Junior chess players from Sussex completed a remarkable haul of titles on Saturday, November 9.
An unprecedented double victory in both the U12 and U16 age group titles in Telford means that Sussex are 2013 national chess champions at all age groups from U11 to U16, a total of five different age group crowns. They already held the U11, U13 & U14 crowns and now have a unique group of five consecutive age group titles.
Sussex faced determined opposition on Saturday.
Despite being holders of the trophy, the U12 squad, which includes Horsham residents Lucy Bennet-Stevens and Matthew Forster, found themselves behind after the first round of three but fought back to overhaul local rivals Kent (who finished second) and South Wales (third).
Sussex had never won the U16 title before but on Saturday led from the start to finish above Berkshire (second) and South Wales (third).
Sussex Junior Chess Training Manager Jonathan Tuck said: “On Saturday the team spirit in the two squads was excellent.
“In Sussex we are fortunate to have a group of talented individuals who always seem to find that extra 10% when playing chess as a team. They were in fine form from the off and against stiff competition both were thoroughly deserving winners. They were magnificent.”
The boys and girls who make up the two age group squads are drawn from state and private schools from all parts of the county and will have been selected by a team of coaches based on their performances at regional and national level.
Most will have been playing chess competitively since the age of six or seven and had their skills honed at Sussex’s regular training days. A combined squad of 20 made the long journey up to Telford for Saturday’s competition.
Six of the U12 squad have represented England in tournaments abroad, and 2 more played for England girls in June.
The U16 squad includes the current U16 British champion and all are England internationals. Over the past year Sussex juniors have travelled to all corners of the country to win national titles in Nottingham (U11), Elstree (U13) and Northampton (U14).
“Capturing so many national titles is an extraordinary feat and is testament to the skill, enthusiasm and commitment of our Sussex youngsters,” commented Jonathan Tuck.
Sussex Junior Chess is a not for profit organisation run by volunteers which exists to promote and popularise chess amongst school age children in the county.
It provides training days at venues around the county, and organises tournaments for individuals and schools.
It also selects and runs county teams who compete in national and international events.
For more information see www.sussexjuniorchess.org.
Report and picture contributed by Mark Currah.