This is the report for the junior club of Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club for 2018/19 and the Intro Cup in the Kent League as this was contested by our Junior squad.
What an amazing season for the Juniors, probably one of the best we’ve had in a long time. Numbers up, enjoyment up, quality up, and juniors now starting to be integrated into the main club.
Special thanks to Eve Grimsted whose late husband Michael a member of the Junior club himself many years ago, continues to donate to the club allowing us to subsidise fees and bring the enjoyment of chess to more children than we might otherwise been able to do.
Average attendance this season has been 16.2 per week with a high of 22 and a low of 12. Over 40 different children have come through the doors with age ranges from 5 to 13. We have the most improved boy in Sussex (Alex Lebedev) and the second most improved girl in Sussex (Alise Peterson), alongside the unconfirmed most improved Junior in England who went from zero grade to 95 and gaining his ECF Chess Maestro title in the process (Will Cobb). Many other juniors have also increased their grades or got grades for the first time. We have a number of boys and girls who have been called up to play for Sussex Juniors this season including, Chamithu W., Thamadi W., Edie Stacy, Alise Peterson, the latter three who all played in the U11 County finals helping Sussex to runners-up spot, an amazing achievement. Hastings made up the biggest contingent of any club in that team something we should be very proud of. Our girls done us proud. William Cobb was our unofficial Junior Champion this year winning the Delancy challenge, special mention to Thamadi W. who leading in the final round agreed a GM draw with Chamithu forfeiting the title but allowing her brother to also qualify for the Sussex Mega Final, an amazing show of sportsmanship.
In October of 2018 and to celebrate Hastings day (the day chess was brought to England by the Normans) we played a chess variant to re-enact the Battle of Hastings on a chess board. The set up is as below. Surprisingly the massive shield wall of Harold was particular strong and held off the Norman knights a lot of the time changing the course of history.
New for this season was our participation in the Kent Chess League Intro Cup. At last year’s AGM no-one volunteered to be Intro Cup Captain so I took the opportunity to use that fact to create an all junior squad to compete. This was a big success. Giving juniors the chance to play tournament chess with classical time controls against adults dramatically improved their game. I don’t think any other club do this so this could be the start of something new (as always with Hastings being the pioneer in all things chess). Thanks go to the Kent league clubs for accommodating our need to play weekend fixtures. Our Intro squad was:
- William Cobb
- Thamadi Wickramanayake
- Chamithu Wickramanayake
- Edie Stacy
- Alise Peterson
- Alex Lebedev
- Christy Parry
Half way during the year we managed to purchase a cheap touch screen computer for juniors and the wider membership in general. A feature on Chess.com has been particularly useful in training juniors was “Vision”, this is a rapidfire test to see how many squares on a board you can name in 30 secs. It’s fun and a great way of teaching algebraic notation. Some juniors even did this faster than adults at the club!
Very early in the season I taught them Legals mate but it wasn’t until much later in the season when Thamadi watched a video on this and employed it in one of her games, much to the annoyance of her opponent in the Kent League who had travelled all the way to us for an Intro match only to be beaten within three minutes. A brilliant game and one that will be remembered for a long time by all parties.
In our first away match of the season in the Intro Cup young William Cobb was up against one of Maidstone’s top juniors. In their first ever long play game our juniors were real credit to the club but it William that stood out playing a brilliancy towards the end of his game that neither I nor David Heath my counterpart expected, we both saw a simplification but William made use of his knights to secure an amazing mate.
|Final Table 2018/19eam
SP = Season Penalties, MP = Match Penalties, IM = Incomplete Matches
Great credit to our juniors who finished only a single point off of the playoffs in their first ever season.
As mentioned earlier we had over 40 different children come through our doors this season but we say goodbye to two of our top juniors Thamadi & Chamithu Wickramanayake who return to Sri Lanka. We wish them good luck with their chess and hope they grace Hastings again with their presence in the future. We’ll miss them terribly.
The majority of 2018/19 we ran two classes, one for experienced more serious player and a social/beginners class, both with lots of prizes, treats and competitions. However on occasion when either tutor is unavailable and running a combined class, it can be challenging, especially with such a mix of skills and ages.. We would welcome members who would like to volunteer from time to time, or to provide cover when a tutor is unavailable to come forward. You won’t have to commit to regular days just any occasional time you have free and would like to help us develop our juniors would be very much welcomed.
2019/2020 and beyond
This next season we will continue to develop and integrate our juniors with the main club. The main way we will do this is to introduce an Academy of Chess. This will be an additional teaching session scheduled for before the Friday night RapidPlay, so that juniors can then take part in the evening. It will be open by invitation only to child members of the club. A formal curriculum and training programme will be followed, with individual learning plans giving a more rigorous foundation of chess knowledge. We did have a few additional pre-match training days last season but because fixtures were constantly being rearranged we were unable to give the training we wanted. There will be an additional cost in learning materials and tutor costs for the Academy which we are hoping to cover with grants.
Also this season we will continue the juniors participation in the Intro cup and enter them all in the Delancy Chess Challenge as usual.