Yes2Chess 2014 Finals report – by Matthew Lunn

The 2014 Yes2Chess International Challenge concluded on Tuesday 8th July with a tournament at the Barclaycard British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park. The eight participating countries had crowned their national champions, and after two days of rest and relaxation in London, things finally started to get serious…

Photo 1

The finalists and organising team have their photo taken on the human chess board, minutes before battle commenced in the Barclaycard Theatre.

The teams were split into two groups of four. Each school played the other three teams in their group, and the two group winners subsequently faced each other to decide the winner. The two second placed teams competed for 3rd, the two third placed teams competed for 5th, and the two fourth placed teams competed for 7th:

Group A:

Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School (USA)

Skolen på Nyelandsvej (Denmark)

The English School North (Sweden)

Zola Villafranca (Spain)

Group B:

Escola 31 de Janeiro (Portugal)
Lassa Skole (Norway)

Private Gymnasium Brecht (Germany)
St Bridget’s Church of England Primary School (England)

Photo 2

Inside the Barclaycard Theatre, bedecked with flags from the eight participating countries.

Photo 3

Associação Escola 31 de Janeiro (Portugal) take on Lassa Skole (Norway). The Norwegians triumphed 5-0.

Photo 4

The enigmatic Elliot Wollheim of The English School, North (Sweden)

Photo 5

Andreas Skovgaard (Lassa Skole: Norway) struggles to hide his fear as Marta Religa (The English School, North: Sweden) prepares to capture his knight.

Photo 6

Marta Religa stares Andreas Skovgaard down.

Photo 7

A pupil from Zola Villafranca (Spain) prays to Caissa for inspiration.

Photo 8

Leon Bannoehr of Private Gymnasium Brecht (Germany)

While the final was underway, nine schools from across London came to Hyde Park to compete in games of human chess, where the pieces were portrayed by actors wearing royal regalia. The Master of Ceremonies did a wonderful job interacting with the children and ensuring that they all got to take part in the games. First he separated schools into teams (with the Blue team playing White and the Red team playing Black) before selecting captains, who were rotated throughout each game. These captains would receive consultation from their team, before explaining to the MC what move they would like to make. This would then be relayed to the necessary actor, who would make the move to spectacular sound effects. If a piece was captured they were unceremoniously dismissed from the board, and subjected to a chorus of boos from the opposing team.

Photo 9

The Red Queen is not pleased to be standing so close to a blue rook.

Photo 10

The blue team triumphs after a gloriously chaotic game.

Photo 11

It’s hungry business, being a rook.

Photo 12

Grandmaster David Howell poses with the Blue Queen.

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Private Gymnasium Brecht (Germany) and Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School (USA) each eased through their respective groups with a 100% score. Which of these two great nations would persevere?

Photo 13

Board 1: Luis Engel (Private Gymnasium Brecht) vs. Harris Lencz (Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School)

Over the last few moves White has been slowly cultivating an advantage, and Black has struggled to find a plan.

21…Qc7?

Providing White with the opportunity he has patiently waited for. 21…h6 was necessary, meeting 22.e5 dxe5 23.fxe5 with 23…Bg5, where Black’s position is not yet hopeless.

22.e5!

And White wins material: If Black exchanges everything on e5 then his c8 rook is left en prise, and if he doesn’t then he cannot prevent the d5 pawn landing on d7, forking his rooks.

22…dxe5 23.fxe5 Bd8

[23…h5 would put up more resistance, but White can win the bishop after 24.Qf5 Bh4 25.g3 Be7 [25…g6 26.Qh3] 26.d6]

24.d6

1-0 (55 moves)

Photo 14

Luis Engel of Private Gymnasium Brecht. With a FIDE rating of 1984, he is undoubtedly one to watch.

Perhaps anticipating the evening’s World Cup semi-final, the Germans achieved a spectacular 5-0 victory over their rivals, with measured displays on the remaining boards. This left the final table as follows:

  1. Private Gymnasium Brecht (Germany)
  2. Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School (USA)
  3.  Skolen på Nyelandsvej (Denmark)
  4. Lassa Skole (Norway)
  5. Escola 51 de Janeiro (Portugal)
  6. The English School North (Sweden)
  7. Zola Villafranca (Spain)
  8. St Bridget’s Church of England Primary School (UK)

Photo 15

The winners: Private Gymnasium Brecht, from Hamburg, flanked by IM Malcolm Pein – Chess in Schools and Communities’ CEO – and Dave Chan – CEO of Barclaycard Europe. Congratulations on a well deserved victory!

Throughout each stage of the Yes2Chess programme, Barclaycard have been absolutely outstanding. We look forward to an even bigger Yes2Chess tournament in 2015!