Monday 19 December 2016

CSC Teesside in London (Part 2)

Following our exciting day and night in the city, it was time to head off to the junior section of the London Chess Classic. The first problem we encountered was the unfortunate lack of trains from Earl's Court to Olympia, which are now confined to weekends. This was compounded by the lack of the promised shuttle bus, which promoted a change of plan. We commandeered a bus, whose driver promised his route took him 'quite close to the Olympia mate; two or three minutes' walk mate.'

Having arrived at Olympia, the children and parents were whisked straight into a coaching session. 

This was followed by a spell in the main auditorium, featuring coaching from Grandmasters Chris Ward and Daniel King. Zoe even managed to play an exhibition game on the main stage - and won.

Following a short lunch break, the children were ready for their games. I had prepared them as best I could for some tough battles over the board. They looked a little nervous as they listened to the instructions before the start of the first round. Meanwhile, the parents put the big chess set to good use!

As they started play, I went to check on Zoe, who was about to start a private lesson in the VIP room with Maria.

When I returned to the tournament room a short time later, I found they had made a great start and the wins were flowing!

Eventually, after five very impressive rounds, Lawrence scored 3/5, Oliver and Farrell 3.5/5 each and Lily 4/5! These scores exceeded my expectations. I watched the end of Lily's final game and I was very impressed by the way she sent her rook behind her opponent's passed pawns so she could pick them off as soon as they made their way forward to attempt pawn promotion. This proved to be the winning plan as it left Lily was a considerable material advantage when the games were adjudicated.

How well they had all played! This brought CSC Teesside a silver medal, two bronze medals and one very near miss!

The presentation of prizes brought lots of smiles and excitement from all of the children. But we still hadn't finished and there were one or two surprises still in store.

While we were in the midst of taking as many photos as possible, Grandmaster Maurice Ashley appeared with his video crew to interview our children.

We had one more surprise, as I asked Zoe if she was willing to make the ceremonial move on the main stage, before the entire auditorium audience and the worldwide Internet viewers. Zoe agreed and thus we enjoyed another iconic moment in the history of  Teesside chess.

We watched the start of the Grandmaster games but eventually it was time to start the journey back to Teesside.

As we made our emotional goodbyes, the parents and children set off back to King's Cross while I stayed behind in London for another night, prior to the CSC Training Course the following day...

The CSC Teesside London expedition was made possible thanks to generous support from Chess in Schools and Communities, Whale Hill Primary School and CSC Tutor Dave Edmunds.

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