– from Thandla Raghavendra
So this is it, the last day and the ninth round. The stomach bug that is going around has affected a few children who nevertheless have soldiered on bravely. At the end of the eighth round, Charlie McLaren (Open U11) and Vincent Lee (Open U13) are England’s best performers, both have 5/8. A few others on 4 will hopefully hit or surpass the 4.5/9 target set by the coaches.
Today’s round starts at 1330, and as the weather is cool and pleasant, most of us walked to Novi Sad Fair, the playing venue. Unfortunately, the pairing for the last round has pitted 4 pairs of English boys against one another.
All the children had a goody bag awaiting them by their chairs with a T-shirt and hat to wear and cherish. Then they were off …
First result in, Raphael and Toby who were playing each other gave sibling rivalry a miss and in a rare show of chess camaraderie walked back together, hand in hand. They had agreed a draw though Toby was clearly winning; he had an unstoppable passed pawn that would have queened. Blood is thicker than water, indeed! The youngest of the Finns, Daniel bagged a point in 41 moves and was back within the hour. Charlie McLaren was left desolate when he threw away a clear win in a rook and pawns endgame. Alexander announced his win in his customary exuberant manner and Leo agreed to a draw in a “cool” game. Jason came up with a dream rook sacrifice and a forced checkmate. Well done Jason! He finished on 5. Lawrence won easily.
In two hours Oli had outplayed his opponent in a King and Pawn endgame. Amardip and Thomas McLaren both won their all England games and finished on 5. Reuben earned a point when 3.5 hr into the match his opponent was disqualified as his mobile phone rang! He would have won anyway as he was clearly ahead. England finishes the day with 13 points.
At the end of a gruelling but satisfying week the team is now preparing to leave for home with abiding memories, newly made friendships and as better chess players. If I have any regrets, it is that there was no free day and many of us were unable to sample the delights of Novi Sad. If you were thinking that everybody had had enough of chess you would be wrong; the coaches are playing the children in a blitz tournament tonight. I am sure the parents will leave them to it and throng the bar for some well-earned respite.
The final result for the England team is available at: