Chesterfield Chess Club celebrate landmark year with school tournament

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As part of their Centenary celebrations, 100-year-old Chesterfield Chess Club organised a chess tournament for local Secondary schools. This saw pupils from Outwood Academy, Brookfield Community School, St Mary’s Catholic High School and Netherthorpe School compete for trophy donated by the club.

The tournament took place on Friday 19 April at Outwood Academy Newbold. It was organised by Martin Howard, Brian Crofts and George Alexander, all team captains from Chesterfield Chess Club.

Pupils from Outwood Academy, Brookfield Community School, St Mary’s Catholic High School and Netherthorpe School competed for a trophy donated by Chesterfield Chess Club in memory of their former President, Mike Johnson. Sadly Mike died in 2021 during the COVID pandemic. He was a Derbyshire County player who had done much to encourage chess locally.

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Chess saw a boom in popularity during lockdown. The Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit, which follows the story of a young female chess prodigy, also sparked an increase in interest in the game. Most of the participants regularly play chess on line but were excited to have the opportunity to play over the board which is an even more satisfying experience.

The tournament in progressThe tournament in progress
The tournament in progress

The schools were represented by six pupils in each round. They were aged 11 to 18. There were three rounds so that all the schools played each other. Digital clocks were used in every game with the competitors having 20 minutes each to complete their moves. This added to the tension.

Tom Scotney (Brookfield), Volodymyr Savkin (Netherthorpe) and Kevin Guo ((Outwood Academy) won all three of their games. Bowei Ke (Brookfield) was also undefeated. The performance of Kevin Guo was particularly impressive because he was playing on top board for Outwood Academy against the strongest players from the other schools.

The result of the tournament was in the balance until the very end. Netherthorpe and Outwood scored an equal number of match points but Netherthorpe were declared the winners because they won more individual games. The trophy was presented by Andy Mort, President of Chesterfield Chess Club. Every pupil who took part received a Certificate of Participation.

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The event was attended by teachers Chris Bingham (Outwood), Marc Vestey (Netherthorpe), Chris Dunne-Wragg (St Mary’s) and Nick Davey (Brookfield) who had all helped with the organisation. Also in attendance was the headmaster of Brookfield Community School, Keith Hirst.

Chris Bingham thanked Chesterfield Chess Club for organising the tournament. Nick Davey later described it as a hugely enjoyable and gripping event and a great opportunity for all the players. Marc Vestey said that his pupils had loved the competition and hoped it would become an annual event. (He has since confirmed that the headteacher of Netherthorpe would be happy for her school to host a future tournament). Martin Howard said that he had been extremely impressed by the standard of play shown by all four schools.

(Chesterfield Chess Club meets at 7.30pm every Thursday upstairs at the Red Lion in Brimington. They have members of all abilities. Anyone who likes the game will be warmly welcomed even if they are a beginner. Chesterfield are the current Derbyshire champions and have teams playing in both Derbyshire and Sheffield leagues.)