a girls school team in an open tournament. Seventh were City of London Boys School, making an impact as they return to school chess, whilst our hosts, Eton College, came eighth.

Prizes were presented by Dr John Nunn, world class GM and twice World Champion in Problem Solving.

Place Name County Av. Grade Score
1 Haberdashers Askes School Herts 173 23.5
2 Hampton School A Surrey 161 23
3 QE Barnet Middx 138 22.5
4 RGS Guildford A Surrey 155 22
5 KEGS A Essex 122 20
6 North London Collegiate Middx 116 19.5
7 City of London Boys School Middx 130 19
8 Eton College Berks 132 18
9-11 Westminster Under School Middx 113 17.5
  Wilson’s School B Surrey 113 17.5
  Winchester College Hants 121 17.5
12 Dulwich College Kent 112 17
13-14 RGS Guildford B Surrey 114 16.5
  Simon Langton GSB A Kent 101 16.5
15 Wilson’s School A Surrey 140 16
  Hampton School B Surrey 91 15.5
  Reigate GS Surrey 117 15.5
  Sevenoaks School Kent 104 15.5
16-19 Sir Thomas Rich’s Gloucs 123 15.5
20-21 Dame Alice Owen’s School Herts 84 15
  Mill Hill CHS A Middx 130 15
22-23 Bristol Grammar School Avon 81 14.5
  Simon Langton GSB B Kent 55 14.5
24-25 Heathside Preparatory Sch Middx 62 14
  King’s Grantham Lincs 88 14
  Homefield Surrey 67 13.5
26-28 Oundle School Northants 91 13.5
  St Paul’s Girls’ School Middx 90 13.5
29-31 The Abbey School Berks 94 13
  The King’s School Canterbury Kent 95 13
  Witham Hall School Lincs 37 13
32 KEGS B Essex 77 12.5
33 Nonsuch Surrey 62 11.5
34 Churchill Academy Somerset 45 11
35 Bedales School Hants 62 10.5
36 King Edwards School Warks 80 10
37 Laxton Junior School Northants 39 9
38 Mill Hill CHS B Middx 65 8
39 Reserves     7.5
40 St Francis College Herts 30 3.5

Below is some feedback I received from teams shortly after the event. I hope that the knowledge that even teams who came near the bottom still greatly enjoyed the event will encourage more schools to take part next year.

“Thank you for an excellent tournament. The girls had a really good time and are inspired to improve for another year.”
“Just wanted to say thank you so much for a well organised event at a fabulous venue. I know a lot of work goes into making these events run well and to ensure that all the schools, children and parents have a good day. The team and parents certainly had a great day!
Many thanks also to Eton College and Mr Moston – in particular for the hot drinks and the tour. Tea and coffee on tap was very welcome. The tour was an amazing insight into the history and workings of the college.”
“Once again, many thanks for your hospitality yesterday. In amongst all of the demands of such a tournament both you and Justin made us feel extremely welcome.”
“Many thanks Neill for yesterday. A super organised day well done to you and your team.”
“On behalf of the teams thank you very much for all you did to make Sunday’s event so much fun. The players enjoyed their chess and socialising and their families enjoyed their day out in Eton and Windsor. The friendly atmosphere generated by Eton as a venue and the relaxed competitiveness of the chess made it a great day for everybody.”
“It was nice to spend time with the reserves as well who were not great players and didn’t win many games but were able to play a real part in the tournament and have fun. Next year I want to also bring a team from a local comprehensive as watching the chess at the bottom end confirmed a weak team would still have a good day.”
“All my boys came away with at least one win and they all had a very positive experience of the day.  It has become a firm fixture in the school diary.”
“My boys had a great time and I was really pleased with their performance despite them narrowly missing out on qualification.”

Finally thanks to Eton College for providing fantastic facilities that is a draw for many schools.

Neill Cooper, ECF Manager of School Chess Email:


This year the ECF U18 County Championships were held at Wilson’s School, Wallington on Sunday 29th June 2014. There were two events, a twelve board Open Championship and a six board grade limited Minor tournament. Most of the teams taking part were from the South East of England, but there were teams from Manchester in the Open and Wiltshire in the Minor. The open event attracted nine teams from seven counties, and included some of the top juniors in the country. The minor tournament, in which the six board teams were limited to having an average grade of 110, had ten entrants. Including a few reserves there were over 170 players in the event.

In each event there were two long play games. Digital clocks were used in all games which meant that a Fischer time limit 1 hour + 10 secs per move could be used.

The Championship event was close throughout, and at the end of the second round Sussex and Herts were equal first. The tie break of number of wins still did not separate them and so ‘Bottom board elimination’ was required at which point Sussex won.

Position Team Points
1 Sussex 17
1 Herts 17
3 Middlesex 1 14.5
4= Kent 13.5
4= Surrey 1 13.5
6= Surrey 2 9
6= Berkshire 9
8 Manchester 7.5
9 Middlesex 2 7

Sussex win on board elimination (2nd tie break)

The prize for the best school team of 3 players taking part in U18 Championship was won by Haberdashers Askes with an impressive 5½ out of 6 points.

After the first round of the minor tournament Essex were leading with 5/6, but in the second round the two Sussex teams came to the front and took first and second place, completing an impressive performance by Sussex Junior Chess.

Position Team Name Points
1 Sussex Bishops 10
2 Sussex Knights 7.5
3= Essex 7
3= Surrey 3 7
3= Wiltshire 7
6 Surrey 2 6.5
7 Kent 1 5.5
8 Kent 2 4
9 Surrey 1 3.5
10 Middlesex 2

The competition was smoothly run by Jim Wadsworth (Berks Juniors) whilst Chris Howell (Sussex Juniors) was arbiter and calmly dealt with the few minor issues that arose. The whole event was played in a great competitive but friendly spirit. Christine Golding (Surrey) ensured that all the arrangements outside the playing hall went smoothly.  Phil Ehr, ECF Chief Executive, presented the prizes.

Saffrey Durrant and her team from Surrey Hills Bakery provided fantastic refreshments in a relaxing environment. All the teams, managers, parents and other supporters behaved fantastically and left the school in a clean and tidy state. Sussex Junior Chess provided large numbers of digital chess clocks, whilst Surrey County Chess Association and Wilson’s School provide the rest of the chess equipment.

The ECF are grateful to Wilson’s School for providing such an excellent venue.

– Neill Cooper

ECF U18 / U13 County Championships 2012

Under 18 champions: Hertfordshire (18.5 pts / 24) | Runners up: Berkshire (18)
Under 18 schools joint prizewinners: Haberdashers & Reading School (1st=)
Under 18 best game prize: Ravi Haria (Herts)

Under 13 Open champions: Sussex (13.5 pts / 18) | Runners up: Cambridgeshire (13)

Under 13 Minor champions: Norfolk ‘A’ (16 pts / 18) | Runners up: Hampshire (13.5)

Under 13 Minor best game prize: Thomas Bartram (Norfolk ‘B’)

Provisional full results at:
U13 Open:
U13 Minor:

ECF Secondary Schools Rapidplay report

– from Neill Cooper
[pictured – ECF Director of Junior Chess, Phil Ehr, presenting the winner’s trophy to Saravanan Sathyanandha, captain of the Haberdasher’s first team]

The inaugural ECF Secondary School Rapidplay Chess Tournament was a great success. 15 schools took part, some travelling over 2 hours each way, and fielded a total of 17 teams with 6 players in each team. There were lots of reserves so and 18th team was formed so that all teams played in all 6 rounds. A total of 112 players played 330 games of chess, which have all been rapidplay graded.

It cannot be said to have been a close contest for first place – a strong Haberdasher’s Askes first team won all 6 matches and scored a total of 30½ points. Two of their players, Ravi Haria and Roman Mitra, were the only players to win all their 6 games. In contrast second place was a 3 way tie between Wilson’s School 1st team, RGS Guildford and Winchester College, all of whom scored 22 games points.

The scoring system was based on games points (so every game counted towards the total) rather than match points. This proved popular with the weaker teams who found that their scores were increasing even when they were losing matches. Also the Swiss system lead to many close matches – almost half the results being 4 – 2 or closer, and 9 fixtures ended in 3 – 3 draws.

Feedback from schools who took part has been very positive, including:

“I just wanted to thank you for an excellent competition today. My boys thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and the whole experience generally. I’m in agreement with the other teachers that this kind of competition is much better for my school. Meeting lots of teams in one day is much better from an economies of scale perspective and it would certainly be appreciated in other competitions.”
“A belated thanks for Sunday! The boys really enjoyed it and are keen for the next event, we have a series of quick plays across our county during the year. These are all individual, but team events are so much better! ”
“Thank you again for organising what was a most enjoyable day of chess.”
“Many many thanks for organising such an excellent day. Our team really appreciated it.”
“Many thanks for a fantastic tournament; very well organised and a great venue”
“Thank you so much for yesterday’s event. My team (despite being relatively weak), had a great day and learnt a lot.” “This sort of event is great for us: Several graded games and meeting lots of schools and their chess teams and managers”

Most teams thought the time for each round (1 hour) was about right, though slightly longer should have been allowed for the whole event. Everyone preferred playing in one large section rather than being split into smaller all-play-all sections. Some schools would have preferred the scoring to be done by match points not game points. Most teams would like to play in a similar event within the next sixth months, preferring Sunday to Saturday (to avoid clashes with other school events). Many schools felt that they may be able to host a similar event in the future.
We are very grateful to Eton College for providing their facilities free of charge. One unique feature of the event was to hear the fantastic organ music at the end of their morning chapel service.

Final results table:

  School County Points
1 Haberdashers’ A Herts 30.5
2= Wilson’s School A Surrey 22
2= RGS Guildford Middx 22
2= Winchester College Hants 22
5 Haberdashers’ B Herts 21
6 Hampton School Surrey 20.5
7 Eton College Berks 20
8 Dame Alice Owen’s Herts 18
9= KE Camp Hill Warks 17.5
9= Wilson’s School B Surrey 17.5
11 The Abbey School Berks 17
12= Bristol GS Avon 16.5
12= King’s Grantham Lincs 16.5
14 All Sorts [Reserves]   16
15 King’s Canterbury Kent 14
16 Radley College Oxon 12
17= Vandyke Upper Beds 10.5
17= St Paul’s Girls’ School Middx 10.5


Scroll Up